Tuesday, August 13, 2019

More learning opportunities with Tobii Dynavox

Hey Tek-ninjas! Here are a number of terrific learning opportunities, which also include ASHA CEU's. I blogged about the Tobii Dynavox Learning Hub awhile back. Well, here are a variety of free Tobii Dynavox on-demand trainings that enable learners to also earn ASHA CEUs.

The current courses include:

Tobii Dynavox will be adding new courses regularly so keep checking back. 

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Hey New Yorkers! Get your learn’n on!

Hey Tek-ninjas! If you are up in New York, here’s an opportunity for you to get your learn’n on! My colleague, and fellow Tobii-Dynavox Solutions Consultant, Susan Scheer Trumble is coordinating these, and they will be terrific!

Specifically, you SLP and ATP colleagues - here are some great local trainings for you. ASHA CEUs are available! You must register online - spots are limited!

August 21st in Pittsford, NY:

Conducting an AAC Assessment

Communication Supports- Adult-Symbol Based Communicator (only the 4:15 session has available spots)

August 22nd in Baldwinsville, NY:
Communicating with Core Vocabulary in Snap + Core First

Communication Supports- Adult-Symbol Based Communicator

Register today here.

Happy therapy!

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Bank that Voice Friends!

Hey Tek-Ninjas! So, recently I had the chance to show some colleagues how well Message Banking works. It is really a pretty amazing tool for folks who are wanting to capture their voice, or that of a loved one and use that voice in their speech generating device.

I was aware that banked messages can than be downloaded and installed into Communicator 5 software, and grouped into categories. What I did not know was that users can also import their banked messages with categories into Grid 3 as well. This was brought to my attention by Chicago Tobii-Dynavox Solutions Consultant, McKenzie Mok.

Boston's Children Hospital (BCH) teamed up with Tobii Dynavox to create this free tool. For clarification, BCH defines "Message Banking as: Digitally recording and storing words, phrases, sentences, personally meaningful sounds using one’s natural voice, inflection and intonation. These messages are catalogued as .wav files and may then be linked to messages in a variety of augmentative communication technologies or sound storage files. This will allow you to ‘retrieve’ a message and speak it in your own voice but does not allow you to create novel messages by spelling."

Message Banking can be performed with a free mytobiidynavox account, the Message Banking service is also free.

It is easy to record your voice, and categorize the phrases as you deem appropriate. I did not make this video, it was made by the SLP John Costello of BCH, and I think it demonstrates the process really well.
 So the next steps are to upload the web files into your communication software. In the following video I demonstrate how to do this in both Communicator 5 and Grid 3. 

Happy Therapy!

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Overview of the Learning Hub: Webinar

Hey Tek-ninjas! Just the other day I posted about the new Tobii-Dynavox Learning Hub.

Want to learn more?

Join Tobii-Dynavox for an hour to learn about the Learning Hub, and the variety of on-demand online trainings that span a variety of AAC and Boardmaker topics you won’t want to miss!

Date & Time: Thursday, July 25, 2019 04:00 PM - 05:00 PM ET

Presenter: Lisa M. Geary, M.S., CCC-SLP

Lisa Geary, M.S., CCC-SLP has over 25 years’ experience in speech-language pathology, teaching, and supervision. She previously served as Clinical Assistant Professor in a university setting as well as SLP in the public school, private practice, and outpatient rehabilitation settings. Lisa is a member of the Tobii Dynavox Learning Services Team, providing implementation workshops for professionals and customers.

I have worked with Lisa, and can tell you this will be good!


In order to be able to support you Tobii-Dynavox will process your personal data according to their Privacy Policy.

Happy therapy!

Monday, July 22, 2019

Free AAC Trainings!

Hey Tek-ninjas! Today I want to tell you about a new offering from Tobii Dynavox. Recently the Learning Team rolled out a new online platform called the The Learning Hub

The Learning Hub hosts a variety of on-demand trainings, which Tobii Dynavox provides for free. You Speech Therapists out there can even get ASHA CEUs. 

But do not be deterred if you are not a Speech Therapist! If you are interested in learning AAC, you are welcome to make a free account and participate! I encourage parents, educators, and all other therapists to check it out.

The Learning Hub can be used on any Windows-based or iOS-based computers, laptops, and tablets, but according to the website, the best browser to use is Google Chrome. 

