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.
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 Device||Through 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 Team||You 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 Content||Gain 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 Catalogue||Currently 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 & Languages||Through 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 & Retrieval||Safely 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]|
|Tile and page color coding||Y||Y|
|Access to 30 built-in symbols||Y||Y|
|Record your own audio||Y||Y|
|Device Voice Output (Text-To-Speech)||Y||Y|
|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!
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. :
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!
We have users from all over the world, and through our voice engines (Google, Microsoft, Acapela and iSpeech) have the ability to speak over 40 different native languages and now with TalkingTiles 3.0 we are able to save those special non-English characters from our supported languages. We are always adding more languages so you can refer to the User Manual.
The following are the languages supported through the iSpeech voice engine:
With TalkingTILES 3.0, non-English character sets can now be saved, such as in this example of traditional Chinese:
In TalkingTiles, select the TTS (voice output) engine to use.
Under the SETTINGS Option, select TTS Settings. From there select iSpeech and the language you wish to use. In this example we have selected “Chinese Female”.
Enter your letters for the word for a tile and save.
Clicking on the tile should now speak the word in the language chosen in iSpeech with the characters used.
We will be posting ready-made sample pages in the Public Library for every supported language we have in iSpeech so be sure to visit the Public Library to explore.
We look forward to hearing your stories and how our language support is helping you with assistive care!
All the best!
Rini @ Mozzaz
What on earth is a “sensory diet”? Is this another new fad diet? Not at all! In fact this is not a strictly a food diet but a term used to describe sensory activities that are used to treat kids with Sensory Integration Disorder. Your Occupational Therapist will create a “menu” of activities to do with your child. He/she will have you perform these activities in a particular order to create a sensory “meal” or “snack”. Just like nutritional diets, the sensory diet is designed for your child’s sensory needs. Your Occupational Therapist will create a plan of activities for you to do throughout the day.
Common Sensory Diet Activities:
Proprioception activities- Proprioception has to do with body awareness (being aware of where your body is positioned in relation to other parts of your body). Receptors in the muscles and joints help to coordinate movements even without vision. Proprioception activities would include things like
- Pushing and pulling activities
- Squeezing toys or popping bubble wrap
- Wrapping your child in a “burrito” by rolling him up in a blanket
Vestibular activities- Vestibular input has to do with your sense of movement and balance that is processed in the inner ear. Vestibular activities include:
- Rocking in a rocking chair
- Swinging on a swing at the park
- Running, jumping or skipping
Tactile activities- Tactile activities include any activities that involve the sense of touch, texture or temperature. Some tactile activities are:
- Messy play such as playing with shaving cream, finger paint, or play dough
- Reading and touching textured books
- Tracing shapes on to your child’s back and letting him guess what shape
Auditory activities- Auditory activities include hearing and listening. Some auditory activities might include:
- Playing with instruments, such as imitating a rhythm with a drum or tambourine
- Playing listening games to see if your child can guess the sound
- Listening to music or songs
Visual activities- Visual activities involve making eye contact, processing what is seen with the eyes and interpreting visual input. Some visual activities might be:
- Stringing beads
- Matching games such as matching cards or matching words to cards
- Picture games, finding pictures in a picture book like the “eye spy” books
Smelling and tasting activities
- Play a guessing game with scratch and sniff stickers. See if he/she can guess the smell without looking.
- Add a new texture to a food your child already likes. For example if your child likes yogurt, try adding some crunchy granola to his yogurt.
- Play a guessing game with foods your child likes to eat. Put two or three foods and have him try them blindfolded.
A great resource for information, books and tools can be found with our friends at SensorySmarts.
|There have been many studies over the years indicating that many behaviors exhibited by individuals with special needs, specifically autism, may be related to hyper or hypo-reactions to sensory input. These individuals have difficulty registering, modulating and integrating sensory stimuli and could result in self-stimulatory behaviors and irregularities in arousal levels.|
|Having an occupational therapist (OT) on the care team for such individuals is very common and a very good idea. An OT’s program involves promoting skill development and independence in all daily activities. For an adult, this may mean looking at the areas of self-care, home-making, leisure and work. For children, this may include playing in the park, licking a popsicle, washing hands, going to the bathroom, cutting with scissors, printing at school, running, jumping, sitting at circle time and taking swimming lessons.|
|OT’s are trained in “task analysis” for the teaching of new skills. This technique is very important when we teach dressing, feeding, and toileting skills. With sensory integration difficulties, OT’s teach these new skills by accommodating for sensory problems or impaired motor planning.|
Occupational Therapists can now use TalkingTiles to program OT exercises for their clients so they can practice them at home.
The current update to TalkingTiles is definitely a milestone release that we’re excited about! This latest release includes a feature that we’ve been asked about many times – “grid customization.” Grid customization enables you to modify the number and size of tiles on a page. You can have one single large tile displayed upto a maximum of 100 tiles!! This version -3.0 is set to release in Fall 2014.
Here are some examples of how TalkingTiles can be used for education and learning in different ways beyond just AAC:
These are just some examples of what custom grids will allow users to do. Other advanced features available soon will include page previews, unlimited number of pages on a device, data collection and much more!
Advances in Assistive Communication Technology Continue to Raise the Voice of Non-Verbal Individuals
Talk about a new way to communicate - if we take a look back in history at autism and technology, it is astounding to see the major impacts and improvements in just the past decade.
Lenovo’s infographic, The Power of Touch, helps us to understand the progress during the last century. It was just over 100 years ago that the term Autism was coined, and it took about 40 years for doctor’s and therapists to start using ‘assistive technology’ with their clients. In the 1950s that ‘assistive technology’ was not anything like we think today in terms of tablets and computers. Flash cards, toys and chalkboards were used to help children with Autism communicate with those around them.
It wasn’t until the 1970s that speech generating devices emerged that voice was given to the words they structured together. Leap forward another 20 years and the first commercial dynamic display speech generator was available, meaning now that autistic kids could explore more complex ideas and express themselves creatively.
As computers and devices become more mainstream and affordable, more families and individuals were able to access them. In just the past few years, the options for assistive communication technology have exploded with the introduction of AAC apps for tablets and other mobile devices. Particularly useful was the adoption of touch screens to computers and devices allowing for users to touch directly on what they want, rather than having to rely on - and understand - the connection between the computer screen, the mouse, and the cursor. A study in 2011 revealed that people with Autism have enhanced visual detection centres, which helps to explain why visual programs are so helpful and effective.
As technology continues to change and grow, the possibilities are endless on the developments of assistive communication. Apps like TalkingTiles that work with touchscreen and internet technology are the next generation of AAC - combining an effective tool for user’s needs and the ability to remotely connect with therapists is just another example of progress that is creating better solutions for those in need.