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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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New App, SimpleAAC

By Sally Millar on Thursday 8th November, 2012 at 8:08pm

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Well,  just one day after yesterday's very successful Using iPads in AAC Study Day, I've just discovered that yet another new AAC App. It's called SimpleAAC, produced by Tony Jones / Unliimiter, and marketed through Ability World.

Have to say, CALL is not endorsing this App as such,  just passing on the info. 

It's confusing - when you find it on the App Store, it says it's Free, but in fact you get a free 7 Day trial (so, time your download carefully) and then after that you have to buy the full App (124.99) or you are left with 5 non-editable demon screens.

Allowing for 1-20 location screens, the App seems to sit somewhere between the Go Talk Now app (which is top of the range of the simpler AAC Apps, costing 54.99 + 34.99 for a symbol library)) and the full scale symbol AAC Apps like Sonoflex, Touch Chat and P2Go etc. ( 69.99.99.99, 129.99 respectively)

Interestingly it has a nice English sounding CereProc voice (only if you buy through the UK App Store)  - so maybe we'll figure out how to get the Scottish Voices Heather and Stuart on to iPad some day (not possible right now).

There's an introductory video to view.

The App uses the Unlimiter symbols, which are maybe a bit 'cartoony' for some.

 

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Great wee video celebrating communication & AAC

By Sally Millar on Tuesday 6th November, 2012 at 10:57am

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Call Me Maybe

Take a few minutes to watch this uplifting wee video made by new graduates in speech and language therapy, Queen Margaret University College, as part of the RCSLT's Giving Voice campaign. Terrific enthusiasm, good for them!

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StandUp Comedian using AAC

By Sally Millar on Tuesday 6th November, 2012 at 10:02am

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Look out for comedy gigs by 'Lost Voice Guy' Lee Ridley, and do go and see him if you get the chance - he's FUNNY! Breaking down barriers as the first ever stand-up comedian who uses augmentative communication.

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Stuck in Guided Access (iOS 6) - again!

By Sally Millar on Saturday 3rd November, 2012 at 8:43pm

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Reports still coming in of people 'getting 'stuck' in Guided Access mode on iPad, in iOS6. eeek!

Here's a short but reassuring solution, thanks Katrina and Gregg at Spectronics.

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Free online switch games for the Festive Season

By Sally Millar on Friday 2nd November, 2012 at 3:18pm

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Now that Halloween is over, it's time to think ahead....

Fireworks Night - free online switch/space bar/ games to set off fireworks (and many other cheery activities, such as laying eggs, firing at pirate ships, popping ballons, zooming shapes etc.

also singing sheep leads us to the next stage.....the big Chr...m..s word....

Some free simple online switch (or touch, or spacebar) games here, to get in the mood for Christmas, from SpecialBites. Mostly cause and effect level, perhaps most suitable for older kids with complex additional support needs. Also - if your school will allow access - some fun YouTube videos to activate with a switch or spacebar.

 

 

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iOS 6 - Guided Access

By Sally Millar on Monday 15th October, 2012 at 10:47am

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Have you updated your iPad to iOS 6 yet?  It only takes about 5 minutes and so far we haven't heard of any problems (apart from the widely reported Apple Maps fiasco)

One of the features that we have all - in the ASN field - been waiting for enthusiastically, is the new 'Guided Access' feature, otherwise known as 'Kid Mode'. (Settings, General, Accessibility, Learning).  See here more detailed instructions for setting up Guided Access / Enabling Kid Mode 

This new feature means that you can 'lock' a user into a single App (the one you want them to be using), rather than leaving them free to distract themselves by flicking around all over the iPad and not focusing on anything. As we know, the delights of the iPad are so great that children will often prefer to interact with the iPad itself, rather than to use it as tool to interact with a learning task, or to communicate with others.   

If you've set it up right, you just need to triple click the Home Button and enter your chosen Passcode to exit this mode and unlock the device. But apparently there have been a few problems with people getting stuck and becoming completely 'locked in' to Guided Access mode, and unable to get out again! There is a wee fix here to tell you how to escape from that situation, if it occurs.

 

 

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Parents Information Day at CALL, Focus on iPads

By Sally Millar on Monday 8th October, 2012 at 6:38pm

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Calling all parents of children with additional support needs!

Interested in maybe using the iPad with your son /daughter? 

This course will provide you with a pile of iPad Top Tips and useful information about how to pick good Apps and iPad accessories, and how the iPad can be managed at home and at school.

 

Do come to the CALL Scotland Parent Information Day on Saturday 24 November in Edinburgh, from 10am - 2pm

The course is free of charge and refreshments and a light lunch will be provided. The course is ONLY open to parents.

For more information, download a programme and booking form here, or contact CALL (rebecca.gow@ed.ac.uk).

Numbers are limited due to lack of space, and we need to know numbers for catering, so this is not a 'drop-in' day. Please book in here as soon as possible to be sure of getting a place. 

