Friday, June 7, 2019

The “Random Stuff”

Hey Tek-Ninjas! Today I am breaking a cardinal rule of blogging by posting more than once in a day. But I’m excited. This evening I went for a run with elite running coach Chris Bennett, and Headspace cofounder and Tibetan Buddhist monk Andy Puddicombe. I’ll expound in a bit.

You may have noticed the blurb under my title says that I write about “the intersections of assistive technology, occupational therapy, AAC, education, and other random stuff“. This article is going to be about the “random” stuff.

I am a long time runner. Never the fastest, never the slowest, kind of a “middle of the pack” guy. Before I started this job I ran marathons and trained a decent amount of hours each week. This is no longer tenable with my work schedule. So in an effort to stay healthy and fit I am now trying to run faster but shorter distances. I want to tell you about a great piece of technology that is helping make this possible.

I have been a long time fan of the app made by Nike called “Nike Run Club” or NRC for short. NRC is free. You can install it on your iPhone, but I prefer to use it on my Apple Watch, and leave my phone in the car. If you are an android user, you’re in luck because there is a version for your phone.

NRC allows you to pick training programs based on your age, your weight, and you’re running fitness: like...even if you’re running fitness level is “sitting on a couch and eating potato chips“. As you use the app over the course of a few weeks it will adjust itself based on your progress. My youngest and I used the app to prepare for the Uwharrie 20 when he was 15.

But what I have really been enjoying of late is the pre-installed guided runs. On Tuesday I ran the “Hill, Hillier, Hilliest” run with coach and ultra-distance runner Sally McCrae. She had me engage in a 27 minute program incorporating a warm-up, a series of intervals, and a cool-down. It was hard, but it was super fun.

Today I engaged in a 45 minute run with meditation on mindfulness. Yep, that
was when I ran with Chris Bennett and Andy Petticombe. Okay, so they weren’t “with” me... but do you know what that kind of training would cost in person?! And I’m soooo not fast enough to really run with those two!

I started focusing on speed a little over a month ago using the Nike Run Club app and I already feel like I’m a bit faster. But regardless of where you are as a runner: non-runner or expert, I think the Nike Run Club app can help you choose and then achieve goals, which can ultimately help you become healthier and perhaps even happier in life.


Get your learning on in western NC!

Hey Tek-Ninjas! Here in NC, school is out for summer, or soon to be. None-the-less, you can still get after some education.

Let me recommend combining some learning this August with a trip to downtown Charlotte, the mountain village of Sylva, or mix up mountain and city life in Asheville!

My colleague Lauren Zubow is coordinating some tremendous learning opportunities with Patrick Brune.

Patrick Brune is a Speech Language Pathologist and has provided assessment, therapy, and consultation services for children and adults with severe speech and language disabilities for over 25 years. He worked as a clinical supervisor for Queens College, in New York, and as a related service provider for the NYC Department of Education. Patrick is a member of the Tobii Dynavox Learning Services team, providing implementation support and workshops. This fellow knows what he's talking about, and he is a dynamic presenter.

West Asheville Public Library: August 20, 2019
Communicating with Core Vocabulary in Snap + Core First - 9:30 am – 12:15 pm
Tips and Tricks with Snap + Core First  - 1:30 pm - 4:15 pm

Sylva North Carolina Assistive Technology Program: August 21, 2019
Charlotte North Carolina Assistive Technology Program August 22, 2019 
Tips and Tricks with Snap + Core First  - 1:30 pm - 4:15 pm  

These dynamic trainings will offer ASHA CEU's. The trainings are free, but they will most definitely fill up quickly! Follow the links to get registered. 

If you have questions, contact Lauren

Happy therapy!

Friday, May 17, 2019

WATI: AT Teams check it out!

Hey Tek-ninjas! Back in 2012 I shared a post about WATI (Wisconsin Assistive Technology Initiative. If you don’t recall, or know what WATI is, their mission was/is to assist early intervention agencies, school districts, and their partners to provide assistive technology by making training and technical assistance available through the development of materials related to the provision of assistive technology tools, and services.You can read that post here.

WATI has had a number of changes since I wrote my original post. In 2009 they lost funding, and were shut down. Since then, they rebooted and are now run by a volunteer group of former WATI Consultants.

The new WATI site imo is better than before, and any school district in the process of developing or improving their Assistive Technology team would do well to spend some time exploring the offerings.

Again, all hail WATI!

Thursday, May 16, 2019

30 years as the industry standard!

Hey Tek-ninjas! Do you work in Special Education? How long have you been around? (You don’t have to answer that)

Are you "I remember when we made Xerox copies from our Boardmaker Book and cut & paste (literally) to make picture schedules" old?

If you are, you are as old (or maybe older) then me!

