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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Saturday, April 28, 2012

ISAAC 2012 - Pittsburgh (Early Bird thru 4/30!)

Thanks for the heads up, PRC!

  • The AAC event of the year.
  • Largest AAC conference in the world.
  • First time in the United States in eight years.
  • Innovative new strand for people who use AAC.
  • Workshops, AAC Camp, presentations, and research symposium.
Earlybird registration rate ends April 30, 2012.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Los Angeles AT Collaborative - Announcements from April 2012

Lauren Wetzler (ATEC) shared the following AT resources, announcements, and events from the April 2012 Los Angeles AT Collaborative meeting:

·        Foothill SELPA CAC Conference – Saturday, April 28th 8-12 p.m.

(See next post)
·        So Cal AAC Network Quarterly Meeting – May 15th 630-830 p.m.
Contact: Gwendolyn Meier (Villa Esperanza)
·        Disability Capital Action Day – Wednesday, May 30th
Contact: Rosemarie Punzalan (CFILC/ATN)
·        First Annual EmpowerTech Golf Tournament – Sunday, July 15th
Contact: Joan Anderson, 310-338-1597 ex. 305
·        AT Network
·        CA AT Reuse Coalition (CATRC) – The CATRC represents a collaboration of diverse organizations that are interested in or directly involved in the re-use process. The CATRC is open to any organization or individual that engages in re-use. It is supported by the AT Network, a project of DOR and the CA Foundation for Independent Living Centers. For more information on the CATRC, please contact Shannon Coe at

Assistive Technology: What Is It and How Can It Help My Child with Communication and Curriculum Access (Neskovska)

Foothill SELPA CAC Conference "No Limit to Success"  
Saturday, April 28th 8-12 p.m. 

A highlight from the program:  
11:00-12:00, Session 10— Assistive Technology: What Is It and How Can It Help My Child with Communication and Curriculum Access? 
Presented by Diana Neskovska (a SCAAC-Networker!)
Discussion regarding appropriate levels of support through assistive technology, from low tech to high tech. New innovations in technology that parents can provide to enhance their child’s interests, academics, and communication skills will also be presented.
More info at: 

Burbank High School
902 N. Third St.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Webinar Series on Assistive Technology (ADK Abilities)

New for 2012!! 
ADK Abilities is offering affordable and convenient assistive technology training through it's Webinar Series on Assistive Technology.
Register for the topics that interest you most and relate to your professional development needs.  Intended for teachers, administrators, related service providers and parents, our interactive Webinar platform will provide background information, strategies for effective application of Assistive Technology, and additional resources related to the topic. 

Registration is easy and quick.  Use PayPal to register online with a credit card, or download and print our registration form and submit it with a check or agency purchase order.

The $40 registration fee per Webinar includes one Certificate of Contact Hours.  Additional participants at a site can register for $5 and also receive Certificates of Contact Hours.
Webinar Topics and Schedule

AT Strategies for Written Expression:  Non- and Emergent-Writers
April 24, 2012       1:00 - 2:00
  • Gain an understanding of typical progression of writing development
  • Recognize students who will not follow typical progression
  • Explore low- to high-tech strategies to allow students to "write", such as eye-gaze, symbol supports, and specialized software
AT Strategies for Written Expression:  Struggling Writers
April 24, 2012       2:30 - 3:30
  • Identify barriers to the writing process
  • Explore low-tech supports for writing
  • Explore software to support writing, including word prediction, talking word processors, and speech recognition
AT Strategies to Support Literacy:  Non- and Emergent-Readers
May 22, 2012      1:00 - 2:00
  • Use of talking books and symbol or picture support to promote literacy
  • Resources for obtaining pre-made adaptive books or creating your own literacy projects to promote peer engagement
AT Strategies to Support Literacy:  Struggling Readers
May 22, 2012      2:30 - 3:30
  • Identify barriers to effective use of text
  • Explore low-tech supports for reading
  • Understand Accessible Instructional Materials and alternate text formats
Facilitating Inclusion & Social Interaction through AT
June 19, 2012     2:30 - 3:30
  • Review AT tools used to promote active participation by students with severe/multiple disabilities
  • Recognize strategies for making activities age-appropriate and meaningful for all participants
Supporting Math Instruction and Participation through AT
July 24, 2012     2:30 - 3:30
  • Review resources for providing scaffolded support in math instruction
  • Learn modifications to math manipulatives
  • Become familiar with software to compensate for physical access issues
Executive Function: Improving Productivity & Organization through AT
August 28, 2012     1:00 - 2:00
  • Review low-tech to high-tech supports for memory, multi-step directions or organization
  • Become familiar with readily available or free resources for executive functioning
Digital Graphic Organizers:  Embedded Supports for Presentation & Expression
August 28, 2012     2:30 - 3:30
  • Identify who could benefit from the use of graphic organizers
  • Present instructional materials with support for diverse learners through embedded supports
  • Identify strategies to help students develop more meaningful written expression

Boardmaker Share - Em Portuguese (Assistiva)

Assistiva Tecnologia e Educação (Brazil) has just joined and has 15 Portuguese files to share on BoardmakerShare.comHERE is their website.
 Keep your eye out for more! Download to keep Assistiva hooked on BM Share!!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

PODD Trainings (July) - Baltimore, Maryland

Announcing 3 Day Introductory and 5 Day Advanced Summer PODD Courses with Gayle Porter and Linda Burkhart

There will be 3 PODD trainings in Baltimore, Maryland this summer with Gayle Porter and Linda Burkhart.    Enrollment is limited.
1.  Three day introductory PODD training.  This one is for new people and is similar to the two day PODD trainings, but in a little more depth.  (July 23 -25, 2012)
2.  Five day Advanced PODD training.  This will only be open to people who have already attended a 2 or 3 day PODD training in the past and have been trying to implement PODD with children.  (July 16-20, 2012)
3.  As part of the 5 day training, there will be a one day partner training, mostly for local people in Maryland who just need to know how to implement PODD, but don’t need to know how to customize and select PODD books.  (July 19)

Information is listed on the first page of Linda Burkhart's website:

Pragmatic Organization Dynamic Display - PODD Communication Books (Official Three-Day Introductory Course)
Presented by Gayle Porter (Melbourne, Australia) and Linda BurkhartJuly 23,24, & 25, 2012 Linthicum, Maryland
Pragmatic Organization Dynamic Display - PODD Communication Books (Official Five Day Advanced Course)
Presented by Gayle Porter (Melbourne, Australia) and Linda BurkhartJuly 16-20, 2012
Linthicum, Maryland
Communication Partner Training for Using PODD Books (One Day Workshop)
Presented by Gayle Porter (Melbourne, Australia) and Linda BurkhartJuly 19, 2012
Linthicum, Maryland

Friday, April 20, 2012

Autism and AAC - Cafiero, Joanne Ph.D.

Autism and Augmentative and Alternative Communication: Research-based Best Practices (watch the presentation HERE) by Joanne M Cafiero, Ph.D. is a presentation available on YouTube (48 minutes) to mark Autism Awareness month. She discusses the features & types of AAC that best correlate with ASD processing styles, lists evidence-based and promising practices in aided AAC & ASD, and demonstrates effective AAC interventions. 

Well worth the watch! (or just the listen while you're folding laundry!) A great review of autism characteristics and a presentation ripe for staff development. - Gwendolyn

 Joanne Cafiero (her website, HERE), formerly a high school science teacher is currently a special education AAC teacher. Joanne was Autism Projects Coordinator at Johns Hopkins Center for Technology in Education. She is a consulting editor and contributing author for peer-reviewed periodicals and major AT media and sits on the professional advisory board for the new national organization Autism Now and the adult autism advocacy group, AutCom. She is the author of the 1st book on autism and AAC, Meaningful Exchanges for People with Autism: An Introduction to AAC. Dr. Cafiero teaches and works with schools and families nationally and internationally.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Inman Innovations

Terry Kappe turned me on to online resources from Inman Innovations.  On their website, you'll find the following Therapy Materials (under Resources, links are included below):

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Aeir Talk and Autism Walk

This Saturday, the Los Angeles Walk Now for Autism Speaks will be held at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.  I wonder if we can anticipate any technology vendors at the resource fair this year...? Look for SCAAC-N at the Villa Esperanza Services booth!
Re-posted from Jennifer Wieczorek Polak's Facebook page:
Monday, April 16th, 2012
We met Joe Hill in Norfolk, Virginia last week. He had a story to tell us. He has two autistic sons who have had trouble communicating and he noticed that the world of tools for autism often overlooked a few things – aesthetics, usability, and customization, to name three. Instead of relying on ready-made utilities, Joe wanted to make something fun and cool.

Me and the boys

He created Aeir Talk. It’s an app that allows parents to create and record their own content for use in a very simple but effective method for communications. The parents record a set of verbs and nouns and add pictures of themselves or of familiar objects. When the kids need to communicate, they select a noun and a verb and press a button. The app creates a simple sentence. “I want to go outside, please” or “I want a carrot, please.”

It’s a simple program and many autistic kids use similar devices that cost a few hundred and have all the power of a pocket calculator. With the iPad, Hill was able to build a working system in a few weeks and now he and his sons use it to communicate around the house.

The app costs $1.99 and it’s already helped Joe’s two kids be a bit more responsive. It has plenty of graphical flourishes and the real value is in the customization and malleability of the vocabulary set. You can add anything you like – verbs, nouns, images, voice recordings – and its all personalized so junior feels a bit more comfortable.

In an vast app wasteland full of flashlights and fart soundboards, it’s nice to see something made with love by a father who knows what he’s doing. It’s a great teaching tool and useful for kids of all ages and abilities.

Product Page

Friday, April 13, 2012

101+ Ideas - Friend us on Facebook

To our beloved, 101 current friends on Facebook, we send these "101 + IDEAS FOR THE BIGmack Or Other Single Message Voice Output Communication Aids," compiled by Barbara Solomonson, SLP, with a great deal of help from her friends (DOWNLOAD THE ENTIRE LIST HERE).

To the rest of you, we bid "friend us" on Facebook (link logo at the top, right of the blog info).

1. I went to a great, celebratory Christmas party for an agency for developmentally delayed adults.  The Christmas program entailed the spelling of “Merry Christmas” by a group, including non-oral communicators using the BIGmack. 
2. The BIGmack can be used for games such as:  Chase – message “You can’t catch me!”  Duck, Duck, Goose - works better with a step-by-step, Hide and Seek – “Ready or not here I come!”
3. For young children, we've used a lot of messages to initiate physical contact with them such as:  "bounce me", "tickle me", “rub my back”, “brush my hair”.  Obviously, you need to be conscious of whether they like this type of touch or not. 
4. We have been using the BIGmack in our adult day program and are starting to purchase them for our residential programs. Many of our adults will run out of the room to use the bathroom, so we have programmed a BIGmack by the door for them to hit before they are leaving. The system can say, I will be right back, or I need to use the bathroom, or whatever the teacher feels is most appropriate.
5. We also use the BIGmack at meals to request "more" or "finished," etc 
6. You could use the BIGmack and have the child's name on it, so every time it is mentioned in the story, the child could use the switch instead of the teacher reading it! 
7. Use BIGmack to "order" at a restaurant 
8. Tell mom and dad "I love you" 
9. Ask for a hug 
10. Say prayers
11. Call everyone to dinner 
12. Sell items (be a barker)
13. 1 heard of a young girl who had a BIGmack attached to her horse and it said "giddy up" and the horse did just that!!! 
14. I have a client who is clinically depressed and she has one that she uses with her friends. When friends come by and she's not in her dorm room, they leave a message with it. She says its the best therapy she gets to have "Hi, I'm thinking about you" messages from friends when she's not expecting them. 
15. Hi, how about turning on a radio or cassette player 
16. Giving a compliment to a friend
(** Also see 102 Ideas for using a BIGmack, LINK HERE)

Some other good ones...
41.  Introduce a song title at the Christmas Program 
42.  Ask another student to dance...

55.  At Work.... 
• Greet customers at a department or grocery store. 
• Deliver messages to co-worker. 
• Inform customers about the in-store specials. 
• Request more work...

78.  Cheer or root for a team. 
79.  Comment on own new haircut, shirt, glasses, etc. 
80.  Draw attention (Look what I did). 
81.  For emergency message by telephone...

(Download the entire list, HERE!)

ASHA SIG 12 Perspectives on AAC - Vol. 21, No. 1

(Pssst! Mary Ann Abbott, is a current SIG 12 Perspectives Editor & our very own SCAAC-N colleague!)
A new issue of Perspectives on Augmentative and Alternative Communication is available online:  Vol. 21, No. 1
The below Table of Contents is available online (login required) at:

From the Coordinator
Mary Ann Lowe
Perspectives on Augmentative and Alternative Communication 2011;21 2
Strategies for Transitioning From PECS to SGD. Part 2: Maintaining Communication Competency
Lori Frost and Joy Silverman McGowan
Perspectives on Augmentative and Alternative Communication 2011;21 3-10
New AAC Access Strategy for Gesture Tracking: A Technical Note
Susan Fager, Tom Jakobs, David Beukelman, Tricia Ternus, and Haylee Schley
Perspectives on Augmentative and Alternative Communication 2011;21 11-16
What Are the Attention Demands of Aided AAC?
Jennifer J. Thistle and Krista M. Wilkinson
Perspectives on Augmentative and Alternative Communication 2011;21 17-22
Identifying, Locating, and Sequencing Visual-Graphic Symbols: A Perspective on the Role of Visuospatial and Temporal Memory
Barry T. Wagner, Lauren A. Shaffer, and Olivia A. Swim
Perspectives on Augmentative and Alternative Communication 2011;21 23-29

Tuesday! CSHA District 7 - What's in your Apps! (4/17/12, Glendale)

The California Speech-Language Hearing Association local district 7 will host an evening presentation on Apps! Patricia Seymour (CSUN) and Catherin Jackson (CSUN) explore the inclusion of tablets into clinical and research settings. (View the entire, official flyer HERE)

Come network with us on Tuesday at Glendale Adventist Hospital! (1509 Wilson Terrace, Glendale, CA, 91206) Registration on site - rates, below. Light dinner is included in the cost.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Save the Date - SCAAC-N Spring Quarterly Meeting, 5/15/12

From “eat cookies” to Asking Questions:  Getting beyond simple requesting through AAC language therapy

Mark your calendars for Tuesday, May 15, 2012.  Kara Bidstrup, MA, CCC-SLP (Prentke Romich Co.) will re-create her instructive session from CSUN's annual Disabilities and Technology conference for our FREE, quarterly SCAAC-N meeting at Villa Esperanza in Pasadena.

It's not to be missed!

See you soon, Kara...

Saturday, April 7, 2012

AAC Position in Beautiful Oregon, 2012-2013

Posted: April 06, 2012 11:56 AM
Subject: AAC Position in Beautiful Oregon

Northwest Regional Education Service District has an opening for a full-time AAC Specialist beginning in the 2012-2013 school year. NWRESD is based in Hillsboro, Oregon just 12 miles east of Portland.

We serve a wide variety of students with complex communication needs. Lots of opportunity for professional development and growth. Come work with our fantastic Assitive Technology and Augmentative Communication team. Pay is very competitive with excellent benefits!

Application is available on EdZapp:
Jessica Duffett, M.S. CCC-SLP
Augmentative Communication Specialist
Northwest Regional Education Service District

Friday, April 6, 2012

LAMP Workshop - Buena Park - May 17

An opportunity to attend a workshop for ASHA CEUs...coming to a city near you!
Mark your calendars to attend, and register today!!
The Center for AAC and Autism offers workshops for participants to receive a detailed program of the LAMP (Language Acquisition through Motor Planning) treatment approach and learn why its emphasis on consistent motor plans is uniquely suited to children with autism. This interactive course entails an indepth discussion of the components, led by a clinician who works daily implementing AAC with children with autism. Time will be allotted for a question and answer session with the trainer. Register today, so you don't miss out!

May 17, 2012
8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Language Acquisition through Motor Planning
presented by: Teresa Parrill, M.S., CCC-SLP

Buena Park, CA

For More Information or to Register: 
ASHA CEUs are available for all workshops.

Language Acquisition through Motor Planning
This comprehensive LAMP training program is designed for SLPs, family members, and therapists who want to learn new AAC skills and strategies that can enhance the lives of ASD individuals. The workshop examines the current research and the history of augmenting speech for people with ASD. Participants will study communication assessment and augmentative implementation procedures, with an emphasis on the use of multi-modal communication systems.

Prior to this workshop, the trainer, also a licensed SLP, will work with three clients from the hosting facility, and videotape the consultations. These videos will be used throughout the workshop to facilitate discussion and point out key elements of the therapy approach.

All participants will receive a complimentary copy of the LAMP Training Manual, which provides detailed instruction on using leading AAC devices to encourage the development of communication among those with ASD.

