Assistive Technology and Augmentative and Alternative Communication

Assistive Technology and Agumentative and Alternative Communication professional learning opportunities offered by the Diagnostic Center, Central California.

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T-1 Assistive Technology Assessment – Certificate Program

Presenters

  • Michelle Austin, M.A., CCC/SLP Speech-Language Pathologist/Assistive Technology Specialist
  • Laura Lavery, M.A., Education Specialist/Assistive Technology Specialist

Intended Audience

Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs), Psychologists, Occupational Therapists, Physical Therapists, Special Educators, Administrators, Program Specialists, or others designated by their district to address Assistive Technology

Time

7 full days (Scheduled approximately one session per month)

Format

Virtual

Summary

During this certificate program, individuals will be required to complete three assistive technology assessments, as well as other assignments related to Assistive Technology using the Student, Environment, Tools, and Task (SETT) model and other assessment modules. Attendance at all seven full-day sessions and satisfactory completion of projects and assignments are required to receive the certificate.

Assessment for Assistive Technology is accomplished through a thorough assessment of skill areas and needs. Determinations of equipment or software needs are based on a feature match of equipment to areas of needs or student-specific skills. Assistive Technology recommendations and equipment needs are then utilized on a trial basis. Assistive Technology assessments should not be viewed as a one-time assessment but rather an ongoing process for determining appropriate equipment needs based on trial use.

Participants will be able to

  • Demonstrate assessment techniques appropriate to address Assistive Technology.
  • Demonstrate appropriate feature match for Assistive Technology needs.
  • Understand IEP processes and legal implications in relationship to Assistive Technology.
  • Utilize assessment techniques and a team approach to address specific student needs in relationship to assistive technology.
  • Address a variety of options to assess and determine appropriate Assistive Technology.

Please check the Professional Development Overview web page for scheduled offerings to determine if there is one offered in your area or virtually.


T-2 Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Assessment to Intervention – Certificate Program

Presenters

  • Michelle Austin, M.A., CCC/SLP Speech-Language Pathologist/Assistive Technology Specialist
  • Laura Lavery, M.A., Education Specialist/Assistive Technology Specialist

Intended Audience

Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs), Assistive Technology Teams

Time

7 full days (Scheduled one session per month)

Format

Virtual

Summary

This certificate program leads to a certificate verifying specific training in assessing Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) needs and promotes a decision-making process to make appropriate recommendations utilizing critical thinking. During this training, individuals will be required to complete three augmentative communication assessments, as well as other assignments related to augmentative communication. Attendance on all seven full day sessions and satisfactory completion of projects and assignments are required to receive the certificate.

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Assessment is multifaceted. This dynamic assessment process encompasses current communication skills, overall language (receptive and expressive language), social/pragmatic language, speech/intelligibility, and communication device access. Each AAC system is unique, and each system has a different language base. The assessment process to determine the appropriate communication system needs to take into account the individual's current communication mode, selecting a new method of communication, and determining the best way to implement the new communication system. For the communication system to be functional, often adaptations will need to be made within the environment (communication expectations - demands). The assessment should focus on four basic questions:

  1. What are the child's communication needs or goals?
  2. What are the child's strengths and abilities?
  3. What barriers are preventing the child from achieving his or her full communication/ participation potential?
  4. What aids and adaptations (e.g., AAC devices or systems, environmental modifications, policy changes, etc.) will best accomplish the child's goals given his or her strengths and abilities, and current circumstances?

Assessment for AAC is an ongoing process which includes documentation of progress, trial therapy, and adaptations or modifications to the AAC system. The AAC device or system is selected based on a feature match. The feature match not only includes current features needed in communication but it will also need to address future needs as well.

Participants will be able to

  • Demonstrate assessment techniques appropriate to address Augmentative and Alternative Communication.
  • Demonstrate appropriate feature match for AAC needs.
  • Develop an understanding of the IEP process and legal implications in relationship to AAC.
  • Utilize assessment techniques and a team approach to address specific students' needs in relationship to communication.
  • Develop an AAC intervention plan.

Please check the DCC Training Calendar for scheduled offerings to determine if there is one offered in your area or virtually.


