Posted on May 3, 2016
We are excited to announce that Noah Htay is the third recipient of Saltillo Corporation’s “20 for 20 Device Giveaway”. Noah is a sweet and funny 9 year-old boy who attends second grade at Sweetwater Elementary in Glendale, AZ. He is the youngest of 5 boys in his family, ranging in ages from 9-26. Although Noah’s mother, Than, moved to the United States from Burma, Noah was born here in the United States.
Noah has Down's Syndrome and his speech is very difficult for others to understand. As a result, he relies more on gestures than verbal communication. Noah has tried other forms of communication in the past, such as signing and static communication devices, but he needed a more robust language system.
Noah’s teacher, Liberty Kester said, “He loves using an AAC device and is very motivated to communicate with others. He is very quick to pick up new words and sentences” as was demonstrated when Noah was presented with his brand new Nova Chat 10 from Saltillo Corporation. He immediately began exploring the device and said "I like cake, cookies, candy".
The staff at Sweetwater describe Noah as a hard worker who is proud of his school work. He loves to “work” for stickers. He also possesses a unique fashion sense as he dresses himself each day and prefers to wear a long sleeve dress shirt with a tie and pajama bottoms.
Additionally, Noah loves to play with bubbles, dinosaurs, dance, and do impressions of people. He is very social and loves to play with his peers and interact with his teachers and therapists. The entire staff feels he will benefit greatly from having his own device so that he can interact with everyone at school and in the community.
Despite the fact that his mother does not speak English, she did express her gratitude for the 20 for 20 Giveaway through her translator. She said, “I’m very grateful for the opportunity to have this device for my son and I want to thank everyone involved in the process”.
To find out more about Saltillo Corporation’s 20 for 20 device giveaway, please visit www.saltillo.com
Posted on April 14, 2016
Saltillo is excited to announce our new consultant available to meet your AAC needs in the Pacific Northwest. Melissa Hoy will be serving the states of Washington and Oregon.
Melissa has worked as a speech-language pathologist since 2008 in a variety of settings, including homes, schools, hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, private practice, and tele-practice. She has worked with children and adults with various communication and swallowing disorders. Melissa graduated from Clarion University of Pennsylvania with her bachelor’s and master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology. She is currently studying for her clinical doctorate degree in Speech-Language Pathology from Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions, with a research topic on caregiver training in augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). Melissa has experience and a special interest in working with families and other individuals interested in AAC, including ways to implement an AAC device and teach language. She and her husband have lived and worked in the Seattle area for over four years, where they enjoy spending time with friends and their two pet rabbits.
To contact Melissa, please see the Find Your Representative page.
Posted on March 17, 2016
Posted on February 18, 2016
Megan has been through more in her life time, than most people. Megan had a brain hemorrhage when she was 12 years, old two days before her 13th birthday, which is Christmas. Meg lost all function including head, trunk, arm and leg control and speech. Within the next 10 years, she had a second and third brain surgery to reduce seizures. After her second surgery, she was introduced to an electronic augmentative communication device. We saw Meg learn to make comments, and requests. Several years ago, Meg's talker was not charging, and I called around to see who was willing to help us. Saltillo actually helped us REPEATEDLY keeping her old talker repaired and running. This past summer, we went through the process of being reevaluated and chose the Nova Chat 10! Meg had not responded well to computer speech, but she does like and will initiate when I record comments, and phrases. It's been a process to record every icon, but the end result has been very positive for Meg. We are confident and have been so appreciative with Saltillo's Customer Service, and the technology assistance Cecilia has provided us. The transition to Nova Chat 10 has been a process, and has been supported by Cecilia's help. The end result has definitely been worth the process.
The unique day program Megan was attending unexpectedly closed down. Megan found herself hanging out at home. One day while we were in the Dr.’s office Megan began using her Nova Chat. She selected icons on her Nova Chat about her previous program and was calling one of the staff. It was the perfect opportunity to help Meg understand the situation and talk about her feelings.
