AAC, AT, Families, Inclusion, Literacy, UDL

FluidTunes Sets Our Minds Ablaze

by Samuel Sennott

FluidTunes is a free Apple OS X software that uses gesture recognition to control your iTunes library. In other words, by harnessing the power of the iSight camera, the user swipes their hands at the buttons to play the music, stop the music, flip to the next song or flip to the previous song. I first heard about FluidTunes on the fantastic gtd blog Lifehacker. Check out the video I made demonstrating the interface and explaining a few thoughts about how people with the label of special needs could use technology like this.


Okay, so we are not yet in a full on Minority Report experience where Tom Cruise uses complex gestures to  control his computer screen that is projected into the air.  Nor are we going to see this instantly become a popular access method for individuals with the label of special  needs.  Yet, it sets our minds ablaze.  We have all watched the progression of the eye tracking work move into eye gaze control systems that are really starting to work for individuals with physical disabilities.  For nearly four years now, I have been doing a test of the eye gaze systems where I emulate the frequent movements many of my students often display.  The systems are now starting to pass that informal test, as of this summer.  It seems eye gaze computer control has moved from a potential and a cool thing in the conference exhibit hall to something that works.   TobiiAti, PRC, and Dynavox are all  committed to its implementation.  So what will happen with the concept of gesture recognition? Well, in a way, it already is happening.  Just see ASL’s excellent selection of various types of proximity switches.   Karen Kangas has championed the concepts behind the benefits of using switches of this type. For these switches, you simply need to move within the right range to activate the electronic switch, which can control your wheelchair, computer, etc…

How terrific is it that the developer, David Frampton, made this application available for free?  I am personally having a blast with FluidTunes.  Much respect and thanks goes out to him for sharing it and for setting our minds ablaze thinking of the possiblities for individuals with the label of special needs.  As we approach the release of Mgestyk, the comercial gesture based control system, we can certainly consider ourselves warned that this is coming to the mainstream.   With an estimated cost of roughly the price of a high end webcam, it looks like this technology will be applicable in the assistive technology field.  See the following Mgestyk videos.

I for one am going to have fun playing music with this tool and let my mind wander as I do.  Yet, I am not going to go gorilla arm with this concept.  Although, even at the moment I can imagine practical implementations of gesture based switches that could be created with a usb hub and a couple different webcams.  What do you imagine?


December 6, 2008 Posted by | Special Education | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fun and Learning in Chicago

by Samuel Sennott

There is much to say about the terrific time experienced at the ASHA Convention 2009 in Chicago this past week.  It was terrific to be with friends in Chicago.  From being picked up at the airport by a family who facilitated me coming to consult at her daughter’s school to stumbling upon the famous Gino’s and eating deep dish pizza with a friend, to walking Chicago, to the terrific people met at the convention, I enjoyed the experience thoroughly.  All of the fun seemed to help the learning sink in deeper.  Overall, I was very much impressed with the beauty of downtown Chicago.  Plus for me as a house music fan it was a special experience to visit the place where the term house music was formed.  Yet, before I get to the technical, here is a visual review of some of the experience.


The Mass of ASHA

The Mass of ASHA

Meeting Schuyler @ ASHA

Meeting Schuyler @ ASHA

The Bean

The Bean

Sam @ the Bean

Swirl @ the Bean

Swirl @ the Bean

The Art Institute

Sun, Lion @ AI Chicago

Sun, Lion @ AI Chicago

Art Institute Chicago

Art Institute Chicago

Navy Pier

Chicago Skyline

Chicago Skyline


Chicago is One of the Cradles of House Music

Chicago is One of the Cradles of House Music

Deep Dish Pizza @ Ginos

Gino's Deep Dish Pizza


November 25, 2008 Posted by | Special Education | , , , | 4 Comments

Bookshelves Please Handout

by Samuel Sennott

Saturday’s workshop was outright terrific.  The participants excitement about the curriculum project, Bookshelves Please was tangible.  I look forward to sharing about the prototyping and more about the project.  For now, a few participants did not recieve the handout.  Here it is:  bookshelves-please-handout

October 20, 2008 Posted by | Special Education | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Imagine Symbols

by Samuel Sennott

imagine symbols icon

imagine symbols icon

Do you know about the 4000 Imagine Symbol set that is free for personal use.  You can go to and download the entire brightly colored set of picture symbols.  There are also low cost options to liscense the symbols. Don’t forget that you can load them into your iPhoto library for easy use with various applications.

