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Writers Brigade

Pamela Kennedy (Writers Brigade)

David McNaughton (Penn State University)

Writers Brigade Logo


The Writers Brigade (WB) operates under a two-fold mission: enhancing employability for adults who depend on assistive technology (AT) and publicizing the activities of the AAC-RERC. Participants in the WB will gain professional experience in writing and publishing articles that disseminate research in the field of AAC and AT.

David McNaughton and Pamela Kennedy are now implementing the AAC-RERC Writers Brigade. It was conceived of by staff at ACI in 2003 as a knowledge translation tool for the AAC-RERC and in response to findings that people with complex communication needs often are unemployed or underemployed. From 2003-2008, Johana Schwartz served as project manager and Sarah W. Blackstone as project director. Eleven individuals participated successfully and accrued more than 100 citations over four years. They developed a Guide to enable others to replicate and adapt the program to meet the needs of their own organizations/entites. For a free, downloadable copy of the Guide,click here.

The project is now in the hands of Pamela Kennedy, the project manager. She coaches the participants in the process of writing and revising articles for publication, with the objective of teaching them the skills necessary to succeed as technical writers. David McNaughton is the project director. The writers correspond with the manager over email, submitting drafts in exchange for customized feedback. The manager supports participants throughout the writing process, starting with brainstorming sessions and usually ending with submitting the manuscript for publishing. Articles appear in a variety of online and print media.

Outcomes of the flagship AAC-RERC Writers Brigade have included increases in the technical writing skills of participants, the knowledge transfer of information about AAC-RERC research and development projects to multiple stakeholder groups, and new employment options for participants who are looking for work. In addition, participants report an expansion of their social networks through contacts they have made with AAC-RERC researchers and potential employers. Importantly, involving writers with disabilities in the ongoing research and development of a field by supporting them to write articles on the topic of AAC research helps to address the RERC goal of "Nothing about us, without us."

Over the next five years the AAC-RERC WB will continue to coach several groups of participants. In keeping with the AAC-RERC motto, please help us to "Spread the word" about the Writers Brigade to aspiring writers.

To receive more information about how to participate in the program, Please email Pamela Kennedy

Current Participants

Pamela Kennedy (Project Manager)

Dennis Larned

Leigh Lightholder

Kathy Pink

Beth Anne Luciani

Chris Klein

Godfrey Nazareth

Eva Sweeney

Anthony Arnold

Annual Update (May, 2013)

• 8 articles (published or in press) in 4 different publications (June, 2012 - May, 2013)

Knowledge Transfer

Schwartz, J., McLeod, L, & Blackstone, S. (March, 2008).  The AAC-RERC Writers Brigade. Presentation at the CSUN Conference on Disability Technology.(pdf)

Blackstone, S. (2009). The AAC-RERC Writers Brigade. Augmentative Communication News, 21 (1), 1-7. (pdf)

Schwartz, J. (2009). Revising the Writers Brigade, Part 1. SpeakUp: The Journal of USSAAC, p. 9-11. (pdf)

Kennedy, P. (2009). Revising the Writers Brigade, Part 2. SpeakUp: The Journal of USSAAC, p. 9-11 (pdf)

Blackstone, S., McNaughton, D., Kennedy, P., Schwartz, J. (July, 2010). The AAC-RERC Writers Brigade. Presentation at the International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication, Barcelona, Spain.

Kennedy, P. (2010). Navigating through transition with individuals with speech disabilities. Perspectives on Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 19(2), 44- 50 (abstract)

Kennedy, P., Larned, D., & McNaughton, D. (2010). Posting guidelines for the RESNA Student Design Competition site. (website).

Kennedy, P. & McNaughton, D. (July, 2010). The Writers Brigade. ConnSENSE Bulletin. (full text).

Klein, C. (December, 2010). YouTube Project Allows People with Speech Disabilities to Tell Their Own Stories. ConnSENSE Bulletin (full text).

Klein, C. (December, 2010). A Voice and Helping Hand to Those with Disabilities. ConnSENSE Bulletin (full text).

Lightholder, L. (July, 2010). Patient Provider Communication. ConnSENSE Bulletin. (full text).

Lightholder, L. (July, 2010). Writers Brigade: A key to plans and dreams. ConnSENSE Bulletin. (full text).

McNaughton, D., & Arnold, A. (2010). Supporting Positive Employment Outcomes for Individuals Who Use AAC. Perspectives on Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 19(2), 51-59. (abstract)

McNaughton, D., Balandin, S., Kennedy, P., & Sandmel, T. (2010). Health transitions for youth with complex communication needs: The importance of health literacy and communication strategies. Journal of Pediatric Rehabilitation Medicine, 3, 311–318.  (full text)

McNaughton, D., & Kennedy, P. (2010). Supporting successful transition to adult life for individuals who use AAC. Transition Strategies for Adolescents and Young Adults Who Use AAC (pp. 3–15). Baltimore, MD: Brookes. (publisher)

Pink, K.J. (October, 2010). A Life Defined by Sharing and Advocacy. ConnSENSE bulletin (full text)

Pink, K.J. (October, 2010). Emergency Preparedness Webcast for People with Complex Communication Needs. ConnSENSE Bulletin (full text)

Worah, S., Douglas, S., McNaughton, D., & Kennedy, P. (August, 2010). AAC Resource Guide for Teachers. Connecticut State Education Resource Center. (full text)

Kennedy, P. (January, 2011). No One to Speak for Them: Emergency preparedness resources for those with speech disabilities. Therapy Times (full text).

McNaughton, D., Bryen, D., Blackstone, S., Williams, M., & Kennedy, P. (2012).Young adults with complex communication needs: Research and development in AAC for a “diverse” population. Assisitive Technology, 24, 45-53. (abstract)

Kennedy, P. & McNaughton, D. (June, 2012). AAC-RERC State of the Science Conference. ATIA Newsletter (full text)

Larned, D. (June, 2012). Discovering empowerment through writing. ConnSENSE Bulletin (full text)

Nazareth, G. (June, 2012). RESNA Student Design Competition Offers Opportunities to Change Assistive Technology Industry and Lives of People with Disabilities. ConnSENSE Bulletin (full text)

Larned, D. (September, 2012). AAC TechConnect Creates Tools That Simplify Augmentative and Alternative Communication Evaluations. ConnSENSE Bulletin (full text)

Nazareth, G. (September, 2012). A passion for life. ConnSENSE Bulletin (full text)

McNaughton, D., & Chapple, D. (2013). AAC and Communication in the Workplace. Perspectives on Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 22(1), 30-36. (abstract)