Implementation Toolkit

Valuable, real-life resources and suggestions for implementing AAC to encourage successful communication. The Implementation Toolkit is a collection of video and print-based resources created to help you facilitate successful interaction using AAC.

AAC in the Classroom

There are unique challenges when implementing AAC in the classroom setting. This learning path provides information and resources to assist you in expanding student's ability to participate in the curriculum while building communication skills that will serve them for a lifetime.

AAC in the Classroom - Observing the Classroom Environment
Use this observational tool to determine how you can make the classroom a more inviting environment that encourages the student to communicate by exploring key classroom characteristics in relation to he student who uses AAC, systematicically documenting participation at baseline and after change or intervention and addressing issues such as vocabulary and access on the student’s AAC system.

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AAC Needs Assessment
There is more to an AAC assessment than understanding an individual’s skills. Identifying appropriate AAC tools, techniques and strategies requires knowledge of an individual’s communication needs. This AAC Needs Assessment provides a thorough and quick overview of an individual’s needs across environments.

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Behavior Supports in InterAACT - Video
Challenging behaviors in individuals with severe communication impairment have been recognized as an attempt to communicate. This 26-minute video reviews characteristics and environmental factors affecting challenging behaviors as well as sharing available communication and behavior supports (light technology and in InterAACT).

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Behavior Supports in InterAACT and Tango
UPDATED! This packet supports information provided in our “Behavioral Supports in InterAACT” video including resources for assessing and addressing behavior needs, choosing and using appropriate communication and behavior supports. It now includes information related to the Tango as well.

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School Newsletter - 1 - Make a Plan
The key to successful AAC implementation in the classroom is to make a plan. This newletter walks you through the steps to do so and directs you toward resources to help you along the way.

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School Newsletter - 2 - Vocabulary Support for the Classroom Curriculum
Do you feel that there is never enough time to support the vocabulary needs of students using AAC? Get to know the vocabulary already in your device to help students participate effectively in the classroom environment.

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School Newsletter - 3 - Encourage Social Participation for All Students
Many students who use AAC have limited acess to social experiences. How can we better support students to help them to expand their social skills, develop and maintain relationships? This newsletter provides some ideas.

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School Newsletter - 4 - Supporting the Classroom Curriculum with Teaching Tools
This newsleter focues on using the Teaching Tools pages in the V and Vmax to support the curriculum. Teaching Tools includes spelling pages, a phoneme keyboard, eBook reading, writing templates and many other tools for students with varying needs and abilities.

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School Newsletter - 5 - Supporting Students with Autism
Individuals with autism have unique strenths and needs. This newsletter provides you with information about what we believe an AAC system should do for an individual with autism and what we have provided to do so.

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School Newsletter - 6 - Promoting Communicative Competence, Part 1
One of the main goals of AAC intervention is to encourage communication independence for students who use AAC. This newsletter (the first of two on the topic) presents ideas for where to start in developing these skills.

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School Newsletter - 7 - Promoting Communicative Competence, Part 2
This second newsletter in a series of two on communictive competence explores teaching methods and ways to support your students as they practice these new skills.

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School Newsletter - 8 - What's in Your Therapy Bag?
With limited school budgets and time to create materials, you may be looking for new and creative ways to provide fun and interactive learning activities for students with significant speech and language disabiliteis. This newsletter will suggest some fast and fun options using only your computer, Boardmaker software and the content in InterAACT.

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School Newsletter - 9 - Electronic Books to Increase Positive Literacy Experiences
For some students with significant disabilities, access to books can be challenging. With advances in technology, many AAC users have access to electronic books, or eBooks, that can be loaded onto their voice output communication devices. This allows them to have the same rich literacy experiences as their typically developing peers.

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School Newsletter - 10 - Least Dangerous Assumption for Students with Complex Communication Needs
Many students with complex communication needs (CCN) don’t have the tools they need in order to learn and grow as competent communicators. While there is a continuum of AAC systems available (from low to high tech), we must make sure that we provide the most appropriate communication program for all students. By making the least dangerous assumption, we can assure that every student with CCN will have access to the tools they need to communicate and learn.

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School Newsletter - 11 - Take 5: Practical Strategies for Communication Partner Skills
As service providers, we often spend the majority of our time focusing on the communication skills of our students with complex communication needs (CCN). We sometimes forget to reflect on our own communication skills and make sure that we are fully equipped to support learning, communication and participation in the classroom. Research tells us that the success of a communication interaction for individuals with CCN is often dependent on the skills of the communication partner (Light and Binger, 2007; Drager, et all, 2006; Bruno and Trembatth, 2006). With this in mind, use the tips in this newsletter and make a commitment to spend more time improving your communication partner skills.

