Talking With Tech AAC Podcast



Tuesday Apr 28, 2020

On this episode of Teaching with Tech, Rachel and Chris do a deep dive into Double Time Docs, an online software that helps you write speech and language reports, including AAC assessments! By answering multiple-choice, fill-in, and short answer questions, you can have a fully written and formatted report generated in moments. It has an extensive bank of standardized tests that only require a few fill-ins to complete, as well as sections for articulation, voice, fluency, pragmatics, parent & teacher reports, observations, developmental history, and more! Their AAC evaluation section includes device trailing, method of access, and common standardized testing used to evaluate people with complex communication needs. Whether you are a new clinician that could use help making your assessments more thorough, or a veteran who would like to write reports in a fraction of the time, it is worth taking look at Double Time Docs!   Go to for a free 30 day trial, and use the promo code TWT2020 to get an additional report “doc credit” for FREE! 

Wednesday Apr 22, 2020

This week, the TWT team presents part 1 of Rachel’s interview with Caitlyn Calder, parent of a child with complex communication needs and SLP at CHI St. Luke’s Health in Houston TX. Caitlin shares from some of the many lessons she has learned, including working with specialists, teaching her daughter AAC, dealing with expectations that don’t match reality, and navigating the many challenges that complex communication needs can bring.   Before the interview, Rachel and Chris discuss dealing with co-workers and communication partners who are not motivated to provide the best service they can. Ideas for overcoming this include focusing and talking about the positive, charting out growth for everyone to see, incorporating language opportunities into routines, and more!   Key ideas this week:   🔑  Parents & teachers can think “this isn’t working” when there isn’t quick success, but its normal for kids with complex communication needs to take significant time to learn language.   🔑  Parents who expect to use the device 24/7 may feel badly when the device isn’t being implemented all the time, which can lead to negative feelings that discourage them from using the device even more.   🔑  We can help parents feel less overwhelmed by setting realistic expectations for using the device (e.g., starting small,)  telling them it’s OK to feel awkward to start using AAC, and teaching them how to model at home.   Double Time Docs helps you write your pediatric SLP, OT, and PT evaluation reports in a fraction of the time. SIgn up for a free 30 day trial at and use promo code TWT2020 for to get 1 free Doc credit!    Help us develop new content and keep the podcast going strong! Support our podcast at!   Visit for access to previous episodes, resources, and CEU credits that you can earn for listening to TWT episodes!

Monday Apr 20, 2020

For a FREE 30 day trial of Smarty Symbols, go to and use coupon code TWT30 at checkout!   On this episode of Teaching with Tech, sponsored by Smarty Symbols, Chris and Rachel do a "deep dive" into Smarty Symbols! Smarty Symbols provides access to over 21000 clean and modern symbols that can be used to create visuals supports and materials for therapy and language enrichment. Chris and Rachel discuss how the Smarty Symbols website can be used to create comic strips, planners, low tech AAC boards, visual scenes, and more! The site also provides access to a library of ready-made materials and simple drag-and-drop tools for creating materials. The symbols can be used in other apps to create new materials as well, such as using them to create Boom Cards.With a commercial license, you can even sell your Smarty Symbols creations on sites like TPT!   Visit for access to previous episodes, resources, and CEU credits that you can earn for listening to TWT episodes!

Thursday Apr 16, 2020

This week, Chris interviews Mike Hipple, Tami Altschuler, and Sarah Blackstone of the United States Society of AAC (USSAAC) to talk about USSAC and its role in policy making, disaster relief, and providing funding help for AAC users.   Before the interview, Rachel & Chris answer a Patreon member’s question about using music to teach AAC and how to support her son’s fine motor challenges. Chris and Rachel discuss teaching core words by starting and stopping music with, using a switch with powerpoint, adapting instruments to make them more accessible, creating a grid of links to music with, putting links on a picture with, and more!   Key ideas this week:   🔑  Without the work of USSAAC & Lew Golinker, Medicaid and Medicare would probably not cover AAC devices   🔑 is providing free alphabet boards, symbol boards, medical decision making boards, and other communication resources for people in acute care & ICUs, including people in respiratory distress due to COVID-19.   🔑  We should look at communication as a medical priority - its a quality and safety issue. If you use AAC, having a “go bag” with chargers, low tech options, and anything else you might need in the hospital can help with emergency preparedness. 

Wednesday Apr 08, 2020

This week, the TWT team presents Rachel’s pre-conference presentation for AAC in the Cloud on AAC and telepractice! This session is filled with practical solutions for practitioners who are working with anyone over telepractice, with an emphasis on working with AAC users.   Key ideas this week:   🔑  All children are candidates for telepractice, but telepractice will look different for everyone. They don’t have to be able to watch a screen for us to facilitate communication!   🔑  Checking in with parent’s to gauge how overwhelmed they are is critical right now; some parents are ready to take on more responsibilities, while other parents may need something simple and achievable.   🔑  Communication should not feel like work - look for the opportunities that already happen during the day and take advantage of them. What is their favorite time of day to spend with their child? When does their child communicate spontaneously, and what do they say?   🔑  Include a variety of communication partners, including siblings, friends, ABA professionals, teachers, etc. You can have them join in virtually as well as in person.   🔑  You can plan ahead and track progress using a shared google sheet to provide materials prior o the session, share photos/videos, and provide feedback after the session.   🔑  Use strengths-based coaching - start with what communication partners are already doing well, build a strong relationship through collaboration & listening, provide performance feedback, and encourage self-reflection.   Links: Handout from the presentation: Free Coaching Guide: Rachel’s Free Communication App List: Help us develop new content and keep the podcast going strong! Support our podcast at! Visit for access to previous episodes, resources, and CEU credits that you can earn for listening to TWT episodes!

Wednesday Apr 01, 2020

This week, the TWT team is proud to present the amazing Caroline Musselwhite! Caroline shares from her 45 years of experience with low- and high-tech AAC, including the communication circle of people around an AAC user, the importance of pranks & humor when using AAC, recognizing gestures, and more.   Before the interview, Rachel shares from her webinar on telepractice and AAC and why “all children are good candidates for telepractice.” Rachel notes that telepractice can look different for different students, but all children can benefit from a qualified speech-language pathologist and/or AAC specialist facilitating communication, even if students won’t pay attention to the screen. Telepractice doesn’t have to be a direct service model - we can always coach communication partners, including parents, siblings, and other family members on how to support an AAC user's communication.   Key ideas this week:   🔑  Coaching an AAC user’s circle of support should include peers whenever possible. Training friends and siblings allows for exposure to different communication functions, and involving peers can increase an AAC user's motivation and buy-in.   🔑  “Coaching” is not necessarily the same thing as “consulting.” They are both important, but coaching can be more valuable because it involves follow up and showing communication partners how to work with AAC users, not just telling them what to do.   🔑  Gestures are an important part of multi-modal communication. Recognizing what each AAC user communicates (or can communicate) with things like facial expressions can add to the overall effectiveness of their communication.   You can learn more about Caroline and her work at, her AAC Girls blog, on Pinterest, and Teachers Pay Teachers.   Help us develop new content and keep the podcast going strong! Support our podcast at!   Visit for access to previous episodes, resources, and CEU credits that you can earn for listening to TWT episodes!

Wednesday Mar 25, 2020

This week, the TWT team presents the audio recording of Chris and Rachel’s AAC Hour-by-Hour webinar originally presented on! This episode is jam packed with practical strategies and advice for parents and professionals working with AAC users who are staying at home. These ideas can be implemented in the home or shared with parents and communication partners via teletherapy!   Key ideas this week:   🔑  Look at your daily schedule and plan out the “when what who and how” for incorporating core words into your routines. Choose routines that happen every day to allow for more chances to model.   🔑  It’s OK to take a break and not model 24/7, especially when you are with an AAC user all day long. When giving AAC users a break, you can let them “babble” and explore with the words on their device freely.   🔑  Have a family meeting and create a to-do list for your extended time at home. Create the to-do list together to increase everyone’s motivation, and give everyone a chance to talk about feelings regarding the break.   For links to the slides used in this episode, including shared resources, go to   Help us develop new content and keep the podcast going strong! Support our podcast at!   Visit for access to previous episodes, resources, and CEU credits that you can earn for listening to TWT episodes!

Wednesday Mar 18, 2020

This week, the TWT team presents Chris's interview with Dr. Elena Dukhovny, professor at CSU East Bay! She is a leading researcher on motor planning, AAC training for paraeducators, and more, and she shares some of what she has learned about these two important topics!   Before the interview, Rachel shares a wealth of useful advice on preparing to consult with parents and the circle of support, including 1) asking what gets kids excited to communicate; 2) having parents write down all non-verbal communication, including behaviors; and 3) asking what parents would change about the child’s communication, if they could. Rachel also shares about gently approaching situations where a non-robust language system was already recommended to parents and she wants a robust language system implemented instead.   Key ideas this week: 🔑  Developing a motor plan allows AAC users to have a rate of speech that is closest to verbal speech.    🔑  Elena’s research indicates fluent AAC device users plan and remember words by where their hands move on the device, similar to how speaking people remember words by how they sound and sign-language users remember words by how they are signed.   🔑  Briefly trialing different language systems isn’t always the best way to determine what system will be best for a user in the long term. For example, a system that is simpler or easier to visually scan may be learned quickly, but if motor planning isn’t supported then a user may not become as fluent with that system long term.   Help us develop new content and keep the podcast going strong! Support our podcast at!   Visit for access to previous episodes, resources, and CEU credits that you can earn for listening to TWT episodes!   Research   Dukhovny, E., Gahl, S. (2014) Manual motor-plan similarity affects lexical recall on a speech- generating device: Implications for AAC users. Journal of Communication Disorders 48, 52-60.   Thistle, J. J., Holmes, S. A., Horn, M. M., & Reum, A. M. (2018). Consistent symbol location affects motor learning in preschoolers without disabilities: Implications for designing augmentative and alternative communication displays. American journal of speech-language pathology, 27(3), 1010-1017.

Monday Mar 16, 2020

Speech Blubs will be giving away a lifetime membership to anyone who signs up to become a Talking with Tech Patreon member by April 2nd, 2020! Just go to!   In this episode of Teaching with Tech, Chris and Rachel dive into the Speech Blubs speech therapy app. The Speech Blubs app utilizes games, video/peer modeling, and augmented reality to make learning language and improving speech skills fun and engaging! You can use the app to teach emotions & core words, work on wh- questions, improve verbal speech, and more. The app has been used successfully to improve communication for children with speech delay, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Down syndrome, and apraxia!   You can download a free trial of the app by going to    Find out more about Speech Blubs on Instagram (@speechblubs) or by emailing them at

Wednesday Mar 11, 2020

This week on TWT, Chris interviews Christine Tripoli, an SLP with the Deaf/Blind program at Perkins School for the Blind, and Ellen Maisel, Director of Cortical Visual Impairment project at Perkins. They discuss cortical visual impairment (CVI), including what it is and how to look for it.   Before the interview, Chris shares about his discussion on AAC Certification with Marie Ireland, VP of ASHA. Chris wonders if a slippery slope argument (if we let A happen, then Z will happen) is happening with AAC certification and talks about Marie talked with Chris about the lack of data to support anyone getting denied services once a certification is put in place.   Key ideas this week:   🔑 CVI is a brain-based visual impairment that affects visual attention and recognition. The cause of visual impairment for people with CVI isn’t their eyes, but their visual brain.   🔑 Just because a child is looking at something, doesn’t mean they understand what they are seeing. This understanding is the primary challenge for children with CVI.   🔑 For brain-based visual impairment, you don’t need to just make it bigger or closer. Its about teaching them to understand what they are looking at.   If you love Talking with Tech, help us develop new content and keep the podcast going! Support our podcast at!   Visit for access to previous episodes, resources, and CEU credits that you can earn for listening to TWT episodes!

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