We found a new day program, and today is day three. We are so blessed the staff has been working with Meg with her talker every day. So far Meg has initiated using her Nova Chat every day answering questions. We are working on getting a new page and new selections with Meg 's new day program, and staff. Thank you Saltillo!
Posted on January 20, 2016
Posted on January 13, 2016
2.2.0 Chat software was released today. To download the Chat 2.2.0 Software Update, go to Support and choose your device. Under downloads, choose your language and download the appropriate Chat Software Update. You can also initiate an automatic update on the device by going to Menu > Help > Check for Updates.
New Device Features:
- Acapela Vocal Smileys – Acapela-Group has added the capability of using Voice Sounds and Exclamations to their voices. See Featured Article on Saltillo Support Site for your specific product.
- Block and Flow Modes have been added to Scanning Patterns
- Scan Optimization option has been added to Block and Flow Scanning modes
- Scan Editor – provides a way to customize the scan pattern for a specific page or all pages
- Stop Scan button action – allows the scanner to stop the scan from a specific button
- Visual Effects for Alternate Access Techniques
- Outline – can change the width and color
- Translucent Overlay – can change opacity and color
- Invert Colors
- Each visual effect listed above can be animated
New Chat Editor Features:
- Chat Fusion was added
- A Rotating option for imported images has been added
Posted on December 3, 2015
"I can't imagine living in a world where I had no say, no control, no way to express how I was feeling,” says Nikki Schueller. “Because of the NOVA chat, my son Parker does not have to live in that world.”
Parker, age 8, has what Nikki describes as a “laundry list” of medical challenges that leave him unable to speak or walk. “He is overall undiagnosed but his challenges include global developmental delay, hypotonia, migraine, GERD, Central Sleep Apnea, Failure to Thrive, Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome, Autism, Dysmotility, and seizure disorder, among others,” she explains.
The NOVA chat is a portable, speech-generating augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) device from Saltillo. Since securing the device two years ago at the recommendation of a speech-language pathologist (SLP), Parker can now “speak” to his parents, his baby brother Joseph, his medical team, therapists, teachers, and others, despite his complex disabilities.
For Nikki, enabling Parker to share about how he is feeling may be the device’s most significant contribution. “Parker has been hospitalized over 135 times,” she says. “We wanted desperately to understand where he hurt. One day, without prompting, he used the NOVA chat during a session with his SLP to tell us his head hurt and that he needed medicine. We sat stunned and then we cheered. I wanted to cry. I knew we had opened up this most important line of communication.”
Now, she says, “Parker and I talk all day. He picks out his morning television show, his snack, his drink. He tells me what hurts, what he wants to play, and where he wants to go. We talk about what time and day it is, who we are going to see, and what's on the agenda for the day.”
Parker attends Wing Lake Development Center in Bloomfield Hills, MI. He is in an SXI (Severe Multiple Impairment) classroom with other children his age. His parents chose the school because the staff’s knowledge of the NOVA chat enables Parker to be surrounded by a community of people who support, understand, and use the device all the time.
Parker also works with both school and private occupational, speech, and physical therapists. Like other kids, he enjoys swimming, bike rides, swinging, watching the Wiggles, and playing games on his iPad.
As he has become physically stronger and more skilled at using the NOVA chat, “the ‘window’ into Parker’s cognitive abilities has been remarkable,” says Nikki. “I can't believe how much I've learned about him, how fluid our conversations have become, and how shocked we've all been at some of the things he’s told us. Most important, I’ve had the opportunity to get to really know my son. Think about how powerful that is. There is no better part of my day than when Parker and I get the chance to talk.”
Finding the Best AAC Solution with an SLP’s Help
Despite being nonverbal, Nikki says Parker has always been “an excellent communicator and for the most part, we always knew how to meet his needs. We got by with a few signs, watching his eye gaze, and offering choices. We also just know Parker in a way that I can't describe in words.”
