The ATIA Conference is always a highlight of the assistive technology calendar. This year’s version is all virtual, and the organizers have worked really hard to create an engaging and educational roster of presentations and exhibits. In this post, I’ll share some highlights from two presentations I attended on Monday Jan 25, and let you know how you can participate in the rest of the conference if you’d like.
Automated data logging as a tool in AAC services
This session, entitled ‘Leveraging automated data logging to guide therapy and improve client outcomes’, was presented by Krista Davidson and Abigail Denque, from the University of Iowa. As part of Abigail’s Masters’ degree program in Speech-language Pathology, she conducted a case study in which she followed a 5 year-old boy’s use of his Nova Chat SGD over the first 8 months of use. Using the data logging built-in to the Nova Chat, and the analysis tools at the Realize Language website, she was able to track usage stats such as: the number of times used per week, the total productions (selections) made during use, and the vocabulary used.
The clinical observations suggested that over the 8 months, the young boy progressed in the following ways:
– producing more nouns and content words using his SGD
– using his SGD more often in a variety of environments
– expanding his vocabulary choices in the SGD, using more complex navigation
The authors conclude that data logging can lead to more informed clinical decisions, increased collaboration and motivation among team members, and increased SGD use. There are potential privacy concerns related to automated data logging, and in this case study, the logging was always on and thus recorded every message that anyone selected using the Nova Chat. This concern could be mitigated by strategies such as using data logging with therapy or training sessions, where the vocabulary is less personal and logging would be less invasive.
This session provided a useful look at how and why to apply data logging in AAC, helping attendees better understand an under-utilized tool in our AAC service toolbox.
Bridging Voice – an organization serving people with ALS
If you work with or are a person with ALS, you may already know about Bridging Voice, a non-profit organization founded in 2019 to serve pALS, particularly in the area of AAC. If you don’t know about Bridging Voice (and I didn’t), you’ll be amazed at how much they’ve accomplished in such a short time and under such challenging circumstances as the Covid pandemic.
In this presentation, ‘Not a temporary solution, but a better option: remote support for ALS patients’, Debra Zeitlin and Nachum Lehman shared the lessons learned during their transition to providing fully remote service during Covid-19. A core part of their work is recommending, implementing, and optimizing AAC systems for people with ALS, with most of their clients using eyegaze to access their AAC device. They’ve managed to provide all of their services remotely since March 2020, and they described how they do that. They’ve learned to troubleshoot and fix problems remotely, out of necessity, and it turns out they can do much more remotely than they would have expected. A very heartening presentation.
Contact Bridging Voice for more information — they are based in New York but provide services all over the U.S. and even internationally. All services are free of charge. Seems like a fantastic resource for pALS, their families, and all of us looking for ways to provide high-quality AT services to pALS.
Worth my time!
So in a couple of hours, I learned how some folks are using analytics to provide more data-driven AAC services, and how others have creatively managed to thrive and serve others in the midst of this pandemic. All from my own office. I also attended a ‘lightning’ session that featured a quick look at a wide range of exhibitor’s products — a good way to get up to speed on what’s new from a variety of companies.
I’m looking forward to attending a couple of sessions on Thursday on remote eyegaze assessments and approaches to switch access, and then the full roster of sessions next week as well.
This is just a sample of what’s available at ATIA 2021, and there’s still time to check it out and participate. They’ve divided the content into four main strands: AAC, Vision & Hearing Technologies, Education & Learning, and AT for Physical Access & Participation. Each strand has 2 full days of live content, along with numerous pre-recorded sessions.
There are numerous flexible options for registration, and regardless of what package you choose, you can view the education sessions in your package until June 30, 2021. So you really haven’t missed anything yet! Register for the full conference to get complete access to all sessions, or just one of the thematic strands. Or register for a single day, if you prefer — for example, the second day for the AAC Strand is scheduled for Thursday, February 4. There’s even a free registration package that includes exhibitor activities, as well as sponsored ATIA member education content.
Hope to see you there!