Region 13’s Communication / AAC Pathways!

ESC Region 13’s Communication/AAC Pathways:
Take your skills to the next level!

ESC Region 13 is thrilled to present two, tailored pathways to your Communication and AAC learning – PPCD Pathway and Life Skills Pathway! All of the workshops below are open to everyone, but be sure to look closely at the pathway and target audience to make sure you find just what you need.

Region 13 has options that are *just* right for you and your team!

Partner-Augmented Input:

Modeling AAC in the Classroom

Dr. Jill Senner, CCC/SLP & Matthew Baud, CCC/SLP

LEVEL: Intermediate

PATHWAY: PPCD and Life Skills

AUDIENCE: SLPs, Teachers, and any/all other team members who serve students with complex communication needs

DATE: November 30, 2018 (offered one time only)

DESCRIPTION: We’ve been told that we need to model AAC – come to learn how to model AAC! This program will take staff through portions of steps one through five of an evidence-­‐based, 8-­‐step instructional model for teaching partner-­‐augmented input. Staff will complete commitment to the instructional program, strategy description, videotaped strategy demonstration, verbal practice of the strategy steps, and controlled practice. Staff should have a communication board, app, device, or emulation software available for participation in the interactive portions of the program.

REGISTER TODAY! Course #FA1840279

Teaching Students Who Can’t Talk:

Supporting Significant Communication

Impairments in the Classroom

Katie Adams, CCC/SLP

LEVEL: Beginner

PATHWAY: PPCD and Life Skills

AUDIENCE: Teachers and ParaEducators

DATE: January 31, 2019 (offered multiple times per year)

DESCRIPTION: As educators, we strive to connect with our students. But, what do we do if our students are not able to speak? How do we connect with them and provide instruction that can help them understand and express themselves? This beginner level course for educators will cover the foundational elements needed to guide you in assessing the communication skills of your students and implementing class wide strategies to help complex communication needs.


AAC Foundations Team Training

Nichole Kertis, OT & Lisa Rukovena, CCC/SLP

LEVEL: Intermediate

PATHWAY: PPCD and Life Skills

AUDIENCE: SLPs, Teachers, and any/all other team members who serve students with complex communication needs

DATE: Feb 20 & 21, 2019 (offered multiple times per year)

DESCRIPTION: This workshop series is designed for professionals (especially TEAMS!) working with students with complex communication needs (CCN) who need Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) systems.  We will demystify AAC and empower communication partners with a foundation so that no matter which specific app, device, training or technique presents itself, teams feel prepared. Teams will receive poster- and student-sized core communication boards for the classroom!


TELL ME: AAC in the PreSchool Classroom

Dr. Carole Zangari, CCC/SLP & Lori Wise

LEVEL: Intermediate


AUDIENCE: SLPs and Teachers

DATE: March 7 & 8, 2019 (offered one time only)

DESCRIPTION: This workshop provides an overview of an early childhood classroom designed to empower teachers, paraprofessionals, therapists, and families to support the use core vocabulary in AAC systems. Participants will learn about the key elements of the TELL ME program (Zangari & Wise, 2017) and see how core language is addressed in shared reading and writing lessons, classroom routines, and typical play/learning activities.


Literacy for Students with

Significant Cognitive Disabilities

Jennifer Russel & Nichole Kertis, OT

LEVEL: Intermediate

PATHWAY: Life Skills 

AUDIENCE: SLPs and Teachers

DATE: TBD 2019 (offered multiple times per year)

DESCRIPTION: Learn how to support interaction and teach communication as students engage in academic instruction across the school day. Teams will receive materials and poster-sized core communication boards.



Participants who have attended “AAC Foundations Team Training” in the past are eligible to attend AAC Pathway workshops at a reduced rate! Reach out to each workshop’s contact listed in E-Campus for more information!



Fall Online Workshop Series about Hearing Loss

Here is a link to share with your SLPs, Special Education Teachers, AI Teachers, and Early Interventionists who work with children with Hearing Loss (0-8 years)

Fall 2015 Online Workshop Series by Smart Ears

Does He Really Need an FM? – Part IV

Yes! He really does need an FM!  Now what?  Before purchasing that FM system, you may want to complete a trial with the student.  ESC Region 13’s Assistive Technology Preview Center is here to help.  Our motto is “Try before you buy”.  We have a limited number of FM systems available for short term loan (6 weeks). These are checked out under our Assistive Listening Devices Loan Process.