But Nikki also knew her son “needed and deserved a ‘real’ voice. We knew he had things to say, things he wanted us to know about him. And when he was sick, we wanted to understand what was wrong so we could help him feel better.”
Before Parker was matched with the NOVA chat, she recalls, “We had tried it all. We had Big Mac Buttons, communication cards, charts, and binders. We did PECS. We tried sign language. We moved on to the iPad and tried many different apps. We tried the GoTalk. They all worked with minimum success and they were exhausting. The reality was, I was often taking care of a very sick child and I really didn't want to carry around a binder, necklace, chart, or large device.”
Two years ago, Parker’s long-time SLP referred the Schuellers to Pat Nizio, an AAC expert and SLP at Beaumont Children's Hospital in Royal Oak, MI. Most of Nizio’s clients have significant disabilities including medical/physical, gross and fine motor, and sensory and vision challenges.
“Pat spent many months trying a variety of different AAC devices” Nikki recounts. “Pat, Parker, and the NOVA chat are a match made in heaven. Finally, a device that could house all his vocabulary in one spot. Finally, a device that was portable. Finally, a device that with Parker's low tone was easy for him to use. Finally, he had a voice.”
Developing a Successful Vocabulary Plan
“Because Parker has so many medical and physical needs, we presented vocabulary arranged according to important pragmatic functions,” Nizio recalls. “We used the support provided by sentence starters and pages which were linked to additional relevant vocabulary -- ‘I need’ and ‘something hurts me,’ for example. As he learned to express utterances that related to his basic and physical needs, we were able to rapidly introduce vocabulary according to a core word approach, balanced with motivating fringe vocabulary.”
Nizio considers Parker’s family an “active, integral part of the treatment team” and critical to Parker’s ability to meet his communication goals,” she explains. “At least one member of Parker’s family and immediate caregivers is present throughout all treatment sessions. They helped us learn to recognize his physical signals that were indicative of discomfort or pain, and then we were able to model and reinforce vocabulary that would let him express his physical feelings. Having that immediate feedback from the family was invaluable, particularly when treatment was initiated.
“Due to his multiple medical diagnoses, Parker sometimes has difficulty being well enough to participate in treatment activities,” Nizio adds. “Even on a day when Parker might have been more fatigued or uncomfortable, we were able to use the time to discuss and demonstrate communication activities to use at home to reinforce and strengthen the skills we might not have been able to fully address.”
Nizio says working with Parker “been a very rewarding experience because his family has become wonderful advocates for his AAC needs as well as for the importance of AAC to others in the community!”
Nikki marvels at the progress her son has made with his AAC device. “When we first started on it, Parker did not have the strength to lift his arm and control his finger to hit the buttons. It's incredible how well he communicates now with the device. The other day, we had a completely fluid conversation after his horse therapy. He said he liked it, told me he rode a horse, thanked the therapist and told her he loved her, and that he wanted to go and get a smoothie. It's really unbelievable.”
Her most heartwarming moment to date, she shares, “was when I dropped him off at speech therapy one day, and as I walked through the door to leave, I heard ‘I love you’ from the NOVA chat. I cried all the way home.”
Challenges and Successes at School and Home
An educator herself, Nikki believes there is an overall lack of knowledge and understanding about AAC devices in many school systems. School has been a struggle for Parker, she states, “because there has not been buy-in to using the device. It's been hard to get some educators to get the extra training to learn the device and how it’s used. But the only way Parker will get better at using the device is if it’s used consistently by everyone in his life. Our current school OT and SLP have really made an effort to use the device with Parker and it made a big difference.”
At home, the NOVA chat has “impacted everything,” she says. “I can now talk to my child. I can find out what his wants and needs are. He can tell me if he is hurting, that he wants to swing, or that he would prefer to go on a bike ride over a walk. I can't imagine a world without this device.”
