Category: Uncategorized

Letter of the Day Instruction and CVI

As we launch a series of products to support Enhanced Alphabet Knowledge (EAK) instruction for our students with complex communication needs, we’re eager to support our students with Cortical Vision Impairment (CVI)!

Last year I discovered that one of my students has CVI and at 16 had never received that diagnosis before. Once I began to collaborate with a teacher of the visually impaired (TVI), I realized that the likely reason she had never made progress in learning to read despite years of targeted IEP goals, was that we were not providing the right accommodations. We began to talk about the salient features of letters and use bubble words to emphasize that when letters are strung together, they form distinct words. I provided daily instruction for months while we were in person and twice weekly since we moved to virtual instruction. She is now reading some sight words, segmenting and blending to read CVC words, and reading simple sentences. The change has been incredible!

With her in mind, we have been working hard to customize instruction for all of our students with CVI with regards to Enhanced Alphabet Instruction (EAK) and reading. Our first step was to make sure we are using consistent language to describe the salient features of letters across the school. We created a list of salient features based on language used in Handwriting Without Tears since we also use that program at school.

We’ve uploaded a new resource to Teachers Pay Teachers for free that comes with a salient feature description chart for upper and lower case letters. We also put all of the uppercase letters in one document! You can copy and paste these letters into your own resources or print and use with a lightbox! Check out our favorite low cost lightbox here!

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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Low Tech AAC Ideas

Today, I’d like to share some low tech AAC options you can implement at home. Working in a school, I typically have access to many resources to make AAC systems including a printer and laminator for low tech boards in addition to having access to mid tech devices and high tech loaner systems. But I also work in early intervention and don’t always have access to the same resources. Many times, while we’ve submitted for a high tech device trial, my families and I want to put some sort of AAC system in place. We often turn to no/low-tech options!

This video shares some of the ideas we’ve used. There are many ways you can use items you have at home to make simple AAC systems. In the video I shared that many robust AAC systems have a back-up manual board. I often print and laminate these (you can use packing tape if you don’t have a laminator!) and introduce them to my clients while waiting for their high tech device. Here are some manual board resources.

The AAC Language Lab has Unity, CoreScanner, and LAMP manual communication boards.

Saltillo has manual communication boards for WordPower.

Check out Gail Van Tatenhove’s resource for designing a manual communication board for your child/client.

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!

AAC at Home- Meal Time Modeling

If you have a child at home who uses AAC, you have probably heard “model, model, model”. Sometimes this is easier said than done. It is easy to get caught up in the labeling trap, and not exploring other types of vocabulary during this naturally social time.

We have created a short cheat-sheet with some ideas of other things to talk about at lunch. Comments about what you are eating, direct the actions of others around you, ask questions about taste and texture, and let your child know how you feel about the food.

Note: “it” can be replaced with the specific food item you are eating (i.e. “apple big”).

Need a few reminders about how to model effectively?

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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ISAAC 2016 Session Handout

We are so happy to share some of our ideas for integrating language and technology for students with multiple disabilities at ISAAC 2016. You can download the handout from our presentation by clicking here. 

Most of the activities that we shared during our session are available through our website. If you are searching for a specific activity and can’t find it please let us know through email and we will point you in the right direction. If you are looking for a book that is not available on our website due to copyright reasons, please email us with proof that you own the original book and we can send you the adapted version.

Thanks!

Lauren and Amanda

ISAAC Take-Aways: Day One

isaac

  1. We are so excited about the resources currently available on the Project Core Website.  The resources for Universal Core Vocabulary Systems will be sure to help many!  And we can’t wait to see how their research progresses while developing a comprehensive implementation program for core vocabulary instruction.project core
  2. Loved Caroline Musselwhite’s and Gretchen Hanser’s presentation on predictable chart writing.  They suggested using a document camera to show the class what students are saying on their AAC systems.

doc camera

3. Vikki Haddix, Mary Shannon Marcella, and Laura Henry shared how they developed a team of people knowledgeable about AAC in their district.  Their 1x/month, 2 hour groups reviewing research studies/ papers and discussing their own tough AAC cases sounds like a great model for professional development.

4. Caroline Musselwhite and Gretchen Hanser made the point that typically developing children get FOUR years to scribble before they begin to form letters and words in their writing.  Why do we have different expectations for individuals with CCN, especially the older students who have never been given a chance to write?   scribble 1 scribble 2

5. Kate Anderson recommended providing parents and educators with “hot” and “cold” knowledge about AAC.  Parents tend to prefer “hot knowledge” such as information given during a social interaction (i.e. conversation, online forum).  So we should provide that in addition to the “cold” knowledge we typically provide in the form of handouts and pamphlets.

hot and cold