AAC Coffee Chat – Staying Connected in Our Community
Hosted by SPG’s AAC & AT Special Interest Group (SIG), we have reinstated our popular AAC Coffee Chat for the 2020-2021 school year. Started in April 2020, the AAC Coffee Chat began with Kathy Beatty (now retired) as a way for SPG therapists to connect with each other, offering up support, information, and resources, along with a healthy dose of laughter and silliness. Now scheduled for the last Wednesday of the month (4pm-5pm), our next AAC Coffee Chat is scheduled for November 18th. We hope to see you there!
Drop in! To join the video meeting, click this link. Otherwise, to join by phone, dial +1 510-838-1279 and enter this PIN: 440 912 085#. For more information on joining us at the AAC Coffee Chat, or to join our AAC & AT SIG, please contact Mollie at email@example.com.
Gooseneckwhaaa??? I Need a Hack for That!
Supporting our students who use AAC can be a challenge in the most ideal of situations. Currently, we are hardly in an ideal situation. But that doesn’t mean we can’t still be successful in what we do! Having the right tools is always necessary to get any job done. Many of us already have the basics needed to support most of our students during distance learning, but we may need something more to provide the EBP of Aided Language Stimulation (the fancy term for modeling with AAC) for some of our more complex students. For those of you who may have an iPad with the appropriate apps, there is always screen sharing, but there is something to be said for the students to see your actual finger modeling the selection of the icons, not just a cursor. Using an external camera (simple! use your phone), you can have your AAC system join the party on Zoom or Google Meets.
To avoid a Blair Witch Project effect, you can purchase a gooseneck camera holder which will keep the camera hands-free and steady. Or skip the fancy equipment, and try one of these hacks: use a heavy filled water bottle or tall filled tupperware to place your phone on top of pointing down at the AAC tool; try a wire dish stacker to place the phone on top of and the AAC tool beneath; or, rubber band your phone to a ruler or wooden spatula and stabilize it between the top two books of a stack (easy to add books or take away to adjust the height as you need). For more hacks, tricks, and tips, reach out to Karen Baca, AT Specialist, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
New AAC Mentors for the AAC Mentorship Program 2020-2021
Big shout out to SPG’s newest AAC Mentors: Vanessa Yee, Elizabth Uduehi, and Brian St. Geme! Along with veteren AAC Mentors, Mollie Mindel and Jenna WIlliams, our newest AAC Mentors have stepped into their new role with competency and compassion. On top of their many other responsibilities, they are providing the key ingredient that makes SPG’s AAC Mentorship Program such a renowned success. Our AAC Mentors provide their Mentees with many forms of support. They consult on tricky cases, provide personalized resources, assist with challenging AAC assessments and contentious IEPS, review AAC reports, and supply a sympathetic shoulder during these challenging times. Additionally, our AAC Mentors help develop and present AAC-related trainings and are Lead Instructors within the AAC Mentorship Program curriculum. Strong work AAC Mentors! Thank you for all that you do.
Inside Intel – Being an AAC Mentor
By Vanessa Yee
Becoming an AAC mentor has been an exciting opportunity to not only further develop my own professional interests, but also to collaborate with mentees who have their own creative ideas and expertise. Mentees’ questions and curiosities sometimes open up areas of AAC I had not thought about before, or maybe never thought to delve deeper into, and that is super exciting! AAC mentorship also allows me to improve my own clinical decision-making skills because explaining the rationale behind certain procedures requires that you have a clear understanding of the step-by-step process yourself. Furthermore, as a mentor, I get to experience a varied caseload through my mentees, often across districts and age groups, to learn about different procedures and how that impacts service delivery. This forces me to increase my flexibility in thinking about AAC for a diverse range of students and the professionals who support them. Overall, the mentorship process has been a wonderful experience, and I feel grateful for the opportunity to support other clinicians’ roles as AAC implementers and innovators.