The new Center for AAC and Autism, online at
 , is dedicated to helping children with autism learn to communicate through the power of alternative and augmentative communication (AAC) devices.

The Center for AAC and Autism was developed to support clinical research aimed at the effective implementation of AAC within the autism arena; facilitate sharing of best practices and success stories among clinicians and families; and teach AAC strategies for promoting language development in those with autism through Language Acquisition through Motor Planning (LAMP).

To learn more about the Center for AAC and Autism, please visit:, or call toll-free at (866) 998-1726.

Loads of Ideas on Pinterest - Thanks Jill Kuzma

From Jill's Blog (View it HERE)..."Have you  heard about Pinterest yet?  This is an AMAZING web resource on many levels!  There is a lot of great application for teachers and therapists to share ideas.  Essentially PINTEREST is like on virtual bulletin board where you can organize online resources to refer back to them later.  It  is kind of like  a visual way to organize your bookmarks.  This way you can “see” what you have bookmarked, to help you remember what it is, rather than a listing of web addresses.  You can set up a PINTEREST account for free, or just view other people’s bulletin boards without having an account of your own."

Jill has 31 bulletin boards with Spring Themes, Comprehension ActivitiesGrammar/Syntax Ideas, and Social Emotional Teaching Ideas (74 pins on this board!).

Go to Jill's Pinterest bulletin boards, image below, CLICK HERE.

Thanks Jill!

Tools For Independence Newsletter, April 2012

Download the April Tools for Independence CLICK HERE

Goodwill Fitness & Technology Center Open House, Santa Ana

Thursday, April 5, 2012

No Boardmaker? No Problem! - If Only I Had Super Powers

Due to a nasty combination of old laptops in our district, plus old Boardmaker CDs that are somewhat incompatible with said laptops, many special educators in my district have given up on trying to use Boardmaker.

Don't get me wrong, I love Boardmaker and use it almost every day, but truthfully that is mostly out of habit. Everything (almost) I do on Boardmaker I could do without it. Possibly with even nicer results.


How? By using tools you probably already have access to in addition to google images or digital photos.

Here's a little tutorial I just put together on Powerpoint:

Communication boards sans Boardmaker

1. Open Powerpoint, could also be done with Microsoft word, but Powerpoint gives you the incredible option to add voice and make this a voice output device! (if anyone knows how I can share a powerpoint on this blog, I would be glad to share what I've made!)
 2. Choose a table. I like the 9 square table.

3. Here's the best part...find an awesome image on google images and right click and "copy".
 3. Paste the images onto your Powerpoint table. Size them to fit in the boxes. Lay them out however you'd like (easily moveable later).

 4. Add text to go with the images (important step as the goal of literacy is always important!)

5. Ta da! Even better than a Boardmaker board because of the realistic pictures!

(This process is even better if you can take digital pictures of items within your classroom/home and of the individual doing tasks.)

6. Make sure to print and laminate (or put in a plastic sleeve). You can also cut the pictures up individually for PECS and/or sentence strips.

Great process for anyone without Boardmaker (or anyone that wants to add voice to their communication boards)! Make something awesome and share it with me!

STAR Training - Autism and Assistive Technology
March 2012
AT can help:
Autism Apps  
Autism Apps
Free app with suggestions for apps in numerous categories including:
  • ABA
  • Behavior
  • Communication
  • Fine motor and writing skills
  • Social skills
  • Visual Timers

STAR Training 
has more resources including:

Special Tweets: 
Follow us on Twitter

Autism Awareness Month
STAR Training is using this month's newsletter to share two ways individuals with Autism benefit from using Assistive Technology. 
A voice with assistive technology 
According to Autism Speaks, researchers have found as many as 25% of individuals with ASD are nonverbal.  

Assistive Technology can help individuals with ASD have a voice through speech generating devices also know as Augmentative and Alternative Communication.
PRC Device
Click to visit AAC & Autism

Typing may be a better option
Handwriting can be a challenge for individuals with ASD because of fine motor skills, motor planning, visual deficits, sensory, and language.
Typing can be a great alternative to handwriting. If a student is in school, a personal word processor, classroom computer, or iPad may provide an easier way to complete written assignments.  
United Cerebral Palsy of Huntsville & Tennessee Valley, Inc. | 1856 Keats Drive NW | Huntsville, Alabama 35810 |