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.
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!
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
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.
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
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
I recently went back to South Africa to see my mom, who is 88. She is in a nursing facility with 24-hour care, unable to walk, and at times quite confused. During the past year she had a couple of ischemic attacks, which rendered her unable to speak for certain periods of time. Recently, however, she …
In a recent visit to South Africa I had the privilege to be a fly on the wall in observing an interaction between two young people: a little girl who is 9 years old (Afrikaans-speaking, but also fluent in English) and a young adult in her early 30s (English-speaking, but also competent in Afrikaans, although she …
I have often been surprised to discover how therapists and teachers (myself included!) become so wrapped up in daily toil and activities that we are exhausted by 10:00 in the morning. Although we often admit this is not a state of mind we necessarily are content with, changing how we do things can be really difficult. …