161 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
    • 4.9 • 8 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!

    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
    Talking with Tech Year in Review 2020

    Talking with Tech Year in Review 2020

    This week, Chris and Rachel review highlights of the Talking with Tech podcast during 2020. They talk about which countries listened the most to the podcast, the ways the podcast grew in 2020, and a breakdown of the most downloaded episodes of the year and of all time!

    • 31 min
    Coaching Call w/ Michaela Ball: Supporting a Severely Apraxic Emergent Communicator (Part 2)

    Coaching Call w/ Michaela Ball: Supporting a Severely Apraxic Emergent Communicator (Part 2)

    This week, we continue with part 2 of Chris and Rachel’s coaching call with TWT’s Audio Engineer & SLP grad student, Michaela Ball! Michaela continues to discuss her severely apraxic student who is a multi-modal communicator with Rachel and Chris. They continue to explore the importance of picking a larger iPad when possible, ways to promote direct selection skills, choosing motivating vocabulary to start with, and how to train staff and communication partners.
     
    Before the interview, Chris and Rachel discuss the “Pygmalion effect” and the ways that belief in someone can promote greater performance from that person. This includes the Rosenthal experiments in mice, in which mice who were labeled “intelligent” actually performed better. Experiments with students also indicate that belief in the student promotes better performance on average. This supports the idea that “presuming potential” can actually improve the performance of those we work with.
     
    Key ideas this week: 
     
    🔑 Visual supports help all students, especially early learners, Consider a classroom approach to aided language input so that everyone gets more practice with core words and how to use them.
     
    🔑 Consider putting core words into other places like the playground. For example, you can laminate key rings or core boards and place them on the playground for any kid to use and engage with.
     
    🔑 If teaching action words like “go”, instead of having adults model demands on the AAC user with that word, try having the AAC user make demands of others in a fun way, like in “red light, green light”. 
     
    🔑 When an AAC user communicates in multiple modalities, whenever possible, avoid “double demands” by communication partners, e.g. saying it verbally and then on the device. It is better to accept what they said and model without expectation.
     
    To get 20% off registration for the virtual conference ATIA 2021, go to ATIA.org/talkingwithtech and enter code ATIA21VISION (in all caps).  Chris and Rachel will teach virtual seminar Jan 30th and February 6th - check it out at bit.ly/twtatia2021! 

    • 49 min
    Coaching Call w/ Michaela Ball: Supporting a Severely Apraxic Emergent Communicator

    Coaching Call w/ Michaela Ball: Supporting a Severely Apraxic Emergent Communicator

    This week, we share a coaching call between Chris, Rachel, and our amazing Audio Engineer & SLP grad student, Michael Ball! Michaela asks the TWT team about a severely apraxic student she is working with who is a multi-modal communicator. With limited therapy time with this student, should Michaela focus more of her time on implementing a device, using sign language, or promoting verbal speech? How can she promote AAC best during the school day?
     
    Before the interview, Rachel shares with Chris about a another apraxic student she recently consulted with. Rachel talks about her approach to the difficult conversations that occur when a family is wary of AAC and holding out hope for verbal speech without AAC. Chris poses the option of bringing in more experienced families of AAC users to talk with the new client's family about the benefits of AAC. Chris also brings up the argument that AAC can often be the “lest dangerous option”, especially when compared to doing nothing differently. 
     
    Key ideas this week:
     
    🔑 When someone communicates in several different modalities, and we have to prioritize which modality to support, one good question to consider is “what modality will be most understood by unfamiliar listeners down the road?”
     
    🔑 When we are choosing what word to target first when working with an AAC user, it can be helpful to choose a word that is both really motivating to them in particular and one that he or she will use in many different contexts. 
     
    🔑 When choosing between an iPad mini or a full-sized iPad for AAC, it is important to consider the extra “real estate” that the full-sized iPad screen can give. More space often means for more symbols! It can also mean more space between the symbols, which can help students with fine motor challenges.
     
    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!

    • 43 min
    Small Talks 4: Candice Steel, Chris Ramirez, Monique Madrid, Sarah Gregory, and TJ Haley

    Small Talks 4: Candice Steel, Chris Ramirez, Monique Madrid, Sarah Gregory, and TJ Haley

    This week, TWT presents four more short interviews, aka "small talks", covering a variety of topics related to AAC and Assistive Technology!
     
    Before the interviews, Rachel talks about a contentious IEP she recently attended for a student she consults with.  Rachel had some ideas about supporting literacy that she shared with the team, but the team was resistant to Rachel’s input as an SLP and didn’t seem interested in changing any goals. Chris shares about a situation early in his career where he was told SLPs “don’t do reading” - but those same people couldn’t say who was responsible for helping the student succeed. Chris then connects this to ASHA’s perspective that reading falls under the scope of practice for SLPs. Rachel touches on some of the mistakes that are often made when teaching a minimally verbal student to read, presumably because teachers don’t know how to support a student’s reading effectively if he or she can’t read out loud. 
     
    This week's Small Talks are:
     
    🔑 Candice Steel, an SLP & AT specialist working for Gompers, a non-profit in AZ, talks about empowering paraprofessionals to support AAC. Her training focuses on concepts like core vocabulary, operational competence, evaluative feedback, and communication facilitation. You can email her to learn more at empoweringparas101@gmail.com.
     
    🔑 Chris Ramirez & Monique Madrid are SLPAs who work with young children, AAC, and home health. Monique shares about being a parent of a child with autism and introducing AAC to her daughter. Chris talks about working with bilingual families and working with a supervisor who supervises SLPAs from out-of-state. 
     
    🔑 Sarah Gregory, SLP and AAC specialist, talks about the benefits of using Seesaw and videos to connect with families and teachers. Sarah likes to take videos and share them with families, including videos of students (with permission) that she shares with families. With Seesaw you don’t have have everyone’s email address to be able to contact them instantly. 
     
    🔑 TJ Haley - high school SLPA who discusses ways to engage students, including augmented reality. You can broadcast augmented reality for groups and classes using software that is often free and easy to use. He finds augmented reality is a great way to elicit expressive language. Sketch Fab and Jig Space are two apps he uses.
     
    Do you have burning AAC questions for Chris and Rachel? Sign up for our Patreon at patreon.com/talkingwithtech and join our TWT Live show for Patreon members only on December 9th 7:30-8:30 pm Eastern Time (4:30-5:30 pm Pacfic)!
     
    Visit talkingwithtech.org to access previous episodes, resources, and CEU credits that you can earn for listening to TWT episodes!

    • 54 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
8 Ratings

8 Ratings

TamaraHopkins ,

Very impressed new listener!

My colleague just shared this podcast with me last week and I love it! I’m an SLP in Canada who works in AAC and I’m inspired by the energy of the hosts and the tidbits I take away from each episode. Sometimes just hearing something said in a new way can make it resonate more strongly. Each episode re-ignites my passion for this field and inspires me to be better everyday.:)

Interactor ,

Makes driving fun & stimulating for roving AAC consultants

Thanks for keeping me thinking and building this community--your work represents some of the best things about the internet!

Magella's Mum ,

Fabulous professional development, but fun too!

I am the parent of two students who use assistive technology, one who is nonspeaking. I also work in the field of special education and AT. So I was excited by this new podcast, but then quickly turned off by the chatty small talk at the start of each podcast. I’m so glad I went back and gave it a second chance! It is like being a fly on the wall when some of the most knowledgeable people in AT gather to discuss current issues. As a parent, it deepens my understanding of the experience of the professionals who work in the trenches. As a consultant, it is so affirming to discover how universal my challenges are. It is like attending an AT conference, for free, from the comfort of my own home and car. I think of AAC as a highly visual medium, so it has been a great surprise to learn that a purely audio format can be so effective. I can’t wait for each episode!

Top Podcasts In Education

Listeners Also Subscribed To