AAC, AT, Families, Inclusion, Literacy, UDL

Apple Announcements

By Samuel Sennott

Were you hoping for the Apple PDA/Tablet with a 1.5 times form factor as the iPhone? I sure was and my hopes were dashed. I was also dreaming a bit, hoping for the Macbook tablet. Yet, based on the evidence described today, I think it is on the way. The new Macbook Air, the last of the big keynote announcements today, incorporates multi-touch technology in the trackpad. Touch technologies of this kind are not only hardware based, but software as well. The fact that Apple has the iPhone, the iPod Touch, and now increasing touch capabilities in the laptops gives hope for this.

Nonetheless, it was exciting hearing the Macworld updates today.

Watch the Keynote

I like the Time Capsule the best! It is a 500GB or 1 TB wireless hard drive/ airport extreme device that both backs up your Mac, as well as provides an innovative storage solution. No more slepping SDPro Boards or Audacity tweaked language banked samples around on flash memory every few minutes! Just kidding.

Yet, did you see the MacBook Air? macbook air

Can you really believe how thin it is? Check out the Macrumors article with some great enlargable images. Anyway, the solid state hard drive is the feature of the biggest interest to me. That means it is flash memory and not the spinning drives, we are used to. Much more durable for AAC devices and laptops for children.

The Apple movie rental system could be cool for many individuals with special needs. The integration between the OS and the many portable options is very nice.

Yet, the big one for assistive technology is the February release date of the developers kit. On your mark get set… Seriously, the newest Apple technologies give us hope, because of the literacy connections and the AAC connections similar to those described in the recent study: Children’s ideas for the design of AAC assistive technologies for young children with complex communication needs.

What do you think of the updates?


January 15, 2008 Posted by | AAC, Assistive Technology, AT, conference, Literacy, OLPC, One to One Computing, OS X, OTOT, Special Education, Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Macworld: What Will It Bring?

by Samuel Sennott


I am so excited about the Macworld Expo keynote tomorrow. Out of all the possible new products, I am really hoping for the release of an Apple tablet. It seems unlikely at this time, yet I think it would be so terrific for special education. The research and practice I am doing considering Visual Scene Displays for AAC and literacy applications really is pointing to having touch displays as an option for a wide variety of learners in early childhood. I am excited to share my recent work on the subject at ATIA 2008.

Other bets for tomorrow are the ultra slim laptop release and a wireless hard drive system. Also, there should be some iPhone news too. Looking forward to the developers kit too. ; ) Anyway, it should be interesting to see if they announce any new educational programs. I can hardly wait to tomorrow to read the updates at and see the keynote at

January 14, 2008 Posted by | AAC, Assistive Technology, AT, Literacy, OS X, Special Education, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Color Talking Word Wall Template with Apple OS X

by Samuel Sennott

Good news! TextEdit does allow you to color the cells in a Table.

color word wall shot

I provided directions in a section of the updated guide to using the Talking Word Walls. Here is the text from the mixed(visual and text) directions:

Part Two: Working with the Colored Template

1. The colored TextEdit template is a bit different from the standard template because you must use a Table to be able to color the background of each word.
2. Check out the file WW Color Doltch 15 Example. You can see what a finished product looks like. Notice how we now have a Table and that each work has a cell inside the table. The unfortunate thing is that you cannot easily add cells. So our template allows for five words per letter. If you plan on having more, please make the adjustments ahead of time!

3. To create your own, use the template: Word Wall Color Blank Template. Add your words. Note that the template is set up for 22 Point Comic Sans MS Font. Adjust according to your needs and monitor.

4. To change the color in each cell go to: Format: Text: Table.

5. Go to the Cell Background and Select Color Fill. Choose the color bar right next to it and select the color you would like.

Download the Updated Guide: Word Wall Updated Guide Parts 1,2

The Color Template and Example: @ the OTOT site.

To make this better in the future, it would be terrific to find a way to add cells or rows into a Table in TextEdit. Also, future directions are to create guides for creating walls like this into SD Pro powered AAC systems, as well as for use in ICS 3/4, on Series 4 and 5 Devices from Dynavox, PRC Devices, and more importantly, easy use in a Windows Environment.

