Speech/Language Pathology students and teachers have been gifted with 25 Livox AAC communication devices.
According to district Assistive Technology Consultant Mary Faulhaber and Speech Therapist Kim Swett who are piloting the project, 15 devices were provided for students and 10 for SLPs who are working with those students.
“Livox AAC (communication device for those who are non-verbal) is going strong in many parts of the world,” Faulhaber said. “Thanks to a Boston, MA non-profit called Someone Else’s Child at http://lovingkids.org/history.html, we get to be part of making it work in the USA.”
Company CEO and device developer Carlos Periera provided eight hours of training in January at Eastside Middle School to SLPs, teachers and instructional assistants who have a student participating in the Pilot.
Faulhaber said the device is very user friendly.
“It first caught my interest because it has built-in parameters that make it much more user friendly and powerful in speeding up communication opportunities than other communication apps we have tried,” she described. “More than 2 million yes/no questions are built in, and it has different interfaces that work best with each of a variety of disabilities. The app ‘wakes up’ and begins listening when the person’s name is spoken which teaches others to communicate directly to the user instead of talking about them with others.”
Faulhaber continued that the device is used and builds a personal use data base, it will use machine learning and GPS to bring item choices to speak to the main page at the time they are likely to be needed.
“This will make communicating much faster and more enjoyable,” she said.
There are challenges. Faulhaber and Swett noted that learning to use Android OS is completely new to the district as an assistive technology device.
“Also, because we are all so anxious to see if this will be a good fit for the 15 students in the pilot, it will be challenging to allow the Assistive Technology consultant (me) and SLPs (speech therapists) the time needed to learn how to use the android tablet, and the communication app, and to customize each student’s word banks on the App,” she said. “Start-up will take time. Meanwhile, teachers are collecting baseline data of student’s communication ability.”
The next step, she said, will occur when students will have time to begin exploring the app with communication partners.
Before this device, students have been using a variety of communication apps and devices from low to high forms of technology.
Faulhaber hopes the pilot data will show a significant increase in student/teacher/peer communication exchanges because machine learning should make communicating much faster and much more user friendly for all.
She said students will be allowed to take devices home when implementation has been in place and they are gaining confidence and motivation to use the device to communicate.
Faulhaber and Swett are proud that the district is the first public school system in the USA to get to pilot or even purchase Livox AAC.
“Together with the developers of Livox, we will get to collaborate to make the App increasingly effective for users in the United States,” Faulhaber said. “Livox is widely used in other countries such as Brazil and the Middle East. It will soon be piloted in parts of Africa by UNICEF because of its data-based effectiveness. A non-profit based in Boston MA called Someone Else’s Child has provided the funds for this 3-year pilot project.
She is excited to share results of the pilot throughout the 3 years with OVEC districts through the Assistive Technology Cadre. There is currently an education consultant over a wide area of Florida who is interested in the process and who attended our training day.
Cedar Grove Elementary School Speech/Language Pathologist Kaycee Woods said the training was very rewarding and exciting.
“The best part of my job is helping a student communicate and be more social with their world,” she said. “I truly feel that this program will do that for my students in the pilot.”
Her most challenging part is putting herself in the shoes of her students.
“I am trying to learn to use this device as an SLP, but also troubleshoot and work through using it as they will, so that I can help them!” she said.
Woods used snap + core first on the IPad with one student, and a nova chat with the other student. She feels Livox will make social communication more accessible to them.
“Their devices now do fine for answering questions with one word or two word answers,” she explained. “However, navigating through the pages in order to be social, which is the FUN part of communication, is too cumbersome. I am excited because Livox will make this possible for them!”
She is also excited that students can take the devices home so their parents can witness the interaction.
“Once they are ready to go home, we will send them home. However, first we want to train them here to use their device more proficiently,” Woods affirmed.
She hopes to share measures of learning with other districts.
“I would assume that others will want us to share our thoughts and data with them once we have delved more deeply into the pilot. We are the only district to my knowledge using it,” she said.
Check out the following website - https://livox.com.br/en/.