By: Kathy Smith, MSPA, CCC-SLP/L (retired)
AAC Spotlight is a series of interviews that we hope will be another resource. Reading about other people who are interested in AAC (augmentative-alternative communication) can help us connect with each other and share experiences and concerns. NWACS will occasionally interview people to help all of us learn more about each other and AAC.
In the Spotlight: Tanna Neufeld, MS, CCC-SLP, NWACS President
Current NWACS President, Tanna, is a practicing Speech-Language Pathologist and AAC Consultant.
How did you get interested in AAC and what is your current employment?
I went to undergraduate and graduate school in Fort Lauderdale at a small school called Nova Southeastern University which was near my home. I went there because the school had graduate programs and graduate assistant opportunities. I became a graduate assistant and happened to work under a professor who was an AAC specialist. I learned early on about AAC, how to program devices and teach graduate students and parents how to program and use high tech devices. I did this before I started graduate school which I completed in 2007. Then about six years ago, I moved to Seattle. Presently, I am working part time at the UW Autism Center in Seattle as a clinical speech pathologist. I spend my remaining work time in private practice as an AAC clinician and consultant with AAC users, families, and school districts. I enjoy clinic work and giving workshops on AAC topics to help AAC users and partners in the important work they do.
What are some of the challenges you experience in AAC?
I believe one of the first challenges for the families I work with is getting over the intimidation of using technology. But one of the biggest challenges is getting caregivers to model usage by using the device themselves. And it can be tough to get educators to learn how to integrate aided language models in the classroom in a way that will set up students for success.
How can speech pathologists, teachers, and parents learn about AAC, especially newer developments?
I am often going to social media sites, blogs, Facebook pages, etc. I also attend local and national conferences and recently I attended an international conference. It was wonderful with cutting edge information. I highly recommend people go to conferences as much as they can. Also getting involved with NWACS has helped me to network with local AAC specialists and brainstorm and dialogue with them about AAC.
What do you like to do in your leisure time?
I am active in my community and am involved with several community groups. I enjoy being with my family, especially on weekends with my preschooler. My son recently started preschool so now I am getting involved with his school. I like to run and bake and, of course, eat. Because I enjoy being crafty, I like to plan parties and events for family and friends.
What a fun opportunity to get to know a little more about you, Tanna! Thank you for taking a moment to be interviewed and participate in our AAC Spotlight series.
You can read our other posts in our AAC Spotlight series by clicking HERE.
Do you have a suggestion of someone you would like to see us interview for AAC Spotlight? Let us know in a comment below or send us an email.