Jessica Conrad, Specialist

Specialty Areas: Early Intervention, AAC, Communication Disorders, AEM Technical Specs/Formats/Conversion, Training Videos/Tutorials

  • Universal Communication Supports Training, Franklin Community Schoools

  • Developmental Preschool + Essential Skills Staff, Franklin Community Schools

  • Problem solving during training

  • Playing With Pixons Project

  • Training with Nineveh-Hensley-Jackson Schools

  • All smiles after training!




    1. Augmentative and Alternative (AAC) Terms and Descriptions
      This guide is organized by considerations you would likely need to include in your narratives and reports around Augmentative and Alternative Communication.

    2. ABC and Context Data Collection Form
      Free and easy to use: this Google Sheet and related Google Form that can make collecting behavior data and collaboration so much easier than traditional methods. This is completely customizable to your needs. Many thanks to Clive Williams, our 2021 Starfish Award Winner, for all his work and expertise to make this happen with me. Get your own copy of the ABC and Context Data Collection Form (this will force a copy). Note that in the instruction tab are step-by-step instructions as well as links to video tutorials.

    3. AAC Assessment List featured Indiana Department of Education's Short Share on AAC
      Many times an Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) evaluation isn't necessary to quickly get students the tools they need to communicate. However, there are situations where more information is needed to conduct a data-informed trial. As a product of the Indiana, Communication Community of Practice, committed to ensuring all students have access to a form of communication, the group created an assessment list to help teams make informed decisions around AAC: the AAC Assessment List from the Indiana Communication Community of Practice.

    4. Continuous Learning Resources for Students Using AAC is a list of free tools, communication boards, curriculum and literacy supports, and training to support schools, families, and students in whatever environment they may be in.
  • Augmentative & Alternative Communication Consultation


    Our consultation services help save you time, money, and effort and give you another professional at the table to decide:
    • what communication device, app, strategy, or technique(s) to trial
    • setting up a trial with a device
    • steps towards an evaluation or assessment, if needed
    • consideration and assistance with setting up training for your team
    • how to maximize use of a current system towards educational goals
    • utilizing the best local resources to implement AAC
    All at no cost to all Indiana public PreK-12 School District employees

    Please fill out this form to start the consultation process. Allow 5 school days for a PATINS specialist to be in contact with you about next steps.

    AAC Assessment List featured Indiana Department of Education's Short Share on AAC
    Many times an Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) evaluation isn't necessary to quickly get students the tools they need to communicate. However, there are situations where more information is needed to conduct a data-informed trial. As a product of the Indiana, Communication Community of Practice, committed to ensuring all students have access to a form of communication, the group created an assessment list to help teams make informed decisions around AAC.


    The AAC Assessment List from the Indiana Communication Community of Practice

    New: Resources for Students using AAC while eLearning
  • This guide is organized by considerations you would likely need to include in your narratives and reports around Augmentative and Alternative Communication. This list is not complete and there may be synonyms or other terms more familiar to families and communities you may want to use. For some students, it may be appropriate to list the exact brand or language system being used.

    If you have any questions or suggestions about this list of common AAC terms and their meanings, please contact Jessica Conrad. Indiana PreK-12 public school staff members can request no-cost consultation, loans, and training these tools and techniques at any time. Please reach out to a PATINS Specialist for more information.


    Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC): are the symbols, aides, techniques, and strategies that make up how someone communicates. AAC is not a “thing” or a single tool, it is an ecosystem of techniques and tools that often changes over time and between environments, depending on the user’s needs and communication partners. 
    1. Language Representations
      1. Alphabet: all students need access to the full alphabet, there no exceptions
        1. Alternative pencil: anything that provides a student with access to all letters of an alphabet
      2. Multiple Meaning Messages or Semantic Compaction: symbols that have more than one meaning.
      3. Single-Meaning Message: have one symbol represents one meaning
    2. Symbols are something that represents something else. This includes picture icons, photos, speech, signs, sign languages (like ASL), printed text, braille, object miniatures or parts of an object, etc. 
      1. Manually Coded English: when someone uses both English and some gestures or signs to add some visual support to what is being said. This is not a sign language, although it may borrow some signs from a sign language like ASL.
      2. Tactile symbols: something that can be felt that represents something. Example: a handle of a toilet to represent the bathroom
      3. Dynamic Display: symbols presented will change based on user actions, likely infinite messages could be incorporated
      4. Static Display: a finite number of messages, all messages stay where they are regardless of user's interaction
      5. Hybrid Display: incorporating both dynamic and static displays
    3. Other Language Features:
      1. Core words: the most common words of a language. In English, this is estimated to be about 200-400 words
      2. Fringe words: the words that are not core words
      3. Visual Scene Display: a digitized photo or picture of a scene that the user touches to communicate programmed messages. May also be a Video Scene Display with the same features but a video instead of a picture.
    4. Vision Features: ways that visual symbols are made more easily seen by the users. Ex: zooming, highlighting, high contrast.
      1. High Contrast: have a significant difference between the light and dark parts of an image making it easier for some people to see
    5. Voice/Sound Generation: something that makes a sound to communicate. Sound Generating Devices (SGDs) often use voice recordings or synthesized speech, known as the “computer voice,” that artificially creates human speech.
    6. Access Features:
      1. Direct Select: When a user points with part of their body with or without a tool. Below are tools that help with direct selection.
        1. Eye Gaze: tracking the user’s eye movement which serves as a point. In a computer system, a camera is looking at the light reflected in the user’s retina to know what the eyes are looking at.
        2. Head Pointing: tracking the user’s head movement. In a computer system, a camera is watching the position of the face (through facial recognition or a reflective sticker) to know where the head is pointing
        3. Keyguard: material that lays on a screen or image to help the user make an accurate selection. Keyguard materials, colors, shapes, thickness, and other features vary depending on user needs, tools, and activities. May also be called a Touchguide or Keyguide depending on the features.
      2. Indirect Selection: When a user makes a selection from a set of choices with or without a tool.
        1. Partner Assisted Scanning (PAS): a partner speaks and/or shows a set of symbols or choices to the user and waits for a response to indicate, at least, “yes, that’s the one I want.” The user may also have a “no, move on to the next choice” response but it is not necessary to use this technique.
        2. Switch: a device that activates or deactivates an electric signal. Switches in assistive technology have a variety of sizes, features, ways of activating and uses. Switches are connected to other things, like communication devices, to operate them.
    7. Portability and positioning
      1. Mount: an object that helps support other objects and tools. Example: a piece of pipe connected to a wheelchair or standing on a floor to support a laptop.
  • Jessica Conrad
    Jessica has been a PATINS Specialist since 2016. She is a certified Speech-Language Pathologist and former Technology Integration Specialist. Her first love is supporting communication for all learners. Her second love is technology and sharing how the right tool can make success possible. She enjoys finding fun ways to create language and learning-rich opportunities with fun technology. She enjoys board games, traveling, and hanging out with her husband, Adam, and chihuahua, Winnie. She is a proud Big Sister with Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Central Indiana.



    Member of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association - Special Interest Group 12, Augmentative and Alternative Communication
    Member of the Council for Exceptional Children

    Member of the Division for Early Childhood
    Present, Division of Early Childhood, Indiana Subdivision

    Contact:

    Email Jessica
    Twitter: @jconradslp
    Skype: jconradslp
  • Trainings for the School Year:
    ALL Trainings are at NO COST to Indiana's public schools and can be requested by any staff member. We can provide devices, training materials, pre and post consultation services, classroom visits and more to meet the needs of your staff at no cost. If you have any special requests, we would love to accommodate your professional development needs. Documentation is provided at all trainings that will satisfy for Professional Growth Points and ASHA's Clinical Maintenance Hours.  See our Professional Development Guide for our most popular trainings.


    Introducing AAC in Your Gen Ed Classroom

    Participants will learn how to use a selected AAC device, how to model with it, and how to support meaningful and robust communication in a general education classroom.

    Mystery Bag Challenge: Tools to Support ALL Students
    This interactive session will get participants driving and using a wide variety of technologies to support students in all environments from PK-12+, in ELA, math, Life Skills, and more. Tools and technology brought in will include assistive technologies and solutions to support accessible educational materials. We'll discuss Universal Design for Learning, how to plan and set up your classroom or a single student for success, and how to try these tools at your school at no cost.

    Tots on Tablets: Apps (and Best Practice) for Preschool
    Our youngest learners probably don’t remember a time where mom’s phone wasn’t a toy, so how do we harness tablets to promote engagement and meaningful learning in a preschool classroom? We’ll show off some fun apps that go beyond “free play” options to promote pre-literacy skills, mathematics, imagination, and more.

    I Love Data
    Turn information mountain into automated magic! We'll show off some Google tools used by therapists, teachers and AT coordinators to make progress monitoring, timeline watching, case history filling, device training, student information gathering and team communication a snap. For anyone who is a little nervous around spreadsheets, this will be a practical and hands on demonstration of Google Sheets, AutoCrat and Form Mule.


    Visuals in a Snap
    Behavior supports, visual schedules, communication boards, and representing content in visual ways for reading, writing, and more: it's all great news for our learners, but can you get it done quickly? We'll explore some simple, free, or nearly free tech tools and resources to make your visuals in a snap.







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