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, November 30, 2013

Minspeak E-Newsletter Issue 86

  • I Have A Question: "Where can I buy visual support materials for Pixons, Unity, and Lamp Words for Life?"  The Minspeak website lists licensed developers of Minspeak-based visual support materials, including apps which help teach Unity.  Contact them for information about their resources.
  • Core in the Classroom: Use Energy Verbs to learn about potential and kinetic energy while practicing verbs.
  • The Pixon Project: Pixons can be used as teaching materials for picturing the metaphors behind Unity® icon sequences.  The word for this week is ready. Compare the Pixon for ready  to the Unity®84 icon sequence  of ready.  Teach the meaning of the words using props, such a clock, watch, or stopwatch.  Do time trials, emphasizing the word ready, as in ready, set, go.  Talk about getting ready and being ready.  Practice these examples: I'm ready, get ready, not ready, are you ready, ready or not.  A game of Hide & Seek is a practical way to practice saying ready.
  • Spotlight: Thank you Margaret from Canada for her affirmation of the use of props to teach Pixons and Unity icons. "I am making great use of the Pixon Project Kit.  The suggestion of using props for icons has been implemented and working so well!!"
  • PALSS:  Go to the Minspeak website for the 2013- 2014 Pittsburgh AAC Language Seminar Series schedule and registration materials. Spots are filling up quickly!

Free! iDevice Apps Training on Curriculum: Reading, Writing, Organization (Alhambra, 12/19/13)

iDevice Apps Training on Curriculum – Reading, Writing, and Organization

DATE: December 19th, 2013
TIME: 8:00am – 8:30am (Registration) 8:30am – 3:00pm (Workshop)
REGISTER here! SKILL LEVEL: Beginning , Intermediate
This workshop will provide an overview and basic training on some popular Curriculum apps
ranging from free topaid apps. Curriculum Apps such as: ICDL Books, OverDrive, iBooks, Popplet,
Pages, Pictello, PhatPad, Notability, inClass, Evernote, etc. will be demonstrated and discussed.
Information and resources will be provided.
• Reading Apps • Writing Apps • Note Taking Apps • Organization Apps • Rubric on choosing Apps NOTE: If you have an iDevice, (ipod, iPad, iPad Mini), please bring it to the training. You will also 
need the Apple ID and password to be able to install/delete apps.

AUDIENCE: Classroom teachers, administrators, and other direct service providers from Private Schools, Public Schools and Non – Public Schools PRESENTER: Jenn Park, WSGV SELPA Program Specialist LOCATION: WSGV SELPA Office - 15 West Alhambra Rd, Alhambra, CA 91801 (entrance to building is on Garfield Ave) COST: Free!

Save the date, January 30, February 4, 2014, for the iDevice workshop 
on Math, Science, History and Collaboration!

Save the Date: 10th Annual ATI Conference (2/1/14)

Save the date for the 10th Annual Assistive Technology Institute Conference on Saturday, February 1st at the Orange County Dept of Education in Costa Mesa, CA. This truly affordable 1-day, Saturday conference has been priced at $25 for the day in years past.

The Assistive Technology Institute (ATI) conference provides an opportunity to learn about assistive technology and interact with professionals and vendors in this specialized field.
For more information, please visit the conference website:

Full Day Conference Details:
Date: Saturday, February 1st, 2014
Time: 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Cost: $25
Location: Orange County Department of Education (200 Kalmus Drive, Costa Mesa, CA 92626)
In previous years, there has been an equally affordable full-day on the Friday preceding the conference. Check in at the conference website for more info on the pre-conference workshop.

Description: Various AT speaker breakout sessions offered throughout the day, vendor fair and keynote speaker. For more information on speaker sessions and vendors participating in the full day conference, please visit the conference website at

At last check, ATI was still accepting applications from potential presenters. If you are interested in submitting an application (very brief) to present, please contact Lauren Wetzler at or 714.361.6200 ext. 226.

Augmentative Communication News - FREE!

