Posts Tagged ‘Communication Devices’

Go Talk Now (lite) an easy start for AAC

What is it?

One of the simplest electronic communication aids – so-called augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) – is the Go Talk. A physical device with a set number of squares in a grid that when pressed played a recorded message. They come in various sizes, and each can be loaded with a number of set ups which are then associated with an overlay to guide the user.

It is a system that has now been made into an iPad app which has retained much of that simplicity.

To get you started there is a no-cost ‘Lite’ version which is restricted to six pages, but within that these can include an on-screen keyboard, grids to build complete sentences, or single word responses. The grids can range in size from 1 to 36 cells, any and each of which can contain both text and images, or just either, and the option to speak either the words shown, or a recorded sentence, as well as switching to another page.

This flexibility means it can be used by those who can read, and by those who need images or symbols, and everyone in between.

Who is it for?

Anyone who needs a voice. This might be a child or young person with an autistic spectrum condition who is non-verbal, or else someone with a speech and language condition that makes their words indistinct, or even a learner with profound and multiple learning difficulties who is given two options to make a choice for what they want to drink.

It could be used by an individual, or shared and passed around a group, perhaps to build new vocabulary, or to rehearse language for social situations.

How do I use it?

The simplicity and flexibility of the set up mean that it can be used in myriad ways. It could be given to a learner to take everywhere to literally be their voice – whether that is in class, out in the playground, and even when they go home or go to the shops. It might also be a way for a pupil to join in a lesson. Grids with appropriate answers can be prepared so that he or she can answer teachers questions, or make choices about what is happening in the lesson, or maybe to give them options for what they want to do next.

For instance, a grid of numbers will allow them to join in  a mental maths lesson. Initial letters might help with phonics, and adjectives with descriptive writing. It is also a useful assessment tool, both for literacy itself to ascertain reading levels as they read words to complete activities, or to assess understanding of what has been learnt.

What else is there?

There are a number of great  communication apps on the  market, such as Proloquo2go, Grid Player, and Clicker Communicator, all offering similar features. What distinguishes Go Talk Now (Lite) is that it can be downloaded and installed for free, albeit limited to six pages, then quickly edited and expanded. Whilst Grid Player is also free, you need to invest in  Grid 2 to edit and create pages.

Because of its easy availability Go Talk Now is an easy point of entry into AAC.

Using an iPad with a y2 Girl with Down’s syndrome

If you have a young child with Down’s Syndrome in your class some of these ideas might help.

Choose a good  iPad holder like Big Grips  

A Big Grips Frame

A Big Grips Frame

Communication Apps:

iPads  offer many ways to support communication, from full (more expensive) AAC Apps to cheap or free Apps offering limited but useful communication. You would want to choose on the basis of whether an app can be personalised easily and what kind of speech output it has (male/female/child) and voice quality. How easy is it to learn and can your edits be backed up?

Have an App that encourages speech: Talking Tom/ Taking Gina, there are others; they repeat back what the child says thus encouraging vocalisation.

Talking Tom repeats what you say

Talking Tom repeats what you say

Signing apps are: Baby Sign and learn, MobileSign 2 The ultimate BSL App – a great (free) BSL dictionary comprising a video lexicon of 4000+ BSL signs, with a simple alphabetic search but no voice over.

My ChoicePad is a cross between a signing App and a communication aid App, offers a combination of 450 core vocabulary Makaton symbols and Makaton signs.  My ChoicePad has video clips of signing accompanying the symbols, as well as line drawings of how to make each sign, and speech output. You can also use your own photos and voice recordings.

Scene and Heard app

Scene and Heard app

Picture stories:   “Scene and Heard” which costs £34.99 & is based on visual scene displays, messages are embedded in hotspots, with popup symbol windows. Switch accessibility is built-in.  (And Scene Speak is a cheaper simpler way to explore and evaluate the use of visual scenes – no symbols though, just text and speech output.)

Using TalkBoard to make a sentence.

Using TalkBoard to make a sentence.

TalkBoard turns your iPad into a communication aid and visual prompt board. TalkBoard is affordable because it does not come with built-in pictures or symbols, which many other apps charge extra for. You can easily use your own pictures and symbols to personalise the app. (read what a Speech and Language Therapist thinks about it here)

If you need to you can move towards turning the iPad into a full communication device using The Grid 2 or Proloquo2Go.   Speech and language therapists will also know more about exactly what is best for the child in your class.

For writing/publishing/general   Book Creator (2.99) for creating  stories with own pictures, some text and voice.  My Story and Our Story  (from OU) are great for making social stories as well as for telling stories.

Also apps for making letter & number shape:  Finger Paint from Inclusive Technology is nice and so is Doodle Kids.

All the Busythings apps are great and they have literacy & maths content.

Collins Big Cat books (for reading and making stories)

Others are: Flash Cards,  iPlay&Sing,  Little Writer for Kids.

The best Clicker App for younger children is Clicker Sentences

Clicker Sentences

Clicker Sentences

 which has lots of ready made resources and “talks to” Clicker 6.

You may find the  accessibility options on the iPad helpful, especially “Guided Access” which  helps the user to stay focused on a task while using the iPad.     Guided Access limits the device to a single app and lets you control which app features are available. This will stop the user moving on to something else if s/he gets fed up with it.

Use Guided Access to:  ▪ Temporarily restrict your device to a particular app  ▪ Disable areas of the screen that aren’t relevant to a task, or areas where an accidental gesture might cause a distraction  ▪ Disable the hardware buttons

Tap Settings > General > Accessibility > Guided Access to set up Guided Access. From there you can:  ▪   Turn Guided Access on or off   ▪   Set a passcode that controls the use of Guided Access and prevents someone from leaving an active session  ▪  Set whether the device can go to sleep during a session

Start a Guided Access session  ▪  Open the app you want to run.  ▪   Triple-click the Home button.  ▪  Adjust settings for the session, then click Start. Disable app controls and areas of the app screen  ▪   Circle any part of the screen you want to disable.  ▪   Use the handles to adjust the area.

Ignore all screen touches  ▪ Turn off Touch.

Keep iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch from switching from portrait to landscape or from responding to any other motions  ▪   Turn off Motion. End a Guided Access session  ▪    Triple-click the Home button.  Enter the Guided Access passcode.