Did I mention it's free? 

Happy Therapy!

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Shared Pageset for Circle Time

Hey Tek-ninjas! Before I even start on this post, let me reiterate, I'm trained as an Occupational Therapist, and an Assistive Technology Professional. I'm not a Speech Therapist. So all my speechy friends, if you have thoughts, or variations on how you might do this, please share with us!

Alright, disclaimer out of the way.... One of my favorite times to integrate AAC for our developmentally younger students is in Circle Time. Circle Time is one of those occurrences that seems consistent across schools, and happens every day.

I want to share with you a Snap + Core First Pageset which I created. Anyone is able to download it and run it on their version of the software. I would hope if you download it, you will edit and and fully customize it for your student.

If you are appealed by this pageset, and you want it for yourself, go to www.mytobiidynavox.com. If you don't have an account, make one (it's free). Once you've logged in, you can navigate to Pageset Central, where hundreds of clinicians, and care-givers have shared pagesets that they've made. You can find my Circle Time pageset here. Be sure to click "Add to My Stuff" in Pageset Central. That then adds the pageset to your mytobiidynavox account, and allows you to download it to your software.

Happy Circle Time!

Friday, July 12, 2019

The Role of the Related Service Provider in the IEP: Again

Hey Tek-ninjas! I shared this older post on my Facebook page recently, and heard back that it was really helpful for a lot of my friends, so I thought I’d repost it here. The post was written by my ‘then-colleague”, Ashley Robinson

I have a question for all the school based related service providers and assistive technology professionals:  Have you ever struggled to explain your role in a student's education to a parent or teacher? As a speech-language pathologist at a middle and high school, I see many students who have received speech-language as a related service since preschool. In many cases I wonder if the role of the related service professional has been explained to the team. So, I came up with my own explanation. 

Figure 1
A student who qualifies for special education services cannot access the curriculum (in most cases the Common Core). (Fig. 1)

The IEP is the bridge to the curriculum. It should address the skills that the student needs so that he can follow the Common Core. For example, there is a sixth grade boy who struggles with written expression.  Instead of writing a goal that states “Boy will write on grade level,” think about what is keeping this student from writing on grade level. Perhaps this student is not using complex sentences or is using ambiguous pronoun references. 

Figure 2
The IEP team will work together to review data on a child and determine the needs of a particular student. In this case (Fig. 2), the student does NOT require any related service support, so the special education teacher is the one building the bridge. Another possibility is that the team may find that a speech-language impairment is the primary disability holding the child back, and the SLP will be in charge of building that bridge. In either case, additional related service support is not needed.

In my experience though, most students have a disability (think ADHD or specific learning disability) and language disorders (or sensory issues, or assistive tech issues....) are a part of that disability and require related service support to access the IEP.  (Fig. 3) The bridge cannot be built straight across - there needs to be a ramp.

Figure 3
This is how our lead SLP explained it to us, “If you take away the student's primary disability (e.g., ADHD), would they still have a language disorder?” This is a clinical judgement question for each student; however, I've found the answer to be “probably not.” Thus, speech-language is a related service. 

Because I'm an SLP, I am going to use speech-language services as my example; however, this analogy applies to OT, PT, and Assistive Technology (at least with the model we work under in my school system). 

Once the team determines that speech-language services are needed to address a goal (stay tuned for a future post on this), then the question is – what is the role of the SLP as a related service support provider? Here's what I think:

Figure 4
Related service is the RAMP to get on the bridge (i.e., the IEP). (Fig 4). What language skills does the student require to even get on the bridge? Again, goals or objectives should be developed to address a student's language needs that are impeding him from accessing the IEP (e.g., explicit instruction in pronoun use or sentence construction). Once the student has mastered these skills, and is on the bridge, then the special education teacher is the one to continue moving forward to build the bridge.  Speech-language services are no longer necessary. 

Goals should address the needs of the student, and with each year the student will (hopefully) close the gap until he is working on the curriculum (YAY!!!). Some students will never have a bridge that stretches all of the way across; however, it is important that goals are systematic and are bringing that student as far as possible each year. 

I'm curious to know what you think. How do you see the role of the related service professional in the school? Feel free to contact me with your thoughts and questions!

Ashley Robinson – MS CCC-SLP and AT professional