Oct. 19, 2020

Finding Your Voice Through Augmentative and Alternative Communication with Lydia Dawley

Finding Your Voice Through Augmentative and Alternative Communication with Lydia Dawley

Finding Your Voice Through Augmentative and Alternative Communication with Lydia Dawley

Today Mai Ling sits down for a chat with Lydia Dawley, CEO of AAC consultation agency Click. Speak. Connect. Lydia has Mixed Cerebral Palsy, is a wheelchair user, and an AAC user so she brings her unique experiences and perspectives to the table. Listen in as she shares her journey and her passion for helping others with AAC devices reach their fullest potential in communication.

Contact Mai Ling: MLC at mailingchan.com

Contact James: James at slptransitions.com



Lydia 00:00

Life is messy and we need to learn to take a breath and listen.


Mai Ling 00:11

Welcome to Xceptional Leaders with Mai Ling and Martyn, where we spotlight high profile topics and amazing people who are changing the world view on disability. I'm Mai Ling Chan of mailingchan.com and my cohost, Martyn Sibley is not here with us today. You can find him at MartynSibley.com. However, he's been having such a successful journey with his new marketing company, Purple Goat (http://purplegoatagency.com/), that he's not able to join us for the remainder of this year, but he will continue to complete interviews of amazing people for us. So, this month has been a very busy month for me as October is International AAC Awareness Month. AAC stands for Augmentative and Alternative Communication for those of you who might not know, and my company Xceptional Ed (https://xceptionaled.com/) just completed the third annual AAC after work online conference. It was absolutely amazing. We had almost 3600 attendees from all over the world, and just an incredible offering. And then we offered the courses themselves, the recordings for about two weeks afterwards. So, if you haven't caught us in the last three years, please catch us next year. The courses are also available for individual purchase so that if you miss the conference, that's okay, you can definitely catch up online. So that's XceptionalEd.com. I've also just started uniting the coauthors for my upcoming book Becoming an Exceptional AAC Leader (https://www.amazon.com/Becoming-Exceptional-AAC-Leader-Communication/dp/0578737701). So yes, that's second in its series and I may be a little cray cray for jumping right into it. But I am so excited to have the 14 amazing leaders joining me. We are focusing on launching the book in February of 2021. And I'm really excited to share their stories with everyone. Also, in celebration of cerebral palsy Awareness Month, which is also in October, we're spotlighting Lydia Dawley (https://www.linkedin.com/in/lydia-dawley-9536261a9/), an amazing woman who's highly accomplished. She actually has her bachelor's and is already starting grad school to be an assistive technology specialist at Northern Arizona University in Arizona. And of course, she started her own company. She's the CEO and founder of Click.Speak.Connect. And she consults with speech language pathologists, teachers, parents, and clients to help them use their devices better and also serve as a leader and mentor to them. So, I really hope that you enjoy this interview with Lydia. She is absolutely amazing. And then definitely make sure that you go and find her on Facebook, where she does live interviews herself on Click.Speak.Connect. Thanks so much. And I hope you enjoy this interview. So Hello, and welcome. I'm Mai Ling Chan and I'm so excited to have Lydia Dawley on the podcast with me today. I want you to know that we have really prepared for this interview, I gave her homework. And she's been working hard. And I also booked her like two weeks ago. So, this was a fast movement to our meeting today. But I'm really excited. Lydia is just so accomplished and amazing. And at the end of the podcast, she'll give you information on how you can find out more about her. I also did a live interview of her on my Cognixion (https://www.cognixion.com/) Facebook Live page, so you can see her in action there. But let's welcome Lydia now. Hey, how you doing?


Lydia 03:21

I'm doing great. How are you?


Mai Ling 03:24

Thanks, Lydia. I'm doing really well this morning. I did say that I haven't had my coffee yet. So, we'll see how bright and bubbly Mai is today.


Lydia 03:32

Mm hmm.


Mai Ling 03:33

So, Lydia, I know that for our listeners, we may be hearing a little bit of background noise. So, could you explain that for us?


Lydia 03:41

When I move sometimes my wheelchair squeaks.


Mai Ling 03:46

Oh, cool. I'd love to have some like background music when I walk. That'd be cool. It's like having your theme song, Lydia.


Lydia 03:58

Everyone knows when I'm coming.


Mai Ling 04:02

I love that. Excellent. Awesome. Okay, so I found you through Brandi Wentland of We Speak AAC (https://www.wespeakaac.com/). She's also a neighbor to me in Phoenix, Arizona. And she said I had to watch your Facebook Live. And so, I did. It was very early on in your production run. So since then, I don't know how many shows you've completed. But I just have to tell you I was so impressed. I remember I was watching it like 5:30 in the morning. That's what I like to do. And I just was riveted. I loved your sense of humor, your candor. You're just so comfortable with everything. And you did produce a pretty like professional shell. So, can you tell me about this?


