PrAACtical Resources: Online AAC Support for Families During School Closures
The AAC field is peppered with amazingly dedicated professionals who come up with creative solutions to the day’s latest challenges. In this guest post, SLP Laura Boates, a graduate of McGill University, shares some web-based materials that were created when her school system, Edmonton Catholic School District in Alberta Canada, announced school closures to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Laura is incredibly passionate about helping every student find their voice through AAC. She is currently part of a multidisciplinary AAC team for assessment, trial, implementation, and funding of communication devices as well as supporting teachers and families using AAC.
On Sunday, March 15th, the government of Alberta Canada announced the cancellation of all classes from Kindergarten to Grade 12, as well as the closure of all preschool and licensed childcare centres. However, it’s business as usual for staff, so teachers and therapists are working on creatively delivering curriculum and supports.
At Edmonton Catholic School District (ECSD), we are currently supporting over 150 students using AAC devices and our planned March Break AAC parent program needed to be modified so that families could access the content at home, and on-demand.
On Monday morning, our team got to work brainstorming. There are many amazing AAC resources out there already, we just needed a fun and easy way to pull it all together for home practice. So, the ECSD AAC Calendar was born! Each day gives families a strategy, a video, a book and an activity to do at home. Families can start anytime and work through these activities at their own pace.
The ECSD AAC Calendar can be found here.
We’ll be posting weeks 2-4 shortly as well as an adaptation for older students.
Here are some of the resources that inspired us:
- The amazing AAC for Caregivers manual from the Specialized Assistive Technology Centre (ATC) in Singapore. We have used their manual previously as the parent content for our summer and march break AAC camps. We decided to spotlight each strategy for two days to allow for repetition with variety. You can find that manual here.
- The Saltillo Calendar. Every month they post a video of the featured book being read aloud with symbol support. We wanted our families to see how it looks to read a book with AAC and suggested core words to model. You can see the calendars here.
- The AssistiveWare Core Word Classroom. We used their 5-minute fillers for the activity of the day, and their core word of the week planners for our Friday resource. I love 5-minute fillers because there is no set-up and they use toys already in the classroom or found at home. You can visit the Core Word Classroom here.
- Tar Heel Reader has amazing core vocabulary books that you’ll see in weeks 2-4. They are super easy to access online from home, so families can read to your child/student at their own pace. Don’t forget to check out TarHeel Shared Reader, a new resource and variant of TarHeel Reader that emphasizes shared reading.
- PrAACtical AAC of course! We’ve added 1-2 optional articles that families can read if they’re looking for additional information on the strategies suggested.
Disclosure: I receive no financial compensation for the ECSD AAC calendar, as it is a free resource. I do track website views, so this article will make my stats look great!
This post was written by Carole Zangari