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Fall Newsletter 2021

Fall Newsletter 2021


Welcome to the Wisconsin AAC Network Fall 2021 newsletter and we wish you a happy AAC awareness month. In August the International Society of AAC conference was held online. I was worried that we might lose some of the magic of an international conference, but we didn’t and we  added some online magic. Anyone could attend the conference no matter where you live in the world. This was fun to see and get to talk to different people from all over the world. Plus we got to learn from people who were there in the early days of AAC. and who only do small public speaking events these days. I got to learn from  people that I never thought I would hear speak.. 

 There is a country song named Famous Friends sung by Chris Young and Kane Brown. It is about living in a small town and everyone is famous because it is a small town. Well I think we can say the same thing about Wisconsin’s AAC community. This is my version of the song.  I included some Wisconsin AAC communicators. My boy Brett he is a lover of Nascar racing and bowling, he has a 300 game. My girl Lexy loves to ride horses and will try anything. Dani is a writer, and Ty is a speaker. I got some famous friends back in Wisconsin’s AAC community, you might not know of them in the big city that we are in but I got some famous friends. Yep I do. My boys Cam and Sam are the football managers at the local highschool. My boy Hugo is a star at his school with his amazing helper dog. Max is amazing at saying goodbye. I got some famous friends back in Wisconsin’s AAC community, you might not know of them here in this big city that we are in, but I got some famous friends. Yep I do. My girl Cheyenne she is a fighter. My girl Maddie Jo she sold the most girl scouts cookies three years in a row. My boy Jon, he rides his bike all over. I got some famous friends back in Wisconsin’s AAC community, you might not know of them here in this big city that we are in, but I got some famous friends. Yep I do. I hope you liked this way of honoring some of my AAC friends. 

In this issue we have more on ISAAC, WATRN, ECHO AAC, something called Talking Mats, an interview with an adult who uses AAC, and. We hope you are enjoying AAC awareness month.

Mike Hipple


State Project Updates


The Wisconsin Assistive Technology Regional Network (WATRN) is excited for the 2021-2022 quarterly meetings.  Out of an abundance of caution, the Fall and Winter meetings will be virtual.  We are hoping that the Spring and Summer meetings will be held in person, but will determine that as the dates get closer based on CDC recommendations and statewide guidance.  In the last year we have welcomed a new region, the Northern region (Wausau, Tomahawk), led by Annie Sims, a Program Support Teacher with Marathon County Special Education.  We have also decided to offer a permanent virtual meeting to those who do not have a region near them or cannot attend an in-person meeting.  Kelly Fonner, a special educator and independent consultant in educational and assistive technology will facilitate our virtual meetings.  Kelly also serves on the leadership teams for QIAT and the Wisconsin AAC Network.  Thank you to Annie and Kelly! 

The Fall WATRN meeting will be held on Thursday, October 28, 2021 from 5:30-7:30.  The topic is: Supporting Writing for Students with Complex Communication Needs, presented by Kelly Fonner and Annie Sims.  We will also have a presentation on writing supports from Prentke Romich Company (PRC) representative, Beth Waite-Lafever.  Beth is an SLP/ATP who works as a training and implementation specialist for PRC-Saltillo.  You won’t want to miss this fabulous FREE event geared toward school teams. 

Make sure to check out the rest of the fantastic topics for this year and register for all of the meetings: https://bit.ly/WATRN21-22.  (Some dates are to-be-determined, but register now for the topics you’re interested in and we will send you an email when the details are finalized!)

WI AT Forward

The Wisconsin Assistive Technology Forward (AT Forward) Community of Practice (CoP) is in full swing!  A few things to check out:

  1. Haven’t joined the AT Foward CoP yet?  Check out the AT Forward webpage!  This year, AT Foward will be offering micro-credentialing for completing professional development in Assistive Technology.
  2. Read more about the Assistive Technology Statewide Resource Map and then check it out: https://atmapping.cesa2.org/.  The map includes helpful questions that can help guide caregivers and consumers in their search for support.  
  3. Check out the meeting topics and register for these free meetings for the 2021-2022 school year.
  4. Looking for information on an AT topic?  Check out recordings of CoP meetings from the 2020-2021 school year!  



We are so excited to release our fourth ECHO AAC series this fall!  We have enjoyed all of the wonderful presentations and collaborative studies thus far in ECHO AAC and look forward to future topics and discussions.  Our ECHO AAC 4.0 dates and topics are listed below. All sessions are on Wednesdays from 3:30-5:00 CST. If you’d like to receive the sign-ups, please email aacpartnershipprogram@waisman.wisc.edu

10/06: AAC Evaluation & Funding in the Schools 
Jennifer Schubring, MS, CCC-SLP, Green Bay Area School District AT specialist, Building AAC LLC

10/20: Supporting Low-Tech & High-Tech AAC 
Cat Kanter, MS, CCC-SLP, Waisman Center AAC Programs

11/03: AAC Considerations for Transition-Aged Individuals
Abygail Marx, MS, CCC-SLP, Waisman Center AAC Programs

11/17: Implementing Alternative Access in the Schools
Jennifer Newcomber, MS, CCC-SLP Monroe School District

