Episode Summary

Does the daunting task of delivering AAC services in your district have you “all up in a wad”? Un-wad, keep calm, and tune in this week as a dynamic AAC-SLP leader, Vicki Clarke, walks us through the process of acknowledging and breaking down access and opportunity barriers to AAC service delivery in the school setting. Vicki offers a great combination of straight talk, humor, and expert guidance to help you and your team widen your focus to all stakeholders and environments so that you may offer wrap-around style services that extend beyond the shiny promises of the AAC tech alone. Learn about who to talk to and what to say as your entire school works together to adjust knowledge, skills, and attitudes for the sake of student success. Don’t work in the schools? You’ll still learn volumes from Vicki’s decades of experience putting frameworks and support programs in place that help educators, therapists, parents and other partners gain the positive perspective and confidence they need to help the most complex of communicators.

Learning Objectives & Course Description

The episode reviews the categories of barriers to AAC implementation in schools.  This episode also reviews barriers in different workplace settings and potential solutions to those barriers.

After attending participants will be able to:

  1. Listeners will be able to identify the 2 primary categories of barriers to AAC implementation in schools as defined by Beukelman & Mirenda’s Participation Model
  2. Listeners will be able to Identify 3 specific barriers faced in their setting. 
  3. Listeners will be able to Identify 3 solutions to explore to address barriers present in their setting

About the Speakers


Kate Grandbois (she/her) & Amy Wonkka (she/her

Kate and Amy are co-founders of SLP Nerdcast. Kate is a dually certified SLP / BCBA who works primarily as an "AAC Specialist." She owns a private practice with a focus on interdisciplinary collaboration, augmentative alternative communication intervention and assessment, and consultation. Amy is an SLP who also works as an "AAC Specialist" in a public school setting. Amy's primary interests are AAC, typical language development, motor speech, phonology, data collection, collaboration, coaching, and communication partner training and support.

Vicki Clarke, MS, CCC-SLP

Vicki Clarke is the CEO of Dynamic Therapy Associates, Inc (DTA Inc.), a speech language pathology clinic specializing in AAC. She is the Director of DTA Schools, a division of DTA Inc, which provides individual student, classroom and district-wide AAC services for consultation, assessment, training, curriculum development and equipment procurement in multiple public school districts. Additional professional activities include professional consultation and training through publications, workshops and presentations at local, state and national conferences in the areas of augmentative communication, speech language pathology, special education and Autism.

Speaker Disclosures

Vicki Clarke disclosures: Vicki is a co-owner of Dynamic Therapy Associates and DTA Schools, AACchicks AT Teachers Pay Teacher, Xceptional Education Leader, and is a paid speaker at state and national venues. Vicki Clarke non-financial disclosures: Vicki has non-financial working relationships with SGD manufacturers, AAC app developers and materials developers for students with special needs including News-2-You, Tobii Dynavox, PRC Saltillo, Control Bionics, Forbes Rehab Services, Ablenet, Eye Tech and AhVAZ. Vicki consults pro bono for various speech generating device manufactures, app developers (educational, AAC and speech pathology related).

Kate Grandbois disclosures: Financial: Kate is the owner / founder of Grandbois Therapy + Consulting, LLC and co-founder of SLP Nerdcast.  Kate Grandbois non-financial disclosures: Kate is a member of ASHA, SIG 12, and serves on the AAC Advisory Group for Massachusetts Advocates for Children. She is also a member of the Berkshire Association for Behavior Analysis and Therapy (BABAT), MassABA, the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) and the corresponding Speech Pathology and Applied Behavior Analysis SIG. 

Amy Wonkka disclosures: Financial: Amy is an employee of a public school system and co-founder for SLP Nerdcast. Amy Wonkka non-financial disclosures: Amy is a member of ASHA, SIG 12, and serves on the AAC Advisory Group for Massachusetts Advocates for Children.

Time Ordered Agenda

15 minutes: Introduction, Disclaimers and Disclosures

25 minutes:  Descriptions of primary categories of barriers to AAC implementation in schools as defined by Beukelman & Mirenda’s Participation Model

15 minutes:  Descriptions of barriers faced in their setting 

10 minutes:  Descriptions of solutions to explore to address barriers present in their setting

5 minutes: Summary and Closing

References and Resources

Beukelman, D. R., & Mirenda, P. (2013). Augmentative and alternative communication: Supporting children and adults with complex communication needs. Paul H. Brookes.

Heath, C., & Heath, D. (2010). Made to stick: Why some ideas survive and others die. Random House.

Kent-Walsh, J., & Mcnaughton, D. (2005). Communication Partner Instruction in AAC: Present Practices and Future Directions. Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 21(3), 195-204. doi:10.1080/07434610400006646

Senner, J. E., & Baud, M. R. (2016). The Use of an Eight-Step Instructional Model to Train School Staff in Partner-Augmented Input. Communication Disorders Quarterly, 38(2), 89-95. doi:10.1177/1525740116651251

Soto, G. (1997). Special education teacher attitudes toward AAC: Preliminary survey. Augmentative and Alternative Communication,13(3), 186-197. doi:10.1080/07434619712331278008

Praactical AAC: https://praacticalaac.org/

The SETT Framework by Dr. Joy Zabala: https://www.joyzabala.com/


The contents of this episode are not meant to replace clinical advice. SLP Nerdcast, its hosts and guests do not represent or endorse specific products or procedures mentioned during our episodes unless otherwise stated. We are NOT PhDs, but we do research our material. We do our best to provide a thorough review and fair representation of each topic that we tackle. That being said, it is always likely that there is an article we’ve missed, or another perspective that isn’t shared. If you have something to add to the conversation, please email us! Wed love to hear from you!


Episode Summary provided by Tanna Neufeld, MS, CCC-SLP

Audio File Editing provided by Caitlan Akier, MA, CCC-SLP/L, Contributing Editor

Promotional Contribution provided by Paige Biglin, MS, CCC-SLP, Contributing Editor 

Web Editing provided by Sinead Rogazzo, MS, CCC-SLP, Contributing Editor