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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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

AAC Tip #6 from SDUSD

Thanks to the Assistive Technology team at San Diego Unified for sharing their AAC tips!

TIP: REQUIRE LANGUAGE by NOT meeting the student’s needs and wants before the student makes those wants and needs known. 

  • Doing this will create communication opportunities for the student to use their device!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Augmented Input Tracking

"Speak AAC" to the Learner...
is something I often find myself saying to teachers, parents, aides, SLPs and all of us that are desperately trying to help AAC Learners learn language. 

Modeling use of an AAC system for Learners (aka. Augmented Input) is often the best way to teach them to use the system expressively themselves. But modeling language can be a challenge! Why is it so difficult? Here is one common obstacle:

  • The "AAC Guide" (and by this I mean the SLP, aide, parent, classroom teacher - anyone who is helping the AAC Learner to access and utilize their system) may need time and energy to learn the language of the AAC system themselves. And said "time and energy" are not growing on trees! That doesn't change the fact that it is essential that the AAC Guide be at least one step ahead of the Learner. 
One approach to combat this common barrier is to use the system in preferred activities WITH the learner. Below is an example of a cleaned up tracking form that I have found helpful in my language modeling. This session with a young girl focused primarily on play, and 1-word and 2-word utterances within her customized communication app on an iPad.

In the left column is the activity, and on the right are vocabulary words I found myself modeling in play. Documentation like this can be taken down on a notecard and stored with the activity itself, or collected on a single form like this in order to share with other interested parties what was covered in a single session.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

AAC Tip #5 from SDUSD

Thanks to the Assistive Technology team at San Diego Unified for sharing their AAC tips!

TIP:  PAUSE and wait for response to interaction 

  • Count to 10 before intervening again.

Monday, September 22, 2014

FREE GoTalk Now App Workshop and Webinar (M. Gell)

Lanterman Regional Center and Assistive Technology Exchange Center (ATEC)
Present an AT Workshop and Webinar

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 15, 2014 ~ 4 P.M. TO 5:30 P.M. 


Bring a friend!
Bring a parent!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

AAC Institute Online CE Courses

In a recent ASHA Live Chat, Amy Goldman referred to the AAC Institute's continuing education offerings in the areas of AAC and assistive technology. Wow! What a clearing house they have gathered! Take a look at the vast array of courses, HERE, at the AAC Institute's site.

JOBS! Assoc. Prof. - Univ. of Nebraska, Lincoln

Please pass the following job announcement along to anyone that might be interested in this position, and feel free to contact me with questions. AAC is one of our priority areas for this search, in addition to any of the wide variety of pediatric or adult communication disorders that are associated with neurological conditions. Thanks for your interest!

Assistant/Associate Professor in Speech/Language Pathology
Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders
The Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders is searching for a tenure-track faculty member, at the rank of Assistant or Associate Professor, with a promising or established independent research program and teaching experience. Areas of particular interest include phonology and child language disorders, pediatric/adult neurologic communication disorders, communication technology and/or AAC. Additional areas may be considered.
Responsibilities: Develop an externally fundable program of research, teach undergraduate and graduate courses, direct student research, and contribute to department, college, and university governance.
Professional qualifications: Earned doctorate by time of appointment in Speech Language Pathology, Communication Disorders, or related field (e.g., psychology, neuroscience, linguistics, engineering). Required qualifications include: Expertise in biological, behavioral and/or technological aspects of communication disorders, evidence of potential to maintain a high caliber, externally-funded research program; teaching experience; and publication in peer-reviewed journals. Preferred qualifications include: post-doctoral research and clinical/educational experience.
Access to dedicated laboratory space and doctoral student funding is available. The department and university have access to world-class multimodal brain imaging, biotechnology and genetic resources and state of the art technologies for experimental control and analysis. Access to a wide variety of clinical populations is available.
Review of applications will begin October 27, 2014 and continue until the position is filled. To apply, view requisition F_140148 at and click on "Apply to this job", complete the form and attach: (1) letter of application that includes your three to five year research plan; (2) curriculum vitae; (3) two or three completed research articles; and (4) contact information for 3 references. Please arrange for reference letters to be sent directly to Heidi Menard (; or 202 Barkley Memorial Center, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE 68583-0738). Inquiries should be directed to: Cynthia Cress, PhD,; phone: 402-472-4431.
Cynthia Cress
Lincoln, NE

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

FREE AAC Training for parents - Fri. Oct 10, Anaheim

TASK is thrilled to announce our collaboration with Margaret Perkins and SoCal AAC Therapy! Margaret will be presenting FREE quarterly workshops for parents and professionals on various topics surrounding Augmentative and Alternative Communication. 

9:00 am-12:00pm Presentation
12:00 to 2:00 Discussion and Q/A regarding AAC and the parent’s role

Workshop Description: 
Learning about Augmentative and Alternative Communication can be an overwhelming and confusing  
process with all of the information out there. This presentation hopes to empower parents by providing key  
definitions, expectations and a basic “road map” to the process of providing an AAC system and strategic  
implementation plans for both home and at school. Your role as the parent will be explored at each step of
this process. Remember that AAC is a journey and parents are a key member during this journey. 
Following this presentation Margaret will be available to answer questions as well as address key concerns 
that you may have. 

