April 2 has been designated globally as World Autism Awareness Day, while the whole month of April is Autism Awareness Month.  While raising awareness, let’s also consider a few facts to think critically about.   Did you know that the most recently released stat is that 1 in 50 kids in America are diagnosed with ASD?  The Center for Disease Control announced this stat last month in March.  This is a drastic increase from the previous stat of 1 in 88.  The CDC, however, stated that different methods were used to collect these recent survey results than that of the older stat that was released in 2008.

So what does this mean? Is the rate of autism actually increasing at a rapid rate, or does it mean that we have a better understanding of Autism Spectrum Disorder, which in turn increases the number of youth diagnosed with ASD?

What we do know for sure is that there definitely needs to be more funding towards helping both children and adults with ASD. The NY Daily News brought up an excellent point in one of their articles – if Autism is shown to be a growing health concern and is becoming more common, governments will be more willing to invest money in healthcare and social programs related to Autism. This could mean less wait times for access to services and more affordable programming and care.

With these promising potentials looming ahead, continued studies on rates and impacts of Autism are more than needed to help urge governments to more supports in place.


When you download TalkingTiles you are automatically provided with free sample pages from various categories in our Library.  You can edit these pages and add more speech pages simply by clicking on the edit icon three times until you are in “Run Mode.”

By using the Edit, Cut, Copy, Paste, Delete, and Help buttons in the Edit Mode you can move around the tiles, change their pictures and words, and add new tiles.  While the symbol library is quite extensive, it doesn’t always have exactly what you want – like a picture of your Aunt Milly or a picture of your dog Gus.  TalkingTiles allows you to download photos from your computer so that you can use the images that are personal to you.  



Other custom features that you can use inTalkingTiles is the ability to connect a tile to a website and record your own voice.  With the touch of a tile, you can link right from your app to educational games.  


The voice of a familiar person can also be recorded, making it personal.  When editing a tile, simply hitting the “Record” option will allow you to do this.

Now that you have all these ways to customize tiles, you can implement them into personalized speech pages. Create pages specific to your needs.  For example, you could create a page called “About Me” that provides such information as the user’s name, address, phone number, family members, and doctor’s name as shown in the image below. 


Other ideas of pages you could create are Food, Things at Home, Things at School, Things you want to do or Places you want to go. Speech pages can also be made in routines for a child such as brushing teeth or bedtime.  The options really are endless!!

We always enjoy learning about the ways our customers are using TalkingTiles.  Share your story on how you’ve been able to personalize TalkingTiles by sending us an email at



Communication is a very personal interaction – being able to express your thoughts and feelings in the words you want can be both empowering and liberating.  Therefore, programming an AAC for communication on a device with the words that the user would want to say is important to help them feel heard.

When programming an AAC device, consider the following:

  • Choose a voice that fits with the user – gender, age, accent and language
  • What are topics that the user would want to talk about?
    1. Consider their daily activities, interests, and the people in their lives
    2. What are messages that they need to say

TalkingTiles can run on pretty much any device – Android, Apple, Windows and Google Chrome.

The Commonwealth Fund, a private foundation supporting research and grants to on health care issues and policies, had an interesting review on the performance of the Affordable Care Act that was signed into law March 23, 2010 under heavy controversy.


Assessing Affordable Care  Is it working??


In summary, their conclusion is that the US health care system better off in September 2014 than it was in 2010. As a visual thinker, I like infographics and here’s their assessment in pictures.


Assessing Affordable Care 2

My first real exposure to developer hackathons was during my years at Microsoft. Even tech giants turn to the grass roots developer community that would include students, hobbyists, geeks and professional coders to hangout on a weekend, form teams and belt out some innovative code for a specific problem – and help find the “next big thing”.




As defined in Wikipedia:

Hackathons typically start with one or more presentations about the event, as well as about the specific subject, if any. Then participants suggest ideas and form teams, based on individual interests and skills. Then the main work of the hackathon begins, which can last anywhere from several hours to several days. For hackathons that last 24 hours or longer, especially competitive ones, eating is often informal, with participants often subsisting on food like pizza and energy drinks. Sometimes sleeping is informal as well, with participants sleeping on-site with sleeping bags.

Now the MIT Hacking Medicine hackathon always draws super smart people and talent looking to build the next disruptive healthcare technology that will better society with massive impact.


health 2


Impressive growth of health hackathons around the world as tracked by the MIT Hacking Medicine’s living database:


health 3


Source: The Rise of the Health Hackathon: 6 Insights from Hackathons Around the World from Aman Bhandari and Matt Hayward

Read a great blogpost by Aman Bhandari and Sachin Jain on 3 Reasons Why Healthcare Needs Hackathons.

Great job guys!

As part of a back-to-school series, the Microsoft in Education team highlighted several Windows education apps for students, parents and teachers. Mozzaz TalkingTiles was highlighted as popular app to support students with special needs.


Mozzaz Microsoft

Mozzaz Microsoft 2


Mozzaz in action at the Mississippi Adolescent Center

Watch the video here.

The versatility in the content that can be created with Mozzaz and now with the data collection and observation tracking features available in the solution further extends the power both teachers and parents can utilize to support our kids.

At the Health 2.0 fall conference that was recently held in Santa Clara California, Kaiser Permanente CEO Bernard Tyson believes three major trends are driving changes in the healthcare system. Those include a shift to holistic, lifelong care; the rise of the patient as an active healthcare consumer; and the decentralization of healthcare.

2014 health 2.0

“Eventually, as we disrupt the healthcare system and as others on the outside get into healthcare, there is no question that the healthcare system is going to evolve from its current state of a ‘fix me’ system, to its future state as a total health system,” Tyson said. He added that most of our system’s spending on a person happens right before death. Creative opportunities lie in ways to “move and shift resources toward maximizing the healthy life years of individuals.”

The second trend arises out of patients becoming more empowered and having more choices around their care. “In most of the industry, coverage is provided by the employer and then the government,” Tyson said. “But as the patient is now paying more and more, they are starting to behave as an active consumer. They’re asking very different questions of the industry now, questions focused on health and maximizing value and volume.”

To illustrate the third trend, Tyson provided some concrete examples of steps Kaiser is taking. He described this trend as “the move from ‘you go to a place for healthcare’ to healthcare being distributed to multiple areas in a person’s life,” and, as an example cited the 14 million e-visits that were done through Kaiser last year.

“In the end, we’re going to end up being able to actually personalize each individual’s care patterns,” he said. “The question of ‘Who am I?’ is going to be a very different question in our future.”

Read more on Mr. Tyson’s keynote here.