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Awarded Grant Summaries

Access to Communication: Trialing Speech-Generating Devices

Chelsea Werner, Assistive Technology Coordinator and Speech Pathologist, 2019-2020 School Year

Description & Need:
The project is driven by the students in our district who require an alternate mode to communicate with those around them. This project would include acquiring three iPads with the sole intention of loading them with the Proloque2Go, GoTalk Now, and Snap+ Core applications to be trial devices and/or devices for standard use for our students with unique communication needs. It is currently challenging to trial devices for students, specifically in birth-preschool and grades 5 and up, as they do not have one-to-one iPads like the elementary students. We have been able to push out several Proloque2Go applications to students' devices in elementary. The teachers, staff, and specialists are seeing the difference it makes when students are able to readily communicate. These funds would allow at least three more iPads to become speech-generating devices for other students in our district to trial.

How the project meets Instruction Goals and Mission Statement:
Our district's mission statement is "Engaging All Learners to Achieve Success." This statement speaks to our students in general education, but in my eyes, more importantly, our students in special education. If a student is unable to readily and functionally communicate, their access to the curriculum is going to be very limiting. This project would allow me, the Assistive Technology Coordinator for CPS, to help reach more students who need to trial and utilize speech-generating devices. This project aligns with instructional goals and our mission statement, as communication is necessary to be able to function and academically communicate.

Major Objectives: 
The major objective of this project is to provide students with speech and language impairments the opportunities and tools to be successful communicators in the classroom. The three measurable objectives for this project include
A) Given one year of progress monitoring and data collection conducted by the speech-language pathologist and teachers, various students will utilize the three different iPads purchased to trial various speech-generating applications (Proloque2Go, GoTalkNow, Snap+ Core, Compass) to best determine their utility to be a functional communicator in the academic setting. 
B) Given one year of progress monitoring and data collection conducted by the speech-language pathologist and teachers, the student will functionally communicate with adults and peers around him/her, as measured by observations and specific goals set by the team for the specific student.
C) Given one year of progress monitoring and data collection conducted by the speech-language pathologist and teachers, the staff will determine the utility of the selected speech-generating application through trials of each application for at least one month for the student. A device will be selected to move forward for purchase with the assistance of their team, including SLP, teacher, resource teacher, parents, and insurance provider.

Teaching Methods:
Various teaching methods will be used to implement the use of the augmentative alternative communication devices. The SLP, resource teacher, teachers, and staff will work together to determine how to best help the student trial and become accustomed to the device. The SLP will work specifically in a small group setting to help teach the student how to navigate and activate buttons to communicate. The team will have to work together to help reinforce the speech-generating devices' use throughout the school day. The SLP and assistive technology coordinator can provide push-in support for the student to help train both the student and staff on how to utilize the device in all contexts. The device should be used all day long to help the student best communicate across all contexts.

Grade Levels Affected:
These devices will be used as trial speech-generating devices across the birth to 21 in the Columbus Public Schools District. The number of students that will benefit from this project will range each year, for many years to come. With acquiring three iPads, we will be able to trial devices with at least three students at a time. At this time, we are currently missing opportunities to help support students in need of assistive technology to support their communication. These three devices will be checked out and can be used in any building district-wide.

Additional Materials: 
The grant would help support the purchase of three iPads. The apps to be pushed onto the devices have been purchased through special education, therefore they are not being requested or needed through this grant. Currently, there are many apps in the district cloud going unused due to a lack of devices for the speech-generating apps. Jason Harris provided information regarding prices including:
$299 for the iPad
$60 for the case
Therefore $359 total per iPad
Special education will cover the remaining $77.

Project Evaluation:
The success of this project will be evaluated through trials and acquisition of speech-generating devices for students. Each team working with an iPad and application for the student will take data to determine which application will best work for each student through trial and error. The selection of the application and speech-generating device will be based on student access to the device (finger point, eye gaze, etc), ability to build sentences, ability to understand and utilize a broad vocabulary, and ability to navigate.