October 23, 2008 — The Curry School of Education hosted the 2008 Augmentative and Alternative Communication Clinical Research Conference Sept. 25-27. Forty-five researchers from around the country met at the second annual AAC conference to discuss the latest findings in their field.
"The exchange between researchers was very productive," said Filip Loncke, U.Va. assistant professor of communication disorders. "Participants discussed the importance of the most appropriate research design, the inclusion of individuals with complex communication needs as researchers, and about the relevance of the research for our understanding of the human mind."
Individuals can be left without functional speech because of a variety of conditions: stroke, cerebral palsy, developmental conditions such as autism, Loncke noted. Having no or limited articulated speech should not prevent someone from communicating, he said.
In the past 30 years, Augmentative and Alternative Communication has explored how speech can be supplemented or replaced by communication through manual signs, pictures and simple or complicated devices. In the past 10 years, the quality of life of an increasing number of users has been improved thanks to an alternative communication method or a speech-generating portable computer, he said.
The development of these systems and devices has been a collaborative effort of speech-language pathologists, engineers, psychologists and educators, he said.
Loncke, together with Ph.D. Curry student Carolyn Gosse and Dr. Linda Meyer, director of Communication Services of Woodrow Wilson Rehabilitation Center in Fishersville, Va, made up the local organizing committee for the conference.