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!
So first, the Core Books and Lesson plans live in the Tobii Dynavox Learning Hub. It's free to make an account and access these resources and more. The lesson link is here

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!