Augmentative Communication and Empowerment Supports (ACES)
On Friday, July 25, 2008 more than 100 family and friends gathered in Shusterman Hall on the main campus of Temple University, to celebrate the 20th graduating class of ACES. ACES, the Augmentative Communication and Empowerment Support program, was created by Dr. Diane Nelson Bryen, PhD, the former Executive Director of the Institute on Disabilities and Temple professor emeritus.
This year, the focus of ACES was transition. Most participants were in the process of transitioning from school to work or to college. The two-week program was designed to improve computer skills and use of communication device as well as introducing empowerment training.
For example, in the "Daring to Dream" section, each participant considered, constructed and communicated his/her dream. They then mapped out a strategy for achieving that goal.
Past graduates of the program return as both mentors and examples for the current participants, joining the Institute staff members, participant family members and support staff.
ACES has supported more than 300 people with significant disabilities, allies and professional interns from 30 states and territories, from a dozen universities, and 15 countries—Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Columbia, Germany, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Liberia, Nepal, Trinidad, England, South Africa and, in 2007, Australia.
Today, ACES graduates are college students and college graduates, mothers, lecturers, wives, husbands, poets, writers, computer programmers, tax payers, volunteers, policymakers, and even a high ranking member of former President Clinton's administration. All are speaking out for themselves and for others.
ACES 2008 Graduating Class
Michael Seip, Jr.