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					KEYCOMM News K
Winter 2008
Merry Christmas and welcome to our Winter newsletter. It is jam-packed with our reflections on 2008’s Communication Matters Symposium, ACIP’s study day on AAC and Autism, and KEYCOMM’s User Forum. Hear the latest on DynaVox’s EyeMax eye gaze system, and find out about our latest events and courses. But first…
A little sad news…. MERRY CHRISTMAS Alison Cowe, our speech therapy assistant has left KEYCOMM and has begun a new adventure as a trainee nurse. We wish Alison every We would like to take the opportunity to success in her new career. Alison wish you a happy and peaceful Christmas was an invaluable member of our and new year! team, and we would like to thank her for all her wonderful Debbie, Sam, Janet and Ruth Augmentative Communication and Autism contributions.

ACIP’s 18th Study Day focus on Augmentative Communication and Autism: Theory and Practice certainly gave food for thought about how, what for and why we use AAC with individuals with a diagnosis of Autistic Spectrum Disorder. It gave food for thought but certainly did not provide the answers for the moment. Helen Cockerill and Vicky Slonims, SLTs set the scene outlining the impact the social language difficulties have on formal language development and consequently expressive language by whatever means including AAC. They reported that approximately 25% of individuals with ASD do not develop speech, but they also indicated that many individuals with ASD also have an additional diagnosis such as learning difficulty, and this should be considered when identifying purposeful communication strategies. Prospect Bank, a special school in Edinburgh, shared their transition from a PECS predominant school towards a total communication school, showing practical ideas, resources and videoclips. Wilma Armstrong from SCTCI shared case studies of two children with a diagnosis of ASD. Both children were introduced to a Dynamo, a dynamic display communication aid, one child successfully, one child not so. Wilma felt that there were many 1

contributing factors to why this happened, many of these factors which affect the successful introduction of any communication system. Mary Gilhooley, SLT and Colin Graham, Resource Manager demonstrated how they had introduced different communication systems to adults with a diagnosis of autism at Unit 19, Scottish Society for Autism, Cowdenbeath.

Information Corner

Eyemax for Eye Gaze, a DynaVox System

User Forum KEYCOMM’s first user forum was held on Thursday 9th October. It was an opportunity for some of the adults who are using our service to voice their opinions about KEYCOMM. All the adults invited are primary users of KEYCOMM and use a range of low tech and high tech communication systems. We, of course, wanted to know how well our service was doing, and valued the comments that were given. We are now looking to put these into practice, although we can’t all be offering to shorten our skirts, as recommended by a certain person!! (You know who you are). We will now be holding a user’s open afternoon on 26th February, Ruth is still waiting for a user contribution to the newsletter, she will be hunting someone down shortly, and we will be looking at our upcoming courses, particularly for SLT students and asking for a volunteer to contribute during the course.

As you all may be aware, recent developments in eye gaze technology have now been made and there are a number of eye gaze systems now commercially available. Over the next year Keycomm will be endeavouring to evaluate the different systems and provide a review of these in our newsletters. The first eye gaze system we have now had a short loan of is the EyeMax eye gaze system by Dynavox systems. It is a plug in device which plugs into your existing Dynavox Vmax(the larger one). It requires a different battery casing which comes with the EyeMax. It also comes with a new system software which needs to be loaded into the Dynavox Vmax before it will work. This does not take too long. We have tried the system on a few individuals mainly with Cerebral Palsy who are good switch users at the present time. Calibration is done with software through the set up menu. Calibration at times can be difficult and not everyone we tried it with was able to get through the full calibration. However, the users were still able to try the eye gaze on some pages. The size of the areas on the pages is also crucial to start out with as well as the mounting of the eye gaze system relative to the individual. One of the things we came across during the calibration was the loud sound it makes often eliciting a startle reflex thereby putting the calibration off. We finally had to turn the sound down on the Vmax through the Windows software.

2 We did find the EyeMax did work outside however the
screen became very difficult to see when the sun was shining. All of the individual users we tried with it felt that it was hard work and that it would take a lot of practice to be able to use it. We will not be giving up our switches just yet!

Communication Matters National Symposium 2008 Below are summaries of some of our favourite seminars we attended at the symposium. More detailed summaries can be found on our website http://www.keycommaac.ik.org Talk to the Hand! Age-appropriate communication activities Andrea Kirkton and Zoe Robertson demonstrated a range of activities to work with teenagers to develop communication skills using Janice Light’s communication competencies. Following on from termly communication morning, they gave the teenagers an hour and a half per week to practise their AAC, model and develop new skills, and look at non-communicative use, eg. controlling their environment. They used video feedback as an assessment tool. They focused upon 5 topics, taking one each half term. These were music, describing games, telecommunications, shopping, and out and about. They tended to take an area such as Shopping and would spend half a term working on using their communication skills so that they would be able to go to buy a CD, or fashion clothes, rather than supermarket shopping. They admitted themselves that their ideas were not rocket science however they were effective, as exhibited in one of their videoclips were two communication aid users were arguing over one person’s “poor” taste in music. Show Me: The path to promoting AAC use in school aged children Allison Yates used lots of videoclips to “show me” different examples of how she had introduced high tech aids to autistic children with in the naturalistic setting. She explained how she used a wide range of techniques including peer modelling, teacher modelling, physical/gestural prompting, spontaneous initiation, communication sabotage, and feigned communication failure. She found most success incorporating therapy within the classroom and integrating it into daily classroom activities. For example, the class were learning about the healthy eating, the individual child was learning how to request a choice using the high tech aid. He did this by choosing healthy food symbols on the aid and feeding the food to a puppet. Lets All Play This was a two year special needs toy library project that aimed to build on existing knowledge and skills and apply them to early years, share good practise and use existing resources efficiently. They demonstrated the progression of clients skills through case studies and emphasised the importance of communication skills, access and positioning and learning. The focus on communication included use of photographs, symbols, communication books and boards, developing core vocabulary, use of voice output communication aids and using modelling as a method to teach their use. Examples included a child of three using a V max with core vocabulary and photographs and another child using listener mediated scanning along with objects of reference to make choices, colour encoding was used. We will share these ideas in future SPLAT information sheets. Look what eye can do Smartbox presented the three eye gaze systems that they currently have on the market and compared their pros and cons. Here we give a very brief summary to how the three differ. myTobii – this uses four infra red beams to read the users eye therefore allowing the individual with more head movement to consider this as an access method.


Alea – this has two infra red beams and can be combined with tablet and PC, enabling the user to choose their communication aid independently of the eye gaze. A different number of calibration points offers accuracy for different individuals needs. LC – this device is compatible with any communication aid allowing the user to choose a communication that suits their needs. Using a single infra red, this device is only suitable for individuals with minimal head movement. Smartbox strongly recommended that individuals try different models to find the best eye gaze system for them as each system offers different features. What works for one person may hinder another, due to number of variables such as head movement, eye sight, fatigue.

Notes for your Diary
Disabled Library Users Forum The 10th meeting of the Disabled Library Users Forum is on Monday 12th January at Stockbridge Library 1:30-3:30pm. If you require assisted transport or have any queries please call 0131 529 5683 or email access.services@edinburgh.gov.uk

KEYCOMM OPEN AFTERNOONS Open Afternoons are an opportunity to return or exchange equipment and find out more about our service. Open afternoons run from 1-4pm on the last Thursday of every month. They will be held on the following dates; Thursday 29th Jan, Thursday 26th Feb (user open afternoon), and Thursday 26th March. We ask that if you are attending our open afternoon, please phone to book a place on 0131 311 7130.

NEW TRAINING COURSES – BOOKING IS ESSENTIAL Introduction to Boardmaker 5 for Windows Ideal for anyone new to using Boardmaker 5 for Windows, this course will take all participants through using all the basic features of Boardmaker. There will be plenty of time for hands on activities. Helpful tips on using Boardmaker with a variety of client groups will be discussed. Ideal for all professionals and resource workers wanting to use symbols to support individuals in schools or centres who have access or are expecting to have purchased Boardmaker 5 for Windows. Friday, 16 January, 1:303:30pm. Closing date is 5 January. and Friday, 27 February. Closing date is 5 February. Please download a booking form from our website, or call 0131 311 7130. Using Low tech Resources This course will provide all participants with an insight into how low tech symbols can be used in different ways to facilitate communication in differing environments. We will also discuss the various symbol systems and how these can be used effectively to meet individual need. Low tech books and boards, community request cards and other low tech materials will be discussed and there will be plenty of practical ideas to take away with you. Friday, 13 March 2009, 1:30-3:30 pm Closing date is 2 March 2009. Please download a booking form from our website Introduction to AAC This course will provide an overview of available communication systems ranging from high technology voice output aids to low-tech communication books and boards. This workshop is intended as a general introduction to the field of Augmentative and Alternative Communication(AAC) and will include discussion of vocabulary selection, symbol systems, individual communication aids and accessing through switches and other indirect access methods. Positioning and mounting of aids for individual users will also be explored. The course will also include information and a demonstration of accessing simple enviromental controls for all ages. There will be time for hands on demonstrations of all equipment and a short question and answer session. Thursday 5 February 2009, 1:30- 3:30 pm Closing date is 19 January 2009

4 KEYCOMM contact information KEYCOMM 1c Pennywell Road, Edinburgh, EH4 4PH Tel: 0131 311 7130 Fax: 0131 332 6871 website – www.keycommaac.ik.org

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