Augmentative Communication News
Thanks to a grant from the AAC-RERC
You may view and download all past issues of
Augmentative Communication News

<-----Click on Back Issues of Augmentative Communication News and Alternatively Speaking to read, save and print PDFs.


Augmentative Communication News (1988-2009)
A quarterly news report that puts together up-to-date information from experts around the world that is organized in meaningful, easy to read categories: 
  • For Consumers
  • Equipment
  • University & Research
  • Clinical News
  • Governmental
  • On the Web
  • Case Examples
  • AAC-RERC Updates

Photo of ACI founder and President and ACN author, Sarah W. BlackstoneSarah Blackstone is President of Augmentative Communication Inc. Dr. Blackstone is former president of ISAAC, a USSAAC founder  and serves on the Board of Directors of The Bridge School in California and the ISAAC council. She is also a participant in the AAC-RERC. She has authored multiple texts in the AAC field and was editor of the ISAAC Series. She is a Fellow of ISAAC and a recipient of ISAAC's Distinguished Service Award, USSAAC's Award of Professional Excellence, and the ASHA DeCarlo Award for Clinical Achievement (Maryland).

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Re-Post: Supporting Reluctant Communicators (PrAACtical AAC)

(Excerpt from
...We generally don’t like to do things that are difficult for us, particularly if the pay-off is not in proportion to the effort, or if there are insufficient supports. If the learner has had a history of being unsuccessful or associates communication with a high level of effort, it makes sense that they are not rushing to interact with us.
It doesn’t always pay to rush things. Sometimes we get better outcomes by building trust first, then moving onto self-confidence and verbal expression as the relationship develops. Here are some other thoughts on ways to positively impact the learning of reluctant communicators.
1. Treat them as if they are capable of responding but choose not to (for whatever reason). Honor that. We all prefer to be around people who respect our choices, right? 
2. Reduce or eliminate confrontation. Putting them on the spot is not the answer. In fact, setting up situations where they are obliged to respond may increase their reluctance to communicate. Avoid lots of direct questions and mentor others to do the same. As we’ve mentioned before, when we go into ‘quiz mode,’ learners like this often get defensive and shut down.
3. Let them lead. A learner-driven approach, in which we observe what they are doing and then join in is a good way to start. Intervene slowly, watching closely for signs of acceptance. Gradually insert yourself into their play, narrating as you go.
4. Have frequent, no-demand interactions. Comment on what is going on, give positive feedback on what you observed, offer them something fun, but don’t expect or prompt a response. The goal here is just to get them to see that communicating with you doesn’t mean ‘work.’
5. Use aided language input. If they’re not getting experience with language output, at least we can make it meaningful by providing competent models of AAC.
6. Broadcast their successes. Sometimes it can help to make a bit of a fuss, so try commenting on something positive that the learner did when they are in earshot. 
Kids don’t usually behave randomly, so if they are hesitant to communicate, there is probably a good reason for it. We try to develop a working hypothesis for why the communicator is not attempting to interact, then experiment with some solutions that make sense for that situation.
Read more amazing, posts at for fresh ideas DAILY!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Dialog-Free Videos for Practicing, "What should he say?"

Using a device, picture card system, sign, or even speech - these videos without words give you something really fun to talk about (and some characters to talk for)! Practice saying: oh no, oops, bummer, wait, mine, go, don't, come on, help, no! and on and on...

Technology Conference, Univ. of Redlands 12/7/13

The University of Redlands Center for Educational Justice with the Autism Society Inland Empire, University of Redlands – Department of  Communicative Disorders and University of Redlands – School of Education present...

Technology + Collaboration = Communication & Access 

for Special Education Students 

A conference of Educators, SLPs, Parents and other professionals who want to the latest in technology and working with special education students.  

