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.

Follow this blog via email at the right.
Join our email list:
Friend us on Facebook SoCal AAC
Follow us on Twitter @SCAACN

Quarterly Meetings - LA/Pasadena

Upcoming Quarterly Meetings 

Pasadena, CA - 3rd Tuesdays (roughly) for 2015-2016 (6:30pm-8:30pm)

Winter 2016 Quarterly Meeting 
Tuesday, February 16th, 2016 at Villa Esperanza Services, 6:30-8:30 pm
2116 E. Villa Street, Pasadena 91107

  Topic: What I Have Learned...
 We will hear from Myrna Ramirez about her impressions from ATIA  2016, and Donna Huff's experience at a Don Johnston training Fall 2015.
In addition we will hear from fellow Networkers about the kernels of AAC wisdom that have stuck with them over time. Bring your own recollection from a past training, or something new you've put to use and found really helpful.

Fall 2015 - Tuesday, October 20th, 2015
     Topic: Update on iPad AAC Apps - What's new, what's changed, what's happening
This Fall the Los Angeles/Pasadena branch will meet on Tuesday, October 20th. Many thanks to Anne Davis of Professional Child Development Associates (PCDA) for hosting "Update on iPad AAC Apps." 
  • GoTalk Now, 
  • Autismate, 
  • TouchChat and 
  • Proloquo2Go
Four presenters will get the conversation started with the ins and outs of four AAC apps including features, alternative access, and vocabulary options. Be sure to download the latest update of these fine apps to your iPad and join us Tuesday at 6:30 to hear and see from Loyal Truong, Bernadette Kennard, Terry Kappe and Gwendolyn Eberhard

Tuesday, October 20th6:30-8:30 p.m. 
(presentation will start promptly at 6:30 due to the amount of great ideas we have to share!)
Professional Child Development Associates (PCDA)
620 N. Lake Ave, Pasadena 91101, small conference room upstairs
Fall Quarterly Meeting
Topic - Update on iPad AAC Apps
AAC-Interested folks like you, your colleagues, AAC parents, teachers, therapists, administrators, etc.

FREE as always. Carpool with a friend!

Please RSVP by Monday, Oct 19th (email so we will know to have a seat for you.

Summer 2015 - Tuesday, July 14th, 2015
     Topic: Webinar and discussion: "An Overview of the AAC Assessment Process" streaming webinar from ASHA, presented by Patricia Ourand, MS, SLP
Course Description: As an SLP who understands language and speech production, you can do an augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) assessment. Today more than ever, SLPs who work in all settings and across all ages need to be able to provide informed, client-centered recommendations for AAC services. But the number of options available and the variety of individual needs to consider can be overwhelming. Using video and case study discussions, Pat Ourand will guide you through a detailed assessment process to support you in making strong recommendations based on an individual’s specific needs to improve the patient’s ability to communicate. You will walk away with some sample assessment tools, a sample assessment write-up, and a list of useful web references.
P.S. One need not be an ASHA member to gain access to this course and watch it on your own at this LINK.
Spring 2015 - Tuesday, May 26th, 2015
     Topic: “How did they get there?” case descriptions and video examples of success stories and their process 
  • Showing Day 1 with the device
  • Then walking though training and stages toward greater communicative competence
  • Where they are today
  • We can't do this without you! Submit your client via email at


Winter 2015 - Tuesday, February 17, 2015
     Topic: "Introducing Core Scanner" NEW Switch-Scanning software from Prentke-Romich Co. live presentation and webinar provided by PRC
     So Cal AAC Network celebrates 5 years! 

Pasadena - 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.

Pasadena - February 18, 2014
Topic - "Assessment to Outcomes, Part I: ASD"
Presented by Gwendolyn Meier, SLP
(Notes will follow)

Spring 2013 Notes - Continued...

Training Opportunities: 

Before the main event, Karen Grace, OT, and Erin Rasic, SLP, from South Pasadena USD shared about their experience in Susan Simmons' High Incidence Assistive Technology (HIAT) training series out of the Southern CA Diagnostic Center. This 20-seat "class" regularly receives 60-80 applicants from the region's school districts likely hailing from the disciplines of OT, SLP and special education. The training includes 8 full, on-site training days and 20+ hours of assignments (AT assessments, revisions, etc.). Keep your eyes and ears open for a 4-day training specific to AAC Assessment offered to district personnel by the SoCal Diagnostic Center (2013-2014 schedule of trainings will be posted in July). There are also AT and AAC training initiatives in the West San Gabriel SELPA, Ventura County SELPA, and West End SELPA (5-day training, ~$300) (to be continued)

AT Networking Opportunities:

Karen and Erin also attended an "AT Network" meeting at the West San Gabriel SELPA from 9-12:00 today (to be continued)

Fantastic Turn Out! SCAAC-N Winter Quarterly Meeting Notes - 2/13/13

Thank you to all 30 of our extended So-Cal AAC Network for attending our Winter Quarterly Meeting at Villa Esperanza Services in Pasadena on Wednesday, February. 
The presentation "AAC, the iPad and Autism: Moving Beyond Choice-Making," by Terry Kappe, SLP, and Gwendolyn Meier, SLP, MT was well received and sparked lively discussion. 
DOWNLOAD the handout, HERE

Here is a LINK to the handout from Wednesday's presentation.
DOWNLOAD the handout, HERE

This session was originally complied for presentation at the annual CSHA convention in Long Beach, CA. 

