Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Technology Tuesday

This week’s Technology Tuesday comes to you from Suzanne Phillips, Communication Teacher at Imagine!’s Longmont CORE/Labor Source (CLS) hub. Today, Suzanne talks about AbleNet’s Sounding Board app, and how she and others are using it to open doors to new communication opportunities. 

Now that Longmont’s new iPads are up and running, it’s been great to see how staff and teachers are using them to improve client’s daily lives at CORE/Labor Source. Longmont’s first iPad specific class has begun, clients check them out during lunch to play educational games, and many have learned to access the iBooks library. Everyone enjoys using the iPads, but some staff members have really gone above and beyond to use these devices to their full potential. Alexa Weitzeil is one such staff member. She is our primary Sensory teacher, and she works with many adults who are non-verbal and have trouble communicating wants, needs, and preferences. When the iPads arrived, she was immediately interested in the communication-based adaptive technology apps. She quickly learned to use AbleNet’s Sounding Board app, which essentially turns an iPad into a customizable communication device. Using Sounding Board, you can create communication boards of up to nine messages per screen, use symbols (or your own photos) for visual content, and record messages that will play when a picture or symbol is pressed. Alexa has already had great success with this app! Here’s a bit of her success shared in her own words (names changed to protect privacy):

Hey everyone! 

I just wanted to share some exciting news about our friend “Jane.” 

I have been working with her the past few days on using the Sounding Board app on the iPads to help her communicate, and she has responded extremely well! I created a single-button board on the app so that when she touches the screen, it says, "I would like some attention please." For the past two days, Jane has independently touched the screen multiple times to get staff attention instead of hitting herself. YAY! After getting staff attention, Jane would use the yes/no buttons on a different board to tell staff if she needed to use the restroom or not. 

While there is still some work to do, Jane has done a wonderful job using the app instead of hitting herself to get staff attention thus far. Other staff members are using the app as well when working with Jane to help her continue to improve her communication. I love seeing the progress she's making! Thanks for reading and sharing in the excitement! 

I love to see teachers like Alexa promoting this kind of self-reliance, and creating such successful teachable moments! I know that this is just the beginning, and we will continue to work as a team to build on this success. I look forward to sharing more stories with you soon – stay tuned!

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