Skip to content

Other ways to search: Events Calendar | UTHSC News

Augmentative and Alternative Communication

child practicingProviding a voice to nonverbal communicators is rewarding.  Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) allows users to engage in social interactions, partake in medical decisions, and be involved in the community. At UTHSC, we provide evaluation and treatment for individuals of all ages with complex communication needs. In our work with AAC patients, we place a strong emphasis on literacy to achieve independence in communication.

Special Feature:
Language, Literacy, and AAC: Bridging Practice and Research 
(Article from the 2017 ASP Annual Newsletter)

If you walked through the corridors of South Stadium Hall during the summer of 2016, you would hear children giggling, squeals of joy, and graduate clinicians saying, “ready, set, go” followed by “let’s check our schedule.”  Welcome to the Augmentative & Alternative Communication (AAC) Summer Language and Literacy Groups, funded by the Office of Special Education Programming through a federal training grant
“We wanted the summer AAC groups to meet a clinical need for the grant  trainees, expand language and literacy for children who benefit from AAC, and address an important area of research,” notes Dr. Jillian McCarthy, co-investigator with Dr. Ilsa Schwarz.  The AAC groups allow grant trainees to implement evidence-based language and literacy intervention to determine what strategies are most beneficial for this population. 
The groups, supervised by clinical Assistant Professor Emily Noss, met once a week for two  hours and included children who used either low-technology supports (pictures), high-technology supports (voice output), or both.     
As one of the trainees, Cathryn Altdoerffer, shared, “The AAC grant allowed me to gain advanced knowledge in a variety of devices and taught me how to use those devices to target both functional communication and literacy. This experience pushed me outside my comfort zone and provided me with the knowledge and skills to give my clients a better chance of success.” 
One parent from the summer group commented, “We have been very fortunate to participate in various group therapies at the UT Hearing and Speech Center. I love how the therapists and students strive to find new practices to keep the kids (and the parents) engaged and excited about learning.  Another benefit to group therapy has been the social interaction. This interaction has been amazing not only for the kids but for the parents as well. While the kids are learning from one another, the parents are offered that same opportunity.” 


May 26, 2022