PRC Announces Appointment Of New CEO

Posted on 2017-11-07 14:05:53 by Admin under News

Saltillo President Dave Hershberger Named to Lead PRC

Prentke Romich Co. (PRC) has announced appointment of a new Chief Executive Officer for the PRC family of companies, including PRC, Saltillo and the international subsidiary businesses in Canada, the UK, Germany and Australia, effective January 1, 2018.

Dave Hershberger, who has been serving as President for Saltillo and Chief Technology Officer for the corporation, has been selected by the Board of Directors to succeed outgoing CEO Dave Moffatt, who announced his retirement effective March 31, 2018.

“Dave is an excellent choice for this role,” said Moffatt. “He has decades of experience in the AAC marketplace, a passion for the people we serve, and a strong connection to the values and culture of this company. I’m looking forward to assisting him in a smooth transition.“

I’m ready to move into the next phase of my life, and with the company’s remarkable growth and stability, this is the right time to make this transition,” he continued. “The talent, experience and customer focus of our staff around the world makes this an easy decision for me.”

During Moffatt’s tenure as president and chief operating officer, PRC dramatically expanded its scope of products and services, achieved a five-fold increase in revenue as a result of that expansion, added several business units, and completed the journey to becoming a 100 percent employee-owned enterprise

About Dave Hershberger

Hershberger began his career at PRC as a high school student in the late 1970s, working in the company’s production department.

Upon his graduation from the University of Akron with a degree in Electrical Engineering, he continued his work at PRC, advancing through the company to eventually being named Director of Research & Development, growing and improving the company’s speech-generating device offerings.

In 1996, while working at PRC, Hershberger began Saltillo Corporation, manufacturing simple, easy-to-use devices designed to complement the PRC product line and serve individuals with cognitive disabilities. The company was acquired by PRC in late 2007, with Hershberger retaining his position as president of the Saltillo unit and also becoming Chief Technology Officer for PRC.

“I’m honored to have been named CEO of this family of companies,” he said. “It’s an incredible opportunity to be part of an organization that enables people to express themselves. I appreciate the confidence that’s being given to me to guide the company into the future, and I appreciate the team we have in place around the world to continue our mission.”

Dave Hershberger Bio

It was as a teenager that Dave Hershberger’s life took an unexpected turn.

“Back then, I really didn’t know where I was going or what I was doing,” he said.

Hershberger began working part-time in the production department at PRC while still in high school, in the late 1970s. After graduation, he moved to a full-time position in the company’s research and development department, all while attending the University of Akron at night.

“The work really inspired me,” he said. “It was incredible to see just how technology could change someone’s life.”

Recognizing a Need

By the mid-1990s, PRC was concentrating on developing devices and language systems for individuals with cerebral palsy. These individuals typically had intact language and cognitive abilities, but were unable to speak because of physical impairments. Hershberger became interested in pursuing communication solutions for individuals who weren’t able to speak because of cognitive or language disabilities, such as those with Down syndrome or autism.

“Communication is so fundamental,” he said. “Everyone, regardless of their ability, deserves the opportunity to express themselves.”

With PRC founder Barry Romich’s blessing, Hershberger set out to build devices that would serve their needs. He named the company Saltillo and began to develop more portable devices with a more basic language interface.

While Saltillo continued to grow in the marketplace, the company’s direction took a turn when it partnered with Enkidu, another young company that focused on the then-emerging handheld device market.

With Saltillo focused on hardware, Enkidu developed a more sophisticated software system until it was purchased by a competitor. However, this helped spur Saltillo into developing products for a wider audience, a path it has continued to follow.

Collaboration and Growth

By late 2007, the company shifted gears yet again when it was acquired by PRC. By then, both companies were pursuing a similar vision: Serving the needs of those who were unable to communicate on their own. Remaining separate entities no longer made sense.

In 2013, in addition to his role as CEO at Saltillo, Hershberger was named PRC Chief Technology Officer, allowing him to oversee engineering operations for both companies. This, he said, has allowed both companies to take advantage of technology improvements for better device performance.

