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Winter Newsletter 2022

Winter Newsletter 2022

Welcome to the first quarter of 2022 Wisconsin AAC Network newsletter. As I am writing this opening message, I am at my mom’s parents’ house. I bet you loved going to your grandparents’ house when you were younger, because you never knew what you would bring back and what memories you would get each time, maybe it was a dollhouse or a toy car. I brought home an old dollhouse that my mom had.  My brother brought home a rotary phone. Mom and Dad were always happy with Doug and me when we brought home something from our grandparents, not. 

You brought home something else, your memories and stories to share. Your child or your students need to know how to share memories, aka their family stories, to share at school and anywhere they want to. 

Storytelling is a life skill, in my book, because everyone tells stories to remember events, places, and people, including AAC Communicators. We need to teach this to them because it is the start of writing speeches, books, and newsletters. Some communication devices have a tool called “notebook menu” where you can write things and save the notebook to play at a later date. It is my favorite tool on my communication device, because a person can use their notebook for story telling, and they can tell one story to many many different people throughout the month. They don’t need to retype that same story all of the time. Try it. 

Before I end this, it is my turn to tell a story. In my grandparent’s living room, they have an old organ, I think they bought it for my mom to play. Mom didn’t like to practice, but 50 years later, my grandparents still have the organ. My brother and I loved to play the organ, like we were in New York City, in one of their music halls. 🙂  

We hope you enjoy the newsletter and tell some stories.

Mike Hipple


Camp Time

Monday, January 24th is when registration closes for Camp Chatter Matters 2022. This camp sponsored by Variety Charities serves AAC communicators and their families.  We highly recommend it and have written a lot of stories about this amazing camp. Did you know by attending camp you also help shape future speech therapists’ AAC knowledge.  The camp is part of a speech and language class at UW-Whitewater. This camp shows students what AAC looks like in the real world and what impact AAC has on the whole family. Students in this class plan the weekend, choose the families that attend, put the campers and their siblings into the groups, and write communication and social goals. The students have many many hours into the camp before the actual camp weekend. Camp gives them real-life experience talking to family members to get a better idea of what families go through daily. They can’t get that in a classroom. 


Getting Social AAC

Social media is an excellent tool to keep learning about AAC and assistive technology happenings in the world. We hope you like WI AAC Network on Facebook.  The Network’s leadership team shares their favorite AAC pages and groups that they follow. On Wednesday evenings from 7 to 8 pm, Twitter has the weekly AT chat. These chats always have questions to answer about assistive technology. You never know who will join the AT chat. On YouTube search for clips of AAC Communicators to provide a role model for your child or students. They need to see successful adults who use AAC, so they know what is possible. We have the QATI email list, they have been doing this for 23 years now and it is an amazing group. If you aren’t on this list, please consider joining.  The last group or list that we want to bring up is the ACOLUG for people who use AAC and family members. If you follow us on Facebook, we had this as #Tuesdaytip this week. ACOLUG is through Temple University PA.  We hope you will use your social media as a way to learn, to make friends, and of course, have fun.


AAC chat club is back in the community

We want to say a huge thank you to the families and communicators who joined the chat club through Zoom.  We loved that we connected with communicators from all over the State and Chris from Illinois.   We decided to go back to in-person chat clubs.  In January we met a new communicator and her dad at Sabre Lanes in Menasha.   Fox Valley Chat Club meets from 2 pm to 4 pm, the 2nd Saturday of the month, February 12th, March 12th, April 9th, May 14th, location to be announced.


WATRN, ECO, Forward information and more 

WATRN’s next meeting is February 15th with Kathy Howery as the guest speaker, talking about working with all ages. Dr. Howery is based in Alberta, Canada, and has worked in the field of AT and special education for over three decades. She completed her doctoral studies where she used phenomenological methods to seek to understand the lived experience of speaking with/through a speech generating device. Look for the registration information starting the first week in February through email and on social media.

An email about ECO AAC 2022 professionals and families is coming soon. Please watch for it.

Note website for the forward assistive technology project. A quick reminder that family members can join the project too. There are up to 700 people getting their information. 


https://atmapping.cesa2.org/ – Map AT by CESA2   

https://www.theaacacademy.org/course/aac-early-starts-conference – A new conference about the early years happening in February and it is free

Non-AAC & AT news, but we thought it was interesting and cool to share is what is new with the Department of Public Instruction.

Keep up to date on what is happening at DPI by joining their email list.


Regional Centers for Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs (CYSHCN) | Wisconsin Department of Health Services 

Did you know that we have centers around the state that help parents who have a child with a disability with anything they might need called Special Health Care needs Wisconsin – https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/cyshcn/regionalcenters.htm


USSAAC & ISAAC News + Searching for a Movie Star

With the new year, it means renewing your USSAAC/ISAAC membership or joining the organization for the first time. We have some exciting things that will happen this year, you don’t want to miss out. Please take a look at the new website for you to find a speaker that uses AAC or find a mentor for your students or your child. At USSAAC, we have huge plans and big dreams for this committee/campaign! If you are using AAC and do public speaking please consider signing up to be a speaker.

Producers of the movie “Out of My Mind” are now casting for the lead, Melody, and are looking for a young female, aged 11 – 14, who has CP.

If you are interested send a recent photo(s) along with your name, age and contact information to Paul Schnee paul@bardenschnee.com and Rachel Goldman rachel@bardenschnee.com


Producers Peter Saraf (Little Miss Sunshine, The Farewell, A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood) and Dan Angel (Goosebumps series, Gifted Hand, Door to Door) and Barden / Schnee Casting (the casting directors for Oscar-winning and -nominated films including Spotlight, The Help, and Winter’s Bone) are seeking a young female, aged 11 – 14, with cerebral palsy, for the lead role of “Melody” in the major motion picture adaptation of the bestselling young-adult novel Out of My Mind, by Sharon M. Draper, to film this spring, 2022. The script is written by Daniel Stiepleman, screenwriter of the Ruth Bader Ginsburg story, On the Basis of Sex.

Out of My Mind is one of the most-read books in middle school America today, having sold close to 3 million copies. It was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential young adult novels of all time.

Out of My Mind tells the story of Melody, a young girl with cerebral palsy who uses a wheelchair. She is nonverbal, and everyone around her—with the exception of her parents, neighbor and in-classroom aid—dismisses her as intellectually disabled…. that is, until she receives a medical-talk device that allows her to communicate for the first time in her life. Very quickly people realize Melody is a brilliant, articulate, passionate young lady, and finally see her the same way she’s always seen herself.

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