Wednesday, November 18, 2020

AAC and Literacy: How to Get Started

 Hey Tek-ninjas! I am excited about this webinar, and I believe many of you will be too. My friend and colleague, Patrick Brune will be presenting AAC and Literacy: How to Get Started. If you've not experienced a Patrick webinar, let me tell you, he is a phenomenal, smart, funny, and  experience SLP. I always learn when I hear him present. 

This course will be held online, December 11th, from 1-3:45, and there are .25 ASHA CEUs attached. Cost? Nothing. 

You can learn more, and register here. Be aware that you will need to pre-register to receive the virtual link to the actual course. 

While you are there... meander over to this link, and you can see ALL the other courses currently planned. 

Here's the official course description: 

Research has proven that communication, language, and literacy skills develop in concert with one another. However, when it comes to individuals who use Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) it is often thought that they need to develop a certain level of skill in communication with their AAC system before they can benefit from literacy instruction. This workshop will outline why that statement is false, and review steps to getting started in providing literacy instruction for your AAC user. 


Learning Outcomes: Upon successful completion, participants will be able to:

· Describe the literacy and language connection

· Discuss how core words support powerful communication

· Describe the role symbols play in literacy

· List two emergent literacy strategies that support individuals who use AAC

And a bit about Patrick Brune, M.S., CCC-SLP. Patrick 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 30 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.

I will be attending, and I hope you will be too. Don't hesitate to reach out if you have questions. 

Friday, November 6, 2020

Did I mention the 36 FREE Core Lesson Plans?

Hey Tek-ninjas! In the past I blogged about the 36 Core Lesson Plans with the accompanying 108 Core Books from Tobii Dynavox. I'm bring them up again for a few reasons.

  • They are an amazing resource
  • They are still free
  • When the Tobii Dynavox website got a face lift, they were relocated.
  • They are available to ANYONE!

In this blog post I discuss how to open and download the books into iBooks on your iPad, allowing you to always have the books regardless of whether you have access to wifi or no. Similarly, if you don't have an iPad, say maybe you are on a Chromebook, you can save them as pdf's, or as some school districts have done, print them, and bind them. 

A reminder, these are made by Tobii Dynavox - designed to teach Core Language. So, the lesson structure really supports Snap Core First, BUT... you can utilize these lessons (adjusting for location type info) with ANY AAC intervention, and have really robust, research based lesson plans. The lessons are written by SLPs, for the lay-person...with literal scripts to follow.  Meaning, they are ideal to send home as homework for families, or send to schools to collaborate with school-based SLPs, teachers, and TAs. 

For my teachers I just want to note what you are likely already thinking... Core words and Sight Words have a lot of overlap.... and this can provide you with an amazing opportunity to have a really powerful inclusion model where you are instructing/reinforcing Sight Words and Core Words simultaneously. AND, bonus - if you are a teacher in NC at least, my guess is you have a Professional Development goal which you are responsible to your administrator of "Integrating Technology into your Instruction"... project a Core Book onto your Smart Board, and offer group instruction, invite your SLP to collaborate with you...Gosh, I'm giddy thinking about the possibilities of this opportunity!

Happy therapy!

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Eye-gaze Games

Hey Tek-ninjas! Recently, a SLP reached out to me asking for recommendations for eye-gaze games for one of her client's that is new to eye-gaze, and very motorically involved. What she and you understand is the inherent value in "games" for skill building. They are NOT just a distraction or entertainment, but crucial for developing cause & effect understanding, accuracy, precision, and ultimately - stamina for our eye-gaze users. 

In years past the Tobii Dynavox i12 and i15 came with a 30-day trial of Sensory Guru games, but once expired, they were not inexpensive to purchase. Now, the i13 and the i16 come with pre-loaded games called Magic Eye FX, still made by Sensory Guru. Purchased devices have 8 licensed games that do not expire. Magic Eye FX creator, Lee Blevins has indicated that he hopes to integrate a "store" into the software, where owners of a device will be able to pick and choose further games to buy out of pocket. In general, these games are really excellent, though for some users, may not hold interest indefinitely. Nonetheless, I really appreciate their scaffolded therapeutic value. 
Another great source for "eye-gaze games" is the newly integrated Boardmaker Player into Snap Core First. There are some Access games built into there too. And if you have a Boardmaker online account you can sync any activities into the player on the client’s device.


On the Tobii Dynavox web-page they’ve done a pretty nice job of collecting several eye gaze games – many, but not all are free. These should be playable by any eye-gaze device that can navigate the web. 

Finally, I’ve yet to really dig into this resource yet, but Steam is an online platform that has lots of video games available, with a decent free library, and many with eye gaze…. Not sure how many require other input sources, but many will need multiple switches, so not appropriate for a lot of our clients. If I find more viable here, I’ll blog about it. These should also be playable by any eye-gaze device that can navigate the web. 

I'm sure other vendors offer eye-gaze games with therapuetic value, but I'm not aware of them at this point in my career. If anyone knows of some, please add them to the comment section, and add if they are usable by any eye-gaze user, or device specific if you can. 

Happy therapy!