The entire slideshow will be posted on SlideShare and linked to this blog following that session on March 8.



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)

SCAAC-N Spring Meeting Notes - 5/15/12

Tuesday's Southern California AAC Network meeting at Villa Esperanza Services in Pasadena was well attended and received (19 participants; 4 from Villa Esperanza! 5 representatives from the San Gabriel USD!!). Kara Bidstrup presented valuable information on language therapy in AAC.

 Download the entire handout HERE.

SCAAC-N Winter Meeting Notes - 2/21/12

Our SCAAC-N Winter Quarterly meeting at Villa Esperanza Services was a great success!  Cindy Cottier presented expertly to an audience of 22 students, clinical fellows, SLPAs, SLPs, AAC specialists, a parent advocate, a special ed lawyer, and device reps.  "Using AAC iPad Applications with Children with Multiple Disabilities" introduced some excellent apps and customizations we can't wait to share...

Cindy's benefits of the iPad versus traditional speech generating communication devices:
- larger display allows for easier access
- customization quick and easy
- lightweight and portable
- affordable
- appears age appropriate
- easy to support (every assistant/instructional aide knows how to use iDevices, SmartPhones, etc. so that the overwhelm-factor that so often accompanies communication devices is minimized in the case of the iPad)

The "get ready to talk" cue:
Cindy encourages clients to leave their message in the display or window after message construction and DIScourages the go-home-and-clear impulse that many clients seem to adopt.  Leaving the message in the display allows time for discussion, correction, re-statement as needed. (from my personal experience) Many students with autism get in the habit of clearing immediately after 'speaking,' allowing for little discussion particularly with iPad apps (ProLoQuo and TouchChat) that do not have an easy Go Back or Undo function (alternatively, Dynavox does).  Instead, she teaches "get ready to talk" as the prompt to go-home-and-clear your display in preparation for the next phrase.
Great idea!

Sounding Board app by AbleNet. Quick and easy to program, switch accessible (1 and 2 switches), iPhone and iPad versions, from 1-9 symbol/button locations per page, start with one screen then grows into linking, $49.99.

Answers:YesNo ($1.99) and Answers:YesNo HD ($3.99) apps 
HD Version Features:
- Large buttons with ample selectable borders to assist with activation
- 5 Yes-No voices: man, woman, cartoon, boy, and girl
- The ability to program custom buttons with user defined color, text, audio (record your own), and pictures
- The ability to pre-program 5 lesson plans, each consisting of 6 pages of custom button pairs
- Enhanced navigation options
- Visual cue of selected buttons for the hearing impaired
- Multi-language support

Some accessory highlights:
- Cindy's home-made key guard (above) for simple apps such as Answers:YesNo.  Made from a case similar to a Belkin Snap Shield - Back cover in Smoke color (left).  Dremmel drill was used to cut out the message areas and the control holes (for use with a stylus). A Velcro strap was used to keep the key guard attached to the device (for grabby fingers and reflexes). Amazing!

- AbleNet table top suction cup mount. Slide the iPad out of it's case and into this adjustable angle mount for smooth topped tables (textured tops will not provide adequate suction adherence)

- InCase convertible book jacket modified (in your garage) with two grommets, two rings, and a shoulder strap for portability and use on the go.
While it's built-in standing capability is poor, the velcro piece that keeps the device in, and the external elastic strap provide extra protection in use and transit. 

Final thoughts on the iPad revolution in the field of AAC:
- Advantages include a crisp, bright display that is engaging to MANY learners
- Sometimes, the iPad is the ONLY thing that works!

Cindy cautions that the iPad is not for everyone! She cautions:
1) An evaluation is still required in order to match the user's needs to the hardware/device and the software/application, based on feature matching.
2) An SLP should be involved in decision-making regarding vocabulary selection, language development, and prompting/teaching strategies
3) A trial period is a must to be sure that any device and software fit is a good one!
Cindy's original PowerPoint presentation is available from ASHA (on their 2011 conference website, HERE)

SCAAC-N Fall Meeting Notes - 10/18/11

There were 15 participants at our Fall 2011 Quarterly meeting, held at Villa Esperanza Services in Pasadena. (To download the presentation handout, CLICK HERE)

Leslie Comstock, SLP, of the Southern California Diagnostic Center shared information on the Diagnostic Center and Evidence Based Practice (EBP) in Autism from her work with the National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders.  

The California Diagnostic Centers (3 total in CA, more info HERE) provide district-initiated assessments with agreement with family, on site and on location, as well as free training to school districts state-wide in the areas of collaboration, autism, behavior, video modeling,  peer mediated intervention and many related topics.

