Asserting Independence Through Communication


March 8-10, 2016, Pittsburgh


The focus of this 2.5 day seminar will be to provide learners with a theoretical and practical foundation for the use of core vocabulary as it pertains to language and vocabulary development for augmented communicators as well as how to integrate the use of core vocabulary as a primary strategy for targeting communication and language in home and academic settings.   Our guest speakers will share their techniques to support users of AAC in their homes and schools. With a long-term view of achieving independence through communication, they will lead the participants through assessment, vocabulary selection and sentence development. In recognition that motivation is the key to success, examples of activities to encourage communicative intent will be given.  The presenters will share their experiences of implementing Minspeak® with students, giving them a reason to continue developing their communication skills.  They will discuss techniques to support sentence development when working with high-level Minspeak® users through the use of visual cues. Looking to the future, they will report on their survey of adult AAC users and discuss their findings of why good users of AAC in childhood can fail in adulthood. They will consider how we can put in place measures to enable users to assert their independence through communication throughout their life.


Bruce Baker, PhD


Gillian Rumble, Cert HCPC MRCSLT  MASLTIP

Deborah Laurent Witkowksi, MA, CCC-SLP

Tracy M. Kovach, PhD, CCC-SLP

Russell Cross

Learning Outcomes:

  1. Explain why core vocabulary, not extended vocabulary, should be emphasized in AAC intervention.
  2. Describe the relationship between the use of core vocabulary and normal language development.
  3. Describe the difference between a needs-based communication display and a language-based communication display. Identify two key differences between referential and descriptive teaching strategies.
  4. Identify the challenges with using a page-based system in an AAC device.
  5. Discuss the impact of motor automaticity in the successful use of AAC devices.
  6. Demonstrate an increased knowledge of assessment strategies.
  7. Demonstrate a greater understanding of vocabulary selection and sentence development.
  8. Demonstrate an improved awareness of the importance of developing a secure foundation of expressive language for lifelong independence.
  9. Generate linguistically oriented IEP goals and objectives for students who use AAC.
  10. Discuss strategies that enable students who use AAC to demonstrate learning to demonstrate learning within the components of Bloom’s Taxonomy.


This activity is offered for up to 1.9 CEUs (19.0 hours of instruction). To register for CEUs:
  1. Download, and complete the following forms.
  2. Save the files names: 160310_SCS_Lastname-Firstname.xls
  3. Send both files to
  4. CEU certificate will be sent after submitting the two forms

Note: If any difficulty is encountered in using this form, write to to request an alternative file format.