12/01: Presentation from the AAC-Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center
Dr. David McNaughton, PhD, Penn State University – AAC User

12/15: Presentation from the AAC-Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center 
Dr. David McNaughton, PhD, Penn State University – AAC User


ISAAC Connect – Online Conference 

International Society of AAC {ISAAC} is a group of people that care about the past, present, and future technologies, studies, and most importantly people who use AAC. ISAAC has a bi annual conference and it is just amazing to attend. Now I attended two conferences {2016 and this year 2021}. Like I wrote in the opening message, we needed to move the conference online this year because of everything that is happening in the world. It was an amazing week of learning and chatting with new friends and old friends. They had 500 people attend the conference. That is an amazing number of people, because AAC is such a small group and I feel that this conference built up the awareness of our society more than ever before. It was awesome to hear from people from different countries. ISAAC conferences are known for their social events and this year was no different. They had an evening called cooking with our leaders that I missed, but heard that it was a lot of fun. They had beer and coffee tasting. They had their town hall where only AAC communicators can speak, that was a ball like always. They showed an interesting documentary about how the organization of ISAAC was started and you can watch it on their YouTube channel, it is cool. All and all that week was awesome and cool to be a part of. I hope you will choose to join ISAAC, so you can join in the fun the next time the conference is in the USA or online.

By Mike H

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zVzIT-wK6VE  Prelude to ISAAC


October is AAC Awareness month

A variety of events and activities happen during the month of October each year to raise awareness about AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication) communicators, tools and strategies. Here are some links and supports for you to use locally.

  • There are AAC awareness backgrounds for virtual meeting platforms, posters and buttons that can be downloaded and printed for free from USSAAC https://ussaac.org/aac-info/aac-awareness/
  • October 1st – 15th, the USSAAC (United States Society for AAC) branch of ISAAC is holding an online silent auction to raise funds for USSAAC projects. Go to silentauctionpro.com to sign up.  You can view the diverse list of items available; bidding starts October 1, 2021. Items for bidding include AAC related books, lunches with a variety of AAC leaders, attendance to webinars, and homemade items by notable AAC related people.
  • On October 20th (7-8pm) there is a webinar on AAC and Heritage Languages by Janet Callahan, parent and Mechanical engineer with nearly 10 years supporting an AAC user. Novice homeschool teacher and Lakota language learner. The session is described as a discussion on Indigenous languages, bilingual AAC, and “heritage languages.” https://ussaac.org/event/aac-heritage-languages/ 
  • ISAAC has an AAC month awareness section with links to materials, companies offering discounts on AAC apps and more. You can also read about what is going on in AAC in other countries. https://isaac-online.org/english/aac-awareness/international-aac-awareness-month/ 
  • PrAACtical AAC has a listing of AAC related activities at their blog https://praacticalaac.org/praactical/kicking-off-aac-awareness-month-with-hands-on-activities/ 
  • Lauren Enders, MA, CCC-SLP, has posted her October AAC app sale along with many other AAC supports on her Pinterest site. Watch for dates – many companies only have discounts available for one week or less. https://www.pinterest.com/pin/169799848442151335/ 

AAC Related Opportunities happening Fall 2021

 In addition to the Wisconsin state projects and organizations holding virtual meetings and webinars, there are some national and virtual state events that may be of interest.

  • Closing The Gap is holding its 39th Annual event. It will be an all virtual event again this year, Assistive Technology in Special Education, Rehabilitation and Everyday Living. Live webinar sessions will occur throughout the Conference: October 11-13, 2021; and 2 days of Pre Conference Workshops: October 7-8, 2021. There are recorded sessions to view as well, many of which are on topics related to AAC. Recordings will be available until the end of March 2022 to give participants time to view as many sessions as possible. https://www.closingthegap.com/conference/ 
  • Minnesota’s Charting the C’s (Cooperation, Communication, Collaboration) has returned this year, to a virtual one day format, November 4th. There are also Free family events and opportunities for joining a PLN. http://chartingthecs.org/ 
  • Michigan, AAC trio of experts, Rachel Langley, Laura Taylor and Robin Pegg, host an online live event #talkingAAC. Preconferences are November 4&5 and Main live presentations on November 8&9  https://www.talkingaac.org/current-even


Meet Jennifer Lowe, our featured communicator.

We met Jennifer at the Pittsburgh Employment Conference.  She and three other communicators were featured in “Only God Can Hear Me”.  She is an amazing woman with cerebral palsy.  At a young age she advocated for herself asking her therapists to focus on her communication skills. She said “communication would free the girl inside waiting to emerge”.  She went on to graduate form the University of Edinboro and served as the executive director of SHOUT(support helps others use technology)

We asked Jen

1.What role did your family have in your AAC journey? My Mom suggested where to place the device and accessing it.

2.What device do you use and how do you access it? I use a reflective dot on the left corner of my glass frame.

3. What do you attribute your AAC success to? I attribute my success to a strong desire to talk, my family and my schooling.

4.What advice to you have to families just starting out? I suggest families just starting out to expect big things from their non-speaking kids

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