ATIA 2009

Vendor Hall

Logan ProxTalker ( nice bridge to voice output for kids using PECS. Individual pictures housed in a notebook have messages programmed into them. Pictures can be removed and placed in 5 word zones on a voice output device to create messages by then pressing on each button. (M. Sterner)

Allora ( ) easy to use keyboard-based-text-to-speech generating device. Any message written on the display is spoken in high quality natural sounding male or female voice. (M. Sterner) Tried the Smart, liked it as well for a nice small portable device, need to have pretty good fine motor control. (D. Simari)

LightWriter SL40 - updated case, nice look (M. Sterner)

MegaBee - electronic hand held writing tablet. Caroline Musselwhite was excited about this device for people who use eyegaze. The vendor wasn't actually in the vendor hall but was outside in the hall demonstrating the device. Communication partner holds the device between themselves and the communicator. Individual uses the technique of location-color encoding to select letters. Communication partner presses buttons based on the color gazed at and the message is typed on a dual LCD screen allowing both individuals to visualize the text. (M. Sterner)

TOBII- found this eye-gaze system very user friendly and easy to learn. I have been researching this for a student on H/HB and was grateful for the opportunity to try out many eye-gaze devices while I was at ATIA. (D. Simari)
I am really interested in this system also. It seems to catch the client's eyes better than the Dynavox EyeGaze system. (K. Toothe)
Proloquo2Go - a software add-in for a i-touch - (Tami)

Learning Disabilities

Bookshare – I thought the presentation was very good, but am a little confused as to how we qualify LD students and how NIMAS determines a student with a reading disability. I have five students in bookshare currently and would like to know how others are using this resource. (D. Simari)

I really like the new look and features of the Bookshare website - you don't have to use the unpack tool anymore, and the organizational account area makes it much easier to manage students and sponsors - Yeah! As I understand it, Learning Disabled students must qualify according to NIMAS and Chaffee right now - so they have to have an organic/physical reason for LD, a Dr. note and IEP. This might change, but in Volusia, we are sticking to that for now. We still have to provide digital versions to our other LD kids, so we are still contacting publishers, using online texts and scanning when necessary- Aaug! (Shari)

Raising the Floor (RtF) initiative by Greg Vanderheiden and Jeff - looking at access to web as a moral imperative. They feel that the dynamics of AT industry slow down innovation. Check it out "Raising the Floor"

Video Prompting- This session on video prompting was great. I am in the process of training teachers at the Employment Institute so that they can video students and use it for instruction, and reminding students of the steps of a task. Making video clips that have step by step instructions with individual segments is the way to do it, I went to a session last year and the way this presenter edits is much easier than the way it was explained last year. (D. Simari)


The WICKED truth about how to be "Popular, you're going to be popular" (or at least how to have better social skills. Presentation by Mo Buti from Chicago Public Schools (great presenter). Not necessarily "new" information just packaged nicely. Good examples of how to provide some additonal scaffolding and support for students to carry out simple conversations. Examples included: visuals on lunchbox for conversation starters like "What did you do last night?", "What are you eating?", "what's your favorite_?"

Show and Tell Script – “This is my ”, I got it from ”, “I like it because
Passing out items in classroom provides lots of opportunities. “Here is a cup, .”
Websites shared: [[http://www.comicstripcreator,|www.comicstripcreator]], (M. Sterner)

Visual Strategies: Supporting AAC Users Before, During, and After Classroom Activities – Caroline Musselwhite
Caroline made the point of the difference between visual supports and visual strategies. Reminded folks to stay out of “NOUN TOWN” when choosing vocabulary because it only allows kids to request and label. Vocabulary needs to relate to purpose. She has a term she uses “smart chart” which are picture cues that help students with icon sequences (Minspeak) or navigating to appropriate vocabulary (dynamic display) when they are getting familiar with the vocabulary in their devices. This also makes them more independent because they don’t have to rely on a person to tell them. Other ideas included:
-listening with a purpose: use a single message device and have a student say “uh-oh” every time someone in the story makes a mistake
-when using sabotage the students need to have appropriate messages to respond to the sabotage
-Hand over hand support – if at all possible don’t use or put your hand under the student’s – THE INTENTION AT INITIATION MUST BE THE STUDENT’S
-The importance of modeling (we don’t do it enough)
-Top ten sentence starters of first graders – I like/going to/I am/went to/to the/I went/in the /it was/my mom/and my
(M. Sterner) Loved this session and as always go away with tons of ideas. (D. Simari)

AAC Assessment Toolkit
One lady was from AAC TechConnect will be selling these kits.
Again not a lot new for us “oldtimers” but some ways to do things differently. For example:
1. Use magnetic paper to display symbols. Allows for more flexibility than Velcro, also “quieter”
2. ABC – access before cognition
3. Use a rubber band over the button on a laser pointer to keep it in the “ON” position
4. Used foam core with different sized openings to simulate keyguards
(M. Sterner)

Writing Goals for AAC – Bryan Gold
The overall goal is communicative competence which involves:
Linguistic competence – the ability to learn and apply vocabulary and grammar rules
Operational Competence – the “technical” skills required to operate the device
Social competence – ability to understand and follow the rules of social interaction
Strategic competence – ability to prevent or repair communication breakdowns

Mentioned resources on the Dynavox website – AAC Competency Grid and the Implementation Toolkit
(M. Sterner)

Useful information at

After you sign in, go to Implementation Toolkit. There are some good articles to use for support. I have already shared with two parents the AAC Myths Revealed. This article talks about AAC and speech development and quotes some recent studies noting that AAC does not negatively affect speech development. Not new information for us, but it is put together nicely to share with parents and teachers who have this concern. Other articles also look good, I haven't had a chance to explore them all.
(M. Piersall)


At a News-2-You & Unique Learning session, Jacquie Clark mentioned her Standards Based Instructional Targets information , aligned with Florida standards on their website. If you have a News-2-You subscription, sign in, and on the main page there is a Tools section, go to Grade Level Targets. It's broken down into Reading, Writing, Social Studies, Math and Science, and under each topic there are specific standards by grades. Others may know this but it was news to me (no pun intended) , I also learned that if you have a News-2-You subscription that more than one computer can be logged on at a time. I was thinking this would be a great activity for ESE classes to have meaniningful activities to schedule computer lab time.
(M. Piersall)


Sorting Through Software for Task & Behavior Supports - Kelly Fonner & Scott Marfilius Now there is a Time Timer wristwatch and 2 versions of the software. The plus version shows an actual clock and then the time counting down. has a free timer called the “Cool Timer”
(M. Sterner)