Information Resources

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Please see the links below for resources of information about communication, assistive technology, and AAC. For resources on trainings, please see the Calendar page.

Communication - pictures of many methods of communicating

Pennsylvania Resources

Western Pennsylvania's largest provider of comprehensive services and supports for children and adults with disabilities and their families.

Advocacy and Resources for Citizens with cognitive, intellectual and developmental disabilities of Pennsylvania.

Best Buddies Pennsylvania Chapter
Part of a national non-profit organization that works to provide opportunities for one-to-one friendships and integrated employment for individuals with intellectual disability.

The Client Assistance Program (CAP) Center for Disability Law & Policy
Provides free advocacy services to individuals with disabilities throughout PA who are seeking or receiving services from the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, including the Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services, Supported Employment Programs and Centers for Independent Living. Advocacy services provided include information and referral, mediation/negotiation, and assistance with appeals.

The Communication Mentors' Network
Developed to help build capacity locally by training individuals learn ways that they can help individuals with complex communication needs establish and expand communication systems and strategies using AAC and AT.

The Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania (DRN)
Designated as the federally-mandated organization to advance and protect the civil rights of adults and children with disabilities. DRN works with people with disabilities and their families, organizations and advocates to ensure the rights of people with disabilities to live in their communities with services needed, free of discrimination, abuse and neglect and to have control and self-determination over their services. DRN's website contains publications about assistive technology and augmentative and alternative communication, such as, ....

The Education Law Center of Pennsylvania
A non-profit law firm dedicated to ensuring all children in PA receive quality public education. Services provided include training and information-sharing, advocates in Harrisburg and Washington, and work with media. They collaborate with a number of citizen groups throughout the state to seek change locally and at the state level.

The Institute on Disabilities at Temple University
PA's University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research and Service. It serves to create connections and promote networks among communities so that people with disabilities are recognized as integral to the fabric of community life.

Mentors for Self Determination
A statewide group for people with developmental disabilities and their families. The group shares a strong belief in self-determination and a commitment to helping people live self-determined lives.

Networks for Training and Development, Inc.
A non-profit organization that provides relevant and practical training and technical assistance, as well as service demonstrations.

Bureau of Supports for People with Intellectual Disabilities
Directs the fiscal and program planning, management and oversight of all mental retardation program operations including state operated facilities and community mental retardation programs.

Pennsylvania's Assistive Technology Foundation (PATF)
A non-profit organization that provides low-interest loans to people with disabilities so that they can buy assistive technology (including augmentative and alternative communication) devices and services they need. Qualified consumers can receive loans ranging from $100 to $1,000 with repayment terms ranging up to three years, depending on equipment purchased. Grants may also be available.

Pennsylvania's Association of Intermediate Units
Operate as regional educational service agencies that address traditional and emerging needs. Twenty-nine offices located throughout Pennsylvania serve as a link between the school districts, families and the PA Department of Education.

Pennsylvania Council on Centers for Independent Living
Works to promote the development and expansion of a statewide network of consumer-directed Centers for Independent Living (CILs). Seventeen individual CILs throughout PA serve all 67 counties. CILs were established to advance rights of persons with disabilities. Services are offered to people with disabilities, families, community service providers, government agencies, private businesses and the community at large. Click here to identify the CIL that serves your county.

Pennsylvania Health Law Project
Provides free legal services to lower-income consumers, seniors and persons with disabilities who are having trouble accessing publicly funded healthcare coverage or services. This agency also works on health policy changes that may impact PA residents in greatest need, and provides training on changes in health insurance coverage. Their website contains publications about healthcare programs such as Medicare and Medicaid for Persons with Disabilities: A Manual for Advocates and Consumers and Home and Community Services.

Pennsylvania's Initiative on Assistive Technology (PIAT) leads the Commonwealth's efforts to implement the federal Assistive Technology Act of 1998.

Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project
Provides free legal services to PA residents who have low income and are institutionalized in prisons, jails, state hospitals, and state centers. Services provided to qualified consumers include: direct representation in civil matters, information and referral, class action representation and advocacy.

Pennsylvania Relay (7-1-1)
An AT&T phone service that is regulated by the Public Utility Commission. This service offers persons who are hearing, deaf, hard of hearing, or who have other communication impairments three ways to communicate using the telephone: Traditional Relay, Video Relay and Internet Relay. Communication assistants who facilitate telecommunication using this service follow a strict code of ethics and confidentiality.

Pennsylvania Society for the Advancement of the Deaf

The Pennsylvania Training Partnership for People with Disabilities and Families
Offers training and technical assistance developed and provided by people with disabilities and their families. "The Partnership" coordinates statewide and regionally responsive trainings that are person-centered, capacity building and supportive of leadership development and self advocacy. Act 48 Credits can be earned from Partnership trainings.

Pennsylvania's Training and Technical Assistance Network (PaTTAN)
An initiative of the Pennsylvania Department of Education working in partnership with families and local agencies to support and improve student learning and achievement. PaTTAN offers device loans to school-aged individuals with disabilities through their lending library. Trainings offered by PaTTAN frequently offer CEUs and Act 48 credits.