Looking Ahead

As he prepares to take on the Chief Executive Officer duties, Hershberger reflected on the changes in the industry he has seen through his career.

“It has been an honor to have been part of this field for the past 40 years. I’ve had the privilege of working alongside researchers, engineers, clinicians, educators and families, as well as those who need our technology. As a community, we’ve been able to develop solutions that we couldn’t even imagine in the early years. Most rewarding of all has been seeing how these products have changed the lives of individuals who cannot use their natural voice.

“And there’s no reason to believe that progress will slow down in the future,” he noted. “We are constantly exploring new technologies and approaches for giving our clients greater access to communication.

“In addition, we’ll continue to provide support to the professional community: the speech-language pathologists, the speech therapists, educators, parents – we want to help strengthen the bond we have with them, to help them as they work to improve the lives of others.”

Although he has his eyes firmly fixed on the future, Hershberger nonetheless still marvels at the distance both he and the two companies have traveled.

And if he had one thing to say to the high school student starting his career part-time in 1978?

“It’s going to be a wild ride!” he laughed.


2017 National Down Syndrome Society Leadership Summit

Posted on 2017-10-24 09:52:42 by Admin under News

The National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS), the leading human rights organization for all individuals with Down syndrome, held their 2017 NDSS Leadership Summit October 1-3 in Washington, DC.   Jamie Dolan, with his Nova Chat in hand, joined over 200 advocates from across the country on Capitol Hill, advocating to break down barriers for individuals with Down syndrome and other disabilities.  A series of out-of-date laws unjustly prevents this population from living the American Dream – forcing a choice between a job and independence or risk losing their critical Medicaid benefits. (Down syndrome doesn’t stop people with Down syndrome – it’s “Law Syndrome” that holds them back.)

During the Leadership Summit, Jamie was invited to speak on a self-advocacy panel, and he spent a full day on Capitol Hill visiting the offices of his US Senate and Congress representatives. As the only person using speech augmentation, he clearly expressed his points, made possible by using his Nova Chat device. 

Jamie explained that he works part time at NDSS as Assistant Information & Referral Specialist, preparing information kits about the needs and abilities of people with Down syndrome. He also volunteers at his neighborhood library, delivers lunches to homebound seniors, and is preparing for more paid employment opportunities.

Jamie talked about the importance of his work to the community and his challenges. He explained, “My dream is to work in the entertainment and food service business. My biggest challenge is when people underestimate what I can do because of my disability.  With a job coach I can learn many tasks. I need support services to become more independent, but Medicaid funds are very tight.  Block grants to states will threaten my supports even more.” He worries, “Without supports I will get stuck doing less than I am capable of.”

In the coming weeks, congressional leaders will announce and begin meeting on a new bipartisan effort to help the disability community tackle archaic, outdated laws that continue to prevent individuals with disabilities from seeking out meaningful, competitive employment opportunities while maintaining and improving access to high quality benefits like Medicaid. “Law Syndrome" is the clarion call to congressional leaders, urging them to join the fight to reform these complex laws.  Jamie was proud to have a voice on this important issue!

 

-- Written by JoAnn Dolan


2.10.0 software released

Posted on 2017-10-17 14:07:30 by Admin under News

2.10.0 Chat software has been released with a new vocabulary WordPower60 Español Básico.

This is a new addition to the WordPower Español vocabularies, and it is comparable in terms of content and design to the English WordPower60 Basic vocabulary. It was designed with early language learners in mind, providing ample picture support and novel structures to facilitate expressive language development. Core vocabulary is embedded within the category and activity pages, allowing easy generation of language from the main core page as well as within tropic-based pages. Core words remain consistent in terms of placement and access, providing a natural bridge between core and fringe words. Early literacy is enhanced through the use of pages designed around several popular children’s books. A low-tech communication board is included within the vocabulary file that can be printed as an alternative communication support.

