AAC, AT, Families, Inclusion, Literacy, UDL


Here is a launcher of the posts related to ASHA 2007:

  1. Poster Boards of Interest at ASHA 2007
  2. AAC: Display Characteristics That Support Aided Symbol Use: Color & Animation at ASHA
  3. OLPC and AAC for the Developing World with Adam Bowker at ASHA 2007
  4. Evidence-Based AAC Interventions for Infants, Toddlers, & Preschoolers with Janice Light at ASHA
  5. AAC and OT by Aileen Costigan and Janice Light at ASHA
  6. Getting Beyond Imitation with Cynthia Cress at ASHA
  7. Survey of the Literacy Environment of Children With Down Syndrome at ASHA
  8. Gail Gillon’s Phonological Awareness Sessions at ASHA
  9. ASHA Thursday Morning: Evidenced Based Literacy Instruction for Individuals Who Require AAC
  10. ASHA Begins Images
  11. ASHA 2007 Boston Guide

Additionally, link to all the handouts for ASHA 2007 here.

The power of committed individuals, the power of research, and the combination of the power of actively engaged individuals with aac systems made a terrific impression on me at ASHA 2007 this year. Seeing the power that families have when they advocate for their children in all sorts of ways was something that will be indelibly in my mind from this experience. Seeing much clearer the importance of the research path has been such a weight off my shoulders. I see where I want to go forward and so I will. The combination of seeing all the work on early learning and aac use by Dr. Cynthia Cress, Dr. Janice Light, and the literacy work of Dr. Gail Gillon was so focusing and also so thought provoking. That combined with what we are seeing with the new systems from ALL the major companies is really good for the learners we serve and for us as teachers. Last, it really made me smile to see the Blink Twice Tango Town in the midst of this huge sea of the body that is speech and language pathology. It sure is a terrific time to be trying to help the people we serve.



November 25, 2007 Posted by | AAC, ASHA2007, conference | Leave a comment

Poster Boards of Interest at ASHA 2007

By Samuel Charles Sennott

Poster Board World

The poster board sessions at ASHA 2007 on AAC, literacy, and special education for individuals with communication disorders were a terrific chance to speak with the presenters and actively engage in learning about the subject presented. I will try to briefly summarize an impression of a few of the excellent mini-lessons, I experienced.

Beukelman Sessions

1. Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC):
Augmented Speech Recognition for Severe Dysarthria: Initial Pilot Study Results

  • Susan Fager, Madonna Rehab Hosp, Lincoln, NE
  • David Beukelman, U of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE
  • Tom Jakobs, Invotek, Alma, AR

This session showed an amazing new way to help people with under 20% intelligibility use speech recognition by triangulating between trained voice, initial letter cueing, and an innovative optimization of voice recognition. Definitely check this research out and I really can’t wait to see this in the market!

2. Implementation of Eye Tracking SGD Access: Profiling for Success

  • Laura Ball, Munroe-Meyer Inst, Omaha, NE
  • Susan Fager, Madonna Rehab Hosp, Lincoln, NE
  • David Beukelman , U of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE
  • Katrina Kersch , U of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE
  • Brianne Mohr, U of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE

Terrific to see research emerging to complement the amazing work of this new technology. If you have not tried this, it is amazing to type and control a computer with your eyes. This research work was focused on adults and simply was focused on how to best implement this technology.

3. Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC):
Head Tracking for Persons With Minimal Movement: A Case Study

  • Susan Fager, Madonna Rehab Hosp, Lincoln, NE
  • David Beukelman, U of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE
  • Tom Jakobs, Invotek, Alma, AR

Using direct selection is powerful for AAC users and head tracking systems are a great form of direct selection. Yet, have you ever been using a head tracking system and it gets off its calibration, like when the pointer is off the screen? This new technology uses a series of mirrors to create what they call, absolute head tracking. The technology looks promising and it seems as if this emergence will push the envelope. Nice! : )

Costigan Poster Shot
4. Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC):
Preservice Training for AAC Team Members

  • F. Aileen Costigan, Pennsylvania St U, University Park, PA
  • Janice C. Light, Pennsylvania St U, University Park, PA

Download the Handout/ Poster

This meta-analysis of the research confirmed what we know: that in special education, speech language pathology, and related fields there is an average of zero to one courses in AAC. After attending this session and hearing that it has a chance for publication, I feel off the hook about doing the survey of the special education teacher training programs. Although it still would be valuable, we know the unfortunate state of affairs. As we look to the organizations optimized to change this, we must consider a sustainable system. I feel so strongly about this issue and think it is one of the keys to helping the learners we serve! Nice work by the researcher!

5. Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC):Developing AAC Labs: Knowledge & Skills for Service Delivery

Download the Handout Here

As a wonderful contrast to the reasearch Aileen Costigan reported on regarding the lack of AAC training for SLP’s and teachers in training, Elizabeth Bagley reported on the terrific success of Ithaca College’s method of training their future SLPs in AAC work. She highlighted the student created and taught modules and the excellent feedback they have been getting regarding the program. This presentation was a terrific example of the concept of you learn best what you teach. I tried to walk away with the excellent binder the last class had created! : ) I look forward to finding out more about how this project progresses, as the researcher mentioned they would like to expand the process from design, create, and teach to include teaching to local school districts. That epitomizes what I believe we should be doing and was floored when I heard how close they are to making it happen. Right on Ithaca College!

