Anand Written by August 29

TalkingTiles 3.0 opens up new features and capabilities that support assistive care in health and education. With enhanced customization features, rich symbol and voice libraries, the productivity of remote programming and collaboration and the ability to run on most mobile device platforms and computers makes TalkingTiles a powerful tool for individuals, families and professionals.

Click to see how TalkingTiles helps in the following specific areas:

 

Here’s an overview of just a few of the new features. :

 

The Library
We’ve added a set of ready made sample pages that will introduce you to the new features in 3.0 easily and conveniently. Once you install the app click YES to download the sample pages and you will be able to explore all all them from within TalkingTiles!

 

Custom Page Layouts

Change the number of tiles and their size on the page. Create large tiles for easy navigation and touch or show only the number of tiles you need.

 

Tiles Size, Color and Spacing
Change the tile size including the placement of the image and word in the tile for improved visual placement. Changing the color and spacing between tiles enables users to design pages for accessibility and color coding.

 

 

Speech Bar - On or Off
TalkingTiles is being used for more than AAC Communication when it’s being used for learning, visual schedules and daily living assistance. In these scenarios there isn’t a need for a Speech Bar so you now have the optionn to turn this feature on or off.

 

True Multilanguage Support
TalkingTiles can now save special characters including language character sets (such as accents, Chinese, and Japanese characters) that will speak accurately and with the right pronunciation for over 40 different languages. Check out our languages folder for ready-made language pages in our Public Library.


 

Expanded Ready-Made Content
Many users expressed their appreciation of our Public Library so we added new content and organized them under meaningful folders for quick access. We currently have over 100 ready-made pages in the library and regularly adding more.

 

Advanced Color Settings
We’ve added a number of advanced color settings that can be applied at the page level and tile level. This allows users to create rich and effective color themes that can be used for accessibility and/or color coding vocabulary and options. The possibilities are endless!

 

Contact us to share your feedback and your stories on how TalkingTiles is helping you!

All the best!

Rini @ Mozzaz

 

 

 

Anand Written by August 29

With TalkingTiles 2.0 hot off the presses, it’s a great time to examine how the new features of TalkingTiles work with the Mozzaz Cloud Service. To be clear, TalkingTiles can be downloaded and used for free without a subscription to Mozzaz Cloud services. However, there are a number of added value features and capabilities you receive when you subscribe to one of our Mozzaz Cloud service plans that will save you a lot of time, convenience and expands your programming options. New Mozzaz accounts will have 15 days free access to Mozzaz Cloud services to try out these features and learn more about them.

Why the Mozzaz Cloud?
Through the Mozzaz Cloud service an individual’s care team (therapists, teachers, family members and other care support workers) can create treatment plans, share content and review notes all within TalkingTiles running on their own device or computer for that particular individual. You are truly creating a collaborative care environment across the individual’s care team resulting in effective timely care.

 

Benefits of Mozzaz Cloud Services:

Run on More Than One DeviceThrough one Mozzaz Cloud subscription, you can run your version of TalkingTiles on any number and any type of device, such as computers, tablets and smartphones. Create your content once and share it across any number of devices. [Learn More]
Add Members to your Care TeamYou can add or remove people from your specific care team. Members of your care team will be able to share content, add content and collaborate with other members of the care team all remotely from their own device or computer. [Learn More]
Public Library of Ready-Made ContentGain access to over 100 ready-made pages (and growing) of TalkingTiles content organized under different categories. This will help you get started with content programming that can be personalized to the individual’s need. [Learn More]
Largest Collection of Symbol & Word CatalogueCurrently we have 6 of the most popular and standard symbol picture / word catalogues in Mozzaz Cloud. That’s over 50,000 symbols and words readily available for you to use. Catalogues include: SymbolStix, Widgit, Bliss, Sclera, Mulberry and Pictograms. [Learn More]
Largest Collection of Voices & LanguagesThrough Mozzaz Cloud we offer one of the largest voice output libraries available with over 40 different languages with close to 100 different voices. With support for non-English characters we offer true multi-lingual support including different languages on the same page.[Learn More]
Secure Backup & RetrievalSafely backup your content to your Mozzaz Cloud folder and have it readily available from any device you log in through. This is especially useful for malfunctioning or broken devices where the content will never be lost. [Learn More]

