195 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 • 160 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!

    Coaching Call with Anya Ashouri: Getting School Admin Buy-In for AAC

    Coaching Call with Anya Ashouri: Getting School Admin Buy-In for AAC

    This week, the TWT team interviews Anya Ashouri, an SLP and AT Specialist for a Non-Public School who had questions about  identifying students in her school who are complex communicators but were not given AAC to communicate. Anya describes how she came to learn that her school needed more robust AT, the steps she took to train herself on AAC and AT, and asks Chris and Rachel for advice on getting admin and parent buy-in for robust AAC. 


     


    Before the interview, Chris and Rachel talk about a journal article from May 2020, called “The Effects of Telepractice to Support Family Members in Modeling a Speech-Generating Device in the Home”. The article resonated with Chris and Rachel because they both had always felt that coaching family members through tele practice can lead to greater success than direct therapy alone.


     


    Key ideas this week:


     


    🔑 If we are building from the ground up, we should tell people what AAC is and why its important. It’s easy to overwhelm people with jargoin if they are not familiar with AAC.


     


    🔑 Many people thing about the SETT framework to select the AT tool, but that is only one part of it. As you are having this discussion, discuss what kind of outcome you want? What else needs to change in the environment? Do we need to change the tasks?


     


    🔑 When you visit a classroom, be conscious of how you can help all the kids, not just one student. Helping teachers with ways they can promote language development for all students is a good way to build rapport and buy-in. 


     


    Links:


     


     “The Effects of Telepractice to Support Family Members in Modeling a Speech-Generating Device in the Home”. by Sarah Douglas, Elizabeth Biggs, Hedda Meadan, and Atikah Bagawan


     


    https://pubs.asha.org/doi/10.1044/2021_AJSLP-20-00230


     


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


     


    To listen to this episode, search "Talking with Tech" in your podcast player of choice or go to www.talkingwithtech.org/episodes/anya-ashouri

    • 45 min
    Anu Garla: Benefits of AAC Coaching and Intensive Language Interventions

    Anu Garla: Benefits of AAC Coaching and Intensive Language Interventions

    This week, Rachel interviews Anu Garla, a mother of Oliver, a boy with autism and cortical visual impairment who uses AAC to communicate. Anu describes her journey getting a diagnosis, how she started working with Rachel, why coaching with Rachel really jump started progress for her son, and advice that she has for other parents who are starting on an AAC journey (e.g. little “homework” assignments for parents can help).


     


    Before the interview, Chris and Rachel discuss a recent presentation that Rachel did that she almost missed due to clerical error from one of her staff, and how she adjusted to the situation and made the presentation work. They also discuss how they decide how much to charge (or if to charge) for doing presentations, and have advice for people wanting to do more presentations.


     


    Key Ideas This Week:


     


    🔑 Oliver didn't really make a lot of progress until they started working more closely with Rachel during the pandemic. There was an intensive intervention with Rachel and Oliver that led to the discovery that the team needed to give more time for Oliver to initiate. 


     


    🔑 Sometimes, intervention in the home environment is more “quality than quantity”. If you have short, high quality interactions and connections with your child, they are still making progress. It doesn’t need to be hours of intense “drill and kill”, it can be based on brief, quality interactions throughout the day.


     


    🔑 Its important to listen to families as much as other professionals on the team of an AAC user. Parents usually know their child better than anyone!


     


    🔑 Before we decide if a child can or cannot do something, we need to make sure motivation is there. Motivation is a current that flows through everything we do as educators and therapists.


     


    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!


