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ACS Workshops Descriptions

The ACS Team offers workshops to families, caregivers, school staff and others who work with and support individuals with face to face communication needs. Read the brief descriptions here, followed by more detailed descriptions below.

KidsAbility Family Education Workshops





  • Beyond Requesting – Next Steps                                             Click here for Slides                
      • Using a speech generating device to expand communication

  • Using Your Speech Generating Device (SGD) - Success Through Aided Language              

  • How to Introduce Switches and Computers in Play for Young Children with Disabilities
    • Switches and computers to enhance leisure and social play


Detailed Descriptions 


Adaptations to Support Shared Reading (VIDEO) –Emergent Communicators and Context Dependent Communicators (VIDEO)

Developing literacy skills is a focus for every child.  Literacy skills include learning how to hold a book, learning how to turn pages, learning that a book has a beginning and ending, learning to attend to a book the whole way through and learning that print has meaning – it’s not just about learning how to read. In this workshop you will learn strategies and ideas for choosing appropriate books for your child and adapting books to help them attend and focus, turn pages more easily and participate in reading books together!  

Developing and Using Conversation Books (VIDEO)- All Types of Communicators

People who are non-verbal have difficulty sharing information and developing social closeness with others – pictures can help!!  Conversation books are a creative way to share social information that is important to that individual (i.e. favourite toys, accomplishments, family trips and experiences, sporting events etc.).  This workshop will provide advice and examples so that you can create a Conversation Book for your child or client.  


Visual Strategies for Communication (VIDEO) – All Types of Communicators

Understanding is the basis of successful communication, but children with a variety of needs may have difficulty attending to or processing auditory input which makes it difficult to understand instructions, expectations, routines or rules.  Visual strategies or tools provide a permanent message which exists for the length of time that it takes to process information.  Visual strategies improve the communication process by helping to establish and maintain attention, clarify verbal information, understand events in a structured and sequential form and understand the expectations during specific situations.  This workshop will focus on helping you design visual strategies for you to use with your child /client to support their understanding.


Supporting Early Communication – Emergent Communicator

Young children with a disability often miss out on early experiences needed to develop communication and play skills.  This can be compounded by distraction and attention difficulties.  These clients often need lots of practice and cueing to learn to attend to the task at hand and participate in an activity rather than passively observing.  
This workshop will provide some introductory information on how to motivate a child to attend, how to focus on developing joint attention and how to prompt or cue a child to take turns within an activity.  How to introduce pictures to facilitate communication will also be discussed.  


Using a Speech Generating Device Functionally – Emergent Communicator and Context Dependent Communicator

By using a Speech Generating Device (SGD), the child/client learns to understand its function in interactive communication with others.  For clients who are using SGD’s, it is important to design activities in which they have lots of practice.  This workshop focuses on developing activities that provide the child/client with a social/verbal role in the activity so that this practice with the SGD can be more natural.  Cueing, activities based on participation and sample activities will be discussed and demonstrated.


Vocabulary Selection and Designing Overlays – Context Dependent Communicator and Independent Communicator

Speech generating communication devices have either a dynamic screen or a paper overlay.  The set up of a screen or overlay can affect the success of an interaction since it is the vocabulary/sentences/pictures that correspond to the recorded message(s) in the device.  Choosing appropriate vocabulary is important to address different goals (i.e. initiating a conversation, greeting others, sharing information, sequencing skills etc.).  As well, determining when to use core vocabulary vs. activity specific vocabulary is important.  In this workshop you will learn some options (i.e. vocabulary selection, use of colour, arrangement etc.) to consider to create more successful overlays.


Beyond Requesting…Next Steps – Context Dependent Communicator and Independent Communicator

Requesting is a good, concrete beginning step in learning how to use a Speech Generating Device (SGD) to communicate more intentionally.  However, in addition to making requests it is important to consider that people use communication for a variety of reasons or “functions”,  for example to express needs and wants, to share information, to ask questions, in social rituals etc.. To expand a person’s skill set in using their SGD beyond requesting these other functions of communication need to be promoted and practiced.  
This workshop will provide a framework for how to identify important communication skills and set long and short term goals to target different functions of communication .  You will learn how to implement “RPM-Go”.  R=Rehearsal, P=Practice and M=Modeling; three essential components to “Go” forward in using an SGD to communicate effectively.


Using Your Speech Generating Device…Success Through Aided Language – All Types of Communicators

Typically developing children hear words before they can talk and learn to say words as they develop.  Children who are unable to speak functionally hear the same verbal models but are unable to produce speech – alternative systems that we may use are often symbol and/or word based.  We need to model the USE of the symbols and SHOW them how to communicate using the symbols – that’s what Aided Language is all about!  This workshop will explore Aided Language through discussion, video clips, demonstration and practice.  You will learn the basics and importance of using Aided Language when communicating in everyday situations with people who are learning how to use their Speech Generating System (SGD).  


How to Introduce Switches and Computers in Play with Young Children with Disabilities – Emergent Communicators with a Physical Disability

Young children with a disability are often restricted in their ability to play, communicate and move; assistive technology can provide unique opportunities for children to interact with and control their environment.

This workshop will provide some helpful information to assist parents and caregivers in introducing some simple switch games and computer activities to promote self-generated, active engagement that will develop early cause/effect skills that may over time extend into more advanced computer access skills.
Switch operated toys and simple software that can be activated with a single mouse click, switch or touch screen will be demonstrated and resources provided.