Sharon Mankey, a continuing lecturer in IPFW’s Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD), received the Honors of the Association from the Indiana Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ISHA) at their annual convention on April 22. This is the highest award given by the association, which honors members for dedication to the fields of speech-language pathology and audiology.
Mankey’s passion has always focused on improving the quality of life for those with limited verbal communication abilities and those who use alternative or augmentative communication methods (AAC) to communicate. In 2009, she created the AAC Poss-Abilities Theatre Camp, which is an opportunity for CSD students to gain valuable skills working with community members who use AAC devices. This team works together to put on a play, some written by Mankey, with all acting done using each individual’s AAC method to communicate. The camp began as a volunteer experience for IPFW students and is now a formal service learning course, CSD 406 – Field Experience in Augmentative/Alternative Communication.
Mankey also devotes her time to increasing awareness and respect for people who use AAC. In 2013 she and Mariesa Rang started holding an annual “AAC World” event at IPFW, which allows community members to experience what it would be like to function without verbal communication. They were invited to present AAC World at the annual ISHA Convention in 2016 and 2017.
In 2016, Mankey began training first responders in Allen County on how to best serve people who use AAC. Her goal is to train every first responder, including law enforcement, firefighters, and EMTs, in the county. She is slowly chipping away at her goal one training session at a time.
During her career, Mankey has held numerous committee and elected positions in the Indiana Speech-Language-Hearing Association including vice-president of publications and communication from 2005 to 2009. She currently serves on the membership committee for the United States Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication.
Faculty, students, and former students from CSD and communication department were in attendance at the awards presentation, as well as many of Mankey’s relatives from as far away as Florida. Assistant Professor Pam Reese (CSD), who nominated Mankey for the award, was successful in keeping the award a secret until the awards event. Former students who have worked with Mankey as a supervisor would appreciate that her acceptance remarks started by acknowledging that she should have taken her own advice and dressed “clinic” ready, just in case!
Mankey and her students have improved the lives of AAC users. Mankey’s work shows others how to create a more welcoming and inclusive community for AAC users while simultaneously providing IPFW students with valuable real-life opportunities that they can use with and adapt for their clients. She is most deserving of the Indiana Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s Honors of the Association!