January 9, 2008 Posted by | AAC, Accessibility, Assistive Technology, AT, Literacy, OS X, Special Education, Uncategorized, writing | 8 Comments

Apple Computers Allow Talking Word Wall

by Samuel Sennott

You can utilize the OSX Voice over feature to create a personalized word wall system that has simple text to speech by clicking or arrowing into the letters or words on the word wall.

TTS Word Wall pic

Doing a daily word wall practice as part of a systematic phonics instructional program is a terrific way to provide the exposure, anchoring, and visual memory connections to the high frequency words of the language your learners read and write in.

Download the guide at the OTOT wikispace. Here.

ww tts guide pic

Enclosed is the Dolch list in alphabetic and frequency orders, the template, the guide, and sample word wall with the first fifteen words in Karen Erickson and Gretchen Hanser’s Literacy Through Unity 45 Location systematic phonics instruction program for learners who use augmentative communication.

On the QIAT Listserv, Ruth Fuller brought up the excellent idea of how cool this concept is on an interactive whiteboard. Gosh, Word Wall goes high tech! I bet if we change those voices around to the hysterical or robot, you could have quite the Friday Word Wall Sessions! Anyway, here is a mockup:

smartboard mockup

I think it would be cool if you could have the color coding aspects.  To color the text is not hard, but to do the color blocks behind the words presents a formidable challenge.  It would be terrific if you could color the background of each cell in a table.  Oh, wait.  you can, as I just figured it out.  Look for an update soon.

January 8, 2008 Posted by | AAC, Accessibility, Assistive Technology, AT, Literacy, OS X, OTOT, Special Education, Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Intel and OLPC Separate

By Sam Sennott

The NY Times reported on January 5th, 2008 that Intel and One Laptop per Child will opt to end their partnership. Intel will no longer have a presence on the board of the innovative non-profit. The Classmate PC, the rival to OLPC’s XO Laptop has been the source of much controversy as the “100 dollar laptop” concept has continued to build steam.

An interesting note from the article is that OLPC has announced results of the Give One Get One Program that had run from November 12th to December 31st. They said they generated, “$35 million and sold a total of 167,000 computers, half of them to be distributed in the developing world.”

I received my XO laptop and have been having fun learning the hardware and software integrations for access for people with special needs, the Sugar graphic user interface, and Python, the computer language of the linux based computer. I look forward to sharing the unpacking videos, an overview of the hardware and software, and a number of posts on accessibility over the next few weeks.

January 6, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 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

Evidence-Based AAC Interventions for Infants, Toddlers, & Preschoolers with Janice Light at ASHA

By Samuel Charles Sennott

The opening sentiment was: “How do we provide access to the magic and the power of language and communication for young children with complex communication needs who require AAC?”

Light Infant/ Toddler

Dr. Light demonstrated a terrific research project out of Penn State that seeks the answer to this question and lays out a framework for accomplishing it for very young children. By the end of this presentation, I was trembling. For a number of years now, since I delved into the work of Maria Montessouri I have had this wonder about early childhood and learners with significant special needs who use AAC. I think I was so moved because I saw here a team that is actively seeking and finding answers to those questions. Seeing the video of the case studies was truly amazing. Not only because the children were so young, but because the “intervention” looked so natural.

I highly recommend downloading the handout here and going to the AAC-RERC website to watch the webcast which is very similar to the live presentation we heard at ASHA.

Dr. Light, in the two hour workshop, took the group on a journey that in many ways we are familiar with. The stages she was presenting were familiar, as working from play to more in depth communication and literacy instruction is what I have immersed myself in both practice and research over the past years. Yet, this was with children as young as six months old! Additionally, there was a clear focus on ease of access and purity in the cognitive clarity of the tasks, err games rather. From using an old school Gemini to the Linda Burkhart style games and songs, they made teaching very young children the basics of access and AAC look familiar, possible, and integrated. This amazing presentation really showed both what is possible and that we can do it! Here are a few of the key principles described :

  • Start early
  • Keep the activities authentic and in the natural environment
  • Focus on sustained turn taking activities that are more than just need and want based
  • Model, model, model
  • Have a dynamic system that can grow exponentially
  • Keep it super fun

Everything that Dr. Light described seemed very possible and many of us have most of the resources that would be necessary already in our toolkits. Yet, additionally, she really drove home the meaning behind the Visual Scene Display work. She described the work better than anyone I have ever heard, teaching us how the whole purpose of it is to make the entry into the system as much like a child thinks as possible. From the visual representation comparisons to PCS pictures that made us all kind of blush to the seemingly obvious focus on the most interesting people and things in the child’s environment this section of the presentation truly was a lesson in teaching and child development.

