We have some amazing presenters at our inaugural conference this year! We're so very thankful to all the therapists, instructors, and communicators who are voluntarily sharing their time and insights with the community so we can all get a little better at AAC-ing!
Ms. Ahern completed a five year combined undergraduate and Master of Science program in special education at Simmons College in Boston. Following graduation she worked for several years in private and public schools. She then taught special education for over a decade in educational collaboratives in Massachusetts. During this time, more and more of her caseload included students who needed Assistive Technology to access the curriculum. Finally, she moved to working full time as an assistive technology specialist in 2011. Her interests include augmentative communication, assistive technology implementation in schools, and universal design for learning.
Carole Zangari, Ph.D., CCC-SLP
Carole is a faculty member in the Speech Language Pathology Department in the College of Health Care Sciences at Nova Southeastern University (NSU), where she teaches AAC classes to master’s and doctoral students, provides clinical supervision for AAC clients, and supports the Augmentative Communication Education Lab. She also serves as the Executive Director of the NSU Satellite of University of Miami-NSU Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (UM-NSU CARD). Carole blogs at www.PrAACticalAAC.org.
Lucas Steuber is an Applied Linguist and Speech-Language Pathologist based out of Portland, OR. He serves as a board ambassador to the Oregon Autism Society, sits on the Strategic Planning Committee of the Autism Society of America, and holds board positions with several local nonprofits. You are welcome to visit Lucas' website:
Brian is a computer programmer with extensive experience in human-computer interactions who graduated with his Masters of Computer Science from Brigham Young University. He co-created the learning management system, Canvas, utilized by hundreds of districts and universities nationwide. In an effort to improve communication for his daughter who has Rett Syndrome and cannot speak, Brian worked with dozens of speech professionals to develop and then create the cross-platform augmentative communication app, CoughDrop. CoughDrop is now used around the world to give voice to people with communication struggles.
Amber DeVine-Stinson, MS, CCC-SLP
Amber is a sole owner and provider of services at East Louisville Speech Therapy, LLC, in Louisville, Kentucky. Amber graduated from Eastern Kentucky University with a Bachelor of Science in Communication Disorders, and received her Master of Science in Speech-Languagy Pathology from Nova Southeastern University. She worked for the public school system for 10 years and found her love for augmentative and alternative communication. In 2014, Amber made the decision to leave the school system and pursue private practice where she could provide AAC evaluations, trials, funding, and ongoing therapy for children with complex communication needs.
Kathryn Helland, MS, CCC-SLP
Kathryn is the AAC Services Coordinator at Temple University. She provides information, AAC evaluations and AT consults to consumers of Pennsylvania's Initiative on Assistive Technology (PIAT). Kathryn is a certified speech-language pathologist and has worked with individuals with autism spectrum disorders and complex communication needs. She received her bachelor's degree from Oberlin College and her Master's in Communication Disorders from William Paterson University.
Anne Page, MS, CCC-SLP
Anne is an SLP who's been working in a Title I school district for the past ten years. After confronting her initial fears surrounding AAC she came to love the entire process of helping students find their voice. She works with a variety of students, including students with complex communication needs and Autism. Anne has a special interest in removing FOUA (fear of using AAC) from the stakeholders in each child's life. She received her Bachelor's degree in Speech Pathology/Audiology from Northern Arizona University and her master's degree in Speech Language Pathology from Nova Southeastern University. She is the creator of the website Beautiful Speech Life..
After graduating with honors with a Bachelor of Arts in social care, Miriam began her career in the disability sector where she worked with adults and children with varying degrees of physical and intellectual disabilities. In 2016 she received her Master of Arts after performing a research project “An Exploration of the Effectiveness of of Communication apps through mobile devices on children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.” Since graduating, Miriam has managed two disability service centers and established her own business, AAC Tech which uses evidence based practices and interventions to empower people with disabilities through the use of mobile devices and apps.