The term Evidence Based Practice was defined and specified in terms of what EBP means, why EBP matters, and what EBP is not.  Leslie also referred to the American Speech-Language Hearing Association's (ASHA's) has a set of EBP Systematic Reviews of EBP in Augmentative and Alternative Communication (LINK), and Leslie mentioned that ASHA members can suggest EBP topics for ASHA to review.

Leslie explained the connections in both aims and staffing between the National Standards Project at the May Institute, the National Professional Development Center (NPDC), and the California Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Guidelines. The overarching goal of these projects was to identify research-supported treatments that target the the core symptoms of ASD. In the case of the NPDC's EBP briefs, no comorbid condition could be present in any of the research studies reviewed (for example, if study participants had significant cognitive delays, this would be a disqualifying condition and the NPDC would exclude the study from their review). 700 total studies were evaluated for inclusion in the project as a whole.

There are currently 3 model school sites supported by the NPDC in California:
  • Launch Preschool in Torrence
  • A Riverside county office of ed middle school for moderate to severe ASD
  • Glendora High School, an inclusion program
Each site has a technical assistant who evaluates the school's implementation and selects EBPs to implement.  Leslie was planning to visit Glendora H.S. the very next day.  Their selected EBPs were: video modeling, peer-mediated instruction, and self management.
Preview the NPDC EBP Briefs by clicking HERE. Follow the links to incredible, free downloads of the Brief Package, Overview, Evidence base, Steps for Implementation, Implementation Checklist for each of the EBP interventions such as Functional Communication Training, Peer-Mediated Instruction, PECS, Social Narratives, Visual Supports, and more.

The Ohio Center for Autism and Low Incidence hosts the companion Autism Internet Modules (30 modules that relate to autism in the classroom, more than the 24 EBPs from NPDC).  There are training modules on speech-generating devices in autism (can be completed in 1.5 hours), functional communication training (1.5 hours), Picture-Exchange Communication (2.5 hours).  Create a free account with Autism Internet Module (click HERE).  After entering a user email and creating a password, scroll down from Module Navigator to Autism in the Classroom.
NPDC for ASD ends in the summer of 2012 summer.  The follow-up organization will be called CAPTAIN and will follow a "trainer of trainers" model by invitation/application only. Their first summer institute for district representatives, regional center representatives, etc. will be held in  the summer of 2013.

Other interesting points to ponder:
  • Over a lifetime, it costs 3.2 million dollars to raise a person with autism to adulthood (citation found for this postulation - Harvard School of Public Health study published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine in the spring of 2007).  - from Leslie
  • In the San Gabriel Valley of CA, implementation in the area of AAC is being expanded beyond speech-language pathologists into the realm of assistive technology (AT) specialists, untrained in language development and training. Non-SLPs/non-qualified personnel are even doing assessments.  The SLP needs to be part of the team, and to develop the recommendation and goals, but teacher and instructional aides need to be the ones doing the day to day implementation with support from the language specialists.  - from the Network

SCAAC-N Summer Meeting Notes - 7/19/11

18 Network members attended; discussion directed and moderated by Sharon Rogers, Ph.D., CCC-SLP; hosted by Villa Esperanza Services, Pasadena, CA

The Importance of Literacy [for AAC Users]:
  • If you can spell, you have access to all of your words
  • The greater the individual’s literacy, the greater their chances to produce volitional, spontaneous communication
  • Literacy affords users greater opportunity for sustained engagement and allows for greater control over their environment
  • Literacy ore effective participation in the classroom
  • We all know that literacy is a language modality, but for a non-speaking person it is often their only expressive mode
  • We learn to read and then we read to learn
  • Reading can be enjoyable, we are introduced to new perspectives through reading; we experience other ways of being and seeing the world; reading can be a pleasurable, leisure activity
  • We all connect and communicate through print mediums (text message, email, etc.). There are rarely time constraints on written communication (a person doesn’t have to be standing there waiting)
  • Literacy is a fundamental human right
What Has Worked for You: 6 Literacy-Building Teaching/Treatment Ideas from the Network

1.  Interactive Reading books by Greenhouse publications (
Books on two rings, come already made with Velcro picture cards for the last components of a 3-word phrase
·      Actions!
Sample: Where can I dig? I can dig in the sandbox (can you help me make that sentence?)
·      What color is it?
·      I go to school
·      How do I feel?

