A National Partnership to Advance Peer-Support Models for People Who Need Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)

January 23, 2024

The Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) is pleased to announce that the University Center of Excellence in Development Disabilities Education, Research, and Service (UCEDD) at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), in partnership with CommunicationFIRST, has been selected as the recipient of a subaward to create a national partnership to develop an approach and plan to advance peer-support models for augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) users.

This partnership consortium will include individuals who need and use AAC in project leadership as well as self-advocacy organizations, individuals from multiply marginalized communities, and others who also have expertise in AAC and speech disability, disability civil rights, and peer support. The outcomes from this first phase of work will include a set of actionable recommendations for the creation of a nationwide resource for developing peer support models that promote and enhance the field of AAC. 

“AAC users have always used peer support, including those that establish robust communication strategies. With this exciting opportunity, we will be able to learn about all the different approaches that AAC users have developed; we will integrate peer support models from other fields; and we will form a national plan that will have a profound impact on individuals who need or use AAC for successful interactions. The OHSU UCEDD, along with CommunicationFIRST, is thrilled to lead this project and we extend an invitation to all AAC users to join us.” – Dr. Melanie Fried-Oken, OHSU UCEDD co-director

"This is truly a great opportunity, responsibility, and honor to work with people who need and use AAC, OHSU, AUCD, and others on identifying and advancing opportunities for such persons to both receive and offer peer support in myriad ways. As one who has gained richly from being on both sides of this equation throughout my life and career, including now, I can think of no better way to pay it forward than being a part of this project." - Bob Williams, Co-Founder and Policy Director, CommunicationFIRST

This initiative is funded by the Administration on Disabilities (AoD), Administration for Community Living (ACL). The primary convener of this activity will be AUCD.

For more information, contact the AUCD Community Inclusion Team at [email protected]