Sherri Tennant is today's #TotalTalkTuesday Guest!

Well, it's really Wednesday, but it's summertime!

Each Tuesday, a leader in the AAC Community will offer a tip

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This week's #TotalTalkTuesdayTip is from Sherri Tennant.                

Sherri Tennant, M.S., CCC-SLP, is a clinical faculty member in the Speech Language Hearing Sciences Department at the University of Colorado-Boulder (CU). She has 23 years of experience as an SLP and AAC.  Currently, in addition to her work at CU, she has private, school-aged clients who use AAC systems and works with these children and adolescents to improve their communication and language-literacy skills. Sherri was an emergent literacy coach in the Jefferson County Public Schools for two years prior to becoming a clinical faculty member at CU where she managed a large literacy grant that involved in-district training by Dr. Karen Erickson and Dr. Penny Hatch from the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill.  Sherri had a private practice in New York City (NYC) for nine years. Most of her students were AAC users and attended public schools in NYC. 

INTUITIVE CUSTOMIZATION IS CRITICAL FOR INDEPENDENC

An AAC system that facilitates expression of unique personality and cultural diversity is critical. That's a tall order to fill. And so you want to choose your approach thoughtfully.

There are many variables to consider, but a few important features include the vocabulary and language system. And, just ask importantly, communicative success requires a great customization process and strong company tech support.

An AAC system needs to include robust vocabulary (core and fringe) as well as thought-out social phrases to facilitate generative and pragmatic language. That’s particularly important given that the range of linguistic abilities among AAC users is broad - from beginning communicators to those who have advanced, sophisticated expressive language and literacy skills. An AAC system needs the versatility to meet the needs of these different language levels that will allow the AAC user to be effective as his/her capacity expands and/or as the demands in his/her environment change, and to help them grow. 

Many people also often require a keyboard with word prediction as they become more advanced communicators. In fact, a great system should consider both how to share writing for those who are comfortably literate and prefer to write with their AAC system, and for those who use a combination of icons and spelling to communicate. 

Finally, the customization process needs to be as quick and easy as possible. The reality is that there is less training at the university level in AAC and AT for Speech-Language Pathologists and other professionals now than in the past, so ease and accessibility of customization is more and more critical. The more quickly and intuitively you can support someone with customization, the more quickly they can express their individuality - and that’s of course what communication, at its best, is about.

Finally, if you want to really express unique quality, you should look for features including voice quality, different characters and voices, and access options.

TOTAL TALK HELPS U BE U!

Total Talk was designed to help build not only language, but personality and engagement. With Total Talk, a person can pick up the device and develop a comfortable approach to communication. In fact, our easy to use interface facilitates independence in many aspects of language building, social engagement, and personal expressiveness.

Total Talk offers a robust language system that allows you to maximize your power by pressing magic button before a verb, noun, or adjective in order to pull up easy to access options for conjugations, superlatives, and most commonly used phrases. Additionally, generative language is supplemented with EZ phrases - where you can select a topic such as recess or lunch and find a grid with most commonly used phrases associated with the particular activity.

Our keyboard adapts to both experienced and early users because it includes three different levels of word prediction. And there's not simply clear and delete buttons, but a full menu of powerful editing options. You can even move a cursor and minimize the grid to see whole passages of copy! Pressing a single button expands the readout to fill the entire screen so you can see everything you have written. 

Finally, Total Talk offers a host of emotive voices that allow you to add tonality to your phrases so you can sound bored, excited, or just plain weird! You can also alternate between different voices personas that maximize your expressiveness. 

Looking to express your personality? Then maybe the first thing to look for is Total Talk. 

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