November 25, 2007 Posted by | AAC, Access, ASHA2007, Literacy, Special Education | 3 Comments

AAC: Display Characteristics That Support Aided Symbol Use: Color & Animation at ASHA

By Samuel Charles Sennott

Visual display shot 1visual display shot 2Visual Display shot 3visual display shot 4

This session foreshadows the influence that digital natives will have on the AAC systems and software systems we use in special education. Additionally, the research focus on clearing the unnecessary access challenges with traditional AAC systems is terrific. Seeing the presenter, Lacy Donofrio, speak about authoring her lessons in Flash was a moment I will mark in time. Our method of presentation will certainly change, as we are on the cusp of having very inexpensive displays and computing systems entering into our classrooms. The work of this team seemed to be one part brainstorm and one part research. It was terrific to see. What do you think will happen in special education over the next five years, as many more digital natives are at the helm of classrooms across the country? Here is the abstract from the presentation:

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC):
Display Characteristics That Support Aided Symbol Use: Color & Animation

Download the Handout Here

* Krista Wilkinson
Emerson Coll, Boston, MA
* John McCarthy
Ohio U, Athens, OH
* Lacey Donofrio
Ohio U, Athens, OH
* Janice C. Light
Pennsylvania St U, University Park, PA
* Michael Carlin
U of Massachusetts Med Sch, Waltham, MA
* Vinoth Jagaroo Ph.D.
Emerson Coll, Boston, MA
* Jennifer Thistle
Emerson Coll, Boston, MA

The speakers in this symposium will discuss how various physical characteristics of aided AAC displays might influence responding by children with or without disabilities. The first presentation examines whether PCS symbols that share a color are best arranged together (providing a subset within which to search) or distributed throughout a display (enhancing the salience of each symbol individually). The second presentation describes how animation can be exploited to facilitate scanning as an access method in visual scenes. The final presentation illustrates the utility of FLASH methodology for display construction. Clinical implications will be identified by the presenters and the discussant.

To me the most important component in this type of work is the connection to good teaching. Making good teaching and good learning more easy and prevalent is the goal. You could have a gold iPod that changed size to whatever you needed, but unless it has the good instructional concepts and tools, it is worthless. I liked the thought process of this group and definitely will look to see the work that comes from them in the future. : )

November 25, 2007 Posted by | AAC, Access, Assistive Technology, AT, ebooks, Literacy, Special Education, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

OLPC and AAC for the Developing World with Adam Bowker at ASHA 2007

By Samuel Charles Sennott


This poster board session at ASHA was authored by Adam Bowker and Dr. Janice Light, both from Penn State. There is one powerful, clear message that was presented here: that you could never hand a child with disabilities something like a Dynavox Series 5 Device in a developing nation. Yet if everyone has XO’s and the learner with a communication disorder accesses it with switches it is no big deal. This is a strong message and chance for universal design. What do you think about that for AAC in the nation or nations that you care about in the world? What do you think about that for AAC in the United States?

I mistakenly forgot to take an image of the excellent poster, but here are the top resources for finding out about the OLPC project. The main project site The wiki site that provides in depth information, specific hardware specs, as well as ways to get involved such as the listservs and wikispace sections. The best way to try one of these laptops out. The deal is that you donate one and you get one. $399 with an extended period to December 31rst.

Most importantly in the USA, this movement comes as a challenge to specialized instruction, ese, sped, whatever we name it. My interpretation of this movement is that we, the people who care deeply about the education of people with special needs, need to create and design the one laptop per child in the United States. It is certainly coming and it is up to us to be ahead of the curve in arguably the best chance we have at narrowing the gap.

Just think about the alternative: trying to retro fit what is created and given to us. I have been following part of the developments by monitoring the OLPC Project, the intiatives in the state of Maine, and the Intel Classmate.

The presenter, Adam Bowker, and I spoke about how excited we are for receiving the laptops, which are promised by OLPC before Christmas. The most promising use initially seems to be as a literacy tool for people who use AAC. The Tar Heel Typer can serve as an option for an electronic pencil and it will be great to look at the best way to port electronic books into the system. As soon as the devices are shipped it will be fun to look at this as an inexpensive way for people to connect to the Internet with their AAC devices, most notably Pathfinders, Vantage/Vanguard Devices, various Dynavox Devices, and the Tango.

Overall, this is the technical domain I am most encouraged by out of all the emerging technologies found in AT, The Read/Write Web/ Web2.0, and in Special Education. Additionally, it was terrific to see a well thought out and progressive presentation by the researcher, Adam Bowker. He is a second year doctoral student at Penn State and looks to have some notable and promising research interests.

November 25, 2007 Posted by | AAC, ASHA2007, Assistive Technology, AT, ebooks, inclusion, inspiration, Literacy, OLPC, OTOT, phonics, Special Education, Uncategorized, writing | 1 Comment