In trying to become fluent in Unity 84 sequenced, I have failed to explore some of the other awesome features on the Accent. I share an office with a great SLP, who just showed me the books that are available on the Accent. There are several books to choose from and they allow the student to read the words on each page using Unity while they look at the book! It’s a great way for students to learn a new motor plan (or continue to practice an old one) and build literacy skills. Here is how you can access the books:
- Go to PAGES.
- Go to BOOKS
- Book options will open up. Choose one to read (We chose “What Do You Do?”). They mostly focus on different core words but there are some books that are more complex (e.g., Goldilocks). If you pick the book called “I Can Turn…” (the character changes colors throughout the book), you will see the relevant vocabulary for each page (“I can”, “turn”, colors).
- Turn the pages by hitting the blue “prev page” and “next page” buttons on the little book page that opens up. The icons that appear are the first ones in the sequences for the vocabulary on the page. The page will move around the screen so that you can access the vocabulary.Enjoy!
When working with a teacher in a classroom with AAC users, I often direct them to Gail Van Tatenhove’s resources on descriptive teaching (you can also find some great youtube videos modeling it). One of the classrooms I have been supporting in has 5, 5 year olds using high-tech. We have been doing shared reading every day after nap-time, and their teacher has been working on commenting on the text and describing what is happening on each page using their devices (with these supports). He is doing a great job using the supports and is beginning to model for the students without using them. The other day, he was having some difficulty coming up with things to model and one of his students said “DESCRIBE” on her Accent. He immediately began describing what was happening on the page. The timing was excellent and we all had a laugh.
Don’t you love it when the students remind you of what you are supposed to be doing!
This week one of our students discovered the word “hide” on his Accent. The classroom teacher and I immediately hid. This led to several games of hide and seek. The game created numerous opportunities to model new phrases.
“where are you?”
“I see you”
“Where did you go?”
I have a feeling hide and seek is going to be very popular in that classroom for the next few days!
Have you heard about CoreScanner™! We LOVE it! It is a vocabulary system designed for switch scanning based on the Words for Life™ vocabulary. We have several students who had never used two switches to scan before trying the Accent 1000 or Accent 1400 with CoreScanner™. After an initial model with the system, 5 out of 6 students we tried it with were scanning to speak within the first 30 minute session using the Cornerstones vocabulary.
Check out the CoreScanner™ video that PRC created to demonstrate the system.
My favorite part about CoreScanner™ is that it allows users to gradually increase vocabulary while maintaining consistent motor plans. At the Cornerstones level, users select words from a field of 8 using linear scanning. At the Pathway level, users use block scanning to select words from 9 word blocks with a total of 84 locations. At the JAM and Blast levels, users have access to word families and the ability to add custom vocabulary.
So far, all of my students have used two switches at either the head or with their hands to access CoreScanner™. You should definitely check it out and consider for students who need switches to access AAC systems!
Last year Lauren and I came back from Closing the Gap pretty fired up and ready to make some big changes at our school! When I first started there in April 2014, I immediately gave some trainings about core language and its important role in AAC. Our biggest challenge was trying to get people to stop re-recording BIGmacks and 8 Cell devices! But… it’s hard to make changes! And getting people on board with core (and AAC in general) was happening at a pretty slow rate! Shortly after we came back, Lauren found Kate Ahern’s picture version of the Communication Bill of Rights. We immediately posted it and started referring to it in trainings! We’re still making changes, slowly, but they’re happening! You can check out the original document from ASHA here!
It’s hard to pick a favorite since they are all important! But here are the few that I love to remind people about!
Here is the first post in our new series AAChronicles! We will be sharing a story about an AAC user we know every Friday.
We know a fantastic 21 year old who started a trial with Core Scanner a few weeks ago. When her mom came in to school for a Thanksgiving event, her daughter said “hello” to her!
For years she was limited to a single switch with re-recorded messages.
