Tuesday, 5 April 2016

I Can....create with Boardmaker!!!

Boardmaker is a library of standardized picture symbols (Picture Communication Symbols or PCS) that is widely used across Canada and the rest of the world. Although it is just one of the many symbol systems available these days, it is very familiar in our schools and homes and there are many pre-made boards and resources available, if you know where to find them. If you are looking for information about Boardmaker, how to use it, where to find it and how to search out boards that you can use right away, read on!

Which Boardmaker?
Not sure about the differences between the different Boardmaker products? Versions and names of products have changed over the years, which can make things a little confusing. Mayer Johnson has a tool to help you discover which Boardmaker software is right for you.

Boardmaker software allows you to create, modify and print paper based communication boards.  

Boardmaker Plus! allows you to create boards and activities to print on paper or play on a computer. 

Boardmaker with Speaking Dynamically Pro allows you to create boards and activities with speech output. 

Boardmaker Studio
Create professional looking boards and activities faster and easier using pre-programmed tools and 100's of pre-made templates in every instructional area.

Boardmaker Online
Boardmaker Online is a complete system for delivering personalized instruction and therapy while also measuring student progress. All boards and activities created in Boardmaker Online can be accessed from the Internet anywhere. A yearly subscription fee is payable for unlimited use. 

If you want to explore Boardmaker Online a little more before subscribing, there is a free 30 day trial available – choose either a personal or professional plan. A Boardmaker Online Personal account allows a parent or instructor to upload, find, or create activities and put them in a playlist for one child / student to access through the web or an iPad. A Boardmaker Online Professional account allows a single instructor to upload, find, or create activities and assign them to individual students, each with their own login and IEP goals.

PCS Collections
Check out the different styles of PCS symbols that can enhance the core collection of Classic PCS. Choose between Thin Line, Persona or High Contrast symbols to add thousands of new symbols to your library. 

Where can I find the software? 
If you don't own the Boardmaker software, there may be places in your community where you can go to try making boards, sometimes for a small cost and sometimes for free. If you are not sure where to find Boardmaker in your community, first ask your Speech Language Pathologist or AAC therapist if they can point you in the right direction. 
In London, Ontario, Boardmaker is available to families whose children are clients of the Thames Valley Children's Centre, located in the Resource Library on the first floor, across from reception. A computer with Boardmaker software, a colour printer and laminator are available for use. 
Or contact Child Reach at 265 Maitland Street London (tel: 519-434-3644), where access to the Resource Centre and toy centre is available for an annual membership fee of $35 per year or $5 guest pass per visit.

How do I use the software? 
Boardmaker Basics: 

Can’t remember how to paste multiple symbols or how to make the background of your cell blue in Boardmaker v.6? Here’s a cheatsheet outlining the basics, taken from the TVCC workshop. It may just provide you with a handy reminder of how to create or adapt boards for your child. 

Mayer Johnson has product manuals for Boardmaker v. 6, Boardmaker Plus Player and Boardmaker Studio here.

I don't have time to make all the boards that I need!! Where can I find pre-made activities?

Boardmaker Community

Free community account within Boardmaker Online. 
Search for pre-made activities by category, grade level, activity type (interactive or print), version and more. Preview the activities and read a description about  the activity's intended use.

Where else?
If you are looking for resources to save you time and to give you some great ideas about how to use Boardmaker, here’s a great collection of links put together by Glenda on the blog Glenda’s Assistive Technology Information and More…This blog entry, entitled Boardmaker and other Picture Symbol Resources has links to information specifically related to Boardmaker, plus lots of links to boards that can be printed out and used right away (many in PDF format so you don't even need Boardmaker software).

The Teaching Learners with Multiple Special Needs blog has another list of websites where Boardmaker boards can be found.

Visit the Online Training atTobii Dynavox and select Boardmaker Software Family under the drop down menu to find dozens of archived Webinars related to Boardmaker. These recorded sessions range from 45 minutes to 1 hour in length and cover a wide range of topics related to Boardmaker from programming within the software to activity ideas that have worked for others. 

pictureSET is SET-BC’s collection of downloadable visual supports that can be used by students for both receptive and expressive communication in the classroom, at home, and in the community. The searchable database can be used to find a wide range of useful visual supports for different curriculum areas, activities and events, many of which have been created in Boardmaker. If you have access to Boardmaker, you will be able to modify/personalize these as needed.  If you don’t have access to Boardmaker, you can still print out the PDF version of the board (without making any changes).

