2019 NWACS Annual Fall Conference

🔗 Link to handout for the conference has been emailed to all who are registered 💻

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New this year: registration is all online via Eventbrite (link at the bottom of this page)

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Registration for this year's NWACS conference is now CLOSED. We invite you to join us for a day of learning about the crucial topic of language and literacy instruction for children/individuals with complex needs. Don't miss this opportunity to come together with members from all walks of our AAC community. Come grow your AAC knowledge, share your experiences, and connect with your fellow AAC peeps. Seating is limited

DATE: October 19, 2019

8 - 8:30am Registration / 8:30am - 4pm Workshop;  12 - 1pm Lunch (provided)

WHERE: Red Lion Hotel Bellevue ~ 11211 Main Street, Bellevue, WA [New venue!]

Traveling and need overnight accommodations? Red Lion Hotel Bellevue is offering a special rate for those attending the NWACS conference ($69.00+ tax with waived resort fees)!

GENERAL REGISTRATION: $105 (+ fees); discount available for instructional assistants/students/parents/consumers (email conference@nwacs.info to request a discount code)

SPEAKER: Lauren S. Enders, MA, CCC-SLP ~ Augmentative Communication and Assistive Technology Consultant

Lauren S. Enders, MA, CCC-­SLP is a licensed and ASHA certified Speech-­Language Pathologist currently working as a full­-time Augmentative and Alternative Communication and Assistive Technology (AT) Consultant for Bucks County Intermediate Unit in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. She has had a passion for using AAC and other forms of assistive technology to support students with complex communication needs and complex bodies since she began her career in 1995. Lauren presents regularly at national conferences including Closing the Gap, ATIA, and ASHA as well as more intimate conferences, speaking engagements and webinars. She has shared her knowledge via blog posts on Praacticalaac.org as well as articles published in ASHA Leader and Closing the Gap Solutions Magazines. Lauren enjoys sharing AAC and AT related resources and networking with others in the field via her professional social media accounts on Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter.

TITLE: Energizing Language & Literacy Instruction for Students with Complex Needs

DESCRIPTION: We all encounter those who may harbor myths or be reluctant to “jump in head first” with direct communication and literacy instruction for our most complex students (e.g., complex bodies, cognitive impairment, and complex communication needs). However, language and literacy certainly top the list of skills that we should be teaching all learners as they strive to become productive, socially valued, and safe members of their communities. In this full-day workshop, we will focus on learning how we can provide even our most complex learners with the essential skills of communication and literacy. We will explore best practices in AAC implementation, as well as easy-to-replicate methods of teaching literacy skills through engaging lecture and practical, hands-on participant activities. The guiding principle of providing student instruction within fun, engaging and meaningful activities and tasks will be embedded throughout this workshop. We will also explore strategies that can be used to encourage and inspire team members to commit to fostering the development of language and literacy with all of their learners, without the expectation of prerequisite skills.  

Participants will:

  • Explore strategies to teach language, encourage AAC use, and weave literacy activities into busy daily schedules.

  • Discover and practice tools that support access to writing for students with even the most significant motor impairments (“alternative pencils”), as well as receive resources on how to create alternative pencils.

  • Explore how to revamp traditional classroom activities (such as morning meeting) to include rich language and literacy instruction.

  • Discover new activities and tools to add to your “toolboxes” - including easy-to-access, electronic and non-electronic assistive technology - that can be used to support language/AAC use and literacy development (e.g., classroom core vocabulary communication displays, custom book creation, Tar Heel Reader website, Story Creator, Pictello, Book Creator, and PicCollage). 

LEARNING OBJECTIVES: Upon completion of this workshop, participants will be able to:

  1. Name three types of alternative pencils and how they can be used to allow students with complex motor needs to write. 

  2. Describe the concept of “attributing meaning” when working with emergent readers, writers, and communicators. 

  3. Share one method of increasing school community awareness and involvement in supporting students who use AAC.

  4. Explain how a “day map” can be used to identify key vocabulary targets to teach and model.

  5. Define the term “experience book” and give one example of how an experience book can be used to support language and literacy development.

  6. Name at least one newly-learned app and describe how it can be used to support language and literacy development.


  • Participants are encouraged to bring an iPad or tablet, ChromeBook, or laptop to this session; however, these tools are not required. 

  • WiFi will be available for attendees within the conference space. 

  • Handouts will be emailed to registered attendees two weeks prior to the conference day. 

  • Attendees who require accommodations or have special dietary needs should contact conference@nwacs.info with requests. 

CONTINUING EDUCATION: This course offers the following continuing education credits:

SLPs: This conference provides 6.0 hours of professional development which count toward the Certification Maintenance Hours required to maintain ASHA certification. Read more about how to count NWACS conference hours toward your ASHA professional development requirements HERE.

School District Employees: This conference provides 6 OSPI CECH