5 Quick Wishes for SGDs & Apps

February 9, 2012 by - Leave your thoughts


5 Quick Wishes for SGDs & Apps

With apologies to the SGD and app designers for making things more complicated for you  we offer up these wishes for the next generation of AAC devices and apps. Everything should have a readily accessible ‘un-do’ button. Seriously, folks. Are we the only ones who make mistakes? AAC devices/apps that let you pick the symbol set/system and organize the vocabulary accordingly. Variety is still the spice of life. A universal standard or convention across SGDs/apps for button shapes and color-coding, with option to customize, of course. (Isn’t it great to have your cake and be able to eat it, too?!) Built in core word libraries that make it easy to populate screens with the words we use most often ‘Smart’ templates that suggest vocabulary and organization options as you build the display. – How about you? What do you dream of in the next generation of AAC technology?

Filed under:

Tagged With: ,

Lightwriter Swift

February 9, 2012 by - 2 Comments


Lightwriter Swift

We had a lot of fun playing with the new Lightwriter Swift at the 2012 ATIA conference in Orlando. Previous models of the Lightwriter have had revered places on our AAC Lab shelves and so we were looking forward to the new and improved Lightwriter. I have mixed feelings about the smaller size. Some of our folks really liked the feel of a more standard keyboard and they won’t get that in the Swift. The newest model is a radical departure from the older versions, but they’ve retained their signature feature of the dual display. I love the conversational fillers (sigh, laugh, uh huh) but what really amazed me was the clarity of sound in a very noisy exhibit hall. Here’s video tour of the new device posted by the folks at Toby Churchill last week. –

Filed under:

February: Jewish Disability Awareness Month

February 8, 2012 by - Leave your thoughts


February: Jewish Disability Awareness Month

– I just learned that February is Jewish Disability Awareness Month. In honor of that, we wanted to share resources developed by an organization called Gateways. Their site offers downloadable materials for these thematic units: Shabbat Bar and Bat Mitzvah Preparation High Holidays Chanukah If you have suggestions for other sites that offer resources for individuals from other faiths, we would love to hear about them.

Filed under:

Let’s Get PrAACtical

February 8, 2012 by - Leave your thoughts


Let's Get PrAACtical

It feels awfully strange being a newbie again. We’re certainly not new to AAC. And we’re not new to talking about it either, having worked with families, graduate students, and other professionals for more than two decades. But, somehow, this whole blogging thing and sharing our thoughts with the wider world in this way seems a bit daunting. Even in our second month, it gives us pause. Nevertheless, it’s time. – Time to put our ideas about making AAC work out there. – Time to add to the conversation about new tools and technologies. – Time to stop repeating the same sorts of things over and over to new crops of graduate students, SLPs, teachers, and families and put it all down in writing. – As Dr. David Beukelman once said in an editorial for the AAC journal, “the weakest ink is better than the strongest memory.” When he wrote that in 1995, Dr.... [Read More...]

Filed under:

Tagged With:

Sites We Love: Online AAC Assessment Tool

February 7, 2012 by - Leave your thoughts


Sites We Love: Online AAC Assessment Tool

Looking for some well-grounded, yet concrete ideas for assessment of early communicators? Communication Matrix is one of my ‘Go To’ places for just that sort of thing. The site is home to a tool that allows you to develop a clear communication profile for someone at the earliest stages of communicative learning. It is not a direct assessment instrument, but rather a systematic way of capturing knowledge gained through observation, interaction with the communicator, and interviewing families and other professionals. The tool itself has been around for over 20 years (I have the paper version on my shelf). Its primary author, Dr. Charity Rowland of the Oregon Health and Science University, has been refining it over the years and developed the online site with the support of the US Department of Education. The profile covers 7 levels of communication, 4 communicative intents, and 9 communication modalities. I’ve been using the online... [Read More...]

Filed under:

Tagged With: , ,

Why a Listening Only Approach is Not Good Enough?