2.  Matt & Molly picture stories by Linguisystems (click here to view their site)
Simple but funny stories
Seasons, Animals, they come in sets
Read the 4-card stories, then ask questions (possibly Yes/No)

3.  Encourage families to send in pictures of events that were memorable for the student.  Many children had very challenging access issues. Partner assisted communication can help through use of laminated construction paper prompt cards - Identify the big picture of the story in 3 words, put them in a graphic organizer that was color-coded 
(Carol Goosens; click here for more info on color-coding)
·      Yellow (noun), pink (verb), descriptor (blue) - laminated construction paper prompt cards
·      We need a noun – “Mom” (put it up in the yellow slot)
·      ‘Okay, lets look and see what other words we can use to tell your story’

4.  Visual supports for Edmark Reading Program, Level 1 - the TouchChat communication application for the iPad  can be easily customized to include picture-only, pages to match its vocabulary.  The student is then able to “read” the Word Recognition worksheets alongside speaking peers by activating the corresponding picture/button (for nouns/verbs) or a matching sight word (for function words; a, and, I). Click each for more product info:

5.  Picture/word cards for subjects, actions, descriptors, locations in the Reading Milestones curriculum to aide non-speaking students in responding to comprehension questions in joint book-reading with teachers/staff. Click each for more product info:

6.  Accessing intentional vocalization through paired body movement
Singing – changing all beginning phonemes to  /w/ paired with a gross motor movement for that phoneme
Providing a tactile and/or visual prompt to help students pair the feeling with the auditory cue
“Look at my lips, what sound might I be saying”

Additional Literacy Ideas from SCAAC-N

Books for shared reading (from S. Rogers)
·      Flossie and the Fox – children’s book, African American main character
·      Gerald McBoing Boing (Dr. Seuss) lots of sound effects

Nurturing Narratives (Lauren Franke, Psy.D., and Christine Durbin, SLP)– goes through simple books and simplifies the text (Available at, $37.95)

Describes a practical application of the program
Phase 2 – reading and writing simple text
·      Made a personalized book for Jackson
·      What do you see? (Title)
·      Do you see a car? (no pic)
·      Jackson sees a red car (pic of car)
·      Do you see a dog?
·      Jackson sees a dog with a red hat (pic)
Some keyboarding/spelling while the prompter draws out the phonemes

Write:OutLoud software - available from Don Johnston 
From their website - Simple to use and reads words as they are typed, providing real-time auditory feedback. Writing tools, including talking spell checker, homophone checker, and dictionary help your students confirm their word choice in language they understand.

Writing With Alternative Pencils - CD, $35,
Purchase online, click here
– alternate access techniques for physically limitations
Eyegaze board with letters in quadrants, etc:

Center for Literacy and Disability Students

      University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

      Bondurant Hall, Suite 1100


      Chapel Hill, NC 27599

Children with Disabilities: Reading and Writing the Four Blocks Way
(Karen Ericson, David Koppenhaver) Book
(Available at, $20.89)
·      Self-seleceted reading
·      Guided reading
·      Writing
·      Working with words

Balanced Literacy and the 4-Block Model - Carol Musselwhite
·      Handout can be downloaded here
·      Focus is on reading and also, always, WRITING
Gloria Soto – lots of work on narratives. Also, download forms and materials on "Collaborative AAC Services in Inclusive Early Intervention Settings" by Soto, Nancy Robinson, & Marci Hanson - click here

SCAAC-N Review of one, packaged literacy curriculum - 
The bulk of our meeting time was spent in small groups, reviewing and evaluating the Curriculum  Guide for the ALL Reading Program.  Read on...

Accessible Literacy Learning Reading Program from Mayer-Johnson
From the Mayer-Johnson website:
The Accessible Literacy Learning Reading Program (ALL; Mayer-Johnson)  is an evidence-based reading instruction program that has been proven highly effective in teaching students with disabilities to read. Developed by Drs. Janice Light and David McNaughton of Penn State, ALL eliminates the need for oral responses, helping even non-verbal students learn to read.
Mayer-Johnson will lend a copy of the Curriculum Guide to individual clinicians or teachers for review.  Sharon Rogers, on behalf of SCAAC-N, obtained a loaned copy for participants to review in small groups as part of this meeting (7/19/11).  The following notes include a mix of the provided Introduction and Goals (Mayer Johnson) as well as SCAAC-N member comments on each section of the Curriculum Guide.

An outline of each content area (nearly identical to the content of the Curriculum Guide) as well as video examples from Light & McNaughton can be viewed at

Each unit includes a GOAL for the unit and a description of the sequence for instruction in that content area, including:
1.    Introduce the Task
2.    Model the Task
3.    Provide Guided Practice
4.    Provide Independent Practice
5.    Data Collection form Example (most units)
6.    Transition Activities
7.    Follow-Up: Extending to Other Texts

