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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Tips & Tricks: Using Merge and Move to Combine Albums

Last week, we added two new albums to the Learning category in TapToTalk Designer's standard album library (see Tap Tutor: Fun Help for Tapping Problems). These albums can help improve accuracy for TapToTalk users who have difficulty accurately tapping the screen. There is a Basic Tap Tutor album that uses six images per page, and an Advanced Tap Tutor album with 12 pictures per page.

Then Moira Saucedo, whose son has been using TapToTalk for a few years, gave us an idea: why not combine the two albums into one? So we did just that. In fact, we did it two different ways, and we added both new albums to Designer's standard library.

Here is how we did it. The techniques we used show how you can use the Merge and Move functions in TapToTalk Designer in your own album design work.

Tap Tutor Combo 1
For the first new album, we wanted the first page to give a choice between Tap Tutor Basic and Tap Tutor Advanced. So we wanted booth albums to be at the same level (the first) of the new album outline.

Step 1: create a new album from the Tap Tutor Basic album in the standard album library's Learning category
Step 2: create another new album from the Tap Tutor Advanced album in the standard album library's Learning category
Step 3: merge the album created in step 2 into the album created in step 1 (here's how merge works)
Step 4: delete the album created in step 2 (we no longer need it)

The new album created in step 1 now has two pictures on the first page. One starts Tap Tutor Basic and the other starts Tap Tutor Advanced. You'll find this album in the Learning category of the standard album library. We call it Tap Tutor Combo 1.

Tap Tutor Combo 2
For this new album, we wanted the have Tap Tutor Advanced start as soon as Tap Tutor Basic finished. We wanted one continuous album. So we needed to move the top Tap Tutor Advanced picture after the last Tap Tutor Basic picture in the outline.

We repeated the steps for Tap Tutor Combo 1, above. Then we moved Tap Tutor Advanced to the end of  Tap Tutor Basic in the album outline. Here's how:

Step 5: In Album Outliner, click the starting picture for Tap Tutor Advanced (it's a race car) to highlight it
Step 6: Click the Move link at the top of the outline
Step 7: Click the last active picture in Tap Tutor Basic (it's a magic wand)

Poof! The whole outline for Tap Tutor Advanced is moved under the magic wand picture. Now, when you click the magic wand at the end of Tap Tutor Basic, Tap Tutor Advanced appears. You'll find this album in the Learning category of the standard album library. We call it Tap Tutor Combo 2.

Our thanks to Moira Saucedo for this great idea. The Merge and Move functions of Album Outliner can be very useful.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Tap Tutor: Fun Help for Tapping Problems

There are a variety of conditions that can cause a TapToTalk user to have difficulty tapping pictures accurately. This can be frustrating and limiting, not only for using TapToTalk but for using touch screens in general.

About a year ago, speech therapist Barbara Hallahan did a guest post for us entitled Helping a Child with Tapping Problems use AAC. She described TapToTalk albums she used to help train a child to tap more accurately. Her design for what she calls TapToTalk "warm up" albums makes improving tapping skills fun.

We took Barbara's ideas and created two new sample TapToTalk albums, Tap Tutor-Advanced and Tap-Tutor-Basic. You can try them using the TapToTalk Web App just by clicking the links.

You'll find these albums in TapToTalk Designer's Standard Album Library in the Learning category. You can add them to your TapToTalk, and customize them as you see fit.

Both Tap Tutor albums work similarly. You start with a screen with several blank pictures and one "correct" choice. The correct choice is a puppy that barks or kitten that meows, or another fun picture. Tapping the correct picture leads to another screen with another fun picture, but this time in a different position. This process continues for a few screens. When you reach the last screen, you hear a round of applause. Tap Tutor-Basic has six pictures per screen. Tap Tutor-Advanced has twelve pictures per screen.

Read Barabara Hallahan's post Helping a Child with Tapping Problems use AAC for more information about how she incorporated this idea into her therapy program for her client.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Giving his child a voice--after 40 years!

Joe Wiley is 82 years old. Here is his TapToTalk story:

My son, now age 50, stopped talking about age 10. Why is not known, but I can guess. He has Down Syndrome and an extra large tongue. The more speech therapy he had, the less he talked, finally stopping. My guess is that he was aware that he could not talk properly, so he quit. He can talk but just doesn't. He is smart enough that he caught on to TapToTalk on the iPad in less than a week.

I learned about using an iPad for helping mute children from the 60 Minutes TV show about Steve Jobs. The first 40 minutes was about Steve. The last 20 was about software on the iPad to help autistic people. I got excited about the possibilities. Even though he lives 1,000 miles from where I live, I took it on. A week's trip to Austin from Tennessee got things kicked off there, and he is progressing nicely.

This brilliant program is amazing in its extensiveness as to what it does to help the user create an application customized for a particular child regardless of age. The program has many hard copy tutorials in addition to several videos showing how to create and edit the albums that will eventually wind up on the child's device--iPod, iPad, and the like.

Features include an extensive icon and sound library, easy uploading of one's own photos to be used for icons, and talk from text or recording of your voice. My daughter-in-law, with my hints and suggestions, created a practice album and published it to an iPad in about two hours! All the icons were uploaded photos with her voice recordings. My son, at age 50, has not spoken for 40 years, instead communicating with body language and grunts. He began to use the album speech within a few days, having caught on quickly. The TapToTalk programs have been a marvel.

Thanks for sharing this with us, Joe. You've proven it is never too late to "give your child a voice."
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