Adapting to the demands of raising a child with disabilities is a process, she says. “Most days are a blur of blending the best diet possible to go through his tube, pulling and administering meds and supplements, doing all dressing and bathing and shuffling to school, therapy, etc. We rarely get breaks; we work from sunup to sundown and are often up multiple times at night. Parker is so complex and he deserves the best life possible. To rectify those two truths requires an unbelievable amount of teamwork, dedication, and love—lots of love. But I feel lucky because he is such a gentle, easy, loving soul. Witnessing a day when he is feeling well and happy is worth every second of time and effort.”
Advice for SLPs and Parents
Nizio encourages her colleagues to “presume competence and be patient” when working with a child who has communication disabilities. “Learn to observe and listen to all the ways the child communicates and make the family an active, integral part of the treatment team.”
Nikki advises parents of children with communication disorders to “quickly find a professional who can help you match the right speech system for your child. Our SLP has changed our life because of her expertise in this area.” And while learning how to use a new device can be overwhelming at first, she promises that putting in the “time, practice, and patience” will pay off in the long run.
But Nikki also understands the emotional challenges of having a nonverbal child. “There are days where all I want is to hear Parker’s voice,” she admits. “I just want to hear him say ‘mom.’ Hear him say ‘I love you,’ or ‘my stomach hurts.’ Sometimes, I don't want to have to use a computer to talk to my son.
“But most days,” she continues, “I am grateful for the opportunity the NOVA chat has given us. It took time, but we truly don't leave home without it. It is Parker’s voice, and it's part of the family. I feel lucky that we were able to match Parker with the right device – and therapist – so early in his life. I know this is only the beginning of what he will learn and be able to tell us and I can't wait to find out what he has to say!”
About Saltillo Corporation
Saltillo Corporation, an employee-owned company in Millersburg, Ohio and subsidiary of PRC, has developed and manufactured augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices, computer access products, and other assistive technology for people with speech disabilities since 1996. Saltillo also operates an assistive technology e-commerce website, Silver Kite, at http://www.silver-kite.com/
For more information, go to saltillo.com or call (877) 397-0178.
Posted on October 27, 2015
Our Spotlight celebrity for this month is Connolly Roach from Cumming, Georgia. She is 7 years old. Connolly was born with Prader-Willi Syndrome and also diagnosed with apraxia. She is in the first grade at Kelly Mill Elementary. Connolly is very active, always on the go! Her favorite activities are horseback riding and swimming. She has been doing both since she was two years old. Connolly lives with her mom and dad as well as two dogs named Tally and Gracie. She is big sister to 20 month old Bancs. She has 2 sets of grandparents, as well as aunts, uncles and cousins who surround her with lots of love and support. Connolly’s mom, Teri says “I think her favorite thing about the device is that she can order her own meal at a restaurant. She loves being independent!!”
Jill, Connolly’s SLP at school, describes her as a fun-loving, always laughing student with a TREMENDOUS desire to communicate with teachers and peers. That wasn’t always the case though. Connolly has had the NovaChat for a few years but just recently started getting serious about using it because her speech isn’t improving. She can communicate her wants and needs verbally with familiar listeners, however, when the context of her conversation is unknown, it can be difficult for others to understand without the use of her NovaChat. Communicating was becoming more and more frustrating as Connolly wanted to say more beyond what she wanted and what she needed. Her mom thinks she is starting to see that her NovaChat can help her communicate. Teri says Connolly is a VERY determined kid when it comes to making sure you understand what she's saying. She won't stop until you get it so this device is perfect.
Connolly went to a one week AAC camp over the summer and had a great time. She got to be a camp helper since she was one of the older campers. Jessie who was at camp with Connolly and also her SLP for the summer sees great communication skills developing for her.
