Project Communicate! Everyone has something to say. Let your voice be heard!

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By Laura Simmons-Martinez, Technology Project Director, Team of Advocates for Special Kids (TASK)

Project Communicate is the much-needed piece that links (AAC) augmentative and alternative communication to TASK’s TECH Center services.  Thanks to a generous grant from the Disability Communications Fund, we are thrilled to be able to provide this service to those in need.

The purpose of Project Communicate is to provide communication options for persons with expressive language disabilities through hands‐on access, assessments, training, support and recommendations.An orange tablet sized AAC device with different stick figures on it and two children and a teacher sitting at a desk Two woman and a young girl all look at an orange tablet communication device Tow tablet sized AAC devices called accent 1000 with pictures on the dozens of sqaures  tablet sized communication device with a handle on it and pictures

Project Communicate Services Include:
•    FREE one-hour consultations consist of a one-on-one meeting with our contracted Speech Language Pathologist, Bernadette Kennard. Depending on the request, this can include reviewing current communication systems, trying communication devices and low tech language systems, discussing communication IEP goals, training on using a specific device and more. This also includes reviewing and explaining previous AAC assessment reports and answering questions about procedures, tests and tools, as well as reviewing for evidenced-based recommendations, defining assessment terminology and giving a second opinion.

•    Low cost/no cost AAC assessments include initial intake, skills evaluation, hands-on trials, a written report with recommendations and funding information, and ongoing device training for the user and their communication team. An AAC assessment identifies an individual’s communication needs and abilities to determine the best communication solution.

•    Conversation Station is our monthly social and functional communications social group intended for verbal and nonverbal communicators alike. Conversation Station is a safe environment where individuals with complex communication needs (CCN) and their support network can come together and engage in purposeful social activities that will allow them to use their AAC systems and strategies for a variety of purposes. They can learn from models or serve as role models for good communication skills while interacting with other AAC users and those with communication needs. Most importantly they will use their language to have fun while improving their social skills! We meet on the fourth Thursday of each month from 4:00 PM to 5:15 PM at our Anaheim location.

•    Small group training for user and communication teams are a perfect opportunity to get personalized information for your specific needs.  Additional caregivers such as ABAa small AAC device calld a novachat with simple words and pictures on it Therapists, Occupational Therapists, and Speech Language Pathologists, grandparents or respite care providers are encouraged to come with parents and work on the needs specific to their AAC user. These needs can be simple or complex; it’s up to you! Examples include learning how to program a specific device, agreeing on the best way to implement device use across settings or developing short and long range goals to increase communication competence. The training goals are determined based on your needs.  A commitment of at least 2, 1 hour sessions is required.

•    AAC workshops series (FREE for users, parents and professionals). Project Communicate workshops include: AAC Competencies: What Are They Really?; The ABC’s of AAC; and Facilitating Language Development with AAC. Our newest workshop, Getting to Know Proloquo2go is scheduled at our Anaheim office on October 8th. Learn more here: http://www.taskca.org/P2GWorkshopFlyer_Anaheim.pdf or visit http://www.taskca.org/workshops-schedules.html for our full workshop schedule.

Some of the equipment we have purchased for this program includes dedicated AAC Devices such as PRC’s Accent 1000 http://www.prentrom.com/accent, Tobii Dynavox T-10 http://www.tobiidynavox.com/meet-t10/ , and Saltillo’s Nova Chat 5 https://saltillo.com/products/nova-chat-5  as well as a few lower tech AAC devices. In addition, we have myGaze® Eye Tracker http://www.mygaze.com/products/mygaze-eye-tracker/ and Inclusive EyeGaze Learning Curve Software https://www.inclusivetlc.com/eye-gaze-learning-curve  as well as Tobii’s new Communicator 5 and Sono Suite software http://www.tobii.com/en/assistive-technology/north-america/products/retired-products/tobii-tablet-kit/communicator-and-sono-suite/  for communication. Additionally, we purchased iPads and various AAC applications including Proloquo2Go and Proloquo4text http://www.assistiveware.com/products , PRC Words for Life https://aacapps.com/lamp/ , Talk Tablet http://www.talktablet.com/ , AVAZ for Autism http://www.avazapp.com/ , Autismate 365 http://autismate.com/AutisMate-Comprehensive-App-For-Autism/ and many more options!

Project Communicate has and will continue to open doors for families and professionals that would not otherwise receive these much-needed services and information. By offering these workshops, consultations and hands-on trials, our goal is to educate as many people as we can so that more individuals with complex communication needs can communicate successfully and independently.

If you are interested in ANY  of these services, or want to know more about Project Communicate, please e-mail laurasm@taskca.org, call us at (714) 533-8275 or visit http://www.taskca.org/techcenter-projectcommunicate.html. Additionally, for more information on Team of Advocates for Special Kids, visit http://www.taskca.org.

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