Hosted by: 
Team of Advocates for Special Kids, 100 W. Cerritos Avenue, Anaheim CA 92805 
Call TASK’s TECH Center (714) 533-8275 to register.

AAC Tip #4 from SDUSD

Thanks to the Assistive Technology team at San Diego Unified for sharing their AAC tips!


  • “It’s my turn.” (model using device) 
  • “Now you do it. Your turn.”

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

AAC Tip #3 from SDUSD

Thanks to the Assistive Technology team at San Diego Unified for sharing their AAC tips!

TIP: MODEL, MODEL, MODEL using the device — they will learn how to use it by watching you do it first.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Susan Berkowitz: Are Your AAC Users Ready for a New School Year?

Are Your AAC Users Ready for a New School Year?

Our colleague Susan Berkowitz, SLP, posted this lovely article on Linked In. If you aren't on Linked In, consider it! And if you do Linked In, join the group Augmentative and Alternative Communication Professionals.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

AAC Tip #2 from SDUSD

Thanks to the Assistive Technology team at San Diego Unified for sharing their AAC tips!

TIP: EXPECT the student to be a communicator.

Sept. at ASHA SIG 12 Online

Join in online, and read a moving post (below) from ASHA's Special Interest Group 12: AAC

AAC Fears and Myths
September 17, 2014
8:00 p.m.–10:00 p.m. ET (5-7:00 PT) 
This free event is open to all ASHA members (it is not offered for CEUs).
This live chat event will discuss some of the common fears and myths about augmentative and alternative communication. The discussion will focus on evidence and practical solutions to combat both historical fears/myths (e.g., AAC impede speech development, there are prerequisites to using AAC) and newly emerging fears/myths (e.g., devices are out-apps are in). The following panelists will be available to answer questions:

Amy S. Goldman, CCC-SLP, Elizabeth (Liz) Hanson, CCC-SLP, Nicole Dupre, CCC-SLP, Traci Peplinski, MA, CCC-SLP

A post from the ASHA Community...Speech-Generating Device funding and MediCare

Last week, Sarah Thimmes, CCC-SLP our colleague and whose husband has ALS contacted the local TV station and was able to obtain an interview regarding the Medicare pending policy revisions as well as the impact on the restrictions that Medicare has implemented.  Sarah and Ben did a fabulous job communicating how these restrictions will hurt our consumers.  We should all keep in mind that private insurance follows Medicare and so do state Medicaid programs.  These restrictions have the potential for a domino effect to medicaid recipients who rely on SGD for communication.  If those programs follow Medicares lead, then this will effect individuals of all ages.  If the health industry stops funding SGD's then it will hit the local school districts for all the students who need this equipment.  There may no longer be an option for state Medicaid to fund SGD's for students in school.  As practicing practitioners in AAC we know how the dedicate speech generating devices as compared to laptops, iPads, androids is apples to oranges.  Emerging research is continually reinforcing that early use of SGD's, specifically with many individuals with autism spectrum disorder can lead to verbal speech.  I can not emphasize how critical advocacy is at this time to stop these changes for consumers of all ages who need SGDs. 

I would challenge each of you to send Sarah and Ben's message to you representatives as you advocate for our consumers. This may be our only chance.  There are very few SGD manufactures. They serve a small market.  When their market shrinks, so does the services, support and research for future products for our consumers.  We watched many SGD companies disappear.  There are only a few left.  We need them and they need us to give our consumers a voice.

Here is Sarah and Ben's message.  Share it.  Send it to representatives. Contact the newspapers with our message.  Better yet...get an interview with a TV station with your consumer and tell a local story....then refer them to this one.

Kimberly Hale
Athens, OH

Picture Supports for Emergency Drills - Success Box

With so many routines to introduce and practice with your students, don’t forget to prepare for emergency drills! Many students benefit from visual supports and social stories to help reduce the anxiety and upset that emergency drills can bring.
That’s why I’d like to share with you my picture card sets for five main emergency drillsFire Drill, Bus Evacuation Drill, Tornado Drill, Lockdown Drill and School Evacuation Walk to Another School. These sets can be directly downloaded for printing or they can serve as examples from which you can create your own personalized sets with Boardmaker.
3   As you can see in the example picture, some of my students just needed a sheet or strips of pictures/steps to follow, while a few needed to have the individual picture cards on strips of velcro.
These drills can be loud, jarring, unpredictable (by nature) and distressing.
Here are 3 tips to help:
1.  Practice with a smaller group of students, or individually, prior to a whole school drill.
2.  Use a social story in conjunction with the picture cards and read it with your student(s) several times/days prior to a whole school drill.
3.  Discuss and practice behaviors during drills: Quiet Mouth (explain the rule of no screaming/yelling so they can hear the teacher), Hands to sides (not on ears), and Calm Body (this is just a practice, we’re O.K.)
Being prepared with the right visual supports can make or break your student’s day. Be the hero for them and your team by having all of your visual supports organized and ready to go with the Success Box. Plus, it’s colorful, lightweight, spillproof design will have your colleagues envious and your boss impressed!
Right now get flat shipping to the U.S. and Canada!
Happy Organizing!