Feature Comparison:

FEATURESFREESUBSCRIPTION
Create pagesYY
Create tilesYY
Take picturesYY
Download picturesYY
Tile-to-page linkingYY
Tile and page color codingYY
Access to 30 built-in symbolsYY
Record your own audioYY
Device Voice Output (Text-To-Speech)YY
Collaborate with your support team Y
Secure cloud backup & restore Y
Secure cloud backup & restore Y
Publish pages to the public & other cloud folders Y
Access multiple voice engines (40+ voices) Y
Access multiple symbol libraries (SymbolStix, Widgit, Bliss, etc) Y
Share content across multiple devices Y
Remote programming & sync from any device Y
Add/remove support team members Y
Manage multiple client accounts Y
Add notes and comments per page Y
View client account information Y
Flexible subscription pricing Y
Access to technical & product support teams  Y

Mozzaz Cloud services greatly expands the capabilities and features of TalkingTiles that will help in delivering timely, convenient and effective care for individuals.

All the best – Team Mozzaz!

 

 

Anand Written by August 29

AAC Awareness Month is here. But what does it really mean? AAC – Augmentative and Alternative Communication – is relied upon by people all around the world. Those who struggle to verbally communicate must find alternative ways to express themselves. Whether it is through body language, paper and pen, gesturing, paper images placed on boards, people are always creatively coming up with new and effective ways to communicate.

TalkingTiles was first created as an AAC app (though now it’s so much more!). Who is using TalkingTiles? Researchers, therapists, educators, parents of children with special needs, and assistive technology teams. So when we say AAC awareness, we should be giving notice to the people who need AAC and the people who dedicate themselves to helping those who need it.

 

 

 

 

Anand Written by August 29

We communicate with each other because we want to ask for what we want, reject what we don’t want, comment on what we see, tell stories, complain, ask and answer questions, and more. However, students who are in need of communication supports are often provided with insufficient vocabularies. To help your students gain a meaningful core vocabulary, there are multiple ways that you can implement strategies into the classroom setting using an AAC device.

  • Request/choice making
  • Visual schedules
  • Information transformer

Request/Choice Making

Request or choice making gives the student the opportunity to express what they want or need, and to help them creatively find ways to say things differently. Begin by using objects that are of interest to the student to help increase meaningful communication and be sure to identify your target language with core words. Examples would be playing card games like Go Fish or Uno – how many ways can you think of using beyond “I, you, it, give, have, not”? Another idea is to create/discuss errands. If someone is delivering the mail, they would use “I” and “give” – have your student think of other ways to effectively deliver the mail with their core vocabulary.

Visual Schedules

Creating visual schedules can aid students in understanding the structure and parameters of the day, Visual schedules imagecan assist with directions for activities, and supports teaching multiple concepts.

You can lay out your visual schedules in a variety of ways. A vertical layout is good for lists and schedules, horizontal is good for directions, while a ring is a different way to show one activity at a time. Assistive Care apps like TalkingTiles allows you to customize the layout of each page, giving you the opportunity to create different kinds of visual schedules for different purposes.

When using visual schedules, you can review the items as you go using time order words or phrases to indicate the activity has passed. For example “First math, next spelling, last break time” or “Math is finished, now spelling, next break time.”

Information Transfer

Early communicators often talk about people, objects, and events as a way to transfer information. Events can include human interactions, can be talked about using a variety of words, and can allow the AAC user to reflect internally. When the events are meaningful and related to the person, it helps to increase interaction and language use.

Core words helps the communication exchange by allowing them to be used to describe events with a communication partner helping to produce novel, generative language.

