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Augmentative-Alternative Communication, Language & Literacy Lab (UT-AACL)​

Directed by Jillian McCarthy, PhD

Lab email:

The Augmentative and Alternative Communication and Literacy (UT-AACL) Laboratory is located at the UT Conference Center. Its mission is to examine and develop new evidence-based language and literacy assessments and interventions to assist users of AAC, their families, and educational staff. 


UTHSC AAC, Language and Literacy Lab


  • Examining factors related to successful language and literacy skills for children, specifically those who use augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) strategies.
  • Investigating and examining the vocabulary use of children and teachers, and relating this information back to language and literacy development for all children. 
  • Designing and developing intervention strategies for vocabulary acquisition and use for children who use AAC strategies. 
  • Developing assessment and interventions for spelling for individuals who use AAC strategies. 

How does a keyboard that makes letter sounds help with spelling? Does your child use AAC strategies and have difficulty spelling? We are currently recruiting children, between the ages of 7 to 14 years, to help use examine how a keyboard that makes the letter sound helps when learning to spell. If you are interested in learning more about the study, please contact the research team at 974.3761 or at
Can a Robot help with at-home practice of speech sounds? Are you concerned about your child’s speech sounds? We are currently recruiting children, between the ages of 3 to 8 years, to help us examine the use of a robot during at-home articulation practice. If you are interested in learning more about the study, please contact the research team at 974.3761 or at

Volunteering in UT-AACL laboratory is a great way to become familiar with the lab setting, as well as to get hands-on experience with research involving the examination and development of language and literacy assessments and interventions. Volunteers may contribute to the lab in many ways, including but not limited to: stimulus development, data collection, data processing, and clerical work. If you are interested in volunteering in the UT-AACL lab, please email Dr. McCarthy at

What is Project PAL?

Preparing Academic Leaders in Speech-Language Pathology to Teach, Conduct Research, and Engage in Professional Service to Improve Outcomes for Children with High Need Communication Disorders (HNCD). This is a collaborative Doctoral Preparation Project between the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and Vanderbilt University to begin in Fall 2024.

Who are we hoping to recruit for this project?

  • Certified SLPS with an interest in creating culturally and linguistically diverse and inclusive educational environments, and in facilitating high expectations in the language and literacy outcomes of children with HNCD via contributions to the evidence base and preparation of SLPs.
  • Encouraging applications from persons who identify with groups that have been traditionally underrepresented in communication sciences and disorders.

Learn more about Project PAL!
Nov 13, 2023