Samantha is a speech-language pathologist working with children with a variety of communication needs many who use augmentative communication. She graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders and received her Master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology from Nova Southeastern University. Samantha has worked as a teaching assistant at Baudhuin Preschool for children with autism spectrum disorder and as a social skills instructor at B.L.A.S.T. Educational Services. She is currently a speech-language pathologist at Pediatric Therapy Associates of South Florida..
Leslie Van Winkle MA, CCC-SLP
Leslie has been a speech therapist at the Munroe-Meyer Institute in Omaha, Nebraska for three years. She received her undergraduate degree at the University of Nebraska at Kearney and her graduate degree at the University of Iowa. She specializes in the areas of autism and AAC. She is a part of the multidisciplinary Autism Diagnostic Clinic at MMI, implements individual parent training programs for young children with autism, leads preschool groups, and provides consultative speech therapy services for children with autism in applied behavior analysis programs. She is interested in developing further collaborations between speech therapists and other disciplines, and does so at this time by taking graduate level coursework and presenting to doctorate level courses, therapists, and clinics regarding important speech and AAC intervention strategies for children with autism.
Jenna Williams, M.A., CCC-SLP
Jenna received a Master of Science in Communication Sciences and Disorders from Chapman University, where her passion for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) sparked while hosting summer camps for high-tech device users and building iOS applications. Upon moving to the San Francisco Bay Area, Jenna has primarily provided consultation services to AAC users in schools. Jenna has presented at both ASHA and CSHA, and universities across California on topics relating to AAC. She also supports other AT/AAC Specialists who participate in the AAC Special Interest Group Mentorship Program at the Speech Pathology Group.
Rachael M. Langley, MA, CCC-SLP
Rachael is a speech-language pathologist working as an Augmentative/Alternative Communication (AAC) Specialist in Mid-Michigan. Her 15-year career has focused primarily on supporting students with complex communication needs. A two-time graduate of Michigan State University, Rachael has worked as clinical faculty at the university level for several years. Rachael is one of the organizers of the #TalkingAAC Conference, the only conference of its kind in Michigan. Rachael enjoys creating and sharing materials that promote awareness and best practices from the field of AAC.
Karen and her husband Adam currently reside in Orlando, Fl where they are raising their 5 children. After the death of their oldest son Gavin the family went on to adopt four children diagnosed with multiple disabilities. Karen and her husband have implemented PODD communication for all four of their non-verbal children and document their journey online via their Facebook Blog: We Speak PODD. Karen and her husband have a passion for seeing their children reach their full potential and hope to inspire others along the way.
Vicki L. Haddix, M.S., CCC-SLP
Vicki is a Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Memphis in the School of Communication Sciences and Disorders. She teaches the graduate level AAC course, as well as an AAC course for community SLPs, and supervises graduate students in the Memphis Speech and Hearing Center. Previously, Vicki coordinated AAC and AT for Boston Public Schools after working there and in early intervention as an SLP. She has previously presented on AAC at ISAAC, ASHA and ATIA.
JoClaire G. Merrill, M.A., CCC-SLP
JoClaire is a Clinical Assistant Professor at Memphis Speech and Hearing Center at the University of Memphis School of Communication Sciences and Disorders. She has over 16 years of speech-language pathology experience working in early intervention, schools, and private contracting settings. Her primary interests include language disorders, phonological disorders, and literacy. JoClaire has worked with individuals with Intellectual Disabilities and complex communication needs her entire career.
Randi is a parent and AT/AAC advocate for her young adult son who has cerebral palsy and IDD. For over 20 years, she has worked alongside speech pathologists and AAC specialists to create opportunities for her son to communicate. Randi is the founder of SayitwithSymbols.com, the only web resource devoted to communication aids for caregiving. After a long career in medical media and publishing in Boston and London, Randi made the switch to disability services and currently works at Easter Seals Massachusetts as Director of Program and Strategic Development. Randi serves on the AT Advisory Council for the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission and is a former board member at the Federation for Children with Special Needs, Boston. Randi received dual undergraduate degrees in life sciences and communications from Syracuse University and earned her MBA from Boston University.