I.  Sound Blending
Introduction: Sound blending involves the ability to build words from individual phonemes (sounds) by combining or blending sounds in sequence (e.g., blending the sounds represented by the letters r, u, n to form the word run). Sound blending I essential to the process of reading. As typically developing children learn to decode words, they often say the sound for each letter and then blend these sounds to produce the word.  This chapter provides:
  • a definition of sound bending skills
  • an explanation of the importance of sound blending skills
  • a detailed description of instruction to teach sound blending
GOAL:  The learner will listen to target phonemes in a word presented orally with each phoneme extended 1-2 seconds, blend the sounds in sequence, determine the target word, and indicate the word by selecting the appropriate AAC symbol with at least 80% accuracy.
SCAAC-N Review:
  • Its easier to blend sounds that are held continuously (voiced sounds are easier to blend than voiceless)
  • Exaggerate the sound mmmmooooooommmmm, then identify the picture in a visual field of 4 pictures (no text; e.g., Pic Comm Symbols for: pot, mom, mop, man)
  • Video – ID “toss” and then “bed”
  • One student identified 150 pictured words and gradually learned some intentional vocalization
II.  Phoneme Segmentation
GOAL: The learner will listen to a target phoneme presented orally and will match the phoneme to a word that begins with the target phoneme by selecting the appropriate symbol with at least 80% accuracy.
SCAAC-N Review:
  • Make the sound (not the letter name) = /t/
  • Then say the 4 words, illustrated with picture only, no text, and have the student identify which picture starts with the target sound
  • /m/ easier - up, mom, pot, bat
  • /m/ more difficult - nap, mop, win, hum
III. Letter-Sound Correspondence
Introduction: In order to read, all students need to learn not only the phonological awareness skills of sound blending and phoneme segmentation, but also the code of the written language – specifically the correspondences between the phonemes (sounds of speech) and ht graphemes (letters of the written language that represent speech). This chapter provides:
  • A definition of letter-sound correspondences
  • An explanation of their importance in literacy learning
  • Procedures for teaching letter-sound correspondences
GOAL:  When presented with a sound orally, the learner will identify the letter that represents the target sound by selecting the appropriate letter with at least 80% accuracy.
SCAAC-N Review:
  • Introduced using the most frequently used letters (rather than learning in  A, B, C order)
  • For letters that look similar, they separate them to make them more distinct
  • Short vowels are taught before long vowels
  • They encourage use of lowercase keyboards, because they are more often used
  • Start with highly motivating words (name, favorite characters)
  • Be careful of different fonts – keep the font consistent (Helvetica is often easier to read)
IV. Single Word Decoding
GOAL: When presented with a regular CVC word in print, the learner will decode the word independently and then indicate the word by selecting the appropriate symbol with at least 80% accuracy.
SCAAC-N Review:
  • I’m going to point to the letter and say the sound in your head
  • Start slow and speed up
  • Read license plates, engaging text in the environment
V. Decoding During Shared Book Reading
Introduction: As soon as learners began to acquire single word decoding skills, you should give them numerous opportunities to apply these skills during reading activities with books or other written texts, such as magazines, letters, email, or websites on the internet.  This chapter provides:
  • Insight into the importance of applying decoding skills in authentic reading activities.
  • Instructional goals.
  • Instructional procedures for applying decoding skills while reading.
GOAL: When the instructor reads a sentence in a book aloud, pauses, and points to a regular CVC word (that includes known letter-sound correspondences) in print, the learner will decode the word independently and then indicate the word by pointing, etc. to the appropriate symbol with at least 80% accuracy.
SCAAC-N Review:
  • Pick or make your own simple books that lend themselves to filling in a word
  • Read a line and have the student fill in the last word
  • Highlight the target word where it appears on a page
  • Provide response choices that are already taught, familiar words
  • Reading Milestones books modified by addition of picture choices/communication board for the content of the story – be sure the vocabulary is understood in advance of shared reading
VI.  Sight Word Recognition 
Introduction: Not all words in English are regular words that can be decoded using knowledge of letter-sound correspondences and sound blending skills.  This chapter provides:
  • A definition of sight word recognition skills
  • An explanation of the importance of sight word recognition in literacy learning
  • Instructional goals to teach the recognition of sight words
  • Instructional procedures to teach sight word recognition
  • Discussion of the application of sight word recognition skills in book reading activities
  • Extension activities for practicing sight word recognition skills
GOAL: When a target word is presented orally, the learner will identiy the written word that represents the target word independently by pointing to the appropriate written word with at least 80% accuracy.

SCAAC-N Review:
  • Master the sight word first by introducing a foil that is highly different (e.g., discriminating the from in rather than from their)
  • First with one foil, and progress sequentially up to four foils
  • Teach new words and then add some previously mastered words
  • Practice the words, but also include them in a sentence, then ask the student to “read” the sight word in the context of a story by finding the matching sight word from visual choices
  • Includes a data collection form
VII.  Reading Sentences and Short Stories
GOAL: When presented with a short sentence in print (including regular words that can be decoded and sight words that have been taught), the learner will read the sentence independently and then indicate the meaning of the sentence by pointing to the appropriate picture out of a field of 4 with at least 80% accuracy.  Alternatively, the learner will indicate the meaning of the sentence by responding to questions summarizing the content of the sentence or text with at least 80% accuracy.
SCAAC-N Review
  • Goal to understand the meaning of the sentence, understand it, determine facts, answer questions
  • Picture foils rather than word foils – to identify the picture
  • EX: Discriminate an image that matches the sentence “Zach has a hat”  from the following images: Zac Efron with a hat, other people with a hat, and then Zac with a cat
  • Asking Who and What questions at the start
  • Moving on from single sentences to short stories
  • Students determine facts
  • Encourages use of (and creation of) customized reading materials that match each individual students’ interests in order to increase motivation - Likely time consuming to fabricate, teacher-created response plates

