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Dr. Caroline Ramsey Musselwhite

Sunday, February 5, 2017

When the 3rd Dimension Calls – Tactile Enhancements for Communication & Literacy

When the 3rd Dimension Calls – Tactile Enhancements for Communication & Literacy

Using a picture or an object to represent a preferred item is one way of supporting students in making requests.  It is important that we remember, however, that making a request only assists that person in communicating one specific intent/purpose.  All people communicate for a variety of purposes.  Sometimes their behavior is non-symbolic and non-traditional (such as using idiosyncratic gestures or body language). 

Commercial Symbol Sets:
TalkingMyWay or Tangible Object Cards (TOC) www.adaptivation.com  or Logantech.com      
Tactile Talk for GoTalk NOW iPad app www.attainmentcompany.com
District 75 "Give me 20" AAC Vocabulary + Letters/Numbers for ProxTalker

Customize Your Symbols:
Use high visual contrast, limit visual complexity, limit glare (contact paper, not laminate)
Use durable materials that have distinctions in color, shape & texture
Adhere with cable ties or clear silicone; add Braille labels or puff paint
Use categories – www.tsbvi.edu/tactile-symbols or shop.APH.org Tactile Connections Kit
Make a book – use pages from LoganTech binder, PECS books or Binder Rings
Take good photos - Make a talking photo book for iPad 

In order to support development of symbolic communication, we need to model a variety of communication forms/intents and then show these students how to access that system.

Our Goal (inspired by Linda Burkhart):  Within natural contexts throughout the day, the student will learn to use an increasing number of communicative functions or intents expressively with his communication system.  Examples of communicative functions and intents:

·       Request objects
·       Request action
·       Request activity
·       Request a turn
·       Reject, protest, complain
·       Respond/acknowledge
·       Inform, share, or show (draw attention to something, like a photo)
·       Clarify or specify - for example in the case of something is wrong
·       Comment on action/object
·       Express an opinion
·       Ask a question

Use the Communication Matrix to systematically explore how your student is currently communicating. It is free and available in both English and Spanish. www.communicationmatrix.org

Post from Karen Erickson in the Communication Matrix Community Collections
       At the Center for Literacy & Disability Studies, we have just finished the first year of a communication intervention study focused on building early symbolic communication skills among students with complex needs including sensory loss. Our year 1 results are exciting. A group of 72 children (ages 3-21) made statistically significant improvements in both complexity and range of communication. One of the biggest challenges we encountered was the commonly held (mis)belief that we have to start with concrete referents. This collection focuses on conceptual versus concrete vocabulary for students with complex needs.

       We are focusing on the words GO, LIKE, and NOT in our work with students with the most complex needs, and we're finding those three words can be used to communicate for many different purposes across many contexts.

Core Words:
In order to support development of more traditional/conventional symbolic communication, we need to model a variety of communication forms/intents and then show these students how to access that same system.  In our efforts to teach students at Foundation for Blind Children, we also use “MORE” and “FINISHED” in addition to the symbols mentioned by Karen.  Some concrete symbols are also used for transitioning purposes.


Using Object Symbols (for Schedules and Choice-Making)
·       www.talkingmyway.com and www.adaptivation.com (TOC)
·       Visual strategies (first/then) -  http://usevisualstrategies.com

Beyond Choice-Making

Make Your Symbols
·       Categorize with shape & texture - http://www.tsbvi.edu/tactile-symbols
·       Categorize with color & shape - https://shop.aph.org Tactile Connections Kit

Practical AAC ideas 

Literacy & Communication 
·       Remnant books and personal experience stories https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PXdjxj2IQJY
·       Tactuals and Start-to-Finish Literacy Starters stories https://www.med.unc.edu/ahs/clds/resources/deaf-blind-model-classroom-resources/tactual-book-kit-directions

·       www.enablingdevices.com Tactile Symbol Communicator (6 pre-made tactile symbols)
·       www.logantech.com ProxTalker (works well with APH Tactile Connections)
·       www.logantech.com ProxPad (works well with Tangible Object Cards)

·       www.attainmentcompany.com  GoTalk NOW app (also with Tactile Talk)

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