An example of how to use information transfer is by creating Experience Pages on TalkingTiles. You can use symbol images from the symbol libraries, or you can use real photos – such as a photo of a movie stub or restaurant napkin, or even a picture of a person who was there – to help show what was involved in the experience. This helps to engage the student into a conversation as you can ask about each item shown, prompting them to reply. When using this strategy, be sure to follow along at the student’s level of understanding.

As your student’s ability with Core Vocabulary increases, you will find more ways to directly your student in expressing and using language. What ways have you found to be effective?

Reference: Material for this blog post was extracted from Understanding, Implementing, and Communicating with Core Vocabulary by D. Anderson and K. Bittner, August 2013.

 

 

Anand Written by August 29

Successful implementation of using assistive technology with students requires more than just handing over the device. It can be a complex process that takes several years before it is fully adopted. The process is not dependent on the tool alone, but on the process and people who are involved. Successful implementation is collaborative, systematic, recursive, flexible, and based on the student’s learning goals and needs. It is a team effort from the educator, therapist, parent, caregiver, and student. All of those involved must understand the tool and the needs of the student.

In order to be effective, the care team must spend time evaluating and training with the selected tool. Following this, planning how the tool will be used in regards to the students learning and therapy plan prior to having the student use the tool will help the student more readily adopt it. Support from other teachers, educators, school administration and staff, therapists, family members and caregivers is vital – each individual or group is vital in the process. School administration and staff approve the use and training of the tool, educators and therapists must all freely exchange information and provide updates, and the families and caregivers must understand how to use the tool to continue its use at home and outside of the school setting.

The student’s individual preferences and learning needs contribute to the success of the assistive technology intervention. Students should be given the opportunity to evaluate AT tools to determine which is the best fit for them – studies show that students who have not participated in an evaluation process are more likely to abandon technology that does not meet their requirements. Once students begin using their selected tool, it is important to monitor their development and learning environment. Doing so will help their care team make any needed adjustments to the learning and therapy plan that is associated with the tool being used.

What exactly is involved in an effective assistive technology implantation plan?

    • Gathering information: collect and gather relevant information that will be used to identify specific IEP goals that will be supported by technology

  • Establish IEP goals: look at the IEP goals and the strategies for outcome evaluation
  • Conduct AT trial: explore different options to determine the correct tool
  • Identify AT solution: based on the information gathered through assessments and trials, establish IEP goals, select the most appropriate tool
  • Develop the implementation plan: work collaboratively with the team to create a plan that includes set up and configuration, team and student training, integration of the technology into the student’s daily program, and assessment tools that will be used to determine effectiveness
  • Adapt lessons for AT integration: daily lesson plans are to be adapted to work with the tool to meet learning goals
  • Follow up and plan transition: conduct frequent reviews to ensure effectiveness, make plans for further adaptions if needed, and create a transition plan to allow the student to take the tool with them without interruption from one class to another

What have you found to be effective strategies in implementing assistive technology tools with your students and clients?

Reference:

http://www.setbc.org/setbc/topics/effective_implementation_of_assistive_technology .html

 

 

 

Anand Written by August 29

When a verbal child speaks, we hear the sweet youthful sound of their voice. When a child relies on an AAC tool for communication to do the talking for them, often the voice we hear is that of an adult – a voice they may not identify with. TalkingTiles wanted to give children the opportunity to tell their stories in voices that are age appropriate.

TalkingTiles’ recent addition of Acapela to our speech engine library means that children can now select voices that are better suited to them.

Children’s voices include:

English UK
  • Harry – Child
English USA
  • Ella – Child
  • Josh – Child
  • Kenny – Child
  • Nelly – Child

Communicating in a voice that resonates with both themselves and their peers will help to create inclusive learning environments for children who use assistive technologies like TalkingTiles, and will add to the development of communication and social skills. Gone are the days of computerized synthetic voices, thanks to Acapela’s natural sounding voices.