Saturday, December 7, 9:00-4:00, $75. 
Univ. of Redlands, Casa Loma Room
No parking fee required.
Refund policy:  75% of registration will be returned if cancellation notice is received on or before Nov 23rd.  No refunds after Nov 24th.
8:30 Registration and continental breakfast

9:00 Keynote: Dr. Gloria Soto 
Practically Speaking: Language, Literacy, and Academic Development for Students with AAC Needs
Dr. Soto will be discussing: 
 How to focus on achievement in core language and literacy competencies required for academic and social contexts. 
 Using Common Core Content Standards and the general education curriculum to address the content and language needs of AAC users. 
 Culturally Responsive AAC practices. 
10:45am - Noon 
Panel Presentation: Professionals Roles on Integrating Technology in the Education System. Hear from are warriors in the field about current models being used, successes, barriers and resources. 
This panel of professionals including Dr Gloria Soto, Darlene Hanson, MA, SLP and professionals from the Inland Empire and is Moderated by Susan Porter, Ph D, Assistant Professor, School of Education University of Redlands and Cindy Wineinger, Professor School of Communication, University of Redlands. 

Lunch (included) Noon – 1:15 pm 

Afternoon Breakout Sessions 
First Breakout 1:15pm – 2:30 pm (Choose 1 in each session) 
Breakout 1: Considerations for Setting Up Proloquo2Go 
by Darlene Hanson, MA, SLP and Liz Torres, Assistive Technology Specialist. Proloquo has become one of the more popular apps for AAC, but it is not an easy app to implement right away. Come hear from experienced experts on some of the considerations that need to be taken into account when using Proloquo at school, home and in the community. 
Breakout 2: Conversation Based Language Intervention for Children Who Use AAC 
by Dr. Gloria Soto. Dr. Soto shares in further detail her work regarding integrating AAC use into school activities such as shared book reading and discussion. Specific strategies will be described that target higher level of semantic complexity such as inference and interpretation. 
Breakout 3: Frequently Unasked Questions - Assistive Technology Practical Applications and Resources 
by Samuel J. Moore, A.T. Coordinator, Rolling Start Inc. Did you know that the Inland Empire has an Assistive Technology Lending Library? This session is dedicated to give participants a better understanding of the technology used by individuals with disabilities in our community and will explore the A.T. Network as a resource for the professional and individuals. 
Second Breakout 2:45pm – 4:00 pm (Choose 1 in each session) 
Breakout 4: Ways to Increase Communication in Students – it’s more than the iPad! 
by Darlene Hanson, MA, SLP and Liz Torres, Assistive Technology Specialist. Don’t have time to program Proloquo? This session will focus on how educators, paraprofessionals and parents can use a $3 whiteboard to help individuals to express what they know and what they wanted to tell others; a quick and easy tool for checking reading comprehension, involvement in group activity and increasing participation. 
Breakout 5: Educational Apps for Elementary School 
by Laura Simmons-Martinez, TASK. The iPad is not only the latest craze in technology for music, movies and fun, but it's also a wonderful teaching tool, Find out how to get your students to move past Angry Birds and play educational games that offer a bit more substance. 
Breakout 6: Technology for High School and College presented 
by Amy Wilms, MEd, Assistant Dean of Academics & Student Life, University of Redlands. Learn what are the strategies currently being used at the college level and how can we transition students with learning challenges in high school to prepare them. Discussion will include speech recognition technology, text-to-Speech, and note taking technology. 
For more information: 
Email or call (951) 220-6922 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Beyond Requesting: Asking Questions And More

Asking questions to make requests or ask permission is likely the first brush our AAC users will have with question forms. But let's not stop there! "Who did you see last weekend?" and "Where are the napkins?" are also important to teach and practice.
Gail Van Tatenhove, via the Minspeak website, has created and posted a multitude of Intervention Plans. There are the 5-W's, but also am, is, are, do, was, have, will, could would... CLICK HERE to go to the list.