I am upset that it took this long to get her an appropriate communication system, but excited to see her finally share her voice.
Click here for More information about Core Scanner!
Music can be a great motivator, especially for students with visual impairments. Amanda and I have been creating simple music activities in Classroom Suite that provide students with the ability to choose what music they want to listen to while working on switch scanning. For some of these students, this is also an opportunity to find out what their musical preferences are. I have made a few “mixtapes” that include R&B, classical, pop, country, and rock. We quickly discovered each student’s preferences (Pharrell’s “Happy” wins hands down for almost everybody).
After showing one of these “mixtapes” to a parent, she was excited to attach switches to her daughter’s headboard for her to choose the classical music she wanted to listen to before bed.
Here is an example of a Taylor Swift “mixtape” made for one of our older students.
Recently, I made a template for teachers and therapists to make their own “mixtapes”. i thought I would share the template and directions on the blog as well.
Continue reading for the downloadable template and directions.
In the spirt of Thanksgiving, here are the top five AT products we are thankful for!
- Language Based AAC Systems – Of course those made it to the top of the list! We are so grateful to see our students using devices like the Accent 1000 with Unity 84 Sequenced, Spanish Unity, or CoreScanner; the iPad with the LAMP WFL app; and the Tobii I Series.
- TAP-it – We first saw the TAP-it at Closing the Gap in 2014 and have been thankful ever since! It’s an adjustable touch accessible learning platform that differentiates between unintentional and intentional touch! Because it is adjustable (height and angle), has a military grade screen, and is on wheels; it has been an amazing asset at our school. It allows students with severe physical disabilities to access a touchscreen they would otherwise be unable to reach!
3. Classroom Suite – A great way to make switch accessible activities for your students. We have had a great time making and using switch accessible books! We’re also thankful for this alternative pencil for our students with severe motor issues.
4. Loc-Line – We love this budget-friendly way to mount our AAC systems and switches!
5. Boardmaker with Speaking Dynamically Pro – What SLP isn’t thankful for Boardmaker?! It’s the go-to for making print based materials with picture supports and with Speaking Dynamically Pro you can make awesome interactive materials!
What AT products are you thankful for?
*Thanks to Whimsy Workshop Teaching for their Thanksgiving ClipArt!*
Someone on the team identifies that the student needs an AAC system. The team meets and decides on a system. The SLP trains the classroom on how to use the device. A couple months goes by, maybe a little longer, and someone sends out that dreaded email.
“This device is not the right fit for student X. He’s had it for three months now and doesn’t even look at it. Can we meet and pick a new one?”
Getting an AAC system for a student is just the first step! Once we’ve identified a language based AAC system with a robust vocabulary, we need to start teaching the student how to use it!
Here are my top five points I ask teams to consider when they raise this question.
- Has the team (teachers, SLP, classroom staff) been provided with sufficient training on how to use the system?
- Have you set realistic expectations for how the student should be progressing with his new AAC system? **This does not mean set the bar low! It simply means be realistic!**
- Have you modeled enough?! It’s essential to remember that input comes before output. If you haven’t sufficiently modeled on the device, you can’t expect the student to have magically learned how to use it!
- Do you provide the student with many opportunities throughout the day to communicate? Communication should occur naturally throughout the day. Stop and take advantage of these opportunities or create them!
- Do you honor the student’s communication attempts? For example, if the student asked for “drink” did you take him to get a drink? It’s our job to make communication with AAC powerful. Honor those requests whenever possible and if it’s not possible, acknowledge the student and let them know when that request will be available!
While researching information about literacy instruction for students with CCN, I discovered a set of video and learning guides on http://www.engagingalllearners.ca/.
The videos feature Dr. Caroline Musselwhite and include brief discussions about various ways teachers can further develop their literacy instruction. I have already shared the video on Symbols and Learning to Read with several teachers at our school.
Please share this resource with anyone providing literacy instruction to a child with complex communication needs.