AT Assessment Tools & Interventions: Tots Can Tech Too!

In this webinar, experienced AT professionals from Fairfax County, VA public schools demonstrate how to develop and conduct AT assessments, and implement activities in early childhood classrooms and at home to make participation and learning accessible to all students. (Get the PowerPoint slides and additional materials in the Download Here section).


- [Presenter] Good afternoon, everyone. We're gonna get started. This afternoon, welcome to our CTD webinar, AT Assessment Tools and Interventions: Tots can Tech too! Well, we're pleased to welcome Cheryl Temple, Ph.D, Manager of Assistive Technology Services for Fairfax County Public Schools. Celeste Rodrigo, she's an EC/AT Specialist. And Malia Waller, AT Resource Teacher. Please remember, at the end of the webinar, we'd love to hear from you. Please fill out the survey, and you can get a certificate of participation. Thank you.

- [Cheryl] Everyone, this is Cheryl. And I'm here with my colleagues, Celeste and Malia. Malia. Geez. Oh, okay. Yeah, so, I wanna tell you a little bit about our school system first, and then we'll get into the day's presentation. Fairfax County has about 187,000 students. We have about 25,000 students in special education. So we see a lot of students, and we deal with a lot of situations here, and so, we're gonna share some of those things with you today. The referral process in our system works like this. First of all, when our teachers go in, they see if there's a school-based intervention that can be considered.

Sometimes, there's things in the closet. There's things that the teachers could be using with all the students. And so they look at that first. But if they request an AT assessment for a student, a specific student, it's requested through the IEP team. And then, they do an assessment. It's completed by an ATS Resource Teacher. We have about 200 schools, and so, we have a teacher assigned to each of those schools. They might have 10, 12 schools, so they get there once every two or three weeks. So they do an assessment, they write a report with the recommendation to the IEP team and the parents, and then it's up to the IEP team to determine what they're gonna use, if they're gonna follow the recommendations or not. They typically do, but they have to, at that point, write an addendum to the IEP. And then, we take it from there. So, today, Celeste and Malia are two of the AT resource teachers, and they specifically support early childhood, although they do many other students as well, but they have expertise in early childhood. And so they're gonna talk to you today about the assessment tools that we use and then, interventions that we do for assistive technology.

- [Malia] All right, so let's go ahead and dive in to the areas for assessment for early childhood students. Those are students in our county that range in age from two to five years old. And these areas are readiness, communication, and access. We use a series of informal, non-standardized assessments adapted from the Wisconsin Assistive Technology Initiative as a guideline for helping us determine the appropriate supports for students. The WATI forms are a systematic approach to providing a functional assessment of the student's needs for assistive technology in their customary environment, so in that classroom that they've already been placed in. Each form breaks the main area of assessment into smaller pieces through the use of AT checklists, observations, trial use guidelines, and more to help us identify the student's needs as shared by the school staff and specialists who support the students every day.

We combine this information with observations of the student in their classroom and school environments to determine each student's unique needs for supports. All right, the first area we're gonna dive into is readiness. So, on our readiness WATI form, we look at the student's ability to understand cause and effect. So, whether or not they understand that actions have a reaction. We look at their attention, whether or not they're able to maintain attention during one-on-one activities, during large group or small group activities. We look at their ability to manipulate objects independently, so, whether or not they are independently choosing to play with toys and manipulate small toys, whether or not they're able to hold a crayon for coloring activities or other art supplies. Same goes for whether or not they are able to manipulate feeding tools, like forks and spoons. We also look at their classroom participation, whether or not they're engaging in activities that are going on in the classroom.

And then, classroom transitions. Can they move freely and independently between activities that are being done in the classroom? We're sure to make note of the student's preferred learning modality, as well under this WATI form, whether or not they're visual learners, auditory learners, kinesthetic learners, or tactile learners. We make sure we note the student's preferred activities and motivators, so that we can make sure that we're placing supports that the students are going to be wanting to use. Lastly, when assessing readiness skills, we make note of any AT supports, or assistive technology supports, that have already been tried in the classroom, things like objects that have been adapted for grips, large crayons, strapping a shower curtain ring to a toy to make the grip easier, or positioning, or angle of toys, or materials. We also look to see if visual picture cues or schedules have been used, or if any augmentative communication device has been trialed.

And this will give us a comprehensive look into the student's current levels of activities, and help us place schools that will help the students fill in their gaps. Similar to the WATI form for readiness, we also have a form to guide us through the assessment of communication. If the student is receiving speech and language services from the school district, we're also sure to collaborate with that specialist in the area of communication. Again, the WATI form walks us through the assistive technology checklist and supports. The first area we look at is the present level of communication. Is the student currently communicating vocally, or are they using gestures or sign language? Has the school team trialed any alternative methods of communication with the student? So, have they trialed a visual picture board, or a low-tech communication device, or even a high-tech communication device? We look at the student's intelligibility of communication, whether or not they can be understood by their peers, by teachers in the classroom, by support staff, even by their family or people they interact with at home.

