2004 Conference Proceedings

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John C. Standal,
CCC-SLP, Sales Director
Assistive Technology, Inc.
7 Wells Avenue
Newton, MA 02459 USA
Phone: 617-641-9000
Fax: 617 641-9191
Email: Jstandal@assistivetech.com

Often times parents, teachers, assistive technology professionals, and speech-language pathologists want to use digital images as a part of their learner's augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) system, but have struggled with having the time, resources, and expertise to do just that! This struggle is due in part to the boom in technology that is available to capture images and the numerous AAC devices that support this technology. Besides having to be aware of the technology that is available, professionals and families also need to learn how to integrate the technology with their AAC system and then program AAC software to speak using these new images. These tasks can be overwhelming…until now. With the advent of integrated AAC devices, which are also full featured computers, the need and desire to use digital images (photos or videos) for symbolic communication can not only be met, but it is much faster and easier to do!

Digital images can help a young child who is struggling with abstract concepts, such as symbol confusion, to an aphasic adult suffering from memory recall issues. The use and implementation of digital images can help most AAC users develop faster and more functional symbolic communication. Digital images can help them identify the correct symbol and/or recall its linguistic meaning for that dynamic page in a faster and less cognitively challenging manner. Because the digital image is the closest representation of an object, an AAC user who needs a concrete representation of a communication choice is cognitively strong. An example could be a young child who is at a very concrete cognitive level and loves McDonald's chicken sandwiches. A symbol for a chicken sandwich might be represented by a symbol of a chicken standing in the background of a hamburger "like" symbol. To a very concrete AAC user this symbol for a chicken sandwich may be confusing. If a photo of the child either ! eating a McDonald's chicken sandwich or the chicken sandwich itself is incorporated into their AAC software, then that confusion may not appear. Finally, many AAC device users and their families simply want to use photographs because they represent things that are meaningful to the person. These may include pictures of family members, a special vacation, a pet, or favorite items.

This session will focus on the steps one needs to take to integrate digital images into an AAC system. We will use digital capturing equipment such as scanners, digital cameras, and photo CDs along with Integrated AAC devices and software. Participants will learn what to look for in an AAC device that fully supports the use of digital images, how to capture photographs and incorporate them into an AAC language software program, and how to modify them if necessary. Finally, we will compare the flexibility and ease of use of both dedicated and integrated AAC devices for importing multiple digital images.

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