Thursday, May 28, 2020

June is for Learning...

Hey Tek-ninjas! Have I got some good stuff for you. Tobii Dynavox is offering a ton of great trainings in June. All remote, so you don't need to travel! Some offer CEUs, some don't, all are terrific content covering shared reading, core content, beyond requesting, games, and behavior supports. Surely there's something in here to help you be a better clinician!

Date
Time Frame
(EST)
Title
CEU?
Campaign Link
6.01.20
2:00-2:30
Beat the Heat with Shared Reading
No
6.01.20
3:00-3:30 ET
Using Core at Home
No
6.02.20
1:00 -2:00
PM
Introduction to Communicating Beyond Requesting
YES 0.1 CEUs
6/2/2020
3:00 -3:30
Talking with Topics
No
6.04.20
10:00 AM -
2:00 PM
(includes 30 minute lunch)
Communicating with Core Vocabulary in Snap Core First
Yes 0.35 CEUs
6.04.20
7:00- 7:30
PM (Night School)
Bingo, Books and Board Games
No
6.05.20
2:00-3:00ET
Introduction to Implementing AAC for Emergent Communicators
Yes 0.1 CEUs
6.08.20
10:00 -10:30
AM
Talking with Topics
No
6.09.20
10:00-10:30
ET
Using Core at Home
No
6.09.20
5:30-6:00
PM
Boardmaker Learning Lounge
No
6.11.20
11:00 - 11:30
AM
Beat the Heat with Shared Reading
No
6.11.20
3:00-4:00
PM
Positive Behavior Supports in Snap Core First
Yes 0.1 CEUs
6.11.20
7:00 - 7:30
PM
The Magic of Modeling
No
06.12.20
12:00-12:30
Learning Lounge Express
No
6.16.20
12:00-12:30
ET
Using Core at Home
No

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Virtual Core Tour!


Hey Tek-Ninja’s! Back in January I had the opportunity to host a Tobii Dynavox "Core Tour" event here in Chapel Hill, NC. This event rapidly filled up, with clinicians of all types, as well as family members, and the consensus what that it was a remarkable experience.

Well, good news! The event is happening virtually on May 21st. No travel! Excellent content, and CEUs.

What’s a Core Tour? Presenters will guide you as you explore evidence-based approaches for supporting both communication and literacy development for children with complex communication needs. Discussion will revolve around Snap Core First communication software and associated Tobii Dynavox literacy tools to support symbol-based communicators and their communication partners. Presenters will target specific strategies that can positively impact engagement, literacy, and growth.

Who is this event for?
Parents/Family members, Caregivers , SLPs, OTs, PTs, & Assistants Teachers/Special educators/paraprofessionals

Where:
Zoom!!

When: Thursday, May 21, 2020 10:30 AM – 04:30 PM ET

ASHA CEUs: 0.55

Questions?
Contact: learning@tobiidynavox.com

Register now! This event is going to fill up quickly, so don’t wait to register!

After registering for this event, you will immediately receive an email with your Zoom registration. Complete that registration in order to receive your Virtual Classroom link. Remember to check your spam folder for follow up emails.
You must log in 15 minutes prior to start time.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Contact your Representative - let’s support teachers and kids

Hey Tek-ninjas! I want to take a moment to urge you to urge your legislators to use funds for special education! Your urgent action is needed to ensure new #COVID19 relief funds are used to support special education! Remote education is tough... it can be tougher for our special needs kids and their teachers. Let’s make sure they have ample funding.

Regardless of your political affiliation, you can make an impact right now by contacting your state rep, and it only takes a few minutes. Click on this link, which will take you to the website of The Council for Exceptional Children, then enter your zip code, click enter, and you will be taken to a pre-written letter, already addressed to your rep, which you can tweak to truly reflect you, or send it as is.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Everybody's talking about...

Hey Tek-ninjas! Friday my colleague, Lisa and I hosted a virtual workshop titled "Communicating Beyond Requesting". It went really well. But don't just take my word for that... here's what folks are saying:

"I loved visuals and knowledge of the instructor Lisa as well as the rep Jim's knowledge of the devices, software, and AAC in general.  Also, I liked the group chat to ask questions and make comments and voting on Menti to see what other people think or share knowledge."

"This was possibly the best continuing ed experience I've ever had! I so appreciated Lisa being candid about her own experiences. "Early in my career, I made the mistake of..." This helped me remember that we are not perfect; trial/error is part of building clinical expertise in AAC, and it was also a complementary reminder to stay up on the research to support best practices. The "reverse" prompting hierarchy was especially helpful information. Thank you again for a great presentation with so many invaluable resources!!!"

"I can't wait to share the pathways app and goals feature with all the SLP's in my district who work with AAC users."