There is plenty more to unpack here, but I really wanted to keep this post relatively simple, as there is a wealth of resource to check out in the webcast. Ultimately, this session really brought a great deal into perspective for me in both my present work and the work that is in the future. It also seemed to sum up my experience at ASHA, which taught me the importance of good research combined with teaching children very well.

Yet, most importantly this work reminds us to think like the people we are working with, in this case young children. Over the coming weeks, I am excited to share the work my classroom has started on the subject.

November 24, 2007 Posted by | AAC, Access, inspiration, Special Education, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

AAC and OT by Aileen Costigan and Janice Light at ASHA

By Samuel Charles Sennott

AAC and OT shot

Seating and positioning often has a significant effect on AAC users. Teachers of all kinds can do a great deal in this domain, but it is important to know when you need the help of an OT or PT. This hour long presentation at ASHA titled: Practical Principles of Seating & Positioning in AAC for SLPs was a terrific way to learn or review seating and positioning principles and learn about how these considerations work in the team process. Would you like a refresher course or have a quick way to share with a friend or colleague about some basics regarding seating and positioning?

Download the excellent handout here.

AAC/OT handout shot

The main presenter Aileen Costigan was terrific. Not only was the information extremely well prepared and organized, but the presentation style was great. I think that this topic would make a great component in an AAC/AT/UDL course at the undergraduate and graduate level in both teacher training of special educators and in the training of SLPs. For you all trying to follow the handout, you will see a marked similarity to the SETT Framework, as in OT there is a very similar consideration principle. This is definitely a handout to print and fyi your favorite special education teacher, OT, PT, or SLP.

November 24, 2007 Posted by | AAC, Access, ot, Special Education, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Getting Beyond Imitation with Cynthia Cress at ASHA

By Samuel Charles Sennott

cress session post

Dr. Cynthia Cress, from UNL, taught terrific lessons about how to engage children in play activities that can be some of the most powerful forums for teaching communication. What do you think about how to integrate using play or recreation in early childhood communication work?

Download the handout for the session here.

Additionally, check out these other excellent resources from the same researcher/ teacher found here (From the always terrific UNL website).

Just, as I was starting to think this whole big, huge ASHA was a little over the top, I sneak my way into Dr. Cynthia Cress’ 8 AM session. I crawled over upset people and am sitting cross-legged on the floor in the front of the room with fifteen other people, all on the floor. This session is amazing. Dr. Cress, an early childhood AAC specialist from UNL is teaching the heck out of us.(fav. NC expression!) The concept she is teaching us is getting beyond imitation by using authentic experiences and in this case, play experiences to foster communication. There is this remarkable similarity to what Linda Burkhart teaches. There is something in me that intrinsicly connects to this message of active engagement for real reasons and I think it is because it is how I teach and what I desire to bring out in my students.

One of the excellent case studies is teaching about using AAC with a student with some language and she is telling about how using picture symbol communication is a great guide for facilitating speech. Dr. Cress says, “no kid in the world is going to give up on speech” What a great common sense interpretation of the research!

Another example is showing the power of student focused play activities that the speech work is naturally embedded in. This takes the pressure off the learner. There is a hilarious comparision of a young learner playing and vocalizing passionately and then another session of the therapist saying, “do this”. The child just looks at them like to say, “are you kidding?”

What comes out of this workshop is an excellent study in how we can work with children and their families in early childhood. One quick, very profound tip is to always provide a nonverbal way for turn taking in the play activity. What a great simple concept to teach a parent or to use when working with a child.

One classic quote that really made the group laugh was, “We are not real people: most people don’t pick up on all these communicative clues.” It made us laugh because she compared our hyper focused behavior to how people just play with their kids.

