SLP Barbara Hallahan is a TapToTalk Service Provider in Ireland and frequent contributor to the TapToTalk blog. In this guest post, she shares a template and methodology for album design. Visit her on Facebook and Like her page to get more of her great, practical ideas.
The temptation to start slotting lots of pictures and phrases into TapToTalk is understandable. It is so wonderful to see your child or student ask for something or tell you something using TapToTalk .
Once you confirm the individual understands how to use the tool--the free sample albums often serve this purpose nicely--it is important to do some planning before you start loading your TapToTalk Designer albums with TMI (too much information) or keep moving the symbols to different pages or different positions on the page.
How well would you be able to use the keyboard on your computer if there were three times as many keys as you typically used mixed among the useful keys or if the @ or the h key had a different position every day?
Is it easy to switch from an Apple phone to an Android? How about driving in a foreign country where they drive on the opposite side of the road? |Let’s not make it harder than necessary for our TapToTalk users.
There are two separate issues to tackle here: quantity and location.
If your child is to be successful with TapToTalk, one of two ultimate goals may be fulfilled:
1) Your child will start talking and grow out of the device. The money to purchase TapToTalk will have been well-spent. It will have been like casting a broken leg.
2) The other possibility is that your child will never be an oral communicator and TapToTalk will be your child’s voice for a very long time. In this instance it is very important to build in room on each page for a larger number of options for communicating accurately in complete sentences.
For a child who cannot communicate effectively, the world is a confusing and frustrating place. You can make things even more confusing and frustrating if you move the pictures around frequently or if the child has to navigate through a large number of pages to find the right thing to say.
In my practice, I work with the individual who will use the device and the people they will most often be speaking with to find out what phrases would be most often used or most useful in daily life. They are often be requests like “I want to play angry birds.” “I would like some more juice, please.”
We discuss the daily routine at home and school and plan albums for each location. Sometimes TapToTalk can serve as a link between the two locations, such as school and home. You may have a page the child can use to tell parents what he did at school or tell classmates what he did on the weekend. These would be pages that would change at times. A child with whom I work got an assistance dog, so there was a link to information about the dog on his school greetings page. The Bruno page would change as news about the dog changes.
After Christmas break, there was a link to a page that allowed him to discuss his holiday with classmates and to ask his classmates about their holidays. The HOLIDAYS page would also change with the seasons.
I have developed a template (click the link at the end of this post to get a free copy) that helps parents, teachers and SLPs plan the structure of the albums before loading all the information into Designer.
I recommend that you assume that you will eventually use all 12 squares (a TapToTalk page can have up to 12 pictures), so put blanks in where you have not yet put a picture. Try not to shift the location of the pictures. You might want to put the first few at the edges/corners and fill in the middle ones as you add more. You may want to reserve the last four squares of all the pages with frequently used items such as “I want,” “please,” “No,” “Thank you,” “I’m confused,” or “Help.” You can reserve a square by using a picture like "white" from the Colors category, with no caption.
For each picture on a page, note if it will lead to another page of pictures (for example, "I'm thirsty" could lead to a page of beverage choices).
For many, mapping out on paper is easier and more flexible than trying to design on-the-fly on the computer. You can even include the user in this planning if you cut out the pictures you will use and move the pictures around together on the page.
You can keep the planned pages in a binder for reference, and possibly use them to make notes on progress. The page number would be a number between 1 and 12 – depending on position. Make sure you title the page with the ALBUM name and the category: SCHOOL/Greetings or SCHOOL/Work/fine motor.
Always keep in mind that TapToTalk is as much for asking and commenting as it is for answering questions. An individual will be much more motivated to use it if it allows self-expression than if it is used mostly to answer questions.
Ordering a meal at a fast food restaurant independently is a very empowering activity. Fast food restaurants have cash registers that look quite similar to TapToTalk and the cashiers are usually willing to interact with your children. This would be a good album to design using the paper template.
Be sure to write the sentence, phrase or word that goes with each entry.