P.O. Box 50030 London, ON N6A 6H8 info@rett.ca (519) 474-6877

Communication Webinars 2022

In collaboration with the other Canadian Rett syndrome organizations, we are presenting a series of free webinars on the topic of communication and AAC.

PODD: How to apply to everyday life and literacy

Jenn Markosky and Julia Drabble

February 13th 2022 (Video available below)

Are you interested in learning about PODD? Do you already know a bit about it but aren’t sure how to use it effectively to create communication and literacy opportunities for your child? Join us as we talk about PODD and learn how it might be useful for your child. Much of the information will also be transferable to other types of vocabulary systems and communication devices.

Jenn Markosky attended Minot State University and has been a speech language pathologist for over 20 years. She has worked for non profit organizations as well as healthcare and recently moved into full time private practice. She specializes in promoting communication for children and adults with complex communication needs. She enjoys coaching and supporting families and teams who use AAC.

Julia Drabble has been a speech-language pathologist for over 20 years. She holds Bachelor and Master degrees in Speech-Language Pathology from Minot State University and has worked in health, education, and the private sector. For the past 18 years, Julia has been employed as a school SLP, working with children from preschool through adulthood. Julia is particularly interested in the area of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) and believes every person should have an opportunity to find their voice.

The Demanding Device: The lived experience of aided communicators

Kathy Howery

February 18th 2022 (Audio available below)

This presentation will explore the many demands that Speech Generating Devices make of the people with speech impairment that seek to use them to share their voices audibly in the world. The overarching question explored is what does the device demand? What are the cognitive, technological, and physical demands that must be met by the user to express themselves through audible voice? How are these demands experienced in the day to day lives of people who use SGDs? Also brought to light are other demands, demands that are perhaps more subtle and more societal but demands that nonetheless will be shown to shape if, when, and how devices are used. Exploration of Ableism and it’s role in the Demands of the Device will be explored.

Dr Kathy Howery received her PhD in Special Education from the University of Alberta in 2017. She is currently an educational consultant and a sessional lecturer at several Universities in Alberta. Her doctoral research drew upon hermeneutic phenomenology to seek to understand what is it like for young people with complex communication needs (CCN) to speak with speech generating devices.

Kathy has presented at scores of educational conferences at both the national and international level including the International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (ISAAC) Conference, the Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) Conference, and the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) Conference. Kathy has also presented her research in the area of CCN, and in the area of Universal Design for Learning (UDL), at numerous conferences in Alberta, British Columbia, and Quebec.

Shared Reading and AAC – Supporting Language AND Literacy

Caroline Musslewhite

February 24th 2022 (Video available below)

Shared reading is one component of comprehensive emergent literacy instruction.  The focus is on reading with learners, not to them.  This workshop will suggest ways to fully include students with physical impairments and students who use AAC (with primary focus on individuals with Rett Syndrome).  The session will cover classroom, small group, and 1:1 instruction.  Targets include interactive, engaging supports for goals such as vocabulary growth, text-to-self connections, and attending to print. 

Dr. Caroline Musselwhite is an assistive technology specialist with more than 45 years of experience working with children and adolescents with significant disabilities in a variety of settings, including Head Start, clinics, developmental day programs, homes, and the public schools. Dr. Musselwhite has written a number of textbooks and “how-to” books on a range of topics, and has authored many books and software programs for youth with disabilities. She has taught courses at several universities and presented thousands of workshops throughout North and South America, Australia, Europe, and Africa.  She has also supported Communication Circles and Balanced Literacy Clubs in multiple cities in the US and Canada. Honors include: Foundation Fellowship (West Virginia University), Educator of the Year 

(Association for Retarded Citizens, North Carolina), Honors of the Association, (North Carolina Augmentative Communication Association), DiCarlo Outstanding Clinician Award (North Carolina Speech-Language-Hearing Association), and ISAAC Fellow.  

Supporting Communication and Independence with Grid

Chris Gibbons and Melanie Gylling

February 25th 2022 (Video available below)

As an AAC platform, Grid software offers every chance to participate, learn, and express yourself. Join us to learn about our symbol-based communication pathways, core word strategies, and adapted keyboards. We’ll demonstrate basic editing and how every grid set is accessible from touch to eye gaze. You’ll also see how we honor every form of communication by providing access to social media, email, text, phone, web browsing, and our unique Symojis for spontaneous expression.

