AAC In The Desert 2019


FEBRUARY 27, 28 and March 1, 2019  -  PHOENIX, ARIZONA

At the spectacular Ability360 Center


Emergent Reading, Writing, AAC and Apps!

Come to beautiful Phoenix for three days of learning, sharing and FUN!  The focus will be on language and emergent literacy development for students with significant disabilities who use Augmentative & Alternative Communication (AAC).

This conference will target how to facilitate students’ active engagement in classroom instruction. Topics will include:
• Integrating language development into every subject and activity with a rich aided language environment
• Implementing shared and guided reading activities while integrating AAC
• Developing activities/lessons that foster emergent writing and phonological awareness
• Supporting instruction in a range of classroom settings
• Selecting informal assessments & IEP goals

AAC, alternative pencils, sample texts, instructional strategies and apps will be woven throughout sessions. There will be a vendor hallfor participants to learn about specific tools and a social event to network with new and old friends.

Through lecture, demonstrations, videos, hands on opportunities, and group brainstorming, participants will leave with an understanding of language & emergent literacy development and a plan for getting started.



  • Wednesday, February 27: 8:30 - 3:30, Vendor Hall 4 - 6
  • Thursday, February 28: 8:30 - 3:30, Hands On Sessions & Pizza Party - 4 - 7
  • Friday, March 1: 8:30 - 3:30

Key Speakers Include:

Dr. Caroline Musselwhite  

Dr. Caroline Musselwhite is an assistive technology specialist with more than 30 years of experience working with children and adolescents with severe disabilities, in a variety of settings, including Head Start, developmental day programs, and the public schools. She has also taught courses at several universities, including West Virginia University, and Western Carolina University.  She has also coordinated Communication Circles and Balanced Literacy Club Projects in school districts in Massachusetts, New York, Florida, Arizona, Illinois, and Kingston, Ontario.

Dr. Musselwhite has authored a number of textbooks and “how-to” books on a range of topics, including Emergent Literacy Success, Communication Programming for Persons with Severe Handicaps, and Reading Activities Project for Older Students (R.A.P.S.). She has also authored a number of software programs (Write to Talk, Social Scripts) and books (Learning to Work) for youth with disabilities. She has presented thousands of workshops throughout the world, and is a founding member of the Board of Directors for the International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (ISAAC). Honors include: Foundation Fellowship (West Virginia University), Educator of the Year (Association for Retarded Citizens, North Carolina), Honors of the Association, (North Carolina Augmentative Communication Association), and DiCarlo Outstanding Clinician Award (North Carolina Speech-Language-Hearing Association), and ISAAC Fellow.

Dr. Gretchen Hanser

Dr. Hanser has worked in the field of assistive technology and literacy for students with significant disabilities for over 20 years.  She is an educator and an occupational therapist. She has worked in a variety of educational settings developing model classrooms, developing school based assistive technology centers, providing teacher and related service provider trainings, participating in assistive technology assessment teams and working directly with students and staff in the classroom.  Her primary focus has been on augmentative and alternative communication and literacy for students with the most significant disabilities.  Gretchen presents nationally and internationally on these subjects.  She completed her doctoral research on an integrated literacy and communication intervention with students with significant disabilities.  Gretchen also has a masters degree in occupational therapy and received her doctorate in education from the University of New Hampshire.

Erin Sheldon, M Ed

Erin Sheldon is an assistive technology consultant in Kingston, Ontario. She is the mother of a grade 6 student with Angelman syndrome. Erin earned her M Ed degree at Queen's University studying literacy development in students with significant disabilities. Erin presents internationally on the use of iOS devices to help all students access comprehensive literacy instruction, supporting students in inclusive classrooms, and helping families develop long term personal plans. Erin also shares her expertise part time with AssistiveWare Company.


Conference pricing:
Super Early Bird  (By November 30) $450
Early Bird (ByDecember 15)  $500
General (By January 10):  $550
Late Registration (After February 15):  $625

Parent of Student Who Uses AAC:  $100 off the appropriate price
Group Rate: $100 off the appropriate price per person, for Group of 5 registering under one payment


Hotel Information
Here are some nearby hotels we can recommend.

Purchase Orders and CEUs


We will be providing a certificate so that individuals can manage their own CEUs.
Wed and Friday are 5.5 hours each
Thursday is 7 hours IF you attend the hands on sessions