There is good news for students who must have tests read aloud (and the staff responsible for this time consuming task). There are a growing number of software supports and apps (iOS and Android) on the market that allow for easy adaptation of tests to offer recorded or digitized speech output. Some programs allow students to respond via keyboarding, but not all. Here are just two of my favorites…
I’ve learned a lot about AAC technologies over the last 15 years. I often say that I don’t know everything, but I can probably tell you how and where to learn more. Because I provide direct technology support and training to educational teams for many students with impaired language and communication skills, I have gathered a wealth of forms, tip sheets, tutorial resources, assessment materials, etc. for use in the school setting. I share these with teachers and treating speech therapy clinicians across my service area, as well as anybody looking to learn more. I hope these resources are helpful to those working (or planning to work) in the school setting with children who need or use AAC supports. There are SO many more than these, but this is where I’d like to start.
As more districts more toward the use of Chromebooks for 1:1 device use, there are always questions about how these devices can provide the accessibility supports needed by our students with physical and/or learning disabilities. Since Chromebooks don’t allow for installation of software programs (the usual source of specialized reading/writing support), assistive tools must come from apps and extensions that can modify the user interface. These tools, many of which are free, are available from the Chrome Web Store and offer accommodations for visual needs, reading, writing, studying, note-taking, web navigation, etc. Be sure to check out user reviews and give a number of options a trial run before deciding which work best for the intended user.
It’s always exciting to see kids with limited speech and language abilities respond to the use of visually supported communication tools and strategies. Images are easy to recognize and recall, making the transference of information universal…no matter what the ‘language’ might be! It’s easy to understand something visual, even if we can’t read the script or verbalize its name or meaning.
I routinely help teachers and speech therapy staff create adaptive communication supports and modify classrooms to create a language immersion environment for young learners. Unfortunately, just talking about augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) can scare the life from those unfamiliar with the process! While the terminology may sound intimidating, it really isn’t that complex for this particular group. In the next few posts, I’d like to offer some information, ideas, and resources to help those in the school setting alleviate their fears and elevate their enthusiasm for using AAC in the classroom with young students!
I love great resources and I really love them when they’re FREE! If you’ve never visited the Special Education Needs (SEN) Teacher website, you need to do it now.
SEN Teacher offers a wealth of FREE printables, a page full of links to specialized support sites, as well as free software downloads for addressing the academic, sensory, communication, and assistive technology needs of children with special needs.
Most printable resources can be adapted to suit a variety of individual needs. All SEN Teacher resources are free to use at school and in the home.
Here are a few examples …
If you’ve never used a mounting system offered by Loc-Line, you’re in for a treat!! Although designed for use in a range of industrial settings, it didn’t take long until some crafty OT’s recognized the potential for using modular hose to create durable mounting systems. Don’t we all just LOVE crafty OT’s? (I may be biased just a little…) I even love that the company gave credit to this group on their brochure featuring their latest mounts. You can download that here: Modular Hose AT brochure 2016.
Loc-line materials can be purchased individually for creating or customizing mounts, or you can buy them pre-fabricated in various AT Kits designed to hold tablets and switches. Their newest offering, called Tablet-X is awesome (the brochure even says so!) Visit their WEBSITE to take a look. They’re lightweight, virtually unbreakable, very flexible, easily cleanable, and just plain fun to work with!
My colleague, Karen Moffatt, CCC-SLP, and I presented an educational session on this topic at the 2016 Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) National Conference earlier this month. As expected, there was a large amount of interest in the subject as educators and administrators across the globe try to figure out how to tap the full potential of this device in the classroom. We feel like everybody should be skilled users, but they’re still relatively new and upgrading all the time. As Karen put it so clearly during our session, ” iPads have only been with us for about six years, but it feels like forever.”
Wow! A great crowd here so late in the day for our session on eye gaze control at the ATIA 2016 Conference. The sun did come out in Orlando after all, yet the room was filled with superachievers who wanted to know how to help their kids with significant needs. Unfortunately, the handout link provided by the organizers was incorrect, so I am posting the resources here for those looking for them. Thanks to all who attended and please contact me with any questions you may have! Although my session Powerpoint titled “Preparing the Significantly Challenged Students for Eye Gaze” is posted here, it does not contain all of the video material shown at the conference (per parental request). Also posted here is my Considerations Checklist for Eye Gaze Participation. This form will provide guidance and help gather details and data on student preferences, responses, and needs when introducing or using eye gaze activities.
We had a great time last week with Ms. Mo Buti, learning more about how to best serve the needs of our students with Autism. She shared some great resources that I plan to pass along to all of you here over the course of the next week..
If you’re looking for awesome professional development opportunities online, this is a great place to start! The Geneva Centre for Autism (located in Ontario) provides free printable visual supports and downloadable resources, as well as online PD options. Although created for use by Canadian teachers, the site is open for public access by creating a (free) account. Free courses related to the education and treatment of students with Autism include:
Characteristics of Autism
What is Applied Behavior Analysis?
Functions of Behavior
Communication Strengths and Challenges
Understanding Sensory Needs
Understanding Social Challenges in Children and Adolescents
Using Visual Supports
Understanding Stress and ASD
Paying Attention to Transitions and Transition Planning
Promoting Independence for Community Inclusion
Certificate: Introduction to Autism: Free Online Series for Educators
Our educational cooperative hosts workshops across the state for teachers and clinicians working with the special needs population in our schools and I have to say that this has been one of my personal favorites. Our speaker, Ms. Mo Buti, has been a special education teacher, administrator, and Coordinator for Autism services for Chicago Public Schools for more than 24 years. This incredible session offers a wealth of ideas for modifying the classroom and curriculum to meet the special learning needs of students with Autism. It was a hit in the east Tennessee region last fall, so we brought her back for staff in the central and western regions. For those attending these sessions, there was a previous posting of Mo’s PowerPoint presentation, but it was only available online for a short period of time (to avoid excessive downloads, plagiarism,etc.) If you attended and would like a copy of the presentation, please send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and the day that you attended.