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AAC-RERC Writer's Brigade

The Writer's Brigade


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The Writers Brigade (WB) is a project of the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Communication Enhancement (AAC-RERC). This program operates under a two-fold mission: enhancing employability for adults who depend on assistive technology (AT) and publicizing the activities the AAC-RERC. Participants in the WB will gain professional experience in writing and publishing articles that disseminate research in the field of AAC and AT.

David McNaughton and Pamela Kennedy at Pennsylvania State University are now implementing the AAC-RERC Writers Brigade. It was conceived of by staff at ACI in 2003 as a knowledge translation tool for the AAC-RERC and in response to findings that people with complex communication needs often are unemployed or underemployed. From 2003-2008, Johana Schwartz served as project manager and Sarah W. Blackstone as project director. Eleven individuals participated successful and accrued more than 100 citations over four years. They developed an Guide to enable others to replicate and adadt the program to meet the needs of their own organizations/entites. For a free, downloadable copy of the Guide, click here.   

The project is now in the hands of Pamela Kennedy, the project manager. She coaches the participants in the process of writing and revising articles for publication, with the objective of teaching them the skills necessary to succeed as technical writers. David McNaughton is the project director. The writers correspond with the manager over email, submitting drafts in exchange for customized feedback. The manager supports participants throughout the writing process, starting with brainstorming sessions and usually ending with submitting the manuscript for publishing. Articles appear in a variety of online and print media.

Outcomes of the flagship AAC-RERC Writers Brigade have increased the technical writing skills of participants, greatly expanded the knowledge transfer of information about AAC-RERC research and development projects to multiple stakeholder groups and reshaped the employment options for participants who are looking for work. In addition, participants report an expansion of their social networks through contacts they have made with AAC-RERC researchers and potential employers. Importantly, involving writers with disabilities in the ongoing research and development of a field by supporting them to write articles on the topic of AAC research, satisfies the RERC view of "Nothing about us, without us."

Over the next five years the AAC-RERC WB will continue to coach several groups of participants. In keeping with the AAC-RERC motto, "Spread the word" about the Writers Brigade to aspiring writers. For additional information, please contact the program sponsors. The AAC-RERC website is . To receive more information about how to participate in the program, email

Note: The AAC-RERC section is partially funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) under Grant #H133E030018. The opinions herein are those of the grantee and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of Education.

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