Lydia 04:43

Now since COVID hit us I had the idea of sharing my story on Facebook, and I saw all the people that were liking and commenting. And then I realized that we need a place for people with disabilities. educators and parents can have a platform where they can share their lives and experience with the world. And I'm so glad Click.Speak.Connect can share their amazing stories.


Mai Ling 05:11

That's amazing. And I'm just gonna expand on that a little bit. You are the major interviewer correct.


Lydia 05:21



Mai Ling 05:22

That is amazing. And how long is the show typically?


Lydia 05:28

It's mostly for 45 minutes. I like to have my interviews be like so conversations, so we might take longer to convey a message.


Mai Ling 05:38

Right. So, your questions, though, are preprogrammed versus stepping them out and creating sentences for the most part, correct?


Lydia 05:47



Mai Ling 05:48

And then the people you're working with, many of them are AAC users. So, are their answers ready? Or are some of it spontaneous?


Lydia 06:00

For the most part, it's programmed in their communication device. But after I ask the questions, it's like a normal conversation.


Mai Ling 06:10

Fantastic. I love all the work that you're doing, and the production is just amazing. I hope that our listener gets to watch you and in action. Okay, so let me get to our second question here. And, and I'm actually numbering these and letting Lydia know because like I said, we did work on these in advance and I want to make sure that we get to all of the questions that she worked on. So, you mentioned Click.Speak.Connect, which is your company so is that an LLC?


Lydia 06:37

My dream is to open my own clinic someday, where people with disabilities can come to get help with finding their voice, whether it's by using an AAC device or not. I would hire others with disabilities and my plan would be that Click.Speak.Connect would become part of that business.


Mai Ling 07:00

Beautiful and the reason why I was asking if it was an LLC is, that is like prompts me for the next question, is how seriously are you taking this and I know you so I, I knew that you're taking it seriously. So that's wonderful. I love the broader vision. And then I do believe we've also created a product is that correct?


Lydia 07:19

Yes, and NadPen is a stylus for the iPad or any mobile device. I created it because, since I have cerebral palsy, it is hard to use the other styles is, because they're too thin and I have such a hard tone that I rub the rubber ends off. I designed the NadPen, so it is thicker to hang on to and your hand doesn't slide down. I also designed the NadPen that it has a bigger end on it, that it is more secure, and it is easier to press down to select. I have a patent for my stylus, and I did sell solo, but my mom was making them for me, and she couldn't keep it up. So, I had to stop selling them.


Mai Ling 08:07

Right too much. So too much demand and not enough supply. Yeah. We need to get you a team of people. Oh, I love this idea. Hey there, hope you're enjoying the show. I just wanted to take a moment and introduce you to another great podcast that you might like in the Xceptional Podcast Network. Please listen carefully.


Podcast Advertisement 08:32

Hi, I'm Matt Hott one of the hosts of Speech Science, a weekly podcast bringing you all the information that you can handle related to speech sciences and disabilities. Michelle Wintering, Michael McLeoud and I interview leaders and difference makers in the field. Every Tuesday, we drop a new episode. You can find us on iTunes, Android and on our website www.speechscience.org/speechsciencepodcast Join us as we try to find the answers to the question "What is communication?"


Mai Ling 09:00

Now let's get back to our amazing interview. So, you also mentioned that you're doing consulting. Can you share a little bit about your one on one sessions as an exceptional mentor?


Lydia 09:12

One of the services that we provide is where I do one hour zoom sessions with kids and adults who use AAC devices. I realized that kids need that peer to peer relationship with someone who they can relate to because they get enough of therapies where they're being asked to work on something with a session that I do. It is like hanging out with a friend more than working with a client on A, B, C and D. Yes, we practice social skills such as taking turns talking, waiting for each other to type on our devices and eye contact. We have a lot of fun with it. We play games. I have created games that we can play on our devices where we can answer or ask questions just like other kids when they play games. I have seen so much progress in my clients in just the two months that I have been working with them, I have a client who has a hard time sitting still for a long period of time. But when I meet with her, she will sit for a whole hour. I'm so proud of her and each one of my clients. I really feel like I'm making a difference. I can see it, an excitement on their faces and in their communication. They're gaining confidence, and now they feel comfortable communicating. It's amazing for all of us.


Mai Ling 10:49

I love that. And it's like stem, it's making language fun, right? So, stem is all about incorporating all of these different areas together and making it fun learning. And what you're doing is making it fun-ctional, I love that fun is in the word functional, right?


Lydia 11:04



Mai Ling 11:07

Oh, this is fantastic, Lydia. You really are an amazing leader in this space, all of the things that you're doing. I also hear that you're a presenter, can you tell us a little bit about that?


