North Carolina Augmentative Communication Association

History

On a dark and stormy night in 1983, a few brave women met together in a basement room in Lennox Baker Children's Hospital, Durham, NC. These women, dressed in '80s' leg warmers and large colorful earrings, were Speech-Language Pathologists, an OT, PT and Psychologist working at "rival" facilities affiliated with Duke and UNC-Chapel Hill also, Lennox Baker Children's Hospital. They overcame these great rivalries because they had one thing in common: they each worked with individuals, adults and children, with complex communication needs. The people they worked with, and desperately wanted to help, could not use speech to communicate all they knew, wanted and felt. These brave women wanted to find out as much as possible about augmentative and alternative communication (AAC), and even more importantly, they wanted a way to share this knowledge with others who also wanted to help non-speaking individuals to communicate. They wanted to begin an association of AAC-users, family members, and professionals whose mission is to "to provide leadership in the promotion of the best possible communication for people in NC with complex communication needs." The founding "mothers" of NCACA also felt that "achieving this vision involves partnerships among service providers, educators, researchers, manufacturers, state agencies, legislators, persons with complex communication needs and their families to make augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) known, available and successfully used by all who require AAC support to communicate."

Their meeting began the now thirty years of many disciplines gathering together, at least once per year at an annual conference, to learn and to share about assessment, intervention, and teaching strategies to assist children and adults with severe disabilities to communicate to their fullest potential. The NCACA also disseminates knowledge about AAC through an online newsletter, annual workshops, and mentoring opportunities.

Past NCACA Presidents:

1983: Martha McDowell-Fleming
1984: Patricia Porter
1985: Ken Whitley
1986: Gracie Williams
1987: Sarah Jenkins
1988: Judy Sebastian
1989: Karen Casey
1990: Johanne Paff
1991: Shelly Junak Howell
1992: Patsy Pierce
1993: Kate Snodgrass
1994: Lynn Blumenthal
1995: Patrick Bartholomew
1996: Debbie Reinhartsen
1997: Laura Lewis
1998: Jeanette Shannon
1999: Louise Ehrenkaufer
2000: Libby Rush
2001: Jackie Russell
2002: Sally Simpson
2003: Jenny Gandee
2004/05: Wendi McMillan
2005/06: Celeste Helling
2006/07: Karen Brauns
2007/08: Sheila Bridges-Bond
2008/09: Sally Simpson
2010: Celeste Helling
2011: Shelby Kennerly
2012: April Furr
2013: Page Norris-Mikol
2014: Jennifer Tate
2015: Kristine Drum
2016: Page Norris-Mikol
2017: Dawn Sowers