Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Tar Heel Gameplay - just ANOTHER great thing from UNC...

Hey Tek-ninjas! I've blogged a few times about the wonderful Tar Heel Reader site, made at my almamater, the bastion of all that's good, UNC - Chapel Hill.

Today I want to share with you a sibling site, Tar Heel Gameplay.

Tar Heel Gameplay, is an online platform which offers a collection of free, easy-to-play, and accessible games, as well as the platform to create your own games.

Each game is speech enabled and may be played using multiple access modalities, including touch screens, 1 to 3 switches, AND eye gaze.

Games are created using videos from the huge collection at YouTube. Users can play their own games or choose from the vast number of pre-made activities.

In the video below I create a simple activity with a Dead & Friends song, and play it using a Tobii Dynavox PCEye Mini and Gaze Point software for access. The music doesn’t come through, as I was also recording my talking.

According to the developers, Tar Heel Gameplay is being developed and tested in the Google Chrome browser, and they caution that it "may work in other modern browsers but save yourself some confusion and try it with Chrome".

These are simple games, and there-in lies the beauty. It is so easy to create a new activity, and with the endless variety of video available on Youtube, likely you can find something to interest everyone!

Tar Heel Gameplay has tremendous therapeutic value as an engaging way to hone switch or eye gaze access. Also, they are just plain fun.

Happy Therapy!

Addendum: 02-19-2020: 7:10 pm

Hey Tek-Ninja’s, so this afternoon I received an email regarding the Tar Heel Gameplay site from one of the graduate students working on the site’s development. It read as follows;
“I'm a UNC student working on my honors thesis... I'd like people's feedback on the games we developed last semester so I can include it in my paper”.
When was the last time anyone in the weber-net had a program developer reach out and ask you what you think about their software? So, if you’ve used Tar Heel Gameplay, here is your chance to offer feedback that can potentially make a significant difference. 

I plan on completing the survey, once I’ve had a chance to play these new games.


Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Delivering Voices: a level of prestige, realness or official-ness

Hey Tek-ninjas! Here is something kind of cool! Since the merger between Tobii and Dynavox, the company has officially empowered 100,000 individuals across the globe with a voice.

Fredrik Ruben, President of Tobii Dynavox writes that "we are all super proud and should take a moment together to show each other appreciation for the hard work behind this number.", and perhaps with more grand-eloquence, Tara Rudnicki, President, North American Tobii Dynavox was quoted as saying "Woooohooooo!" 

I'm proud to have a part in this work. According to the Urban Dictionary (where the best definitions live) 100,000 is a level of prestige, realness or official-ness that people claim. Also used to rejoice in celebration of something positive.

Let's celebrate, and then let's get back to the the good work of delivering voices. Do you know someone who is unable to communicate? Maybe you ought to reach out to your local Tobii Dynavox Solution Consultant. If you are a speech therapist, they can help you, and if not, they can probably connect you with a speech therapist who knows the business of AAC. 

Happy Therapy!

Friday, February 14, 2020

Telephone solutions for the eye-gaze user...

Hey Tek-Ninja’s! So one of the high-lights of my time at ATIA was sitting down with Tobii Dynavox's Product Manager David Lee. He shared a number of exciting projects with me which are in the works. There may or may not have been discussion of self-driving cars, and space travel. #NTKB.

A specific concept he shared that I'm super excited about is the pairing of Snap Core First and the AccessIT 3 for utilization of an Android cell phone. This is such a simple, elegant system, and I believe it may be a viable solution for many of our eye-gaze power users. I especially like this solution for eye-gaze users who are not necessarily challenged by the cognitive load needed to make a software supported phone call, but might might not have the “eye-gaze agility” to utilize access methods such as “Computer Control” or “Windows Access”. Take a look at the video.

So a quick recap, this Text Page set is a part of your Snap Core First software. Read more here. The AccessIT 3 is offered by Tobii Dynavox, and should be able to pair to an Android phone or Windows product. I am demoing off of my iPad, just because it was simple and cool to do, but you can pair to it from any current Tobii Dynavox product (check the specs to be certain). 

To my knowledge, the AccessIT 3 is not be fundable in most states, so would need to be an "out-of-pocket" expense. 

Happy Valentines day to you all!

Apologies for the snuffling and raspy voice, I'm at the tail end of bronchitis!

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

The Sheperd Center Inaugural Adaptive Gaming Series eSports tournament!

Hey Tek-ninjas! Are you interested in gaming? Do you know someone who is? Well, this event may be for you. The Sheperd Center is planning the Inaugural Adaptive Gaming Series eSports tournament!

For those who are unfamiliar, The Sheperd Center (TSC) is a private, not-for profit hospital in Atlanta, Georgia. TSC utilizes adaptive gaming across the Acquired Brain Injury and Spinal Cord Injury programs through their Assistive Technology and Recreation Therapy programs.

Gaming and eSports (gaming competitively) are ideal vehicles for full inclusion as participation is not limited based on functional abilities, location, or age, specifically because customization of equipment is pretty standard. Customization levels the playing field and we see an ever growing body of gamers with all sorts of different abilities.

TSC Adaptive Gaming Series
Pretty sure this guy will CRUSH you at Madden!
are going to be pretty legit. The event will be hosted by local organizations such as evolve and Axis Replay. It's possible to compete or spectate online or in person. 

This is pretty exciting and innovative, and in order help it be the best it can be, TSC  is taking donations at their GoFundMe site. These donations will aid the research, development, and funding of equipment to further the use of adaptive gaming as part of therapy at TSC.

Consider  donating... I'm confident even $10 would be appreciated.

If you are interested in playing or spectating, the event will be held Saturday, April 25 from 1-5pm.

Happy gaming!

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Core Tour Follow up!

Hey Tek-Ninja’s! On January 27th I posted the blog below. Very quickly this event has filled to maximum capacity. Since then, we opened the seats from 100 to 125.

As of this morning, there are only 19 available seats! If you are interested, and I’d encourage you to consider attending, get signed up soon. We will not be able to expand beyond 125 seats.

If you are coming, please be sure to say hello to me!

Hey Tek-ninjas! I am so excited by this opportunity! I get to work with some incredibly smart and engaging folks. I’m always wishing more people could get an opportunity to learn from the Tobii-Dynavox Learning Team. Well, here’s your opportunity!

Join the Tobii Dynavox team in person on the 2020 Core Tour here in Chapel Hill, NC, my home town!

What’s a Core Tour? It's a free, full-day session where we will explore evidence-based approaches for supporting both communication and literacy development for children with complex communication needs. We will discuss Snap Core First communication software and associated Tobii Dynavox literacy tools to support symbol-based communicators and their communication partners. We will target specific strategies that can positively impact engagement, literacy, and growth. Following the course, you will have an opportunity to visit our AAC stations for hands-on application.

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

The Event Center at Extraordinary Ventures
200 S. Elliott Road – Great Hall
Chapel Hill, NC 27514

Thursday, February 27, 2020 
9:00am - 4:00pm

Contact: Jim Tignor
Phone: 919-260-3756

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

Registration will begin at 8:00am. Session will start promptly at 9:00am and conclude by 4:00pm. Learners may stay until 5:00pm for additional time with staff for demos, hands-on time with devices, and Q&A. Lunch will be provided.
Registration on a computer rather than a mobile device is recommended. 
This course will be offered for 0.55 ASHA CEUs (Introductory level, Professional Area)

View invite in browser.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

ATIA goodbye, thanks for the good times!

Hey Tek-ninjas! Holy-moly. ATIA. Delivered beyond expectations. So much to process. So many great talks. Exciting vendor booths. And so many smart, and driven people, leveraging intellect and passion to make life better for others. Seriously, the excitement was palpable.

I’m sitting in the Orlando airport, waiting to fly home to Chapel Thrill where I will head to Mattamuskeet with Sweet-L to watch birds, and rejuvenate before delivering voices again on Monday. Once I’ve had time to synthesize some of this amazing content, I’ll try to distill a little of what I’ve learned in another post or two... for now - pictures!
Rehadapt- makers of Connect-It Mounts

Main Walkway Vender Booth

Adina Bradshaw of Shepard Center

Tobii-Dynavox Solutions Consultants - passion and smarts!

The one and only - Linda Burkhart

Origin - maker of the best switch interface on the market imo

Ben Henry & Adina Bradshaw: Multi-access, gaming, ecu, computer control. #megaknowledge

Super-smart presenters, and a room filled with years of experience: OT’s, Engineers, SLPs, and others

Robin and Mary of Oak Park School, dropping knowledge and experience.  Powerful combo!

Rubbing shoulders with Tara Rudnicki: President of Tobii-Dynavox NA,  ATIA Board President... and  friend 🤓

Mark Sauka: Tobii-Dynavox Solutions Consultant, PA... and a Chocolate Martini

Tobii-Dynavox: AAC and Ed team. Work hard, play hard. This is the  latter. 
ATIA excitement) + (ATIA exhaustion)  + lotsa coffee + Sugar Factory = Katy Henry Traveling Solutions Consultant

I hope to be back next year!