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Dr. Caroline Ramsey Musselwhite

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Building My Spanish Language AAC Skills

By Deanna Wagner

  

As an AT professional who supports families who speak Spanish at home, I am always looking for ways to brush up on my AAC vocabulary and Spanish terminology.  I am not a native speaker, so I have a lot to learn!  


Here are 5 ways I have built up my Spanish skills over the years:

  1. Traveling and making friends in other countries.  Immersion experiences really help us to feel confident that we are not just learning the words, but really figuring out how they work.  This is a good lesson for people using AAC.  Getting better at speaking the language through interactions with native speakers gives us both experiences and feedback.  I have not always been great at this, but keeping in touch afterwards has also helped me to build my skills.  I have shared my insecurities about social conversations with my travel companions and they now help me by chatting occasionally with me on Skype, Zoom, Facebook Messenger Live and WhatsApp.

  2. Studying the programming menus to learn the technical words.  My travel companions have not always been knowledgeable about AAC terminology.  The best way for me to start learning this type of vocabulary was to switch the programming menus in the communication devices I was using (see table below).  Even before iPads this was possible with the communication devices I was working with from Prentke Romich Company (now the Accent product line) and Dynavox (now using Snap Core First on TobiiDynavox devices).  Now I do this regularly with all of the software and apps that I have.  One thing I have noticed is that not all vendors have localized translations.  So sometimes I will need to make modifications to match vocabulary that is used where I live.  Sometimes families are unfamiliar with technical AAC vocabulary terms, and some prefer to learn/use programming menus in English.  In the table below I will share some of my findings with regards to technical vendor translations.  As bilingual English-Spanish communication apps are becoming more and more robust, I find that I can find more and more resources that have been translated to both languages (i.e., programming menus, manuals, quick starts, and help menus).  I find it helpful to use 2 devices or to print and compare the documents in English and Spanish. I also added a Spanish keyboard to my iPhone and iPad, so I can take advantage of word prediction, completion and corrections localized to my area. Find steps to add another keyboard here.

  3. Joining social media groups (like Facebook and Instagram), and looking for bilingual English/Spanish groups.  I have found connecting with others on a social and professional basis to be extremely valuable.  For example, in a recent post in the Bilingual Speech Language Pathologists Facebook group, we had over 30 comments to an inquiry about how bilingual therapists who are not native speakers can improve their Spanish.  Some of my favorites included: watching slow news in Spanish, soap operas with captions turned on, switching the phone to Spanish language settings, asking for help at local Spanish-speaking businesses (ordering food, finding things in the store), taking a class (or hiring a tutor), and setting aside time to practice chatting with native speakers. Did you know that when somebody posts in another language Facebook provides an instant translation?  The great thing about this is that you can decide to switch back to the original to compare how something might be said in both languages.  I have encouraged some of my friends who speak Spanish to post comments on my posts in Spanish so I can work on my social commenting vocabulary, too.  Snap Core First en Español is another Facebook group with about 4 posts per week. When we can check the average activity beforehand, it helps to make the decision about whether or not to join a private Facebook group.

  4. Checking AAC vendor pages for translated content.  Sometimes I change the search language on Google, and that helps me find information about implementation.  I have found wonderful implementation resources in Spanish on the Saltillo Chat Corner, a few lesson plans/materials in Spanish on the AAC Language Labhttps://aaclanguagelab.com/lesson-plans, Assistiveware Spanish-language pulldown menus (for all of their blogs and most of the resources), and some materials on the TobiiDynavox pages in Spanish.  I have searched for page sets in the Grid Explorer from SmartBox, but have found more pages localized for Spain than for my area.

  5. Doing shared reading and other literacy activities using Spanish-language materials.  I actually joined a shared reading group as a helper so I can practice listening to stories and songs for young AAC users.  Using children’s books, songs and fingerplays are a great way to practice my Spanish.  I have been exploring the Year of Core words in English and looking for versions of stories that are either in Spanish or bilingual. There are a few.  A great example is The Mitton (El Mitón) by Jan Brett.  YouTube has some great options of songs and stories for learning Spanish.  YouTube has settings to add captions and slow down the speed.  When importing YouTube videos into Google Slides or EdPuzzle I can decide where to start and stop the videos to practice finding the words in an AAC system.  I really love Super Simple Songs, and they have been translated so I that way I get the opportunity to use a familiar tune with new words.