We have also added -ly grammar options to WordPower vocabularies and texting pages to the following vocabs:

- WordPower 48 Español Basico
- WordPower 48 Español
- MultiChat15 Spanish
- MultiChat 15 Bilingual
- MultiChat 15 French
- Spelling
- Teclado
- Epeler

To download the Chat 2.10.0 Software Update, go to Menu > Help > Check for Updates on your device to initiate an automatic update or go to Downloads from this website, choose your language and download the appropriate Chat Software Update to manually copy to your device. 


Closing the Gap Presentations

Posted on 2017-10-11 12:30:56 by Admin under News

Don't miss these presentations at Closing the Gap!

Let’s “Chat” About Literacy in the Classroom

Using AAC devices, Chat Editor and a smart board, we successfully implemented literacy in the elementary school classroom to teach students who are nonverbal and who have learning disabilities. Using 20 selected targeted words (core words and high frequency Dolch sight words), the entire team collaborated to improve both reading and communication skills. Using best practices of modeling and focused literacy intervention, students made measurable growth. By immersing the students in predictable text and building a personal library of books, they gained ownership of their learning. Books were also sent home to help families learn the AAC device, as well as to provide a concrete opportunity for generalization.

Date and Time:

  • October 19, 2017
  • 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm

Presenters:

  • Maureen Castillo
  • Sarah Fischer

https://www.closingthegap.com/conf-presentation/lets-chat-about-literacy-in-the-classroom/ 

 

Bilingual WordPower: WP60 Basic and WP60 Espanol Basic

This presentation will provide an in-depth overview of the new WordPower60 Espanol Basico vocabulary for the TouchChat app, and the corresponding NOVA chat/Chat Fusion devices. WP60 Espanol Basico was developed to correlate with the English WP60 Basic vocabulary. Device Profiles allow one to navigate easily between the two systems for bilingual AAC users. Manual communication board supports are included, as well as pages to support children’s books to enhance development of literacy and use of core language.

Date and Time:

  • October 18, 2017
  • 11:00 am – 12:00 pm

Presenters:

  • Nancy Inman
  • Pamela Corley

https://www.closingthegap.com/conf-presentation/bilingual-wordpower-wp60-basic-and-wp60-espanol-basic/

 

 

First Annual AAC Town Hall (For Adults Who Use AAC)

 

DESCRIPTION

 

 

Do You Use AAC? You’re Invited to Join Us!

At the First Annual AAC Town Hall Meeting at Closing the Gap 2017, we will discuss What Brings Us Together? Everybody is welcome to attend, but only those who use AAC can speak. If you communicate using AAC, come share your thoughts!

Please RSVP to Deanna.morrow@spps.org by September 22nd!*
There is no cost for people who use AAC and one assistant to attend the Town Hall meeting

 

Facilitators will ask one question at a time and everybody will have a turn to answer. These are the questions that the facilitators will ask. Please prepare your answers in advance so you are ready to share and make connections with other participants:

1. What is your name?      2. Where are you from?      3. How are we the same?

4. How are we different?      5. What makes you strong?      6. If you could do anything, what would you do?

Facilitators, Tom Reed and Eh Nay Moo pictured above.

 

*Email Deanna to RSVP if you plan to attend/participate in the Town Hall. Also let her know  if you will have an assistant, which parts of the conference you wish to attend and if you have any equipment or technology needs related to your AAC system.

Closing the Gap is offering participants in this presentation (individuals who use AAC and one assistant), free admission Wednesday, October 18. Those interested in full conference participation, may attend the full 3-day conference (Oct. 18-20), for the reduced rate of $200 (one assistant receives a guest pass). 
 
AAC users interested in participation, must contact Deanna on or before September 22. Closing The Gap will follow up directly with participants after September 22 with conference specifics and registration options.

 

Date and Time:

  • October 18, 2017
  • 12:30 pm – 3:00 pm

Presenters:

  • Deanna Morrow
  • Jolene Hyppa Martin

https://www.closingthegap.com/conf-presentation/first-annual-aac-town-hall-meeting-at-closing-the-gap-2017/