Building a Community: ACES 2018

Greoup of AAC users listening to a speaker

What does it mean to form your own community? ACES 2018 begins today.  The participants arrive this afternoon and our community will start to form. Some of us have met before, some are new.  Some come from the Philly area, some from far away. Our participants all have one thing in common: They use augmentative and alternative communication.

In schools and communities around this country, there are people using AAC, but they don’t often get to meet as a group with a common purpose.  Oftentimes, the single AAC user is like a unicorn among horses. They are the one who is “different”. They are expected to teach everyone, and make them feel comfortable with their form of communication.

ACES 2016 taught me that magic can happen when you gather a group of young adults who all use AAC. For many of them, this will be the first time their communication is accepted, by the entire community, as just another way of being human. ACES is a place where we can take the time to listen. It is a place where we can walk, talk, rock, and roll.  It is a place where plans for the future get made.

If we succeed, magic will return to Temple U this summer, and a new community will form.  We have so much to learn from each other. The heart of ACES is about the transition to adulthood.  

The following video, by Martin Pistorius, paints a picture of a life with AAC; a life of relationships, education, and employment.  And a baby on the way! I also urge you to read his book, Ghost Boy. Look at the difference that access to assistive technology can make.

Image of Martin Pistorius using AAC to communicate



Image of ACES Logo

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Kathryn Helland

Kathryn is a certified speech-language pathologist and works with children and adults with complex communication needs. She has been with the TechOWL team since 2015 and is currently working on her doctorate. She would like to examine how to best support AAC users in higher education.

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