The good news is that Lisa is hosting the same workshop May 7th. So if you missed it, or have colleagues who missed it... now they can jump on board!


This course is called "Communicating Beyond Requesting", and it's a really solid offering. Lisa will discuss "where do you typically start when introducing augmentative and alternative communication (AAC)? If you are like most people, you probably start with activities that involve an individual requesting a motivating object or action. But what happens next? What happens when we run out of things to request? In this session, we will explore key areas to go beyond requesting including vocabulary selection, goal writing, intervention strategies and communication partner tips".

When:
May 7, 2020
11:00 AM - 05:00 PM ET
Please log in (see Zoom registration information) at 8:45 am

Where:
This event will be held virtually. After registering, you will receive an email with your Zoom registration. Complete that registration in order to receive your Virtual Classroom link. Remember to check your spam folder for follow up emails.

Registration on a computer rather than a mobile device is recommended.

This course will be offered for 0.5 ASHA CEUs.

Click on this link if you want to learn more. 

Lisa has over 25 years of 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. Currently, Lisa is a member of the Tobii Dynavox Learning Services Team, providing implementation workshops for professionals and customers.

And remember, WASH YOUR HANDS!

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Another chance for a great training!

Hey Tek-ninjas! I posted this a few weeks ago. There has been such tremendous interest that I wanted to let you know we are providing more seats. If you are interested in attending a great virtual training, and getting CEU's, this one is happening on Friday! I encourage you to sign up ASAP!

My friend and colleague, Lisa Geary will be presenting on May 1st, and she is super knowledgeable and engaging!

This course she's offering is called "Communicating Beyond Requesting", and it's a really solid offering. Lisa will discuss "where do you typically start when introducing augmentative and alternative communication (AAC)? If you are like most people, you probably start with activities that involve an individual requesting a motivating object or action. But what happens next? What happens when we run out of things to request? In this session, we will explore key areas to go beyond requesting including vocabulary selection, goal writing, intervention strategies and communication partner tips".

When:
May 1, 2020
9:00 am – 3:00 pm
Please log in (see Zoom registration information) at 8:45 am

Where:
This event will be held virtually. After registering, you will receive an email with your Zoom registration. Complete that registration in order to receive your Virtual Classroom link. Remember to check your spam folder for follow up emails.

Registration on a computer rather than a mobile device is recommended.

This course will be offered for 0.5 ASHA CEUs.

Click on this link if you want to learn more. 

Lisa has over 25 years of 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. Currently, Lisa is a member of the Tobii Dynavox Learning Services Team, providing implementation workshops for professionals and customers.

And remember, WASH YOUR HANDS!

Switch Scanning De-mystified

Hey Tek-ninjas! Today I want to talk with you about the best 3 hours you could spend if you are working with AAC users who might need to use switch scanning as an access modality. Switch scanning is often one of the most intimidating access methods for clinicians of all backgrounds. I want to share some webinars which should effectively demystify the whole process for you - regardless of whose software you are using.

Once again, I'm talking about the Tobii Dynavox Learning Hub. They are offering 3 courses
on scanning which build one upon the other. Each course is roughly an hour. They cost nothing, and they offer ASHA CEU's, and I'd add, AOTA accepted those courses for the equivalent CEU's when I submitted them a few weeks ago.

Scanning 101: Define Scanning Terminology: the initial offering of a series of training focused on
switch scanning with AAC. This introductory course provides a basic understanding of scanning including who would benefit from switch scanning access, scanning terminology including direct vs. indirect selection, scan patterns, scan types, as well as basic setting options to support visual impairments.

Scanning 102: Switch Selection: builds on the knowledge and topics discussed in Scanning 101. In this training, we discuss a team approach in determining the most appropriate switch for a person using switch scanning with their AAC system. The learner is provided with five key factors that should be considered when working with a person using switch scanning.

Scanning 103: Building Skills: builds on the knowledge and topics discussed in Scanning 101 and 102. In this training we discuss techniques and best practices for teaching switch scanning skills to a new scan user. We focus on the Core First Scanning Page Set and the Learn to Scan pages.

As I stated in the opening paragraph, you will find that the vast majority of this content is super relevant even if you are using another AAC software solution.  The presenter is sharing concepts that are universal. I hope you find this as useful as I did. 

Remember, wash your hands!!

Monday, April 27, 2020

Occupational Therapists and AAC

Hey Tek-ninjas! So this post goes out to my fellow Occupational Therapists. It's a call to action.

As a Solutions Consultant, for the last two years I've had the pleasure to work with so many different OTs, in almost every work environment. OTs are doing some really amazing work, and y'all make me proud to be an OT. However, I've also been surprised by the number of AAC interventions happening in schools and clinics where an OT is not consulted or involved.

