Janice C. Light, Ph.D

photo of Janice Light

The Hintz Family Endowed Chair in Children's Communicative Competence

Contact Information

401H Ford Building
The Pennsylvania State University
University Park PA 16802

814-863-2010

(fax) 814-863-3759

jcl4@psu.edu

csd.hhdev.psu.edu

aac.psu.edu/

Education

Ph.D., University of Toronto, 1990

Research Interests

My research is focused on improving communication outcomes and enhancing quality of life for individuals who have complex communication needs, including individuals with autism spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, intellectual/ developmental disabilities and other special needs. These individuals benefit from augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) (e.g., signs, communication boards, speech generating devices, mobile technologies with AAC apps). Specifically, I am involved in a series of multidisciplinary collaborative research projects designed to:

  1. Enhance language and communication development for young children who require AAC (for further information, visit aackids.psu.edu)
  2. Improve literacy outcomes with individuals who require AAC (for further information, visit aacliteracy.psu.edu)
  3. Enhance the communicative competence of individuals who require AAC
  4. Improve the design of AAC technologies for individuals with complex communication needs and their families (for more information, visit rerc-aac.org)

Examples of Collaborative Projects

Light, J. (Principal Investigator). The Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center in Augmentative and Alternative Communication. Funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, October 2014-September 2019; $4,746,449.
The Rehabilitation Engineering Center in Augmentative and Alternative Communication (The RERC on AAC) is a virtual multicenter collaborative research center. The mission of the RERC on AAC is to conduct cutting edge research, technical development, training, and dissemination activities to improve outcomes for individuals with complex communication needs who require AAC and their families. For further information, please visit our website at rerc-aac.org

Light, J. (Principal Investigator). The Penn State AAC Leadership Project. Funded by the U.S. Department of Education, August 2017-August 2022; $1,250,000. The Penn State AAC Leadership Project is designed to address the urgent need for high quality researchers and university faculty with expertise in AAC. The project will prepare doctoral students to assume leadership roles in the field, conduct research, and provide evidence-based preservice training of speech language pathologists and related professionals to improve outcomes for children with complex communication needs and their families. For further information, please visit aac.psu.edu/?p=3800

Light, J. (Principal Investigator). The Children’s Communicative Competence Project. Funded by the U.S. Department of Education, October 2011-December 2017; $1,249,960. The Children’s Communicative Competence Project is designed to address the urgent need for highly qualified speech language pathologists who have expertise in the delivery of evidence-based AAC services within the school system to improve services and results for children with complex communication needs who require AAC. For further information, please visit aac.psu.edu/?p=113

Selected Publications

Caron, J.G., Light, J., Davidoff, B., & Drager, K. (2017). Comparison of the effects of mobile technology AAC apps on programming VSDs. Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 4, 239-248. doi 10.1080/07434618.2017.1388836

Holyfield, C., Drager, K., Kremkow, J., & Light, J. (2017). Systematic review of AAC intervention research for adolescents and adults with autism spectrum disorder. Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 4, 201-212. doi 10.1080/07434618.2017.1370495

Mandak, K., & Light, J. (early online 2017). Family-centered services for children with ASD and limited speech: The experiences of parents and speech language pathologists. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders doi 10.1007/s10803-017-3241-y

Drager, K., Light, J., Currall, J., Muttiah, N., Smith, V., Kreis, D., Nilam-Hall, A., Parratt, D., Schuessler, K., Shermetta, K., & Wiscount, J. (early online 2017). AAC technologies with visual scene displays and “just in time” programming and symbolic communication turns expressed by students with severe disability. Journal of Intellectual & Developmental Disability. doi 10.3109/13668250.2017.1326585

Boyle, S., McCoy, A., McNaughton, D. & Light, J. (2017). Using digital texts in interactive reading activities for children with language delays and disorders: A review of the research literature and pilot study. Seminars in Speech and Language, 38,263-275.

Holyfield, C., Drager, K., Light, J., & Caron, J.G. (2017). Typical toddlers’ participation in “just in time” programming of vocabulary for visual scene display augmentative and alternative communication apps on mobile technology. American Journal of Speech Language Pathology, 26, 737-749. doi:10.1044/2017_AJSLP-15-0197

Caron, J. & Light, J. (2017). Social media experiences of adolescents and young adults with cerebral palsy who use augmentative and alternative communication and social media. International Journal of Speech Language Pathology, 19, 30-42. doi:10.3109/17549507.2016.1143970

Mandak, K., O’Neill, T., Light, J., & Fosco, G. (2017). Bridging the gap from values to actions: A family systems framework for family-centered AAC services. Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 33, 32-41. doi: 10.1080/07434618.2016.1271453

Light, J. (2016). AAC intervention to build communication, language, and literacy skills with children with complex communication needs: Advances in the field and future directions. Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 32, 238-240.

Sennott, S., Light, J., & McNaughton, D. (2016). AAC modeling intervention research review. Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities, 41,101-115. doi: 10.1177/1540796916638822

Courses Taught

CSD 550 Doctoral Seminar in AAC: Research and Evidence-Based Practices for Individuals with High Needs who require AAC

CSD 550 Doctoral Seminar in AAC: Research and Evidence-Based Practices for Beginning Communicators with Complex Communication Needs

CSD 551 Assessment and Intervention in Augmentative and Alternative Communication

CSD 597 Research and Evidence-Based Practices to Enhance Communication, Language, and Literacy Outcomes for Individuals for Require AAC

CSD 597C Perspectives of Individuals Who Use AAC and their Families

Strategic Themes

  • Populations of Special Interest