AAC Training and Related Support Services

In the arena of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) and assisting individuals with severe communications problems and their families, I provide the following services.

Speaker Events and Webinars

Erna speaking at Neville Cohen Lecture
“Meaning-making”: from Neville Cohen Lecture

I engage in speaker events as well as webinars on a variety of topics for the general public, professionals, and parents. Topics include:

  • “Communication for All”—What Does It Mean?
  • Is There a Secret to Success in Interacting with Individuals with Severe Disabilities?
  • What Is Empathetic Communication?
  • Engagement and Participation in Interaction: Are They the Same?
  • Augmentative and Alternative Communication—
    What Is It and Why Is It Important?
  • Meaning-making in Interactions: How Can We Enhance Our Interactions?
  • Communication in the Workplace for Individuals with Significant Communication Problems
  • Social Closeness and Dementia
  • Online Interactions: Can They Facilitate Friendship Development?

To see my teaching/lecturing style in action, please visit my videos page.

Support and Training in AAC for Para-educators, Teachers, Therapists and Parents

Erna providing support and training
AAC Support & Training Services

AAC is popularly thought of exclusively as a speech-generating device or computer, such as that used by the late physicist Stephen Hawking. In reality, it encompasses a spectrum of options along a continuum, from high-tech to low-tech to no-tech, with each approach taking into account the cognitive, motor, and cultural needs of those utilizing it.

I support those who work with people with severe communication problems in helping them to become more effective in what they do. I enjoy problem-solving and taking on challenging case scenarios with team members and family.

Areas of focus in my training sessions  with teachers and therapists include:

  • How do we become a more effective collaborative team in dealing with students with disabilities?
  • Understanding children with severe communication problems
  • Interacting with children with severe speech problems
  • Inclusion of children with severe communication problems in the classroom
  • Meaning-making in interactions: How can I facilitate this process?
  • Inter-professional training and collaboration
  • Curriculum development for pre-service students in the areas of speech, hearing, and special education

Support for Parents in Advocating for their Children:

  • Understanding and dealing with the IEP process
  • Understanding and supporting the development of relevant IEP goals for their children
  • How to enhance communication with their child in the home
  • Develop strategies that can help their child in building friendships with peers
  • Dealing with sibling interactions
  • Suggesting resources to parents

Technology Development Services for People with Specific Communication Needs

Erna working on AAC technology development
AAC Technology Development

I have significant experience in evaluating and using technology for people with severe communication difficulties. I am interested in working with manufacturing companies to design user-friendly interfaces that can facilitate social closeness between users of AAC and typical speakers.

I am also interested in how we can use technology to overcome the limitations of intercultural interactions. My own experience, as a South African living in the United States, made me aware of the need and potential scope of such technologies.

Mentoring in Research on Disability and Severe Communication Problems

Erna providing mentoring and coaching
Mentoring and Coaching

I spent a large part of my academic life mentoring undergraduate and graduate students in conducting research. I enjoy engaging with students on a session-by-session basis in supporting their learning and skill-building in research. I also enjoy professional coaching of young academics and other professionals. This includes:

  • Assisting schools in developing monitoring systems to measure progress of students
  • Coaching undergraduate and graduate-level students in their research
  • Serving as project consultant on research related to disabilities, severe communication problems, and AAC

Professional Coaching

  • Coaching of teachers and therapists in achieving their set goals
  • Coaching of tenure-track faculty in an academic setting

If you are interested in engaging my services in any of these areas, please contact me.

Note: Although located in Bloomington, Indiana, I am able to provide consulting and training remotely via ZOOM, Skype, FaceTime, and WhatsApp.