Lisa is the mother of eight-year old Max, the child whose complex communication needs brought her together with an SLP and a Special Educator to found AAC Connection. Lisa’s professional background in technology and high-profile project management, combined with her family’s journey, proves an invaluable asset for AAC Connection and its clients. Lisa knows full well that the two greatest barriers to moving towards an AAC system are getting started and sticking to it. AAC Connection exists to help deliver more success to caregivers and their teams. And for those who do not yet have a team – AAC will either serve as your team, or help you to build one that is the best fit for your loved one. EveryONE Has a Voice
Melissa has been practicing for 22 years. She graduated from the University of Toledo with my BA in Communications in 1992 and Western Michigan University with my MA in Speech-Language Pathology. She worked in a variety of medical settings before joining the Assistive Technology department at Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital in 2010 to focus on augmentative communication. She works with people of all ages who need AAC and diagnoses within outpatient, inpatient and home care settings.
Elisabeth wears both sales and marketing and project management hats at VocaliD. She is a skilled business development professional, with 20 years of experience in language learning software and media domains. She has run direct and channel sales as well as international sales and marketing. Elisabeth holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Massachusetts. With a lifelong love of language and culture, she is fluent in Dutch and Swedish.
Jill E. Senner, PhD, CCC-SLP
Jill is a speech-language pathologist with 20 years of experience working with children with complex communication needs. She is the owner/director of Technology and Language Center where she specializes in providing augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) and assistive technology (AT) services including assessment, consultation and training, and workshops/lectures. Dr. Senner has presented at numerous national assistive technology conferences and has taught graduate courses in AAC and swallowing disorders. She has published research in the areas of AAC, siblings and disability, and swallowing disorders in cerebral palsy.
Matthew R. Baud, MS, CCC-SLP
Matthew has been working with AAC for the past 14 years. He currently is the Assistive Technology Coordinator at Niles Township District for Special Education (NTDSE) performing evaluations, trainings and coaching communication partners. Matthew also has his own AAC private practice working with individuals with complex communication needs from birth through adulthood. He is an adjunct professor at Saint Xavier University where he teaches a graduate course in AAC and has presented at national and state conferences. Matthew has published research in the areas of AAC
Amanda is a Speech-Language Pathologist with over 20 years experience working in schools and with families, and as a technology consultant. All this has led to a passion for working with children and young adults with disabilities and learning difficulties. She currently runs a busy private practice in Brisbane Australia and works part time with AssistiveWare. She also gives lectures on Augmentative and Alternative Communication at the University of Queensland and loves sharing what she knows about AAC and literacy!
Lana Ridge, M.S., CCC-SLP
Lana has been enthusiastic about working with assistive technology since undergraduate school. She completed her undergraduate work at Miami University and her Masters at University of Louisville. She has worked with low tech, static displays, dynamic displays, and eyegaze devices. Most recently, she opened up her own business, Unboxed Therapy, LLC. She offers group sessions, training sessions, individual sessions in the individual’s natural environment, and homework programs.
José is originally from Valencia in Spain, where he studied Systems Engineering. He later volunteered at an association for people with cerebral palsy building both hardware and software assistive technology (AT) solutions. It was here where José’s passion for assistive technology grew, and he later joined the Universidad de València where he spent five years collaborating on AT and augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) research projects.
He joined the AssistiveWare team in 2012 as a product designer, and has played an integral part in the design of many of the products. José has since also designed both the Spanish and French vocabularies and language systems in Proloquo2Go, and now works as the Product Owner of AssistiveWare.
: Angie is a graduate of Ball State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Special Education. She has taught elementary intense interventions for 17 years. She is passionate about designing access for all students to meet their greatest potential. Additionally, Angela is a parent of a child who has cerebral palsy who is an assistive tech user. Angela has co-presented at PATINS and the Indiana Principal’s Association. She has served 2 years on the ISTAR Content Review Panel. Angela has had guest posts on the AAC Language Lab and PrAACtical AAC.