We assess the student's current level of receptive language. So we're looking at whether they can understand single-step directions or multiple-step directions. We're looking at whether they can identify objects in the classroom and in their general environment. We, again, look at their current level of expressive language, how much and how often they are communicating with their peers, with the teachers, that social communication piece. And we look at physical considerations related to device access. For example, can they direct select using their finger to interact with a communication device? Can they carry a communication device independently, or will they be required to have a device that can be mounted to their wheelchair, for example? Finally, we look at vision considerations, whether or not the student needs a large or small field size, a contrast in their communication device, or even looking into tactile versions of communication devices.

The next area we look at is that access piece. So we're gonna look at the student's fine motor abilities here, to include observing the student using paper and pencil, using the computer, the computer mouse, using a touchscreen, using a switch, all of those things. We look at the movements of their fingers, hands, arms, legs, feet, even eyebrows, eyes, head, mouth, and tongue, to see what abilities they have in terms of what we might want to be looking at placing for the student. We look at their accuracy and ease of motion, what fatigues the student, as well as other pertinent health issues. For example, if a student has a degenerative health issue, we wanna make sure that we're planning to place supports that are going to be there for long-term access. Finally, we look at the student's access methods, whether they can direct select, again, using that isolated finger, or if they require a device that they need to access with their full hand. We look at whether or not a student would require a key guard, a pointer, switch access, or different activation types, and whether or not the devices should be set up to scan for them. Another thing we might consider is whether or not a student would require an eye gaze device. So we did schedule in some time right now to answer any questions you might have about our assessment piece and how we work with our school teams as assistive technology resource teachers to determine the best tools for our students. Looks like a couple people are typing, so we'll wait just a second and see if there's any questions coming through. Do you just want to go over timelines?

- [Cheryl] So, we do have timelines. We typically say that it has to be done within the same time as eligibility. So, we're saying 65 days. But, typically, it can take less and then it can take more, because you might try something out in a school, and it doesn't work, and you have to go back and try something else, and it doesn't work, and you have to try. So... It's variable. But we try to do it within 65 working days.

- [Celeste] It looks like we also have a question about how many sessions for an assessment and how long of a duration, and I really do think it's student-specific and dependent on situations. Typically, at least, I know, myself, when I go out, I'll go out and chat with the teacher first and do a formal observation to assess areas of need. And then, from there, I will bring out assistive technology to try with my student, and particularly for communication devices, this may be, it's a trial and error situation, so I may bring out one or two devices, and then maybe need to bring out a third, and then a trial for a longer period of time. So I don't think there is a set period of how many assessments. It really is what it takes to get the job done.

- [Malia] All right, Karen has a question about who does the assessments. And, Karen, this is typically a collaborative effort between the AT resource teacher and the school team. So, it would be, if the student was receiving speech services, we do always include the SLP. We also include occupational therapists, physical therapists, when we're looking at access. Of course, we want them involved.

- [Celeste] And then we also have a question about, which is a great question, do you take into consideration that young child may improve skills over time and need a device that grows with her and him. And I'm gonna hold a lot, most of the answer to that, until we hit communication, but we absolutely do take into consideration growth and language. We also take into consideration their present level of performance, and that's really what we base our decision on. But, expecting that the student will gain language, for example. All right, so we're gonna move on to the intervention piece.

- [Malia] All right, so after we've assessed our student's current levels and areas of need, we need to get into the really fun stuff, the interventions that we have available to meet the student's individual needs. So, for the purpose of this presentation, we're going to share many of the interventions that we have used with our early childhood students to support the needs in areas of readiness, communication, and access, like we talked about. As AT resource teachers, we step in when the low-tech adaptations that are available in schools that have been used are not found to be sufficient support. So one thing that we like to remind people is that there are many assistive technology tools that are readily available in their school buildings, such as adapted art materials, using visual cues to help support students during transitioning, things like that, may not necessarily need full support of their assistive technology resource teacher, but we are always there to collaborate with teachers at our schools. Another thing we wanted to let you know in moving into the interventions is that we have prepared quite a few videos of students using these interventions, as well as Celeste and I demonstrating how we use these interventions. It's kind of a better approach of showing you exactly how they would work, rather than just speaking to them. So we hope you enjoy that aspect.

- [Celeste] And please be patient through the transition of the videos. We do have a fair amount of them, but they are worth the watch.

- [Malia] All right. So, the first thing we wanted to talk about was readiness and using visual supports to support readiness. So, as you see on the left-hand side, we have some printed transition supports, in the form of visual schedules. So, the top left is actually three student schedules that are posted in the classroom. Using Boardmaker symbols, these were created to help guide students in a preschool autism classroom through their daily schedule. So, the idea here was that the students would go to their schedule and choose the picture that corresponded with the activity that was happening, and transition to the area of the classroom. So, if you notice, the bathroom sign has Velcro dots on it, so they would take their bathroom picture to the bathroom, and place it there, and then use the bathroom. This, in this particular classroom, was designed to be faded out, so that the students would learn independence as well, but in the beginning, these visual supports proved to be very helpful for the students. Underneath that, you'll see a first-then board, also created with Boardmaker. The idea here is that the students would understand better the transitioning time between an unpreferred activity and then a preferred activity. So, in this example, the unpreferred activity being washing hands, would then be followed with the preferred activity of having snack. On the right-hand side, we have a little video of an onscreen transition support. This was created using Boardmaker Studio, and it's kind of a daily schedule that can be producted either in the morning or the afternoon.

- [Computerized Voice] 9:30 to 10:00, circle time. 10:00 to 10:30, reading. 10:30 to 11:00, art. 11:00 to 11:30, snack. 11:30 to 11:45, go home.

- [Malia] All right, so, as you saw in that video, the daily schedule can be checked off throughout the day, and it will give you that auditory feedback of what's happening during the day. Were you all able to hear the video? If somebody can let us know. Okay, okay, great. We can't hear it on our end, so we just wanted to make sure you could. So, that schedule offers you auditory feedback as it walks through, and as you're checking things off, which is a great feature. It also has the clocks, so if you're working on time, you have that dual lesson going hand in hand with your daily schedule.

- [Celeste] We wanna know what you used to create it.

- [Malia] Oh, we used Boardmaker Studio to create that activity. Boardmaker has a lot of templates built into it, and that was one of the basic templates.

- [Celeste] All right, guys, this is Celeste. Another area that Malia referred to when talking about readiness is cause and effect. And cause and effect, essentially, is the child's ability to understand when actions have outcomes. And this becomes particularly important for us as AT case managers, because cause and effect serve a basis of everything that we place, whether that's communication or switch access. If you think about what communication is, communication is that a student or child says something and they get something. That is essentially cause and effect. So this is why it's really important for us, whenever we go into our young classrooms, to really assess whether or not a student is showing an understanding and comprehension of how cause and effect works. So, what happens when a student doesn't have cause and effect? We will typically place cause and effect toys that students can explore, and we're actually gonna show examples of these in our access area of our presentation, but I did wanna show you one of the websites that we'll refer to to some of our teachers, what it looks like some of you are familiar with. This particular one is called HelpKidzLearn, which is a subscription-based website, but they do have a couple free resources. And if you wanna see other websites, there will be some on the handout that you guys can download. But you guys can see one of the activities on HelpKidzLearn.

- [Celeste] That was actually an advanced cause and effect activity, because, as you can see, they actually, there was some wait time in order to engage that activity. A student would have to wait till the egg appears, and then click the button. That's really great for students who are learning to use switches or do switch scanning down the line. Is it a website or not? Let's see. That is actually a website, but I'm pretty sure Inclusive does have some apps--

- [Malia] They do.

- [Celeste] That you can download. I've never used them, Malia, have you used them?

- [Malia] I have not used them, but I know that there are certain stories from their website that they have put in app form.

- [Celeste] Yeah, they do real, Inclusive Technology is some really great adaptive stuff, if anyone's unfamiliar with them. Really check out their website and see everything they have. They have some great stuff that you can adapt for switch use. All right, so, from going to cause and effect, it's really nice to go into communication, since I already mentioned that piece and the connection between cause and effect and communication. I'm gonna first talk a little bit about the language on communication devices. When I first started in Fairfax County, as a preschool teacher, I would create overlays for my students for every separate area of the day. So I would start one for morning meeting, so that my students can greet each other and participate in calendar. And then I would have another overlay for snack, so they can request, such as the overlay that you see in front of you, and then another overlay for story, and I would create an overlay for every single story that I would introduce my children to.

But I just want to let you think about this: If I took your keyboard and shook it up every hour and said, type your name, how frustrated would you be? That can be very frustrating, if you don't know where things are and you've already gained the automaticity to do something. And that's essentially what we do when we change the language on a student's device frequently. If we keep changing the language on a student's device, how do we expect them to learn what the language is? So, now, I think, a few years ago, they started going with the core language approach, and what you see in front of you is a core language overlay, and what you'll probably notice first is that there aren't any nouns on this overlay. Well, why is that? Well, if you think about it, this overlay is meant to sort of give you the most bang for your buck. This is an overlay that you can use throughout your day.

The previous overlay was meant for snack. But if a student wanted to grab their device during recess with that overlay, what would they be able to say? If they want to say they want to get on the swing, there was no language on there that would be applicable. So, core language allows you to have a device that you can use throughout the day. Now, if I show you my next slide, this is a high-tech core language overlay, and as you can see, there's actually 84 buttons on here. This is the overlay for a Words for Life board, which we'll talk about a little bit more, and you'll get to see one of my students using it. But what I really like about core language, particularly, again, to... More words, is that it gives the students abilities to generate language. If you have a device that's full of phrases, like I want bathroom, I want cookie, I want help, they don't have the ability to generate their own language. So, if they wanna tell you, I don't like what you're doing, they have no ability to do this. However, if they have 84 words on the board, they can say, I don't like, they can say, I want to go, they can say, I want stop, they can say, I want eat. So it really gives the students the ability to learn language and create their own language, which is really important as they start setting up to go to kindergarten.

