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The Communication Book is Ready… Now What?

December 22, 2012 by - Leave your thoughts

The Communication Book is Ready Now What?

The Communication Book is Ready… Now What? The fun begins….  Yes, we really do think that TEACHING a learner to USE the communication book is FUN. We get to participate in lots of meaningful language experiences, we get to be creative, we get to watch language blossom, and we get to be surprised by the communication competence ALL of our learners show us after prAACtice, prAACtice, and for some more prAACtice . The best way to get started with communication book teaching is to begin by trying out different teaching tips, strategies, and resources and find out what works best.   Each communication dyad (communicator & communication partner) is different so the combination of strategies that will work will vary but at the core of the teaching process, there should be fun, motivation, and of course progress. STRATEGIES and CONSIDERATIONS Aided Language Input (ALI)– We can not say enough about... [Read More...]

Why We Love AAC Language Experience Activities

December 21, 2012 by - 3 Comments

We love hearing the ways in which SLPs are using language experience activities in their therapy. That’s why we woke to big smiles today in hearing the story of a clinician who was having fun teaching the word ALL with goldfish crackers. Her little AAC friends could ask for a cracker and get one, or ask for ALL and get a pre-packaged portion. The power of contrast works in our favor in times like these. And it could easily be done with puzzle pieces or Lego blocks or any number of things. We can highlight it when we ALL leave the room or play a game as a group. Families can get in on the action, too. They can check to see if they have ALL the items from a list in the shopping cart or if they’ve put away ALL the groceries or laundry. Repetition with variety: another of... [Read More...]

Communication Books: Making Decisions About Format

December 15, 2012 by - 3 Comments

Four-year-old Josiah had a tiny one that was clipped to his belt loop so it was handy all throughout his day in preschool. Mr. Allan, who was hemiplegic and used a manual wheelchair, liked to keep one underneath his right thigh so he could grab it quickly whenever he wanted to talk. Dougie’s was big, really big, and he carried it under his arm wherever he went. Marla’s was a permanent fixture on her wheelchair laptray, and if she came without it because a caregiver forgot to put it on, it was likely to be a very l-o-n-g day. Geena’s looked like a DayPlanner and had it’s own special compartment in her purse. What are we talking about? Communication books, of course. And despite the fact that they all served the same general purpose, the communication books referenced in these examples couldn’t have looked more distinct. In this week’s post,... [Read More...]

Organizing Vocabulary for Communication Books: Getting Started

December 8, 2012 by - Leave your thoughts

Organizing Vocabulary for Communication Books: Getting Started

Organizing vocabulary on communication boards sometimes feels overwhelming, especially if you have not had specific training or education in this area.  It is a huge responsibility because if the communicator can not navigate the communication book easily and quickly they might ‘lose’ motivation or ‘lose’ a listener.  A problem that often occurs in ordering vocabulary for a communication book is that there appears to have been no plan. And when there are no plans, disorganization usually occurs and with disorganization comes chaos.   So to avoid chaos, it is very helpful to make long term plan. Long Term Plan Considerations- A Beginning: Language Learning– it is often helpful to order vocabulary on a communication display so that the communicator can learn language and literacy in addition to functional communication. With this in mind, core and fringe vocabulary can be organized in a way that follows a left to right access to... [Read More...]

5 Things to Do to See If Your Vocabulary Instruction is Effective (& 5 Things to Do If It’s Not)

December 7, 2012 by - Leave your thoughts

5 Things to Do to See If Your Vocabulary Instruction is Effective (& 5 Things to Do If It’s Not)

Last month, we talked a lot about semantic intervention with people who are learning AAC. Once we got started, we realized we could have done another whole month on the topic, but we had to move on. We ran out of time before we could really talk about outcome measures. As clinicians, how do we determine whether our therapy is effective? Here are some things to do after you’ve provided high-quality, well-sequenced vocabulary instruction. Make small comprehension checks a regular part of your instruction. Ask the AAC learner to tell you about ___ . Then score their response as objectively as possible (e.g., complete & correct, correct but incomplete, vague, incorrect). You’ll get some real-time feedback and can clarify or re-teach as necessary. Assess in a standardized fashion. Standardized means doing something the same way each time. Set up appropriate assessment tasks that allow you to judge how well the... [Read More...]

The PrAACtical Power of Communication Books

December 1, 2012 by - 8 Comments

The PrAACtical Power of Communication Books

There’s something about the month of December that makes us a bit nostalgic. As we prepare for the holidays, our thoughts drift to the past. Simpler times. Tradition. The way things used to be. And, so, for our Strategy of the Month, we step away from the latest app or fanciest SGD and turn our attention to one of the tried-and-true tools from the past: Communication books. They used to be ubiquitous but now they’re becoming almost a rarity. We’ve decided to focus on them for a couple of reasons, but the main one is to spread the word that it doesn’t take a sizeable budget to give someone access to real language. If you have access to a computer and printer, you can make a really robust communication book for little or no money. It seems so simple: Put some words and pictures in a book. Show someone how... [Read More...]

5 AAC Handouts from the 2012 ASHA Convention

November 30, 2012 by - Leave your thoughts

5 AAC Handouts from the 2012 ASHA Convention

Maybe you didn’t get to the ASHA Convention this year. Or maybe you did, but couldn’t get to all the sessions you had hoped to attend. In either case, we’ve linked to handouts from a number of AAC presentations. Enjoy! AAC in the Common Core State Standards? Karen Erickson, Penny Hatch, Allison Dennis, & Marlene Cummings have your back. This is a project to watch! Janice Light’s presentation on Building Communicative Competence with Individuals who Require AAC: From Research to Effective Practice AAC for Adults With Acquired Neurological Conditions: Today & Tomorrow by David Beukelman, Susan Fager, Julia King, & Karen Hux Analyzing Language Development of Physically Impaired Children Using AAC Devices by Monika Ortloff, Paul Andres, Meher Banajee, & Gail Van Tatenhove Presentation by Cathy Binger and Jennifer Kent Walsh on Selecting Skills to Teach AAC Communication Partners  

Building Word Consciousness: Vocabulary Instruction in AAC

November 17, 2012 by - Leave your thoughts

Building Word Consciousness: Vocabulary Instruction in AAC

The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled. Plutarch Last week, Robin discussed some strategies and activities for teaching new words to individuals who are at the earlier stages of language learning. This week, we move ahead and address semantic instruction for individuals who regularly create sentences to express themselves. One of my favorite things about working with AAC learners at this level is the opportunity for having metalinguistic conversations. Getting them to think and talk about language can accelerate their learning. Here are some prAACtical thoughts on how this relates to semantics with a focus on building word consciousness. We’re all familiar with music appreciation and art appreciation. I always think of word consciousness as a sort of like word appreciation. It refers to an awareness that words are the building blocks of language and that they can be examined and manipulated... [Read More...]

Vocabulary Activities: 5 Sites for Learning with Avatars

November 13, 2012 by - 1 Comment

Vocabulary Activities: 5 Sites for Learning with Avatars

We’re always looking for engaging activities to use to practice words that our AAC friends are learning. For some learners, making avatars can be a great way to do have an authentic reason to use words for body parts and accessories as well as modifiers for size, shape, color, and other things. Plus…Who wouldn’t want an excuse to make a younger, thinner, cuter, or funnier version of themselves?! Here are some sites to check out. Pop Art Pixies: Basic avatar site oriented for girls. Good for using core language, making requests, color & size words. DoppelMe: Easy to use site  for making cartoon-like avatars with several opportunities to choose elements, like clothes, hairstyles, and backgrounds. Use words for feelings to select facial expressions. WeeWorld: Another user-friendly site that can be a fun way to use descriptors in making selections to create, dress, and style your avatar. This site’s graphics would... [Read More...]

Avaz AAC App & Vocabulary Learning

November 5, 2012 by - 1 Comment

PrAACtical Thinking Avaz AAC App and Vocabulary Learning

We originally talked about Avaz, the first commercially available AAC app developed in India, back when we introduced PrAACtical AAC in January of 2012.  At that time, one of the primary developers, Ajit Narayanan, was recognized by the MIT Technology Review through the prestigious TR35 List, which applauds 35 innovators under 35 years of age. We were congratulating the team at Invention Labs and thinking that they would continue to improve communication for individuals with disabilities throughout 2012. They have succeeded.  The Avaz team has worked this year seeking feedback from AAC professionals throughout the world. They have listened and have made many updates to improve the communication and language options of the Avaz App. We thought this was a great time for some follow-up information because many of the modifications and added options relate to vocabulary, which just happens to be our strategy of the month. Pre-loaded vocabulary has... [Read More...]