Table of communication apps

App

Programming menus automatically translate

Menu language can be switched

Translated help menus and guides

Core is consistently located (motor plan)

Category words are consistently located

Robust AAC

GoTalk NOW+

Y

N

Y

n/a

n/a

Limited vocabularies pre-programmed in English. Add your own Spanish pages

Grid for iPad

Y

N

Y

most

N

Core, Category & Spelling in English and Spanish (Spain)

LAMP WFL

Y

N

Y

Y

Y

Core, Category & Spelling in English and Spanish (Latinamerican)

NuVoice on Accent

N

Y

Y

Y

Y

Core, category, some phrases, & spelling with Unidad (localized icons)

Proloquo2go

Y

Y


Most

Some

Core, Category & Spelling in English and Spanish (Latinamerican option)

Proloquo4text

Y

Y


n/a

n/a

Spelling-based app with phrase support

Snap Core First

N

Y


Most

Yes - organized by English order (alphabetized)

Core, category, phrases & spelling

Snap Scene

Y

N

Y

n/a

n/a

No - only recorded

Sounding Board

Y

N

Y

n/a

n/a

No - only recorded






Saturday, August 8, 2020

Coronavirus MELTED!

 Coronavirus M-E-L-T-E-D!

What does that mean?  We’re all trying to figure out ‘The New Normal’ since Covid19 might be with us for . . . years?  I've been trying to find a 'formula' for making decisions on what to do, where to go.

This is my new ‘Formula’ for deciding what feels safe to me.  

I’m giving numerical values to 6 factors to consider.  This is the overview.  I’ll describe each in more detail below.

M = Masks:  If needed, are they worn (appropriately!) by most people

E = Exposure:  Are the people I’m with high risk for exposure?

L = Location:  Is this a fairly safe location re: Covid 19?

T = Time:  How long is the time of contact?

E = Exhalation:  Are people engaging in excessive exhalations?

D = Distance:  Are all people maintaining appropriate physical distancing?

 

Rating Scale:  0 – 3 for each factor

0 = No risk

1 = Low risk

2 = Medium risk

3 = High risk

Examples for each factor:

M = Masks

0 = not needed   1 = all people wearing masks appropriately  2 = 75% of people wearing masks appropriately  3 = 50% or more people not wearing masks or wearing them haphazardly

 

E = Exposure

0 = not needed (only with my immediate family, all of whom are extremely careful)   1 = all people have low exposure, similar to mine  2 = with anyone who has moderate exposure (e.g., goes to large group events)   3 = with a group of people of unknown exposure

 

L = Location

0 = not needed (in nature only w/ bubble partners)   1 = outside, at least 10 feet away from others  2 = inside, large area, well ventilated, not many people   3 = inside, crowded, possible poor ventilation

 

T = Time

0 = < 5 minutes  1 = 5 – 15 minutes    2 = 15 minutes to 1.5 hour     3 = > 1.5 hour

 

E = Exhalations

0 = not needed (silence)   1 = other people, no heavy breathing  2 = some people exhaling (singing, talking loudly, shouting)   3 = Many people exhaling strongly (singing, loud talking, shouting)

 

D = Distance

0 = N/ A            1 = at least 6 feet apart    2 = 4 feet apart                     3 = 2 feet apart

 

How Will I Use This:  Examples

Grocery Store Total: 10:   M= 2;  E= 3;  L= 2;  T= 1;   E= 1;   D= 1

Decision:  I am changing my grocery store.  I will go somewhere with more people wearing masks appropriately.  Also, the new grocery store has a checker making sure that all people are wearing masks, and limiting the # of people who are there.

 

Eating Lunch with Friends Outside, Sitting 10 Feet Apart:  Total: 7

M=1  E=1  L=1  T=2  E=1  D=1

Decision:  This is an important social connection that is safe and delightful.

 

Kayaking with a Friend – Driving Separately:  Total: 4

M=0  E=1  L=0  T=2  E=1  D=0

Decision:  This is an important social connection that is safe and even giving me exercise!!

 

Shopping At An Outdoor Venue (e.g., Popup Craft Table):  Total: 6

M=1  E=2  L=1  T=0  E=1  D=1

Decision:  This is an important social connection that is safe

 

Going to Eat at a Restaurant Inside:  Total:  10

M=2  E=3  L=2  T=1  E=1  D=1

Decision:  While I REALLY want to do this, it does not feel safe to me at this point. 

 

Eating Outside at a Restaurant with Small Party (Not Going Inside Even To Be Seated Or Pay): Total:  6

M=1  E=1  L=1  T=1  E=1  D=1

Decision:  This feels much safer to me, because I have more control over the people I am coming into contact with, and don’t need to worry factors outside my control such as: poor ventilation, people who do not wear masks when not eating, etc.    

 

Going to a Bar: Total:  18

M=3  E=3  L=3  T=3  E=3  D=3

Decision:  Are you flipping KIDDING me?  I enjoy bars.  But this is just NOT the time!!!

CAROLINE'S CLUE GAME FOR AAC!

 Caroline's Clue Game:

WHATI love playing vocabulary password with learners who use AAC.  But I’ve also enjoyed playing ‘clue’ as a ‘starter’ activity. 

WHYClue is a great way to:

1) Model language on an AAC system, especially words that describe an item

2) Help students develop critical thinking skills

3) Build engagement!

HOW:  

Here’s how it works.  I think of something fun to share, then model the language using an AAC system.  Several teens I work with love to see my jewelry, so I keep the jewelry offscreen, and give them four choices.  I just bought new earrings with an owl on one (see picture).  That will be a great topic for a game of Caroline's Clue!