All right, so, let me talk a little bit more about core vocabulary. As I mentioned before, core vocabulary is your most frequently used words, and they can be used for most messages and across contexts. So, something like want, go, stop, eat, are words that I've used already throughout the day. Fringe words, however, are a large number of words. They're mostly nouns, and they're infrequently used and applicable to very specific situations. So, something like umbrella, I've probably, I don't think, actually, I haven't used it at all today. So that would be an example of a fringe vocabulary. It's very context-specific, I talk about it when it's raining.

So, for example, can we go to Chipotle and get a burrito bowl? The core words are can, we, go, to, and get. I can easily say, can we go to the mall to get shoes, or, can we go to the market and get apples. The second example, I want to go to the zoo to see a puffin. Our fringe words are zoo and puffin. Those are very context-specific words. I could also say, I want to go to the park to see friends. So when we look at our communication boards, we really want them to be with language that the students will use frequently throughout the day. If you put every word that a student used, imagine how much navigation and how many pages a student would have to navigate through in order to get their point across. And what we wanna do is we wanna make communication easy for a student. We want it to be quick for a student to be able to access. All right. So, let's talk a little bit about our communication supports.

Now, before I talk about the type of communication supports that we provide in Fairfax County, I just want you to remember that AAC isn't just speech-generating devices. AAC applies to any alternate method of communication. So, this includes includes sign language, it includes pets. But, for the purpose of this presentation, we're specifically gonna be talking about speech-generating devices. I think we also get a lot of questions about who would you place on a speech-generating device or any other form of AAC? And, I think Malia talked a little bit about this in the assessment piece, but any time a student has a high rate of receptive language, and are not able to meet that with their expressive language, you wanna consider communication supports. We have students who are on communication supports who are completely nonverbal, but then we also have students on communication supports who are verbal, but they require our devices for repair. Really think about the independence of a student's language.

I think a lot of teachers will tell me that they're starting to say beginning sounds, which is great, and we don't want them to stop doing that, but, at the same time, how independent is that language if they're just saying the initial sound? Definitely keep letting them practice those sounds, but also give them a multi-modal approach, where they can have some independence in requesting. So, let's talk a little bit about the low-tech communication supports. Now, low-tech communication supports are going to be your dynamic display, or, excuse me, your static display communication supports. So, the overlays don't change on them. An example of low-tech communication supports include BIGmacks, which are single-message devices, that's that red button that you see in front of you. They're really great for cause and effect communication. We like to give them to students so they can participate in large group activities, so, very quick hits, so they can do greetings on them, for example, repeated phrases of books are really great for BIGmacks.

The next one is Twin Talk, which is that two-cell communicator that has blue buttons. Really wonderful for students who are beginning to make choices in the classroom. As you can see, that particular device has core words on it, has eat and drink, and is clearly meant for mealtime activities. And then we move on to our multi-cell devices, such as a Tech Talk 8, an eight-cell device, a GoTalk, which I believe come in nine and 32, and a Tech 32, which is that device in the right-hand corner that has the 32 cells. And that is meant for students to begin to combine words so that they can start making generative language. Lastly is our Compartment Communicator, which we actually have a video of next, and you get to see one of my students engaging in a compartment communicator. Now, a Compartment Communicator is really great for students who are not yet at the point where they understand picture symbols. Sometimes, I'll have teachers refer a student who is only at the object level, and they don't yet understand photos or picture symbols, and they have questions about how to get the student to communicate. This particular device has platforms at the top of it that allow you to put the objects that are motivating to a student on, and, ideally, the student would begin to associate the button with the object that they're trying to request, so that they can begin to request using the Compartment Communicator. The next steps would be for the teacher to pair the object with a picture symbol, and, eventually, fade out the objects so we can move the student to a picture symbol level. But, we're gonna go ahead and play this video of a Compartment Communicator, so you can see him in action.

- [Teacher] Oh, my gosh, look at you, you--

- Goldfish.

- Good job, saying goldfish--

- Goldfish.

- [Teacher] Yes, see, this is nice, you have a calm body. And you're sitting. You need... Good job!

- [Computerized Voice] Drink.

- [Teacher] Good job.

- [Celeste] Okay, so, as you can see, this particular device has four compartments, but this student actually was only successful in requesting from a field of three. So you can see in the video that the teacher actually adapted that device so it would be a three-cell communicator. Compartment Communicators also come in two cells as well, for students who might be more successful at making a choice from a field of two. = [Malia] Okay, ooh, I have something. Where is, we're missing, okay, a whole slide.

- [Celeste] All right, so, we had a video of a student using a Twin Talk. I'm not sure where the slide went, but I'll go ahead and talk about it. This student is using a Twin Talk during mealtimes. This is one of my favorite videos, because it's the first time that the student uses the Twin Talk, and just wait for the moment where he self-corrects and realizes which button he intended to press. And you can see him successfully make a choice during mealtime.

- [Aide] This is a?

- [Computerized Voice] Drink.

- This is a--

- Drink.

- [Teacher] Which one were we using?

- [Student] I'm using this blue for my mobile.

- [Aide] Here, so let's bring this over here, put that up there. Is that easier for you? Let's turn--

- Yes.

- [Aide] Let's look around here.

- Good job.

- Now, is that easy?

- Good job.

- [Aide] The chicken is really good. You're going to like the chicken.

- [Student] I'm going to like the chicken.

- Yeah.

- Is it pieces?

- No, it's not. It's really good, though.

- [Aide] Okay, are you good? I told you you were gonna like it.

- [Teacher] Drink?

- [Aide] You're not using your spoon, so you may not play with it. Here's one.

- Wipe. Okay, is that cold?

- [Aide] Uh-uh, only if you're gonna use it to eat with.

- [Computerized Voice] Drink.

- You want your drink?

- Oh, eat!

- No drink?

- Eat.

- [Aide] Okay, under the bread.

- [Teacher] Good job correcting yourself.

- [Aide] It's the chicken, you want a chicken? You don't want chicken?

- [Teacher] I don't think he--

- [Celeste] Her student, actually, that video was taken of him two years ago, he's now in first grade, and he's now on a Tech 32, and we're already discussing moving him to a high-tech device. So you can sort of see the growth that comes with communication. We started him with a Twin Talk, primarily because he was still at the point where he needed to understand what the device was for. Putting a bunch of buttons in front of him probably wasn't gonna be the most successful. So, by giving him a device that he can be successful with, we were able to move him to larger devices later on. Now, this student is a student with traumatic brain injury, and he is on a Tech 32, and you can see him start to combine two different word phrases. He had never had a form of communication before, and when we gave him this device, he very quickly started to combine words, and he was so thrilled with having an ability to communicate that he started using the device to comment. So, instead of requesting, he would say, I want yogurt, feed himself a spoonful of yogurt, and then continue to say, I want yogurt, feed himself. So the teacher wasn't really involved in that communication. But he was so thrilled that he would just label everything that he did throughout the day. But this is a great opportunity for you to see a student begin to combine words.

- [Teacher] Good job, Adam. Yes? What do you need?

- [Computerized Voice] I want help.

- [Celeste] Okay, now let's move on to high-tech communication support. So, what are high-tech communication supports? Those are dynamic display boards. So, boards that are typically on an electronic device. Some of the dynamic display boards or the high-tech communication supports that we use in the county include iPads or the Words for Life or Proloquo, which are communication apps. We also use accent devices or Tobii Eye Gaze. Those are really great for students who might require adaptations when accessing their device, such as eye gaze or switch use. Now, let's see, why would you put a kid on a high-end device versus a low-end device? I think it's very student-specific. If a student, like I said, requires adaptation, such as switch access, that's not something that's really easy to do with a low-tech communication board. So you may put them on a high-tech device just for access purposes. The other reason that you might consider putting them on a high-end device is language. As you can see, the low-tech supports maxed out at about 32 words. However, your high-tech communication supports can be thousands of words. You'll see a student interact with a device on the next slide, but for students who are able to combine words and need more specific vocabulary, high-tech communication supports can provide that. So this is a student on an iPad with Words for Life. You'll see the student navigating through multiple pages to make a choice, and you'll also notice that, when she moves to the second page, I know you can't really see the words on the device, but those are fringe words, nouns that are giving her the ability to choose specific items. On the other devices, they'd be able to say, I want eat, or I want play, but this device allows them to request specific items.

- Which one? Waffle blocks, or people?

- [Computerized Voice] I want.

- [Teacher] Where is play, Galilah? Go back. Where's play?

- [Computerized Voice] Play.

- [Galilah] Where is it?

- [Computerized Voice] No.

- [Galilah] Where is it?

- [Computerized Voice] Play.

- [Teacher] Okay, do you want waffle blocks, or do you want people?

- [Computerized Voice] Toy people.

- [Teacher] Sure, okay, touch the top.

- [Computerized Voice] I want toy people.

- [Teacher] Sure. What color do you want? Clear, and tell me what color. What color?

- [Galilah] Where? Where's it at, purple?

- [Teacher] Start with I.

- [Computerized Voice] I want.

- [Teacher] Where's color?

- [Galilah] Circle. The star is purple. Where is it, come on. What's that? Where is it?

- Green.

- You want green, sure.

- [Sanem] Oh, here it is. Oh, green, that's it.

- [Teacher] You'd touch the top first, Galilah.

- [Computerized Voice] I want green.

- [Teacher] Thanks for sharing that, Sanem. Good job.

- [Celeste] Is a student using a device outside of mealtimes. In preschool, mealtimes are really great natural time to work on language, particularly on devices. But it's really nice to be able to generalize the language into other areas of the classroom as well, so that they're able to learn to communicate throughout the day, in order to be ready for kindergarten, excuse me.

- [Malia] All right, so, we wanted to just take a few minutes to allow people to ask questions. I know that was a lot of information on communication and a very, like, a quick and dirty version of AAC. I'll give you guys a few minutes.

