Friday, February 24, 2023

OTs, SLPs, and AAC

 Hey Tek-ninjas! Yesterday I had a really wonderful experience co-presenting to the Methodist University's Occupational Therapy Doctorate Program

I got to co-present with my colleague Jo Taylor. Jo is a speech therapist, and a Solution Consultant for Tobii Dynavox, and she serves Eastern NC and Tidewater VA. We vibe really well - OT/SLP team powers and all that! 

Our topic was broad, looking at the Occupational Therapist's role in AAC, how they can best support SLPs and AAC users. We discussed what the role of the Solution Consultant is. Finally, we also looked at two case studies and facilitated a conversation about which access modalities might be best for respective clients. 

I love presenting to Occupational Therapists on AAC. Here in the US, our medical model sets SLPs as the procurers of SGD, and this is appropriate especially for emergent communicators and other's with language disorders. But.... as Occupational Therapists we have a huge role and opportunity to help support AAC users and the SLPs who serve them. 

Back in April of 2022 I wrote an article about how Occupational Therapists may not realize they have the requisite training to support AAC users and our SLP friends who serve them, when in fact we do. In the post I note how the HAAT (The Human Activity Assistive Technology Model) dovetails so nicely with most all of our Occupational Performance Models, I also want to encourage you to remember your training in Activity Analysis. It will carry you through the technology. 

So again, I'm challenging my Occupational Therapy colleagues to be open to continued learning, and to find a willing SLP and partner with them to deliver even more robust therapy with attention to AAC. 

One of the silver linings of my visit to Methodist University was that I connected in person for the first time with long-time "Instagram friend" (yes, that's a thing) Annabeth from the dynamic-duo from thefannypacktherapist. If you aren't familiar with their work, check it out. They consistently model what a great OT/SLP team can look like, and they share a lot of ideas around 'best-practices'.

Do you partner with another discipline to support AAC? I'd love to hear how. In my work on school based AT teams I was privileged to partner with VI teachers, PTs, SLPs, SPeDs, and of course parents. I learned so much from all of them. 

Thursday, February 9, 2023

Making Art for Eye-gaze Users: Revisited

 Hey Tek-ninjas! Back in April of 2020 I shared some insights from a Tobii Dynavox Tech Support colleague around making artwork with eye gaze devices. This article has been share and reshared quite a bit, but since then Tobii Dynavox released the newer iSeries which includes Computer Control. Over the last 2 years, Computer Control has been evolving rapidly with so many tool options. Now Computer Control has a really nice drawing mode, however it takes some education and practice. Remember, Computer Control is available only on the iSeries and the PCEye.

If you have someone interested in drawing with eye gaze, regardless of the art software, you will want to check out the Learning Hub video and guide course "Using Functions in TD Control".

Additionally, here are a few tips to keep in mind: 
  • first time is a bit tough, but after a minute or two of practice you should get better control
  • there's almost a delayed magnetic field to the drawing tool's direction, which serves to allow you a delay in control that is quite beneficial once you get familiar with it
  • The Control circle is called "The donut shape"; the inner circle is where you draw, the out circle is the direction. If you go out of the outer circle, it stops. within the donut is speed - closer to the center the slower your drawing - further from the center (but still in the donut) the faster your drawing.
This takes some practice, but folks are using it successfully with basic art programs like Microsoft Paint all the way to Photoshop. Below I've posted the original article with the art programs recommended by Orry. I've not changed the original article at all, knowing that there are folks out there successfully using their i12's and i15's with Windows Control or Gaze Point. 

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. ( - (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
( - (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 ( - (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.
( - 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. 

( - 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: ) 

Art Rage
( - 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!

( - 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! 

Happy art making!