Chris Gibbons has worked in a variety of AAC clinical, research, and industry settings as a private practitioner, assistive technology specialist, and policy level consultant. For more than 20 years he has focused solely on advocating for and contributing to SGD user success through increased access efficiencies and by working to improve funding for SGDs. Chris is the Head of Smartbox, Inc.

Melanie Gylling (she/her) is an ASHA certified Speech-Language Pathologist with extensive experience working in a variety of settings including outpatient rehabilitation, schools, and long-term care facilities. She is passionate about AAC and providing education and support to SGD users and their support teams. Melanie is employed full-time for Smartbox Inc., the developers of Grid 3 software and speech generating device svery form of communication by providing access to social media, email, text, phone, web browsing, and our unique Symojis for spontaneous expression.

AAC: Where do I start?

Jennifer Wiegert and Corinna Duffitt

February 27th 2022 (Video available below)

If you have just received a diagnosis of Rett Syndrome for your child, or if you have taken your first steps in acquiring an AAC device and need guidance, this webinar is for you!  Join us as we discuss how to best introduce and implement AAC  – from low-tech to high tech – on a day to day basis! 

Corinna completed her graduate studies at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, B.C., and has been a speech language pathologist for 24 years.  She has worked in health unit, public and private school settings, and has recently moved into full time private practice, Chickadee AAC, with Jennifer Wiegert as her partner.  She specializes in AAC and works almost exclusively with children and young adults with complex communication needs.  

Jennifer competed her graduate studies in speech-language pathology at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington.  Over the past 25 years she has provided therapy services to children and families in public and private schools (preschool through high school), a private clinic setting, and most recently on the augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) team in the Surrey School District.  Corinna and Jennifer’s passion for providing home-based services for families and their loved ones with complex communication needs, resulted in their joint private practice Chickadee AAC Communication services. 

AAC in School: Tips for Parent Advocacy

Karen Congram

March 7th 2022 (Video available below)

Are you tired of explaining Rett syndrome and AAC to each new teacher and each new support worker? Do you have a child starting school soon? Are you worried about a transition to a new school? Join us for tips and tricks for effectively communicating with school staff to help them to understand what works best for your child.

Karen Congram has years of experience as a parent of someone with Rett syndrome, advocating for best practices in schools. She is also an Ontario teacher and the Head of Special Education at Stratford District Secondary School. Previously, she was a Learning for All Coach for the Avon Maitland District School Board, providing professional development on inclusive education and universal design for learning. This year, Karen will complete her Graduate Certificate in Teaching Students with Complex Communication Needs at the University of Alberta.

Advanced Access with Eye Gaze

Charles Popperman (Tobii Dynavox)

March 11th (Video available below)

Listen and explore with the pioneers of modern eye tracking! In this session we will cover topics such as desktop accessibility, accessible applications, environmental controls, available supports, and more! Come learn about eye tracking for communication and beyond – as a tool for life. 

Charles Poeppelman works as a Solutions Consultant for the Canadian Division within Tobii Dynavox North America.  In this role, he covers a wide range of AAC-related interests for Tobii Dynavox from coast to coast across Canada and the United States.  This includes presenting at public and private trainings, supporting AAC users and their teams, and working directly with provincial and federal funding sources and our clinical partners in Canada.  By background, Charles is a certified speech-language pathologist with clinical experience working in AAC across the lifespan.

The Evolution of Inclusion

Shelly Moore

March 15 (Video available below)

In this session we will look at how the goals of inclusion have continued to shift and evolve, as we learn more about diversity and identity.

Originally from Edmonton, and now based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Shelley Moore is a highly sought-after teacher, researcher, speaker and storyteller and has worked with school districts and community organizations around the world, in supporting and promoting equity for all learners. Her first book entitled, “One Without the Other” was released in July 2016 to follow up her TEDx talk. Shelley completed an undergraduate degree in Special Education at the University of Alberta, her masters at Simon Fraser University, and is currently a PhD candidate at the University of British Columbia.