229 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 • 15 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!

    Bilingüe AAC (Part 1): Conducting Bilingual Family-Based AAC Assessments

    Bilingüe AAC (Part 1): Conducting Bilingual Family-Based AAC Assessments

    This week, Rachel interviews Alma Partida (@aacforyouandme on Insta), Sarah Lee (@aac_together), Melissa Tapia (@hablame_de_language), and Maria De Leon (@code.switch.slp) about Bilingüe AAC (www.bilingueaac.com), a platform that supports evidence-based, culturally affirming Spanish AAC. They discuss many aspects of bilingualism and AAC, including core word considerations and strategies for family-based AAC assessment.

     

    Before the interview, Chris and Rachel talk about the difference between “progress” and “success” when we are talking about an AAC user’s communication journey. For some, making progress with using AAC demonstrates success. However, if we are not making progress fast enough or are using a tool that doesn’t promote language development (e.g. a 4 icon core board) then we aren’t really working towards true success, which includes independent, spontaneous communication.

     

    🔑 When assessing a bilingual student for AAC, take a family centered approach to assessment.  Try and get an interpreter involved (if necessary) and talk to the family about how they communicate in the home. If we get a bilingual word inventory of the student and discuss vocabulary with the family, we can get a better picture of what words will be most useful for that student.

     

    🔑 Generally, we don’t want to directly translate core word lists between two languages. Depending on the languages in question, the core words may be somewhat different (e.g. English and Spanish) or completely different (e.g. English and Chinese). In either case, shouldn’t assume that the core words are exactly the same.

     

    🔑 When assessing a bilingual student, do a home language survey that includes the amount the family uses each language. In some cases, they may speak 90% english with only little bit of Spanish, or vice versa. 

     

    Links this week:

     

    Diverse AAC YouTube channel

     

     AAC App Crosswalk- table with different AAC app features, including languages offered

     

    Soto and Cooper (2021): An early Spanish vocabulary for children who use AAC: Developmental and linguistic considerations. 

     

    AAC in the Cloud Presentation on diverse AAC implementation

     

    Visit talkingwithtech.org to access previous episodes, resources, and CEU credits that you can earn for listening to TWT episodes!

     

    Help us develop new content and keep the podcast going strong! Support our podcast at patreon.com/talkingwithtech!

    • 43 min
    Ceci Fetterolf: Supporting Core Words with Student-Led Projects

    Ceci Fetterolf: Supporting Core Words with Student-Led Projects

    This week, Chris interviews Ceci Fetterolf, a high school senior who created core word videos and linked them using QR codes for her school capstone project. Ceci shares about how she came up with her project and decided on the core words to make videos about, and also how she created books for students that simplified math concepts, like shapes. 

     

    Before the interview, Chris gathers with Karen Janowski, Mike Marotta, and Beth Poss to discuss their upcoming “Inclusive Road Trip to ISTE”! This road trip starts at TextHelp headquarters in Massachusetts and ends at the ISTE conference in New Orleans, LA. During the road trip, Chris, Karen, Beth, and Mike will pull out their favorite inclusive tools and use them to enhance their roadtrip experience! Follow them on social media with #inclusiveroadtoISTE. 

     

    Key Ideas this Week:

     

    🔑Learn more about the Inclusive Road Trip at inclusive365.com/inclusiveroadtoISTE, including the Wonderfully Inclusive Scavenger Hunt (WISH), an event which you can join at home!

     

    🔑You can add to the playlist Chris, Karen, Mike, and Beth’s will listen to on their trip by going to their Spotify #InclusiveRoadToISTE Playlist

     

    🔑 If you want to learn more about the Road Trip and WISH live, you can Register for the June 22nd #ATchat #InclusiveRoadToISTE Kick off Event

     

    Visit talkingwithtech.org to access previous episodes, resources, and CEU credits that you can earn for listening to TWT episodes!

     

    Help us develop new content and keep the podcast going strong! Support our podcast at patreon.com/talkingwithtech!

    • 40 min
    Benjamin Bennett - Implementing the Specific Language System First Approach District-Wide

    Benjamin Bennett - Implementing the Specific Language System First Approach District-Wide

    This week, Chris has an amazing interview with Benjamin Bennett, an AAC Specialist for the Escondido Union School District near San Diego, CA. Benjamin has a wealth of information to share, including his school’s move from doing traditional AAC evaluations to a model that is more focused on the considerations of the whole team. Benjamin has lots of questions about the strengths and drawbacks of the Specific Language System First Approach (SLSFA) - his district is strongly considering moving more towards the SLSFA and he wanted to think through possible issues before rolling it out. To learn more about about the SLSFA from Chris, click here.

     

    Before the interview, Chris and Rachel have a great discussion about writing effective goals for AAC users, including tracking spontaneous language and independent initiation. According to Rachel, independent initiation has to be a foundational skill if we want everything else, because “we see a lot of kids who can do a lot with support, and not a lot without it.” She thinks that we need to be open to all the ways students are communicating with us - if they aren’t using the word we are working on but they are communicating, that is still growth and should be recognized. 

     

    Key ideas this week:

     

    🔑 Students in school should not be required to respond - they aren’t getting paid to be there and it isn’t their choice. We shouldn’t put all of the communication responsibility on the student - instead, let’s ask, what can we do to make communication more tempting?

     

    🔑 Benjamin shares about a school site that has a variety of students who are nonspeaking, minimally verbal, and verbal all using the same systems in the moderate/severe classrooms. This helps get everyone involved with AAC and no longer isolates the nonspeaking students. It just becomes “how we teach” instead of a tier 3 support that only a few students have access to.

     

    🔑 One thing to consider if someone comes in with an AAC system that is different than what is typically used at a new school site - are they independently using the device to communicate? If the device is being used effectively, there is a very strong argument for keeping them on that system and not disrupting their motor plan by moving them to a different one.

     

    🔑 People often think about putting everyone on the same tool, but what about strategies? Is there consistency of communication partners between sites? Do people focus on the same things and model the same way across the district? That is often a bigger concern than the particular system. 

     

    Visit talkingwithtech.org to access previous episodes, resources, and CEU credits that you can earn for listening to TWT episodes!

     

    Help us develop new content and keep the podcast going strong! Support our podcast at patreon.com/talkingwithtech!

    • 1 hr 15 min
    Laura Taylor: Using PODD to Teach Communication, Language & Literacy

    Laura Taylor: Using PODD to Teach Communication, Language & Literacy

    This week, we present Rachel’s interview with Laura Taylor, a Special Education Teacher and AAC Specialist with a years of experience teaching language and literacy to people with complex communication needs. Laura has done amazing work utilizing the Pragmatic Organization of Dynamic Displays (PODD), a form of AAC that, at least in the early stages, focuses on teaching communication functions along with vocabulary.

     

    Before the interview, Rachel shares about a client of hers with Childhood Apraxia of Speech. This client was strongly averse to AAC - he would even protest against looking at an iPad with AAC on it. Rachel describes how she got him to start using AAC by giving him a “Please don’t take off my sweater” button! Rachel and Chris then discuss the value in teaching students to protest and to direct the actions of others.

     

    Key ideas this week:

     

    🔑 PODD is a low-tech or high-tech AAC solution that allows for direct access or partner-assisted scanning. PODD starts out organized by communication function and moves on to organization by category later. It also focuses more on suffixes/morphology as time goes on.

     

    🔑 One advantage of PODD is its organization by pragmatic function. Having vocabulary organized this way may help demonstrate to the student what they can communicate about more frequently than other organization methods. Many students are used to the pragmatic functions of answering questions or requesting but not much else. Using PODD may give these students a head start with extra exposure to these other communication functions.

     

    🔑 If you are trying to figure out how to get started with teaching literacy and communication, Laura recommends to “just start.” Do what you can manage. Start small and it can build to big things - modeling, communication opportunities, etc. Get strategic with yourself on one thing that will make an impact - then you can get good at that and build off that!

     

     

    You can find out more about Laura and PODD at Tayloreducationalconsultants.com and can reach Laura via email at Tayloredconsultants@gmail.com

     

    Visit talkingwithtech.org to access previous episodes, resources, and CEU credits that you can earn for listening to TWT episodes!

     

    Help us develop new content and keep the podcast going strong! Support our podcast at patreon.com/talkingwithtech!

    • 1 hr 2 min
    Meredith Gohsman (Part 2): Possible Negative Impacts of ASHA AAC Certification

    Meredith Gohsman (Part 2): Possible Negative Impacts of ASHA AAC Certification

    This week, we hear Part 2 of Dr. Meredith Gohsman's interview with Chris and Rachel! Meredith, Chris, and Rachel reflect on the meeting they attended at the last ASHA convention about ASHA AAC Certification. While previous meetings they attended were more concerned regarding ASHA AAC certification, at ASHA the crowd was more in favor of the certification. Meredith, Chris, and Rachel remain concerned about ASHA AAC certification and discuss some possible negative consequences, including possible impacts on device funding and reducing personal ownership of AAC for some communication partners.

     

    Key ideas this week:

     

    🔑 Parents should always be the most important “expert” on their child. The leader of the AAC team should be the caregiver or the AAC user themselves. AAC Certification may lead people to think that the AAC Specialist needs to be leading the AAC team in decision making.

     

    🔑 An ASHA AAC Certification could potentially make communication partners feel more intimidated by AAC. It could be a reason that caregivers and communication partners to say “I don’t do AAC, I’m not an expert” We don’t need anything to take away from the idea that AAC is for all, and it’s everyone’s responsibility. 

     

    🔑 It is possible that insurance companies may make it harder for non-AAC Specialists to get funding for a device. Insurance companies might even require someone to be a certified AAC Specialist before they will fund a device.

     

    🔑 One of the most important aspects of supporting AAC users is coaching their communication partners. It isn’t clear if the AAC Certification process will focus on coaching as much as it should; they may focus more on individual expertise in areas like AAC devices or 1:1 treatment. 

     

    Links:

     

    stopaaccertification.org - website with resources and information about the effort to stop ASHA AAC certification. If you are interested in advocating for a stop or pause in the AAC Certification process, there are links on this site to templates and contacts where you can send your letter. 

     

    aacspecialist.org - home of the American Board of Augmentative and Alternative Communication; the website includes information in support of the potential ASHA AAC certification.

     

    Committee on Specialty Certification: specialtycertification@asha.org

     

    Feedback for ASHA Executive Board: https://www.asha.org/Form/Board-of-Directors-Feedback/

     

    Visit talkingwithtech.org to access previous episodes, resources, and CEU credits that you can earn for listening to TWT episodes!

     

    Help us develop new content and keep the podcast going strong! Support our podcast at patreon.com/talkingwithtech!

    • 54 min
    Meredith Gohsman (Part 1): Evaluating the Effectiveness of AAC Camps

    Meredith Gohsman (Part 1): Evaluating the Effectiveness of AAC Camps

    This week, Chris and Rachel interview Dr. Meredith Gohsman about her research into how much progress using their device AAC users made during a 4 week AAC camp. Each AAC user received aided language stimulation and was prompted using the least-to-most prompting hierarchy. Meredith’s results indicate that, after 9 sessions of AAC Camp, there was no change in the students receiving language instruction or the parents participating in sessions. The only change they saw was growth in therapy skills of the student clinicians who engaged in the interventions. Meredith says this may indicate that we need to be looking at a longer period than 4 weeks for making progress with AAC users. It may also suggest that we can make greater progress with graduate clinicians by giving them more hands-on experiences.

     

    Before the interview, Chris and Rachel discuss Chris’s recent experience as a substitute teacher (due to staffing shortages in his district) in a co-taught general & special education class. Chris talks about some of the things he learned in that role, including the need for more flexible seating options and the general slow speed that public education can move - even when we know something is a better choice for the students.  Chris also shares about how the students were all required to write in a composition book, and he wonders if there would be a way to honor other modalities for writing in a journal (e.g. Chromebook, speech to text, etc). 

     

    Key ideas this week:

     

    🔑 When we are thinking about family-centered therapy, we should think about giving the families more hands-on training. In this study, the families didn’t get hands on opportunities, and they made little progress. 

     

    🔑 We have a responsibility to provide models and scaffolding for AAC users for a really long time. Some AAC stakeholders may approach modeling saying “A few weeks of modeling s is enough to see if they can use the device,” but in this case, nothing changed in 4 weeks.

     

    🔑 Caregiver perceptions relate to both the child and the caregiver themselves - after training, the communication partner reports they feel more confident with using the device. When caregivers feel more confident, that will pave the way for better downstream outcomes for AAC users.

     

    Visit talkingwithtech.org to access previous episodes, resources, and CEU credits that you can earn for listening to TWT episodes!

     

    Help us develop new content and keep the podcast going strong! Support our podcast at patreon.com/talkingwithtech!

    • 49 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
15 Ratings

15 Ratings

VickyTicky2013 ,

Such an engaging and positive podcast for AAC users

Just finished listening to Andy Smidt podcast: amazing!! I love the chats between host to introduce the podcast, then followed by a guest speaker. I regularly listen to in the car from appointments and use my Siri in the car to quickly send myself a message of ideas or resources to follow up with in the future. Thanks for sharing, it means so much to families like mine to hear new ideas and get support from such a positive and proactive team! Highly recommend a listen.

a.mayzie ,

Inspirational and affirming

I have been in the disability sector for 20 years and have recently jumped back to clinical practice. I can’t get over how amazing this podcast is- the absolutely incredible people that are just THERE dropping GEMS of wisdom! I’ve been seriously fangirling over every episode! It’s been amazing hearing the passion that Chris and Megan have for communication and the love for the history of the area. This is compulsory listening for speech pathologists in the area of AAC- new and experienced- as well as anyone working with people using AAC. This has reignited my passion for clinical practice and my passion to make sure I am using the NDIS (Australia) to maximize the lives of those we serve!

Platts4 ,

AAC 101

If you are new to AAC or have been involved in this area for a while, this podcast is for you! Chris and Rachel have so much knowledge, that they generously share. I learn something new every episode! Thanks for producing such practical and engaging content!

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