Stop Complicating Communication Devices & Digital Learning Tools (Ep 153)Oct 07, 2022
We need to work together to reduce the roadblocks that are standing in the way of student access to communication devices and digital learning tools. In this episode of the Special Education Inner Circle Podcast, we're diving deep into assistive technology, and the barriers that are currently in place, and I'm giving you a peek at an awesome AAC tool from Otsimo!
I'm getting ready to meet with teachers in Indiana about creative ways to implement communication support. One way is to use assistive technology (also called augmentative and alternative communication or AAC), but I know I'm going to get some pushback.
There are so many moving pieces when introducing AAC in a school system - there are evaluations, training qualified people on the devices, access to the device itself, and making decisions based on data to guide the device's implementation and use. It becomes this overcomplicated process, full of roadblocks in the way of allowing students access to communication devices and digital learning tools.
Try It Out!
With smart devices readily available practically worldwide now, this process can certainly be simplified! We don't have to be stuck in an antiquated system like it used to be when you had to jump through hoops to apply for a huge Dynavox and that was just a trial! What if getting ACC for a child was as simple as downloading an app, seeing if it helped, and then using it? Teachers and parents, we have to start trying things with purpose, strategy, and intention. It doesn't have to be IN the IEP to us try it for FOR the IEP. We don't always have to wait for the big production for us to start something!
I'm going to challenge you to download an app like Otsimo and start working on digital learning tools that are research-based. Start working on the AAC device to see if this is something your team needs to explore further. Sometimes cost is a factor in our decision against using AAC, but they can be if we get creative in our options for providing these supports. Apps can also be a quick solution!
More Accessible, Less Scary!
We can't be afraid of doing something different. I know you've heard skeptics talk about how a child will become dependent on their devices and be discouraged to speak, but that's wrong. Research shows that communication devices enhance communication for a child. Giving the child the power and confidence to express their needs, wants, and opinions will only connect them more meaningfully to their environment and strengthen their relationships.
Using more mainstream devices allows more people to feel confident in using the AAC tool with the child. It can be intimidating to try to use an AAC device if you've never seen one before, but most people are familiar enough with smartphones and tablets to attempt to use the tool and learn more about it. This not only applies to teachers and school staff members, but to a child's peers in their school - other students can more easily communicate with the student and build stronger relationships through the communication device if it's on a familiar platform. Boom- easy inclusion strategy! Take that leap and try it out!
Let's Talk about Otsimo
Otsimo was created by a special need family member who kept his brother's autism in mind. He recognize the need for more disability-friendly apps, so he worked with a friend to develop a mobile education platform for children with disabilities, called Otsimo. That's one reason I really love Otsimo - you can see that someone was intentional in the app's creation. This isn't just another app. It's a real solution.
With the built-in AAC tools, this app allows students with disabilities and unique learning needs to actively engage in memory games, social stories, and other activities to build up their skills. Parents and teachers have the ability to adjust the difficulty level to fit the changing needs of the child. It truly is personalized learning for any ability level.
We have to start looking at new solutions and explore the possibilities that Otsimo can provide for your student. How can it expand their communication? How can it solve a problem your IEP team is currently facing? Some students may need something more intensive, but for many children, these easy solutions can create real change quickly.
Here's a glance at the episode...
[4:18] "We don't always have to wait for the big production for us to start something!"
[7:15] "By using more mainstream devices, we also allow more people to feel confident in using the AAC tool with the child."
[8:40] "That's one reason I really love Otsimo - you can see that someone was intentional in the app's creation. This isn't just another app. It's a real solution.
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