  1. As these systems are not appropriate to every student, we follow a particular process to evaluate the appropriateness of the loan of this equipment.
  2. Please follow our process and submit the correct documentation. Here’s a link to information on our loan process:
  3. As a part of the process, the requestor must complete the Special Education Director’s Approval form.  Here’s a link to that document:
  4. These systems are checked out through our Assistive Technology Preview Center (ATPC)/Library at ESC Region 13.  The requestor must have a patron account for the library.  They are free and easy to set up.  Here’s the link for our patron application:
  5. Our Assistive Listening Devices must be picked up from and returned to ESC Region 13.  We do not ship these items. Robin Reimund from the Assistive Technology Preview center will contact the requestor to arrange for checkout.

Questions? Contact:

Does He Really Need an FM? – Part III

In addition to being able to hear speech in a classroom, the added critical component of course is being able to understand that speech.  Speech recognition in noise is a skill that is developed by about 6th grade.  Adults with normal hearing score better on speech understanding in noise than children with normal hearing.  Children with normal hearing score better on speech recognitions tasks than children with a hearing loss.  Anyone with a hearing loss has difficulty understanding speech in noise. The greater the degree of hearing loss, the more difficult it is to understand speech in noise.  Also, children with other disabilities struggle with listening in noise.  These include students with Central Auditory Processing Disorder or difficulty, Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, Dyslexia, Auditory Memory challenges, and English Language Learners.

If you decide to provide an FM system, please remember that “you get what you pay for”. Not all FM systems are created equal.  Make sure an audiologist recommends a system that is compatible with the student’s personal amplification and is also adequate for your needs.  You want to make sure you are purchasing a system that has been designed for classroom use.

Download a summary document of Does He Need an FM? Parts I-III

Does He Really Need an FM? – Part II

As previously stated, the three common obstacles to a clear speech signal reading the person with hearing loss are: Distance, Reverberation and Noise.  Let’s take a quick look at each of these and how FM systems mitigate these effects.

Distance. By wearing a microphone (transmitter), the teacher’s voice is made to sound as if it were only 6 inches from the student’s ear – instead of 10 feet away.  The teacher’s voice is then ‘closer’ to the student’s hearing device and ear than the other noise around that student (such as coughing, chairs moving, noise from a heating unit, noise in the hallway, talking, etc.) and therefore the teacher’s voice sounds louder than the ambient or background noise. New technology also has the ability to automatically raise the level of the teacher’s voice over any increase in the background noise in the classroom.  This has been a huge advancement in FM systems.

Reverberation. Another issue to combat in any listening environment is reverberation.  Reverberation is caused when a sound is produced in an enclosed space and bounces off the walls and other hard spaces until it is absorbed.  These ‘echoes’ of the teacher’s speech and the ambient noise in a classroom interfere with a single direct delivery of the message.  When using an FM system, the teacher’s voice is delivered directly to the personal hearing device and is not subject to reverberation.

Noise. Even though state of the art personal amplification devices (such as digital hearing aids, cochlear implants, and BAHS) deliver high quality sound to a person in an ideal listening situation, classrooms are not ideal.  The average ambient noise level in classrooms has been measured as 61dB!  This is louder than the sounds of speech.  Students with hearing loss need a signal-to-noise ratio (e.g. speech louder than the background noise) of 15-20 dB – again, the average classroom teacher speaks only 1 to 5 dB louder than the ambient noise in her classroom.

Does He Really Need an FM? – Part I

Hearing technology today is better than ever with digital hearing aids and cochlear implants. They give the wearer tailored access to the sounds of speech.  So if a student has this great hearing aid, cochlear implant or BAHS, why does he need an FM system?  These personal amplification devices are designed to amplify the sounds that are near the person’s ear.  Certainly sounds from a distance can be ‘picked up’ by the microphone of a personal hearing device, but when it comes to understanding speech, the spoken message going into the device needs to be loud and clear.  There are three common obstacles to a clear speech signal reaching the person with hearing loss:  Distance, noise, and reverberation.  FM systems are designed to mitigate these effects.

For a simulation of how FM works with hearing aids, take a look at this short video: