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, May 30, 2012

Minspeak E-Newsletter, Issue 50

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May 30, 2012
  • Pixon Teaching Tip: Provide a hands-on experience to teach the Pixon or Unity single meaning picture for “who”. Create a simple paper mask out of a paper plate. Print out a Full Page “who” Pixon picture, trim it and glue it to the paper plate. Add a string to wear the mask or attach a hand-held stick to hold it. Have different people wear the mask and have the Pixon user ask “who is it.” This activity helps focus on both the idea of “person” and question mark, which is featured in the picture.

  • Intervention Planning: Create more communication opportunities this week to encourage your person using Minspeak to ask “who” questions, combining “who” with an action word, (e.g., who help, who make, who go, who come).

  • Teaching Materials Exchange: Celebrate Flag Day with a book that asks 7 questions about this holiday. This books is coded with Pixons and icon sequences from Unity®45, Unity®60, Unity®84, and Unity®144.

  • Pittsburgh Language Seminar Series: There are only a few slots open for the June 19-21 seminars which will feature presentations by Seminar Alumni. The next seminar series will be in September (11th-13th) and features Caroline Musselwhite as the guest speaker. All of these seminars are provided free of charge, with meals and lodging provided. To register, contact Renee McGough immediately at 412-885-8541 x105 or email her at

  • Announcements: Don’t miss out on a Great Opportunity to attend pre-conferences at the ISAAC conference. A presentation on Core Vocabulary and LAMP are features of the pre-conference schedule.
Benefits of Minspeak
Using multi-meaning icons.
The power of motor automaticity.

Use of Minspeak
Minspeak systems with different disabilities.
Minspeak and cultural-linguistic diversity.

The Power of Minspeak
Minspeak, language and literacy development.
Using Minspeak in the classroom.

Support of Minspeak
Strategies to support use of Minspeak.
Minspeak teaching materials.

Visit us online
© Semantic Compaction Systems 2009
1000 Killarney Drive, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15234, USA.
Tel. 412.885.8541 Fax 412.885.8548
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Home Contact Us Minspeak What is Minspeak Who Uses Minspeak Why Use Minspeak Demo Minspeak Lives Transformed Through Minspeak
Home Contact Us Minspeak What is Minspeak Who Uses Minspeak Why Use Minspeak Demo Minspeak Lives Transformed Through Minspeak

Monday, May 28, 2012

Re-Post: Utterance-Based Communication (J. Higginbotham)

Utterance-Based Communication:
One Voice No Longer Fits All
An Interview with Jeff Higginbotham, Ph.D., Partner, AAC-RERC;
Professor, Department of Communicative Disorders and Sciences, University at Buffalo

Jeff Higginbotham, Ph.D.For designers of utterance-based communication devices, conversational interaction is no longer a one-voice activity, declares University at Buffalo professor and AAC-RERC Partner Jeff Higginbotham. “In addition to adopting the right-tool-for-the-right-task concept,” he remarks, “we’re beginning to design devices that can be utilized by both partners in a communication activity.

Surprisingly, Dr. Higginbotham points out, “many device manufacturers don’t promote the reality that the device user’s conversation partners may read the display screens as the words appear so that they can respond quickly and keep the conversation going.”
Among manufacturers, he adds, “this is a major design irony; their devices are developed to accommodate an individual user model and don’t provide for the possibility – in fact, the likelihood – that the user’s conversation partner will become a user of the device as well.

“When we zeroed in on the problems that can arise in an interaction involving an utterance-based communication device we learned that those problems were not exclusively associated with the device user. These issues also involve the attentional limitations and expectancies of the partner who is engaged with the user of the device, the quality and appropriateness of the synthetic speech as it’s being produced and the availability of other modes of representing information.”

CLICK HERE to read the remainder of the Higginbotham article. 

The remaining paragraph headings:
Face2Face: Keeping Conversation Participants in Time
Less Oversight for Proliferating Non-dedicated Technologies  
Enter inTra
Consistent with Dr. Higginbotham’s conviction that socially inclusive interaction requires the participation of at least two individuals and the coordination of expression between them in time, the Face2Face inTra project has developed a front-facing display and a technology that couples the transcribed utterances of the communications partner with the utterance spoken by the AAC user
InTra as a Classroom
WebCrawler is Just-In-Time
Timing Remains an Issue, albeit Less of One
Transferring the Technology     
The Future: Internet Connectivity; GPS in the Wings 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Updates from L.A. A.T. Collaborative Meeting

Thank you, Lauren Wetzler (ATEC) for this info from the May 17th meeting!

Updates from Collaborative Partners:
Rosemarie Punzalan (AT Network)
o   AT Network provides trainings/webinars on various areas of AT:
o   Disability Capital Action Day (Sacramento) – May 30th, 2012
o   AT Network’s Exchange provides free short-term AT Loans:

Michael Martinez (Jr. Blind)
o   Various other programs/events at Jr. Blind:

AT Resource/Flow Chart:
The participating collaborative members made further edits to our AT resource flow chart, we are still looking at making further edits to this resource in hopes of it being a valuable resource regarding AT for people we serve.

Other Resources/Events/Info:
·        AT Workshop “Funding Sources for AT” by State Council on Developmental Disabilities Area Board XI (Hosted by Frank D. Lanterman Regional Center and ATEC) – Thursday, June 21st from 12-1 p.m. Participate in-person or online. (flyer attached)
·        So. Cal AAC Network (Handout available on blog by Kara Bidstrup: From Eat Cookies to Asking Questions – Language Therapy in AAC) and other resources
·        AT Network AT-related news:

Monday, May 21, 2012

Link Exchange from Mom's With Apps

144 strong! Have fun each app title for the link.
From, posted 5/17/12
Add links to your favorite apps, blog posts, Facebook pages – or any link that covers family-friendly apps. Please include the app name (or page name) in the Link Title, your email, and a URL. Thanks for participating!

1.Rocket Speller - FREE Spelling App2.iTouchiLearn Words for Preschool Kids
3.iTouchiLearn Feelings for Preschool Kids4.iTouchiLearn Life Skills: Morning Routines
5.iTouchiLearn Numbers for Preschool Kids6.Sight Words & Spelling with Pixopop
7.Sight Words Hangman8.Sentence Builder
9.World Flags and Anthems10.Jellybean Tunes
11.Chipper's Rainy Day Adventure -Free interactive book12.Serving Sizer Recipe Cards (20% off)
13.Swim with a Polar Bear at the Peek-a-Zoo14.San Diego Park Finder : ParkPogo
15.Henry! you're late AGAIN!16.The Instrumental Alphabet
17.Story Dice - a fun tool for all ages!18.Lists for Writers
19.QI IQ - a two-letter word quizzer!20.It's FREE APP FRIDAY at
21.Old MacDonald Had A Farm22.Peekaboo Guess Who
23.Endless furry fun with Stunt Cat! (FREE)24.MathHelper (Long Division & Multiplication)
25."A Little Book About Feelings" App26.My PlayHome for Kindle Fire
27."Word Book and Puzzle Box HD" try for FREE now!28."Spanish Word Book and Puzzle Box HD" try for FREE now!
29.iLuv Drawing Animals - Learn to draw 40 animals step by step30.iLuv Drawing People HD - Learn to draw people step by step
31.iLuv Drawing People (iPhone) 32.iLuv Drawing Monsters HD - Learn to draw 20 cute monsters.
33.Build A Story for iPad!34.Color My Name
35.50% My First App Vehicles36.Pre-K ABC, 123, Phonics Tracing App (FREE, IA)
37.FREE Feed The Animals38.FREE Buzzle - Drag-n-Drop Puzzles
39.Multiplication: Invasion Of The Moon Monkeys!40.Puzzleosaurus - Dinosaur Jigsaw Puzzles
41.My 1st Songs Collection HD42.Learning Tots Animals DX
43.Learn To Count HD44.Counting Numbers 123 HD
45.Fido Goes Places DX46.iLearnwords FREE
47.iLearnwords48.Baby Learns Colors - record your own voiceover!
49.Baby Learns Colors Lite 50.The Three Little Pigs Interactive Book
51.Aesop in Rhyme - Hare and Tortoise 52.Aesop in Rhyme - Crow and Pitcher
53.Aesop in Rhyme - Lion and Mouse 54.Edsel McFarlan's New Car
55.Tail Toes Eyes Ears Nose 56.Love You To the Moon and Back
57.Hurray for Pre-K!58.The Trees Grin Beside Me
59.Dr. Duncan Dog on Duty 60.Red Riding Hood
61.Winter Is 62.Miko - Mom, Wakeup and Play
63.Miko - Mom, It Was Me 64.Miko - No Bath! No Way!
65.Miko - Double Birthday66.God's Little Lamb
67.Fruits for Little Lamb68.Hattie, The Backstage Bat
69.Miko Wants a Dog70.Miko Wants a Dog
71.Inspector Peckit72.Miko Goes on Vacation
73.Miko - Where is Mimiki74.Trekking in Nepal, Nepal Trekking
75.Miko Moves Out76.Shadow of Elves
77.One Cold Night78.Randy Kazandy, Where are your Glasses?
79.Flash the Dash80.The Perilous Pit
81.The Emperor's Race82.Since Lulu Learned the Cancan
83.Sister Yessa's Story84.Spring Changes
85.Fanny McFancy A Passion for Fashion86.Chuggy and the Blue Caboose
87. Ling Ling Looked in the Mirror88.Felt Board in iTunes
89.Felt Board Amazon - sale90.iBaby Buttons - custom photo & sound recording
91.List of Paid Apps now FREE for Parents and Older Kids92.44 Apps for Kids with Price Drop! Updated Daily!
93.Princesses Learn Chinese94.Princesses Learn Spanish
95.Princesses Learn French96.Princesses Learn Sight Words
97.GazziliWords - **New Update**98.GazziliShapes - **New Update**
99.GazziliPuzzles - **New Update**100.TriGlyphen: Medieval, Mind-Bending Fun!
101.Move your iPod to MotionWarp Sounds w/ BeBob!102.Like BeBob's FB page for chance to win app
103.Be Warped Like BeBob w/ fun T's, Hoodies, PJs, Cases104.Brush of Truth - book app for kids 8-12
105.Perrette and the pot of Milk106.Reading Rhino Children's Apps
107.Mar Ballesteros Studio * Gift for fans108.Locomaster, Lucas' crazy machine
109.Tales2Go - Great Kids' Audio Books On-The-Go110.Snow Globe Maker Spring
111.BabyFirst Encyclopedia (Animals, Sea, Art, Quiz)112.Word Womino
113.Word Domino Free114.Word Domino (android)
115.AB Math116.AB Math (android)
117.Math Party (multiplayer)118.ABC Flashcards (with audio)
119.ABC Flashcards, real objects edition (with audio)120.Color Flashcards (with audio)
121.Shape Flashcards (with audio)122.Flower Tap For Girls
123.Truck Tap For Boys124.Puppy Dog Tap
125.The Berenstain Bears and the Big Spelling Bee126.Picky Kid App Guide
127.Reception ABC, 123, Phonics Tracing App (FREE, IA)128.Snowflake Station - Now only $1.99
129.Chalk Walk - Teaching children the pincer grip130.Free The Bee (Spelling App)
131.Rhyme-N-Time132.Animals for Tots. Animated Flashcards with Animal Sounds
133.Bo's Dinnertime134.Bo's Bedtime Story
135.Bo's Bedtime136.Teachers: Kindergarten Tracing App (FREE, IA)
137.Letter Buddies AlphaBooks138.Letter Buddies AlphaBooks
139.Zoozoo Readables HD140.Backyard Safari: Kids & Bugs
141.Lulu in Polynesia142.SpeakColorsHD (speech therapy app)
143.Invasion Of The Moon Monkeys Site144.Touch and Write
145.Chinese Halloween

Muchos Videos from AAC-RERC

Featured Playlists from the AAC-RERC YouTube Channel


The Power of Communication (AAC doc video, 9 min)

Saturday, May 19, 2012


Thanks to Caroline Musselwhite, this excerpt from her Can We Chat bookette and training on the use of Social Scrips via AAC is available online. A GREAT follow up to the training at the SCAAC-N Spring Quarterly Meeting! DOWNLOAD the Can We Chat excerpt HERE!

A sneak peak:

Social Scripts are interactions such as joke-telling, sharing life stories and general conversations. They help persons using augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) move beyond wants and needs to using 'real' communication for conversational purposes. They support students in learning to claim, start, and maintain turns in a conversation. This bookette primarily provides ideas for beginning communicators.... 

We must use a variety of strategies to ensure that augmented communicators - even those with limited access skills, can achieve interactions that are:
         varied, to maintain interest
            ongoing, with multiple turns
               w/ a range of partners, including peers
                  a way to model a range of pragmatics
                     low maintenance 
                        (do them "on the fly")

One strategy to address these needs is to develop age-appropriate, motivating Social Scripts that may be easily accessed, even by beginning communicators. These social scripts should fulfill several areas of the agendas or social purposes described by Janice Light (1988).


Give Social Scrips a whirl!

Many thanks to you, Caroline, for your great work!!

DOWNLOAD more sample Social Scripts Caroline presented at a Pre-Conference Session at Closing the Gap, 2001. Here is one of them:

Hey, Mom.
Come here!
Oh no!
I've got to do my make-up for the Prom!
It's getting late.
Hurry, Mom!
Remember, my dress is blue.
Let’s do lipstick first.
Please . . . not purple!
Keep my lipstick on my lips.
Don't get it on my teeth.
I don't want to look like Bozo.
I have that red hair!
I want to look like Britney Spears.
She's beautiful.
Could I have a little more mascara, please?
I can't wait to get to the Prom!
Mom, you did a great job.
I don't want to miss the dance.
Let's go!

AAC & AT Downloads - School Setting Info Abounds!

Great resources. Hawaii Dept of Ed, British Columbia, the world wide...AAC assessment, implementation, and planning abounds!!!

The Hawaii Department of Education may be a long way from home, but they're no strangers to our students' complex communication needs and best interests. Take a peek at these two resources (click each title to download PDFs):
AAC: A Way of Thinking (2003, 68 pgs, HERE) Supporting Augmentative & Alternative 
Communication Technologies in the Classroom, Second Edition - This comes to us from Special Education Technology - British Columbia (Ministry of Education, Canada). 68 pages well worth a download and thorough perusal.

  • Section 1: Planning for the Use of AAC Technologies 
    Transition / Adulthood

  • Section 2: AAC Intervention 
    Models of Intervention
    Message Selection
    Literacy & AAC
    AAC Outcomes
  • Section 3: Voice Output Communication Aids  
    Devices: Single-, Multiple-, Dynamic, Sequencing, Text-to-Speech 

  • Glossary (nice!), References & Resources

SET - Special Education Technology (Many thanks Canada!)

Special Education Technology in BC (British Columbia, Canada) has multitudes of resources to offer. Online. Free. (!) In addition to their 2003 doc (see last post) they delve into the following. Share your visual resources on the Picture SET site...
Created for BC students with perceptual disabilities.
  • Accessible Books are children’s picture books in accessible formats.
  • Books are scanned and images added to accessible software.
  • Text is recorded using digitized (human reader) or synthesized (computer speech) speech.
  • The graphics, text and narration are then available for reading on computer or touch devices.
  • The student uses assistive technology to access the books.
Books for the collection are chosen based on the following criteria:
  • Comprehension enhanced through pictures.
  • Recommended children’s literature.
  • Curriculum content at early reading levels.
  • Locally relevant content.
CURRICULUM SET - is a collection of resources that facilitate the sharing of customized technology-based content among educators working with students who use assistive technology. This searchable database enables educators to find, download, and customize activities, templates and public domain accessible books based on the ten areas of the curriculum as set out by the BC Ministry of Education. CurriculumSET resources are created and updated by dedicated professionals working with students in British Columbia.

PICTURE SET - is a collection of downloadable visual supports that can be used by students for both receptive and expressive communication in the classroom, at home, and in the community. This searchable database allows you to find a wide range of useful visual supports for different curriculum areas, activities, and events. PictureSET resources are created and updated by dedicated professionals working with students in British Columbia.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Transition - AAC Inventory (Temple Univ)

The purpose of this inventory is to determine the student’s knowledge and competence related to the care, upkeep, and services required for ongoing use of communication and related assistive technology devices in anticipation of their transition out of a school-based environment.

This checklist aids the IEP team in identifying who might take responsibility for basic, operational, maintenance, and service/upkeep (rather than communicative competence or social network support) of devices after transition.

JOBS! AAC Consultant, Illinois (FT/PT)

Augmentative/Alternative Communication Consultant Full-time and Part-time 

Available: 08/2012 Closes: 05/24/2012

Job Description:  Augmentative/Alternative Communication (AAC) Consultant
Job Responsibilities: The Augmentative/Alternative Communication Consultant (AAC) supports the NSSED student outcomes vision and helps students become successful, happy adults in home, school, work, and community by providing programs and services that ensure students:
 a) acquire/use knowledge and skills, b) interact well with others and have friends, c) take appropriate action to meet their needs, d) care about and contribute to society, and e) take actions to maintain health and wellness.
The AAC Consultant supports the student outcomes vision by being responsible for the consultation/assessment/training of assistive technology tools and strategies related to communication. Specifically, the AAC Consultant addresses the evaluation of needs related to communication in the selection of appropriate assistive technology tools/devices/strategies for trial, assistance with the selection/organization of vocabulary for communication systems, training, implementation, evaluation of tools in the educational setting.

Live AAC Webinars - SOON! - Friday/Saturday 5/18, 5/19

Patricia Ourand brings you two new webinars, both focusing on aspects surrounding Augmentative & Alternative Communication (AAC). is Celebrating Better Speech & Hearing Month!
Howdy Friend,
We are thrilled to present Patricia Ourand, MS, CCC-SLP, this week as she brings two brand-new webinar continuing education opportunities, each focusing on aspects surrounding Augmentative and Alternative Communication. Pat is a speech/language pathologist who operates a private practice and consulting business, known as Associated Speech & Language Services, Inc., in the Baltimore/Washington area. She holds a Master’s degree in Speech Language Pathology from Loyola College, as well as a Master’s degree in Technology for Rehabilitation & Education from the Johns Hopkins University.

Please help us welcome Pat during our month long celebration of Better Hearing & Speech Month!

Featured Upcoming Live Webinars

The "C" in AAC - Communication

Pat OurandThis live online seminar presented by Patricia Ourand, MS, CCC-SLP, focuses on the “Communication” in Augmentative and Alternative Communication. The course will begin by exploring the basic principles of ASHA’s definition of the AAC and identifying communication partners, behaviors and critical topics for partner training. Pat will then delve deeper into the subject and instruct therapists on communicative competence and tools that can be used for overcoming communication barriers in emergency situations. Learn More >
Friday, May 18th
4pm - 7pm EST

(3 Contact Hours)
Reserve Your Seat for The "C" in AAC - Communication
Intended Audience: SLPs, OTs

Documentation & Funding Issues Concerning Augmentative and Alternative Communication

Pat OurandThis live online seminar presented by Patricia Ourand, MS, CCC-SLP, focuses on funding and documentation challenges related to AAC. Pat instructs therapists how to recognize issues, providers, documentation specifics and basic demographics. Topics that are also covered include the process for acquiring AAC services, methods for communicating with staff of insurance programs and ways to differentiate between Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance, and the ADA of 1990. Learn More >
Saturday, May 19th
9am - 1pm EST

(4 Contact Hours)
Reserve Your Seat for Documentation and Funding Issues Concerning Augmentative and Alternative Communication
Intended Audience: SLPs, OTs