Rehabilitation & Community Providers Association (RCPA)

Reused and Exchanged Equipment Partnership (REEP)
Visit this site to browse available used AT in PA. Users can also post unwanted items for others to obtain.

Self-Advocates United as One
Bringing together people with developmental disabilities across the state to break down walls and build bridges to an everyday life.

Telecommunication Device Distribution Program (TDDP)
The TDDP provides free adapted phones or telecommunication equipment to eligible Pennsylvanians. These phones are available to individuals unable to use a standard telephone independently.

Vision for EQuality
Advocacy organization serving Eastern Pennsylvania that is focused on the importance of people with disabilities and their families believing they are valued members of our service system and community and that they should be treated with both dignity and respect.

National and International Resources
This website posts information about programs that cover and provide funding for augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices, also known as “speech generating devices” (SGDs). SGDs are essential tools to help people with severe communication disabilities meet their daily communication needs.

AAC Institute
A "worldwide resource for people with severe communication disorders or who cannot speak, their families and friends, professionals and educators, researchers, developers and manufacturers, funding and other parties (quote from website)." This not-for-profit organization is dedicated to helping people who use AAC achieve the "most effective communication". This site provides information on evidence-based practice and AAC, including links to articles and conference presentations by Dr. Katya Hill on the topic. Some interesting tools are also featured on this sight (e.g., Single Switch Performance Test) and a wealth of information about language activity monitoring as a way to collect data on speech generating device use.

AAC Institute Self Study Program
The AAC Institute offers the opportunity to learn about various aspects of AAC that support the goal of the most effective communication possible for the individual. The courses allow individuals to work at their own pace. Classes are FREE and there are no prerequisites for taking these informative courses. All AAC stakeholders will find value in this resource. Internet access is the only requirement.

AAC and Literacy
This website provides guidelines for teaching literacy skills to learners with special needs, especially learners with complex communication needs

Augmentative and Alternative Communication Intervention
This website features work from Julie Maro and Caroline Musselwhie, providing "Tips, Tricks and Smart Sheets" for AAC (including literacy activities). Also a variety of "how-to" instructional lessons provide a good basis for using a variety of assistive technology (e.g., Kidspiration; Boardmaker) to promote literacy and learning.

AAC Tech Connect, Inc
This site offers free resources as well as fee-for-service resources. It serves as a tool for "simplifying augmentative communication evaluations with one-of-a-kind toolkits, online resources and workshops." This website was put together to be a "central resource" for information on AAC devices to help research device choices and options. Contact information for AAC Manufacturers, product information for nearly 100 AAC Devices, and a trial of "Device Assistant" are free resources (and product trials) available from this site. Fee-for-service resources include: side-by-side comparison of AAC devices based on features, premade materials and overlays to assist in evaluation of language levels, workshops, and a light-tech, "low-cost chart". This site is currently a project of the AAC-RERC.

This site is a source for objective information about AT products and equipment available from domestic and international sources. ABLEDATA does not sell products, but it can help you locate companies that do. Over 35,000 AT products are listed in the ABLEDATA database according to each product's intended functions or special features is possesses. For each product in the database, a detailed description of functions, features, price information and contact information for manufacturer/distributors. ABLEDATA also offers non-commercial prototypes, customized products and do it yourself designs. ABLEDATA is sponsored by NIDRR, OSERS and the U.S. Department of Education.

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
Provides an introduction to AAC (search term "AAC") that covers a range of issues and considerations in selecting and implementing AAC approaches, as well as a summary of current issues in the field of AAC. Information on funding AAC is available on this site as well as a glossary of AAC terms. The National Joint Committee for Communication Needs of Individuals with Significant Disabilities is housed on this website also.

Assistive Technology Training Online Project (ATTO)
This site contains many interesting components about assistive technology, including computer access. Pre-service students beginning work with AAC and other assistive technologies may find the tutorials on Co: Writer and several Intellitools products helpful in implementing these programs.

Augmentative Communication Inc. (ACI)
"Publishes resources that help keep busy professionals and individuals with complex communication needs up-to-date on important developments in AAC." ACI is a partner of the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Consortium on Communication Enhancement (AAC-RERC) and plans to publish its last issue in "late 2009". This website contains interesting AAC newsletters, texts and products (some for sale). This site provides a "Types of AAC Devices" document that describes a variety of features available for speech generating devices and organizes the devices using the Medicare taxonomy.

The Center for AAC and Autism
An exciting new online resource! The Center for AAC & Autism is dedicated to building awareness of the power of AAC to change the lives of children with autism and other developmental disabilities, who are challenged by limited spontaneous communication skills.

Center for Assistive Technology and Environmental Access (CATEA)
Provides information and resources about assistive technology that may "promote maximum access to opportunity and environments". CATEA has existed for over 25 years focusing on development and design, accessibility and use of assistive technology

Center for Literacy and Disability Studies
This website features research programs at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
and other work of Dr. Karen Erickson and her colleagues. This includes a focus on reading assessments for individuals with severe disabilities, including AAC users.

Closing the Gap
Closing the Gap "is an organization that focuses on assistive technology for people with special needs through its bimonthly magazine, annual international conference and extensive website (quote from website)."

