Sunday, May 24, 2015

We moved to Word Press!

Hello Everyone!

I know people come over here a lot to find resources.  FEel free to check out our site but all NEW entries
are being hosted over at

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Product Review: Coughdrop AAC


Cough Drop AAC is a brand new cloud based Augmentative Alternative Communication System, created by Brian Whitmer, a computer programmer and father of a child with a disability.  The free, web based Beta version launched on October 9th and is available by signing up at  until January 9th. This system was created to better serve children with unique and complex communication needs, such as autism, Rett Syndrome, selective mutism, MS, ALS, traumatic brain injury, to name a few.   

What makes Cough Drop AAC Different?

Cough Drop AAC system is based on collaboration and data based reporting for IEP team members.  I think it is like the Google Drive for the AAC users and can be used across laptops and tablets.  One of the more frustrating aspects of current AAC programs on the market is modifying boards.  If I modify a student's board on my laptop, each therapist that has access to that child's user and board information also has to make the changes. That's just inefficient, especially for children who rely on us for their voices.   Like Google Drive,  Cough Drop AAC updates changes that other team members make on a user's account across the board.  That is the benefit of the cloud based system.   Another great feature among therapists, is the ability to share core boards and other custom vocab based activities as a social network.

Screenshots of my favorite features:

Home Screen with Core Word Screen with Easy Navigation

Share Feature

Social Network and board sharing among other professionals

Color Editing Feature and Modification  That Changes Across Devices

Creating A Board for A Child with Cortical Visual Impairments:

Since I work with children with visual impairments, I created a board that was custom built for a 13 year old child with visual impairments with complex communication needs.  This particular board was created for a child with cortical visual impairments and very involved gross motor challenges.  However, she is very expressive and relies on others to physically help her make adjustments to her iPad screen settings for her visual needs.  Her expressive language is not always clear, so we created a core vocabulary board for her visual modifications on her iPad and computer screen using Cough Drop AAC. Here is what we created for her. 

My Experience Editing the Board:
Editing the boards was very easy and intuitive if you have worked with other dynamic systems.  It is easy to navigate and uses easy language.  I was able to easily altar the size and color of images on the boards.  Brian has created a very easy way for those of us that work with the visually impaired, to augment the visual presentation of these communication boards.  Cough Drop AAC also features several voice output options and a "Speak It" feature within the system that enables the user to use his or her core word vocabulary board as a tool for expressive language directly from the website.

Final  Thought: 
Cough Drop AAC is an innovative system that is going to catch AAC users up with the 21st Century.  Brian has ideas of making it compatible to make Cough Drop AAC compatible for tweeting on Twitter and writing Facebook status updates.   I am excited to see how it will work with switch interfaces in up and coming versions.  

Starting in January, the full version of Cough Drop will be available with a competitive monthly rates and free trial.

You can contact the creator, Brian Whiter at: 
Brian Whitmer 
CoughDrop, Inc. 
+1 (801) 997-0844

or on Twitter @CoughDropAAC


Friday, September 19, 2014

5 Great Resources on Partner-Assisted Scanning (PODD)

I have had the pleasure of working with quite a few children with visual processing issues that are ages 5-13 using Partner Assisted Scanning (PODD).  PODD is defined by Novita Children's Services as:

Pragmatic Organisation Dynamic Display (PODD) is a means of selecting and organising symbols so that people with complex communication needs and their communication partners can communicate more easily.

 I have been a part of several AAC meetings consulting the visual capabilities of children with visual processing issues and PODD in the last two days.  I have several children on my caseload who have increased their vocabulary by using PODD with a communication partner.  I wanted to share some great resources on PODD from a variety of perspectives: parents and professionals. 
Click the blue link under the pictures to go to the correlated links

A Great Video from Assistive Technology Coalition of a child using PODD

Friday, August 22, 2014

Top Back to School Educational Technology Links

Paying attention to what is going in the world of education technology is extremely important for me as an AT specialist.  If you think about it, what is happening in the world of Educational Technology will eventually be our job to adapt for our students with disabilities who attend their neighborhood schools. Educational Technology link can also help us teachers stay organized.  Anyway, here a few of my favorite EdTech links:

Thursday, August 7, 2014

A NEW Exploring Braille App Giveaway!!

ENTER GIVEAWAY HERE----> a Rafflecopter giveaway

After the excitement of this new app demonstration at the International AER Conference in San Antonio, app developer and programmer has given us THREE free download codes to use in a blog giveaway!!!
Hilary has recently updated the app with plans of creating a Grade 2 Braille level.

Giveaway begins at midnight, 8/7 an ends at midnight on Wednesday, 8/13

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Daisy the Dinosaur App: A Coding App for Pre-Schoolers

While this app certainly is for the educational technology sector of this technology world, I wanted to give it some attention because I think coding is a really important skill that I have started to introduce to my own daughter with this app. As an assistive technology specialist, I think it is critically important to pay attention to what is being taught in the Ed. Tech world because our jobs as assistive technology specialists  to adapt and teach these techniques for our students with disabilities.  Anyway, I love Daisy Dinosaur because it  introduces my own daugther (who is 4) to higher level problem solving skills through Gamification. One of the many things that I absolutely love about this *FREE* app is that there are two participation modes.  In the "Free Play Mode" the has the opportunity to become comfortable with controlling the programming options and movements to make Daisy Dinosaur move towards the star.  See the video below (sorry about the angle of the image in the video).

In Challenge Mode, the user is given a command for Daisy to complete.  The user must then use the commands provided from the app to complete the tasks.  Please the see the video below for a Challenge Mode Demo:

I am excited to see where the emphasis on teaching coding to our students it going to affect the areas of our technology curriculum.  Daisy the Dinosaur app is great for kids with vision  For kids with disabilities, especially those with kids with visual impairments, the idea of coding teaches students higher level cause and effect skills.  If the Daisy the Dinosaur developers synced some voice over adaptations within the app, this app would be perfect for students with low or no vision with the ability to problem solve.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Gmail Commands for Dragon Naturally Speaking

I have been training quite a few clients on Dragon Naturally Speaking in the last six months.  Many of my AT clients are choosing to use Gmail as their primary email system just as the rest of the world is as well.  However, I have found that commands that work for Outlook and other email services with Dragon, do not necessarily work with Dragon.  However, after perusing YouTube videos and other websites, I put together a list of commands that other users have found to be successful with Dragon.

UPDATE: Gmail only works when you are using internet explorer.  It is NOT work using Google Chrome or Firefox.