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 30, 2014

Fall Quarterly Meeting - Tues. 10/21/14

I hope you will join us in Pasadena for our Fall Quarterly Meeting. If not in your "territory," we may be hosting our first ever Orange County meeting in early 2015! Follow the blog (enter your email address in the cell on the right column) to receive a daily email whenever new posts are up. Contact to join the (less often) email list.

NEXT QUARTERLY MEETING:  Tuesday, October 21, 2014 (6:30-8:30 p.m.)

Topic - "AAC New and Reviews: Share Your Experience"

  • Tips and tools from the 32nd annual Closing the Gap convention (Minneapolis, MN)
  • Update on SGDs and MediCare coverage
  • ...and more!

Location: Villa Esperanza Services, 2116 E. Villa Street, Pasadena, CA 91107
   FREE! Always. Bring a colleague.

FUTURE PASADENA MEETINGS: Mark your calendars!

Winter 2015 - Tuesday, February 17, 2015
Spring 2015 - Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Sept/Oct Live Webinars from Closing the Gap

CLICK HERE to Register!

Getting it Right: Using AT Accommodations to Assist with PARCC and Smarter Balanced Assessments

Sponsored By Texthelp Inc.
Thursday, September 4, 2014
3:00 pm - 4:00 pm 
Central Daylight Time
Kimberly Nix & Jason Carroll

I've Got a Tablet, Now What? Helpful hints and strategies to get the most out of your device

Monday, September 15, 2014
1:00 pm - 2:30 pm Central Daylight Time
Dan Herlihy

What's in the OS - Settings for Accessibility and more on iPads, Android and Chromebooks

Monday, September 22, 2014
10:00 am - 11:30 am Central Daylight Time
Dan Herlihy

The Mobile Device and UDL

Thursday, October 9, 2014
3:00 pm - 4:30 pm Central Daylight Time
Mark Coppin

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

AT TIp #1 from SDUSD

Thanks to the AT team at San Diego Unified for sharing their Assistive Tech tips!

TIP:  Always have device CHARGED, TURNED ON and AVAILABLE

  • Teach student responsibility for doing this.
  • Or, assign peer buddy to assist student if needed.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

URGENT: Contact Congress-person before Monday!

Contact your members of Congress before Monday, August 25 and ask them to sign on to a letter addressing all of the policies limiting SGD access (it's easy at this link): 
Help Protect SGD Access for Medicare Patients

Medicare Delays September 1 Speech-Generating Device Policies
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Pricing, Data Analysis and Coding (PDAC) Contractor announced that they are delaying the policies from the “Coverage Reminder” that requires speech-generating devices (SGDs) to undergo product approval and reclassification. Additionally, the announcement indicated that any recent reclassifications of SGD products are rescinded until the code verification of all SGD products is completed...

Read more on the issue from ASHA, HERE.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

3 AAC Myths - from IPAT

“A Communication Device will Prevent Speech from Developing” and Other Myths

AAC devicesThere are many children and adults in the world with complex communication needs (CCN) who would benefit from Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC). Nonetheless, unfounded misconceptions that have existed for decades sometimes prevent people from even investigating the possibility of how AAC might help them or someone they know.
Much has been written over the years discussing these myths.  Just type “augmentative communication myths” or “AAC misconceptions” into Google and you will get a slew of articles and studies. Out of these, the most comprehensive material that I have found is theJune 2006 issue of Augmentative Communication News from author and speech/language pathologist (SLP), Dr. Sarah W. Blackstone.  This newsletter covers several AAC myths for adults and children with communication difficulties.  Although it was published over eight years ago, all the information is still very relevant and true today.
For today’s post, I thought I would highlight the top three myths that Dr. Blackstone discussed that I have encountered during my time as an SLP and Assistive Technology Professional (ATP).

Myth #1: AAC is synonymous with technology.  

AAC is not just devices such as an iPad with communication apps or an $8000 Dynavox. In fact, AAC doesn’t even have to require electricity. AAC can mean a simple board with two small objects attached from which someone can make a choice or a laminated alphabet/phrase board where someone can spell out what they want to say by pointing.  For a definition of AAC types, check out what the American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA) has to say.

Myth #2: AAC is a last resort and means professionals are giving up on speech.

According to ASHA, AAC is within the scope of practice for SLPs.  Dr. Blackstone indicates in the2006 article that for adults with acquired conditions such as a stroke or ALS where speech is affected , AAC can be an appropriate form of treatment for communication difficulties that are temporary or long-term. She states that for children ”as soon as severe communication problems are identified, the evidence shows that professionals should consider AAC interventions to enhance and support speech and to allow language to develop.”
According to Romski and Sevcik (2005) for many children with CCN such as Autism, Cerebral Palsy, and Down Syndrome, ”the AAC devices and strategies are a tool, a means to an end—language and communication skills—not the end”. 

Myth #3: AAC hinders or stops further speech development

There have been many studies over the years that debunk this myth, the review from Millar, Light and Schlosser in 2006 highlights some of them.  The latest study, “Communication Interventions for Minimally Verbal Children With Autism: A Sequential Multiple Assignment Randomized Trial“-(C. Kaspari, et. al., 2014), concluded that ”minimally verbal school-aged children can make significant and rapid gains in spoken spontaneous language with a novel, blended intervention that focuses on joint engagement and play skills and incorporates an SGD [speech generating device]” (SGDs are considered an AAC device with voice output).
In addition the National Joint Committee for the Communication Needs of Persons with Severe Disabilities, states that “it is clear that AAC does not prevent the emergence of speech.”
If you have questions on AAC or would like to rent or have a demonstration of AAC devices, please contact IPAT at 1-800-895-4728 or

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Free Upcoming Webinars - Thanks AT Coalition

Free Webinars

ALSA presents Tips for Easing Daily Living Challenges in ALS
Monday, August 18th, 2014
11AM Pacific, 2PM Eastern

AbleNet has two coming up:
Alternative Access to Mobile Devices
August 5, 2014
11AM Pacific, 2PM Eastern

Organization Through Mind Mapping 
Aug. 20, 2014
11AM Pacific, 2PM Eastern
EASI presents two, as well.
Math Education for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Tuesday August 12th 2014
11AM Pacific, 2PM Eastern

Building an Accessibility Program in Your Organization
Thursday August 14th, 2014
11AM Pacific, 2PM Eastern

Georgia Tech Tools for Life 
Exploring AT for Living and Adapted Recreation
Wednesday August 27 2014
11AM Pacific, 2PM Eastern