Drawing upon the Augmentative Communication and Empowerment Supports' (ACES) model of cultural immersion as a method to teach participants about AAC and disability rights (Bryen, Sleseransky, & Baker 1995), ACETS was designed as an intensive employment training and follow-up support program that would immerse participants in the culture of employment.
The process of applying to ACETS intentionally modeled the typical process of applying for a job.
With some coaching from ACETS staff, applicants submitted a cover letter, a resume, and two letters of reference.
They agreed to adhere to deadlines for completing their goals and to report their progress online to ACETS staff.
In order to support each participant in achieving their individualized employment goals, each received one year of online support framed as "e-coaching" from ACETS. Support also included visits to the participants' homes to help them set up their computer systems, feedback on drafts of resumes and letters, technical support in the creation of web pages, assistance in locating technical training programs, and assistance with connecting to employment resources.
As a particularly innovative feature, ACETS utilized a range of technology to provide "e-coaching", online support, coaching, and tracking.
ACETS staff, in turn, posted participants" progress on a web page so that each participant could see a graphic chart of personal progress, as well as the progress of other participants.
Data presented on the outcomes of ACETS is based on all participants from year one of ACETS.
This instrument was given to the participants prior to their participation in ACETS and then again at the conclusion of the one-year of training and support provided by ACETS.
The first instrument, ACETS Employment Survey, was developed based on the ACES questionnaire (Bryen et al, 1995) and employment-related "hard" and "soft" skills identified from the general employment field especially related to information technology (e.g., Futureworks, Department of Labor, 1999) and from research on employment-related skills relevant to people who use AAC (e.g., Light et al, 1996; Moss & Tilly, 1996; Mullins, Roessler, & Bellini, 1997; Peterson, 1997).