February 11-13 2020

PALSS Standard Content

Bruce Baker, AM, LHD, (Hons. caus.)
Debbie Witkowski, MA, CCC-SLP
Tracy Kovach, PhD, CCC-SLP
Russell Cross, BSc (Hons.), DipCST, MRCSLT

Each PALSS event regularly includes presentations of Bruce Baker’s work and presentations by Debbie Witkowski, Russell Cross, and Tracy Kovach. The seminar includes theoretical and practical information regarding vocabulary selection, language development and building competence for individuals who use AAC. In addition, the importance of building motor automaticity when using AAC systems will be discussed. Participants will also have the opportunity for hands-on practice with the UNITY® language system.


Guest Presenter Topic:

Shifting Perspective on Access and AAC: Addressing Communication and Language from a Motor Learning Standpoint

Chip Clarke, MS, CCC-SLP

For an individual with complex communication Needs (CCN) needing AAC, the core of an intervention is to create opportunities to learn or use language. Often the success is measured solely by the acquisition of new words and the length and/or complexity of the utterances produced. Regardless of the technology, strategy, or support given, these interventions require some form of reliable motor response for clinicians to appreciate the level of success achieved by the communicator. That reliable motor response, whether via by touch, head pointing, the use of a switch, or eye tracking is a critical element to experiencing and acquiring language, but often requires learning outside of the typical language development process. This motor learning process allows individuals an understanding of their basic physical actions, sequencing their movements, and ultimately refining their performance allowing them to become fluid communicators. While motor learning proceeds some aspects of early language development, it often parallels its growth. By isolating the steps of this process, therapists can more appropriately tailor AAC interventions for their most complex clients.

This is a two-part presentation which will examine a new approach to working with individuals with CCN. It will provide participants an opportunity to engage in clinical discussion and hands on activities and review video-based case studies. During the morning session, the Assessment Learning Process (ALP) for AAC will be presented. This will include a review of how the ALP was developed, its use as an assessment tool, and how it can guide the supports and activities we use for individuals with CCN. The afternoon session will include a more detailed and hands-on look into eye tracking as an access method for AAC. We will first review the current state-of-the-art technology behind eye tracking (PC and Mobile platforms) and the clinical implications how as to how it is applied to the populations we serve. Special attention will be given to vision and ocular-motor issues impacting the use of eye tracking for AAC.