I missed her second session, but here is the handout: Age-Related Changes in Mastery Motivation for Children With Physical Impairments

November 24, 2007 Posted by | AAC, conference, play, Special Education, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Survey of the Literacy Environment of Children With Down Syndrome at ASHA

By Samuel Charles Sennott

I was more than impressed by this amazing research project out of New Zealand led by Anne van Bysterveldt, from the University of Canterbury. Download the handout here to find out more on the project.

DS Screenshot Asha handout

I am so excited by this project, as it was presented as such a great model of early and balanced literacy instruction that was well thought out and holistic.

November 24, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Gail Gillon’s Phonological Awareness Sessions at ASHA

By Samuel Charles Sennott

Gillon ASHA Shot
Using engaging phoneme level activities that work towards increasing authentic literacy performance was the message of the great group from New Zealand, led by Gail Gillon. No matter which way you’ve heard it, you have certainly heard about the importance of phonological awareness to early literacy success. This domain has great significance to us as teachers and the question is, how do we incorporate, or better incorporate phonological awareness into our early learning curriculum?

At ASHA, I attended these these three sessions: 1. Speech Sound Disorders in Children: Adapting Phonological Awareness Intervention for Differing Populations

Partial Handout

2. Survey of the Literacy Environment of Children With Down Syndrome
3. Speech Sound Disorders in Children: Phonological Awareness Treatment Effects for Preschool Children With Speech-Language Impairment

They provided a terrific resource in the form of a An Integrated phonological awareness programme for preschool children with speech disorder Gillon and McNeill (2007) Dowload it here:

I have seen Gail Gillon cited frequently and had heard that her work was a good place to start bulking up the phonemic awareness component of the early childhood based program we are building at Nova. During these sessions, I was hearing about a number of terrific research projects, all with positive outcomes for individuals with varying disabilities and all with seamingly great design. I found myself won over. Also, I was considering how I will, one, take this into my teaching practice and, two, learn more about this subject.

After an initial review of the Integrated Phonological Awareness Program they provided, I feel confident that I am doing much of what is advocated. After years of pulling from Starfall, Literactive, homemade ICS activities, and various songboards, I now realize the importance of putting it all into a framework. I like the idea of having this program guide as a way to help me structure the work in this domain. Much thanks to Gail Gillon for posting it! : ) So, how do I learn more about the subject? One source is from the same person and the 2007 text, Phonological Awareness From Research to Practice by Gail T. Gillon. I think I will buy it from the Guilford Press in paperback for $26
or Amazon for the same .

Additionally, I am set to obain a number of resources from Marilyn Jager Adams, including:
Phonemic Awareness in Young Children: A Classroom Curriculum
By Marilyn Jager Adams

Also, here is a web article of interest: Phonemic Awareness in Young Children By: Marilyn J. Adams, Barbara Foorman, Ingvar Lundberg, and Terri Beeler (1998)

Most importantly, from the three sessions I attended, I really appreciate the focusing statement to remember that the goal of increasing phonological awareness is to improve literacy outcomes and that is how they should be measured. Overall, as is the theme in these reflections on ASHA, I am working both from what I learned and from what I am already integrating and know. I look forward to some interesting discussions and research about this topic over the next few weeks and months. Please post any resources or related questions about phonological awareness in the comments section of this post.

November 24, 2007 Posted by | AAC, Literacy, phonics, Special Education, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Digital Photo Frame Update

Things are looking interesting in the hunt to find a digital photo frame that can be used easily with students with special needs and is cost effective. Read the original post.

Here are a couple of promising finds:

The PhotoShare products look quite promising, but still a bit expensive.

Yet, maybe just after Thanksgiving or in the holiday shopping season, we could see a dip in price.
Photo share 2.4 and 7

I really like the idea of a seven inch landscape display, what a perfect simple screen for so many children to read books on, use as a partner assisted scanning system, use as an alternative pencil, or use for anything that you can think of where you can share slides!

Additionally, while on the plane home from ASHA, I saw this promising, inexpensive solution. I did a bit of digging and it is a 1.5 inch screen, still an appropriate visual display size for some some learners.

It is called Wallet Pix.  Check it out!

wallet pix shot

I really like the idea of $20 for this with a case. I am very intrigued with this. It will be interesting to hold one in the hand and see about the functionality. Nonetheless, this hunt is about following the technology until we can “pounce” so to speak on the right product.

