Category: Assitive Technology

AT at Home: Alternative Pencils & Greeting Card Apps

While there are many challenges posed by being stuck at home right now, one that hits especially hard is missing celebrations with family and friends. I have been using several greeting card apps to email and snail-mail my loved ones for birthdays, graduations, and baby showers. Card making is a great writing activity for any child and can be modified to include the use of alternative pencils. Below you will find a list of my favorite greeting card apps and some ideas for how to use a variety of alternative pencils.

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AAC at Home: Video Messaging Apps

There seem to be a million and one ways to keep in contact with friends and family floating around the internet right now. Marco Polo is one that I have been using for quick video messages to my loved ones. It is also a great resource for video messages that include AAC.

There are a few features in this app that make it a fun and easy way to communicate or use for video modeling with someone who is far away right now.

You can find Marco Polo on the App Store or Google Play.

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Literacy Presentation for Connections Beyond Sight and Sound

Today I presented a webinar for Connections Beyond Sight and Sound, the Maryland Deaf-Blind Project. A big thanks to them for including me in their webinars! Here is the powerpoint for my presentation.

In case you missed it, I discussed making reading experiences accessible with story boxes, language experiences books, and book modification ideas. I also talked about alphabet instruction, phonological/phonemic awareness, and vocabulary/ concept development. A reminder that my background is in speech-language pathology and many of my accommodations and activity ideas for children with low vision come from collaborating with a TVI.

The recorded session should be posted soon through CBSS. Here is the link for the original listing. I’ll try to update this post when there is a link for the recorded presentation!

AT at Home: OverDrive Read-Along

We think the Philadelphia Museum of Art captures parenting and working from home correctly with this meme.

We understand that one of the biggest challenges right now is keeping children occupied. If your local library uses OverDrive as a service for digital content, then you have access to books that provide narration.

These books can viewed on your laptop, tablet, or phone. Simply, log-in to your library’s website and search the catalog using the advanced search or filtered option.

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AAC at Home – Let’s Teach an Old Dog New Tricks

Do any of you have pets? Especially dogs! I do, and today he was whining for some of the homemade soft pretzels I made. So I started having him do some tricks to get some pretzel. But then I thought, “hmmm most of these trick commands are CORE words!” So I got on the floor, grabbed my iPad with LAMP WFL, plugged in a blue tooth speaker, and Sir Lancelot (my dog) started doing some tricks! This could be really fun to do at home with your pets! Check out the video here!

Inclusive Dramatic Play Activity – Baby Doll with G-tube

In the next few weeks we’re going to be reading “Sometimes” by Rebecca Elliot.  Many of the students I work with have G-tubes and are in wheelchairs.  They also, unfortunately, spend time in the hospital.  This book is a great story for children with disabilities or their siblings. The main character, Clemmie, and her sibling talk about their time in the hospital and the things Clemmie sometimes has to do.

We’re going to be reading Sometimes using the format from the Tell Me Program. To learn more about how we use the Tell Me Program click here. You can download the visuals for Sometimes here to go along with our visuals book. If you own a copy of this book and would like a copy of the electronic adapted version, send an email to AmandaSoperSLP@gmail.com.  The adapted copy contains the pictures only, no text, with background clutter removed for our students with vision impairments.  We put each page on a light box or use the PowerPoint on an iPad.

In order to address the “dramatic play” aspect of The Tell Me Program, you can make your own G-tube doll using these materials.

  1. Exacto Knife
  2. Baby Alive Doll (This brand allows you to actually feed the doll. Just make sure you buy extra diapers!)
  3. Mickey Button & Feeding Tube/Extension Set (Amanda got this one by asking the school nurse.)
  4. Syringe

To insert the Mickey Button into the baby, simply make a small hole in the appropriate spot. Slowly make the hole bigger and test the button as you go, until it is the correct size.

Put the Mickey Button in and use the syringe to insert air into the button to inflate the balloon on the inside of the baby doll. Now you can feed the baby doll using water and the syringe!

Hair Salon Dramatic Play Kit

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I often see people asking for ideas to teach language through play in AAC groups on Facebook.  What I most commonly see as the suggestions are cause and effect toys like light up toys, wind up toys, sensory items, etc.  Frequently people write that their students with autism aren’t motivated by play and I almost never hear about students with severe physical disabilities engaging in play other than to direct it using their talkers.  I’ve thought a lot about this and came to the conclusion that this didn’t feel right.  Why are we not providing our students with disabilities with the same play opportunities as their peers?