Nicole is a graduate of Ball State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology and Master of Arts degree in Speech-Language Pathology. She has worked in a school setting for 18 years. She is passionate about optimizing her students’ communication abilities so that they may become competent communicators in society. Nicole has co-presented at PATINS and the Indiana Principal’s Association. She has had guest posts on the AAC Language Lab and PrAACtical AAC.
Betsy is the CEO of Communication Circles, an agency that provides direct speech therapy services and consulting services specializing in AAC. Betsy is a speech-language pathologist and autism consultant with 25 years of experience in a variety of settings. She graduated from Austin College with a BA in Psychology and Sociology and from the University of Texas at Dallas with a MS in Communication Disorders. She holds a teaching certificate in the State of Texas and a Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech, Language and Hearing Association. She is a pioneer in the use of mobile applications with people with a wide range of abilities, She has spoken at many national and international conferences on the use of technology and disabilities including SXSWInteractive, M-Enabling Summit, the International Society for Instructional Technology and the Texas Computer Educators Association. Betsy is a member of the Association for Competitive Technology and the UX Professionals Association.
Cristian Orbe Rosas
Cristian is an adventurous young man who enjoys music, dancing, and outdoor activities. He likes snow skiing, playing baseball, kayaking and recently went surfing for the first time. He participates in the group Building Communities Through Alternative Communication (BCTAC) where he educates others about his use of a high tech communication device as he is unable to speak. He currently participates in a transition program where he has been able to work at his first job.
Mike Cole M.S. CCC-SLP
Mike is the President of Use Your Words, P.C. established in 2010 specializing in augmentative and alternative communication. He provides services to individuals with complex communication needs and their families in the home, school, and community setting. Prior to this he served a variety of students in self- contained and inclusion school settings as assistive technology specialist in school district 204 in Aurora, IL. In this position Mike provided consultation and training to staff, students, and families with specific emphasis in AAC evaluation and implementation. Additionally, consultation, training, and implementation guidance regarding assistive technology tools to allow access to curriculum including reading, writing, math, communication, and the physical environment was provided. Mike presents locally and nationally regarding topics related to AAC and assistive technology. Past presentation venues include ATIA, Infinitec, AAPPSPA, ISHA, and school districts.
Amanda is a speech-language pathologist with a passion for sharing her love of AAC and AT. She is a graduate of Penn State University, where she developed research with Dr. Janice Light and Dr. Krista Wilkinson. Currently, she services with students using a variety of communication techniques. She continues to share information through her blog: aaciswhereitsat.com
Rachel is a full time ASHA-certified school-based speech-language pathologist in the school setting who also works part-time in the pediatric outpatient setting, both in northeast Indiana. Additionally, she creates speech pathology materials & resources and blogs at Let’s Talk Speech Therapy. Rachel has several years of experience with alternative augmentative communication(AAC) of various levels with a wide range of users. She works annually at a weekend-long AAC camp that provides children and adults opportunity to build community with other AAC users and perform on stage using their devices.
Judy Lariviere, M.Ed., OTR/L
Judy has been an Assistive Technology Specialist and Occupational Therapist with a Master’s degree in Educational Psychology with an Area of Concentration in Special Education who has worked in the field of Assistive Technology, including Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC), for the past 29 years. She is also the President of Assistive Tech 4 ALL, Inc. through which she provides private consultations to families and school districts while directly working with individuals with Rett Syndrome (RTT) and related disorders. She is the Communication Specialist at Katie’s Clinic for Rett syndrome and Related Disorders at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland. She has designed various eye gaze page layouts specifically for individuals with RTT and has used these successfully with over 350+ girls, women, and boys. Judy presents at conferences nationally and internationally and has written articles for Closing the Gap about eye gaze technology for children, teens, and adults with Rett syndrome. In addition, she is a full-time Professor as an Assistive Technology Specialist in the Disability Resource Center at College of San Mateo in California.