November 19, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

ASHA Thursday Morning: Evidenced Based Literacy Instruction for Individuals Who Require AAC

By Samuel Charles Sennott

JL Lit ASHA 2007 Image

After battling the crowds, I made it to Janice Light’s session titled: Evidence -Based Literacy Intervention for Individuals Who Require AAC. (Download the Handout) The AAC-RERC sponsored project focuses on identifying top priority literacy skills to teach early learners and then implementing model instruction over time. The case studies presented were terrific. The first student was a seven year old who uses some speech, as well as a SGD to communicate and engage in literacy activities. The initial instructional component prioritizes phoneme segmentation and blending as starting points of phonologial awareness work. One of the most powerful points that came out of this first case, was the advocacy for using the letter sounds in instruction as well as during partner assisted scanning of the alphabet. In many ways this makes perfect sense, as what does knowing the letter names get you. I do see some value in that letters make multiple sounds, but I think that trading the learner’s clearer path to getting to learning the primary letter sound is much more important. Terrific point to really think about and compare to what we know and see. Excellent video was shown in the presentation and this first student is shown to be doing excellent shared reading and is highly engaged.

The second and third cases showed the progression that was demonstrated in this study. The children both grew in their literacy skills, as well as serving as a scaffold for language development. This was one of the key points of the presentation. It was terrific to see these students spelling and talking in the literacy instruction combined with hearing anecdotal stories of how they are generalizing these skills. One touching story was of a girl driving her wheel chair in to see her Mom at breakfast and then bringing her to the computer where she wrote: “Mom eat”. That is what it is all about.

Overall, this study looks terrific and brings up the very important question about if we should teach conventional literacy skills to learners using AAC at an earlier age? If so, why? It will be interesting to consider the balance of different rules for learners who write to talk with what we know is good for pre-k learners. That seems to be what ASHA is about for me. I know the power of what new ways like the Tango bring. This week, I attempt to gather resources to help understand about early learning and phonemic awareness, as well as what good language and literacy instruction means from birth to age seven. I am off to go hear Gail Gillon on Adapting Phonological Awareness Interventions for Differing Populations.

November 15, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

ASHA Begins Images

By Samuel Charles Sennott

ASHA 2007 Icon

Walking from the Silver Line City Scape of Boston

Boston Asha

Heading Towards the Boston Convention Center

Boston Convention Center
Many People

people asha

Registration Line


Ready, Set, Go…

to Janice Light’s session on an AAC-RERC literacy instruction project!

November 15, 2007 Posted by | AAC, conference, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Digital Picture Frame with Switch Adapted Remote Control

by Samuel Sennott

Digital Picture Frame Screenshot 1

Have you seen a digital picture frame in a catalog, online, or in a store? This emerging technology will make a terrific book reader, photo browser, partner assisted communication tool, and electronic pencil. The good news is that they are quickly shifting to including a remote control with them. 🙂 That is wonderful, because we now have a wireless device to adapt much more easily than taking the whole unit apart! Truly, there will be units with sound very shortly, but until then, what a terrific way to read your PowerPoint books you made with Flickr, your books from the Accessible Book Collection, or whatever adapted books you can export as folders of JPGs.

How do you do this? Well, you need to have the soldering equipment and the switch jacks, but have no fear. The challenge is on for one of our favorite companies to provide this to us at a reasonable cost. Until then, on the assistive technology Ning site we are going to be working the project with a goal of providing directions, recommendations on the best digital picture frame, and a list of applications for the tool.

So, game on and let’s have some fun with this as we give something cool to the learners we serve! Also, feel free to put some pressure on the usual suspects…i.e.. RJ….Ablenet…Enabling…..Enablemart….

Oh, one last thing, this relates so much to the Visual Scene work and the Visual Storytelling work. Just consider how many different people with aphasia could benefit from having a tool like this to foster sharing, expression, and information transfer. I can’t wait to share the recent success we have been experiencing in this domain! Look for it in an upcoming post!

