Friday, 1 January 2016

I Can...use social media!

Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Pinterest, blogs, Instagram, Snapchat....a few years ago none of this social media even existed. Today you just cannot ignore that social media is widely recognized and used, across almost all ages in one form or another. For individuals who use AAC, access to social media can be an effective way to connect with the world!

Not sure what some of these terms refer to? Social Media is a sharing platform for users to connect with each other regardless of location in real time. Here's a brief introduction to Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest from the ASHA website, from Vicki Clarke, SLP:  "Where Social Media Meet AAC". 

Can Social Media help AAC users to Connect2Communicate ? Have a look at this short video to hear Gail Bennell's (SLP from Raising Nonverbal Children) thoughts on using social media.

Social media has opened up a new avenue for people all over the world to communicate.  

Janice Light and Jessica Caron tell us about how important it is to support those who use AAC to participate on the Internet, send and receive emails, use cell phones and to use social media. This contributes to full participation in society today.

We know that individuals who have a disability may use the Internet less than others. With the growing amount of interaction that occurs via social media, people who are not using the Internet at all can be missing out on opportunities to interact with others. 
Caron and Light conducted an online focus group with people who use AAC and social networking. They learned that using social media can help people who use AAC: 
  • connect with other individuals
  • maintain relationships
  • feel more typical (i.e. common way to communicate regardless of other abilities)
  • communicate more easily without the pressure of the 'speed' at which face to face conversations happen
  • gain independence (e.g. perhaps individuals may have needed help to stamp and mail a letter in the past but can now do the equivalent independently online)
  • get assistance (e.g. post a request for help, schedule personal assistants)
  • support employment (e.g. promote work, writers writing online)

Here are some ways to make the world of social media easier for our friends who use AAC:
  • introduce and encourage the development of literacy skills early!!!
  • provide support for setup of media accounts
  • support exploration so they'll know what they want to use social media for - this can help define which forum they use!
  • use programmable shortcuts on an AAC device to perform functions on the computer (e.g. here is a list of keyboard shortcuts that can be used with Facebook)
  • educate communication partners (e.g. have person using AAC tell partners "I type slowly")
  • support the development of the skills needed to communicate via social media (e.g. using universally accepted short forms like TTYL for 'Talk to you later' or K for 'okay') 
  • support individuals to learn how their devices interact with the preferred sites, how to navigate and safely use the sites and how to manage different media

For more details on what was learned from this online focus group, please refer to Jessica Caron & Janice Light (2015): “Social Media has Opened a World of ‘Open communication:’” Experiences of Adults with Cerebral Palsy who use Augmentative and Alternative Communication and Social Media, Augmentative and Alternative Communication, DOI: 10.3109/07434618.2015.1052887

Keeping it safe....
The same 'cyber dangers' exist for everyone and precautions must be taken to keep  information safe when using Social Networking. The National Cyber Security Alliance provides tips for staying safe while using social media online.

Where can I find out more?
Check out your local library or city programs for education sessions/workshops related to starting up with social media. For example, the London Public Library is offering
Computer Classes to learn how to setup and use Facebook and Twitter.

Social Media and Connectivity in AAC - On this webinar, Rebecca Bright (SLP) discusses the available social media options in current AAC apps. It talks about the benefits and challenges of the integration of mainstream social media into AAC apps on the iPad. 

What are some of the issues faced by those who use AAC and want to take advantage of the various social media networks available today? In October 2013, Lisa Lehmann presented a webinar on Social Media and People with Disabilities. As described on the ISAAC website:
"Lisa’s presentation covered topics unique to people who use AAC, such as symbol use in social media, and others – for example:

  • how to get started in social media (it might be helpful for some to have a “communication buddy” to act as administrator);
  • online safety (pay attention to privacy settings, build secure passwords, and learn how to block spam and cyberbullies);
  • time management (tip: link your accounts so that one post will appear on other social media sites simultaneously)."

Upcoming Events:

For those who have experienced the joy of being on stage with the Original Kids and TVCC's Setting the Stage and On with the Show: Original Kids are celebrating their 25th anniversary! Anyone who has previously been involved with Original Kids is invited to participate in the celebrations at the Anniversary Reunion on February 13th 2016. Check out the details and find information about purchasing tickets here.

Hold the date! 
Open your 2016 calendar and put a big circle around the dates for week of August 29th - September 2nd! End your summer on a high note, with Setting the Stage and On with the Show. These half day theatre camps are a collaboration between TVCC and Original Kids for children and youth who use speech generating devices. More information to come in Spring 2016.

We're All Stars!
Tuesday February 23rd, 2016
Details to follow - check the TVCC website!

The We’re All Stars celebration brings together the young stars of Thames Valley Children’s Centre with the stars of sport for a day filled with fun, smiles and inspiring stories. TVCC school age children (ten and over) have the opportunity to participate in this daytime pre-event to the Rogers Sports Celebrity Dinner and Auction.

There will be a pizza lunch, entertainment, games and a chance to meet and greet sports celebrities during a special autograph session. But, the true stars of the day are the kids! Inspiring presentations and All About Me displays will celebrate the accomplishments and achievements of the amazing children, who with the help of TVCC, are moving beyond disability and reaching for their dreams.

ISAAC 2016 Toronto - Bringing Us Together

The ISAAC 17th Biennial Conference of the International Society for Augmetative and Alternative Communication, ISAAC 2016 will be held at the Westin Harbour Castle hotel in Toronto, Canada on August 6-13, 2016. Join us for keynotes, exhibits, workshops, social events, seminars, and the Research Symposium. 
AAC Day Camps
Also a part of this year's conference are AAC Camps that will offer a “day camp” experience for participants of all ages who use AAC. Earlybird pricing available until Mar 31, 2016.


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