- [Celeste] Okay, are the other communication apps you find particularly helpful with young children? I know there are a lot of communication apps out there, and it's really hard to honestly stay on top of them all. The ones that we share with you, like Proloquo and Words for Life are the ones that we primarily use in our county. I know there's a few students using Verbally as well. But, unfortunately, we don't have, we haven't had the opportunity to try all the communication apps out there, but those are probably the ones that we've seen the most success with.

- [Malia] I'm not familiar with any devices that use short video clips to discuss concepts like sharing. However, there are some resources we're gonna talk about later that are sort of social-story-type resources, and that might be something that you would find that supports that same need that you're asking about.

- [Celeste] All right, Cassandra's asking for a tip for the best place to learn placing core vocabulary on a communication app. I don't know if there's any place to learn where to place the core vocabulary. But I will tell you that someone who does really great things with core vocabulary where you can sort of see how she's integrating an early childhood setting is Gail Van Tatenhove. She does have a YouTube link that you can see all her videos, and sort of see what she's doing in the classroom. There's a really great video of her using core vocabulary with a variety of students in a circle, and you can sort of see how she implements it throughout an activity, so I really do recommend her. If you want more research on core vocabulary, Meher Banajee has some really good research, I think, from 2008, if you're interested in any of that.

- [Malia] There are also some great websites, like, I believe? That's done by a couple of SLPs. And there's also the PRC Language Lab, AAC Language Lab, and they support and provide a lot of activities and ideas for core language as well.

- [Celeste] And then we have, do your reports include teaching strategies like ALS and partner-assisted scanning? Our reports usually include recommendations of how to implement, but we typically will work with teachers and guide them through that process. All right, we've got a lot of questions, and we lost them. Give us one second.

- [Cheryl] Do the devices go home with the children?

- [Celeste] The devices can go home with the students. Typically, with any of our AT, we want them to be successful in the classroom environment before we look at generalizing them into the home environment. We also, particularly for high-end devices, wanna get parents trained before they go home, in order for them to be successful at using them at home, and I really do think that's really important. There's a lot of studies out there that show that success in AAC and in AT are because of the collaboration between home and other resource providers.

- [Malia] Do our reports include teaching strategies like ALS and partner-assisted scanning? Our reports will talk about what our findings were of our assessment, and then we will oftentimes bring in what we call our PD support team, or communication support team. Those SLPs who are working with us in our department, to kind of come in and help us with going into more depth with things like scanning.

- [Celeste] And Rachel Daniels shares that the GoTalk app lets you use a video clip for a button. That's really good information. Thank you, Rachel, for sharing that. Tracy Faulkner is asking about thoughts on apps that use scenes versus boxes. And I think, there's a few, there's apps and communication devices that have the option for visual scenes. I know, in my experience in early childhood, and Malia, you can talk about this if you have used them. I haven't really used visual scenes in the classroom. I've really stuck to core language. Have you used visual scenes in the classroom?

- [Malia] No.

- [Celeste] So we don't really have any thoughts on those. Sorry, but we have had a lot of success using the core language piece of it. Yes.

- [Malia] So there's Gail Van Tatenhove's name, and I'm sure if you look for her in YouTube, you'll find her channel. All right, so, I think we should maybe move on, but if you do have other questions about communication, we'll open it up again at the end. We just wanna make sure we get through the rest. So we're gonna move into pairing those readiness skills with different access methods. So, at the top of this chart, you'll see the different readiness skills that we've talked about in the beginning that we assess, that cause and effect, the maintaining attention, manipulating objects, classroom participation, and transitioning around the school environment and classroom.

So we've kind of just paired some interventions and access tools on the left side that will support these areas. So, if you'll notice, adapted toys, or switch-accessible toys, are great tools to support that cause and effect. Also, maintaining attention and engaging in the classroom. Again, manipulating objects by hitting that switch or touching the toy. And classroom participation, if you make a game out of it, and have the whole classroom engaged. And I know, in many of our early childhood classrooms, play is a main focus. There are amazing websites available out there for targeting these skill areas as well. Some of our favorites, we've already talked a little bit about HelpKidzLearn. That's a great, great tool. We also like Tar Heel player, There's one called Owlie Boo, which is a lot of switch-accessible and cause-and-effect games. And then, Priory Woods also does a lot of cause-and-effect games and great games for the SMART Board as well. And all of these are listed in our handout, in the file section at the bottom.

Again, switch access will allow us to practice that cause and effect, and the attention and manipulating objects. We are going to show you a program called ChooseIt! Maker a little further on in this program, and using it with switch access to support these skills. Again, Boardmaker, which we mentioned earlier with our visual schedules, is an amazing tool. The Mayer-Johnson Boardmaker products, there's a few different levels. There's Boardmaker Plus, which has a CD version. There's Boardmaker Studio, which is a download install. And their newest form, Boardmaker Online, which is a web-based form, is also available, and they are all great. They all have a lot of templates available within them, so, especially device overlay templates, so if you're thinking about those low-tech communication users, the Boardmaker products are already prepped and ready to help you create those templates. And then, finally, communication devices are also a great tool to work on those readiness skills and give students access to work on them.

- [Celeste] All right, so, let's start talking more about access. Students who are not able to access classroom toys in the same way as their peers may require access adaptations. So this student in this video is actually using a head switch. You'll see in the video that it is mounted to his chair, so that when he tilts his head, he's able to activate a switch-enabled toy. And this toy that you'll see here has actually already been adapted. An adapted toy, such as these that are switch-accessible, can be bought on websites such as Enabling Devices, or even Amazon has a few switch-activated toys, if you take a look, but you can see this little guy in action.

- [Teacher] Say excuse me.

- [Teacher] Where is your play friend?

- [Celeste] Really nice way to practice access for students who will eventually use switches to scan. Ideally, when you have a switch student who's just beginning like this, you want them to get proficient at using that first switch site, and if they are going to move on to a second switch site, for a scanner, for example, and you'll see Malia, a video of Malia doing scanning later, they would find a second switch site that the student is able to access. It's really important, when you're looking at switch sites, to remember that you want it to be the easiest access method possible. For example, if that student is using that access method for communication, when we are communicating, we're not thinking much or using much energy to communicate, and we want that to be the same for our students who need adapted access. Now, this little girl is using something called the Senso Dot Switch, which is that yellow, bumpyswitch on her table there. Those are really great for students with vision issues. Not only are they a large target, and bright yellow, they also have bumps on them for tactile feedback or for grip. And, also, when she touches that switch, it will also vibrate to give her that tactile feedback as well. The toy that she has there is a Learning Lamp toy that is also switch-accessible, so you can see her in action as well.

- [Teacher] Push your button.

- [Aide] Push down.

- [Teacher] There you go!

- [Aide] Yay! ♫ There's a lot you can do ♫ With the light that shines for you I love to shine! Oh, what--

- [Teacher] There you go! Nice chime, Olivia! You like your new toy, huh? ♫ It's such fun to laugh and play ♫ Turn the light on and let's see ♫ If you can wave bye-bye to me Bye bye!

- [Teacher] You wanna do it one more time? All right.

- All right, so on this slide, there's a quick video we're gonna show you about how to adapt a battery-operated toy to create a switch-accessible toy. So you'll see me showing you how to do that. Oh, I'm wondering if we have the video. Well, if we can't find the video, I could talk to it. So you can get what's called a battery interrupter. You can get them, oh, here it comes, on Amazon. And they will allow you to interrupt the battery connection and connect a switch. So here is the video. I'm gonna show you how you can take a regular motion battery-operated toy like this snowman, who sings when you push his hand. ♫ Dashing through the snow ♫ In a one-horse

- And turn it into a switch-accessible toy using this battery interrupter. Now, you can get these battery interrupters on Amazon for around $11 each, and it's a really cool, quick, easy, simple way to turn a battery-operated toy into something that your students who are accessing toys with switches can benefit from as well. So I'll show you on my turkey. He has already been set up with the switch and the battery interrupter. One thing to note is that you will have to have the button compressed in order for the battery interrupter to work. So now that he's set up, when I hit the switch, he answers just like he would if you were to hit his button. So I'm gonna take him apart and I'm gonna show you how to do that. The first step is going to be to remove the batteries from the back of your toy. Then you're simply going to place the battery interrupter between the connection point of the battery and the toy. Then you'll stick your battery back in. Sometimes this needs a little coercing. All right, once that's done, you'll need to use a binder clip or rubber band to apply pressure to the button where the toy would be turned on regularly. Then you can attach your switch. Isn't this fun? And there you go, you have a switch-accessible toy. Pretty easy way to make any battery-operated toy switch-accessible. If you don't want to do the DIY method, you can also find switch-accessible toys that have already been adapted on Amazon or websites like and And we'll make sure to type those in for you, so you can see those links. All right, in this video, we are going to show you how a USB-connected Switch Click can be utilized to access switch videos that have been created using a website called Tar Heel Gameplay. We have an attached form handout on how to do this yourself using their website, so you can check that out as well. So this video of Switch Click use is gonna be showing that website.

- All right, folks, so this is a Switch Click. And this creates, basically, it's the left-hand click of a mouse. So any activity that you have, that you can activate using a left-hand click of a mouse, this can be used. So what this is, you have this button, and a USB port. And you can go ahead and plug it into your computer in any USB port. And what we did is we created a switch-accessible activity, a single-click activity using something called Tar Heel Gameplay, and what that allows you to do is to take a YouTube video of your choice, so maybe, there's a story that your kid is looking at that they particularly like, or maybe even a YouTube video that they're really interested in, and you can insert it into this program. It's actually a website, and it will make this video. So, if you see, if I click on this, it will play.

- [Video Narrator] Those walls themselves.

- And you can put a time limit on it, 10 seconds, five seconds, 15 seconds, for example, and once it hits that time limit, it will actually put up a prompt that you've selected. I selected keep going. And then the student will have to hit the Switch Click in order to activate.

- [Video Narrator] There was--

- So this is really nice for students to do independent sectors, or maybe some of them, to participate in a group circle activity.

- [Malia] Using a single switch with the computer. We're also gonna look at using a DJ Switch Interface to connect multiple Jelly Bean switches to the computer. And then, I'm going to show you how to use that access point with ChooseIt! Maker 2, which, the ChooseIt! Maker program is amazing. It is a great tool for teaching receptive identification skills. It has a lot of prompting built in that you can adapt and change, as well as scanning features, which are gonna be showcased in this video. Maybe. So what you would see in the video is how you can attach two switches to a switch interface, and have one switch be the scanning switch, so, the moving switch, and that would move the little box from, the little red box that you can kind of see in that picture, from left to right. And then, once the student has found the box that they are looking to choose as the correct answer, they would hit the other switch, the picker switch, and it would signal the program that that's the answer they're choosing. ChooseIt! Maker is errorless, so if they choose an answer that is not marked as correct by the creator of the activity, it will not reinforce the student. However, if they choose an activity that is the correct, or, the answer that is the correct answer, it will play music and be very, very reinforcing. It's been a great fun program to use with our early childhood students. Maybe if we find that video, we'll come back to it. All right, in this video, you'll see Celeste exploring a USB-connected joystick roller. This is a great tool for students with physical disabilities and getting them to access the SMART Board or computer. This intervention can be handy during circle time activities, where the students are activating the board by touch using their finger or a pointer or a tennis ball. But for our more severely disabled students, we wanted to make sure that they can also access the SMART Board. And that's not always possible for them due to positioning, so the jolly roller is a great way to keep everybody engaged. So, here's Celeste.

- All right, guys, I'm gonna show you how to use our joystick roller, which can be used as an adaptation in the classroom when you want to use a click and drag, usually for SMART Notebooks, for example. So, if you look at the buttons around the joystick roller, there's a right and a left, which would be used as your right or left click. But, the click and drag feature is this green button on top, which will allow you to select items for click and drag. How to plug it in. Has a USB port. And if I plug it into my USB port, it will be good to go. All right, guys, so I'm going to show you how to use our joystick roller with a SMART Notebook activity. One the big conversations I always have with our teachers is how to do click and drag for students who aren't able to access the SMART Board. So, we have a nice morning meeting SMART Notebook activity. So I can actually use this as I would a mouse, and just come click on an item, for example, so I'm gonna sign in. I have my Celeste snowman. And click on it, it disappears. But the other nice thing that I can do, if I go to the next page, which has some click and drag elements, I can select an item, and by clicking on this green button on top, select it. Let's try that one more time. And we're going to put it in here, let's say Wednesday, and release. And now you have a click and drag.

- [Malia] Some other, there are some other interventions that can be explored for the SMART Board and access. SMART Notebook does have their own app, which will allow you to engage with the SMART Board on an iPad. There's also an app called Splashtop, which works the same way. All right. The next video we have is using a DJ Switch Interface with a Jelly Beamer wireless switch. This, again, is a great switch to use with our physically disabled students who can't access the SMART Board, and here, we're showing you how to do it with a PowerPoint e-book. Okay, I'm gonna show you how to set up a Jelly Beamer wireless switch using your laptop or computer and a Switch Interface Pro. So, the first thing you're gonna do is plug in your Switch Interface through your USB drive. Then you're gonna take your Jelly Beamer switch with the switch attachment and plug it into the first hole of your Switch Interface. You're gonna need to turn on this attachment, so, flip on the on switch. Then you'll take your actual switch, turn that on as well, and then we have to sync them. So the first thing you're gonna do is push the little button on the top of your Jelly Beamer switch. And once it turns red, then you can click your switch, and there you go. Our switch has been paired. Now that our Jelly Beamer switch has been set up with our laptop, we can feel free to use it with our activity. This here is a PowerPoint e-book, so when we click our switch.

- [Book Narrator] There was an old lady--

- You're gonna move to the next page.

- [Book Narrator] Who swallowed some snow. I don't know why she swallowed some snow. Perhaps. There was.

- [Celeste] Okay, guys, that's actually our last slide, but we did just wanna mention, before we got into any questions, that if you have any questions about early childhood and AT and the research behind it, CTD actually did a really great symposium a couple weeks ago that you guys can actually watch online. They talk a lot about the research regarding assistive technology in early childhood, which basically says that, the earlier, the better. It also will talk a little bit about screentime and apps, if you have any questions on suggested apps. They did a whole full day thing. I'd really recommend you watch it if you have the time, or at least look at the handouts. But that is the end of our presentation. We really enjoyed talking with you guys today, and we know we are... It's 5:00 now, but if anyone has any questions, please feel free to ask.

- [Malia] Thank you guys for listening. Again, please feel free to reach out to Celeste or myself or Cheryl if you have any pressing questions.

- [Celeste] Thank you guys so much. We appreciate the feedback, and I'm glad you guys got a lot of resources out of it