Digital Picture Frame Adapted Pencil Screenshot

November 10, 2007 Posted by | AAC, Access, art, Assistive Technology, AT, ebooks, family, Literacy, Uncategorized, writing | 4 Comments

ASHA 2007 Boston Guide

Asha guide screenshot

ASHA 2007 Boston Guide

Downloads:  ASHA 2007 Boston Guide Word Document

Compiled by Samuel Sennott

I am very excited to attend ASHA 2007 in Boston. Teaching and working in Nova Southeastern University’s Speech and Language Clinic has gotten off to a terrific start. It is so exciting learning more about speech and language. Taking a few days to travel with my new team and colleagues to my home, Massachusetts, should be great. I compiled this guide to share something that may help that tough getting away process. The sections are Maps, Conference Planning Tools, Restaurants, and Things to Do.

ASHA convention Logo

November 7, 2007 Posted by | AAC, Assistive Technology, AT, conference, Special Education, Uncategorized | 5 Comments

iJailBreak for iPod Touch

by Samuel Sennott

iJailBreak is the automated tool that unlocks and enables your iPod Touch to use, the third party application installer. It has become very clear that the iPhone and iPod touch can be used as both an AAC device component inside of a holistic AAC system and as a terrific flexible learning tool. The rationale is this: Apple makes superior hardware and it is accessible in that many people already have it and if they don’t it is easy to obtain, i.e. The Apple Store, Best Buy, etc… Using this hardware with excellent software has great potential. What are the applications? Here is just one: when the iPhone and Touch connect to the new slim Apple Bluetooth keyboard, you will have a terrific way for students to type their papers for under $400. Not bad, considering you can also surf the web on your OSX powered mini-computer. Just think about what else you could do…

Do you appreciate the potential seen in the terrific program installer for the iPhone and iPod Touch? has changed the way I see my work with children and adults with special needs. Seeing how the community of developers surrounding the iPhone and iPod hacking works has definitely made an impact on me in this way: seeing these folks work so hard on these open source projects for everyone to enjoy shows me ever more the power in working together.

iPhone 4 Blocks

October 14, 2007 Posted by | AAC, Access, Accessibility, Assistive Technology, AT, ebooks, inspiration, Literacy, OS X, Special Education, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Open Your Eyes

By Samuel Sennott  This video is terrific!  There is a cutting power in the words and the back beat is good too.  This reminds me of some friends at the Respite Center.  I can so picture someone there writing a rap like that.  Media such as this seems to have a powerful impact.  I watched it today with a friend who is in a wheelchair and has cerebral palsy.  He was very entusiastic about it.  This type of emotional impact is also powerful for sharing with people outside the teaching/ service field.  I think back to the effect the Did You Know video had, with the music and imagery.  There really is something to multimedia story telling.  What do you think?   

October 9, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

AAC Awareness Week: Share a Poem and a Board

By Samuel Sennott

Participate in AAC Awareness Week!

This week is AAC Awareness week and I want to propose a collaborative project. Here’s how it goes:

It’s called:

Share a Poem and a Board

A One to One Thousand Pre-Project for Books Please

Here’s What You Can Do: Share a digitized poem and create a communication board to go with it. The goal is to provide some accessible poetry and a way to talk about it!

Here’s How:

  1. Find a Poem that has an educational use license. Project Guttenburg and Google Books are two good places to start. OR Write your own poem.
  2. Find a good picture or pictures to illustrate the poem. A great educational use site is the now
  3. Put them together in PowerPoint, Intellitools Classroom Suite, Clicker 5, Keynote, or what ever format you wish.
  4. Create a communication board that goes along with the poem. (Feel free) Make a PDF of the board. Message me if you need help.
  5. Email the digitized poem and board
  6. A wiki will go up with all of the contributions.
  7. So if you are willing to contribute or want your students to contribute, the goal is to provide some accessible poetry and a way to talk about it! Feel free to send one or many. Message to confirm participation or just do it. Your choice. Enclosed is an example I created in less than one hour. Remember don’t be perfectionistic. Get it to the learners! Please: Remember to site your sources. Here are some examples:
  1. insert the Flickr url in the PowerPoint notes or at the end of the Intellipics show. 
  2. Site where the poem came from through a url link somewhere.
  3. Only send the pdf’s of the boards.

I think we can do something cool this week! Remember if each person spends one hour, things multiply rapidly!