October 13, 2008 Posted by | Special Education | , , , , | Leave a comment

Restaurant of AAC Dreams

by Samuel Sennott

Check out this London restaurant reported on by Engadget. How fun would it be to go here with people using AAC? And if they had some scanning/ alternate access options.  Fun dreams.

London restaurant claims fame with touch-sensitive tables, colorful menu projectors

Read this Article
Go to Restaurant website
Read another article

October 8, 2008 Posted by | Special Education | , , , | 1 Comment

Wireless Switch from Prentke Romich

by Samuel Sennott

Prentke Romich Company announces a wireless switch that should be nice to see in action next week at Closing the Gap.  How many times have you wished for this?  The Jelly Beamer is cool, but common, they definitely got it right going with the pervasive Bluetooth technology.  It will be interesting to get user feedback on this innovation.  Here is the press release.

Contact: Bob Nemens, Director of Marketing
Phone: (800) 262-1984 X243

October 6, 2008

Introducing The PRC Bluetooth® Wireless Switch,
Allows Wireless Access to PRC Products

Advanced Wireless Computer Access and More for AAC Communicators

Wooster, OH, October 6, 2008 – Prentke Romich Company (PRC), the leading manufacturer of alternative and augmented communication (AAC) devices for individuals with speech disabilities, today announced the release of the PRC Bluetooth Wireless Switch (BTWS), an innovative wireless switch that is comparable to PRC devices with built-in Bluetooth capabilities. The BTWS is compatible with PRC’s ECO™-14, Springboard™ Lite, and another newly released innovation, Vantage™ Lite.

With comparable size to other switches, The Bluetooth Wireless Switch has a rechargeable li-ion battery with over 100 hours of run time on a single charge. Additional features include:

External switch jack allows dual switch input;
·         Non-skid bottom case means the BTWS stays where you want it;
·         LED indicator lights show “pairing” and power status;
·         Bluetooth® connectivity for computer access and wireless access;
·         Battery level can be viewed in the paired PRC device.

“Wireless switching eliminates traditional problems with tangling or disconnection of cords that can happen with everyday use of a communication device,” says Bob Nemens, PRC Director of Marketing. “PRC designed and developed this innovation with both freedom of access and reliability in mind.”

Adding the PRC Bluetooth Adapter also delivers wireless computer access features in three versatile product modes:

·     Mouse Mode inputs mouse moves and “click” and “double click” into USB-equipped computers;

·      Keyboard 1,2,3 Mode allows the switch to be used to scan in PRC PASS software;

·      Keyboard F-Keys Mode allows the switch to be used to scan WiVik® software.

For more information on the new PRC Bluetooth Wireless Switch and other PRC innovations, visit PRC online at, contact PRC Sales at (800) 262-1933, or contact your PRC Regional Consultant.

About PRC

PRC is a global leader in the development and manufacture of augmentative communication devices, computer access products, and other assistive technology for people with severe disabilities.

An employee-owned company founded in 1966 and headquartered in Wooster, OH, PRC has enabled thousands of children and adults worldwide with severe speech disorders to achieve spontaneous, independent, and interactive communication regardless of their disability, literacy level, or motor skills. 

In addition to its powerful communication devices –ECO™-14, Vanguard™ Plus, Vantage™ Plus, Vantage™ Lite, and SpringBoard™ Lite – PRC also provides a wide array of high-quality teaching and implementation ideas, therapy materials, curriculum sequences, funding assistance, and training to speech-language pathologists, special educators, and the families of AAC communicators.

For more information, go to or call (800) 262-1984.