T-3 Augmentative and Alternative Communication – Building Literacy

Presenters

  • Michelle Austin, M.A., CCC/SLP Speech-Language Pathologist/Assistive Technology Specialist
  • Laura Lavery, M.A., Education Specialist/Assistive Technology Specialist

Intended Audience

Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs), Special and General Educators interested in supporting universal access and literacy instruction for all students

Time

3 hours

Format

Virtual

Summary

Children who utilize Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) can be at a disadvantage in learning literacy skills. Research has shown that many individuals who use AAC have less advanced literacy skills. Literacy is learned through interaction with all types of literacy experiences — listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Barriers for students with AAC can be related to restricted language participation, lack of experiences, decreased time spent on literacy activities, and difficulties with interactions in literacy experiences. The National Reading Panel recommends instruction in five areas to develop reading: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and text comprehension. Of particular importance during early instruction is the development of emergent literacy skills. Emergent literacy skills include written language awareness (phonics) and phonemic awareness. The purpose of this presentation is to highlight several evidence-based strategies for teaching literacy skills to children who use AAC.

Participants will be able to

  • Discuss literacy principles that impact literacy acquisition in AAC users.
  • Describe the main components of literacy and implications for AAC users.
  • Explain three evidence-based therapeutic interventions that target language and literacy development for AAC users.

T-4 Assistive Technology Supports for Organization and Executive Functioning

Presenters

  • Michelle Austin, M.A., CCC/SLP Speech-Language Pathologist/Assistive Technology Specialist
  • Laura Lavery, M.A., Education Specialist/Assistive Technology Specialist

Intended Audience

Special and General Education Teachers, Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs), School Psychologists, General Education Administrators, Parents, School Nurses, Adapted Physical Education Specialists, Special Education Administrators, Program Specialists, and Paraprofessionals

Time

3 hours

Format

Virtual

Summary

Assistive Technology is an item, program, or piece of equipment used to improve instruction as well as the functional capabilities of students. For self-monitoring and organization skills, the majority of assistive technology used is low tech, although a couple high tech options are available.

  • Low tech options do not require much training, are not mechanically complex, and are most commonly used in the classroom.
  • High tech options require training, are mechanically complex, and are typically used by or with the teacher.

Many students are expected to use the following components of the organization process: self-organization; information management; time management; or materials management. Many students struggle with organization. Assistive technology tools can help a student plan, organize, and keep track of his calendar, schedule, task list, contact information, etc.

Participants will be able to

  • Describe the components of organization.
  • List strategies to support areas of organization.
  • Differentiate the components of organization and strategies to support them.

T-5 Assistive Technology Supports for Mathematics

Presenters

  • Michelle Austin, M.A., CCC/SLP Speech-Language Pathologist/Assistive Technology Specialist
  • Laura Lavery, M.A., Education Specialist/Assistive Technology Specialist

Intended Audience

Special and General Education Teachers, Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs), School Psychologists, General Education Administrators, Parents, Special Education Administrators, Program Specialists, and Paraprofessionals

Time

3 hours

Format

Virtual

Summary

Assistive Technology can be very helpful for individuals who struggle with math (dyscalculia). Students with disabilities face a particular challenge as they attempt to attain proficiency in mathematics. Assistive Technology tools for math are designed to help with computing, organizing, aligning, and copying math problems down on paper. Assistive Technology can support the increase in math accessibility for students of all ability levels and can assist students with achieving fluency and automaticity with important mathematical information.

Assistive Technology can increase a child's self-reliance and sense of independence. Students who struggle in school are often overly dependent on parents, siblings, friends and teachers for help with assignments.

Participants will be able to

  • Describe difficulties of students who struggle with math.
  • List assistive technology for students with difficulties in mathematics.
  • Create a list of assistive technology tools that may benefit students who struggle with the components of math: writing, listening, memory, reading, and motor.

