Skip to main content

Talking Through Technology – Celebrating the New Augmentative and Alternative Communication Lab

In 2023, the Children’s Miracle Network program funded the new
Augmentative and Alternative Communication Lab, referred to as the
AAC Lab, at the KU Medical Center campus. The mission of the AAC Lab
is to provide solutions to children who have complex communication

Susan Koerner, Speech & Language Pathologist and Director of the
AAC Lab, shares that the goal of the lab is for every person to gain the
tools they need to be able to communicate. For patients who may be
non-verbal, have neurological disorders or a brain injury, communication
technology in the AAC Lab can help make communication for them a

The lab is composed of low-tech devices, such as signs where children
are able to point to written phrases or photos to communicate, and
high-tech options, such as tablets that let you write messages using
your eyes. Programs like these are often costly and through the help of
Children’s Miracle Network, KU Medical Center is now able to provide this
service so that families are exposed to and can determine the best kind
of devices they need.

For families whose child faces communication issues, the AAC Lab can
be lifechanging. Just recently, the very first “Talker Day Party” was
held, to celebrate the first device that was funded for a child through
CMN. On these special days, Koerner and other Speech-Language
Pathologists wrap up the child’s new communication device in wrapping
paper, wear party hats, and sing “Happy Talker Day to You”. “We try to
make the moment as big as possible, because oftentimes, families go
through so much to get to this moment. For this family in particular, they
had received a denial from insurance for an AAC device, so mom had
felt hopeless. Here smile was so big and there were a few tears in the
room on the day of the talker day party for her son. That moment that
wouldn’t have been possible without the generosity of Children’s Miracle