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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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Radiolab Archive: Words (2010)

Always a good listen (or re-listen)! Radiolab's program about loss of and creation of language.  Listen to it at their archive website (HERE).

It’s almost impossible to imagine a world without words. But in this hour of Radiolab, we try to do just that. We meet a woman who taught a 27-year-old man the first words of his life, hear a firsthand account of what it feels like to have the language center of your brain wiped out by a stroke, and retrace the birth of a brand new language 30 years ago.

Watch a lovely short film created to accompany this episode:

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Boardmaker Share - Holiday Activities!

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Mayer-Johnson - Your Special Education Super Source
The Holidays are getting closer and your to-do list is getting longer.
Hang Lights
Buy Presents
Create Holiday Activities for your Students
Don't worry, is here to be your special holiday helper!
We have tons of pre-made activities that will keep your students in high spirits
as the holiday approaches. Check out a few below!
Boardmaker Share

Order by Wednesday, December 21st and get $5.99 two-day shipping,
so your gift gets to you by Christmas!

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© 2011 Mayer-Johnson

Thursday, December 15, 2011

RERC - Mobile Devices Video & MORE!

Boston Children's Hospital's Howard Shane and Jessica Gosnell, chat with David McNaughton and Sam Sennott discussing the use of mobile communication technologies (e.g., the iPad) by children with complex communication needs. 
The discussion includes:
  • Benefits of Mobile Communication Technology 
  • the Assessment Process 
  • Learning about New Apps
  • Intervention 
  • Building Vocabulary and Language Skills 
  • What's Next? 
  • Additional Resources 
Some points to ponder from their discussion...
- Let's give them something to talk about (via the internal camera on the iPad2). Snapping photos in vivo easily sets the stage for later communication - one really beautiful aspect!
- The paucity of a strong language system in most available communication apps. Do we start from scratch or use and modify an out-of-the-box vocabulary set?

Future needs, musing, and resources mentioned:
  • Motion detection and vocabulary detection based on the user's location, 
  • Audio speakers for various environments,
  • Significant access needs with the capacitive touch-access screen,
  • Restricting access to apps (!) and integration of functions, such as Time Lock for school hours (love it).
ASHA Division 12 Perspectives issue on Mobile Technologies

RERC White Paper on the use of Mobile  Technologies

Full, 3-part webcast by Howard Shane, PhD and Megan O-Brien on Visual Immersion Program for Autism (comprehension and expressive language skills)

    Using Visual Sequences for Autism - SERVAM

    SERVAM for Autism is a parent training book out of Australia that has some excellent information to share. I have used their Expressive Skills Questionnaire (available in PDF online HERE) in my interview of parents and teachers of nonverbal and minimally verbal students with functional communication needs.

    SERVAM stands for...
    S - sensory processing
    E - environmental change
    R - routines and planned change
    V - visual supports
    A - autism-friendly communication
    M - motivation

    Visit the SERVAM website HERE.

    Download SERVAM's current, free How-To on Visual Sequences for Autism (HERE)

    Monday, December 12, 2011

    FREE - AAC Language Lab Webinar (PRC) Wed, 12/14/11, 1-2:00

    AAC Language Lab Webinar Wednesday, December 14, 2011
    1:00pm - 2:00pm EST

    Take a tour of PRC's AAC Language Lab.  In this tour you will find...
    • Descriptions of Six Language Development Stages
    • Sets of Lesson Plans for Teaching Language
    • Unity® Curriculum
    • Lessons to Use with IntelliTools Classroom Suite
    • Smart Charts with Icon Sequences for Unity
    • PowerPoint Slide Shows for Teaching Language Concepts
    • Goals and Objectives for Language Development

    Click here to reserve your FREE Webinar seat!  

    After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.
    System Requirements
    Pc-based attendeesMacintosh®-based attendees
    Required:  Windows® 7, Vista, XP or 2003 ServerRequired:  Mac OS® X 10.5 or newer

    Friday, December 9, 2011

    Online AT Training Alternatives (ATACP FasTrax at CSUN cancelled)

    Due to unforeseen departmental restructuring at the Center on Disabilities at Cal State Northridge the 2012 ATACP Training Program is on hold at this time.  The scheduled FasTrax training at the San Diego AT conference February, 2012, will not happen and all funds will be returned. Rest assured, the promised discount to conference registration fees will still be honored, and there will definitely be an ATACP Program at the 2013 CSUN Conference, should registrants wish to carry over their already-paid fee for the course ($1,795).