Council for Exceptional Children

Design to Learn
Contains a variety of excellent free resources (some are also for sale) that can improve the implementation of communication intervention with individuals with complex communication needs. Of note, the "Communication Matrix" is a communication skills assessment tool that is available for free in a parent-friendly version

Disability Resources Monthly (DRM) Guide to Disability Resources on the Internet
Strives to promote and improve awareness, availability and accessibility of information to help people with disabilities "live, learn, love, work and play independently" (quote from website).
"Provides quick and easy access to comprehensive information about disability programs, services, laws and benefits" (quote from website). There are nine subject areas that can be explored on this website. The goal of this website is to provide people with disabilities with information needed in an accessible and functional manner.

Georgia Project for Assistive Technology (GPAT)

Hattie B. Munroe Barkley Memorial Augmentative & Alternative Communication Centers
A source to turn to when you are getting started with vocabulary selection, assessments and device tutorials. This site includes recent presentations and publications by staff and faculty researching in the field of AAC with University of Nebraska. The YAACK website is also housed here, which covers AAC issues that are relative to young children.

Institute for Community Inclusion

Institute on Community Integration

International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (ISAAC)
A unique interdisciplinary organization focused on AAC and the people who rely on AAC. The site lists ISAAC publications for sale, events, and links to other AAC resources. ISAAC has recently augmented their website with symbols.

National Public Website on Assistive Technology
A comprehensive, searchable site that has an exhaustive list of AAC devices and descriptions of their key components. This can be a starting point for differentiating among devices that might match the needs of individual consumers.

Office of Educational Technology

Oral Deaf Education
Oral deaf education is a collaborative, family-centered educational approach that develops a child's speech and listening abilities along with confidence and life skills to meet the challenges of the greater world. There site contains links for finding professionals, oral deaf education schools, and many more resources.

Patient-Provider Communication (PPC)
This is a national and international effort to promote information sharing, cooperation and collaboration among individuals who are committed to seeking improvements in patient-provider communication across the entire health care continuum--from a doctor's office, emergency room, clinic, ICU, acute care and rehabilitation hospital, home health service and hospice. Members bring together a range of perspectives and experiences in the area of patient-provider communication. The group works to share knowledge and resources and to raise awareness at both the practice and policy levels of need to overcome existing communication barriers and to increase communication access across health care settings. The patient-provider communication forum seeks to achieve share learning about patient-provider communication.

Project Participate
Provides families, educators, administrators and therapists with simple strategies to increase the active participation in programs through appropriate uses of technology. Downloadable intervention planning forms, handouts for training and sample adaptations (including low-tech AAC approaches) are available at this site.

Rehabilitation Engineering Research Consortium on Communication Enhancement (AAC-RERC)
A "collaborative research group dedicated to the development of effective AAC technology". The AAC-RERC seeks to assist AAC users to "achieve their goals by advancing and promoting AAC technologies and supporting the individuals who use, manufacture and recommend them" (quotes from website). The RERC is a key place to go for information on funding through Medicare. Check out guidelines for assessment and report-writing, as well as information on coverage specifics. The site also has archived video webcasts on a variety of current topics, including AAC and early intervention and AAC and transitioning students.

Project SALUTE (Successful Adaptations for Learning to Use Touch Effectively)
A website established to serve as a resource on tactile learning strategies for individuals who are deaf-blind or blind with other disabilities. The goal is to provide effective documentation methods for professionals to measure growth and identify individual strength. Project SALUTE also provides information that is accessible and helpful for families, caregivers and other stakeholders. This site is a source of information about findings Project SALUTE identified through research. Information is printed in both English and Spanish.

A not-for-profit organization located in Australia. Serving thousands of children and adults with physical and multiple disabilities, Scope is "committed to overcoming the personal, structural and attitudinal barriers that prevent those with disability from participating in community life and works to make our community more inclusive, more accessible and more welcoming." This site provides information about disability, current research, everyday living, training and therapy ideas, and other information regarding current events and barriers for individuals with disabilities.

Shared Work
Both a communication tool and a collaborative work space. It brings organizations, agencies, groups, and individuals together to communicate what is important to them, to learn together, to do work together, and to collaborate in addressing complex educational problems. Working in community enables these groups to seek out new approaches to persistent issues and to gain support from each other in implementing these approaches.

Special Education Technology - British Columbia

Technology and Language Center, Inc.

United States Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (USSAAC)
USAAC is the United States chapter of ISAAC. The site lists publications for sale, events, and links to other AAC resources, including opportunities for continuing education.

Other Resources

Augmented Communicators On-Line Users Group (ACOLUG)
A preeminent electronic discussion list of, by and for persons who are AAC users. Join ACOLUG and hear the voices of AAC users, family members and providers on topics ranging from day-to-day concerns to specific concerns regarding the implementation of communication technology.

Disability is Natural

Quality Mall

Communication Boards and Picture Resources

Cue Cards in Community Languages
Cue Cards is a new resource developed by Eastern Health Transcultural Services to assist health professionals and clients / carers who primarily have English language difficulties, or problems communicating with each other.

Also check out our wiki page for more links.

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