Obviously, the system is geared to make AAC the domain of Speech Therapists. I am not suggesting this should be different. SLPs are experts in language pathology. Language is their wheel-house. And the medical insurance model recognizes that fact, making them the gate keepers of funding.
However, I so often see SLPs trying to navigate complicated access issues where an OT presence would be helpful. These access issues include visual processing issues, positioning issues, organization issues, mounting issues, as well as interface issues.

No shade for my SLP friends, but I don't think these areas are typically a part of their training. But they are a part of our training. We are trained in Activity Analysis. Those issues are in our wheelhouse. And if an "end-user" cannot access their AAC device, it becomes irrelevant how good the communication system is.

Functional language is often intrinsic to maximizing occupational performance. It impacts so many of our domains, and when it works, our clients have better outcomes. Conversely, when functional language is missing, our clients have decreased occupational performance.

When OTs and SLPs work collaboratively to support our client's use of AAC interventions the outcomes enrich both speech and occupational therapy, with gains in all occupational performance domains. Everyone wins.


For those of you looking for some direction I encourage you to take a look at the HAAT model offered by Cook and Hussey. It dovetails nicely with so many of our Occupational Performance models that I suspect it would be a good guide post for any clinician. I found this article to be interesting, and it does a great job connecting HAAT and Occupational Therapy. Discerning learners will note that the book this article is from is Turkish. I posted it due to it's broad overview, it's relatively recentness, and that it's NOT behind a pay-wall.

Finally, if you are an Occupational Therapist, and you have a client on your caseload who has AAC, I encourage you to reach out to your SLP colleague and offer to help with access issues. Also, contact the local sales rep, and ask them for training on the hardware and software. You needn't reinvent the wheel. Leverage that resource. Once you learn the basics of the equipment, and pair that training with your clinical reasoning, I believe you will be able to elicit significant occupational performance gains for that client.

Also... wash your hands!

Friday, April 24, 2020

Making Art: Eye-gaze Users

Hey Tek-ninjas! Recently my colleague, Orry Deason shared a post with our co-workers. I'm essentially sharing it word for word - there's not much I could add to improve it. I will add, if the end-user's device is still "locked" as a dedicated device, and they are accessing one of the online platforms noted below, they will need to contact the device vendor to pay the unlock fee. For Tobii Dynavox that fee is $25. Enjoy.

"This comes up every so often so I figured I'd share; art programs that have worked previously with our devices. 

There's no art program with built-in/native eye gaze, but third party programs can be used via Windows Control or Gaze Point, which are included on (Tobii Dynavox) devices. Here are some we have seen work, though the software you should use depends on the age and ability of the user and the complexity desired.

Microsoft Paint 
Microsoft Paint
is included on Tobii Dynavox devices. It is basic and straightforward, and easy to use, but some of the options may be too small for some eye gaze users to hit.


Paint.net

Paint.net (https://www.getpaint.net/ - (Free) is comparable to Microsoft Paint with some additional features. Again, some options may be too small for some users to hit.



Kid Pix 
Kid Pix
(https://www.mackiev.com/kidpix/ - (paid with free trial) is designed for kids, but has a lot of art and animation options. It's also nearly as old as I am. 



Paint Online
Paint Online (https://kidmons.com/game/paint-online/ - (free) is very simple, geared towards younger children, but the large buttons on it may make it easier for eye gaze users. It is web based, though, so some users may need guidance on accessing the website. I'd recommend using the Full Screen button at the bottom right. 

Sketch.io 
Sketch.io
(https://sketch.io/ - free) is also web-based with more features than Paint Online, but has a large drawing area which may be easier for eye gaze users to access. 




SketchUp
SketchUp 
(https://www.sketchup.com/ - free and paid versions) is a program made for 3D art, and is much more complex than the others. (The artist Francis Tsai used this program along with Adobe Photoshop, using a Tobii Dynavox device: https://www.iamag.co/the-iconic-eye-gaze-art-of-francis-tsai/


ArtRage 
Art Rage
(https://www.artrage.com/ - paid) is popular and relatively easy to use--the less expensive/less complex Lite version may be easier for Eye Gaze users, with larger buttons for better accessibility. (The artist Megan Fry uses this program with an I-12! https://www.artrage.com/artrage-artist-feature-megan-fry/

Aseprite 
Aseprite
(https://www.aseprite.org/ - paid with free trial) is geared towards pixel art/sprites and small animations and is easy to access, but has some level of complexity and some of the advanced features may be tough for eye gaze users to hit."
Orry adds that "this list isn't exhaustive, but hopefully it will point you in the right direction!" If you readers have other suggestions please don't hesitate to post in the comments section, and include links! 

Remember, wash your hands!!