Tele-AAC: Providing Voice for Veterans with ALS and Movement Disorders

Express Talk

April 15, 2019 | 2:35 p.m. – 3:05 p.m. CDT

Approximately 4 million Americans, including children, cannot rely on their natural speech to meet their daily communication needs. Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) systems can provide voice to persons with ALS and other movement disorders. Stephen Hawking, the late English theoretical physicist, is the most famous user of an AAC system. While Professor Hawking had access to both advanced AAC technology and specialized clinical expertise, many persons with debilitating neurologic disorders do not, hence the need for telehealth clinical and consultative models.

Three presenters in a fast-paced 30-minute panel will describe the relatively recent and creative pairing of telehealth and augmentative and alternative communication (AAC): Tele-AAC. First, Ellen R. Cohn, PhD, will provide an overview of Tele-AAC and potential uses by multi-disciplinary teams to serve vulnerable and disenfranchised populations across the lifespan. Jenifer L. Juengling-Sudkamp, PhD will next detail how Tele-AAC use is providing voice for veterans with ALS and Movement Disorders. Over a two year period, tele-AAC has been deployed with 24 veterans in the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System, New Orleans, LA. The participating multi-disciplinary team consists of a neurologist, palliative care specialist, pulmonologist, respiratory therapist, physiatrist, registered dietitian, social worker, occupational therapist, physical therapist, and speech-language pathologist. In the final segment, Telina Caudill, MS, CCC-SLP, ATP will discuss the use of tele-AAC with approximately 50 patients, from VA to VA since 2012 and from VA to home since 2014, as well as her mentorhip to establish the use of Tele-AAC in numerous VAs, nationally.


  • Ellen Cohn, Ph.D, Professor, PhD, CCC-SLP, ASHA Fellow, University of Pittsburgh
  • Jenifer Juengling-Sudkamp, Ph.D, Speech-language pathologist, Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System/VA
  • Telina Caudill, Speech-Language Pathologist, CCC-SLP; certified Assistive Technology Professional (ATP), James A
  • Haley VAMC, Polytrauma Rehab Assistive Technology Program