SCAAC-N Spring Meeting Notes - 4/26/11

Presentation by:
Lesley Mayne, Ph.D., CCC-SLP
AT Specialist for La Cañada Unified School District
Pasadena Child Development Associates
iPad: An AAC Tool for the Right Person
“Don’t Steal Me; I’m a Communication Device”

iPad: The Pros, the Cons, some Considerations
·      + Excellent tool and a fantastic addition to our toolkit of options
·      + Socially acceptable
·      + Affordable – compared to traditional AAC devices
·      + Offers a range – traditional AAC devices were low tech or high tech
·      + An iPad can be an AAC tool and an educational tool – no longer mutually exclusive
·      + Applications are tied to an iTunes account that can be uploaded to multiple iPads per owner.  School districts must hold accounts for each student in order for AAC programs to be backed up.
·      - Consider the iPad a disposable AAC tool
-   Easy to lose or get stolen (It does not scream I am someone’s voice.)
-   Easy to delete a program
+  Novel pages can be backed up
·      - No auditory scanning to date
·      ? Control Set Up: Does the user have the cognitive and/or fine motor ability to manipulate the small buttons to regulate the controls for brightness, audio, on/off etc.?
·      ? Durability: Will my user drop or throw this device?  What is the degree of concern that the user or others incidentally, accidentally, or quite purposefully damage the iPad?  Is the protective case and positioning mounts or stands durable enough for the user (e.g. impulsivity, ataxia, heavy handed user)?  What you gain in stability do you lose in the weight or awkwardness of mounts or stands?
·      ? Transportability: How will my user carry the device and use it for quick communication?
    ? What other technology may meet this need (e.g. Ablenet device; Dynavox V; Vanguard)?
·      Wheelchair mount – unknown damage to the device while in motion
·      ? What's the Environment Like?
o   Brightness: Will the screen brightness of the iPad be appropriate for the user both inside and outside?  Is the user able to access the tools to change settings?
o   Safety: Will the use of the iPad place the user with disabilities in danger of being robbed or physically harmed in any way?
o   Audio: Is the audio adequate for my user?  
·      ? Fine motor skills: Does the user have the ability to touch accurately or are the frame guards of traditional communication devices more appropriate?  Can the user be successful with a stylus?  No ready to purchase adapted styluses to date for users with more complex physical disabilities but wrist guards and splints can be modified or adapted.
·      ? Eye contact: How many hits does it take to get to the same type of communication on a traditional device?  Will the user lose their audience or communication partner?
·      What is the social impact on the user?  For example, an elementary school student may not wait around for a user to hit six buttons to say a message. High school students and tech savvy adults may be more invested in the interaction.  
    ? Buy in - will adults 45+ be “afraid” of technology out of a lack of experience and not be receptive to either using technology or waiting to participate in a discussion using AAC.  The technological advances for some adults are seen as science fiction, not of their generation, and for some is a challenge to navigate.    
·      ? Time: How fast is your user?  Has the audience been lost during the time it takes to find the desired message or would a traditional device serve the user better?
·      ? Is the symbol set, icons, or images appropriate for the user?
Physical Access and iPad Cases
1)    R.J. Cooper and Associates, Inc. carries iPad cases and a mount with a mini-arm, articulating arm, and device adapter (stabilizes the device with heavy duty Velcro and a universal base.  See the link at   Switch access environmental controls are now available.
a.    iPad case:
2)    iPad Cordless Switch Interface from Disabled Online
3)    Otterbox is great for protection of the iPad.  See the link,default,sc.html
4)    Best Buy, Target, and other major technology retailers have cases.  Consider the individual’s reach when considering the quality of the case such as durable tri-fold stands.
5)    iPad accessories has a stylus that may benefit some AAC users.  The Pogo Stylus can be attached to a hand splint or cuff but must touch part of the skin for activation.
AAC Applications for the iPad
(When shopping in the app store you may need to remove spaces between words in some cases to find the name of the app.  Consider a web search for the title if you continue to have challenges locating a specific app.)
AAC Speech Buddy
Create free custom speech sets on-line using Mulberry Symbols (PECS); upload to ipad; 6 voices; page sharing
Multilinguistic; user’s pics; record voice; thematic galleries; create agendas
Publish pages from server; Copy pages from computer; Audio, page linking, speak, speak and clear, clear buttons; Image pictures
Voice output yes/no; 2 button choice; voice options; change the buttons
Assistive Chat
Key board and word prediction voice output then play the sentence; stores completed sentences for quick voice output productions
Autoverbal Talking Soundboard PRO
Text to speech (TTS)-not great reviews; Phrases and categories, multiple voices; history page
Broca’s Voice
Enter sounds not letters for voice output; recordable voice coming soon
Choiceboard Maker
Basic training tool to prepare young AAC users; Customize 2,3,4,6 choices; Download pics and audio; blank box option; touch to play a tune, odd one out, find the image
Click n Talk
Talking ipad photo album-record voice to pics and store pics as albums
Easy Speak
TTS querty key board; toggle between word and phrase prediction; no icons
120 common expressions in 7 categories; a composite picture illustrates a concept
Category based symbols and images; record own voice; recorded audio, hide and delete protection; change background/file colors
PECS on an ipad-categorical files and semantic mapping
50 pairs of common responses
I Can Speak
240 static words; 500 dynamic category vocab, holds up to 5,000 words; short and simple words/phrases/sentences
Intro version of iCommunicate – pre-k level
Basic to Mod
Storyboards, routines, schedules up to 10x4 pictures/10,000 SymbolStixs; links to community web site
Basic wants and needs; 6 frame format; audio; common and personal buttons; import images or use loaded pics; qwerty keyboard to label pics
Basic function of feelings and wants; Lead page has written text no icons “I feel, I need..”
Keyboarding; Word prediction, stores sentences, yes/no button, voice output; transfer text to other applications like email
Locabulary Lite
Trial Version
GPS locator with vocabulary fill for dining and entertainment; Qwerty key board with social buttons (e.g. hi/bye, yes/no, thanks)
GPS location based vocabulary based on noun-verb-object structure
Look 2Learn
Outstanding individualization, has an asses tool, 140 pictures and voice output; I want+pic
My Choice Board
Visual display of choices; need external mic to record voices
My Talk Tools Mobile
Access to My Talk Workspace; audio files and human voice; think Go Talk as an app
My Voice

