This website is for individuals who want to learn about AAC. It was created by Heidi Miller and Virginia Ingram, two M.S. SLP students from the University of Tennessee Health and Science Center, under the tutelage of Dr. Jillian McCarthy.
Heidi is a former special education teacher and registered behavioral therapist for children with autism.
Heidi landed in an SLP program after watching many of her students with limited communication struggle to engage in meaningful communication. Additionally, as a teacher, she helped build various transition opportunities and programs for her high school students with autism.
Although her teaching experience is in the urban environments of Denver and Philadelphia, she is currently settled in on a farm in Tennessee. In fact, Heidi runs the Return to Roots farm with her husband in Knoxville. Along with Heidi and Josh, the 45 chickens on their farm are supervised by the adorable Jax and fetch-loving Tess.
She is a graduate of Virginia Tech. She graduated with a Master's in Science from the University of Tennessee's Health and Science Center on 2018. At UTHSC, Heidi was on a prestigious AAC grant that prepared her to work with AAC devices with school-age children and adults.
Virginia cut her teeth in the digital space in the late 1990's when it was only an emerging industry. Her 20-year stint at agencies and start-ups has allowed her to focus on technology-sparked solutions for business and life. Virginia runs a company that explores designing for the fringe audience, instead of the typical target audience.
With an insatiable appetite for all things new and interesting in the digital space, Virginia is active in the tech industry and a regular contributor to the SXSW community.
Virginia and her husband, Ariel, just adopted a retired greyhound, Luz, from the Music City Greyhound Prison Program. They are training Luz to be a therapy dog.
She is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She is currently pursuing a Master's in Science at the University of Tennessee's Health and Science Center where she is completing a specialized clinical concentration working with the deaf and hard of hearing population.
Dr. McCarthy has been with the University of Tennessee since 2013. She is the director of the UT Augmentative and Alternative Communication, Language, and Literacy (UT-AACL) laboratory, and the co-director of the Language and Literacy Laboratory (L3). Her research addresses language and literacy assessment and intervention strategies for those individuals who rely on the use of AAC or who have hearing loss.
Dr. McCarthy is an avid runner who gets her unfettered energy and enthusiasm for AAC from sugar, Starbucks, and Amazon Prime. She and her husband have two children and a dog named Daisy.
She is a graduate of Mount Holyoke College and obtained her M.S. and Ph.D. at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Visit ResearchGate to see Dr. McCarthy's research papers.
In addition to what they have learned with Dr. McCarthy, Heidi and Virginia want to thank Allison Wegman, M.S., CCC-SLP, and Amanda Simmons, M.S., CCC-SLP, for everything they have taught us to make us strong clinicians. Much of what you see on the website we have learned in class and the clinic with Dr. McCarthy, Allison, and Amanda.
Additionally, UTHSC has a Teach One, Teach All approach so we have also learned a lot by teaching or learning from our classmates. Shout out to UTHSC's 2019 M.S. SLPs!