Sharing the Knowledge of AAC Users
There is a group of adults, across the nation, who use augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) and who have successfully overcome many challenges; they have achieved personally desired outcomes in their educational/vocational, social, and personal lives. These individuals offer a rich potential source of disability-related information, effective problem solving strategies, and encouragement for others with similar disabilities who confront comparable challenges.
Mentoring has been used in many other fields to link more experienced people (mentors) with less experienced people (proteges) to help the proteges with many life activities. Mentors can provide guidance and share knowledge with proteges. People who use AAC should have opportunities to participate in these types of relationships. The Mentor Project was designed to help AAC users meet each other, and to help AAC users begin Mentor-Protˇgˇ relationships.
What is the AAC Mentor Project?
The Mentor Project was developed at Penn State University by Dr. Janice Light and Dr. David McNaughton to link adolescents who use AAC with mentors via the Internet. Thirty adult AAC mentors will be recruited and trained (15 the first year and 15 the second year). In addition, 30 adolescent AAC users will be linked to these mentors to help them in many aspects of their lives. The program has several objectives over its course:
What is a mentor?
A mentor is a role model. A mentor is a guide. A mentor is someone to turn to when there is a problem. As Josefowitz once said, a mentor is someone who provides "a brain to pick, a shoulder to cry on, and a kick in the pants."
Why have a mentor?
Who are the AAC mentors?
Mentors are individuals who use AAC who have had success in their lives at school, at work, and at home. They are chosen by the project team after an extensive selection process.
Who are the proteges?
Proteges are adolescents or young adults who are interested in improving themselves, and who would like to be matched up an experienced AAC user who has had success in school, at work, and at home. Proteges can be nominated by their parents, teachers, and therapists.
What skills are needed to be a good mentor?
Good mentors need:
How will mentors develop these skills?
What is the Mentor Leadership Training Course?
Mentors will complete the Mentor Leadership Training Course. It is a self-study course. Mentors can work on it by themselves at their own pace.
The Mentor Leadership Training Course has lessons on four topics:
In each of the lessons, mentors will have the chance to learn new skills or to improve the skills they already have. Mentors will have the chance to practice their skills by acting as a mentor in role-play situations.
How long will it take to complete the course?
We estimate that it will take a total of 12-18 hours to complete the Mentor Leadership Training Course. Mentors can work on the course 1-2 hours a day over a number of days.
If mentors already have some experience as a mentor and they have already learned many of these skills, then it may take less time.
If mentors have not yet had the opportunity to be a mentor and they are learning new skills, it may take a bit longer.
Mentors can progress at their own speed. Mentors should plan to complete the course within 6-8 weeks.
What is the Mentor Network?
In addition to completing the Mentor Leadership Training Course on this web site, mentors will also have the opportunity to participate each week on a listserv with the other mentors on the project. We call this listserv the Mentor Network.
Through the Mentor Network, mentors will have the chance to:
Michael Williams and Carole Krezman will facilitate the Mentor Network. They will share their own experiences as mentors and will welcome and encourage others to participate.
How can I find out more about the project?
Thank you for visiting. Check back for updates and more information about our progress!
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|This research is supported by Grant #H133G8004 from The National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR). The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research and no official endorsement should be inferred.|