At first, Connolly was hesitant to openly use her NovaChat within the general education setting, but after a PowerPoint presentation to her classmates, which displayed her use and abilities with the NovaChat, she was more willing than ever to use it. Connolly’s SLP, Jill says Connolly absolutely LOVED sharing with her class, and she even had most of the kids convinced that they needed to have a NovaChat too! Connolly thinks it is great that they were able to program it to say many things, including her favorite phrase “Go War Eagle, Hey!” This Georgia kid is a huge Auburn fan!!!
Its awesome to be able to report great stories like this. We wish Connolly continued progress and we say hats off to a great family and passionate team of teachers, therapists, and friends who provide Connolly with the motivation to be the best communicator she can be.
Posted on October 13, 2015
Wooster, OH, October 13, 2015: PRC, a leading manufacturer of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) technology solutions for individuals with speech disabilities, announced today that its online client-data analysis tool, Realize Language™, is now available for owners of the NOVA chat range of AAC devices from Saltillo Corporation.
The popular NOVA chat now has the added capability to track an individual’s communication and then upload it wirelessly to the Realize Language website. Once uploaded, the website offers a selection of analysis tools that can help parents, therapists, and educators see how well someone is using their AAC device, and then use that information to make decisions about future intervention strategies.
Using the Realize Language system, it’s possible to generate highly visual “word clouds,” bar charts, word lists, and even calendars showing time and frequency of device use. This innovative online tool turns hard-to-read text-based data log files into colorful visual displays that are easy for everyone to understand.
With simple, one-click tools, you can:
- Track progress and communication development over time
- Automatically compare different aspects of communication
- Create a detailed dashboard summary of performance
- Share information with everyone on the team
- Quickly create valuable reports that anyone can understand, even those with limited knowledge of AAC
“It’s exciting that we can now welcome the NOVA chat to a growing family of ‘Realize Ready™’ AAC devices and apps,” said Russell Cross, PRC Director of Clinical Applications and one of the developers of the Realize Language system. “A key component in helping anyone to improve their skills in using an AAC system is to be able know what they are currently able to do and where there may be opportunities for change. People using NOVA chat devices can now benefit from the 24/7 logging and analysis offered by the Realize Language online tools.”
According to Saltillo CEO, Dave Hershberger, “Part of our mission has always been to find new ways to help our clients become more competent and confident communicators. Our introduction of the ‘Realize Ready’ data logging feature to the NOVA chat range of devices is another step towards fulfilling that mission.”
PRC is a global leader in the development of AAC solutions, including augmentative communication devices, computer access products, and other assistive technology for people with speech disorders.
A 100% employee-owned company headquartered in Wooster, OH, PRC pioneered the use of technology to bring speech and language capabilities to adults and children with disabilities nearly 50 years ago. Since then, the company's products have enabled children and adults worldwide to achieve spontaneous, independent, and interactive communication regardless of their disability, literacy level, or motor skills.
In addition to powerful AAC devices, PRC provides teaching and implementation ideas, therapy materials, curriculum sequences, funding assistance, and training to speech-language pathologists, special educators, and the families of AAC communicators.
For more information, go to prentrom.com or call (800) 262-1984.
Saltillo Corporation, an employee-owned company in Millersburg, Ohio and subsidiary of PRC, has developed and manufactured augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices, computer access products, and other assistive technology for people with speech disabilities since 1996. Saltillo also operates an assistive technology e-commerce website, Silver Kite, at www.silver-kite.com/
For more information, go to saltillo.com or call (800) 382-8622.
About Realize Language
Realize Language™ is a new online service that gives parents and professionals powerful ways to monitor, measure, and maximize a child’s use of an augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) speech device. Some AAC devices and apps automatically collect data when a device is used. These include the Accent™, ECO™, Vantage™, Vanguard™, and Springboard™ devices from PRC; the NOVA chat devices with 2.1.0 software and above from Saltillo; the Words For Life™ app from the Center for AAC & Autism; and the TouchChat™ app. Realize Language organizes and analyzes these data logs and presents the results in easy-to-understand graphic formats.
