Dr. Oliver Wendt is Director of the Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) and Autism Research Lab at the University of Central Florida. His team develops AAC interventions and technologies for minimally-verbal individuals on the autism spectrum. Dr. Wendt specializes in single-subject experimental designs and meta-analyses of these studies. He is first editor of the textbook “Assistive Technology. Principles and Applications for Communication Disorders and Special Education” (Emerald Publishing), and serves as Associate Editor for Augmentative and Alternative Communication, and Guest Editor for Evidence-based Communication Intervention and Assessment. His research lab received funding from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration, and the AWS Foundation among other private organizations. In 2012 Dr. Wendt was a recipient of an Applied Research Grant from the Organization for Autism Research to investigate early language learning in AAC users with severe autism. His research has been recognized by the 2015 Outstanding Research Award by the Autism Society of America in addition to a 2005 Editor Award for the Most Significant Research Article in Augmentative and Alternative Communication (together with Schlosser, Angermeier, & Shetty).
As a research entrepreneur, Dr. Wendt founded the digital health start-up SPEAK MODalities to commercialize the AAC applications SPEAKall!, SPEAKmore!, SPEAKtogether!, and SPEAKplay! This work earned him the 2018 Autism Hero Award by the Anna Kennedy Charity, the 2017 Milken-Penn GSE Business Plan Competition Grand Prize from the University of Pennsylvania, the 2017 Edison Innovation Award, the 2016 R&D Award, and a 2015 Best in Education Tech Award. The AAC technologies derived out of Dr. Wendt’s research lab were featured on CBS Sunday Morning, CNN iReport, the Economist magazine, TEDx, among other renowned media outlets. A TED talk is available at https://youtu.be/NSQn-TXg9cY.