Here is a sample from Unit 9: "Can" Questions, Cooking Helpers (asking permission)

1. Collect the materials you need to do a simple cooking activity.  Make a list of the various actions involved in the activity (open, pour, stir, cut, measure, turn, put, etc.)  Each of these actions will be referenced with the word “do” in the verbal script of this activity.
2. ...Create visual support materials, such as flashcards, for the following:
a. the phrases, “can I,  “can you,” “can he,” “can she,” “can we,” and “can they”
b. the verb “do”
c. the pronoun “it”

1. Lay out all the materials for the activity, emphasizing what you are going to do rather than the names of the objects.
2. Explain how the student using AAC is in charge of asking permission for different people to do different actions in the activity (e.g., can I do it, can he do it) and that you as the teacher will decide you can do the different things.  
3. Start the activity, following your simple script.  Here is an example script for making a Smoothie.
  • Instructor: “Today we are making a Smoothie to drink.  You are all going to be my helpers, but NAME is going to be the one who asks permission for you to help me. The first thing to do is to take off the top of the blender.  NAME, look at someone and ask me if he or she can do it.   Or maybe, you want to do it yourself or do it with a friend.  But, you have to ask permission.”
  • AAC Student:  “Can I do it?”
  • Instructor: “Yes, you can”   (AAC student takes off top of blender.)  
  • Instructor: “Ok, we have taken off the top.  The next thing to do it to pour in the juice.  NAME, look at someone and ask me if he/or she can do it.”
  • AAC Student:  “Can he do it?”
  • Continue:  actions = cut, put in, turn on, turn off, taste, pour, drink etc.

Carole Zangari posted on teaching interrogatives for getting information from others. In it, she acknowledges, "It can be tricky to identify therapy activities in which the need for information is a real. Environmental arrangements or communication temptations can be used to develop those opportunities. Withholding some of the tools, ingredients, and materials needed for the activity, for example, helps the clinician create the ‘teachable moment’ in which question-asking skills can be taught." This table of important questions comes from the PrAACtical AAC blog from 2/16/13:

Context or ActivityLearner needs to ask things like:
Cooking (with visual supports)What do we need? What’s next? How do we do it? Where is the ___? How many/much? How long?
Running errands on campus (e.g. delivering forms)What do I need to do? Who is this for? Where do we need to go? When should I go? What time is it? When do you need it? What should I tell him/her?
Vocabulary collageWhat should we do? Where are the (scissors/glue sticks/magazines/etc)? What is this? What does __ mean?
Character mapWho is it? What did he/she do? What is he/she like? Where did he/she go? Where does it say that?
Getting ready to go shoppingWhat do we need? Where will we go? How many/much? When are we going? Who is going?
Science activity, like sink/float trials or making slimeWhat do we need? What color? What do we do? How do we do it? Where is the ___? How many/much?
Read Carole's 7 Tips for teaching interrogatives for gaining information CLICK HERE.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

FREE Webinar - TapSpeak Apps

Event to be held at the following time, date, and location:
Thursday, November 21, 2013 from 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM (PST)
Presented by: Robert Morris University
We will be having a webinar to explore the success stories of TapSpeak and strategies you can use with the TapSpeak app. The various success stories will show the benefit of communication in life.  These benefits are reflected in the happinesss of those dealing with various disabilities.  This app has enabled many to teach loved ones with both physical and developmental disabilities to communicate through simple movements and words.The purpose of this webinar is to demonstrate the use of the app and how it can enhance a students learning.
Link to Webinar: 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

FREE Webinar - 30 min on SALI (From PRC)

Join us for a FREE Webinar November 20, 2013
11:30am - 12:00 pm PST
Overview of Strategies of Access and Language Integration (SALI)
In this 30-minute webinar, we will provide an overview of the Strategies for Access and Language Integration (SALI) workshop. SALI is an in-person professional development training that focuses on alternative access methods (touch, eye gaze, switches, etc.) and Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) interventions for individuals with physical and multiple disabilities.  The presenter will discuss why the course was developed and what participants will learn by attending.  A Q & A session will follow and workshop dates and locations will be provided.To register, CLICK HERE.

Thanks to Lauren Enders for posting this on Facebook!