 

Sample Script:

 

Me:  I GOT NEW EARRINGS.  MIGHT BE . . . CATS,  OWLS, PARROTS, HUMMINGBIRDS.

<Partner writes those four choices on a whiteboard>

 

Me:  CLUE ONE.  IT CAN FLY. 

 

<Partner helps student decide which one to cross out – they remove the cat>

 

Me:  CLUE TWO.  IT IS A BIG BIRD.

 

<Team decides to cross out the hummingbird>

 

Me:  CLUE THREE.  IT DOES NOT TALK.

 

<Team talks about the negative.  They decide to cross out the parrot because it DOES talk.>

 

Me:  CLUE FOUR.  IT CAN <‘I’m going to the alphabet’> H-O-O-T.

 

<Team agrees that it’s the owl> 

 

Me:  YEP.  NEW OWL EARRINGS!  WHAT DO YOU THINK?

 

RELATED:  Check out the Vocabulary Password for more activities!  

AAC Intervention Vocabulary Password Tip


 

 

 

 

 

 

 




 

 

Friday, May 22, 2020

Literacy for ALL with Readtopia and LessonPix!

 Literacy for ALL with Readtopia and LessonPix!

WHAT:  1 hour webinar, LIVE on YouTube and Facebook!

WHO:  Bill Binko of LessonPix will be interviewing:

Dr. Karen Erickson, Ph.D. is the Director of the Center for Literacy and Disability Studies, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who recently authored "Comprehensive Literacy for All" with Dr. David Knoppenhaver.

Dr. Caroline Musselwhite Ed.D., CCC/SLP is an assistive technology specialist with more than 40 years of experience working with children and adolescents with significant disabilities, and author of materials for students, family, and educators.

WHEN & HOW:  Thursday, May 28th at 5 pm EDT

Follow These Links to Watch Livestream Via Facebook or YouTube!
https://www.facebook.com/lessonpix/videos/912384742538484/ 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nAQg7YUsvvQ 




Thursday, May 7, 2020

Science Experiments and AAC: Let’s Blow Stuff Up and LEARN!


Science Experiments and AAC:  Let’s Blow Stuff Up and LEARN!

 WHAT:  Science experiments and AAC is . . .

A book (128 pages), available at Teachers Pay Teachers:

Caroline's Store

A Webinar:  The webinar includes:
- 1 hour training
- The book Science Experiments & AAC
- Slideshow handout
- Link to dropbox with a new experiment every month until July 1, 2020

The webinar is $10 until July 1, 2020.  Register using the link below:
Link to Science & AAC webinar

AAC PASSWORD - A Great Game to Support Vocabulary!

AAC PASSWORD:  A Great Game to Support Vocabulary!

 
WHAT:  Vocabulary Password (Musselwhite, 2017) is a great way to support students who use AAC.  This is based on the work of Gail van Tatenhove, who suggests using the ‘Descriptive Teaching Method’ to help students understand low-frequency or fringe words, also called Tier 3 words www.vantatenhove.com  For example, you could pick a fringe word such as ‘metamorphosis’ and use simpler words, including core words, to define it (CHANGE FROM ONE FORM TO ANOTHER).  We make this a game, collecting fringe words during reading, and using simpler words to explain them. 

I like to say . . .
   
HOW:  Harvest words from your reading that are not on the device, but you can explain.  Use simple words to explain each word, modeling on the AAC device.  For example, litter = TRASH EVERYWHERE.  Write the words on a whiteboard or an app such as Doodle Buddy. 
Paddle Board from Dollartree
Doodle Buddy app
 



















 

 
Now go back to the words and give the clues.  Students can answer using direct selection, eye-gaze, or partner assisted scanning.
 
MORE SAMPLES
This is a great activity to support the vocabulary assessment with Readtopia® (http://www.donjohnston.com/ ).  After students match the word to the picture, you can play password, giving clues using the AAC system(s) of the student(s).  The examples below used the Doodle Buddy app with stickers.

 Vocabulary Assessment, Dr. Dolittle:
Krista, an adult who uses AAC, is a tutor for Alyssa, a teen who uses an eye gaze communication device.  Krista uses her device to give clues:
I WANT TO SEE IT.  IT IS A PLACE.  IT IS BIG (Africa)
WE NEED IT TO BUY SOMETHING.  COUNT IT.  (money)
IT IS A PET AND IT IS RED. (parrot)
Vocabulary Assessment:  Gold Bug:
Note the use of stickers with the Doodle Buddy app. 
This vocabulary assessment presents words and pictures to match.  Think of clues (using high frequency words) for each image:
Hut:
Wolf:
Insect:
Scientist:  


 MORE INFORMATION:
Check out the password tip at the 
AAC Intervention website.
Tip # 3, 2017 

View this tip as a downloadable pdf: