Communicative Competence for ALL Students: How We Did It


July 11-13, 2017, Pittsburgh


This 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 will present on a successful method of implementing a school-wide initiative to increase the use of core vocabulary.  For the past three years, Baltimore County Public Schools has been awarded grant funds from the Maryland Department of Education to support Communicative Competency.  The purpose of the grant was to improve communication and language skills for students with complex communication needs.  This session will share how Janet and her team implemented a school wide plan to increase the use of core vocabulary and expanded communication functions.  The participants will learn about a variety of teaching strategies and support materials that found to be successful with students.


Bruce Baker, PhD

Deborah Laurent Witkowski, MA, CCC-SLP

Janet Lehr, MS, 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.
  4. Discuss the impact of motor automaticity in the successful use of AAC devices.
  5. Explain the importance of modeling for students who use speech-generating devices.
  6. Explain the importance of play for language learning.
  7. Describe ways for students with beginning language skills to learn writing skills.
  8. Identify two key differences between referential and descriptive teaching strategies.
  9. 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: 170713_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.