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Spotlight on Speech, Language and Communication Needs

By Sally Millar on Thursday 16th August, 2012 at 2:08pm

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Linguist and language specialist Gordon Wells wrote "Almost every educational skill presupposes the use of language."

ICAN highlights an interesting new statistic from the Department of Education (England and Wales) showing that speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) is the most commonly reported special educational need amongst primary school children - more prevalent than autism and dyslexia. SLCN is also a feature of other additional support needs arising from, for example,  hearing impairment and learning difficulties.  Unidentified language/communication difficulties could be at the heart of the challenges faced /presented by children with behavioural problems, or those who are reluctant to engage or who make slow progress.  

All of this highlights the need for more training for all education staff on how to identify SLCN (as early as possible) and how to develop children's communication skills. 

Another recent article calls SLCN "the most common childhood disability"  and discusses the link between language & communication difficulties, school exclusion and youth offending, 

The Talking Point website provides an excellent resource of information to help you identify typical and atypical language development.

You can also evaluate your own (or group) skills and knowledge by completing the online Speech, Language and Communication Framework (SLCF) .

Find out more on the ICAN web site, including the Talk Boost programme that can raise childrens' language skills in 18 weeks. 

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Sounding Board App is now free

By Sally Millar on Tuesday 31st July, 2012 at 4:55pm

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CALL is not endorsing this particular App over and above other similar Apps, but just to alert you to a price change - 

Version 3.1.1 of AbleNet's simple photo-based communication App Sounding Board, which used to cost 35, is now available as a free download  on the iTunes App Store (possibly for a limited time only). You can then make your own communication boards and/or purchase pre-made boards, in-App

For a review see here

For a video introduction / tutorial, see here

Switch access , with auditory scanning, using the RJ Cooper Blue2 switch (from Therapy Box) , or the APPlicator /Switch4Apps switch interface (from Inclusive Technology or Therapy Box) is available for more details of switch/scanning,, see here

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Sign Language Training available

By Sally Millar on Monday 30th July, 2012 at 12:05pm

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There are interesting evening courses running this autumn at Donaldsons School in Linlithgow on British Sign Language, lip-reading, and deaf awareness. The sign language courses in particular may be of interest to those who use sign with children with complex communication support needs (who may not be deaf) and wish to become more confident and fluent signers themselves and/or who find that the reduced vocabulary available through Signalong or Makaton needs supplementing in order to meet children's immediate communication needs and to build linguistic skills. Accredited Introductory, Level 1 and Level 2 BSL courses available (these courses are few and far between and can be hard to get a place on, so book early!) and are approved by ILA Scotland (for possible funding support).

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'Tricky Moments' - new publication about challenging behaviour

By Sally Millar on Tuesday 3rd July, 2012 at 5:34pm

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This looks like a useful new publication to help families and professionals understand and manage challenging behaviour in children with learning difficulties or ASD. Copies can be downloaded free from the ENABLE website  or ordered (price 3, or 2 each for more than 20 copies) by telephone (0300 200 101) or using the order form here.

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Proloquo2Go v.2 is released, and new British English child voices available

By Sally Millar on Wednesday 20th June, 2012 at 10:51am

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The Proloquo2Go app for iPad, iPod and iPhone must be the most hyped communication aid ever. Seriously over-hyped, in my view, with the danger that parental expectations could be unrealistically raised, and potentially more suitable alternative AAC solutions ignored.

But moving on - the good news is that Proloquo2Go v.2 which is just released (free upgrade, if you already had P2Go) is MUCH MUCH better than the original version. It is a thorough redesign, not just a few new 'tweaks'.  AssistiveWare have obviously listened to what users and experts have been telling them, and have copied features from other AAC systems: the new application looks to be extremely attractive, functional and useful.  Check it out on AssistiveWare's website and try it for yourself.

If you already have a personalised vocabulary in the first version of the programme, you will be able to transfer it, but be very careful - before you do anything else after upgrade, follow the procedure here

Instead of the over-large alphabetically organised vocabulary that was difficult to customise, P2Go2 now comes with two pre-stored vocabularies, both based on linguistic research: Basic Communication and Core Words (for fast sentence building) Another change that is particularly valuable for an assessment centre and Loan Service such as CALL, but also for schools and speech and language therapy services, is the fact the P2Go v.2 now offers multi-user support, making it easier to switch between different separate vocabularies/users and to support multiple users on one device. Parents and users will be more interested perhaps in the new freedom to order the layout of buttons in any way you like (not just alphabetically, but in a customised layout, including leaving empty spaces, if desired).

New Voices

At the same time, Acapela have released two new British English children's voices, available for use with P2Go v.2, Harry and Rosie. These seem to be excellent quality voices and a huge improvement over the whiny American kids Nelly and Kenny.  Info here, plus an interesting video about the making of the voices.

To use these new voices in your P2Go v.2, first update your P2G, then go to Options/Speech/Voice Download Manager- you can follow the instructions in the manual, given here 

Sadly, there is no Scottish voice option for P2Go. And Harry and Rosie, lovely though they are, are VERY 'English-English' rather than more 'neutral' British English.  

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