About Us

Learn more about our team members by clicking the links next to our photos.



The REKNEW Projects have two major goals: to develop practical methods to support elders with degenerative neurological disease to communicate successfully;and to collect scientific evidence of the effectiveness of those methods.


Our translational research is based on previous studies of ways to help children and adults with congenital and acquired disorders to communicate. We conduct our studies in the homes of our participants with their families and caregivers. We include study participants in the planning and conduct of our research studies.



In 1983, an international organization was founded to address the complex communication needs of people who cannot rely on speech or writing as their primary means of expression. The field was called Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC). As AAC specialists, we explore ways that people can interact with others who rely on computers, books, gestures and signs, speech and eye gaze, speech generating devices, and communication boards. We believe that everyone CAN communicate and that everyone DOES communicate. It is our mission to research ways that individuals can interact functionally and successfully in their daily environments using many different means of expression.

AAC specialists come from many fields. We are speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, educators, psychologists, engineers, family members, physicians and nurses, manufacturers and developers, and people with disabilities. Initially, AAC specialists put most of their clinical research attention on the needs of adults with cerebral palsy and children with developmental disabilities. Over the years, the group of individuals who benefit from communication supports has expanded. We have learned that everyone with complex communication needs can benefit from AAC.

Dr. Melanie Fried-Oken, Ph.D., CCC/Sp, is a certified speech-language pathologist and a leading international clinician and researcher in the field of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC). Her past research has involved assistive technology for persons with acquired disabilities who cannot use speech or writing for expression.

Under the umbrella of the REKNEW projects, Dr. Fried-Oken and her staff have pooled their expertise to address the challenges that elders with progressive neurological diseases face as their ability to use speech diminishes.