How to Be Successful with AAC Implementation in Teletherapy
Updated: Mar 25, 2021
When I was assigned my first teletherapy student with AAC needs, I didn’t know How to be Successful with AAC Implementation in Teletehrapy. Sure, I felt competent in-person. for Teletherap, one of my immediate thoughts was, How the heck is that going to work logistically?" I thought, Well gosh, I'm on the other side of a screen...how am I going to model responses and present materials simultaneously? How am I going to help support the parent or learning coach in programming the device or providing cues and feedback effectively?" As the questions started flooding my brain, I did what every SLP would probably do in this situation and started making a list.
Get AAC trial software on iPAD or computer.
Find a way to screen mirror.
Check student's personal/AAC device volume output.
Check student's pesonal/AAC device email or direct response capabilities.
Check effectiveness across school and therapy virtual platform environments.
Find a way to split screen or transition between AAC software and presented materials.
Find AAC materials.
Not asking for much, right?
But these are all the things that would need to be in place to even begin starting to think about giving instruction skillfully. So here's how I ended up solving these basic requirements of having a successful tele-AAC speech session.
The Search for Trial Software
There are a quite a number of free trials or low cost trial AAC apps for you iPAD, and the Apple app store was where I began searching. I quickly discovered that one technological aspect that I had to consider was the compatibilities of software with Android/Windows and iOS/Mac I was going to provide or suggest. If I wanted to maintain consistency, this narrowed my choices considerably when my student and I were working with different processing systems but PrAACtical AAC's extensive list of free and lite versions of AAC apps was extremely helpful in my research.
While the research was ongoing, a colleague introduced me to free AAC software and resources to SLP professionals and this knowledge was a game changer.
Enter, Tobii Dynavox and Prentke Romich Company.
These companies have been around a LONG time for a reason, and it's not just because they are trying to sell you devices and software. Tobii Dynavox has a vast library of free AAC resources to use from evaluation to treatment. I've personally used their extensive questionnaires and checklists for assessm, templates for report writing, and lesson plans for treatment. CHECK! AAC Materials. The best part? Their software is FREELY downloadable for you SLP pros when you sign up at My Tobii Dynavox. And, CHECK! Trial software is ready to use. Prentke Romich Company also has great visuals and a resource library that is worth checking into HERE.
If you are looking for AAC teletherapy training, both companies offer free webinars that will help you get started and see for yourself that AAC via teletherapy can work:
The Teletherapy Logistics
When I began implementing therapy with AAC software, I used my iPAD. This meant that I needed to screen-mirror. Personally, I like using APowerMirror. However, when I switched virtual platforms to Zoom, I could also share content directly from my iPAD. The problem with this latter method of presenting information in Zoom was that I couldn't simultaneously share my AAC software on my iPAD and my therapy materials (i.e., PDF in Adobe Reader, YouTube video). Thus, when using AAC software on my iPAD (or a pre-created core board or choice board), screen-mirroring was really the best option. CHECK! Screen-mirroring, done.
Sometimes, though the landscape orientation of the iPAD software or core boards didn't always fit nicely on the screen over or under my materials.
Enter screen-splitting and entire-screen-sharing.
I've shared how to split view two apps on a single computer screen in another post, but it is a must when you would like to model selections on an AAC app while simultaneously sharing your companion materials. CHECK! Don't forget to select "share entire screen" when sharing content from your virtual platform!
The Digital Resources
Of course, there is then the need for materials and resources that are designed with teletherapy in mind. Tobii Dynavox has an awesome library of lesson plans with the SLP membership, but not all of them are exact translations for teletherapy. That's why I've enlisted the help of my digital-thinking colleagues to pull together an AAC resource roundup. Check out these stores, blogs and resources below...
Susan Berkowitz's ENTIRE TpT Store
Emily B Speech's TpT Store, especially the Core Vocab and Commenting/Requesting Section
Let's Build Language's Spin, Say, & Build Series
Have I missed something? Have a question? Ask me!
-Angela C. Hancock, MSP, CCC-SLP
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