Covid-19 has cause school closures around the country. Anecdotally, we are hearing that many students have had to leave their devices at school because they are district property. What can we do to meet students’ communication needs at this time?
For PRC language systems, you can download the PASS software to a Windows computer or iPad. This allows you to run the various language configurations on your computer and create materials for instruction.
Let’s think out of the box. Could you bring up page sets, take a screenshot on your computer, and print them out? First, check the light tech options below. You might not need to take this extra step!
For the Nova Chat or TouchChat app, there is Chat Editor software (Windows):
It allows you to edit page sets. Again, check out the printable options below. They do offer a number of light tech core boards and Flip Communication Books on their website. If needed, you can always take screenshots of the important pages and print them out.
Take a look at the light tech options below and create the closest match you can to your child’s device! Maybe you already have light tech as your main AAC system. That’s great! Consider creating a backup to your light tech and keeping it with your family “Go Bag”, so if you need leave in a hurry, it goes with you.
Does your child not have a communication system yet? Are you thinking about how to teach communication while you shelter in place? Core boards are a great way to introduce vocabulary and begin to build language. They contain everyday, high frequency words. These words comprise 80% of what the ‘typical’ speaker says by the age of two. A core board can be used to model for a student throughout the day. It can be paired with specific activities, or classroom centers.
The Core Communication Boards article on AAC Community has many examples that can be printed and used for free.
These boards are all based on Boardmaker’s Picture Communication Symbols (PCS). This symbol set is often familiar to students and adults who have received special education services. They are available for use on Tobii Dynavox speech generating devices.
However, not all devices use this symbol set. What should you do when you anticipate quickly moving your client to a speech generating device? Do you really want to introduce one symbol set (and layout), and then do a u turn when you get your SGD? We certainly don’t want to build skills with one format when we are about to switch to something completely different.
As well, what do you do when you are waiting to receive your chosen device, but don’t have it yet? The wheels of insurance turn slowly. This is frustrating, and you don’t want to lose valuable time. We need to provide access to language and modeling as soon as possible.
Many of the apps we use for AAC have printable core boards. This is a great way to bridge the gap between app selection and device acquisition. I thought it might be handy to list those links all in one place.
Saltillo TouchChat HD with WordPower: Saltillo Low-tech Communication Board Options
Tobii Dynavox Snap + Core: Tobii Dynavox Printable Core First Communication Boards
PRC Unity, Essence, and LAMP: Language Lab Free Resources
CoughDrop: CoughDrop Core Boards
Speak For Yourself! You can print core boards from the Smarty Symbols website: SFY Core Boards
A blogger, Delekatala, has created a core board for the Speak For Yourself app. It uses the same layout as SFY, but PCS symbols: SFY Layout with PCS
For those who need Proloquo2Go, you can join the AssistiveWare Core Word Classroom and download PDFs of the Crescendo Core Word boards in A4 and A0 sizes, in English, Spanish, French and Dutch. You’ll also find many ideas for teaching core words – activity planners, core word of the week planners and displays, etc. The Core Word Classroom is currently free, but will eventually be a subscription-based resource. You can find it here: http://coreword.assistiveware.com
Avaz AAC Printable Core Boards: https://www.avazapp.com/blog/downloadable-low-tech-communication-boards/
What if the app that fits your client’s needs doesn’t offer a free printable board?
If you have a trial iPad, you can take a screenshot of the pages you need. Simultaneously press the home button and the off button to take a picture of the current screen. Then, you can use AirDrop to transfer the photos to another iPad, iPhone, or Macbook.
Print out the photos, glue them to a stiff backing, and laminate. If you don’t have a laminator, use clear contact paper.
Here is an article from Assistiveware on how to use screenshots to make a Communication Flip Book using Proloquo2Go:
Your client’s needs will determine whether you need a particular core board to match a particular app. We have loads of Boardmaker PCS boards that you can try as well. The original Core Board post can be found here:
The key thing is to get language access into the hands of those who need it!
Medical Communication: TechOWL has created a Covid-19 core board for those who need medical treatment and can’t speak: Covid-19 Medical Communication Board
If you are a Pennsylvania resident, you can borrow speech generating devices from http://TechOWLpa.org. Let us know what you think of the new website!