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School Newsletter - 12 - 5 Ways to Use the Calendar
When people think about using calendars in the classroom, Circletime (or Morning Meeting for older students) might be the first thing that comes to mind. With the pre-programmed V/Vmax calendars, students are able to discuss the day, month and date as well as special events during this interactive classroom activity. In addition, it can be used to share stories and communicate, as a personal planner or visual support. Use this resource to learn more.

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School Newsletter - 13 - Supporting Communication during Summer Break
Summer break - time for cook outs and swimming pools! While many students with special needs will be supported through extended school year programs, there are many opportunities to support AAC use at home and during typical summertime activities. Use the following tips to create a summertime activity plan. You can practice communication skills and explore vocabulary before attending any event or activity. Set the scene in a safe environment (ex. Put up the tent in the backyard) and by doing this, your child will have the opportunity to become familiar with new words and be prepared for new experiences.

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School Newsletter - 14 - Core Word Strategies - One Piece of the Communication Pie
InterAACT is the language framework found on all DynaVox products. Within InterAACT, every communicator will have access to six language elements that are necessary for efficient communication. These six language elements can be divided into two categories: Language Use and Language Structure.the pre-programmed V/Vmax calendars, students are able to discuss the day, month and date as well as special events during this interactive classroom activity. In addition, it can be used to share stories and communicate, as a personal planner or visual support. Use this resource to learn more.

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School Newsletter - 15 - 5 Ways to Support Writing for Students who use AAC
The ability to read and write is one of the most important skills a student will learn in school. However, students with significant speech and language disabilities often demonstrate significantly decreased literacy abilities. Without literacy, an individual is significantly limited in the educational, vocational, and social opportunities found in almost all activities of daily living. When we think about our students with complex communication needs (CCN), we need to remember that literacy and communication are extremely interrelated. The better the student’s literacy skills - the better their communication will be and vice- versa. In this issue, we will discuss ways to use the V/Vmax to support writing.the pre-programmed V/Vmax calendars, students are able to discuss the day, month and date as well as special events during this interactive classroom activity. In addition, it can be used to share stories and communicate, as a personal planner or visual support. Use this resource to learn more.

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School Newsletter 16 - Using V/Vmax in the Young Child Classroom - All Day Long
The DynaVox V/Vmax offers vocabulary to support your students in the classroom all day long. From greeting friends in the morning to participating in class projects, your students will have access to the vocabulary they need in order to be effective and efficient communicators. The best way to ensure that your student will use their device in the classroom is to create a plan of action. We will suggest a resource to assist you and where you can locate vocabulary for common activities in the young child’s classroom.

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School Newsletter 17 - Supporting Play for Children with Autism
Many of us work with children who are just beginning their communication journey. Through play, children learn to use their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity, physical, cognitive, and emotional strengths (Ginsburg, 2007). However, for some of the children with whom we work, a little extra support may be needed during play activities. This articles discusses the tendency for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) to participate better in activities that are constructive in nature. Constructive Play will be explained and specific play activities discussed.

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School Newsletter 18 - Communication during the Holidays
It is hard to believe that the holiday season is quickly approaching. Get kids who use AAC ready for holiday fun by using some of the pre-made pages and great software features your DynaVox V/Vmax has to offer.

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School Newsletter 19 - The Powerful Little Word
Little words can go a long way in a typical conversation. They can be used to make a comment (e.g., “Yuck”). They can be used to call attention or initiate a conversation (e.g. “Hey!”). They can even be combined to create a more complete thought (e.g., “Hey! Wait”.). The DynaVox V/Vmax, with the InterAACt language framework, gives students access to these little words (and the other necessary language elements) to enhance interactive communication, encourage language development and support literacy learning. Use these tips to learn more about how to begin to teach the use of powerful little words.

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School Newsletter 20 - 5 Ways to Support Vocabulary Learning and Use
Many of us recognize that students who use AAC have an external vocabulary (i.e., the words on the communication display or words that they can express) that does not truly reflect their internal vocabulary (i.e., the words in their head) (Smith, 1996). Students should be constantly exposed to new words and given the encouragement to explore and use these words during meaningful activities. Access to words and symbols can easily be provided through the use of “dictionary pages” called My Words on DynaVox devices. Use the tips and activities in this article to give your students structured, yet fun, opportunities to explore the My Words vocabulary.