NOTE: For electronic images of PRC’s Bluetooth Wireless Switch, please contact Cherie Weaver at (800) 262-1984, ext. 240, or e-mail

If you require further information on this or other PRC products or services, please contact Bob Nemens, Director of Marketing, at (800) 262-1984, ext. 243, or email

October 7, 2008 Posted by | Special Education | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Closing the Gap Article October/November 2008

by Samuel Sennott

Just wanted to share that my team from this summer and I had some work published in the Closing the Gap Newspaper turned magazine in the current issue, which is October/November 2008.  We are thrilled to be able to share some of the insight from our work focusing on users of AAC and writing.

A Writer, a Pencil, a Reason and a Teacher (Actually no pencil required)

By Samuel Sennott, Christina Cahill, Shelly Major, Nicole Nordal, Charity Smith-Engelin, Cassie Rubenstein and Joslyn Silverman

After six intense weeks of Nova Southeastern University’s TLC Summer Writing Camp for users of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC), one of our team members said about the students, “They love writing now! Look at them, they just can’t wait to do it.” The six-week camp was designed with the goal of helping users of AAC, ages 8 to 12, become better writers. The primary intent of the camp was to develop and implement systems, curriculum and materials that would help the students grow in the writing process, both now and into their next school year. A secondary goal was to look for potential research questions to be studied related to users of AAC and the writing process.

[View Full Article]

October 5, 2008 Posted by | Special Education | , , , , , | Leave a comment

One to One Thousand Proof of Concept

by Samuel Sennott

The Tar Heel Reader just reached the one thousand books mark this past week.  This is so exciting for students and teachers alike.  So much thanks for the work of the UNC Center for Literacy and Disability Studies and for the Computer Science work of Gary Bishop and now his class.  I think that the Tar Heel Reader offers some initial proof of concept that we can create solutions to questions and challenges that we have by working together.  In this case, everyone submitting a book or two truly makes a difference.  See how it becomes even more powerful when you get a teaming of literacy specialists with computer scientists.  The internet and low cost computing really does offer an unprecedented platform for collaboration.  I look forward to seeing this idea grow and blosom.  Also, it is exciting to consider the next steps and the refining of initial goals.

October 5, 2008 Posted by | Special Education | , , , | 1 Comment

The Longest Summer Draws to an End

by Samuel Sennott

So goes the longest summer.  Nearly fifteen months of summer has come to an end.  It has been a fun and interesting ride starting on the shores of Plum Island, MA and leading a public school Extended Year Program Summer Camp to a bit further down route 1 in sunny Southern Florida and the Writer’s camp for users of AAC this summer.  My year in Fort Lauderdale ends today.  Wow did I learn a great deal.  So much has happened from working with two, three, and four year olds to the powerful experience consulting at a middle school yesterday.  Broward and Miami Dade counties are in my heart and on my mind. The children and families I worked with here have been inspirational.  The community we have created is so terrific.  The families in the early childhood program I led here had me over for a nice cookout on my last day this past week and it really was special.  This saying goodbye for now is bittersweet.  I will miss my students and the work here.  Last Friday, on my last day, we took the children to a really nice accessible playground and as we wound through the park, Led Zeppelin’s classic song Ramble On was playing on the radio.  It is time for me to go, but I will forever be connected in mind and heart to the children and communities here.  As I set out for Vermont for a Sabatical of sorts, before starting a Ph.D. program in Special Education and AAC, I wonder when I will return here.  Truly ATIA will now become a reunion of sorts for me.  As I say goodbyes, I think about how much this time has been a gift.  Having the ability to stay on my hands and knees working with the students, as well as stepping one foot into the academic world has been such a gift.  My time working in the Speech and Language division at Nova Southeastern University has been amazing.  Helping graduate students, leading the early childhood program, doing AT services, teaching workshops, traveling to CTG, ATIA, ASHA, FLASHA,  and ISAAC, leading our very special camp time this summer, and being able to mentor some team members all has been such a gift.  Much thanks to all who made it possible.  Thanks to the  terrific children and individuals served.  Much thanks to the families who have been so gracious.   Thanks to the team members who have been such a gift.  So much thanks and respect to Dr. Zangari and Dean Dr. Newman for hiring me and giving me so much freedom to create.  Special thanks to Beth Saunders who has been a constant source of help and support.  She does a terrific job leading a great team of AT specialists in Broward.  The respect they gave by giving so much time meeting with me on translating our camp gains on into the students current school year is such an inspiration.  So much thanks to my friends down here.  Gosh, you have been awesome.  Thanks for all the fun times on Las Olas, South Beach, and beyond. Thanks to God for the grace this longest summer.  It surely has been a great chapter in my life and while the relationships live on, this time is ending.  Goodbye Florida.  Goodbye summer.

September 24, 2008 Posted by | Special Education | , , | 2 Comments

Disney Interest Bookshelf

by Samuel Sennott

My friend and co-worker authored these Disney Interest books.

You can access the bookshelf here

September 8, 2008 Posted by | Special Education | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Introducing the Vantage Lite from Prentke Romich

by Samuel Sennott

It is exciting to report the arrival of the Vantage Lite, the newest AAC device from Prentke Romich Company.  In my early childhood classroom program we have been greatly appreciating the Springboard Lite.  The most important advantages of the Lite series in general is that they are physically lighter, have brighter backlit displays, are far more rugged, and have very useful handles.  The bluetooth features of the Vantage Lite is very exciting connecting to computers and other devices.  Here is the press release with a more full review to come when I am scheduled to get a chance to trial one next week.

Vantage Lite in Green

Vantage Lite in Green

Contact: Bob Nemens, Director of Marketing
Phone: (800) 262-1984 X243

PRC Introduces Vantage Lite,

a Portable AAC Powerhouse

Compact, Rugged, Take-It-Anywhere AAC Device Enables Robust Communication on the Go

Wooster, OH, September 8, 2008 – Prentke Romich Company (PRC), the leading manufacturer of alternative and augmented communication (AAC) devices for individuals with speech disabilities, today announced the release of Vantage™ Lite, a dedicated device designed for AAC beginners and those ready to advance toward fully independent augmented communication.

The second in PRC’s popular new line of “Lite” devices, Vantage Lite offers the same powerful language and communication features of PRC’s classic Vantage™ Plus  but adds an array of hardware and software innovations, including:

  • Compact case with built-in handle for greater portability;
  • “High brightness” display with LED backlight and wide viewing angle;
  • Magnesium frame that prevents damage from bumps and drops;
  • Bluetooth® connectivity for computer access and wireless access;
  • Integrated Bluetooth® phone interface, a PRC exclusive.

Like all AAC devices from PRC, Vantage Lite enables rich, independent communication through PRC’s proven Unity® language system, which allows users to progress from simple words and phrases to novel and spontaneous communication.  The device’s expanded Unity Toolset features make it easy to build vocabulary, while 4-, 8-, 15-, 45-, 60- and 84-location display options allow communication capacity to grow along with the user’s abilities.

“Vantage Lite is a breakthrough in dedicated devices because it combines our critical focus on language development with exciting technological and design innovations,” stated PRC President David L. Moffatt. “The new design is a direct result of requests from SLPs and PRC device users for a durable, powerful, and portable speech device.”

As part of the Vantage Lite launch, PRC is donating a free device to a school or center.  Those registering online at by October 31, 2008 will be entered in a drawing for a free Vantage Lite in their choice of five bold colors.  The winner will be announced at the ASHA Convention in November.

PRC will be demonstrating Vantage Lite at the Closing the Gap conference October 16-18 in Minneapolis.  Onsite demonstrations can be arranged by calling a PRC Regional Consultant at (800) 848-8008.  Details about the new device and PRC’s other AAC aids are also available online at

About PRC

PRC is a global leader in the development and manufacture of augmentative communication devices, computer access products, and other assistive technology for people with severe disabilities.

An employee-owned company founded in 1966 and headquartered in Wooster, OH, PRC has enabled thousands of children and adults worldwide with severe speech disorders to achieve spontaneous, independent, and interactive communication regardless of their disability, literacy level, or motor skills. 

In addition to its powerful communication devices –ECO-14, VanguardPlus, VantagePlus, Vantage Lite, and SpringBoard Lite – PRC also provides a wide array of high-quality teaching and implementation ideas, therapy materials, curriculum sequences, funding assistance, and training to speech-language pathologists, special educators, and the families of AAC communicators.

For more information, go to or call (800) 262-1984.

September 8, 2008 Posted by | AAC, Assistive Technology, Literacy, Special Education, writing | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

SpeakUP SUMMER 2008 ISSUE, FEATURE: Accessible Electronic Books

by Samuel Sennott

It is very pleasing to present the summer issue of SpeakUP, USSAAC’s quarterly newsletter magazine.

USSAAC is the United States Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication, the national chapter of ISAAC, the International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication.


July 2008 SpeakUp NEW SUMMER 2008 ISSUE FEATURE: Accessible Electronic Books

AAC and All That Jazz
Do You Got Game
Seating and Positioning in AT
AAC Evidenced Based Practice Conference Review


As many of you know, I am the new editor for SpeakUP.  It is terrific serving in this position and is a great opportunity to connect with so many excellent people.  If you have any article submissions you would like considered or ideas for SpeakUP and USSAAC in general, please contact me at

There are so many fantastic new ideas surrounding ISAAC and USSAAC right now.  Many came out of the USSAAC chapter meeting at ISAAC this past month.  It will be great to share them over the coming months.  Also, if you end up sharing this on your blog, please do not grab the download links to the issue into your post, as it is important to drive traffic to the USSAAC website.  Thank you.

August 31, 2008 Posted by | Special Education | , , , , | Leave a comment

Dalton Sherman, Dallas Schools, Enough Said, Watch the Video

by Samuel Sennott

The only things that need to be said are that Karen Janowski is my hero for always linking things like this and that the point of convergence going on in my life is way too much.

August 27, 2008 Posted by | Special Education | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Schuyler’s Monster

by Samuel Sennott

I highly recommend this book, Schuyler’s Monster, by Robert Rummel-Hudson. (Pronounced -Sky as in blue and -ler as in ler)

schuylers-monster book cover

Schuylers Monster book cover

Reading Schuyler’s Monster made me feel the same way I felt four years ago when I just happened to pick up the New York Times and read Is There a Place in Class for Thomas in the Sunday Magazine.  It made me feel the way I felt when I saw Including Samuel in Montreal at ISAAC three weeks ago.  It made me feel similar to how I felt the first time I heard Linda Burkhart speak at Closing the Gap.  It made me feel the way I felt when I heard Karen Erickson and David Koppenhaver at their summer Literacy in AAC seminar.

It made me cry.  It made me laugh.  It made me believe that what I am doing is right.  So if you are a parent, a friend, a speech pathologist, a student in speech or education, a director of “fill in the blank”, please consider reading this book.  It goes there.  Yet, sometimes, whether it is a gutsy move at a dinner with some friends, (multiple meanings), or leaving it all to live your dream, you just might have to go there.  So if you can’t get to this link at Amazon,  or you can’t hit up your local Barnes and Noble or Borders, check out the blog.

August 27, 2008 Posted by | Special Education | , , | 1 Comment

84 Location Unity Dolch Word Cards

by Samuel Sennott

Here is a terrific phonics resource that includes the 84 location Unity icon sequence cards for the Dolch words, the popular high frequency word list.  It is created and shared on Gail Van Tatenhove’s website, a great Unity resource.  Also check out all of her freeware resources at:

Go to the 84 Location Unity Dolch Word Cards:

Primer Dolch Words Unity 84 Screenshot

Primer Dolch Words Unity 84 Screenshot

August 25, 2008 Posted by | Special Education | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Introducing Patrick Black’s Teaching All Students Blog

By Samuel Sennott

Sam: Welcome.  Great to hear about your excitement for your new blog.  It looks terrific.   What’s it all about?

Patrick Black: Teaching all Students in a blog about my experiences in teaching students with significant cognitive disabilities.  As a self described “Geek”, I’ve always been interested in the ways technology can be used in teaching these students.  So I wanted to take the time to share some of the wonderful ideas I’ve gotten from blogs, conferences, and e-mail lists.  I currently am co-moderator of the Yahoo Boardmaker Group and belong to the QIAT list also.

I currently teach in Mt. Prospect, IL for Mt. Prospect School Dist 57, the SOAR program.  I will be teaching 4 students this year and plan to use what I post to help them access curriculum, be social, and have fun.  Here are a few of my favorite posts from my blog.  Thanks for taking a look!

Literacy for all

Tar Heel Reader

What Makes a Great Accessible Book?

Vocabulary Lists

August 21, 2008 Posted by | Special Education | , , , , , | Leave a comment

About the Olympics in Beijing

by Samuel Sennott

Check out these two  activities found on the Intellitools Classroom Suite Activity Exchange here:

About the Olympics in Beijing

Screenshot of About the Olympics in Beijing
Required Software:
IntelliPics Studio 3 or IntelliTools Classroom Suite
Overlay Maker 3

size: 14.43 Megabytes
uploaded: 08/13/2008

Created By: Cindy Kerr [Send Message]
Skill Level: Grades K-2
Curriculum: Language Arts   Life Skills   Social Studies
Accessibility Features: Switch
Activity Details: Easy look at Olympic vocabulary such as: flag, mascots, torch, Beijing, bird’s nest, water cube, opening ceremony and more.
Photo credits on first page: and Getty Photo membership for educational use.
Attached overlay.
Ready to scan.

Olympics Events in Beijing

Screenshot of Olympics Events in Beijing
Required Software:
IntelliPics Studio 3 or IntelliTools Classroom Suite
Overlay Maker 3

size: 19.39 Megabytes
uploaded: 08/13/2008

Created By: Cindy Kerr [Send Message]
Skill Level: Grades K-2
Curriculum: Language Arts   Life Skills
Accessibility Features: Switch
Activity Details: Did you watch the Olympics? Which events did you like? Easy way to identify events and talk about skills using pictures and sound effects.
Photos for educational use from and Getty images.
I will update as results come in!
Attached overlay.
Ready for scanning.

August 14, 2008 Posted by | Special Education | , , , , | Leave a comment

Accessible Books Launcher

by Samuel Sennott

Do you have enough books?  Would you like some more?  How about links out to over a thousand books?  Here is a books launcher that was presented as part of the ISAAC 2008 pre-conference presentation I collaborated on with Caroline Ramsey Musselwhite titled, Writing Books for Beginning Readers . . . and Using Them to Support Real Reading.

Download the accessible-books-launcher in PDF Format

Link to a Two Switch Step Scan Capable Online Version

If you enjoy this resource and have other book websites, please email them to me at

As I am writing this post, I am at ISAAC at a presentation by Carole Goossens and it is so confirming to see her presenting on this same concept of using the launcher.  There really is something to using this framework.  While this particular launcher is meant as a teacher tool, look for big releases for this school year that are focused on independent student use.

August 7, 2008 Posted by | Special Education | , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

1 Voice Crew

by Samuel Sennott

ISAAC is definitely amazing.  Only been here for a day and it seems like so much has happened.  This video came to life after meeting a bunch of people in it and who are part of the group 1 Voice.  It is terrific meeting people from all over the world.  From Bangladesh this morning, to all over Canada all day, to various parts of Europe, Australia, and beyond, it is definitely an enlightening experience.

August 3, 2008 Posted by | Special Education | , , , , | Leave a comment

I Gati Dicono (Italiano), Cats Say (English), (Arabic) القطة تقول

By Samuel Sennott

There is a great deal to share here in the coming months regarding the Books Please Project and its recent transformations.  That being said, this project is not just about the US and English, but about individuals from all around the world.  Check out the Italian, English, and Arabic Versions.

I Gati Dicono Meow

Cats Say Meow

Cats Say in Arabic

August 1, 2008 Posted by | Special Education | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Who Are You?

By Samuel Sennott

There are now five thousand visitors a month connecting to this blog.  Who are you?  What do you care about?

It would be terrific to hear from you.  Also, feel free to message outside of the comments, by emailing at

Who am I?

Picture of me with long hair

Picture of me with long hair

My name is Samuel Sennott and I am a teacher and more specifically a special educator who is a technology specialist focused on learners with augmentative and alternative communication needs.  When I was nineteen years old, I happened to volunteer at a center in my hometown of Hopkinton Massachusetts.  That newly formed center forever changed my life.  My beginning days of volunteering at a crafts table with a few adults who came to the center led to a full time job where I was a lead staff member doing everything from circle times with babies and preschoolers to job coaching and recreation outings with adults.  This formative time taught me the heart of the work.  It taught me much about the people for whom I care so much.  From being a staff person at this Respite Center, I moved on to a dual certification degree in elementary education and special education.  This powerful experience of student teaching and intense study led me to my first teaching job leading a public school inclusion program for children with significant special needs.  This super in over my head on day one experience was a powerful experience for me.  My knowledge of the children and my care for them ran straight into the defining problem of “the school programs and systems mostly suck.”  Night after night and day after day of working it to the bone in the classroom, as well as going to every AT, AAC, and Literacy workshop, class, and conference I could get to was paying off.  The students were growing and succeding. Getting my graduate degree at Simmons College in assistive technology was a key time where I grew very rapidly as a teacher and technology specialist.  In the classroom, we had in many ways the best of both worlds, the inclusion and the specialized community.  The kids were rock stars in their general education classes and we would come to our “Discovery Center” as we called the program and we would focus on all the intangibles that could not be done in the solemn and quiet “regular classrooms”.  We did not only focused on building communication systems, but also did things like having a rock band with the Switch Jam software.  We played wiffle ball, football, dolls, and played games like Switch Wars.  It was far from perfect, but I very much believe in the concepts behind that program I had designed.   To this day my favorite teaching moment is playing football with two of my students when they broke through into being able to communicate.

I have had the great fortune to live in Fort Lauderdale for a time, working on an early childhood program for AAC users who are getting ready for Kindergarten.  Also, the AAC writers camp we just had for elementary school students was truly amazing.  Our premise of A Writer, a Pencil, a Reason, and a Teacher has forever showed me the power of these kids!  Truly we can create unfathomable tipping points if we only set our sights right.  This being said, I am more than pleased to be accepted and heading into a Ph.D. program at The Pennsylvania State University.  It is a dream come true and a chance to leverage all that I have learned, am learning, and will learn into making a difference.  My proposed study in AAC, special education, and technology is an opportunity that I will put my whole heart and mind into.

For the next few months, I will be focusing on a number of projects, but I also will be doing consultation work.  I have been asked by a number of individuals and entities to consult to them for their children with complex communication needs.  I am both excited to be continuing to help individuals and their families, as well as do larger scale consulting work with schools where you can take that principal of one and apply it to a larger group.

What do I care about?

Picture of me with short hair

Picture of me with short hair

I care about a great deal of things including the ocean, music, walking, photography, The Red Sox, The Celtics, The Patriots, turntables, my Mac, love, God, technology, teaching,  the flat world, tipping points, one to one thousand, and dogs.  Yet, out of everything in the world, I care about people the most.  I root for them, especially the people with special needs that I am lucky to serve.  Over the past few months, with getting accepted to the Ph.D. program, seeing the AAC writers camp be such a success, and learning some new things I have shifted my thinking considerably.  For many years now I have been working on and believing in my dreams of helping people in schools, particularly people with significant special needs be much more successful.  Yet, now I absolutely know that they will come true.  This may sound funny, like I am calling a shot or something.  It is not like that.  It is just that I see it.  I believe it.  So in short, I care about people and know that good things are going to happen for the people I am trying to help.

I have been working on a theory that I believe will create change.  It is called One to One Thousand and it goes that if a thousand people each take an hour and work on a project with agreed upon standards, you can create something with exponential power.  Anyway, it will be exciting to share in the coming months the launch of the website and the blog connected to it.  Well, thats a lengthy bit about me, but it is good to share.  I had realized that I was getting so focused on sharing resources and this post represents a shift and reversion back to the mean.

