The Bridge School Home Page
About Us Education Transition Outreach Activities and Events Events Concert
Printer-Friendly version Email this page to a friend Get Adobe Reader Follow Bridge School on Twitter Join us on Facebook

2017 AAC by the Bay Conference Schedule

Thursday, March 23, 2017

NOTE: All times on the schedule are PST.

Language Acquisition and Documentation

Time Activity/Speaker(s) Presentation Title & Abstract
12:00 - 12:50 Registration
1:00 - 1:30 Welcome and Introductions
Vicki Casella & Pegi Young
1:30 - 2:00 Lifetime Achievement Award: Michael Williams
2:00 - 3:30 Plenary:
Charity Rowland
Developing the Communication Matrix to Answer the Question: What CAN They Do?

The Communication Matrix was developed to fill a gap in assessment practices: at the time, there was no instrument to describe how individuals who can’t speak CAN communicate. The emphasis of existing assessments was strictly on spoken communication, and there was no means to document the many ways that someone without speech could communicate using other means. In 1990 the Communication Matrix was created to fill that gap. Since then, a series of grants from the U.S. Department of Education has supported progressive improvement of the web site that was designed to allow parents and professionals to administer this assessment online. The latest and current grant underwrites the development of a virtual community of practice for professionals and nonprofessionals who support individuals with complex communication needs. This session will present the story of the Communication Matrix--its foundations and its evolution into the current complex web site that is used around the world.

3:30 - 3:45 Break
3:45 - 5:15 Plenary:
Karen Natoci
The Communication Matrix: Using the Results to Promote Progress

Children who present with complex communication needs (CNN) along with vision, hearing and sensory motor issues present educators and support staff with a unique challenge during an evaluation. The Communication Matrix offers a clear way to organize our observations of a child's early communication abilities and from which to consider communication partner strategies for growth. Karen will review case examples based on the results of different profiles illustrated on the Communication Matrix grid. Emphasis will be on emergent communication and the cohesive implementation of receptive strategies to promote the learner's advancement toward being a symbolic communicator. With each level on the Matrix, the following will be discussed:

  • Receptive considerations of partner communication strategies,
  • how and why aided symbol input makes sense,
  • modification of symbols to enhance attention (vision and auditory),
  • analysis of forms and functions to guide decision making,
  • promoting engagement in literacy, beginning with the familiar,
  • sample IEP objectives
5:15 - 5:30 Question & Answer Session
5:30 - 6:30 Reception

possible CEUs = 3.25

top of the page

Friday, March 24, 2017

NOTE: All times on the schedule are PST.

Specialized Curriculum Areas - Vision & Mobility

Time Activity/Speaker(s) Presentation Title & Abstract
8:00 - 8:45 Morning Refreshments & Registration
8:45 - 9:00 Welcome
Vicki Casella
9:00 - 10:30 Plenary: Christine Roman-Lantzy
Cortical Visual Impairment: A Specialized Approach to Assessment & Intervention

Individuals with cortical visual impairment (CVI) present with a unique collection of visual and behavioral characteristics. These characteristics provide the foundation for specialized assessment using The CVI Range which determines the degree or level of functional vision. The scores derived from The CVI Range are then used to guide interventions and accommodations that are applied to meaningful routines of the day. This presentation will provide an overview of these principles. Photo and video examples will be used to illustrate key concepts.

10:30 - 10:45 Break
10:45 - 12:15 Plenary:Aileen Arai, Caitlin Sale, Tiké DeMarco
Integrating CVI interventions, Strategies and Accommodations into the Instructional Program at The Bridge School

Cortical Visual Impairment (CVI) is a unique type of visual impairment which often co-occurs with cerebral palsy and other neurological disorders associated with severe speech and physical impairments (SSPI) and complex communication needs (CCN). Little is understood about how to best support the specific visual needs of students with SSPI and CVI who rely on AAC for daily communication needs and participation in academics and literacy instruction. To maximize the participation of these students, The Bridge School has developed interventions, strategies and accommodations based on The CVI Range, an assessment tool which provides rich descriptive information about a student's visual abilities and characteristics.

This presentation provides practitioners and educators with strategies to support systematic implementation of accommodations developed to recruit and increase use of a student's vision for communication, academic instruction, assessment, and accessing the environment. These interventions are embedded within classroom activities and based upon student considerations, teaching considerations, environmental considerations, and individual AAC and AT tools and strategies. These accommodations lead to changing expectations for students using their vision during instruction, all ultimately support vocabulary and language acquisition, increase effective use of all AAC modalities, and support the development of literacy skills. We will discuss preliminary outcomes and progress in these areas for our students with CVI.

12:15 - 1:15 Lunch
1:15 - 2:45 Plenary: Krista Wilkinson
Improving the design of visual communication supports for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities: Applications of eye tracking technologies

One body of clinical practice often implemented with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities involves aided augmentative and alternative communication (aided AAC). Most of these systems involve visual displays containing written words, icons, or other visual-graphic symbols. The intent of these systems is to offer a supplemental means of communication to individuals with disabilities whose speech is not adequate to meet their receptive and/or expressive communication needs.

Aided AAC relies on a visual modality. Consequently, it critical that individuals who use AAC be able to perceive or process the visually-presented information; otherwise, the system will not be used effectively. Yet AAC display design and the ways that individuals process this visual information has received little research attention, nor is there much information about visual processing in individuals with significant intellectual disabilities. This gap means that many displays that are intended to promote communication may be confusing or sub-optimal for the individuals who they are intended to benefit.

This presentation will illustrate how eyetracking analysis can reveal patterns of visual attention to AAC displays in individuals with significant communication and intellectual disabilities, who are difficult to test using traditional experimental tasks and methods. I will describe what elements of AAC displays attract attention, and which distract from efficient search in individuals with Down syndrome, intellectual disability of unknown origin, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and nondisabled peers. (Supported by NICHD P01 HD25995, R01 HD 083381, & the PSU Hintz Communicative Competence Endowment)

2:45 - 3:00 Break
3:00 - 4:30 Plenary: Christine Wright-Ott & Fei Luo
Mobility Matters: Students with Speech and Physical Impairment use Hands Free Support Walkers to Explore, Discover, Learn and Participate in School Activities

This presentation describes an element of the Bridge School program from 2006 to 2015 in which 29 students (22 boys and 7 girls: 3-10 years) participated in self-initiated mobility experiences through the use of hands-free support walkers and thematic activities embedded into the curriculum in ways that contribute to the foundation of learning and development. Students who participated in this program demonstrated a positive increase in peer interaction, engagement, self-initiation, problem solving, physical motor control, and use of the upper extremities. A theoretical framework based on current research and longitudinal observations of students participating in the self-initiated mobility experience will be discussed. A variety of techniques, activities and devices for imbedding self-initiated mobility into curricular activities and environments and a range of considerations used to select a child's support walker to maximize fit, function and access will be shared through slides and videos.

4:30 - 5:00 Question & Answer Session

possible CEUs = 6.5

top of the page

Saturday, March 25, 2017

NOTE: All times on the schedule are PST.

Language, Communication and Autism

Time Activity/Speaker(s) Presentation Title & Abstract
8:00 - 8:45 Morning Refreshments & Registration
8:45 - 9:00 Welcome
Vicki Casella
9:00 - 10:30 Plenary:
Pat Mirenda
Taking the Initiative: Supporting Spontaneous Communication in Learners with Autism Spectrum Disorder (Part 1)

Despite widespread use of the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS), many minimally verbal students with autism fail to initiate even basic requests in the absence of adult directives. In many cases, this lack of spontaneity is the result of instructional errors during PECS implementation. The first part of this session will identify the most common of these errors and offer suggestions for remediation.

10:30 - 10:45 Break
10:45 - 12:15 Plenary: Pat Mirenda
Taking the Initiative: Supporting Spontaneous Communication in Learners with Autism Spectrum Disorder (Part 2)

The second part of the session will discuss the need to move “beyond PECS” in order to provide opportunities for students who rely on AAC to initiate messages through the use of core and fringe vocabulary displays.

12:15 - 1:15 Lunch
1:15 - 2:30 General Session
"And Now, What's on Your Mind?"

During this session each speaker has up to 5 minutes to discuss their ideas on future collaboration, research, directions, etc. The audience will have 30 minutes for questions, comments and responses.

2:30 - 3:00 Summation:
Sarah Blackstone
Summation: What did you learn? What new information are you taking back to your job?

possible CEUs = 5.0

top of the page