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AAC by the Bay Conference Speakers

Aileen Arai

Aileen Arai

An Education Specialist at The Bridge School, with 19 years of experience in the Bridge classrooms, Aileen specializes in designing and implementing instructional strategies that support her students' participation in academic and social curricular areas. Aileen's expertise in developing effective communication systems within the educational context has ensured that children attending The Bridge School gain the skills and knowledge they need to transition back into their home school placements able to participate academically and socially in that environment. Her areas of interest are development of literacy within the Common Core State Standards for students who use AAC systems and addressing intervention strategies and assessments as they relate to Cortical Visual Impairment protocols and tools developed by Dr. Christine Roman-Lantzy.

Sarah W. Blackstone, Ph.D., CCC-SLP

Sarah Blackstone

Dr. Blackstone, a Speech-Language Pathologist who specializes in AAC and has been around for a long time, recognizes that children with CVI AND CCN continue to present unique challenges to the field of AAC because it relies so heavily on visual modes of communication. This project has been an effort to encourage a more systematic, nuanced approach to understanding and supporting children with CCN and CVI and to help discard prevailing myths in the treatment of this group. She says that "the opportunity to work with Christine Roman-Lantzy and staff at The Bridge School and CATIC in Mexico City on this important project continues to be fun, enlightening and an honor."

Barbara Collier

Barbara Collier

Barbara Collier is Executive Director and a founding member of Communication Disabilities Access Canada (CDAC), formerly Augmentative Communication Community Partnerships Canada. CDAC is a national, non-profit organization that promotes human rights, accessibility and inclusion for people who have communication disabilities.

Barbara is a Speech-Language Pathologist and has worked as a clinician, researcher, author, educator and project manager. Since 2001, she has managed leading edge, social innovation projects relating to communication access to goods and services including justice, police and legal services. She has headed up projects relating to abuse and human rights violations for people with communication disabilities and provides input to provincial, national and international organizations on a range of equity issues for this population. Barbara is currently managing the national Communication Access Project and the implementation of Communication Intermediaries services within legal and justice contexts. She has published in peer-reviewed journals, and authored a number of instructional resources including books, videos, online resources and communication software programs. In 2010, Barbara was honoured as a Fellow of the International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication.

John Costello

John Costello

John Costello has been a Speech-Language Pathologist specializing in the area of Augmentative and Alternative Communication at Boston Children's Hospital for 28 years. He is the Director of the Augmentative Communication Program and the founder of an internationally unique dedicated program for Augmentative Communication in the Pediatric Intensive Care Units and Acute Care Settings. He pioneered the model of bedside message banking for patients who will have a temporary loss of speech and has now applied that same concept to adults who will experience a permanent loss of natural speech. In addition to being a full-time clinician and director of the outpatient and inpatient AAC Program at the hospital, he teaches graduate level courses in Augmentative Communication at Boston University. John has lectured widely both in the United States and internationally on topics of AAC in the hospital setting, AAC at end of life and AAC assessment and intervention considerations in the outpatient setting.

Caitlin Daly, M.A.

Caitlin Daly

Caitlin Daly, M.A., is a special education teacher at The Bridge School. She currently works in the preschool and Kindergarten classrooms. During her tenure at The Bridge School, Caitlin has helped mentor several of the professionals participating in the Teacher in Residence Program. She has represented The Bridge School at professional conferences in South Africa and conducted workshops for parents and professionals working with students with complex communication and physical needs in Mexico and Peru. Her professional interests include supporting children with complex communication and physical needs in development of pretend play, literacy and math.

Lateef McLeod

Lateef McLeod

Lateef McLeod is a phenomenal black poet with cerebral palsy who published his first poetry book entitled A Declaration Of A Body Of Love in 2010. He works for Sins Invalid as an intern and is building his career as a public speaker and spoken word artist. He also dedicates his time as the co-chair of the Persons with Disabilities Ministry at Allen Temple Baptist Church, being a member of the Hand in Hand: The Domestic Employers Association, and being the Vice President of People who use AAC for the United States Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (USSAAC). He has earned a BA in English from UC Berkeley and a MFA in Creative Writing from Mills College. You can find more about his writing on his website,

Janelle Moynihan, M.S., CCC-SLP

Janelle Moynihan

Janelle Moynihan, M.S., CCC-SLP is a Speech-Language Pathologist at The Bridge School who works primarily with lower-elementary school students. Her professional interests include supporting language development through literature, helping young students develop competencies for use of AAC and AT tools, and working with classroom teachers to teach literacy for communication. Janelle has completed specialized training in cortical visual impairment (CVI) assessment and intervention, and has worked closely with Dr. Christine Roman-Lantzy in consultation at The Bridge School. Janelle has helped lead and guide changes in CVI interventions at The Bridge School, infusing student-specific interventions and accommodations both in the core curriculum and The Bridge School's specialized curricular area of communicative competence.

Nickola Wolf Nelson, Ph.D., CCC-SLP

Nicki Wolf Nelson

Nickola Wolf Nelson, Ph.D., is Professor in the Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology and Director of the Ph.D. program in Interdisciplinary Health Sciences at Western Michigan University and Editor of the journal, Topics in Language Disorders. She has published widely on language-literacy, including Language and Literacy Disorders: Infancy through Adolescence (Pearson/Allyn & Bacon, 2010) and is conducting standardization research (with support of grant R324A100354 from the U.S. Department of Education Institute for Education Sciences) on a Test of Integrated Language and Literacy Skills (TILLS). Nelson is a Fellow of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and the International Academy for Research in Learning Disabilities, a Board Certified Specialist in Child Language, recipient of the Kleffner Clinical Career Award from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation, and recipient of the Honors of the Association from ASHA.

Holly Hamilton Peartree, M.S., CCC-SLP

Holly Peartree

Holly Peartree is a Speech-Language Pathologist at The Bridge School who works with children and adolescents who have complex communication needs, including those who require Augmentative and Alternative Communication systems.  Her clinical interests include self-determination, writing instruction, and participatory design of AAC systems.  Holly recently provided contributions to the First Author™ Writing Measures, a comprehensive group of measurement tools for beginning student writers.  With over 10 years of experience, she has presented at numerous national and international conferences and workshops, including ISAAC, ASHA, and AAC by the Bay.

Christine Roman-Lantzy, Ph.D.

Christine Roman-Lantzy

Christine Roman-Lantzy, Ph.D., is the director of the Pediatric VIEW (Vision Information and Evaluation at West Penn Hospital) Program at Western Pennsylvania Hospital in Pittsburgh, and a private consultant for CVI Resources. Christine is a teacher of visually impaired students, a certified orientation and mobility specialist, and a neonatal infant developmental specialist. She is the CVI Project Leader for the American Printing House for the Blind and a consultant to numerous CVI Mentor projects. Christine is also a consultant to the Watson Institute in Sewickley Pennsylvania and to numerous schools and school districts. Christine is the author of Cortical Visual Impairment: An Approach to Assessment and Intervention (AFB Press, 2007). This book was awarded the Bledsoe Award for outstanding literature in the field of blindness in 2008. She has contributed journal articles and book chapters on topics that include, orientation and mobility, children with multiple disabilities, and visual assessment for infants. Christine has presented lectures and workshops on cortical visual impairment throughout the United States and around the world.

Martine Smith, Ph.D.

Martine Smith

Martine Smith, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor in Speech Language Pathology and the Head of the Deptarment of Clinical Speech and Language Studies in Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland. Her research and clinical work focuses on language and literacy development in children who use aided communication and children with Speech Sound Disorders, as well as the language and communication experiences of children and adults who use AAC. She has published widely on the communication, language and literacy challenges facing children and adults who use aided communication, including her book Literacy and Augmentative and Alternative Communication. She is a Past President of the International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication and a Fellow of Trinity College Dublin.

Christine Wright-Ott, MPA, OTR/L

Christine Wright-Ott

Christine is currently an occupational therapist in private practice and is a consultant at The Bridge School.  She has worked forever which has included California Children's Services, the High Tech Center at West Valley College and the former Rehabilitation Engineering Center at Stanford, where she was the author and principal investigator of the KidWalk, Gobot and MiniBot Projects. She has specialized in research and development of assistive technology for children with disabilities and is a frequent lecturer at national conferences and local universities. She recently authored the Chapter "Mobility" in the 7th Edition of the book, Occupational Therapy for Children.

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