CONTAACT-ME is the Cross-disciplinary Online Training to promote Augmentative and Alternative Communication and Tele-Intervention for Maine project, a 5-year initiative across two University of Maine graduate degree programs to prepare educators and other professionals to serve infants, toddlers and preschool-age children with intensive communication needs and their families. The project is supported by a nearly $1.25 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs, which will help 40-45 graduate students working toward master’s degrees in special education or communication sciences and disorders with an early childhood intervention focus.
The project is a collaboration between the graduate program in Special Education in the School of Learning and Teaching, part of the UMaine College of Education and Human Development, the UMaine Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, and the Maine Department of Education.
The goals of CONTAACT-ME include:
- Train scholars to use evidence-based strategies—including the use of augmentative and alternative communication tools—for working with children with disabilities who also have specialized communication needs and their families.
- Support children and families in rural, remote, and sparsely populated areas with limited access to resources.
- Use research-based tele-intervention practices to provide equity and access and to support language and cognitive skill development for young children.
- Assist students in earning a master’s degree that leads to state-approved certification in early childhood special education (birth-age 5).
Infants and young children with high-intensity needs also commonly have communication impairments, which when left unaddressed increase a child’s risk for limited cognitive, language and social development. Early interventionists and speech-language pathologists serving this population are critical for helping families, related service providers and educators recognize the ways in which they can support a child’s social skill development.
UMaine is the only institution in the state to provide graduate programs in early childhood intervention and communication sciences and disorders. The CONTAACT-ME program will assist students in earning a master’s degree that leads to state-approved certification in early childhood special education (birth-age 5). Speech-language pathology students will earn a master’s in communication sciences and disorders with an early intervention concentration.
For more information, visit our Frequently Asked Questions page.
Deborah L. Rooks-Ellis
Assistant Professor of Special Education
Director, Maine Autism Institute for Education and Research
University of Maine
5766 Shibles Hall, Room 306
Orono, ME 04469