You are viewing the website for the aac-rerc, which was funded by NIDRR from 2008-2013.
For information on the new RERC on AAC, funded by NIDILRR from 2014-2019, please visit

AAC: A User's Perspective

Colin Portnuff

Colin Portnuff


Click to View the Webcast

QuickTime movie (large screen, fast connection recommended)

QuickTime movie (small screen)

QuickTime movie with open captions

Windows Media Player format

Webcast Description

Colin Portnuff was a bright and passionate humanitarian who lost his speech, but never his love of life nor his sense of humor, to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Colin passed away on February 11, 2007.

We are fortunate to have this webcast of Colin sharing his life experiences and his vision for new applications of assistive technology. He describes receiving his diagnosis, stepping into the "world" of disability, and dealing with public attitudes and discrimination. He shares some of his techniques for managing conversations, and presents some interesting and provocative information for us about the application of speech and voice technology in augmentative and alternative communication.

Colin challenges us to look past disability, voice and language to see people—their emotions, their values and their character—and to appreciate the impact that our work can have on people's lives.

Colin Portnuff was the 2006 recipient of the ACES Free Speech Now award from Temple University.

Additional Resources


Augmentative Communication News: Living with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (July 2005) This issue focuses on people with ALS and their closest communication partners, and highlights the tremendous difference that effective communication supports has on their lives (pdf).

Gibbons, C., & Fried-Oken, M. (October, 2009). AAC Clinical pathways for neurodegenerative diseases. Presentation at Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, OR. (Handout)


The Dasher ProjecDasher is an information-efficient text-entry interface, driven by natural continuous pointing gestures.


Transcript - PDF format. (60KB)

Transcript - text format. (28KB)

Technical Requirements for Viewing Webcasts