Going to ASHA?

There are over 100 posters and sessions on AAC this year at the annual ASHA convention. Let us all know what you think, lucky souls that will be attending. Email a tip, idea, or strategy you learn at ASHA to so we can post it for the rest of us!

Preview the program, if you haven't already. Click HERE and search the keyword "AAC."

ATEC Upcoming Events & Info

Do you receive newsletters from ATEC? Consider contacting them and signing on! Here are some excerpts. If you're in the Orange County (CA) area, pay them a visit. Also, mark your calendars for their annual conference in Costa Mesa, Feb 1, 2013.

New Medicare Requirements for Speech-Generating Devices (SGDs)
Effective October 1st, 2013, Medicare recipients who need an SGD must meet with a physician or non-physician practitioner in order for funding to be considered. The medical personnel must:
1. Have a face-to-face encounter with the client.
2. Complete one of the following services: evaluation, needs assessment or treatment of the medical condition that supports the need for a SGD (must be documented in the physician's prescription).
3. Document the date and details of the face-to-face encounter in the client's medical records.
4. Document if the face-to-face encounter was performed by a physician assistant, nurse practitioner or clinical nurse specialist.
5. Forward the record of the face-to-face encounter and prescription to the SGD manufacturer.

AT Workshops, Groups & Training Opportunities

ATEC's Assistive Technology Consultation Labs
Demonstration and trial of various software and hardware.
Free but reservations required
November 20, 2013
1:00-3:00 p.m.
(Appointments: 30 minutes per visitor)
Contact: Lauren Wetzler, Manager at (714) 361-6200 ext. 226 or
For more information visit:
Download our flyer for our 2014 AT Consultation Lab Dates: AT Consultation Lab Flyer 2014

AAC Users Group "J-Chat"
A fun and exciting group for adults using AAC!
November 20, 2013 from 4-5 p.m.

Contact: Kathy Rausch, SLP at (714) 361.6200 ext. 228

Forms, Checklists, and Ideas from NYC's Assistive Tech Dept.

The NYC Dept of Ed has officially knocked my socks off! Below are links to their Assistive Technology General Forms. Fabulous! But you must also visit their web page (HERE) to check out their "Give Me 20" core vocabulary displays and the model dialogs. Thanks for doing some of the work for us NYC!

AAC Support Rubric.pdf Adobe Acrobat14K
Checklist For Dynamic Display Device (Beginner)
.doc Microsoft Word25K
.pdf Adobe Acrobat25K
Checklist for Dynamic Display Device (Intermediate-Advanced).doc Microsoft Word25K
.pdf Adobe Acrobat25K
Checklist For Display Device with Semantic Compaction (Beginner)
.doc Microsoft Word26K
.pdf Adobe Acrobat27K
Checklist for Dynamic Display Device with Semantic Compaction (Intermediate-Advanced)
.doc Microsoft Word26K
.pdf Adobe Acrobat27K
Checklist for Static Display Device.doc Microsoft Word28K
.pdf Adobe Acrobat15K
Disposal of Obsolete AAC Device.pdf Adobe Acrobat957K
Disposal of Obsolete AAC Device Directions.pdf Adobe Acrobat44K
IEP: New SOPM Procedure for Adding AT to IEP.pdf Adobe Acrobat38K
IndTech Catalog 2011-2012.pdf Adobe Acrobat3M
Principals Handbook-AT.pdf Adobe Acrobat43K
Promoting Access for 12:1:4 Classrooms.pdf Adobe Acrobat330K
Recommendations for 12:1:4 Programs.pdf Adobe Acrobat10K
Recommendations for 6:1:1 Programs.pdf Adobe Acrobat10K
Repair Procedure for IEP-Driven AAC/Computer Device.doc Microsoft Word23K
.pdf Adobe Acrobat13K
SBST/IEP TEAM'S GUIDE in Requesting for an AT Evaluation.pdf Adobe Acrobat92K
Transferring Schools Form.pdf Adobe Acrobat45K