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University of Connecticut’s Neag School of Education grant will help Oak Hill‘s New England Assistive Technology (NEAT) expand augmentative and alternative communication ser


HARTFORD, Conn. – November 9, 2020 – The Neag Foundation awarded a much-needed $250,000 grant recently to help Oak Hill’s New England Assistive Technology (NEAT) Center to support students who have communication challenges and connect children with the tools they need to improve their communication, learning, social skills, and independence.


The funds will allow NEAT to expand its Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) services, which children with disabilities and developmental delays need in order to communicate with their families and access learning materials.


“We have seen first‐hand that communication devices can be absolutely life‐changing for children, allowing them to clearly express their thoughts, needs, wants, and ideas; many for the first time in their lives,” said Barry Simon, President and CEO of Oak Hill. “There is a steady demand for our AAC services; however, our ability to meet this demand has been limited. This seed grant from The Neag Foundation will allow us to increase the capacity of our AAC programming throughout the state and train providers in how to access and utilize assistive technology.”

The State of Connecticut Department of Education recognized a critical need among school districts across Connecticut, providing students with IEPs access to appropriate assistive technology solutions and services. Due to this need, Oak Hill’s NEAT Center was selected to provide comprehensive assistive technology services to each of these school districts throughout Connecticut over the next three years. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Oak Hill’s NEAT Center went from working with 63 school districts through this program to supporting all 175 school districts throughout the state to help them adjust to remote learning for their students with disabilities.


“Now, more than ever, given the era of social distancing, children with communication differences need the tools and resources to develop their connections with our world,” said Sally Reis, Trustee of The Neag Foundation. “Giving NEAT the ability to expand its capacity to play a larger role in helping these students connect with others to learn, grow and form meaningful relationships will have a direct impact on their quality of life and well-being.”

About Oak Hill: Oak Hill is Connecticut’s largest private provider for people with disabilities, working to break down barriers to independence for the past 126 years.  Oak Hill’s mission is to set the standard, partnering with people with disabilities, to provide services and solutions promoting independence, education, health and dignity. Oak Hill programs support people of all ages, for all levels of need. For up-to-date information about Oak Hill, please visit, and Twitter at @OakHillCT.  Oak Hill is an IRS recognized 501(c)(3) organization.



About The Neag Foundation: The Neag Foundation serves as a philanthropic force for positive change in education, health, and human services initiatives dedicated to improving the human condition and making a positive difference in the world. The Neag Foundation supports requests to improve and enhance education, human services and make a medical impact, primarily in Connecticut and Pennsylvania.  Its mission is to provide grants that improve and enhance communities. In all cases, the goal is to make a positive impact and help people live healthier, happier, and more productive lives.




vices to ensure that students with disabilities have their voices heard and their needs met.