- Published on Friday, 13 December 2013 05:40
When a verbal child speaks, we hear the sweet youthful sound of their voice. When a child relies on an AAC tool to do the talking for them, often the voice we hear is that of an adult – a voice they may not identify with. Talkingtiles wanted to give children the opportunity to tell their stories in voices that are age appropriate.
Talkingtiles’ recent addition of Acapela to our speech engine library means that children can now select voices that are better suited to them.
Children’s voices include:
Communicating in a voice that resonates with both themselves and their peers will help to create inclusive learning environments for children who use assistive technologies like talkingtiles, and will add to the development of communication and social skills. Gone are the days of computerized synthetic voices thanks to Acapela’s natural sounding voices.
As stated on Acapela’s website, these voices are made by children for children. Acapela is the first in their industry to be able to provide kids with a voice that resembles their own. Users with specific needs have driven the innovation to change the lives of youngsters who require AAC.
The diverse options of Text-to-Speech engines show the adaptability of talkingtiles as one that is appropriate for both children and adults. All in all, there are over 150 voices and languages for users to pick from.
To select a child’s voice as your default TTS option, enter the Device Settings function when you are in the edit mode, followed by TTS Settings. From the dropdown list of TTS engines, select Acapela. From the languages option select either English – American, or English – UK. Under voices you can then choose the male or female options.
Remember! When you change your TTS settings, the changes are applied to tiles and pages made going forward, they will not be applied to tiles and pages you’ve already created.
Just for the fun of it, kids can even pick the Queen of England’s voice
- Published on Thursday, 05 December 2013 05:27
We continue to build on the base set of features we introduced in TalkingTILES 2.0 to provide even more options and capabilities in customizing and personalizing content to the meet the needs of both professionals and individuals.
New features in this release include:
- Support for smartphones & iPod Touch – iPhone, iPod Touch and Android phones
- Customizable Menu Bar – create your own custom menus for enhanced personalization
- New Voice Library – expanded voice library providing over 150 different voices in 40 different languages
- Addition of Children’s Voices –5 children’s voices in UK & US English– with many more to come
- Interactive Actions –create interactive pages with pop-up images, links to other app actions and more!
- New Sample Content & Ready-Made Pages – we continue to add new content and sample page packs to get you started with TalkingTILES quickly.
From our Sample Page Pack you can easily tap on a tile see what TalkingTILES offers across our 4 different assistive care areas.
Here’s an overview of the new 2.5 features. :
|New Demo Sample Pages
Our Sample Page Pack that will introduce you to the new features in 2.5 easily and conveniently. Once you install the app click YES to download the sample pages for you to start exploring from AAC, to learning games, visual schedules and social stories.
We now support the iPhone, iPod Touch and Android smart phones with this release. The page views and layouts are in portrait mode and optimized for phone use. Now you can take TalkingTILES anywhere as your personal mobile assistive care app.
|Customizable Menu Bar
Get really creative by creating your own menu bar with the options relevant to your specific Page.. y Change the menu bar size, color, placement and content. ach menu button is edited just like a normal Page Tile.
Interactive actions means the tap of a Tile results in actions such as; linking to external web sites, linking to offline webpages, and linking to other TalkingTILES app actions such as Tile Edit, Page Navigation, etc.
In addition talkingtiles supports; in-app videos, images, and audio files.
Samples of the Learning games are available in the Sample Page Pack.
The Acapela Voice provides over 150 different voices in 40 different languages with full support for non-English characters. Create language learning activities or translated pages easily with the variety of voices available or simply record your own voice.
|Expanded Ready-Made Content
We continue to add new content to our Public Page Library through the contribution of our users and our content team. With over 200 ready-made pages of content there’s a good base of content to get you started quickly.
Contact us to share your feedback and your stories on how TalkingTILES is helping you!
All the best!
- Published on Thursday, 31 October 2013 06:27
We communicate with each other because we want to ask for what we want, reject what we don’t want, comment on what we see, tell stories, complain, ask and answer questions, and more. However, students who are in need of communication supports are often provided with insufficient vocabularies. To help your students gain a meaningful core vocabulary, there are multiple ways that you can implement strategies into the classroom setting:
- Request/choice making
- Visual schedules
- Information transformer
Request or choice making gives the student the opportunity to express what they want or need, and to help them creatively find ways to say things differently. Begin by using objects that are of interest to the student to help increase meaningful communication and be sure to identify your target language with core words. Examples would be playing card games like Go Fish or Uno – how many ways can you think of using beyond “I, you, it, give, have, not”? Another idea is to create/discuss errands. If someone is delivering the mail, they would use “I” and “give” – have your student think of other ways to effectively deliver the mail with their core vocabulary.
Creating visual schedules can aid students in understanding the structure and parameters of the day, can assist with directions for activities, and supports teaching multiple concepts.
You can layout your visual schedules in a variety of ways. A vertical layout is good for lists and schedules, horizontal is good for direction, while a ring is a different way to show one activity at a time. Assistive Care apps like TalkingTILES allows you to customize the layout of each page, giving you the opportunity to create different kinds of visual schedules for different purposes.
When using visual schedules, you can review the items as you go using time order words or phrases to indicate the activity has passed. For example “First math, next spelling, last break time” or “Math is finished, now spelling, next break time.”
Early communicators often talk about people, objects, and events as a way to transfer information. Events can include human interactions, can be talked about using a variety of words, and can allow the AAC user to reflect internally. When the events are meaningful and related to the person, it helps to increase interaction and language use.
Core words helps the communication exchange by allowing them to be used to describe events with a communication partner helping to produce novel, generative language.
An example of how to use information transfer is by creating Experience Pages on TalkingTILES. You can use symbol images from the symbol libraries, or you can use real photos – such as a photo of a movie stub or restaurant napkin, or even a picture of a person who was there – to help show what was involved in the experience. This helps to engage the student into a conversation as you can ask about each item show, prompting them to reply. When using this strategy, be sure to follow along at the student’s level of understanding.
As your student’s ability with Core Vocabulary increases, you will find more ways to directly your student in expressing and using language. What ways have you found to be effective?
Reference: Material for this blog post was extracted from Understanding, Implementing, and Communicating with Core Vocabulary by D. Anderson and K. Bittner, August 2013.
- Published on Friday, 29 November 2013 05:35
Successful implementation of using assistive technology with students requires more than just handing over the device. It can be a complex process that takes several years before it is fully adopted. The process is not dependent on the tool alone, but on the process and people who are involved. Successful implementation is collaborative, systematic, recursive, flexible, and based on the student’s learning goals and needs. It is a team effort from the educator, therapist, parent, caregiver, and student. All those involved must understand the tool and the needs of the student.
In order to be effective, the care team must spend time evaluating and training with the selected tool. Following this, planning how the tool will be used in regards to the students learning and therapy plan prior to having the student use the tool will help the student more readily adopt it. Support from other teachers, educators, school administration and staff, therapists, family members and caregivers is vital – each individual or group is vital in the process. School administration and staff approve the use and training of the tool, educators and therapists must all freely exchange information and provide updates, and the families and caregivers must understand how to use the tool to continue its use at home and outside of the school setting.
The student’s individual preferences and learning needs contribute to the success of the assistive technology intervention. Students should be given the opportunity to evaluate AT tools to determine which is the best fit for them – studies show that students who have not participated in an evaluation process are more likely to abandon technology that does not meet their requirements. Once students begin using their selected tool, it is important to monitor their development and learning environment. Doing so will help their care team make any needed adjustments to the learning and therapy plan that is associated with the tool being used.
What exactly is involved in an effective assistive technology implantation plan?
- Gathering information: collect and gather relevant information that will be used to identify specific IEP goals that will be supported by technology
- Establish IEP goals: look at the IEP goals and the strategies for outcome evaluation
- Conduct AT trial: explore different options to determine the correct tool
- Identify AT solution: based on the information gathered through assessments and trials, established IEP goals, select the most appropriate tool
- Develop the implementation plan: work collaboratively with the team to create a plan that includes set up and configuration, team and student training, integration of the technology into the student’s daily program, and assessment tools that will be used to determine effectiveness
- Adapt lessons for AT integration: daily lesson plans are to be adapted to work with the tool to meet learning goals
- Follow up and plan transition: conduct frequent reviews to ensure effectiveness, make plans for further adaptions if needed, and create a transition plan to allow the student to take the tool with them without interruption from one class to another
What have you found to be effective strategies in implementing assistive technology tools with your students and clients?
- Published on Tuesday, 08 October 2013 06:01
AAC Awareness Month is here. But what does it really mean? AAC – Augmentative and Alternative Communication – is relied upon by people all around the world. Those who struggle to verbally communicate must find alternative ways to express themselves. Whether it is through body language, paper and pen, gesturing, paper images placed on boards, people are always creatively coming up with new and effective ways to communicate.
TalkingTILES was first created as an AAC app (though now it’s so much more!). Who is using TalkingTILES? Researchers, therapists, educators, parents of children with special needs, and assistive technology teams. So when we say AAC awareness, we should be giving notice to the people who need AAC and the people who dedicate themselves to helping those who need it.
Our little thanks from us to you: a Twitterverse contest! Complete the following Tweet “I love @TalkingTILES because…” and finish it with the #AACawareness hashtag! All tweeters will be put into our draw for either a 6 month subscription to our cloud service, or if you are already subscribed a $50 gift card to an app store of your choice. Start tweeting!!