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Let's talk about creepy bugs...

 Hey Tek-ninjas, today I want to share a quick video made by speech therapist extraordinaire Jo Taylor. 

Jo is from my home town and she is doing really amazing things with Snap Core and infrared toys to elicit communication. Check it out. 

Jo purchased a few infrared toys from her local drug store. Jo says: "Buy 2, get one free at Walgreens! Get you some fun creatures for your eye gaze kids! They have spiders too". 

With the exception of the SC Tablet, every Tobii Dynavox device from the Indi-7 to the i16 eye gaze computer has infrared built into it. I'm sure you all will agree, this is high level ninjtsu! 

Happy therapy!



Friday, October 30, 2020

Snap PODD pagesets coming soon!

 Hey Tek-ninjas, so it seems that Snap Core First just continues to get better and better. 

Not too long ago, Tobii Dynavox added the Text-literate and Aphasia pagesets. Now, they are getting ready to roll out the long anticipated Snap PODD pagesets. For some of you, this is going to be huge!! 

Access to PODD with the super user-friendly and intuitive nature of Snap Core First - that's a pretty compelling combination. Remember, with the Snap engine, your PODD users will have easy access to the built in Boardmaker Player and all the integrated Smart Assistants including Hey Google

Snap PODD will retail for $350, and is expected to be available on the Tobii Dynavox website in mid-November. Snap PODD for Windows includes:
  • All PODD pages sets
  • One Windows Snap PODD license
  • One additional Snap PODD license for either iOS or Windows.
  • Free syncing between iOS and Windows versions of the app
  • Free backups and cloud storage

For a short time, Tobii Dynavox is offering 50% Snap PODD!

If want to learn more, or simply want to take advantage of this discount follow this link

Happy therapy!

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Live Q/A on the Aphasia Page Set in Snap Core First

Hey Tek-ninjas! I'm very excited to share with you an upcoming Q/A Live Webinar on the Snap Aphasia Page Set with the incomparable Patrick Brune from Tobii Dynavox. If you've had the pleasure of attending a webinar or inservice with Patrick, you know that he not only has a vast amount of clinical knowledge and experience, but that he's an engaging presenter. 

If you follow my blog, you know that the Snap Core First Aphasia Page Set is a suite of simple-to-use, customizable tools supports people with aphasia and their families, caregivers and therapists with a return towards natural speech and improved participation in daily life. 

If you don't read my blog (oh the humanity), but are familiar with Snap Core First, you may be interested to know that the same SCF software you have ALSO offers the Aphasia pageset, at no additional cost. I first blogged about the newer pageset here, and then later about Aphasia learning opportunities here

This webinar will be a unique opportunity to learn more about AAC and Supporting Persons with Aphasia with a live Question and Answer session with the content developers of the recently released Snap Aphasia Page set.

Patrick Brune, M.S., CCC-SLP has over 30 years of clinical experience in the area of AAC. His focus has been on developing tools and supports that create successful communication opportunities for all our customers. Patrick is a member of the Learning Services Team for Tobii Dynavox, and I'll say it again: EVERY TIME I ATTEND A PRESENTATION WITH PATRICK I LEARN STUFF!

This event will occur on November 12th from 2-3 pm. There is no cost for you to attend, you simply need to be able to access Zoom on your computer or mobile device! You can learn more and register here

This should be good, and I'm already registered. It will fill up quickly, so be sure to register ASAP. 

While we are discussing Aphasia and learning, I'd be remiss if I don't mention these opportunities:

These events, where CEU's are mentioned are ASHA approved. However, I want to add that as an Occupational Therapist, I logged and reported these courses with AOTA last year, and received full credit for them.

I hope to see you there getting yer learn'n on! 

Saturday, October 24, 2020

OCR in your Pocket!

Hey Tek-ninjas! Just the other day I shared a post from SLP extraordinaire Ryanne Zavacky. I've got another great idea from her today, and this one should really speak to my Occupational Therapist and Educator friends.

In this blog post, Ryanne writes about Google Keep

Use free Google Keep to take pictures of your teacher’s notes on the whiteboard, sticky notes, worksheets, book passages, etc.

It will even read cursive. Watch out for white board glare which can interfere with the OCR.

Just open up a new Keep, add a photo, tap on the photo and give it a few seconds before touching the vertical ellipsis to reveal the “grab image text” option. If you don’t see the option, hit the back arrow and try again.

Took about 8 seconds to read the candy wrapper. You can highlight the text and read aloud or zoom

in with your built-in accessibility features. Of course, nothing is perfect….

I love this idea from Ryanne. It is such a great tool for students who struggle with organization and never copy down the homework or notes correctly. Using their personal phones (of course with teacher/parent permission) teaches them how to leverage universal technology to support themselves. Personally, without my phone and calendar this ADD adult would be lost. 

In the past, I've blogged about similar options, but the OCR functionality of Google Keep is at a "whole 'nother level" (sorry, completely unrelated but couldn't resist), making this a really viable tool. Google Keep is free, and available on both Android and iOS.

Thanks Ryanne, and happy therapy all!