Lydia 11:18

I would have to say I started with public speaking in kindergarten. My mom thought it would be a good idea for me to go around the classrooms in my elementary school and introduce myself and tell the kids about myself.


Mai Ling 11:37

I love that.


Lydia 11:37

My wheelchair and my Walker and kids tried out my equipment and they asked me questions. It was awesome. After that I had tons of friends and I realized how talking about myself helped others except me. I really got into public speaking in middle school and advocating for people with disabilities. I have a great sense of humor. And as I got older, I incorporated more humor. I speak at disability awareness events at colleges and fundraising events. But I also have been speaking at disability conferences and telling my life story with hope to inspire and give hope to others. I will be hosting this session at Closing the Gap conference (https://www.closingthegap.com/conference/) on October 28. It is called the town hall. And it is a session where only people who use augmentative communication are allowed to participate in the discussions. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has put a stop to the public speaking. But I am available via zoom if anyone is interested.


Mai Ling 12:51

Excellent. And I know you are super busy with all the things you're doing. However, you are honoring us by joining us on the Brainiac Council. This is with the company Cognixion, where I'm also the Director of Growth and Achievement. And I wanted to know what interested you in being a part of this exciting project with us.


Lydia 13:11

I have always been searching for faster communication. Ever since I was little, I told my mom, I wish there was a device that could read my mind and make my communication quicker. So, when I heard about this, I was definitely going to find a way to be part of it.


Mai Ling 13:31

That's amazing. We are just to give our listener a little back history at Cognixion, we are an AAC technology company, we already have an app that's available called Speakprose (https://www.cognixion.com/speakprose). And it offers eye tracking and facial recognition on the iPad. So that's really fun because it's accessible. And then we are working on a headset device that incorporates BCI, which is Brain Computer Interface technology and augmented reality. And you won't have to use your hands or touch at all. And so, Lydia would be a perfect candidate not only to work with us and give us feedback, but also to be a user and to be able to say what she wants to say faster. And Lydia gets to wear these really cool techie trendy glasses. Right?


Lydia 14:14



Mai Ling 14:15

Excellent. Lydia, you know, you're putting so much work into doing your show. Why do you think it's so important for people to see AAC users like yourself in a live setting that's not edited, you know, because this show is edited? So, people aren't seeing you actually create your sentences, right? And so, it's taking us longer. And so, for our listener, just so you know, we've been on for almost 40 minutes and the show is going to be a lot less right because we have a beautiful editing partner, JD. He did such a wonderful job of editing for us, and cleaning up my messes, my arms, and fillers and all of that, so nobody's perfect, Lydia. But why do you think it's so important for people to see these raw live interactions of you and your guests on Facebook?


Lydia 14:58

Because life is messy, we need to learn to take a breath and listen.


Mai Ling 15:04

I love that. I love that. Well, thank you, Lydia. This has been wonderful for me to catch up with you and also for our listeners to hear what you're up to and doing, how can we stay in touch with you and all the wonderful things that you're involved with?


Lydia 15:19

People can go to our website, check us out at www.clickspeakconnect.com or like our Facebook page, @ ClickSpeakConnect.


Mai Ling 15:33

Fantastic and Lydia is also honoring me as being a coauthor in my upcoming book, Becoming an Exceptional Leader, AAC Champions. So hopefully by the spring, you'll be able to hear her personal and very interesting and rich story about how she is becoming a leader in the AAC space. So, thank you so much for joining us, Lydia and being a part of the show and sharing with us today.


Lydia 16:00

Thank you for having me.


Mai Ling 16:03

Okay, bye. Thanks so much for joining us for this episode. And remember that if you have a creative idea that you're ready to start on and want help from someone who truly understands what it means to build a disability focused offering, visit Malingchan.com and let's get started.


Martyn 16:19

Be sure to check out MartynSibley.com to embrace your place as a world changer. If you are serious about becoming an influencer and impacting the world, please join me in my VIP Academy. We focus on you and build momentum together. We will see you in the next episode.


Mai Ling 16:42

You're listening to the Xceptional Podcast Network.

Lydia DawleyProfile Photo

Lydia Dawley

AAC Consultant, CEO/Founder at Click. Speak. Connect.

My name is Lydia Dawley. I’m from Decorah, Iowa. Recently I graduated from the University of Wisconsin in Whitewater, WI. with my bachelors. This spring, I’m starting a grad school to be an Assistive Technology Specialist at Northern Arizona University. I’m the Chief Executive Officer and founder of Click. Speak. Connect I consult with Speech-Language Pathologists, teachers, parents and clients in access methods, faster access, device experiences in order to help with learning new apps, language skills related to augmentative communication as I have used Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) all my life. Also, I do zoom sessions with children who talk with communication devices. We practice social skills with the goal to improve their confidence with their communication devices.