  1. Good Luck and Spread the Word!

Download the Demonstration Board and Poem

September 30, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | 14 Comments

Assistive Technology on Ning

By Samuel Sennott

Do You Know Chat Forums, Myspace, Facebook, Listservs, Email, Technorati, and Digg? How about Ning?
ning web
A new assistive technology based social network has recently been created by Brian Wojcik, an AT specialist and leader in using Web 2.0 in education, and Karen Janowski, an AT specialist and professor at the Simmons College Graduate Program in Assistive Technology. Ning is a create your own social networking site. My initial impressions of using the site are terrific! What an amazing tool for discussion and sharing resources. Check it out! See what you think. It seems as if it has a more personal feel to it. The user interface is relatively easy to use and a major advantage is it provides users with many ways to share and contribute. You can comment on members pages, discuss issues in threaded forum topics, post pictures, videos, and podcasts, create interest groups, add friends to your profile, and more. Go to the url: to check it out and become a member.

The dynamic aspects of the site are definitely a strength. One goal I am setting for personally using the site is to contemplate a collaborative project for members to synergize and accomplish something meaningful.
sam ning

Visit assistivetech

September 29, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | | 1 Comment

Using the iPhone for Digitizing Books

by Samuel Sennott

We started a E-Book project today that we are correlating with the Building Blocks kindergarten literacy framework. It is very exciting and I can’t wait to share more about it in the future.

So…have you ever come upon a flatbed scanner that seems to be a decendent of a tortoise? Well in our electronic book making project today, we sure did. It was a terrific first thing in the morning laugh. As we did not have anything else to use, I remembered someone posted on QIAT that Judith Sweeney of Onion Mountain Tech had been teaching using digital cameras for your turning books into electronic books. I have tried experimenting with this as well at times, but today it really clicked with me.


So we tried using the iPhone for taking pictures of the pages. It worked well:

  • Having good lighting was important.
  • Natural light worked better than the florescent.
  • Be still!
  • Downloading from the iPhone was easy. Just plug in USB, drag and drop.
  • The images were good enough quality for our use in PowerPoint and ICS based books, where we rewrite the text into a text box.
  • You could also use another comparable digital camera.

The result was a quick way to produce a decent accessible version of the book, without the labor intense file naming, page aligning, and mouse clicking often involved in scanning. What else have people experienced using cameras for digitizing books? What have you found to be the best resolutions and picture quality settings? We are constructing a guide and would love vicarious input!

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September 18, 2007 Posted by | AAC, Access, Accessibility, AT, ebooks, family, OS X, photography, Special Education, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Goossens, Crain, Elder Communication Overlay Color Reminder

Engineering Colors Reminder Download

As I start the new year with a new project, I am trying to think about what elements of design are important for each project. What is something I will thank myself for months and years down the line? One element is developing some universality with aided language stimulation style overlays. In the project, adapting a set of books and adapting the Building Blocks Literacy Framework, I set an intention to develop a thoughtful overlay system. What do you think is important in an overlay system?

G color reminder

One component I am going to incorporate is the classic color scheme made popular in the Goossens, Crain, and Elder Text.

Here is a helpful reminder card that I created in an AAC graduate course at Simmons College this past spring, taught by Patricia Walsh-Cassidy.

Engineering Colors Reminder Download PDF Format

Additionally, here are two terrific resources from Caroline Ramsey Musselwhite’s excellent website.


It would be terrific to hear what you are focusing on in an upcoming project or in this upcoming school year!

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September 17, 2007 Posted by | AAC, Special Education, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

AAC Consideration Materials and Checklists

AAC Consideration Materials and Checklists

By Samuel Sennott

What do we have to consider when we consider AAC?

In this post, I have gathered a set of resources to help aide in the process of considering AAC. The downloadable PDF document is meant as a conversation starter. Here are a set of resources I found on the internet. What can we add? What works? I would like to hear from you!

In the end, I believe that the most important overarching consideration is dignity, then followed by self expression of the individual.

Download the PDF: AAC Consideration Materials and Checklists

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September 17, 2007 Posted by | AAC, Special Education, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Math Websites Core Tools

This is a visual website launcher that focuses on great math tools for the new school year.  What do you think of this format for giving students access to the web?  What are the drawbacks?  Advantages?

Math Websites Image

Download Math Websites Core Tools

August 19, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment