California State University, East Bay
California State University, East Bay is located in Hayward, California. It serves a majority-minority student population that reflects the diversity of the Bay Area. The Union City Library is located in Union City, California.

Storytime With AAC

Initiative Categories


Focus Areas

  • Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)
  • Cultural Responsiveness
  • Disability
  • Neurodiversity


Storytime with AAC was developed as a partnership between the CSU East Bay Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences Department and the Union City Library. Developed by Sabena D’Souza (program coordinator and parent of an AAC user), Elena Dukhovny (SLP and faculty in SLHS at CSU East Bay), and Polina Rubanova (librarian at Union City Library), the initiative creates an ongoing opportunity for children who use AAC to develop a love of reading while also building communication skills and interacting with others who use AAC. The initiative also offers caregiver support by providing resources and helping caregivers develop modeling skills. Twice-monthly readings are organized by the parent coordinator and librarian, and conducted by Cal State East Bay SLP and Special Education graduate students.

Storytime was piloted in April 2023 and has been running twice-monthly since then, with weekly readings during AAC awareness month and Autism awareness month. It is a free program that is included in the regular children’s programming of the public library, increasing visibility and participation of children who communicate via AAC. The East Bay area is home to individuals from all over the world, including large communities from various parts of Asia and the Middle East. Attendees of Storytime reflect the ethnic make-up of the area, and books and activities are purposefully selected to represent a variety of cultural/ethnic groups. Storytime books are also selected to regularly include characters with disabilities, including characters who use AAC to communicate.

The Storytime with AAC program has been attended by about 50 families, with at least 18 families attending three times or more. Additionally, Storytime has held special events, such as an author reading with Tiffany Hammond, author of “A Day With No Words,” attended by 100 people. Storytime has been mentioned by the International Society for AAC (ISAAC) and Publishers Weekly (School & Library Spotlight). Families that attend have increased familiarity with their children’s AAC systems and have developed community networks.

For More Information

See presentation slides about this program [PDF], the Storytime With AAC event calendar or contact Elena Dukhovny at

This initiative was submitted on June 4, 2024.

Share Your Initiative