Well, 2019 marks the 30th Anniversary of Boardmaker! That's 30 years of being the "industry standard" in education. There a several different ways a subscriber can access Boardmaker tools to increase your efficacy as an educator/therapist. Including robust free tools that I blogged about last December.

It has been a long time since Boardmaker was "just" a picture symbol generator. Boardmaker Online provides a multi-level approach to creating engaging print and interactive materials for your special education needs. Start with convenient, ready-made print activities or just imagine, make, print and use. Extend learning by adapting curriculum to the unique needs of your learner with easy-to-use enhanced features. Then, increase student engagement by making your favorite print activities interactive on smart boards, computers, tablets and communication devices.

Take a look at all the different offerings and price structures here.

Happy therapy!

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Users, Pagesets, Pages, and Tigers, oh my!

Hey Tek-ninjas! I’ve blogged a lot about Tobii-Dynavox’s Snap + Core First, and today I want to dig a little further into the many save/export/backup options. The many options can be a little confusing, so hopefully this will shed some light on the various processes.

Snap + Core First offers several convenient ways to share and save your clients Communication tool. I like to think of it as *nesting-levels of content .

  • Pages; an individual Page can be saved, or shared with anyone else with a mytobiidynavox
    account. For example, if I’ve made a terrific page of Occupational Therapy activities, I can share that with another therapist for the child they are working with. All of the graphic/text content will remain the same.
  • Page Sets consist of all the pages, and they also can be saved, shared, etc.. For example a colleague shared with me a Core 7x7 Rett syndrome Pageset that a lot of folks have appreciated. It can be easily shared to a User profile, and caregivers can “toggle” back and forth between different Pagesets to determine “best fit”.
  • Users: this is the most all-encompassing view of your client’s tool, User backup files contain the Page Sets and settings associated with that user. User backup files do not contain voice files, however, voice settings are preserved and the selected voice will download automatically if it is not available on the device (internet connection required).

That covers the “levels” of content. Now let’s consider variations of saving/moving data.

  • Export/Import Locally (User, Page Set, Page Bundle) — Use when storing the file on your
    local machine, sharing on a USB drive, or with people who do not have a myTobiiDynavox account.
  • Export/Import through myTobiiDynavox* (Page Set, Page Bundle) — Share Page Sets and Page Bundles with oth- er myTobiiDynavox users. Store and access files privately on your own myTobiiDynavox account.
  • Sync** (Page Set) — Share ongoing changes to a Page Set across your devices and with specified myTobiiDynavox users. A Page Set shared through sync keeps an up-to-date version of the Page Set in the cloud, so that changes made to the Page Set on any approved device/account are shared across all synced devices/accounts for that Page Set.

* Conceptual name credit to M. Sardo - ‘Master Tek-ninja”
**These sharing methods require an active internet connection.

Happy therapy!

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Two Great Ideas: Core Words & iBooks

Hey Tek-ninjas! I'm excited to share a free resource with you. This is specifically useful if you are teaching Core Words, and/or reading skills to your people. I did touch on these books in a blog awhile back, but I'm really excited about using iBooks with them.

Tobii-Dynavox offers a selection of books that can be viewed on pretty much any computer. If you make a free account at mytobiidynavox, you can download these books, and lesson plans that come with them.

Like I noted, you can view these books on any computer. Or you could print and bind them. Or... and this is the solution that I really like... if you have an iPad, you can save the books in iBooks, and access them anywhere, even without wifi.

Take a look at the video to see the process.

Incidentally, if you really like these books, and prefer old-fashioned paper-back, you can purchase 36  of the books here, for $169.50.

Happy therapy!!

Monday, April 8, 2019

"Ask Us Anything" Sessions with Tobii Dynavox and Boardmaker!

Learning Team and Tech Support Consultants

Hey Tek-Ninjas! This will be of interest to my peeps supporting AAC and Symbol users.

Starting April 19th, and following weekly, Tobii-Dynavox professionals will be available for an hour to answer questions, provide demonstrations, provide resources, etc. 

Someone from the Learning Team and Tech Support team will join up to offer open forums where learners can come and ask questions. As a learner you can stay long enough to just have your questions answered (by asking it aloud, typing in a chat window, sending it ahead of time – whatever your comfort level is) – or stay for the whole hour to hear what other questions might come up. 

The next offering for this is April 30th. 
Learners/Customers can register here.  Feel free to spread the word.

As if that weren't amazing enough...

The Education team will also offer ‘Boardmaker Ask Us Anything’ sessions. Registration is available on the Tobii Dynavox website and also on > Learning & Support > Webinars

April 16, 2019 @ 11:00 EDT HERE

May 9, 2019 @ 1:00 EDT HERE

May 30, 2019@ 5:00 EDT HERE

Happy therapy!