     


    Link from this episode:


     


    Comprehensive Literacy for All by Karen Erickson and David Koppenhaver: https://www.amazon.com/Comprehensive-Literacy-All-Significant-Disabilities/dp/1598576577


     


    Anu's Facebook & Instagram: @oliphantabulousstormilicious

    • 1 hr 8 min
    India Ochs: Lawyer, Social Justice Advocate, Mother, and AAC User

    India Ochs: Lawyer, Social Justice Advocate, Mother, and AAC User

    This week, Chris interviews the incredible India Ochs! India is a brilliant social justice advocate, lawyer, educator, and board member for USSAAC and ISSAC who is also a lifelong AAC user. India describes her incredible journey with AAC, how she has used her many skills to advocate for social justice, why she volunteers so much of her time to the disabled community, and what she sees are the impacts of systemic racism on the field AAC (e.g. lack of vocabulary words to talk about racism).


     


    Before the interview, Chris and Rachel respond to several comments from listeners about their recent banter about PECS. Some listeners said PECS works for them while robust AAC  doesn’t work for them. Chris and Rachel note that, if robust AAC hasn’t worked, maybe the implementation hasn’t been done in a systematic way. They also respond to the idea that PECS is a necessary stepping stone to robust AAC, and provide some strategies for demonstrating early success with robust AAC when it doesn’t look like AAC is “working” yet.


     


    Key ideas this week:


     


    🔑 While the systematic nature of PECS implementation can encourage some people who would like a step-by-step guide, in some cases it causes students to “stall out” at a particular stage because they are required to demonstrate certain skills before moving on the next skill.


     


    🔑 A simple paper and pen can be the most effective form of AAC for some literate AAC users. 


     


    🔑 It is difficult to find symbols for words like racism, anti-racism, African-American, Black person, hispanic, Martin Luther King, Jr on many AAC devices. Developers need to bring in experts on Black history and anti-racism to tell us what vocabulary we need to add to our devices.


     


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


     


    To listen to this episode, search "Talking with Tech" in your podcast player of choice or go to www.talkingwithtech.org/episodes/india-ochs


     


    Links from the episode:


     


    AAC Speaker Connection: https://speaker.ussaac.org/


     


    Silent Auction benefiting USSAAC that ends October 15th:


    https://www.silentauctionpro.com/bidonlinegrid.php?groupId=1860


    or email Virtualauction@ussaac.org


     


    India's Blog: https://intrepidoaks.com/


     


    Xceptional AAC Leaders Book with Chapter by India 

    • 1 hr 12 min
    Laura Hayes: How to Shape & Support AAC ”Stimming”

    Laura Hayes: How to Shape & Support AAC ”Stimming”

    This week, Rachel interviews SLP and AAC Facilitator Laura Hayes! Laura recently did a presentation on AAC in the Cloud on AAC “stimming” and how we can best support AAC users who choose to press a button or series of buttons repeatedly. Laura shares that, If a person using AAC is “stimming”, ask yourself “how can I shape what we are doing” (e.g. teach a lesson on the word they are pressing) rather than just trying to extinguish the behavior.


     


    Before the interview, Chris and Rachel discuss a listener question, who asked for ideas on how to become a better communicator and presenter in a conference setting. Chris and Rachel share lots of tips on presenting to others, including the importance of making it interactive, asking reflective questions to the audience, showing vs telling, and why often less is more.


     


    Key ideas this week:


     


    🔑 “Stimming” means different things to different people in the context of AAC devices. Laura found  this behavior had 4 main purposes: babbling/exploration; exploratory perseveration; self regulation through audio/visual/tactile components, and/or scripting/echolalia. 


     


    🔑 If a person who uses AAC is disrupting a classroom because they are pressing buttons on their device while others are talking, teach the student to turn on “whisper mode” to make the device quieter.


     


    🔑 According to Alexandria Zachos of meaningfulspeech.com, as many as 75% of autistic individuals are gestalt language processors, i.e., they process chunks of language without distinction between individual words. 


     


    You can reach Laura on Instagram @aac_innovations or via email at aacinnovations01@gmail.com.


     


    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!

    • 54 min
    TWT Live: Closing The Gap - Part 3

    TWT Live: Closing The Gap - Part 3

    This week, we hear from Part 3 of TWT Live - Closing the Gap 2020. This week’s portion of TWT Live has lots of helpful ideas for communication with families, coaching, motivating students, advocating for high-tech AAC with clinicians who always start with PECS, and more! 


     


    Before the interview, Chris shares about his recent experience as “Shadow the Labrador”, a mascot at a local school. He and Rachel discuss why we need to be the zaniest person in the room sometimes to get people motivated to talk. They also discuss a situation Chris was in recently where he wasn’t sure if he should ask for compensation for consulting with a company about their newest new technology tool. Rachel gives Chris some tips about asking for compensation and strategies she uses in negotiations.


     


    If you would like to listen to Part 2 of this presentation, you can listen at talkingwithtech.org/episodes/twt-live-ctg-2


     


    Key ideas this week:


     


    🔑  If you have limited enthusiasm in your district for AAC, try finding teachers and/or staff who are excited about using technology in their curriculum and start working with them first. 


     


    🔑  What motivates a person can change over time. Periodically, do a preference assessment with your students to maximize motivation.


     


    🔑  Have students give you directions on what to do (e.g. drink water) using their device - a lot of times, students are told what to do all day, and turning the tables can be motivating


     


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


     


    To listen to this episode, search "Talking with Tech" in your podcast player of choice or go to www.talkingwithtech.org/episodes/twt-live-ctg-3

    • 1 hr 3 min
    TWT Live: Closing the Gap - Part 2

    TWT Live: Closing the Gap - Part 2

    This week, the TWT team presents part 2 of Talking with Tech Live: Closing the Gap! This week, Rachel and Chris discuss several topics with the audience, including personal core /key vocabulary, the importance of literacy, and overcoming barriers to high-tech AAC in school districts. 


     


    If you would like to listen to Part 1 of this presentation, you can listen at talkingwithtech.org/episodes/twt-live-ctg-1


     


    Before Part 2, Rachel and Chris discuss PECS in greater detail, including why motor planning is so important when comparing PECS to other AAC options, the consensus among experts that Chris and Rachel trust about PECS vs. more robust AAC, and why choosing robust AAC has the least chance of harming the client.


     


    Key ideas this week: 


     


    🔑 Without the benefit of a motor plan, using PECS to communicate can be more fatiguing than using more robust AAC. For some of Rachel’s clients, making limited progress on PECS made the family resistant to other AAC options later on.


     


    🔑 When making a difficult decision between strategies as clinicians (e.g. PECS vs robust AAC for a client with some verbal skills), we should choose the intervention with the lowest chance of doing harm. If we assume the client will will need AAC in some form forever, the time spent teaching PECS could have been better spent learning motor plans on a robust AAC device.


     


    🔑 If we are trying to help teachers and admins embrace robust AAC, you can point to the abuse and neglect statistics for people with disabilities. Teaching language through robust communication systems gives students a better tool to future abuse and neglect in the future.


     


    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!

    • 53 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
160 Ratings

160 Ratings

Yay2 ,

Truly exceptional

This podcast has completely transformed my clinical practice and the way I perceive my therapeutic role. I am better equipped to support the needs of students, families, and teams because of the relevant, evidence based, practical content that Chris and Rachel bring to the table in each episode. This resource is invaluable and essential - one of the first tools in my toolbox. Thank you for inspiring me and reigniting my love of this field and profession!

tikilights ,

Relevant and helpful for real world AAC therapy

Rachel and Chris provide practical information and strategies to AAC assessment, training and use. Useful for novices and more seasoned SLPs alike.

tiggerkw6 ,

Seriously, the best AAC podcast!!

Keep up the great work! You both are wonderful to listen to! I just started listening a month ago. I love all the content. When I start a show, I always think, “I wonder what I will learn to today?!” I always have some kind of “take away” in a show. It’s a helped me to not feel like I am on this AAC journey alone! It has me with professional development, AAC implementation, and feeling like a member of the AAC community.

You are making a difference, even in my rural town!

If you are a SLP or special educator working with students who have or could benefit from AAC, this is the Podcast for you!

Top Podcasts In Education

You Might Also Like