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Fall Newsletter 2020

Fall Newsletter 2020

Hope you enjoyed AAC Awareness Month!

Welcome to the fourth quarter newsletter for 2020.  I am sorry this is late getting out but my October AAC Awareness month was so busy.  Let’s talk about adulthood and AAC. Adulthood and having a complex communication need is a tough combination.  My AAC device makes it possible for me to have talks with my family, friends and homecare workers.  On a car ride, my parents and I love to talk about the Brewers, Packers, share ideas or just talk about the week.  Imagine an adult with complex communication needs not having any way to communicate when they are watching a game.  They have no way to complain about a bad call or cheer when a player runs fifty yards for a score or hits a walk-off homerun.  I am a proud voter.  What happens when a person does not have a voice and it is election time?  They cannot vote and is that right?  I believe it is wrong.  In the AAC community we believe that communication is a basic human right.  A mother of a seventeen year old posted on our Facebook page how thankful she was to hear her son say his name for the first time with his device.  When I read that it just gave me goosebumps.  That is why we are all in the AAC community. Our AAC community is full of communicators, their families and professionals working together to give children and adult communicators a voice.

Mike Hipple

Introducing the Assistive Technology (AT) Forward Statewide Project and Community of Practice

The Assistive Technology (AT) Forward Project is designed to support educators, practitioners, caregivers, and families to increase student autonomy in utilizing Assistive Technology tools to support access, engagement, and progress in virtual and distance learning. Assistive Technology Forward will provide a statewide virtual Community of Practice (CoP) to support AT in virtual and distance learning. By joining this Community of Practice, members will have the opportunity to learn from experts in the field of AT and benefit from the knowledge learned through networking with colleagues statewide.

CoP members will have access to:

  • A free membership to Assistive Technology Industry Association (AITA) that includes free online webinars related to Assistive Technology.
  • Access to free one-to-one virtual technical assistance to support the use of AT in virtual and distance learning.
  • Regular updates from the field and ability to share resources with others through a new AT CoP email list. For more information about the CoP, contact Molly Vierck at molly.vierck@cesa2.org.


United States Society of Augmentative and Alternative Communication is the national organization established in 1991 that dedicates itself to supporting the rights and needs of people who use AAC.  Check out their website at USSAAC.org and join.

Looking for books with a Character who uses AAC

Ghost Boy is a biography of Martin Pistorius’s journey.  It is geared for eighth grade and up.  Martin was 12 when he was sick and lost all cognitive and physical abilities.  A caregiver recognized his potential.  First he used his eyes and body part to communicate than after hard work and years became one of the best known AAC communicators in South Africa.

Wisconsin AAC Chat Club goes virtual

AAC chat club has been meeting on the second Saturday of the month starting at 2:00 pm via zoom.  Communicators share what is new and we play some games.  Join us on 11/14 for Thanksgiving fun and a chance to win a prize. Send the Network an email and we will send you a zoom invite.

Waisman Center AAC Partnership Program

ECHO AAC welcomes speech-language pathologists, assistive technology professionals, school administrators, general and special education teachers, paraeducators, case managers, school counselors, school psychologists, state agency staff, and special education service providers, including OTs, PTs, etc.  Participation in the didactic content can be counted towards your professional development needs, if applicable.

Our speakers and topics for the didactic sessions this fall include: 

Join us for the remaining sessions:

November 18 3:30-5:00 p.m. CST | Supporting Literacy for Children using AAC
Presenters: Dr. Janice Light Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Penn State University

December 2 3:30-5:00 p.m. CST | Social Networks
Presenter: Dr. Sarah Blackstone  For more information email them at aacpartnershipprogram@waisman.wisc.edu

Everybody starts somewhere

I was watching a Hallmark movie and heard that line.  I thought to myself that is true for so many things in life.  It certainly is true about AAC.  Our “somewhere” started in 1999/2000.  Our birth to three speech therapist and later our school speech therapist started us with pictures symbols and a low tech switch talker.  Our “somewhere” continued with Mike getting his first AAC device in 2001.  Our “somewhere” was possible because our school district started “somewhere” and developed an AAC/AT team.  Each member of that team started “somewhere” and developed skills that they shared with students and families.  Mike’s classroom teachers and paraprofessionals started “somewhere” and used what they learned from Mike to help other students.  Mike’s classmates started “somewhere” when they learned how to be a good communication partner.  When we start “somewhere” great things can happen.  So make every month AAC awareness month and be a part of someone’s “somewhere”.

Sue Hipple   

We hope you find something in our newsletters helpful.  WI AAC Network is the passion of a very dedicated leadership team.  We all volunteer our time and talents.  There are some costs to maintain our website.  We would appreciate your help, go to WisconsinAACNetwork.org and donate.

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