Hello again and happy #TotalTalkTuesday!

Each Tuesday, we share a great tip from communication experts!

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This week's #TotalTalkTuesdayTip is from Mark Surabian.

Mark Surabian developed and presently operates ATHelp.org, a free assistive technology support program at the JCC in Manhattan, where he serves the needs of over 1700 children and adults with communication, vision, learning, and physical challenges.

 

DON'T FORGET THE POWER OF SOCIAL MEDIA!

As an assistive technology consultant for 30 years, I've come to realize true inclusion in any community, for an individual with a disability, is defined by that person's level of participation. But when we think of participation today, we might be overlooking one of the most important channels that we all use – social media.

A few years back, one of my students taught me quite a bit about the ever-changing face of augmentative communication. I'll never forget the day, a couple years back, that he shared with me his pride over a 20 minute conversation that he had maintained with a friend. Previously I had been pushing him to make an effort to communicate with his peers more actively. He tried to explain to me how high schoolers barely stand still long enough to have a decent conversation, and lamented the laborious task of using an SGD to even quickly make a greeting, never-mind convey an extended thought before they shuffled by. I acknowledged the considerable challenge, but expressed that he needed to find a way to connect with his peers and communicate more effectively. 

He did. That 20 minute conversation was actually a Facebook texting exchange that was so teen typical, and for him so deeply satisfying. And suddenly, for me, there was a new insight into the power of multimodal communication. And looking at communication with not only a sense of all that is possible – but also with some of the things that make it more likely to happen.

Sure, I knew the value of email, texting, posting, tweeting, and the hundreds of other ways in which we express ourselves in 21st-century; but it never dawned on me how any one of those could be as powerful as face-to-face communication when all I ever hear is about how adults are dismissive as to the value of digital exchanges between youth. He had taken digital communication and proven that it has an equal value in his world to the verbal communication of my own.

For when we are all in the digital world, temporarily transfixed by our backlit screens, it makes us pause long enough to let friends, and those who could be our friends, communicate as peers.  

 

TOTAL TALK MAKES IT EASY!!

Total Talk allows a person to not only verbally communicate with spoken words, but also to text, email, or FB right from within the app – using large buttons that work for them, not iOS defaults.

Once any SGD or SGA user discovers that an effective communication exchange is possible, then they are more apt to pursue deeper conversations and achieve greater participation in the world around them.

Total Talk has been created to give a person the greatest functionality and flexibility in communication approaches. It not only provides a platform for strong communication, but also self-empowerment. And reminds us all that the greatest tool for building communication skills is… motivation.

 

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