A voice for all: Penn State research program opening new doors for communication

Janice Light is helping to give a voice to people with complex communication needs.

Professor Janice Light and her colleagues built Penn State's program in augmentative and alternative communication from the ground up. Every part of the program is supported by their research, from understanding motor and cognitive processes to developing new technologies and interventions.  Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Take away your voice, and everything becomes harder. With no way to communicate, it’s challenging to get an education, perform a job, or build the personal relationships that enrich our lives.

This is the reality for millions of people with conditions that make speech difficult or nearly impossible, taking away many of the things that help make life meaningful.

That’s why Janice Light, the Hintz Family Endowed Chair in Children’s Communicative Competence, has spent more than 30 years building a program at Penn State that helps people with conditions like autism spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, and Down syndrome learn to communicate despite troubles with speech.

READ MORE about how Light's work is helping those without a voice be heard at

Last Updated June 13, 2019