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Meet The OA Founding Team

OA Founding Advisory Team

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Sarah Blackstone, Ph.D., CCC-SLP (Independent Consultant)

Sarah is past President and a Fellow of the International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (ISAAC) and a founder and current Board member of USSAAC (US Chapter). She currently serves on the Advisory Council for the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders at the National Institutes of Health and is on the Board of The Bridge School. Sarah was President of Augmentative Communication Inc., where she wrote and published Augmentative Communication News and Alternatively Speaking. She was a partner in the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center (RERC) on Communication Enhancement and Chief of Speech-Language Pathology, Kennedy Institute/Johns Hopkins Department of Rehabilitation Medicine. In her consultant role, she has served as consultant for the Berkeley Unified School District and for many years facilitated their AAC team. Sarah led the American Speech Language and Hearing Association’s initial task force in developing guidelines and practices around AAC. Sarah is the co-author of Social Networks: A Communication Inventory for Individuals with Complex Communication Needs and their Communication Partners (2012).

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Gayl Bowser, M.A. (Independent Consultant)

Gayl has worked nationally and internationally in the fields of assistive technology and special education programming for many decades. She coordinated Oregon’s Technology Access Program (OTAP) as well as Regional and Statewide Services for Students with Orthopedic Impairments (RSOI). She is well-known as a facilitator and trainer (including a 5-year OSEP grant to develop and support an online community of practice focused on the needs of individuals with complex communication needs). Gayl is passionate about online networks and professional learning. She is active in the leadership for QIAT (the Quality Indicators for Assistive Technology), and has written resources to support this work. Gayle has recently co-authored “Leading the Way to Excellence in AT Services: A Guide for School Administrators”, through CAST Publishing.

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Marlene Cummings, M.A., CCC-SLP (Independent Consultant)

Marlene is a speech-language pathologist, former early childhood educator, and Augmentative/Alternative Communication (AAC) Consultant. Her 40 year career is highlighted by her passion to create environments and change culture for students with complex communication needs in AAC, language and literacy. Marlene designed and implemented an AAC classroom program for students with severe apraxia and an accompanying Assistive Technology Center in a large suburban school district. She specializes in designing innovative implementation systems utilizing cutting edge professional learning frameworks and dynamic service delivery models to build capacity and sustainability among teams and organizations. In addition, Marlene’s past classroom experience drives her exploration and use of universal AAC supports and strategically chosen implementation strategies. She currently influences others in the field through state, national and international conference presentations focused on AAC implementation frameworks, capacity building, shifting mindsets and job embedded learning models. Marlene teaches graduate students in AAC, serves on the advisory committee for the #TalkingAAC conference, contributes posts on PrAACtical AAC and other blogs and newsletters and most recently collaborated with The Center for Literacy and Disability Studies on a train the trainer literacy initiative.

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Denise DeCoste, Ed.D., OTR (Independent Consultant)

Denise has been a practicing OT and AT Specialist for many years, and is the individual behind Montgomery County Public School’s highly recognized “High Incidence Assistive Technology” (HIAT) Program (a model for our program!). She chaired the State of Maryland’s UDL Taskforce that examined the effectiveness and feasibility of UDL across Maryland’s education systems (Link here for the report). Denise has served as a vice-chair of the UDL-IRN and is a national lecturer and consultant around UDL and AT. She is the author of two exemplary AT assessment tools “The Writing Protocol” and the “Protocol for Accommodations in Reading”, as well as “The Handbook of Augmentative and Alternative Communication”.


Sue Hardin, M.A. (UDL Coordinator and AT Consultant)

Sue is a passionate educational leader in her region around supporting UDL as an initiative. She currently serves on the UDL-IRN Board of Directors, and has organized and hosted two UDL-IRN Regional Events in Michigan (most recently the Great Lakes UDL Experience in 2018). Sue co-chaired the International UDL-IRN Summit for 3 years, and has served on the Board of Directors for the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE)’s Inclusive Learning Network. She is currently working on the UDL Associate Credential Project.

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Mary Ann Romski, Ph.D., CCC-SLP (Regents Professor of Communication, Psychology, and Communication Disorders; Director)

Mary Ann is a professor, researcher and clinician with expertise in developmental disabilities, augmentative communication, and early language intervention. As Director of the Center for Atypical Development and Learning, Mary Ann is committed to advancing the interdisciplinary study of all aspects of atypical development at Georgia State University. She is instrumental in conducting research around early language interventions, including the use of augmented means, for children at high risk of delayed language and communication development and reading interventions and school-aged children with intellectual disabilities.

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Aubyn Stahmer, Ph.D. (Director of Community-based Treatment Research and Associate Director)

Aubyn conducts ongoing research and supports community-based treatment and research programs for the UC Davis MIND Institute. She is the principal investigator on several federal grants that involve multi-site, community (including educational) collaborations. Her work focuses on implementation science methods and the innovative use of research and community partnerships to adapt EBPs and develop training methods for providers to increase effectiveness of strategies. Aubyn is widely published and a frequent presenter at annual professional meetings in the field of services to children with autism. She is an editor of Autism: International Journal of Research and Practice. She is very involved in the autism community, participating in the California Best Practice Guidelines Committee and the National Standards projects, developing guidelines for autism treatment.

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