Also, as I am sharing so much, I have to say thank you for the people who have been mentoring me and helping me become a better teacher one step at a time.  You know who you are.

July 26, 2008 Posted by | Special Education | , , | 11 Comments

Some Favorite Posts on Alltogether

by Samuel Sennott

  1. Including Samuel


  3. PRC Pictures (3,385 of them) Wow!

  4. Hannah Montana Book,

    Skateboarders Ride Transitional Book,

    Dogs by Samuel Sennott

  5. You Can Golf

  6. AAC-RERC Webcasts

  7. Video Writing Setups

  8. The Tango Tutorial: An Exercise in Not Reduplicating Training

  9. Connecting Video to Reading and Writing

  10. Tar Heel Reader: An Open Source Library of Talking Books

  11. Padded Head Switches and Loc-Line Mounting Arms

  12. AAC Considerations and the Stages Framework

  13. AAC Consideration Materials and Checklists

  14. Goossens, Crain, Elder Communication Overlay Color Reminder

  15. Art Website Launcher

  16. Math Websites Core Tools

July 26, 2008 Posted by | Special Education | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

PRC Pictures (3,385 of them) Wow!

By Samuel Sennott


Did you know that you can freely download the Prentke Romich Company’s Picture set?  Wow!  That is a powerful tool to use and a powerful tool to share with parents and teachers.

Here is the info and links from the Prentke Romich Downloads section of their website.

file icon PRC Pictures Hot!
Download the current PRC icons. These icons are the same for all PRC devices. They are available in BMP, GIF, and JPEG format and contained within a single ZIP file. If you need an icon for a device or for use in a PC, then use the bitmap (bmp) file. MAC users will need to use the gif or jpeg files. The files include a page of instructions for using the PRC icons.
Hits: 347

-These icons are used in their terrific line up of Augmentative and Alternative Communication Devices that include:

Springboard Lite, Vantage, Vanguard, Pathfinder, Eco-14

You can import all 3,385 pictures into your iPhoto library.  Give them a keyword tag of PRC and then make an album.  Now in MS Word 2008, they can be used easily by just linking to the iPhoto folder.  Plus that way the set can be searched by title for the desired icon.  When you download the zipped file you get the BMP, GIF, and JPEG formatted icons organized mostly by letters A to Z.  Once they are in one folder in iPhoto, dumping them back into one folder on your desktop or a flash drive may be helpful to have them in one searchable folder for varying applications/ operating systems that do not connect as easily to iPhoto as MS Word 2008 for Mac does.  That being said, two posts I have created previously relate to this resource:

  1. Microsoft Word and Slater Software’s Free Online Symbol Resource-Video Podcast
  2. Keywords in iPhoto ‘08 for Organizing Video

PRC Pictures in iPhoto

This is a Talking Visual Scene Display in PowerPoint with the PRC Picture Set in the Object Palette

July 23, 2008 Posted by | Special Education | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

High Tech AAC Links from TLWMN

By Samuel Sennott

Kate Ahern, a teacher, who authors the Teaching Learners with Multiple Needs blog has a terrific link list on the left hand side of her site. It really is a valuable resource. Check out the high tech AAC links as well as her public AAC Dynamic Display Device Picassa Web album:

Thanks Kate!

AAC – Programming Resources

July 23, 2008 Posted by | Special Education | , | Leave a comment

We Love the Wii and Adapting it Too

by Samuel Sennott

We have been playing the Nintendo Wii with children with special needs and have been having an amazing time.  Both for recreation and as a connection to the curriculum, it really is an amazing tool.  Seeing the virtual game worlds up on the big projector is pretty cool.  Our best integration is seen in a previous post about golf. There is much to share about the process we use, but for right now, one tip is to use tape or velcro to adapt the buttons.  Yes, if you have the $300 for the adapted controller, definitely check it out, but look for more posts on our adaptations.  We do some pretty wild stuff like swat at the controller, drop it, and use eye gaze to coridinate assistance.  Also, good luck getting one.  I was up very early at Best Buy on the Sunday morning we snagged ours!

July 22, 2008 Posted by | Special Education | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment