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Proloquo2Go - if you want it, buy it NOW

By Sally Millar on Thursday 9th May, 2013 at 8:04pm

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Don't Wait - Buy it now!

If you haven't bought the Rolls-Royce AAC App Proloquo2Go (P2Go) yet, NOW is the time to buy it!

Why?

Because Version 3 has just come out  and it IS a major upgrade,  - switch access at last! DropBox! (and already, Version 2 was INFINITELY better than Version 1)

Because the price has stayed at 129.99 for the past four years or so, but the price is going to go up by c. 15% on 17th May (to something like 150 ? not sure exactly) Read why.

Yes, it's a lot dearer than most AAC apps. But it's good.

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ConnectABILITY - great resource!

By Sally Millar on Monday 6th May, 2013 at 11:51am

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ConnectABILITY.ca

Have you seen this terrific resource? (I can't believe I didn't know about it before - many thanks to Ian Bean - whose website is ALSO a great resource - for drawing attention to it.)

ConnectABILITY is a virtual community focused on lifelong learning and support for children, youth, adults and seniors with an intellectual disability, their families, caregivers and support networks. Users are able to connect, support each other, share, research and advocate via easy-to-use web tools.

A star attraction of the website - maybe for parents, especially - is the free Visuals Engine software, which provides basic templates for making visual support materials easily (1, 2, 4, 6, 12, or 16 to a page). You can use the photos provided, or upload your own photos and pictures. Or - and here's the thing - you can use the picture bank provided, which contains MJ PCS (Boardmaker) symbols  (not ALL of them, a subset of 400 odd). Having made your page, you can save it as a .pdf and print it, then cut up and use the pictures.

The extensive ConnectABILITY website also provides:

  • Pages  A custom group of content all based on a subject (Safety)
  • Articles  Stories, tip sheets, fact sheets on a specific subject
  • Workshops  Audio/visual presentation on a subject, between 10 and 15 minutes in length
  • Interactive  Games and activities to play on the computer 
  • Podcasts  Audio recordings of presentations
  • Links  Links to other useful resources on the internet

All the written materials and Workshops are highly readable and well illustrated. For example, you could download and read the excellent Tip Sheet Using Visuals and then be offered suggestions of other related Tip Sheets, and guided to a short online Workshop  with key information and further links.

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Smart!

By Sally Millar on Thursday 2nd May, 2013 at 7:07pm

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I've worked in CALL for 30 years - yes,  I know, how scary is that! - and I have only once or twice ever before seen this super-rare sight- three CALL guys in a suit. (Well, in three different suits, to be precise....) - on their way to a posh party at Edinburgh Castle, with Dyslexia Scotland, and Alex Salmond.

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Transition

By Sally Millar on Monday 29th April, 2013 at 1:05pm

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As the summer approaches at a startling speed   - well, time-wise, if not weather-wise- the issue of transition looms large for many pupils, schools and families. Hopefully, plans will have started well in advance.

Going Places: Transition Scheme Supporting Children with Additional Needs into Secondary School (book and CD) is a resource that comes highly recommended, which sets out how schools can plan and prepare for transition into mainstream Secondary, for children with ASN.

Going Places (36.99) is written by Carolyn Gelenter and Nadine Prescott, and is published by Speechmark. It is available from WH Smith (cheapest), Amazon and other bookshops.

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An Open Letter to the Parent of a Child with Speech Delays

By Sally Millar on Monday 8th April, 2013 at 3:54pm

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Once again, the piercingly true words of a parent - therapists and teachers take note!

Dana Nieder, parent of Maya, urging parents and professionals not to 'wait and see' but to plunge in, as soon as possible, to the world of full strength AAC .

There is no time to waste - and there is nowhere for professionals to hide, these days, when the internet can provide such vast resources of information.

It's great that a parent is writing this stuff, because maybe other parents  - and let's be honest, there are many who are frustratingly reluctant to consider any alternative to speech, and just don't 'get' the importance of developing underlying language, and interactive communication skills - will accept it better from another parent than from a professional.

We all want the best for the child, but communication and language are complex functions and skills and there is no quick and easy solution. Both parents and professionals are needed to put all this together. And it's not just about speech and language therapists, who may see the child for a few hours over several months, but for school staff who see him/her for several hours every weekday........

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Top Interactive Story App, and top book!

By Sally Millar on Monday 1st April, 2013 at 3:06pm

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Wow! just wanted to share info about the stunning interactive story App for iPad that I just stumbled across - The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore.

To me, this is what an interactive story App should be like - all the best of both a short film and a story book , somehow brilliantly integrated.

You can just read and listen to the story - fabulous graphics, bit retro, plus music  - or each page has interactive features that you can explore  - when you do, they somehow make the page turn into an animated movie.

This multiple award-winning animation by William Joyce and filmmakers (some from Pixar  - who, let's face it -  know what they are doing!) - is a beautiful tale about the value of stories. It's not exactly a 'starter level' story, but it's very accessible and the interactivity enhances engagement.

It comes with 'extras' -  a short film and a 'Making of this App' and it somehow incorporates both the Wizard of Oz and hurricane Katrina & Sandy with resonances of Up! and other well-known tales and films.

You can change most of the settings re audio, text, music etc. but unfortunately there is no alternative to a 'swipe' for turning the page. 

Well worth 2.99 anyway. Take a peek! (Also available as a real book or for Kindle - dearer, of course)

AND......while we're at it - here is a must-buy book-type book.  Charming! A gem! Guaranteed to make you smile,  and also effective to help children think about the differences between books and other forms of story formats 'It's a Book' by Lane Smith published by MacMillan Childrens Books AND - ironically - it even comes with an animated video trailer!

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Useful resources

By Sally Millar on Wednesday 27th February, 2013 at 9:48am

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We've just caught up with the easy-to-read and helpful resources published by the National Children's Bureau. They will be very helpful for parents but also for school staff. Here are a few of the many titles;

Information about multi-sensory impairment

Information about multi-sensory impairment

Information about autism spectrum disorders

These are all part of the National Children's Bureau's 'Early Support' initiative.

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Health and Well Being App

By Sally Millar on Monday 25th February, 2013 at 11:57am

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Smiling mind (iPhone)  -  free App designed to support mental health and well-being. Or use web based version

Designed by psychologists for relaxation and 'mindfulness'. Aim is to "help you feel more clear, calm and content". You get a trial session then need to log in with an email address.For different age groups: 7-11; 12-15; 16-22; or adult. Material is presented orally - Very basic relaxation and 'meditation' sessions (lying on floor or seated) last about 7 minutes. Could be delivered to individual or to a small group or class. Requires the ability to stay still, quietly, and listen.

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AAC Do's and Don'ts

By Sally Millar on Thursday 21st February, 2013 at 11:57am

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Great resource from Lauren Enders  - a  freely downloadable one page poster to support AAC implementation.

This poster should be on every classroom, home and therapy room wall, for the benefit of all those learning to communicate using AAC.

Thanks to Lauren for generating such great stuff, and acknowledging collaboration of her BCIU colleagues Pat Mervine of Speaking of Speech.com, Melissa Skocypec, and Cathie VanALstine.

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New resources in Switch IT Maker

By Sally Millar on Friday 8th February, 2013 at 12:27pm

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Lots of people have the lovely easy-to-use switch accessible software from Inclusive Technology, like SwitchIT Maker 2 and ChooseIT Maker 2. But it is disappointing to see how few schools manage to find time to make their own resources, to create personalised exercises that individual children or groups can enjoy and use as valuable learning & practice, as part of curriculum topic or theme work.

To help you, from Ian Bean of SENICT, amongst other freely downloadable goodies here, there are two simple and easy-to-use help sheets, with step by step instructions for: -

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More 'Best Apps' for ASN: language and literacy

By Sally Millar on Monday 28th January, 2013 at 10:58am

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Another list of 'best Apps - this time from a US parents website, targeting Apps for language and literacy.

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Terrific new 'AACknowledge' resource launches

By Sally Millar on Friday 18th January, 2013 at 11:07am

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A terrific new AAC resource has recently been launched, in the form of the AACknowledge website. This is an outcome of Communication Matter's AAC Evidence Base project.

The new website provides a wealth of useful information for both experienced AAC specialists, who get summaries and links to all published research, and beginners, who get basic AAC definitions and case stories, factsheets, FAQs and more.

It's a actually a well-researched - and much needed and eagerly anticipated - comprehensive database of research and publications in the field of AAC - but cleverly presented in an informative and easy to use way.

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For your Christmas photos - Pictello is going cheap until 1st January - or go even cheaper!

By Sally Millar on Wednesday 19th December, 2012 at 7:13pm

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From now until 1st January 2013, Pictello, the versatile photostory App for iPad is going cheap - at 8.99 instead of 13.99.  There's also a competition to enter - prizes available.

But don't worry if that's still too dear- there are lots of similar Apps for much less money

Go to the iTunes Store and check out

  • Fotobabble (iPhone version works fine on iPad) - free - talking postcards
  • My Story - 1.49 - you can write or draw on the photo
  • Book Creator (the absolute (Rolls Royce of photo story makers) - 1.49  - also plays video & sound files
  • My Pictures Talk - 2.99 -plays video as well as photos, super easy and quick to use

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Talking Glove

By Sally Millar on Friday 23rd November, 2012 at 10:12am

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A rather amazing new development by two engineering students - a glove that  'translates' a hand gesture into a spoken output. The glove can 'learn' a large number of differentiated gestures (but would different wearers, if physically impaired,  be able to make clearly differentiated gestures consistently?)

This is like signalling / simplified signing rather than 'traditional' use of voice output technology, or rather is an interesting kind of merger between the two.

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How (not) to teach AAC use

By Sally Millar on Tuesday 20th November, 2012 at 12:08pm

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Brilliant (and honest and funny) insights here from a parent of a young child learning to use a Talker. Every single Teacher, Additional Support Needs Assistant, therapist, parent - and everyone else -  needs to read this! It is a summary of the three most important things about teaching and learning AAC.

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