Teaching Age-Appropriate Academic Learning via Communication (TAALC)

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Welcome to the Teaching Age-Appropriate Academic Learning via Communication (TAALC)

TAALC is a KY State Personnel Development Grant (SPDG) based on federal grants to states departments of education.

Purpose and Goals of the Project

This particular SPDG is a Low Incidence Initiative designed to improve communication and educational services to students with the most significant disabilities in KY public schools. We will show educators that:

  • With the innovations in technology, communication for students with significant disabilities is achievable.
  • Students should enter Kindergarten with an adequate communication system which grows with the students.
  • NO student should leave school without a communication system in place.
  • Students must have viable communication systems in order to access curriculum and participate in assessment systems, academic curriculum, social interactions, and post-school outcomes.

What's Going On in the TAALC

Video and Presentations

The TAALC Modules and Webinars below have been created by the Low Incidence Initiative-Teaching Academic Age-appropriate Learning via Communication (TAALC) program. The underlying premise of TAALC is all students can and do communicate, and TAALC presentations are designed to provide training and experience in identifying communicative competence for students with complex communication needs. The Listen UP series of modules was created to equip school teams and families with the skills needed to increase a student’s communicative competence.

Listen Up Series

Module # Title Link Password
1 Listen Up! Introduction https://vimeo.com/78758698 listenupintro
2 Listen Up! Identifying Communication Part 1 https://vimeo.com/78758699 listenup
3 Listen Up! Identifying Communication Part 2 https://vimeo.com/78816277 OutputPart2
4 Listen Up! AAC https://vimeo.com/78758700 ListenUPAAC
5 Listen Up! Factors Impacting Communication https://vimeo.com/85861682 Factors
6 Listen Up! Strategies for Building Communication https://vimeo.com/82031467 ListenUp6

TAALC CoP Modules

Module # Title Link Password
7 7 Deadly Sins https://vimeo.com/113955268 ListenUP
8 Friends, Family, & Favorites https://vimeo.com/116910398 ListenUP
9 Feature Matching https://vimeo.com/119456063 ListenUP

TAALC 2016 Winter Webinars

Webinar # Title Link Password
1 Peer Supports for Communication https://vimeo.com/188980003 Not required
2 Core Vocabulary https://vimeo.com/189929488 Not required
3 Using Visual Scene Displays for AAC https://vimeo.com/190865894 Not required

TAALC Tuesday Series

Talk # Title Link Password
1 Pokemon Go! https://vimeo.com/188024670 Not required
2 Aided Language Modeling Using Core Vocabulary https://vimeo.com/194876014 Not required
3 Read My Smile: Multi-Modal Communication https://vimeo.com/195638539 Not required
4 Touch It: Tactile Symbols and Device Enhancements for Vision Support https://vimeo.com/199899161 Not required
5 Finding the Hours in the Day: Integrating Related Services https://vimeo.com/206579685 Not required
6 Communication Leadership Teams https://vimeo.com/208503435 Not required
7 Peer Supports: The Communication Superheroes https://vimeo.com/213897578 Not required

TAALC Tuesday’s Core Implementation Series: How We Do It

Talk # Title
1 Implementing Tactile Symbols: Opportunities for Literacy
2 Implementing Core and Teaching Literacy
3 Including Peers: Using Core and Fringe Vocabulary to Play Games

*Protocols for using the modules:

  1. Modules may be viewed individually online.
  2. Modules may be streamed online as part of Professional Development training.
  3. Modules may not be downloaded, taken apart, or modified in anyway.

If you have any questions about the modules or problems accessing the modules, please email the TAALC helpdesk. If you have any questions about the TAALC project, please email the Low Incidence Coordinator in your Regional Coop or the the TAALC helpdesk.


Complete District Packet 2016-2017 pdf



Volume 1

TAALC Newsletter Oct. 2015, Volume 1, Number 1

TAALC Newsletter Nov. 2015, Volume 1, Number 2

TAALC Newsletter Feb. 2016, Volume 1, Number 3

TAALC Newsletter Mar. 2016, Volume 1, Number 4

TAALC Newsletter May 2016, Volume 1, Number 5

Volume 2

TAALC Newsletter Aug. 2016, Volume 2, Number 1

TAALC Newsletter Sep. 2016, Volume 2, Number 2

TAALC Newsletter Nov. 2016, Volume 2, Number 3

TAALC Newsletter Jan. 2017, Volume 2, Number 5

TAALC Newsletter Feb. 2017, Volume 2, Number 6

TAALC Newsletter Mar. 2017, Volume 2, Number 7

TAALC Communication Strategies

TAALC Communication Strategy #1 Partner Assisted Scanning

TAALC Communication Strategy #2 Aided Language Modeling

TAALC Communication Strategy #3 Peer Mediated Supports

TAALC Communication Strategy #4 Reflect, Interpret, Expand

TAALC Communication Strategy #5 Use Core Words

TAALC Communication strategy #6 Identify Preferences


Using Visual Scene Displays for AAC presentation


Q: Who can I contact for help with an individual student’s communication or if I want to start a district team?

A: Please contact the TAALC Helpdesk for all inquires about the TAALC project. You should receive a response to your request within 48 hours. Thank you!

Q: Who are the members on your team?

A: Our team is comprised of:
  • Jacqui Kearns, Ed.D, Human Development Institute, U of KY
  • Jane Kleinert, Ph.D., Department of Rehabilitation Sciences/Division of Communication Sciences and Disorders, U of KY
  • Judith Page, Ph.D., Department of Rehabilitation Sciences/Division of Communication Sciences and Disorders, U of KY
  • Lou-Ann Land, MS, Human Development Institute, U of KY

Q: How did you create your team? How did you derive your idea?

A: Research on over 50,000 students in the U.S. completed by Dr. Kearns and Dr. Kleinert through the National Alternate Assessment Center and the National Centers and States Collaborative revealed that less than half of the students in alternate assessment (students with the most significant disabilities) who lack symbolic communication and who need AAC (augmentative/alternative communication systems) actually have such communication systems in place. When apprised of this information, the Kentucky Department of Education agreed to use one of its Low Incidence SPDGs for the development of programming to assist KY schools in developing communication programming for such students. The Co-PIs for this grant are: Dr. Jacqui Kearns (UK/DHI) and Dr. Kleinert and Dr. Page (CSD, College of Health Sciences). The project was initiated in 2009 and was refunded for a new 5 year cycle, in January of 2013.

Q: What is provided from this project?

A: This grant project provides for:
  • Direct training to KY school districts in best practice communication programming for students with the most significant disabilities
  • Distance coaching to the district teams for targeted students in need to communication intervention
  • Development and training of district level teams to take over the above initiatives
  • Development of on-line training modules on quality communication interventions to be accessed by school teams state-wide
  • Development of state-wide "chats" for further training for teams after accessing the communication modules.
Since classroom and school-based teams are by definition interprofessional (educators, SLPs, OTs, PTs, administrators and AT specialists), all trainings and coaching require that our project staff be interprofessional as well and that they are able to model interprofessional teaching and interventions for teams. Our current project staff includes both a specialist in education/special education and behavioral intervention and two specialists in communication disorders, developmental disabilities and AAC.

Q: What are the long term vision and specific aims of your research?

A: Our project is not primarily for research, but for training and systems change in the area of communication service provision and severe disabilities. We have, however, been able to collect extensive outcome data and satisfaction data from the project. Initial project data and outcomes include:
  • Work with over 31 district teams that include 5-6 professionals and parents in each team (approximately 160+ individuals)
  • District level trainings
  • Individualized coaching calls to districts
  • 100% of targeted students have begun to use some form of AAC.
  • Participants report high satisfaction with the process and two other U.S. states have adopted the TAALC model for their use.
  • Development of 3 training modules to go online in the near future, with at least 4 more to follow
  • Extensive library of student video examples for training
  • Extensive library of example adapted curriculum items for students with complex communication needs
  • Loaning of multiple simple electronic devices for use in the district before schools actually purchase AAC equipment
  • Receipt of a University of Kentucky Commonwealth Collaborative grant for additional support of the project
  • Extensive state and national presentations of the project
  • Award of a new 5 year SPDG grant for the continuation of the TAALC project

Q: What challenges or Tips from the Field/Laboratory could you suggest to faculty and students?

A: Be willing to offer collaborative consultation as an entrée to working in interprofessional settings and to find opportunities to collaborate on grant and research project development.

Electronic means make collaboration easier but collaboration is built on relationships. Such relationships are built on respect for the participants in the training project, respect for the targeted students and their families, and respect for the interprofessional partners involved in the initiative. Collaborators must be willing to release some of their personal professional preferences or procedures and be open to various approaches and points of view.

Following state and federal funding streams is important in securing grants to support collaborative work.

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