Wednesday, 1 December 2010

I can...make a difference!

Our gift to you this holiday season…a newsletter filled with ideas for how you can make a difference. You can give back in so many different ways. Just find the one that works for you! Happy Holidays from ACS!

Organize it!
Create a seasonal “caring” page on your child’s speech generating device, related to a class or neighborhood project. Help coordinate a food drive or toy/gift drive in your classroom or youth group by using your speech-generating device to ask for donations. Check with your local food bank, radio station, church etc. for ways you can help. You can also clear out your bookshelf or clothes closet at home - organize a book/clothing trade with your friends or classmates, then donate the remainder to Goodwill (your parents will also be happy that you cleaned your room!)

Write it!
Get out your paper, pencil, keyboard or switches and start writing… Set up templates in software for  “error-free” note writing, including an introduction, content and ending (e.g. in Classroom Suite, Communicate:SymWriter). Or, use Post-It notes for quick and easy content selection. Write word/phrase choices (“Dear Mom”/“Dear Santa”/“Dear Grandpa”) on notes and support your students to select their choices and write the note.
Practice letter-writing skills with a note to Santa. Younger students can work on wish lists. Older students can be “Santa’s helpers” responding to the letters. Write a note to surprise someone. Tell your crossing guard how much you appreciate their help. Give a thank you note to that lady at the library who helps you check out your books. Add photos to your message, e.g. Say it with a Wordle! Create beautiful word clouds to give to a friend or family member. Use as a card or print onto a t-shirt, mug, mouse pad etc. Don’t forget your thank-you letters. A thank you note doesn’t have to be long, just heartfelt. Send by e-mail, or snail mail…everyone loves to get something that’s not a bill in the mail!

Say it!
Surprise someone (nurse, teacher, secretary, etc.) with a personal message on an SGD to thank them for their support or help this year. Pick someone your child doesn’t typically “talk” to, so that they can experience how powerful augmentative communication can be.

Join it!
“Kilometres For Communication” is a national campaign to raise awareness about AAC and to raise money for AAC supports, technology and opportunities.   Two brothers (one who uses AAC) and their mother will cycle across Canada to meet with alternative communicators, change attitudes and raise funds.  Visit their website where you can share your AAC story with others, donate, or ride along.

Little Bytes:
  • Give your time… Make a point of giving that extra time that a person who uses AAC needs.  It often takes considerably longer for a person using AAC to respond or to generate a message. Take the time to learn how that person uses their communication system.
  • Check the TVCC website for information about volunteering, donating and participating.
No Tech Ideas:

  • Use one of your talents to make a little gift for someone (e.g. decorate a container to hold some favorite things, make some flowers with pipe cleaner to brighten up a winter day). Students who use AAC can help by picking the colours, fabrics, pictures etc. to be used in the project. Hold up the items for choice making or use a communication display.
Light Tech Ideas

  • There’s no end to the different types of items that you can collect and donate to a worthy cause: used printer ink cartridges, pop can tabs, stamps, milk bags, etc. Check at your local church, school or youth group to see what people are asking for. Organize a class project to collect items. Have your students who use single message or simple speech generating devices visit classrooms across the school to introduce the project and to give the details.
High Tech Ideas

  • Follow up your class project with a presentation: have your students research what happens to those items that are collected  - how do milk bags turn into sleeping mats? How do pop can tabs transform into wheelchairs? Present the information so that people know that they have contributed and made a difference. A student may make the presentation on an SGD, or perhaps use their writing system to create a display.
I Can…be a Star!
Karli Steen captured the attention of London Free Press readers with her Letter to the Editor on Oct 13/10. She uses Dragon Naturally Speaking voice recognition software for this type of writing as well as her academic writing at Fanshawe College – Way to go Karli!

Free gifts from ISAAC Canada!
1.      FREE Connecting to Communities DVD & Guide to people who use AAC or their family members with their 2011 membership. First come first served, while supplies last. 
2.      $20 off new membership when you renew with a new member.
Contact Kelli Vessoyan for more info.
Ask for a ticket to the Sports Celebrity Dinner for Christmas and hang out with the sports stars… proceeds will make a difference for clients at TVCC! We’re all Stars is an annual daytime celebration for school age clients for the event available through schools. Clients are encouraged to showcase themselves on an All About Me Board during the event.  See information attached.

  • Access 2 Entertainment program: through this program, people with disabilities who require a support person carry a personal Access 2 Entertainment card with them. The card provides free admission (or a substantial discount) for the support person at all participating entertainment venues.
  • Connecting to Communities: make your voice heard! If you are 15 years or older, have a communication disability and use AAC, join the new online ACCPC discussion forum to talk about the barriers you face when accessing businesses and services in your community.