Voice output words/phrases/sentences; GPS IDs location loads phrases (e.g. movie words)
Neo Speech
TTS; Multiple language and voice options; NeoKate, NeoPaul; NeoJulie
One Voice
Categorical vocab in left landscape view; speak sentences or words; qwerty keyboard option
Phrase Board
Yes/No button; pain level statements; programmable phrases; drawing board
Pick a Word
I want+picture image (not much info. avail)

TTS word prediction; direct touch; switch access; scanning; keyboard options; phrase bank; email options; Facebook interface; 9 voices; access to recent phrases; optional auditory feedback of scanned word options
Categorical language base with automatic conjugations; 7,000 word default library; word prediction; expandable; easy to use
Scene Speak
Visual scene display; active sound areas and add voice; add images to themes grouped as “books”; resize images; TTS; file sharing
Small Talk
See the app store for numerous small talk apps for dysphasia, oral motor, conversational phrases, ADL, intensive care, pain scale, phonemes, consonant blends, common phrases, days/months/dates, letters/numbers/colors
Link boards; single and dual switch access; pre-loaded communication boards; 1-9 frames
TTS reads emails, documents, news articles, etc.  copy documents into the app
Spubble Lite
Speaking bubbles; Basic tap to speak words/phrases; 5 categories 150 words
Talk Assist
TTS save and bookmark phrases to history
TapSpeak Button
Modern mechanical switch teaching cause and effect
TapSpeak Choice
PCS symbols or import own images; RJ Cooper switch compatible; 1-56 messages, text to speech, background color changes
Tap to Speak Sequence
Unlimited number and length of sequences; Use programmed sequences or create your own with recordable voice; Configure background
Tap to Talk
Has an album of choices; Tap to Talk Designer has a 100$a year fee for software; avail for DS
TouchChat HD - AAC
Full feature AAC device; Has a WordPower edition, a word based vocabulary for $299.99.; Lite version good for assessments $9.99
Tap words or phrases to speak; 60 essential words, core phrases, word prediction; custom
Verbal Victor
Admin and user pages; 2,4,6 buttons; some loaded icons, import novel images
150 preloaded icons, 9 categories, Japanese version; targets school age kids
+ Other options available for a fee/price
Related Resources
(aka apps or other products discovered during the vetting of the aforementioned apps)
·      Geek SLPs Apps and Technology for SLPs
·      Take Turns – iTunes app $0.99 Basic clock timer described as “an automatic egg timer” useful for turn taking
·      Pocket Whiteboard – iTunes app $0.99 Basic whiteboard application useful for drawing or writing messages
·      iPrompts – iTunes app $49.99  Picture schedules, visual countdown timer, choice prompts, image library
·      Search “speak” in the app store to find many TTS, language translation, recording audio and send as email (see Dragon Dictation as well)
·      Switch Accessible: Alexicom, RadSounds (RJ Cooper’s own cause/effect software), Tap to Talk, Tap Speak, Sounding Board. Add the Motorola speaker for volume.
·      Stories2Learn: social stories on an app $13.99
·      Turn Taker $2.99 in iTunes uses visual and auditory cues to facilitate turn taking
More Resources
·       Carolann Cormier, MS, CCC-SLP, ATP January 20, 2011
·       Davis, Jennifer. Apps for Use in Speech Language Pathology Created September 15, 2010, 
·       Elena_

SCAAC-N Fall Meeting Notes - 10/19/10

Julie Packer represented Prentke Romich Co. this evening as she presented materials and supports available at the AAC Language Lab website:

Concepts, teaching materials, and developmental charts are transferable between AAC systems and can be applied to all types of users.

Julie shared beautiful printed materials with the group that can be downloaded at the following links:
AAC LANGUAGE LAB - Language STAGES CHART  (Click to download)

AAC LANGUAGE LAB - Morphology STAGES CHART (Click to download)
Click here for more LANGUAGE LAB charts on Parts of Speech, Pragmatics, Sentence Types, etc.

In addition to reference materials, Julie walked the group through the FREE teaching resources that are available through the AAC LANGUAGE LAB.  Many refer directly to the symbol repertoire and sequences in PRC's Unity language system; however, they can be modified to match whatever symbol system your learners may use.

PRC-Created PowerPoint Teaching Books

View a sample of PowerPoint books, games and language activities - click here

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

SCAAC-N Summer Meeting Notes - 7/20/10

On July 20, 2010, the Southern California AAC Network held their second quarterly meeting at Villa Esperanza Services in Pasadena, CA.  To download the complete announcements and outline, click here:


6:30-6:45 Meet & Eat
6:45-7:00 Announcements
7:00-7:50 Beyond Assessment Video Roundtable
7:50-8:00 Closing thoughts
The evening's topic was a case study, presented by Gwendolyn Meier, of a 10-year old student using a Dynavox V device and System 5 Gateway 40 child language software.

Announcements included an invitation to join a related group on Facebook, Southwest AAC Community, interested in meeting others, sharing ideas events and announcements, getting to know others in the field, asking questions, and providing answers.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

SCAAC-N Spring Meeting Notes - 4/20/10

On April 20, 2010, the inaugural meeting of the Southern California AAC Network (SCAAC-N) was held at Villa Esperanza Services in Pasadena, CA.  The 24 participants discussed their involvement and interests in AAC, possible learning paths for the group, as well as topics and content for future meetings.  A quarterly meeting schedule was agreed upon.  Meeting notes follow.

Welcome to SCAAC-N
Southern California AAC Network
Spring Meeting - April 20, 2010
Hosted by DynaVox Technologies & Villa Esperanza Services
SCAAC-Network Contacts

6:30-7:00 Meet & Eat
7:00-7:40 Roundtable on needs, goals, mission
7:40-8:00 Interface with colleagues and devices

SCAAC-N Mission
  • We are a Special Interest Group (SIG) initiative of CSHA District 7. Our objective is to establish a network and support group for professional development, problem solving, and training in the use of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) to develop communication in non-speaking individuals

Possible Learning Path for SCAAC-N: Implementation across environments

How do I get teachers, parents, nannies to value, use, and love the system??
  • Organizational chart for teachers – giving explicit direction (scripts?) for one (or more) daily classroom activities to guide educators and classroom staff to ask and/or do with each student via their device
  • Technical difficulties might be the place people get stuck, and can’t get past
  • Empowering ourselves and others giving us tools to get the educational teams on board
    • Trying to combat the likelihood that we will ever again find the device in the box, in the closet, or unable to be located. 
    • Hoping we never again hear, “Oh great! Its time for Speech. Now you can use the device.”

SCAAC-N Request of Vendors (web-based) &/or Meeting Topic

“How did they get there?” video examples of success stories and their process
  • Showing Day 1 with the device
  • Then walking though training and stages toward communicative competence
  • Website of success stories with these steps included
  • Make it personal, contact information for the treating therapist

Additional Potential Topics, Content, Activities for Future SCAAC-N Meetings

  • ASSMT:  Mary Ann Abbott & LAUSD’s AAC assessment process
    • Includes a ‘pre-interview’ packet to all teachers to cut down on assessment time
    • Does not require technology to conduct
  • Implementation
    • It’s tougher than assessment
    • Make & Take Implementation Day, AAC & literacy
    • Danberry School: SLP-run language classroom AAC with OH students
§  High School students earning credits to aid in this classroom during language time
§  Open to observation (some)

(CONT.) Additional Potential Topics…

  • Conservation of effort – tap the brain of an expert on your specific issues           
  • Case study presentation, break into groups by topic

Online Training, Skills Development in AAC
  • ($99/year)
    • Self study courses
    • Funding info
  • Vendor sites
    • Language lab - PRC
    • Implementation Toolkit –Dynavox
    • ALS
    • Web casts
CAUTION: If it’s not live you’re only allowed 4 independent study CE units per year

Staying Connected – Making the Network accessible to SLPs

  • Web X
    • Dynavox might be able to set this up
  • A controlled ListServ
    • Ventura County SELPA has a great one
    • would CSHA put one up for us?  And manage it?
  • Facebook
    • post a question
    • take a poll on topics (for large or break-out groups) for future meetings

Southern California Diagnostic Center is developing and will host an AAC certification program for public school personnel in the 2011-2012 school year (from Leslie Comstock)

AAC: A Framework for Applying the Latest Technology (2/27/10)

On February 27, 2010, the California Speech-Langauge-Hearing Association (CSHA), District 7 presented the 6-hour workshop AAC: A Framework for Applying the Latest Technology hosted by Pasadena Child Development Associates.  To view flier, click here.  The agenda included:
Workshop participants were given the opportunity to join the Southern California Augmentative and Alternative Communication Network (SCAAC-N) via a voluntary, free sign-up sheet.

No comments:

Post a Comment