Be More with Core: Building Language, Literacy and Social Communication Skills


April 11-13, 2017, 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 speaker, Kelly Key, will present on strategies for using core vocabulary to support students with complex communication needs (including Autism and significant physical and cognitive impairments).  She will share information about her district’s core vocabulary initiative that has been going strong for over 6 years.  She will discuss ways to support your students with functional communication needs through the use of core boards and devices as well as alternative strategies.  Kelly will talk about lesson plans and their powerful word approach.  The afternoon will cover activities and strategies to help students build language and communicate.  Tips will also be shared on how to train parents, staff, and care givers as well as how to get educationals team on board with a core vocabulary approach.


Bruce Baker, PhD

Deborah Laurent Witkowski, MA, CCC-SLP

Tracy M. Kovach, PhD, CCC-SLP

Russell Cross

Kelly Key, M. Ed.

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.
  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. Discuss three reasons why aided language stimulation is an essential AAC implementation strategy
  7. Describe three different strategies for providing core vocabulary for functional communication
  8. Discuss planning for lessons and activities that incorporate core vocabulary
  9. Describe two strategies for teaching others how to support core vocabulary in their students
  10. Identify two key differences between referential and descriptive teaching strategies.
  11. Generate linguistically oriented IEP goals and objectives for students who use AAC.
  12. 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 (18.75 hours of instruction). To register for CEUs:
  1. Download, and complete the following forms.
  2. Save the files names: 170413_SCS_Lastname-Firstname
  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.