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VE-AAC-80: WORDS HAVE POWER: Ableism, Purpose, and Knowing Your Audience


The word ableism might not be in everyone's vocabulary, but ableist language and practices are entrenched in society, including within the disability world. Join in this interactive session highlighting ableism through words and visuals, with a focus on ableism's impact on People Who Use AAC. Attendees will engage in open discussions using everyday examples to identify ableism in print and social media, and rethinking "What's the purpose?" and "Who's the audience?" when our actions intersect with the AAC community. Attendees will gain different perspectives and best practices to address ableism, including when such actions are by our friends and colleagues.

Learning Objectives

First Learning Objective: Identify one or more instances of ableist vocabulary and/or imagery in a variety of publicly accessible materials.
Second Learning Objective: Discuss one or more strategies in determining the purpose and audience behind writings, courses, devices & programs, and social media posts that intersect with AAC issues.
Third Learning Objective: Compare two or more best practices in eliminating ableist practices within the disability community.

Primary Strand

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)

Secondary Strand


Target Audience

  • Accessibility Professional
  • ADA Coordinator
  • Administrators
  • AT Specialists
  • Alternative Media Specialist
  • Caregivers
  • Communication Specialist
  • Consumers/Individuals with Disabilities
  • Consultants/Trainers
  • Curriculum and Instruction
  • Disability Services
  • Educators
  • Faculty/Instructors - Higher Education
  • Family Members
  • Government/Non-Profit Agencies
  • Instructional Technologist
  • Media Specialist
  • Occupational Therapists
  • Paraprofessionals
  • Physical Therapists
  • Rehab Therapists
  • Speech-Language Pathologists
  • Special Education Educators
  • Teachers of the Visually Impaired
  • Teachers of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing
  • Transition Coordinator
  • Visual Impairment Specialists
  • Vocational Rehabilitation

Experience Level


Primary Life Cycle Addressed


Session Delivery Format

In-person presentation with recording

Course Schedule

This course was given at the ATIA 2022 Conference on Thursday, Jan 27: 9:45 AM - 10:45 AM (EST)

Continuing Education Credits

For Satisfactory Completion and Continuing Education information, please visit: ATIA Learning Center CEUs

ASHA CE Information:
Recorded Session
Start date of ASHA CEUs offering: June 15, 2022
ASHA CE Approved Provider. ATIA. Introductory Level. 0.05 ASHA CEUs

This course is also offered for the following CE Provider Credits:
For: 0.10 CEU Units or 1.0 CEU Hours.

As this course was included in the ATIA 2022 Virtual Event series, please refer to the ATIA Learning Center CEUs page for further information on how to submit your CRC CEUs for this course to CRCC.


India Ochs, M.PA, J.D.

Humankind, Agitator


India Ochs, currently employed by the U.S. government, is an experienced public speaker involved in human rights, social policy, and educational advocacy for more than 30 years. Previously, India was a senior project associate at the Pretrial Justice Institute, working on juvenile detention reform issues, and the legal officer for the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights, during which time she developed and coordinated legal and legislative initiatives with human rights activists on the ground in 24 countries. Licensed to practice law, India has a JD with a certificate in family law & social policy from Syracuse University College of Law, and a master's degree in public affairs with a certificate in nonprofit management from UNC Greensboro. Co-author of two published books (Stop the Violence Against People with Disabilities!: An International Resource (2014) and Becoming an Exceptional AAC Leader: Inspiration from 15 Augmentative and Alternative Communication Champions (2021), India's writings have appeared in professional journals, magazines, newspapers, and social media outlets.

Relevant Financial Relationship: Yes
Compensatiion as employed by the U.S. government. Potential Publishing proceeds from “Becoming an exceptional Leader”.

Relevant Non-Financial Relationship: Yes
India Ochs is a member of USSAAC/ISAAC and chair of the US-based disability civil rights organization CommunicationFirst. Julia was born with a speech-related communication disability and is a life-long AAC user.