1998 Conference Proceedings

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The Many Types and Styles of PAPER Boards

Barbara R. Hoadley
California State University, Sacramento
Professor of Speech Pathology and Audiology

With the booming development of technology and dramatically improved computers and devices that are dynamic and talk, it is easy to forget the low tech paper board. But, paper boards still have their place as they perform in situations and environments in which electronic computers and devices can’t, are always cost effective, and are a necessary step in the development and management of communication and language systems used on computers and devices.

Also, the creation of the paper board need no longer be the tedious operation it was just a few years ago. Using the computer, appropriate software, a scanner and an ink jet printer, good looking paper boards can be made and modified (communication boards always need to be modified at least twice), laminated and mounted (or placed in a binder, etc.) all in the manner of an hour or two. The first communication board I made took the better part of a weekend and then needed to be immediately modified (which involved making it over from scratch) once the client tried to use it.

So, with many functions to serve and improved methods of production the paper board is still an important part of the arsenal of strategies used with children and adults who need facilitation with learning language and augmentative and alternative styles of communication.

There are many different types and styles of paper boards. This presentation will address five different types of boards and give a few examples of different styles. The five types to be covered are: Paper communication boards; Paper Language boards; Query Systems with both words and/or pictures; Diagnostic Boards and Templates; and System Maps with both words and/or pictures. The examples presented will be pictured in the conference handout, available to be copied on disk or from overheads, and available to be downloaded from a Web site to be announced at the presentation.

Paper communication boards can be made of words and/or pictures and are used to help the child or adult express themselves when they are unable to talk or communicate. I will share some of the boards that have been used in our program and identify the equipment and software used to make them.

Paper language boards are for helping the child and/or adult improve language skills, either spoken or written. In the past, these were primarily used with children as facilitation materials in language and speech therapy, but today they are also being used with clients learning English as a second language and with clients recovering from strokes and accidents who are unable to communicate or use appropriate language.

Diagnostic boards and templates are used in the assessment and selection process to acquire an augmentative or alternative device or computer for a client. Many aspects of access can be determined using paper diagnostic boards and a paper template can be developed from which boards for the device and/or computer can then be created. Consistent use of a template from which to develop all boards within a system not only assists the client’s familiarity with the system but makes the creation of additional boards more efficient.

Query Systems are categorically arranged lists of words and/or pictures representing items about which the client will want to communicate. They serve two purposes. One, they provide a system by which content can be determined for the device or computer to be used by the client for communication, and two, they serve as a safety net to ensure communication for the client until which time the communication system on the device or computer is functioning.

System Maps keep track of the boards you have made, what they contain, and how they are linked or connected. This is very important with clients who are cognitive able to use full, adult communication systems. The adult client who makes his/her own boards will probably not need a map, but if the adult has someone making boards for him/her, or a clinician is building a complex system for a child, then a map is mandatory to maintain order and efficient functioning. These system maps are made up of paper copies of the electronic boards, from the device or computer, arranged on big sheets of paper or on separate sheets arranged in a specific order in books or folders.


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