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, August 11, 2012

SCAAC-N Summer Meeting Notes - 7/24/12

Many thanks to Darlene Hanson and Mei Mei (Rebecca) Liu for sharing their insights into the real world of making assistive technology work for a non-speaking student in general a education high school setting. Mei Mei composed a PowerPoint presentation from her perspective for an assistive tech conference earlier this year. The following bullets are from Mei Mei's perspective.

Technology ... "changes everything"
  • She previously relied on an Alphasmart and a Franklin (palm-sized dictionary that allows typing)
  • The touchscreen of the iPad is less tiring than the devices with keys to depress
  • The Assistive Chat text-to-speech iPad app is her "voice" and her friends at school recognize that voice as hers
  • CD ROMs read aloud to her (she is an auditory learner)
  • Dropbox (online file storage) is used to transfer files between school-home
  • The iPod and iPhone serve as supports for sensory breaks during the school day, as well
  • Without technology, Mei Mei imagined that she could not function at school at all, she would be trapped inside her head and unable to show anyone her intelligence, and unable to "live in the real world."
Low Tech Supports still in use:
  • Token boards
  • Number and letter boards for math and multi-choice questions in class (ABCD choices)
  • Yes/No card out of any scrap of paper when in the community (her vocal responses are inconsistent)
  • Lack of independence
  • Set up is required for class materials and devices
  • Speed when typing
  • Reliance on aide to manage behaviors 
  • Restrictions on district-owned equipment (Pasadena Unified) prevent internet access so that sharing documents, primarily class notes, to her home computer for home work is complicated.
Mei Mei soldiered on, despite the fact that the timing of this event was not ideal based on personal circumstances. Some of the participants commented that Darlene's verbal prompts to Mei Mei regarding regulation were helpful to see and may be applicable to the individuals they work with. 

These included:
- Fix your body
- Use your eyes and hands together
- 3...2...1 (countdown to movement)

Thanks again, Darlene and Mei Mei! 
Please join us in Pasadena at our next Quarterly meeting (date TBA, October/November 2012).

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