165 episodes

How do people with complex communication needs learn to use augmentative and alternative communication (AAC)? Join speech-language pathologists (SLPs) Rachel and Chris as they answer your questions, discuss relevant research and give you updates on the latest and greatest developments in the field of AAC! Interviews with industry thought-leaders, clinicians, parents, researchers, users, and app developers help you stay up-to-date on the latest devices and apps, best practices for device selection and implementation, ideas for working with communication partners, and more!

Talking With Tech AAC Podcas‪t‬ Rachel Madel and Chris Bugaj

    • Education
    • 5.0 • 9 Ratings

How do people with complex communication needs learn to use augmentative and alternative communication (AAC)? Join speech-language pathologists (SLPs) Rachel and Chris as they answer your questions, discuss relevant research and give you updates on the latest and greatest developments in the field of AAC! Interviews with industry thought-leaders, clinicians, parents, researchers, users, and app developers help you stay up-to-date on the latest devices and apps, best practices for device selection and implementation, ideas for working with communication partners, and more!

    Chris Sawka: AAC User & USSAAC Committee Member

    Chris Sawka: AAC User & USSAAC Committee Member

    This week, we interview AAC user, USSAAC Membership Committee member, artist, and TWT superfan Chris Sawka! Chris provides great insights into some of the challenges and victories he has had as a full-time AAC user, how he socializes with other AAC users, playing sports on a paraolympic team, and more!
     
    Before the interview, Chris talks about the ATIA presentation by Kevin Williams, who won the Prentke AAC Distinguished Lecturer award. Chris notes that Kevin said he continues to use multiple AAC tools to communicate depending upon what is right for that moment. Chris and Rachel discuss how the communication “system” for most people today, whether or not they use verbal speech, is made up of a complex web of tools (e.g. text, video, email) that evolve over time.
     
    Key ideas this week:
     
    🔑 Communication partners need to make AAC fun and not give up if the user doesn’t like AAC at first. Talk to them with the device, use it during activities like dinner, and pass the device around to have everyone use it.
     
    🔑 People in public often don’t realize how smart Chris Sawka is. People talk with Chris in a loud voice even though Chris can hear perfectly well, and they talk to him like a child, even though he is an adult.
     
    🔑 Chris Sawka doesn’t like it when people talk to his parents or his aide rather than him directly. Chris wants to reply himself and doesn’t appreciate when people talk about him like he isn’t there.
     
    Help us develop new content and keep the podcast going strong! Support our podcast at patreon.com/talkingwithtech!
     
    Visit talkingwithtech.org to access previous episodes, resources, and CEU credits that you can earn for listening to TWT episodes!

    • 30 min
    Lydia Dawley: AAC User, CEO, and Co-Creator of the NadPen Stylus

    Lydia Dawley: AAC User, CEO, and Co-Creator of the NadPen Stylus

    This week, TWT presents Rachel’s interview with Lydia Dawley, the CEO of the Click, Speak, Connect, and co-creator of the NadPen, an amazing stylus device that is easy to grip and use, especially for people with motor challenges. Lydia has mixed cerebral palsy and is a fantastic AAC user - you won’t want to miss her perspective on involving AAC users in decisions, choosing AAC vocabulary, incorporating peers as communication partners, and more! 
     
    Before the interview, Rachel and Chris discuss Rachel’s recent “intensive” 2-week coaching & therapy experience with an AAC user and his circle of support. Rachel shares why this intensive approach can be so effective, and some techniques she uses, including using video to document pogress, coaching every other service provider possible, and keeping the excitement and energy that is created during the 2 weeks going into the future. Chris and Rachel also reflect on how aspects of this intensive approach could be applied to working in the schools. 
     
    Key ideas this week:
     
    🔑 Involve the AAC users as much as possible with the decision making process, including vocabulary selection.  AAC users may want to use slang their peers are using and not just use adult-like vocabulary.
     
    🔑 The most frustrating thing for Lydia is when people don’t wait long enough for her to communicate herself effectively in conversations.
     
    🔑 Incorporate siblings and peers as much as possible to make using the device more fun. 
     
    To learn more about Lydia, go clickspeakconnect.com. Also, check out Lydia's Kickstarter (bit.ly/nadpenkickstarter) campaign to help get the NadPen into production! Lydia came up with the NAD Pen because it is thicker and easier for for her to hold, her hand is more secure, it has a wrist strap, and the tip won’t break off like other styluses when she uses it.
     
    Help us develop new content and keep the podcast going strong! Support our podcast at patreon.com/talkingwithtech!
     
    Visit talkingwithtech.org to access previous episodes, resources, and CEU credits that you can earn for listening to TWT episodes!

    • 47 min
    AAC After Work: Digital Storytelling to Foster Communication Partner Skills - Part 2

    AAC After Work: Digital Storytelling to Foster Communication Partner Skills - Part 2

    In part II of their AAC After Work presentation, Rachel and Chris do a deeper dive into storytelling with digital tools, aka digital storytelling. They go over all the different ways that digital tools can support storytelling and how we can use storytelling as a way to stimulate communication, support literacy, and teach core words! They also discuss “pre-story brainstorming” where you discuss the setting, characters, and problem/solution with an AAC user before you begin to create the story. 
     
    Before part 2, Chris shares about an eye gaze user who he was asked to help support as part of a school team.  Previously, the parent was programming a unique page of vocabulary for every story the AAC user was going to read so the user could participate by answering questions. There was also a limited number of icons on each page of the user's screen. Chris shares about how he worked with the family to increase the number of symbols/vocabulary on the screen after they discovered the student was able to target icons really well. He then discusses changes they made to the implantation strategy (e.g. descriptive teaching) so the student didn’t need a newly programmed vocabulary page all the time .
     
    Key digital tools discussed this week:
     
    🔑 http://www.mystoryapp.org - allows students to create stories with pictures, stickers, describing words, and more. 
     
    🔑 Character generators (heroforge.com, peanutizeme.com, bitmoji.com) let you make a visual representation of a character, including things like what the character looks like, their emotions, outfit, pose, etc. You can then take a screenshot of the character and put that into a storytelling app. 
     
    🔑 storyboardthat.com - allows you to create comic-like storyboards.
     
    🔑 picmonkey.com - drag words, icons, and more on top of digital images.
     
    🔑 thinglink.com - create a story around a single image by adding hyperlinks to the image.
     
    🔑 Edpuzzle.com - search for any youtube video and it allows you to add prompts/questions. Send videos to families for carry over practice - you can tell the family what to model as they are watching the video. 
     
    🔑 Loom.com - screen record or take a video of yourself that you can share with others, including ideas and feedback for communication partners.
     
    Help us develop new content and keep the podcast going strong! Support our podcast at patreon.com/talkingwithtech!
     
    Visit talkingwithtech.org to access previous episodes, resources, and CEU credits that you can earn for listening to TWT episodes!

    • 49 min
    AAC After Work: Digital Storytelling to Foster Communication Partner Skills - Part 1

    AAC After Work: Digital Storytelling to Foster Communication Partner Skills - Part 1

    This week, we present the first half of Chris and Rachel’s previous webinar from the AAC after Work conference that focused on digital storytelling. This week’s portion provides an overview of AAC strategies, including expansion, core/fringe/personal core words, “stimming” on devices, using apps to support language, and more!
    Before the interview, Chris and Rachel talk about how to deal with the awkwardness of taking a coaching approach with fellow clinicians who need help with AAC. Often, people expect a consulting approach where the “expert” solves their problem, but we know that a coaching approach utilizing reflective questions can help people come to conclusions on their own and they can have their own revelations. When other clinicians are asking for help, that can be really vulnerable and being asked questions might not be what they expect. We all need to remember to have a growth mindset - its more important to be able to learn new information and to know how to go and get it than it is to know every answer already. 
     
    Key ideas this week: 
     
    🔑 Expansion is all about taking language an AAC user has communicated and going up one more step. When teaching a child how to walk up the stairs, you don’t yell down at them from the top, you are next to them and showing them what is coming next. Similarly, with language, we want to meet an AAC user where they are at and go to the next level. For example, if they say “on” we can expand that and say “turn on” back to them.
     
    🔑 Treat multiple button presses on a device ( aka “stimming”) with a “yes, and” approach like actors do in an improv comedy act. Interpret the button presses as something they meant to say on the device and expand upon that with them whenever possible. 
     
    🔑 When using apps to support language, co-view the app together rather than just putting the app in front of the AAC user. Have them communicate what they want to see happen in the app to promote more communication, e.g., “what clothes do you want me to put on this character?”. 
     
    ATIA - AT Connected will take place this year Jan 25-28th and Feb 1-4th. There will be more than 150 courses covering AAC, Assistive Technology, Education, and more. Registrations options include full conference, single strand, one day, and even a free option! Go to atia.org/talkingwithtech and enter registration code ATIAVISION21 for 20% off of the full registration! Also, don’t forget to check out Rachel & Chris virtual seminar at ATIA on Jan 30th and Feb 6th at bit.ly/TWTATIA21  
     
    Help us develop new content and keep the podcast going strong! Support our podcast at patreon.com/talkingwithtech!
     
    Visit talkingwithtech.org to access previous episodes, resources, and CEU credits that you can earn for listening to TWT episodes!

    • 47 min
    TWT Live: Access to Education Conference - Part 2

    TWT Live: Access to Education Conference - Part 2

    This week, we share Part 2 of the TWT Live from the Access to Education Conference with Chris and Rachel! In this TWT Live, there are lots of useful tips and tricks, including ideas for motivating communication partners to model AAC! 
     
    Before the live session, Chris shares about working with a computer science supervisor in his school district to combine AAC with computer science in the classroom. Chris describes how they trained the instructional facilitators who work with teachers to teach core words and block coding together. Chris and Rachel discuss the importance of enthusiasm and why projects like this are so important to fuel you to move forward!
     
    Key ideas this week:
     
    🔑 When trying to motivate teachers and staff to model more often, ask reflective questions and get insights into the struggles that she or he experiences with the AAC user. This can build rapport and lead to the brainstorming of ideas that have a better chance of being implemented.
     
    🔑 Even if a student has moved from primarily being an AAC user to being more verbal, don’t take the device away from him or her automatically (if they still want to use it). That student can be a great peer communicator for other AAC users, and they may want to use AAC instead of verbal speech in some situations.
     
    🔑 Don’t always assume that a student is “stimming” on a device when they’re pushing buttons seemingly at random. Sometimes there is communicative intent that we do not yet understand. If the student has true stim-like behaviors on a device, we can try and shope it to be more functional. We can also tell a social story to help them see how the stimming makes others feel.
     
    ATIA - AT Connected will take place this year Jan 25-28th and Feb 1-4th. There will be more than 150 courses covering AAC, Assistive Technology, Education, and more. Registrations options include full conference, single strand, one day, and even a free option! Go to atia.org/talkingwithtech and enter registration code ATIAVISION21 for 20% off of the full registration! Also, don’t forget to check out Rachel & Chris virtual seminar at ATIA on Jan 30th and Feb 6th at bit.ly/TWTATIA21  
     
    Help us develop new content and keep the podcast going strong! Support our podcast at patreon.com/talkingwithtech!
     
    Visit talkingwithtech.org to access previous episodes, resources, and CEU credits that you can earn for listening to TWT episodes!

    • 40 min
    TWT Live: Access to Education Conference - Part1

    TWT Live: Access to Education Conference - Part1

    This week, we present part 1 of TWT Live: Access to Education Conference 2020! Before the TWT Live session, Chris and Rachel briefly discuss the importance of using captions, both as a tool to learn to read and to support people who are hard of hearing. There are many small tweaks we can make to make things more inclusive, such as enabling a feature on iPhones that allows captions to be turned on automatically when they are available. 
     
    Key ideas shared this week:
     
    🔑 If you start with PECS, are you considering what that person will use as an adult? PECS often isn’t a good long-term robust solution compared to something like a high-tech AAC device. Its OK to use many different kinds of AAC but you want a primary method of communication that is robust and can grow with the user.
     
    🔑 Virtual learning is a great opportunity to coach family members and communication partners. Service providers can change every year but the family will often be a consistent source of communication and support for the user over the years. 
     
    🔑 Look beyond your own discipline for professional development. There are trainings (e.g. cognitive coaching, difficult conversations) that apply to working with AAC but are not listed under the umbrella of education, speech pathology, or AAC. 
     
     
    ATIA - AT Connected will take place this year Jan 25-28th and Feb 1-4th. There will be more than 150 courses covering AAC, Assistive Technology, Education, and more. Registrations options include full conference, single strand, one day, and even a free option! Go to atia.org/talkingwithtech and enter registration code ATIAVISION21 for 20% off of the full registration! Also, don’t forget to check out Rachel & Chris virtual seminar at ATIA on Jan 30th and Feb 6th at bit.ly/TWTATIA21  
     
    Help us develop new content and keep the podcast going strong! Support our podcast at patreon.com/talkingwithtech!
     
    Visit talkingwithtech.org to access previous episodes, resources, and CEU credits that you can earn for listening to TWT episodes!

    • 44 min

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