Augmented and Alternative Communication (AAC) is a very familiar topic within the autistic community. These technologies were developed to help autistic individuals overcome difficulties communicating with and expressing themselves to the people around them. Although the field of AAC has come a long way, there’s still a lot of room for improvement. What does the current technology landscape look like? How do we identify which solutions work for which autistic individuals? What are the limitations of today’s AAC technologies, and what are some changes that are starting to emerge to address autistic individuals’ needs? Join us as we talk to Mark Surabian, assistive technologies specialist and founder of ATHelp.
Mark Surabian has utilized assistive and instructional technologies to directly serve the educational and vocational needs of thousands of individuals with disabilities for over 29 years, across five states, in both private and public school systems, in residential and work facilities, and within home-based learning programs. He developed and presently operates ATHelp.org, a free assistive technology support program at the JCC in Manhattan, where he has served the needs of over 2500 children and adults with communication, vision, learning, and physical challenges. As an Assistive Technology Consultant he has provided services to NYC DOE, NYS Acces-VR, and to well over 50 school systems across the Tri-State area to address the curriculum, UDL, and participation needs of students, and further provide training/support for educators.
He is an instructor for Pace University's Graduate School of Education, a frequent lecturer on assistive technologies at local colleges (Bankstreet College, Columbia University Teachers College, NYU, etc.), and has conducted trainings for NYC educators through the Everyone Reading Assn., the NYC Special Education Collaborative, and the Teachers College Inclusive Classrooms Project. He has consulted for AT technology developers (AMDi, BlinkTwice, LC Technologies, Panther, Total Talk, etc.) and advocacy agencies (MS Society, Advocates for Children, ARISE, etc.). He has collaborated on numerous research projects around the use of AT for learning, communication, and accessibility. His lectures range from voluntary parent trainings at local agencies and conferences, to contracted staff trainings on Educational and Assistive Technologies for both high and low incidence disabilities and Universal Design for Learning (UDL).
He is currently working on a dissertation examining educator perceptions on the value of Cloud-based AT for students with learning challenges. His free resources may be found at www.ATHelp.org.