ALS Assistive Technology Blog run by Alisa Brownlee, ATP. Email This blog offers recent articles and web information on assistive technology that can impact and improve the quality of life for people with ALS. Follow me on Twitter @alsassistivetec

Jane Farrall's Blog - Making Up a Guided Reading Pack

From Jane's Blog - On my website I have a number of Guided Reading Packs for download.  These are resources I’ve made and which we are using to support students with a range of abilities during Guided Reading time in the classroom. I’ve had a few people email and ask how they should make these packs up – so this blog entry is for you :)
By making these guided reading packs available for download I hope that you will be able to download the pack, print it out, get a copy of the relevant book and get started.
The most important part of each guided reading pack is the page with “the plan”.
The plan includes:
  • 5 purposes for guided reading so you can use the book as your “book of the week” e.g. Read to discuss what the turkey does that is funny
  • Prompts for activating prior knowledge with your class once you have stated the purpose e.g. Before reading, look at the pictures in the book
  • 5 suggested writing tasks
  • Some self selected reading resource suggestions, including a bookshelf I have created in Tar Heel Reader which aims to provide some further reading that extends on different aspects of the book of the week. You can access this bookshelf by typing in the web address or using the QR code.
As well as the plan, each guided reading pack includes a sheet for each guided reading purpose. These sheets are optional – and should only be used if you have students who need them. These sheets include Picture Communication Symbols or other pictures as appropriate. I use these sheets in different ways including:
  • For students with complex communication needs to contribute to the discussion about the purpose after reading the book
  • As a visual support for students who are verbal but who need assistance to generate ideas and language
For both these groups of students, I aim for these supports to be used in the short term. For a student with complex communication needs, it is preferable that they have a comprehensive communication system and don’t need to have supports like this constructed for different sessions throughout the day. If they don’t have a comprehensive communication system, then you can use these supports as a way for them to participate while you work towards a more comprehensive communication system.  An example of a low tech comprehensive communication system is a Pragmatically Organised Dynamic Display (PODD) .
For students who are verbal but who need assistance to generate ideas and language, I usually find that they become more confident at this task (and more successful) with practice – so after a while they shouldn’t need this resource and I start to fade its use.
You can just print out the sheet for each guided reading purpose and use it as it comes – and this is definitely the quickest way to get started.  However, I generally make the sheet for each guided reading purpose up by cutting up and laminating the symbols/pictures and then putting them on velcro strips on a page, with the purpose written clearly at the top of the page. Since I re-use the packs this makes the resource more durable and easy for me to find the different parts quickly each time.
Making the sheets up in this way also means I can present the whole page to a student, or I can remove some and present them in a way that is more appropriate for a student’s access method e.g. on an eye gaze frame.
And that’s all the resources that are included in the downloadable guided reading pack.
As well as these resources, you’ll need a copy of the book to read! I often (usually) scan the book and make it up in PowerPoint so that it can be presented on an Interactive Whiteboard. Since many of the students I work with have a visual impairment, presenting the book on the interactive whiteboard lets everyone follow along as I read. Recently – I’ve been able to access quite a few books (including this one) as an iPad book which is saving me a lot of time in scanning as I can just connect my iPad directly to the Interactive Whiteboard.
Other items I might add to the pack are:
  • A copy of the PowerPoint book printed out with the text in a larger font for a student with a visual impairment to follow along with or to borrow in the self selected reading block.
  • A USB stick with a copy of the book made up in Clicker so that a student who needs switch access to a book can also have access to the book in the self-selected reading block. I prefer using the book made up Clicker for switch access as a student can go back and forward and it offers a range of other literacy supports.
  • A copy of the book with Braille
Below is a picture of my personal guided reading pack for Blue Hat, Green Hat by Sandra Boynton.
And of course, storing it so that it is easy to grab everything quickly is important to – each of my Guided Reading packs is stored in a folder like this one:
And if you’d like more information about the role of Guided Reading in a balanced literacy program and its importance for ALL students please see my blog post on this topic.