As stated on Acapela’s website, these voices are made by children for children. Acapela is the first in their industry to be able to provide kids with a voice that resembles their own. Users with specific needs have driven the innovation to change the lives of youngsters who require AAC.

The diverse options of Text-to-Speech engines shows the adaptability of TalkingTiles as one that is appropriate for both children and adults. All in all, there are over 150 voices and languages for users to pick from.

To select a child’s voice as your default TTS option, enter the Device Settings function when you are in the edit mode, followed by TTS Settings. From the dropdown list of TTS engines, select Acapela. From the languages option select either English – American, or English – UK. Under voices you can then choose the male or female options.

Remember! When you change your TTS settings, the changes are applied to tiles and pages made going forward, they will not be applied to tiles and pages you’ve already created.

Just for the fun of it, kids can even pick the Queen of England’s voice!

 

 

Anand Written by August 29

Can one simple customization totally change the way you use TalkingTiles? It sure can! TalkingTiles’ ability to customize the menu bar makes it easier and more functional for different purposes. We’ve created two types of menu bars: one with a speech bar that can replay the tiles you’ve selected, which is a good feature for communication or AAC apps; and one that does not have the speech bar feature, which can be used in non-AAC type of pages such as visual schedules, learning games, picture/word charts etc. Just like a page, you can add rows and columns, colour schemes, and change the layout of your menu.

Each button within the menu bar is just like a tile on a page – and you edit it the same way! You can adjust the tile size, layout, color, font and action of the button. To start making edits to your menu bar, click on your ‘Select Page’ button while in the edit mode. You’ll see two pages for your menu – Speech On and Speech Off. When you click on either of these you’ll see your menu bar as a page. Begin editing just as you would edit a page.

The flexibility in creating custom pages and menus expands the way TalkingTiles can be used in various assistive care settings. Here are few examples:

Communication board without Speech Bar

This page has been created as a food selection page. The typical menu bar has been customized to lead the user to other food selection items. The menu bar can be placed at the top of your page; or the bottom, as shown here.

Hospital Pain Chart

Charts such as this can be created for users to provide information to their doctors or care givers. The menu bar has buttons that provide detail on the pain level. Menu buttons can be linked to other pages that can lead into more information giving.

Learning Games

Create a variety of learning games, from math to spelling, from matching to memory games, you can create and customize how you want. Use the menu bar to create links to other games, to lead the user to progressively harder games, or to let them repeat the current page.

Multilingual Pages

TalkingTiles offers over 150 different voices and languages. Combined with it’s ability to recognize special characters, users can create pages in different languages.  You can use it as a tool to learn another language; as shown in the image here, or you can create pages with menu bars that are all in one language.

Using TalkingTiles on your phone? Menu customization can help make navigation and user experience that much better!

Reduce the tiles in your menu bar to see more of the tiles on your page, or even maximize your menu buttons and feature a single tile. You can shift and change to whatever you need!

How have you been customizing your menu bar?

 

 

 

Anand Written by August 29

A tile can do more than talk. It can be a gateway to an interactive experience within TalkingTiles. Users have the option to link their tiles to multiple actions: link to webpages, images, other TalkingTiles pages, and even to an app action.

Creating an interactive experience for users can help to better engage, better communicate, and even better socialize.

What can you do?

Create Games:

By linking tiles between pages, you can foster education and learning by creating matching games, spelling games, flash card games, and more. When a tile with the correct answer is tapped, you can have a reinforcing “Good Job!” image that pops up in response.

Link Bilingual Learning Pages:

Maybe you live in a bilingual home or community. Mastering one language can be tough enough, but imagine two! You can making mirroring pages in different languages and link them together. For example, a conversation starter page in English with a tile that will link you through to a conversation starter page in French. You can even have 2 tiles on the same page in different languages.

Social Activity Page:

What are your favourite activities? Going to the movies, eating out, play groups, going to the park, ice skating? Whatever you like to do, you can create a page where each tile represents an activity. If you are going to create a tile for the movies, why not link it to the local theatre listings? Eating out? Link the tile to another page that has a list of restaurants on it, and each restaurant tile links to the restaurant menu webpage. Play groups? Link out to a calendar of events to the local community centre or development centre. The park? Why not link it to a website of the weather report?

