International AAC Awareness Month is celebrated around the world each October. The goal is to raise awareness of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) and to inform the public about the many different ways in which people communicate using communication devices.
Miriam C. Boesch, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Special Education at the University of North Texas. Her research focuses on augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). Specifically, she engages in AAC research to assess teacher preparation needs, compare strategies suitable for individuals with autism and complex communication needs, and reduce challenging behaviors. Dr. Boesch teaches courses pertaining to autism, intervention strategies, and behavior management. She is also the co-author of the book: Implementing Effective Augmentative and Alternative Communication Practices for Students with Complex Communication Needs: A Handbook for School-Based Practitioners.
Beth Speaker-Christensen is a speech/language pathologist who owns a private practice in Brookfield, Illinois. She graduated from Northern Illinois University in 1991 (BS. Communicative Disorders) and 1994 (MA. Speech/Language Pathology). Beth spent the early part of her career working for a contract agency servicing skilled nursing facilities, hospitals, and schools in the Chicagoland Area. Beth worked for Shriners Hospitals for Children- Chicago for 14 years, a special education cooperative for 7 years, a non-profit outpatient therapy clinic for 3 years before opening her own private practice, AAC Helper, LLC. Beth joined USSAAC in 2016 and has been a member of the Awareness and Membership committees since joining. Beth is a member of ASHA and an Assistive Technology Professional through RESNA. Beth is currently second Vice-Chair for RESNA’s Professional Standards Board. She holds an Assistive Technology Certificate from the University of Illinois at Chicago and is a LAMP Certified Provider. She has two kids, two cats, and enjoys knitting and jigsaw puzzles. Her dream is to help create robust language systems for AAC in many more languages used around the world. There are simply too many countries, languages, and families who should be included in the AAC world.
John McCarthy is a Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders and the Associate Dean for Research in the College of Health Sciences and Professions at Ohio University. He teaches courses on AAC, interprofessional education, preprofessional orientation, language development, and introduction to communication disorders. His research interests include developing better computer user interfaces and expanding the creative possibilities for children and young adults with complex communication needs. Experiences as a school-based SLP, a background in voice performance, and an interest in technology have been major influences in his career.
Why USSAAC 2020: Elizabeth Begley —