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Institute Relaunches "ACES" to Meet the Needs of a New Generation of Communicators

November 2010

PHOTO: ACES particpant enjoys class

The Institute on Disabilities has revitalized its ACES program (Augmentative Communication Empowerment and Support) after 20 successful years on Temple University's campus.

Each year since 1990, Temple University and the Institute on Disabilities have hosted 10 individuals with disabilities who communicate using "augmentative communication," high-tech speech generating devices (speaking computers). For two weeks on campus, ACES participants learned to use a communication device more effectively, in addition to learning about the most popular computer applications and other technology, while attending seminars on goal-setting, self-defense, fitness, etc. For one year thereafter, participants received on-going support and follow-up via telephone and email.

Based on feedback from participants, their family members, and professionals, the Institute will change its focus and format of ACES for 2011.

The new focus will be on transition to life after high school, including higher education, employment, and/or community living. The target ages for participants in the 2011 program will be between 18 and 26, the time when most young adults plan for and move into the next phase of their lives.

The second innovation will be the scheduling of the on-campus experience—always a highlight of the program—to after several months of preparation by the ACES staff for the participants. Amy Goldman, Associate Director of the Institute on Disabilities, says that this schedule will make the on-campus time even more valuable. "We found that in previous ACES, we spent a lot of time during the first week working out the technical set up. With this new schedule, we can get straight to work!"

As important as setting up the technology is establishing the relationship between the ACES faculty and staff and the participants, and developing relationships among the participants themselves. During the six-month pre-campus planning period, ACES 2011 participants will come to Temple for at least a day to get to know the campus, neighborhood and each other. "These relationships are an important—positive relationships will not only increase the effectiveness of the program, it will help the participants enjoy the experience and help ensure their success through enhanced social networks."

ACES will be accepting applications through December 2010. The on campus experience has been tentatively scheduled for July 23 through July 31, 2011.

For more information about ACES, to apply or to become a supporter of this important program, go to www.disabilities.temple.edu/programs/aac/aces.

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