 

Funny Page:

A little sense of humour goes a long way! Why not create a page to make people laugh? Have a joke you want to tell? Use two tiles to record someone telling the joke – the first tile can deliver the joke, while the second tile delivers the punch line. Link tiles through to humourous YouTube clips or to joke websites. Found a funny image? Link your tile to the saved image on your device so when you click the tile the image appears larger.

Tell us about the ways you are making TalkingTiles interactive!

 

 

 

Anand Written by August 29

We weren’t just blown away by the wind in Chicago, we were blown away by all the great ideas for apps that SLPs shared with us at ASHA. The best part of their app ideas? The unique flexibility of TalkingTiles means that many of those ideas can actually be created within our app, making TalkingTiles perform like multiple apps all rolled into one. With the new version of TalkingTiles, creating interactive pages and tiles is now possible. Refer to the blog “Getting Creative with Interactive Tiles” to learn more.

Do you want to create an app for visual schedules? Done! An app that can sing the national anthem? Done! How about a bilingual app? Done!

This is why we call it the all-in-one app.

Creating visual schedules:

  • List view or tile-by-tile view: list out your tasks in a list view by reducing the number of columns and increasing the number of rows. Alternatively, use the link-to feature to allow you to show a single tile, and upon completion of the task, you will be brought to the next tile when you click on it.
  • Speech bar and audio – on or off: you have the option to utilize the speech bar and audio to hear each task announced, or you can disable the speech bar and audio functions.
  • Text, image, or both: you can tailor every tile just the way you want it. Your tiles can appear with just text on them, just an image, or both.

Create a tile that links to the national anthem:

Just because someone can’t sing aloud on their own, doesn’t mean they can’t participate. Linking a tile to a website, such as YouTube is easy. After locating the appropriate YouTube video (or other site), copy the URL. When you are creating your Anthem tile, select “website” from the Tile Action dropdown selection. Paste in the URL and you are set! Once your tile is saved, when you click on your Anthem tile, the video clip will open and start playing.

Create a bilingual page:

Communication in two languages is not always the easiest task, particularly when you are relying on a device to do it for you. Luckily TalkingTiles offers over 150 voices and languages to pick from – and you can pick as many as you want! By customizing the Text-To-Speech option at the tile level, you can create a page that utilizes more than one language or voice. For example, you can create a single page that has 12 tiles in English, and 12 tiles in French. It’s as easy as that!

What ideas do you have for an assistive care app? Want to know if you can make it in TalkingTiles? Contact our team to find out!

 

 

 

 

Anand Written by August 29

 

Giving is not a leap of faith, it’s a LEEP Forward!

You know the phrase ‘you have to give a little to get a little’?  Well that is just what we did, but what we got was more than just a little!  Working together with the Dell Healthcare team and Give Forward, we provided LEEP Forward 12 Dell tablets set up with talkingtiles accounts.  And do you know what we got?  The awesome feeling of seeing the kids and staff excited about their new therapy tools!

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The staff at LEEP Forward created a fun, engaging activity for the kids to find the tablets through a scavenger hunt.  Imagine their surprise when they found them, turned them on and found talkingtiles!  We can’t wait to start supporting them through their journey with our solution.  

Give Forward was on site helping with the day and documenting the excitement.  We’d like to give a special shout out to Whitney Johnson for her support and running commentary to keep us posted on how the day was going!  Whitney and Give Forward team really helped deliver the donations in a way that made a huge impact.

LEEP Forward is a centre for children with autism in Chicago, Illinois.  Their programs are designed to help support social emotional development in order to build the foundations for social and academic success. To find out more about them, visit their website.

Give Forward is an online fundraising platform for medical expenses incurred by people.  They have helped to raise over $85,000 to help people in need!  Find out more on their website.