Bliss, Widget Symbols, Symbol Stix, Pixons...
As we mentioned earlier, there are many other symbol sets available. Here is an overview of some of them:

Upcoming events:

Live and coming this week! April 7 2016
Are you a long-time Boardmaker user? Do you feel uncertain using Boardmaker Online? In this session we’ll make you FAST using Boardmaker Online, and show you at least 10 things you didn’t know. Come with your questions and leave a Boardmaker Online pro! The special guest presenter will be the Boardmaker Online Product Manager, Bob Geenan.

Setting the Stage and On With the Show - Registration now open and filling fast! 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. This year the $100 registration fee has been generously paid by Children's Health Foundation for each participant! Check the website for more information or talk to your ACS clinician.

ISAAC 2016 Toronto - Bringing Us Together 
The ISAAC 17th Biennial Conference of the International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 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.

Also a part of this year's conference are AAC Camps that  offer a “day camp” experience for participants of all ages who use AAC. Campers and their families will have the opportunity to socialize during a variety of recreational activities leading up to the conference. Earlybird pricing available until May 20, 2016 so register soon!!!. Each camper under the age of 19 must at all times be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian in order to participate in AAC Camp activities. Space is limited so register early to reserve your spot. Additional family members are welcome to attend some of the camps at an extra cost per activity.

A Morning on Centre Island, Saturday August 6, 9:30–12:30

Ages 3 – 13, Cost $60 ($50 Early Bird Registration)
It’s a short trip on the accessible Toronto Island Ferry across Lake Ontario to Centre Island. Spend the morning exploring Far Enough Farm and Centreville Amusement Park. Campers will participate in games and activities guiding them around the area. Far Enough Farm is home to over 40 different species of farmyard animals and exotic birds.

Dealing with Stupid Situations, Saturday August 6, 9:30–12:30 
Ages 13 +, Cost $60 ($50 Early Bird Registration)
Do you ever come across someone who just does not understand how to communicate with you? They may yell, speak slowly, talk about you like you are not in the room, or just assume you do not understand. You are the best teacher when it comes to educating people about how to communicate with you. This camp will focus on sharing what has worked and not worked when communicating with people you do not know. You will participate in role playing some silly and serious scenarios that you or your peers may have experienced. We will also have time to talk about them and create a poster listing our best strategies to share with all conference participants. This workshop will take place at the Westin Harbour Castle Hotel.

Explore the “Ark”, Saturday August 6, 2:00–5:00 
All ages, Cost $60 ($50 early bird registration)
Take a walk on the wild side and join us for this interactive animal adventure. Be greeted by your favourite animals from Madagascar, Africa, and Australia. Your camp experience will include a presentation about approximately 24 different animals and participants will have a chance to interact with the animals, take photos, and ask questions. This camp will take place at the Westin Harbour Castle Hotel.

Engaging Possibilities Drama Workshops, Sunday August 7th 2016, 9:30–5:00  

Ages 14+, Cost $180 ($160 early bird registration)
The Engaging Possibilities workshop is constructed as a journey. First we do exercises to help with relaxation, building comfort levels, and creating a sense of inclusion. Energy and visioning exercises will follow, to expand imagination and visualize worlds together. We will bring alive environments using fabric, and be part of creating and acting in a story as it emerges. This camp will take place at the Westin Harbour Castle Hotel.

Ripley’s Aquarium
Sunday August 7, 9:30–12:30 
Aquarium of Canada
All ages, Cost $60 ($50 early bird registration). Join us for a fun morning exploring one of Toronto’s newest attractions, Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, featuring underwater creatures and habitats from across the globe, including a shark tank that you can view on the moving sidewalk. Campers will participate in a guided tour of the venue, pet a stingray, take part in our scavenger hunt, and explore the dangerous lagoon under glass. At the end each camper will receive a Ripley’s souvenir booklet. The aquarium has accessible washrooms, walk ways, and a cafeteria. Best of all, this venue is only one kilometre away (approx. 12 minute walk/wheel) by fairly smooth sidewalks from the Westin Harbour Castle Hotel.

Who Are Your Heroes? Sunday August 7, 2:00–5:00,   
Ages 13+, Cost $60 ($50 early bird registration)
Many great people in the world use AAC. Let’s spend some time celebrating them. Who do you look up to? Who makes you want to be a better person? Who is someone that makes a difference in your life? This camp will start with a presentation by a hero in our community. The rest of the camp will focus on sharing our heroes, who they are, why we love them, and how we can be more like them. This workshop will take place at the Westin Harbour Castle Hotel.