With that in mind, I started to order toys for dramatic and pretend play.  I started using them with lots of different groups of students and guess what, they ALL love them.  Even some of my super tough to motivate to play, kids with autism are having a blast playing with these kits!  The most important piece, I think, is that I facilitate the play and never expect to just leave the toys with a group of students and see them successfully play.  It doesn’t always go smoothly the first time but it often does in subsequent sessions.  I play with these kits in individual sessions or in small groups with no more than four students at a time.  They are a HUGE hit.  I promise!

The first kit I decided to share is my hair salon kit.  My SLP intern and I have had so much fun playing with this kit in sessions.  It was our first “hit” and was loved by both boys and girls.  🙂  There are a bunch of accommodations so students with severe physical impairments can use switches to engage in pretend and dramatic play!

Students can use an adapted pourer and switch to “wash” the doll’s hair.  I attached velcro to the shampoo, conditioner, and a brush.

Students can “braid” or “twist” the doll’s hair using an adapted pourer and a switch!  I attached hard velcro on either side of the switch plate.  If you press a doll’s hair tightly into the hard velcro it will stick.  Then use the switch to have the pourer go around and around while it twists the hair!

Students can cut the dolls hair using adapted scissors and a switch (or any kind of adapted scissors).  I bought hair extensions (they were fairly cheap) and I let students cut the extensions so we don’t end up with dolls with no hair!

Students can blow dry her hair using a Powerlink and switch.

Here’s my PowerPoint with lesson ideas, accommodation explanations, etc.

Everything in the kit is labeled for easy use!

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Icons are available along with an eyegaze board to accommodate students who need to make choices using pictures.  These icons are also used to label the switch during switch adapted play.hs3
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Here is a link to items I bought.   Some of them were donated by a family member no longer using her American Girl doll items!

Enjoy!  Don’t hesitate to send an email if you’re interested in making this kit to use with your students or children! More to come! 🙂

How To Adapt Graphic Novels in PowerPoint

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Earlier this year, I found out that my beloved Baby-Sitters Club books had been turned into graphic novels. I immediately thought of a few pre-teen girls I know that would love to read these books on their eye-gaze devices. In our previous post, we discuss using Office 365 on Accent Devices to display adapted PowerPoint books. This would also be possible using the PowerPoint App on the iPad.

Unfortunately, I didn’t quite realize how daunting it would be to adapt the entire chapter book. I promise that it will be available for anyone who can demonstrate proof of purchase for the book when I it is complete. Until that time, I thought I would provide some instructions for how to I adapt graphic novels (I have listed a few suggestions, provided by a very helpful Barnes & Noble employee, below).

Roller Girl                              El Deafo                                        Amulet

                      

Continue reading for step-by-step instructions for adapting graphic novels in PowerPoint.

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Eye Gaze PowerPoint Book Template

PowerPoint can make adapting books a breeze. We recently took the same features we use when making books for the computer or iPad and created a book for an Accent 1400 with NuEye. The Accent 1400 allows the user to download Microsoft with PowerPoint 360. This opens up the endless activity possibilities available through PowerPoint.

AlphaOops! H is for Halloween is the first book we tried this with and it was a hit!  Each slide contains 4 icons that the child can click to turn the page, hear audio of the page, go back, or exit the book.

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Continue reading for a free template and step-by-step directions.

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Writing Activities Using Instant Messaging Apps For Kids

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An important rule in implementing comprehensive literacy instruction is that children need to be presented with multiple opportunities to write for multiple purposes (click here to read a great post from Caroline on the 3 T’s of Writing). When I reflect on my own day, I can include communication through text message and social media as two of my main forms of written expression. I made a Facebook Status Writing Activity a few months ago, and wanted to explore text messaging apps for kids next. I downloaded Roo Kids and PlayKids Talk, but will only be sharing information about Roo Kids, due to the security features of PlayKids Talk preventing Amanda and I from trying it (PlayKids Talk uses a photo of the user’s parent to determine if they are old enough to use the app and apparently Amanda does not pass for over 21).

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