Welcome to Erna Alant Consultancy

For many years I have served those in the special needs community with severe communication problems through the study and application of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). My expertise lies in the area of interpersonal meaning-making, friendship, and social closeness. As a hands-on trainer, coach, consultant, researcher, lecturer, and author, I have decades of professional experience working within multi-cultural contexts with parents, students, and individuals with communication disabilities. I look forward to supporting you in your efforts to promote the inclusion of people with such challenges into our schools and communities.

Meet Erna Alant

My passion is to work with individuals who have little or no speech, their families, and teachers to help those with special communication needs and their families to experience social closeness and friendship in interaction. A speech–language therapist trained in South Africa, I came to the United States in 2009 as a Professor and Otting Chair in Developmental Disabilities at Indiana University. I now live on Long Island, New York, and work primarily in the field of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC), which promotes the use of different nonverbal strategies and technologies to help people with severe speech difficulties to express themselves. The overall purpose of intervention is to ensure communication for all!

What I Do

My private consultancy practice is all about communication: building bridges and making connections between people. It is focused on helping disabled individuals, parents, and professionals with their challenges, and encompasses the following wide-ranging services:

  • Present at speaking events (lectures and webinars) on a variety of topics related to serving community members with severe communication problems
  • Provide training and support for both professionals and parents to problem-solve challenging intervention scenarios
  • Consult on technology development for people with disabilities
  • Mentor undergraduate and graduate students working in the field of augmentative and alternative communication
  • Offer professional coaching in academic and teaching contexts backed by decades of experience

Awards and Testimonials

A successful career—in any field—is like a wonderful, adventurous road trip into an unknown world waiting to be discovered: no matter the destination or how long the journey, at the end of the day you have the night stars as your reward. These awards and testimonials, acquired over the years, are my stars.

Otting Chair in Special Education Award
Otting Chair Award


Dr. Erna Alant, as an internationally well-known researcher and advocate in the field of severe developmental disabilities, takes a very humanitarian approach when she works with each individual. When you work with her, you feel that she always puts the students (mentees/clients) first and thinks in their shoes.

Her prolific research productivity, rich clinical practices, and a wide range of professional networks around the world make her an individual of great vision with an open heart, and an effective problem-solver.

— Luke Sun

My Blog

The chief purpose of human communication—verbal and non-verbal, with or without words—is to create meaningful connections between individuals. My blog is just another way for me to connect with students, colleagues, and the people I can help with a lifetime of acquired knowledge and experience.


Most Recent Articles

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Story-time with Erna #3: For Parents and Their Young Children—About Turtles in a Pond

Paying Attention to Detail : Enhancing World Knowledge and Understanding of Concepts. Today’s narrative is different from the previous two stories as it focuses attention on observations made while watching a pond with turtles. This type of observational narrative encourages children to focus attention on detail. Encouraging children to look more carefully at their environment …

Story-time with Erna #2: For Parents and Their Young Children during the Time of the Coronavirus

Pre-amble to the story: Talking about taking turns. As soon as my granny sat down to tell us a story, she would ask:  “So, which story do you want to listen to?”. In response to this question my brother, Nico and I would start to shout out the stories we wanted to hear. Our shouting …

Guidelines for parents: How to play with my child who is nonverbal- Beginning play level

  How do I play with my young child who is nonverbal? Expansion from where your child is at.. It is not uncommon for parents to express uncertainty about how to go about playing with young children who are not able to express themselves. These children often have a limited repertoire of toys that they …