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School Newsletter 21 - Using your Classroom Interactive Whiteboard with your DynaVox Device
Students with special needs are often bombarded with technology all day long. They may have high-tech AAC devices, power wheelchairs, dedicated “special” computers with alternate access and adapted software in their classrooms. However, while these students are using different types of technology, they often use it in isolation or with an adult service provider missing out on the interactive and collaborative learning that their peers experience on a daily basis. This article will provide some practical tips for increasing participation and opportunities for learning using interactive whiteboards for your students who use DynaVox products.

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School Newsletter 22 - Matching Pre-existing Vocabulary on Your DynaVox Device to Curriculum Support Materials
Many Speech-Language Pathologists and educators take advantage of pre-made activities, newsletters, and websites to support the classroom curriculum (e.g. News-2-You, Curriculum Companions, Boardmakershare.com, etc.). At DynaVox, we are often asked to create special content on our devices to be used with these materials so that students who use DynaVox devices can better participate. The good news - there is no need to create special pages to support these students. InterAACt (the language strategy used on all DynaVox products) contains many of the words, communication messages and learning tools needed to support students during classroom activities. Use the tips below to learn how to match curriculum support materials to pre-existing vocabulary on your DynaVox device and spend more time teaching and less time programming!

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School Newsletter 23 - Supporting Positive Behavior in the Classroom
The classroom can be a very busy place and in order to maintain attention and motivation, some students may require some sort of visual support to encourage positive behavior during learning activities. The V/Vmax, Maestro and Xpress all have pre-made pages available to be used to support positive behavior in the classroom. These pages contain templates that allow you to add information that is specific to your student’s behavioral needs. You may already be using some strategies to support positive behavior in low-tech form (e.g., laminated symbol boards), however there are several benefits to using behavioral supports directly on AAC devices.

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School Newsletter 24 - Communication between Home and School
Do you ever wonder what your students do when they are home spending time with their families? Do you have parents who want a blow-by-blow synopsis of the school day? With busy schedules, it is often a challenge to keep the lines of communication open between home and school. Use the features of your Series 5 device and Xpress to enable students to easily share information about the school day with their parents and share information about events at home with school staff and friends.

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School Newsletter 25 - Spring has Sprung
Many classroom learning activities are based around a theme. Thematic teaching allows you to carry concepts across all areas of instruction. This provides students with the opportunity to practice skills in a lot of different ways across the curriculum. If you are currently using a spring theme to wrap up the school year, use the following tips and communication page suggessions to increase participation for your students who use DynaVox devices.

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Partner Augmented Input - Tips for Teaching Peers
Peers (e.g., classmates, co-workers, friends) are often strong motivators communicatively. This handout provides tips for teaching Partner Augmented Input (Aided Language Stimulation), a research-based technique, to peers take advantage of this motivator and increase exposure to effective interaction using AAC for the augmented communicator.

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School Newsletter 26 - Getting Started with InterAACt in the Classroom
Do you have students with a wide range of language skills and abilities? Are you looking for an AAC language framework that encourages successful day-to-day communication as well as promote language development? Are you looking for a clear pathway to provide communication instruction? InterAACt, the language framework found on all DynaVox products, does all of this and so much more. InterAACt will support the communication needs of all students, regardless of their current skills, while providing service providers with the tools and resources needed to support them along the way.

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School Newsletter 27 - InterAACt for Emergent Students
Emergent students are defined as those who are just beginning to communicate using a variety of methods including gestures, body language, facial expression, and a few simple and easily recognized and concrete symbols (e.g., dog, cookie). At the emergent level, students might only be able to communicate a limited number of messages in small set of specific contexts and routines. You might not even be sure that they understand everything that goes on around them. While you might not immediately think of using high-tech AAC devices with emergent students, you will find that InterAACt, the language system found on all DynaVox products, can support the day-to-day communication as well as build language and literacy skills for emergent communicators.

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School Article 28 - InterAACt for Context-Dependent Students
Context-dependent students can be described as those who show an understanding of simple and clear symbols and are beginning to understand more abstract symbols. They understand general conversations and directions. Context-dependent students are also able to communicate effectively in a limited number of situations (e.g., favorite TV show or hobby) OR may communicate in a limited way across a variety of situations. This article shares the tools available for context-dependent students in InterAACt.

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School Article 29 - InterAACt for Independent Students
Independent students can be described as those who understand communication at the same level as same-age peers. They are able to talk about a wide range of age-appropriate topics in flexible ways and can combine single words, spelling (if age-appropriate), phrases and complete messages to support routine and novel communication. This article shares the tools available for independent students in InterAACt.

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School Article 30 - Using Symbolate to Support Literacy Training
Many emergent readers can benefit from having symbol support as they learn to read. Early readers often begin their quest to literacy by using pictures/symbols paired with words. Symbols can support understanding, attention to task and vocabulary development. An easy way to provide symbol support for your students is to use the Symbolate/Desymbolate features on your DynaVox device. When selected, the Symbolate feature adds a symbol to any word that has a related symbol on the device in the Message Window while the Desymbolate feature remove the symbol. These features allow educators to enter/load any text to the Message Window and provide symbol support to those students who need it.

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School Article 31 - Using Slots to Provide Access to More Vocabulary
As service providers for students with significant communication challenges, we are constantly looking for ways to provide more opportunities for communication by supporting language and literacy growth and by creating an AAC system that will allow students to be effective and efficient communicators. In order to learn language and be an effective communicator, students must have access to appropriate and every growing vocabulary on their AAC system. It can be challenging to anticipate every vocabulary item that a student may need in any given situation, so if you are looking for an easy way to increase access to vocabulary, consider exploring the slots feature found on DynaVox products.

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School Article 32 - Xpress in the Classroom
The DynaVox Xpress offers the vocabulary to support students in the classroom all day long. From greeting friends in the morning to participating in class projects, your students will have access to the vocabulary they need in order to be effective and efficient communicators. The foundation of the Xpress is the InterAACt Language Framework and is based on 3 key factors - age, environment, Communication Ability Level.

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School Article 33 - Spelling Support for Emergent and Context-Dependent Students
The DynaVox Series 5 devices (e.g., Maestro, V+, Vmax+) contain interactive spelling pages that will provide your students with the opportunity to practice and learn their spelling words. These pages provide both auditory and visual information and have settings that can be changed to support the skills and abilities of the student. The Spelling Pages can be found in the Teaching Tools pages.

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School Article 34 - Using Video for Learning, Motivation and Entertainment
When we think of the video features available on DynaVox devices (e.g., V+, Vmax+, Maestro and Xpress), we may only think of the entertainment aspects; however there are many applications for using video in the classroom. Videos on the device can be used to teach new skills and support the curriculum, visually reinforce students to complete tasks, motivate students to use their device, support social interaction with others and independently direct personal care. This newsletter will share how to take advantage of the benefits of video on your DynaVox Series 5 device or Xpress.

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School Article 35 - Customizing Visual Scenes for Use in the Classroom
Visual scenes are one of the six language elements available in each user on DynaVox Series 5 devices and are a relatively new way of presenting language on an AAC device. This newsletter will show you how to customize them for use in the classroom.

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School Article 36 - 5 Ways to Support Communicaton during Summer Break
Don’t let the lazy days of summer decrease communication opportunity! There are fun and interactive ways that you can support communication all summer long. Using the pages that are included on your DynaVox device and a little customization, you will have everything you need to have fun in the sun! Use the five tips below to incorporate some interactive communication opportunities during your summertime routine.

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School Article 37 - Beyond Requesting: Taking Your Students Who Use AAC to the Next Level
Where do you typically start when introducing AAC to your students? If you are like most people, you probably start with activities where the student can request a motivating object or action. One of the reasons why you may start here is because requesting makes it easy to show the purpose of communication, especially when the result is immediate and obvious. But, what happens next? What happens when we run out of things to request? What happens when students seem “bored” by requesting? What happens when a particular situation doesn’t allow for requesting?

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School Article 38 - Reading, Writing, Arithmetic and Communication!
When supporting students who use AAC in the classroom, it is sometimes tempting to use the device primarily as a curriculum supports tool. Students who use AAC are often asked simply to respond to questions and often spend time passively observing classroom activities. While answering questions is an important skill as it demonstrates that knowledge is being gained, this type of interaction does not always encourage language and literacy growth. This type of interaction also encourages passive communication and participation. While the AAC system is absolutely necessary for students with severe communication, keep in mind that the primary purpose of the AAC system is to support interactive communication, participation and learning in all environments.

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School Article 39 - Common Core State Standards and Your Students's DynaVox Device: A Perfect Match
Last summer the federal government moved away from the educational standards provided in No Child Left Behind into a new set of standards called Common Core State Standards (CCSS). The CCSS allows schools across the country to provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn during grades K to 12. This was developed so that teachers and parents know what they need to do to help children succeed and learn. Most states have adopted CCSS.

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School Article 40 - 25 Ways to Increase Classroom Participation for Students who Use AAC
Do you find yourself wondering how to increase classroom participation by students who use AAC? Here are 25 tips (in no particular order) to help you do just that.

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Implementation Toolkit

The Implementation Toolkit is a collection of video and print-based resources created to help you facilitate successful interaction using AAC.

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