    FEAR NOT! 

    SCAAC-N has researched some alternative, and many times FREE, options for those wishing to learn more about Assistive Technology, and not wishing to wait.  Take a look at the following links to whet your appetite, or possibly satisfy it all together.

    Texas Assistive Technology Network - FREE online printable presentation slides and transcripts with intro and closing video on the topics of: Providing Assistive Technology, Considering AT in the IEP Process, Legal Perspective, Administrators Perspective, Team Evaluation, Implementation, Reading Support, Writing Support, and Transition

    STAR Training through TASC (Alabama) - scroll down to FREE video modules online once you've created a login/password on the topics of AT Laws, ALS and Voice-Banking, Microsoft Accessibility, Adapting Books, Note Taking, AT in the Classroom, Low Tech AT, Switch IQ, Preparation for Employment, Transportation, etc.

    Equal Access to Software and Information (EASI) - online, university-affiliated courses (month-long, $350) such as Barrier-free Information Technology, and Creating and Repurposing More Accessible Content

    University of Washington's DO-IT (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology) Center - FREE, web-based tutorials, streaming video training (also available in DVD format), and links to useful resources for those who prefer self-directed learning.

    Alliance for Technology Access - archived training webinars FREE online. Titles such as: AT 101 (also in Spanish), AT in recreation, Intro to Accessibility Checklist, various vendor forums, etc.

    Assistive Technology Training Online Project (ATTO) - FREE - provided by SUNY Buffalo, articles to read online targeting elementary classrooms

    Other online trainings run across through this hunt:
    Intro to Boardmaker (lots of others, arranged by topic, at Mayer-Johnson's site)
    ProLoQuo2Go iPod/iPad communication app Introductory Videos

    Wednesday, December 7, 2011

    Linda Hodgdon - Clearing Confusion About APPS for Autism

    From Linda:
    "One of the exciting things about the iPad and other tablet devices is there are a lot of APPS (applications) that can be downloaded to use for many different purposes. (For those who don’t know what this is . . . . an APP is a little piece of software that helps you do something on the iPad. It is like the software that you put on a computer to help you accomplish various tasks.)

    I keep getting questions
    So many people have contacted me with the same question. They tell me, “I bought an iPad for Tommy or Kevin or Sarah who has autism or Asperger’s. Now . . . what APPS should I use?”

    The confusion grows
    You can do a quick search on the internet now and easily find web sites and articles listing lots of APPS for autism. By now there are hundreds of thousands of APPS of all kinds available for the iPad and thousands more are added to the collection each week.

    The equivalent in books would be to walk into one of the major chain bookstores or go into one of the huge major city libraries. Bookstores and libraries have so many choices that it’s hard to know where to begin.

    So we need a strategy
    In a book place I would begin to think about what category I wanted to explore. Army tanks? Astronomy? Cookbooks? Once I think of a category, I begin to narrow down what I want to accomplish or what I want to learn about or do. Then I can start to search for books that will lead me to my goal..."

    Thursday, December 1, 2011

    Blog BFF: AAC Girls

    Caroline Musselwhite, and periodic 'special guests,' have a really wonderful blog that is a companion to the equally valuable website

    From a recent post.....(view more at

    Fun Videos: Girl Washing . . . (click the title to get to the video link)

    This video is a delight!! Enjoy watching it. Then share it with your children / students in some of the following ways:

    Language: Support students in:
    - Sequencing: take screen shots and help students determine first, next, and last
    - Narrative: re-tell this story
    - Commenting: this video is fun for practicing making comments (sweet, uh-oh, oh no, yikes!)
    - Core Words: this is ideal for summarizing using high frequency words (look at that. Is she bad?)

    Literacy: Support students in:
    - Watching Response: Writing a response to this story
    - Descriptive Narrative: re-tell this story
    - Word Choice: describe the video using strong verbs and / or sparkle words

    Another great post on AAC Girls for those of you that don't access to video services like YouTube ...

    ZAMZAR – 1 Easy Way to Manage Movies