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Saturday, March 17, 2012

CSUN 2012: AAC Device Implementation (Part 1 - Andrea Newall)

A great presentation, and excellent materials. LINKS to free downloads embedded (below and in Part 2 of this post, link HERE).

Originally entitled, "AAC Device Implementation with Saltillo," this 3/2/12 panel session at the CSUN annual conference was quite graciously un-branded by the great AT Manufacturer (visit Saltillo's website HERE), despite the title and introduction by their own Belva Holman.

In this session, implementation strategies and procedures were shared from three different, public school-based vantages from Andrea Newall (Cajon Valley USD); Anne Callies, Cheryl Waterfield, and Lisa Lafoon (nee Knipmeyer; San Diego USD AT Dept); and Audrey Weed (NCCSE). 

Andrea Newall shared experiences from a small district model, where she provides on-site support to young elementary students using AAC. Following are highlights from her handout and presentation.

Initially, Ms. Newall's implementation goals include: 1) providing reassurance to the classroom staff, and 2) defining when and how the SLP will support classroom staff (programming, modeling, etc.)

Teacher and Classroom Staff Expectations
- Allowing time to explore is encouraged, as is tolerating talking out or random speaking (use of volume control should be taught to staff to minimize disruption to the classroom)
- Opportunities for expressing novel utterances should be built into the student's day
- Post handouts, visual cues for staff, in the classroom highlighting key points for teaching device use (see What to do with Ricky's Talker, below)
- Use of the "AAC Participation Plan" (download below) to target vocabulary, communication opportunities, and linguistic variety
- Staff are assigned modeling opportunities to demonstrate navigation and augment input using the vocabulary of the student's system.

A Sample Handout for Posting: (download PDF with student name removed, HERE)

  • Keep within Ricky's reach at all times when he is seated
  • Bring the device if he requests it with sign language
  • Only Ricky and teachers may use the Talker
  • Allow exploration
  • Respond whenever it makes sense, ignore some of the exploration
  • Teach him to "clear" after speaking 
    • [Conversely, a recent suggestion from Cindy Cottier, SLP, is to keep the message on the display following 'speaking' until the teacher prompt "Get ready to talk". This allows for the text cue to remain present for clarification, correction of errors, and conversation about the the message. This is particularly important with iOS apps that do not allow for an easy Undo function - messages often have to be constructed again from scratch, which is frustrating]
  • Touch the screen to turn it back on when it goes dark
Teaching Language:
  • Follow the "Participation Plan" sheet for each table activity
  • Model and demonstrate - YOU use the talker to communicate the target words, too
  • Refer to using the device as "saying" a word, not "touching" or "writing" or "showing" (e.g., 'Ricky, say "water"')
  • Work on single words for now. Don't expect him to "understand" how his talker works yet. It will take time to teach him.
  • Think about what he will be motivated to say, not what we want him to say.
Words we use a lot... (list here)

Ms. Newall also shared a valuable tool for generalizing communication across partners - the AAC PARTICIPATION PLAN (click to download PDF, HERE). This simple table outlines the activity setting, motivating vocabulary, and partner role for student AAC use during their usual classroom routine(s). Data is collected by the classroom staff on the prompting type for dual purposes; to gauge student progress, and to ensure staff participation with the plan via data points. Modeling of target vocabulary use, teaching through 'augmented input,' is encouraged and included in the data collection rubric.
(...Staff Expectations, continued)

- Give the student opportunities to be in charge - calling role or calling on peers to take a turn
Instruct staff on how exactly they should respond to random utterances and purposeful attempts
- Educate staff about the importance of teaching the student to use motivating vocabulary. This will increase interest and participation, and will likely lead to earlier generalization of skills. One example given was the difference in motivation to 'speak' the word "gross!" versus "I need the bathroom."  (When available, digitized/recorded speech is even better for exclamations.)
        [On the topic o motivating vocabulary, teaching commenting and sharing opinions, such as "I like that" and "I don't like that," has been very powerful in eliciting simple device use and has even inspired more generative opinion sharing, such as "I don't like stickers anymore." - from Ariel Hegedus, SLP, Villa Esperanza Services]

Student Participation and Expectations

- Using Communication Devices for Academics - It is important to emphasize to staff that the device use should NOT be heavily for completing academic tasks. The AAC user will learn the purpose of the communication device through a process of using it for its intended purpose. If the device is programmed and implemented primarily as an educational aid, the student will learn that this is the purpose of the device (to answer "What color" and "What do you want?", or for receptive vocabulary identification, letter/sound ID, math, telling time, etc. I've seen them all). It is imperative that use of the system for communication be first and foremost!
- Teaching comments and opinions right from the start is important. Teach a variety of commenting vocabulary [e.g., I like that, cool, good, awesome]

Parent Expectations

- Participate in training before the device is sent home
- Send to school daily, charged, and wiped clean [!]
- 3 "jobs" for parents:
  • Respond to the child's use of the device
  • Encourage indication of specific wants/needs
  • Teach new words:
    • Model them in context
    • Narrate what you're doing as you explore the device [Talk aloud and try to find what it is you want to talk about - modeling the exploration and search process. "I'm looking for swings, would that be in Places?..."]
    • Target and emphasize a select [and not an exhaustive] set of vocabulary
Expectations for ALL

- Acknowledge[/praise] and THEN [and only then] correct or expand to say it better
- Model use of the device
- Add back-up and additional supports
    ~ Low-tech options (communication boards for modeling)
    ~ Matching versus other symbols
    ~ Classroom and home displays (communication boards for locations and activities)

Modeling board for Table Activities (download PDF modeling board, HERE, for teacher use or find it in Boardmaker Share, can be taped to the tabletop) Teaching staff can use this board as they speak to students giving choices or instruction, or speaking in the students' own words.
Classroom communication board for Places to Go on campus (download PDF comm board for locations, HERE, or find it in Boardmaker Share) This display is posted on the classroom door for staff to use to augment input and say to students while pointing, "We're going to..." before letting them go out the door.
Ms. Newall encourages you to consider using alternate pictures on your static communication boards to avoid student frustration at the lack of voice output when touching locations.

Be sure to read on at this link "AAC Device Implementation (Part 2 - San Diego Unified AT Department)"...

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