February 7, 2012 by - Leave your thoughts


Why a Listening Approach is Not Good Enough

Not only is a Speech Only Approach not good enough, but a Listening Approach is also not good enough… Because even though a young man I know can follow simple directions with contextual cues and  his educators ‘feel’ he does not need any additional support, it does not help the young man when he should be doing the task independently.  . Because even though a bakery employee I know is usally fine (just a little nervous??) when his job coach explains changes in other employees attendance at work,  he sometimes gets so upset he has to leave his job… Because a little girl asks every day (many, many times) to go to Disney World even though her parents and teachers have told her they always go over the summer.  And because she now has a formal  behavior plan to help her stop perseverating on questions, and becasue this means she... [Read More...]

Filed under:

Tagged With: , , ,

5 Reasons Why A ‘Speech-Only’ Approach Isn’t Good Enough

February 6, 2012 by - 7 Comments


5 Reasons Why A 'Speech-Only' Approach Isn’t Good Enough

I’m trying to learn to see the good in all things, even when it is not immediately apparent. Lucky for me, the universe just keeps tossing me opportunities to practice my emerging skill in this area.   – Case in point: A phone conversation with an SLP serving a kindergarten child with developmental disabilities. “We’re working on speech right now, especially oral motor exercises. He can almost extend his tongue past his lips. And in the last year he’s been vocalizing a little louder. Oh, and Mom heard him say ‘Pa’ in the car last week, too! I wish progress were faster but he’s come a long way.” – No mention of the fact that he has an expressive vocabulary of, um. ZERO. – No consideration that if we continue with this current rate of learning, he’ll be able to say hist first three-word sentence at about the same time... [Read More...]

Filed under:

Tagged With: ,

Magic Moments: AAC Intervention with Apps You Love – Disneyland Explorer

February 5, 2012 by - Leave your thoughts


Magic Moments: AAC Intervention with Apps You Love - Disneyland Explorer

Disney’s free app, Disneyland Explorer, is literally a walk in the park.  We love the quality of the graphics, which are incredibly vivid and reminiscent of the old ViewMaster toy. The app is simple-just some views of Disneyland but because many of our kids have such intense memories of the Florida version of this theme park, it’s a natural for language therapy. Not everyone is lucky enough to live near a Disney park, but even so, there  are lots of fun things to explore on this app.Take a peek at a video of the app here and you’ll see what we mean.There are lots of clinical/educational uses for this app, particularly for those kids we know whose lives are punctuated by trips to the Magic Kingdom. Here are some suggestions for AAC users of various ability levels. = Magic Moments: AAC Intervention with Disneyland Explorer 1. Multiple opportunities for using AAC... [Read More...]

Filed under:

Tagged With: ,

On Not Being an Ostrich

February 4, 2012 by - Leave your thoughts


On Not Being an Ostrich

Is anyone else totally floored by the stories of good people getting into bad situations that have been in the news lately?? While it can happen to anyone, it is probably true that people who use AAC face a number of safety risks that the rest of us don’t think much about. The people we work with may not have the vocabulary they need to talk about safety issues, report abuse, or even state objections/resistance in a forceful way. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The latest story to cross my inbox made me think of some of our AAC friends and what we, as SLPs and clinical educators, should be doing to provide support. The Canadian organization Augmentative Communication Community Partnerships, has some wonderful resources to help get us started. Among them is a set of communication displays, both text and picture-based, that can be useful to individuals with AAC needs.Originally... [Read More...]

Filed under:

Tagged With: , ,

What Gets Lost

February 4, 2012 by - 2 Comments


What Gets Lost

Imagine having one key communication strategy and no one knew that it existed. This horrifying experience was documented in the book ‘I Raise My Eyes to Say Yes,’ the autobiography of Ruth Sienkiewicz-Mercer. For years, she effectively used eye gaze with her family to answer yes/no questions, but when Ruth was placed at a residential facility, things eventually changed. Staff turnover, something we’re all familiar with, was the culprit. With time, new staff came in and didn’t realize that Ruth communicated with her eyes. Ruth was silenced for years until someone noticed that her ‘eyes up’ movement wasn’t reflexive or random. She was talking, but no one was listening.  — While this was an extreme example, most AAC practitioners can recount their own stories of people whose AAC messages weren’t effectively translated once they moved to new settings. The transition to a new environment, where untrained partners may fail to recognize... [Read More...]

Filed under: ,

Tagged With: , , ,