Pre-School

Alternative and Augmentative Communication--What Is It?

People may have difficulty speaking due to a physical injury or a disability (e.g., cerebral palsy), a cognitive impairment (such as brain injury or autism), or both physical and cognitive disabilities. Some of these people use alternative and augmentative communication (AAC) strategies for communication. This article covers the general principles of AAC; more information about specific strategies is in our article about Alternative and Augmentative Communication--What are the Options?

AAC needs to be matched to the user's physical and cognitive capabilities, but also to the immediacy of their communication needs. If someone is trying to communicate, it is better to quickly provide simple but reasonably effective strategies, such as a sheet of paper with pictures that she can point to, than to wait until more sophisticated options are available.

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Large Computer Pointers/Cursors

Current computer operating systems use a small icon called a pointer or cursor that moves on the screen when the mouse is moved. The most common pointers are an arrow, a vertical bar that appears in word processing document (sometimes called the I-Beam), and a hand that appears on web pages when the pointer is on top of a link. These pointers can be quite small or may blend in with the background, making them difficult to see, especially for people with low vision.

This article discusses several ways to make the pointer more visible. Utilities built into the operating system can make the pointer easier to see by making it larger, providing higher contrast, or providing supplemental visual cues. If these are not sufficient, some third-party programs have additional capabilities.

Try It Yourself:

Pointer modification: Provides themes that change the color and size of the standard pointers. One Windows option has an option for animating the pointers, which may help in catching users' attention.

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Accessibility Features in Computer Operating Systems

All current computer operating systems include features that make using the computer easier for people with disabilities.  For many people, these features may provide sufficient accommodations or may be the best available solution. In other cases, the features are scaled-down versions of capabilities that are available in more sophisticated versions from third-party vendors.

These features accommodate a wide range of users:

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What’s New in AAC

Monday, September 15, 2014
3:30 PM Pacific, 6:30 PM Eastern

The Special Ed. Tech. Center at Central Washington U. presents what you may have missed.

It’s hard to stay current on “All things AAC” when it is a rapidly changing scene. Any one else dizzy? Join this webinar to get the latest on new AAC devices and new AAC apps. This fast paced, informative webinar will wet your appetite for what’s new and provide resources for you to look further into the AAC systems that catch your eye.

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Archved Webinar on Using Assistive Technology to Promote Children's Participation

The Virginia Early Intervention Professional Development Center has posted this archived webinar which concerns infants and toddlers.

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New iPad Lending Program in San Francisco

Families in San Francisco will be able to access Assistive Technology such as iPads from a new iPad Lending Program at Support for Families of Children with Disabilities in San Francisco. Twenty-four iPads will be available to lend to families and there will be workshops in Spanish and English for parents on how to use the devices for their children’s communication needs.

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Archived Webinar Series on AAC from AbleNet

AbleNet University has archived a 5-session webinar series from Spring 2013, on AAC Developing Participation.  Presenters Lesley E. Mayne, PhD, CCC-SLP & Sharon M. Rogers, Ph.D., CCC-SLP cover basics and implementation. 

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Establishing Core Vocabulary For Students "With Special Needs"


Carla Butorac describes how to begin with core vocabulary, starting with a single word. She also describes and demonstrates some core vocabulary apps.

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Captioned Version

There is a well captioned version of this video available on the universalsubtitles.org website.

77 Seconds on Core Vocabulary


Freddy presents 77 seconds on core vocabulary. What is it and how can the words be organized to help students read complex text?

A rich vocabulary is essential to success with complex texts. English has an enormous number of words—approximately 300,000 active words. But all of these words don't carry the same weight.

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