AT Success Stories News and Events

AT Legend Carolann Cormier Will Retire

Written by Nicole Natale, MS, CCC-SLP, ATP, Senior Education Specialist, CREC Resource Group

Carolann CormierFor the past 36+ years, Carolann Cormier has worked as a speech-language pathologist (SLP) and an expert in assistive technology (AT) and augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) throughout the state of Connecticut. Since 1995, Carolann’s career has spanned many different work environments, including public schools, summer camps, the Department of Developmental Services (DDS), children’s hospitals, colleges and the Capitol Region Education Council (CREC). Carolann has presented nationwide, has also published numerous professional articles and written a guide to AT for students with Autism. She has also accomplished so much professionally, having earned a variety of advanced degrees and certifications. However, Carolann’s professional success is far greater than the sum of its parts: It’s her positive influence on students and families that is the true mark of her personal and professional legacy.

There are many professionals and families that can attest to the positive impact Carolann has had on their lives. Anne Selavka story encapsulates this positive impact succinctly.

Anne has twin boys, one of whom – Greg – was born with significant support needs and also had complex communication needs. As Greg was aging out of birth-to-three, Anne received a report from a professional that indicated Greg would never speak or be able to use assistive technology. Anne was referred to a local children’s hospital where she met Carolann. Like Anne and her family, Carolann refused to believe the report and focused instead on Greg’s potential. Since then, Carolann has not only been a tireless advocate for Greg, but a member of his family. Carolann could easily see Greg’s potential and has worked with Greg and his teams throughout the years to help support him. Anne credits Carolann with “opening up Greg’s world.”  Anne says that Greg’s ability to communicate with his family and friends, to bake, to access his community and to experience a positive quality of life can all be attributed to Carolann’s unshakeable advocacy. Carolann helped to give Greg and his family hope that he would reach his potential, even when times were bleak. Greg is 28 years old now, and even though Carolann has not worked with him and his family in a professional capacity for years, her relationship with them has continued, as has her advocacy. Anne wonders where they would be today if Carolann hadn’t come into their lives, and considers they are “lucky to have found her.”

Carolann and Greg

The Selavka’s story is just one of many. From Carolann’s direct work with students and families, to her trainings of professionals to build their capacity in AT, to her workshops and to her thoughtful late-night email responses to colleagues, the impact of Carolann’s work on the lives of people with disabilities is immeasurable. When asked why she went into the field of AT, Carolann said that she had met so many people who could not use speech to communicate and desperately wanted to help them because she knew that they could communicate in some way. She was thrilled to be a part of what was then the emerging field of AAC because it brought communication to people who previously could not communicate. Carolann says the most rewarding part of her career has been when she “sees the light bulb go on” in her students. There is nothing better than seeing a student with learning disabilities or with complex communication needs, successfully communicate with a new AT device. “Their look of accomplishment” has driven Carolann’s resolve to pursue solutions because her students’ success is her greatest reward.

While Carolann plans to continue working part-time, she will be officially retiring at the end of the 2019/2020 school year. Please join CREC and the CTTAP community to congratulate Carolann on her illustrious career, and thank her for her tireless dedication, passion and advocacy for students with disabilities and their families. Carolann, you are irreplaceable and will be sorely missed.

AT Success Stories News and Events

Despite School Closures, Switch User Doesn’t Miss a Beat!

Written by Stacy Fulton, EASTCONN Assistive Technology Specialist, ATP, OTR/L, CAPS

When school buildings closed in mid-March due to COVID-19, I joined the ranks of Connecticut’s educators, therapists and AT providers who were forced to find creative, alternative ways to provide direct services. One of my biggest challenges was how to provide appropriate services for a student with significant physical and visual impairments who required assistive technology in order to participate in his educational programming. Because this young man would need to work from home, EASTCONN’s AT team decided to offer a crash course in technology to the student’s mother. She was excited and eager to learn how to use his extensive array of equipment; once it was delivered, we established a training schedule that suited her needs.

Every Monday, we presented one new “device” with our student’s mom. We shared videos to reinforce the technology set-ups and functions and taught her how to connect and use them. With this training she was able to support her son’s progress in communication, cognition, participation in virtual class meetings and leisure activities.

EASTCONN Training VideoThe devices that were presented include an access switch, iPad/talker with GoTalk Now for making choices through auditory scanning, Powerlink to participate in functional home activities, All-Turn-Spinner to increase his participation in virtual class meetings, Step-by-Step Communicator to share novel information during virtual class meetings, a laptop computer with switch access for accessing auditory books and switch websites, and a switch-adapted Uno Attack game for social interaction and leisure. The student’s mom quickly mastered each device and was able to utilize them at home with her son on a daily basis. Mom successfully

adapted to holding the switch for the student, since he was awaiting the arrival of a new switch mount. Mom happily shared his success with the devices at home by sending videos to our team. If you’d like to see how well this student used his assistive technology, click on the following link to view one of the videos (and see his priceless smile) while using the Powerlink to participate in a food-prep activity with his mom.

Click here to see Video on Facebook

Student helping mom using switch/Powerlink to activate the blenders


General News and Events

Free CRISKids Resources During COVID-19

CRISKids Audio Library

CRIS is offering free, temporary log-in credentials to educators, parents and students to access the CRISKids Audio Library during the pandemic. The CRISKids Audio Library is quite extensive, with more than 1,000 recordings, nearly all requested by teachers in Connecticut. Access to the recordings will be free and available on any Wi-Fi connected device or smartphone, as well as through our CRIS Radio mobile app.  Contact Laura Boogaert at to receive free login credentials and instructions on how to access the service.  

General News and Events

Independent Living Centers Use Virtual Strategies to Offer Critical Support

Republished  from Connecticut Association of Centers for Independent Living (CACIL)

As an Independent Living Advocate, Katie Smolinsky supports and guides people with disabilities through finding ways to live life in the community, such as learning how to use transportation, applying for benefits and finding affordable housing. She also helps with day-to-day living skills, like budgeting.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic closed Connecticut’s five Independent Living Center (ILC) offices, Katie met with consumers in-person to establish their goals and plan to help them reach maximum independence.

Today, Katie can’t meet in person, which is especially challenging when working with deaf consumers and more important than ever for every consumer during this crisis. But through video phone and other conferencing technology, where she utilizes her fluency in American Sign Language, Katie is able to maintain a connection.

Katie Smolinsky “I’m the person who stands behind them, cheering them on with encouragement and accountability,” Katie says. “Working as an advocate is an incredible way to empower individuals to live independently.”

Connecticut’s ILCs are one of the state’s most cost-effective programs, making it possible for thousands of people to live in their communities. Katie is just one of dozens of ILC staffers across the state who continue to work every day to provide essential services.

Thank you for your continued support of Connecticut’s Independent Living Centers!


You can reach out to the Centers Independent Living in your area

  • Independence Unlimited, Hartford, 860-523-5021
  • Independence Northwest, Naugatuck, 203-729-3299
  • Disabilities Network of Eastern CT, Norwich, 860-823-1898
  • Access Independence, Stratford, 203-378-6977
  • Center for Disability Rights, West Haven, 203-934-7077

For more staff spotlights and information on CACIL visit their page on Facebook: