(Editor's Note: Ruth Fuller, special education assistive technology specialist, submitted the following article.)
The Garden City Special Education Parent Teacher Association (SEPTA) sponsored hands-on training on iPad use as a communication tool for the district’s nine speech therapists and assistive technology specialist.
Tammy Taylor, a speech-language pathologist who appeared last fall in the “60 Minutes” news segment “Apps for Autism: Communicating on the iPad,” led the three-and-a-half hour training for speech therapists using the iPad as an augmentative communication device.
She provided the group with helpful tips and resources to maximize the use and effectiveness of the iPad in speech therapy and provided an in-depth review of two comprehensive communication apps, “Proloquo2Go” and “MyTalk Tools.” These apps were provided to the therapists prior to the workshop to ensure more valuable training.
Director of Pupil Personnel Services (PPS), Catherine Wheeler, in conjunction with SEPTA, developed the idea of an iPad pilot program for the speech therapists in the fall of 2011. By March, each of the district’s speech therapists was provided an iPad to use in their speech therapy work. Linda Caperna, the speech therapist at Locust School, explained she uses the iPad to support a variety of student needs including articulation, developing language concepts, and comprehension.
“I am using my iPad during all of my sessions,” she said. In a thank you letter to SEPTA, the speech therapists explained, “We spent the afternoon with Tammy Taylor learning about iPad equipment, use of assistive technology, and various apps. It was a fabulous training and Tammy couldn't have been more accommodating. We appreciate all that [SEPTA] does for the staff and the children, and look forward to incorporating our technology into the therapy sessions.”
SEPTA also donated money towards the purchase of more apps for speech therapy. Ruth Fuller, the special education assistive technology specialist, coordinated the event with PPS and SEPTA, and facilitated the setup of the iPads.
The district would like to acknowledge and thank SEPTA for supporting the purchase of iPads, iPad apps, and providing the speech therapists’ training.