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.
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.
On Wednesday, one of the fabulous teachers we work with asked her student, “Let’s write about Father’s Day today. What do you want to write about your grandpa/uncle?” The student immediately responded “funny to play, little, love” on his Accent.
Hope this put a smile on your face at the end of a long week!
I love seeing pictures people have posted with the #SeeMeSeeMyAAC. Unfortunately, due to privacy protections for our students we have been unable to participate. The other day I was thinking that a lot of the adults and students in our school could benefit from seeing photos of students doing typical activities with their captured voices in the photo as well. Amanda and I created a bulletin board explaining the #. Click here and here to download the documents.
We then sent a template out to teachers and therapists asking them to post pictures of their students with a short blurb about what they were doing when the picture was taken.
Within the hour, one teacher added several pictures of her students giving presentations in class.
My favorite addition is a photo of a teacher and student having lunch after the student said “Should we lunch [Teacher’s name]?”.
Let us know if you decide to start a #SeeMeSeeMyAAC campaign at your school!
On Wednesday, Amanda and I received an email from a wonderful SLP we work with, sharing a few great AAC stories from her day. Hopefully they put a smile on your face as well.
“Student A was trying to get his behavior specialist to go away. I’ve insisted that … he use his device or screen shot of the device and they have been great about that. He told him to “leave” about 8 times but he couldn’t leave the room due to safety concerns so Student A stopped, looked at his device, and tried “away” 5 times . I guess we found a motivating request!!!???”
“Student B used two word combo independently again with “[SLPs name] help” while completing her morning journal. While in the kitchen she was not heard over the noise of the students. I had shown her how to “yell” when need be and she did to get [OTs name] attention.”
“[OTs name] and I had THE BEST co treat today I’ve ever had. We took Student C to the sensory room and tried swings, balls, snacks, videos, everything and he not only had a calmer body afterwards but was attending to the device during modeling from [OTs name] and I, as well as tracking if we drew his attention to the device and initiating using the device as well. Still working on finger isolation but all of that is huge improvement.”
I particularly love the story about a student yelling. A few of us have discussed teaching students how to raise their voice when no one is listening to them. I see it as a very important skill, especially when adults are not acknowledging what they are saying or brushing it off as unintentional. I think the next step will be learning how to whisper.
I recently discovered the Great Expectations program from the National Braille Press. The program is designed to bring
“… popular picture books to life using a multi-sensory approach — songs, tactile play, picture descriptions, body movement, engaged listening — all designed to promote active reading experiences for children with visual impairments.”
I have found that although some of the activities as specific to students with visual impairments (activities focused on reading braille and using cane), most of the resources on the website can be used for all children. After all, “songs, tactile play, picture descriptions, body movement, engaged listening” are used by effective teachers and therapists across disciplines.
The website has a list of featured books that they provide resources for.
Each title comes with a list of tips and activities you can use when teaching the text. You can also purchase the book in braille through the site. The resources for each book include descriptions of the pictures. This is great for students with visual impairments, but is also a good resource for teachers who are learning how to use the descriptive teaching model to instruct students using AAC.
If you have a copy of the book, I am happy to share my adapted, high contrast, PowerPoint version and my PowerPoint for the song. Just send me an email or message me through Facebook or Twitter with proof that you own the book.
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!
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!