Kathryn D. R. Drager, Ph.D., CCC-SLP

photo of Kathryn Drager

Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Education

Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders

Contact Information

329 Health and Human Development Building
Pennsylvania State University
University Park PA 16802


(fax) 814-865-3282





Ph.D., University of Minnesota, 1999

Research Interests

My research interests focus on augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) for children and adults with severe disabilities. Specifically, my research interests include AAC for individuals with severe expressive communication disorders, especially for children, adolescents, and adults with severe disabilities who are at the beginning stages of communication, including children with autism. I am also interested in issues faced by the global community in AAC. I study the role that AAC technologies play in human interaction, and am interested in our ability to harness environmental or personal information to increase access to relevant vocabulary and concepts, and thus to decrease the communication burden and demand on individuals with severe communication disabilities.

Selected Publications

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

Drager, K.D.R., Light, J. Currall, J., Muttiah, N., Smith, V., Kreis, D., Nilam-Hall, A., Parratt, D., Schuessler, K., Shermetta, K., & Wiscount, J. (2017 online). 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.

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

Muttiah, N., Drager, K., & O’Connor, L. (2016). Special education in Sri Lanka: A snapshot of three provinces. Disability Studies Quarterly, 36(2).

Caron, Jessica, Janice Light, and Kathryn Drager. "Operational Demands of AAC Mobile Technology Applications on Programming Vocabulary and Engagement During Professional and Child Interactions." Augmentative and Alternative Communication 32.1 (2016): 12-24.

Muttiah, Nimisha A., David McNaughton, and Kathryn DR Drager. "Providing instructional support for AAC service delivery in low-and middle-income (LAMI) countries." International journal of speech-language pathology (2015): 1-13.

Tobin, M. C., Drager, K. D., & Richardson, L. F. (2014). A systematic review of social participation for adults with autism spectrum disorders: Support, social functioning, and quality of life. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 8(3), 214-229.

Drager, K.D.R., & Finke, E.H. (2012). Intelligibility of children’s speech in digitized speech. Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 28, 181-189.

Serpentine, E.C., Tarnai, B., Drager, K.D.R., & Finke, E. (2011). Decision making of parents of children with autism spectrum disorder regarding AAC in Hungary. Communication Disorders Quarterly, 32, 221-231.

Drager, K., Light, J., & McNaughton, D. (2010). Effects of AAC interventions on communication and language for young children with complex communication needs. Journal of Pediatric Rehabilitation Medicine, 3, 303-310.

Courses Taught

PSU 014 First Year Seminar in Communication Sciences and Disorders

CSD 451 Introduction to Augmentative and Alternative Communication

CSD 548 Dysphagia

CSD 550 Evidence-Based Interventions to Improve Services and Results for High Need Children with Complex Communication Needs: Doctoral Seminar

CSD 597D Multicultural Foundations of Services for Children Who Use AAC and Their Families

CSD 597G Communication in Individuals with Autism

Strategic Themes

  • Populations of Special Interest