T-6 Assistive Technology Assessment to Intervention: Building Supports for Written Language

  • Assessment: Part 1
  • Assessment to Selection of Assistive Technology (AT) Tools: Part 2
  • Problem Solving AT Supports: Part 3

Presenters

  • Michelle Austin, M.A., CCC/SLP Speech-Language Pathologist/Assistive Technology Specialist
  • Laura Lavery, M.A., Education Specialist/Assistive Technology Specialist

Intended Audience

Special and General Education Teachers, Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs), School Psychologists, General and Special Education Administrators, Program Specialists, Assistive Technology (AT) Specialists, Occupational Therapists, Paraprofessionals, and Parents

Time

Each session is 2 hours

Format

Virtual

Summary

What is Assistive Technology (AT) and who can benefit? Assistive Technology is any item, piece of equipment, software program, or product system that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of persons with disabilities. Does a student need an Individualized Educational Program (IEP) to be able to access AT? No! Many students who struggle with written language are not eligible for an IEP or 504 plan. They can still benefit from Assistive Technology to support their ability to keep up and thrive in the classroom.
Isn't Assistive Technology cheating? Any tool that levels the playing field for students can be viewed by some as cheating, but, in fact, AT allows students to demonstrate their knowledge in different ways, supporting their ability to keep up with content and stay engaged. Is this super high tech stuff? Not really. Many Assistive Technologies are as simple as the predictive text you use on your smart phone app for texting. Assistive Technologies are everywhere. With support we can learn how to help students use them for their own benefit.

Participants will be able to

  • Assess a student's needs for Assistive Technology in the area of written language.
  • Utilize new easy-to-use tools to support writing.
  • Ask questions and put it all together in a live session with others in this cohort.

How to Request

Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) can request this training series by completing the Training Request Form available on our website. Part 1 and Part 2 are pre-recorded sessions meant to be accessed via on-demand by participants during a limited span of time, e.g., one week, two weeks. Please specify the beginning date and the ending date you want the recorded trainings to be available for each session. The LEA contact/training coordinator will receive links to access each session at least 24 hours in advance and can share these links with the participants. Part 3 will be conducted as an interactive virtual training session with Q & A included as a component. Participants are required to participate in all three sessions of this series to obtain a certificate of completion.


T-7 Aided Language Stimulation and Data Collection for Trials in Augmentative Alternative Communication (AAC)

Presenters

  • Michelle Austin, M.A., CCC/SLP Speech-Language Pathologist/Assistive Technology Specialist
  • Laura Lavery, M.A., Education Specialist/Assistive Technology Specialist

Intended Audience

Special and General Education Teachers, Speech-Language Pathologists (SLP's), Parents, Paraprofessionals

Time

3 hours

Format

Virtual

Summary

All children deserve the right to communicate with those around them. But our children who are not speaking yet sometimes struggle with basic communication. Augmentative Alternative Communication devices and systems can be a great way to help a child who isn't speaking be able to communicate better with those around him. Aided Language can be implemented within the natural context and within natural routines. There are lots of ways we can support better learning in our beginning communicators, and data collection can play an important role. Data lets you see how the child is doing with using Augmentative and Alternative Communication and helps guide your decision on what next steps will be.

Participants will be able to

  • Define aided language stimulation and how it supports language acquisition.
  • Demonstrate the use of core words to develop a functional communcation system.
  • Develop Data Collection systems for Trials in Augmentative Alternative Communication (AAC).

T-8 Using Technology to Support the Essential Elements of Literacy Including Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Language Skills

Presenters

  • Michelle Austin, M.A., CCC/SLP Speech-Language Pathologist/Assistive Technology Specialist
  • Laura Lavery, M.A., Education Specialist/Assistive Technology Specialist

Intended Audience

Special and General Education Teachers, Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs), School Psychologists, General Education Administrators, Parents, Special Education Administrators, Program Specialists, and Paraprofessionals

Time

3 hours

Format

Virtual

Summary

Literacy is learned through interaction with all types of literacy experiences (listening, speaking, reading, and writing). Children who have learning disabilities can be at a disadvantage to learning literacy skills. Research has shown that 39.8 percent of children in special education have been diagnosed with a specific learning disability. Given the passage of Assembly Bill 1369, California is required to improve dyslexia identification, strategies for remediation, and educational services for students. Educational services are defined as being evidence-based, multi-sensory, direct, explicit, structured, and sequential. Assistive technology is an evidence-based practice to support individuals with learning disabilities while increasing their independence and improving their literacy skills. Assistive technology can offer powerful tools to students with learning disabilities by providing a wide range of supports.

Participants will be able to

  • Discuss assistive technology tools to support literacy.
  • Describe the main components of literacy and the implication for assistive technology use.
  • Discuss assistive technology tools in relationship to literacy acquisition.