The Southern California Augmentative and Alternative Communication Network... a support group for professional development, problem solving, leadership, mentoring, and training in the use of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) to develop communication in non-speaking and minimally verbal individuals in the Southern California Region.

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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Boardmaker Tip - Open/Closing files...Quickly!

WOW! Linda Burkhart shared this hot tip...

When opening and printing multiple Boardmaker files saved in a shared folder:
- Open the first in the list
- MAC: hold command and right arrow / PC: hold control and right arrow
- the open file closes, and the next on the folder list opens
- the reverse (left arrow) will close the current and open the previous


Another helpful tip from Linda: Your Boardmaker CD need only be in your drive in order to OPEN the program.  After it is open, the CD may be removed and Boardmaker will still run!

Thanks Linda!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

FREE 3-day, Minspeak Conference ( Pittsburgh)

Supporting Language Development with Children and Adults Using Unity®

                   Dates and Times
   October 19, 2011:  8:30am - 4:30pm
   October 20, 2011:  8:30am - 4:30pm
   October 21, 2011:  8:30am - 11:30pm

                   1000 Killarney Dr.
                   Pittsburgh, PA, 15234
This program is part of the Pittsburgh AAC Language Seminar Series and is provided "FREE OF CHARGE." Lodging and meals are provided.

This seminar provides clinically proven ideas for using Unity® with children and adults who are both nonspeaking and possibly language impaired. Participants will learn how to configure manual-language boards to enhance language growth and lead to successful transitions into electronic communication aids, including the SpringBoard™ Lite, Vantage™ Lite, and ECO™.  Using the iPad as a transitional tool to more powerful communication aids will be discussed.
The value of core vocabulary, what it is, its role in reading, communication, and language acquisition will be the introduction to Gail Van Tatenhove’s presentation.  How to handle the representation of the many abstract words in core vocabulary will be focuses of Dr. Baker and Mr. Cross' sessions.  Gail Van Tatenhove will demonstrate with videos the practicality of introducing core vocabulary to young children in interesting ways.

Gail Van Tatenhove is a speech-language therapist and AAC specialist with more than 30 years of experience working with children and adults with complex communication needs.  She has presented innumerable workshops nationally and internationally and authored a range of therapy and vocabulary programs.

Katya Hill, Ph.D., CCC-SLP will explain techniques of evaluation and documentation that are instrumental when seeking funding approval.  AAC for individuals who have experienced strokes will be highlighted. She will discuss, as well, gathering clinical data on all populations and how a teacher or therapist can explain the role of AAC to family members, teachers, and caregivers.

AAC devices are not required for participation in the seminar; however, participants are encouraged to bring personal computers, so they can actively use the Unity® through a free-emulation program that will be downloaded at the seminar.

Registration is limited to 20 participants. 
To register, contact Robert Conti at (412) 885-8541 or via email at


Gail VanTatenhove, M.S., CCC-SLP

Bruce R. Baker, A.M., L.H.D.

Katya Hill, Ph.D., CCC-SLP
Associate Professor
University of Pittsburgh

Russell T. Cross,Member, Royal College of Speech-Language Therapists

PODD Pondering - Day 1

The 3-day PODD training in San Marcos with Linda Burkhart has started off with a bang!
Some points worth pondering from the first day of PODD training:

When we speak to infants, there is not an expectation that they will speak back.  We model/input language all day, everyday with babies for 12 months before we expect them to express/output spoken language themselves.  Spoken language development occurs in a context of immersion and meaningful interaction and following many, many, many exposures to the patterns of our native tongue.

How much modeling/input of aided language systems do we provide for our aided communicators before we expect them to express/output in this mode? All day, every day? One day? 12 minutes let alone 12 months?  Modeling the use of any communication system in meaningful interactions is a key component to user success.  Furthermore, how you teach and use the system is how they will learn to use it. If your system is arranged and demonstrated solely as a dictionary of vocabulary - that is how the user will use it. If you model the system system in a variety of pragmatic functions (commenting, sharing information, directing the actions of others), sharing generative thoughts, and using both core and fringe vocabulary - that is how your user will understand that the system is to be used.  It may be worth significantly reducing your expectation of expressive output and increasing your provision of aided communication modeling.
  • Speech input --> SPEAKING USER --> Speech output 
    • (no problem)
  • Speech input --> NON-SPEAKING USER --> Aided output 
    • (PROBLEM)
  • Aided input --> NON-SPEAKING USER --> Aided output 
    • (when speech is not available, providing this path to language development is essential)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Signs of the Week - School Things 1

This week we're adding some nouns to our vocabulary.   Join us in visually/gesturally supporting clients' comprehension by adding signs to your spoken messages!

Sign graphics used without permission (but for an educational purpose!) from:

Fall Tips - AAC Institute

It’s officially the fall season, get outside in the community and experience this great time of year. You can take your AAC talker with you! One way to prep AAC users for a community activity is to practice using words you might use. This includes extended and core vocabulary
For example, at a pumpkin patch, you might use the words: see, pumpkin, apple, I, get, you, go, stop, there, like, wow, fun. 
Make sure your talker has words easily available to create utterances about this season’s experiences.

AUTCOM Conference, Burbank, CA - Oct 21, 22 (Fri/Sat)

From the Autcom WEBSITE:

We have an exciting program this year, with a keynote by Sue Rubin, plenaries by Stephen Hinkle, Anne Donnellan and Jodi Robledo, so many enticing breakout sessions that you will find it difficult to choose, and as usual, a wrap-up by members of the Autcom Board of Directors who are on the spectrum.  Peruse the program and the biographies of the presenters, then send in your registration.  You won't want to miss this!

Professional rate: $170 one day only, $305 both days

Follow the links to the Conference Program.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Signs of the Week - Following Directions 1

Join the staff at Villa Esperanza's Non-Public School in visually/gesturally supporting your clients' comprehension with signs!

Sign graphics used without permission (but for an educational purpose!) from:

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Survey - ASHA specialty recognition for AAC

To: Division 12 Discussion List <>
Sent: Sun, Sep 18, 2011 8:09 am
Subject: [asha-div12] specialty recognition in AAC

Dear Colleagues:
Please take a few minutes to answer the short survey you can find at
This survey will help prepare us for a dynamic seminar on specialty recognition, to be moderated by Gail Van Tatenhove at ASHA San Diego.  Results will also inform the SIG 12 Coordinating Committee regarding membership interest in pursuing specialty recognition at this time!

[SCAACN: Current specialties recognized by ASHA include the following:
It is only 10 questions - easy and short (5 minutes or less)!  We are looking for a GOOD response from the 1300+SIG 12 members as well as other ASHA members who care deeply about AAC.

[SCAACN: it is suggested that prior to participating in the survey, you review the FAQs on specialty recognition HERE]
Thanks in advance.

Amy S. Goldman
Associate Director, Institute on Disabilities at Temple University
College of Education
Student Center, Room 411 South
1755 N.13th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19122
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Mark your calendar:  ISAAC 2012
Pittsburgh – Wow!  Highest performance communication; best life experience – Wow!!!

USA Today: Adapting to the iPad - education's 'equalizer'

Read the article at this link (click here).

For communication, education, leisure and more!

From the article:
"The iPad is also used by typical children, so it makes our kids part of the 'in' crowd," says Marie Cucinotta of Evesham, N.J.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Device descriptions @

This EXCEPTIONAL website provides photos, descriptions and specifications for 100+ available high tech communication aids/devices (and some mid-tech systems, too) to give you an idea of what each offers.  Devices are searchable by name, feature or in a comparison grid by specification.

Entries include each of the following:
  • General Description
  • Links
  • Specifications
Many include additional info:
  • Software/vocabularies
  • Speech
  • Access options
  • Other features
  • In the box
  • Optional extras
Searchable devices include:

ASHA Assistive Tech - Interactive Whiteboards Article

This ASHA Leader story (online and in print) includes valuable links to online activities and resources for language and literacy on your interactive whiteboard (one brand name is SMART Board).

Monday, September 12, 2011

Signs of the Week - Giving Choices

Wherever you are, sign language is a great visual/gestural supplement to your verbal questions, comments, and commands. 

Signs are always 'at your fingertips' and available to you even when:
  • you don’t have time to find that picture card
  • your ability to draw a picture to increase understanding leaves something to be desired
  • the abstract concept you're attempting to communicate is not a 'picture-producer' (fails to communicate more meaning than the spoken word itself). For example, the movement inherent in the ASL sign for WHICH demonstrates the concept of choosing between two items more so than the PCS symbol.
At Villa Esperanza Services' Non-Public School, our staff are making an effort to add 100+ new signs to our expressive vocabulary this school year in order to increase our students' understanding of what is said to them throughout the day.  We hope you'll join us in visually supporting your communication through the addition of American Sign Language to your speech!

Sign graphics used without permission (but for an educational purpose!) from:

Wurm, T. (1986). Teaching sight words with sign language. The Reading Teacher, 39(7), 744–745.
  • Sign language increases sight word acquisition because it involves multiple modalities: kinesthetic, visual, and auditory.
  • Sign language links abstract concepts with pictorial symbols to increase schema for vocabulary acquisition.
  • Sign language is visual, engaging, and interactive.
Hafer, J., & Wilson, R. (1986). Signing for reading success. Washington, DC: Kendall Green.
Learning vocabulary, especially sight vocabulary, can be enhanced by using sign language as part of the reading process.

Gardner, Howard. 1993. Multiple Intelligences: The Theory in Practice. Basic Books.
Learning is enhanced when more than one modality is incorporated in the learning task.
- Post by Gwendolyn Meier, SLP, MT
Director of Speech & Language at Villa Esperanza Services

Apps for Autism - GREAT resource

This blog links to a lengthy list of apps appropriate for a variety of areas related to the needs of folks with autism spectrum disorder, with apps in the following categories:
Art & Music
Basic Learning
Fine Motor
Math and PreMath
Reading and Books
Relaxation & Distraction
Self Care
Sign Language
Social Stories
Social Skills

Dynavox/AAC training - ATEC, Santa Ana - 9/29

Thursday, 9/29/11, 9 am to 2 pm
Mara Marshall will go over the basics of Dynavox Series 5 devices and answer specific, participant questions regarding Dynavox devices and AAC. 

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Petition for AAC telecommunication in CA (STS)

Here's a great way to support telecommunication options for Augmentative and Alternative Communicators - FREE - takes less than 1 minute. 

To support this petition for video supported speech to speech services, follow this link to join the petitioning group -

If you have a speech disability and live in the U.S.A., you can now use a free telephone service 24 hours a day. This service, called “Speech-to-Speech” (STS), provides communication assistants (CAs) to help people with speech difficulty (PSDs) be understood by the public on the telephone.

PSD's can dial toll free to reach a patient, trained CA who is familiar with many speech patterns and has excellent language recognition skills. This CA makes telephone calls for them and repeats their words exactly in a 3-way calling environment.

To try out STS call 800-854-7784 and ask for Dr. Bob Segalman (directly at 916-448-5517). You can also access STS by dialing 711 and asking for Speech-to-Speech.

Thanks to Bob Segalman PhD for working to make this happen!

    - SCAAC-N

Saturday, September 3, 2011

iPads for Autism - Foothill Autism Alliance - Wed, Nov. 9, 2011

Adaptive Technology: The iPad as a Game Changer for Autism
Family Resource Meeting, 11/9/11

From the Foothill Autism Alliance website:
Dr. Lance Williams and speech therapist Gwendolyn Meier (Villa Esperanza) will speak about adaptive technology, in particular the iPad. There is considerable excitement these days about the iPad for children and adults with autism – and numerous applications to choose from. Come learn about iPad apps and how the iPad has opened up worlds of communication and enrichment for many on the spectrum – whether nonverbal or verbal, severely affected or HFA/Aspergers.

  • Wednesday, November 9, 2011
  • Networking at 7:00pm 
  • Featured speakers from 7:30pm to 9:30pm

Foothill Autism Alliance Family resource meetings:
  • FREE! Reservations are NOT required unless otherwise noted.
  • Meetings are held on the second Wednesday of the month at PCDA.