For more information, go to realizelanguage.com or send an email to email@example.com
Posted on September 30, 2015
Alan Kovacs, a true survivor and experienced AAC user
Alan Kovacs was born in the Philippines in 1983, where he learned to speak and understand Tagalog.
He was adopted by the Kovacs family, and came to the United States at the age of 26 months, to live in a very different non‐tropical place, to learn a whole new way of life, and to learn a new language! Here’s Alan, enjoying some play‐time with his brother, Tom.
Alan needed life‐saving surgery to repair a heart defect, and this is where his story takes an abrupt turn. An anoxic episode related to the surgery left Alan comatose, with a loss of such basic functions as the production of tears and saliva, and reflexes such as the ability to swallow. For several months, Alan was fed through a tube and could not even focus his eyes. His “survivor” instincts prevailed, and with lots of effort and therapy, Alan re‐learned significant motor skills, and got to remove the feeding tube. The brain injury did cause permanent physical and other deficits, including an inability to read, impaired numerical skills, and significantly impaired ability to communicate using verbal speech.
Learning English as a second language – while learning to use an AAC device!
Renowned speech pathologist Tracy Kovach and her staff at The Children’s Hospital in Denver, CO evaluated Alan and, despite his limited English skills, found him to be a candidate for an AAC device. Although it was heavy, clunky, non‐intuitive to use, and had a “robot” voice, it was a step in the right direction for Alan. His kindergarten teacher observed that the device dragged on the ground when Alan
tried to carry it, and that it was probably intended for a wheelchair tray. The school staff made Alan a cart with wheels to allow him to move around the school with his AAC device!
Alan withstood a number of techno‐phobe school staff, along with those having knowledge and experience in AAC. He attended Tracy’s Talking With Technology (TWT) camp at Easter Seals Rocky Mountain Village. Alan continued to improve his AAC and language skills, during the evolution of AAC toward smaller, more portable and functional devices. While Alan was attending a post‐high‐school transition program, his speech pathologist became aware of the availability some new, smaller AAC devices. In 2006, Alan got a Chat‐PC, a handheld AAC device from Saltillo Corp.
Opportunities! Employment, Recreation, and… Saltillo Ambassador!
High school job placement efforts found Alan a part‐time position washing golf carts at a local golf course – a job that has lasted for 15 years! His handheld AAC device (now Saltillo’s Nova‐Chat 5 Plus with PalmChat software) opened up additional employment opportunities, and he was hired in 2006 to work on weekends at a recreation center gym. Employees at the recreation center are required to use twoway
radios to communicate, and a handheld AAC device can easily work with the two‐way radio system. Alan’s Nova‐Chat 5 also allows direct communication with clientele requesting gym equipment, or needing assistance with gym rules. In one case, a client was injured in a volleyball game and required emergency medical assistance. Alan used his Saltillo AAC device with the two‐way radio to call for help.
Alan had the opportunity to meet Dave Hershberger, and in 2007 Alan became the first Ambassador for Saltillo Corp. He has represented Saltillo Corp. on numerous occasions, including speaking at a Colorado Speech and Hearing Association (CSHA) conference. He also co‐taught a class at the University of Colorado, Boulder, using his AAC device. Here is a photo of Alan pictured with a member of the Saltillo staff, and Dave Hershberger at the 2009 ATIA conference in Orlando, FL.
Alan and his brother Tom (a doctoral student at the U. of Pittsburgh) co‐authored a poster presentation for the 2010 American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA) conference in Philadelphia. They presented their full paper at the 2012 International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (ISAAC) conference in Pittsburgh.
Alan loves to travel, and has visited numerous places in and outside the U.S. His very favorite place, however, is Easter Seals Rocky Mountain Village in Empire, CO, where he first attended Talking With Technology Camp at the age of seven. He still attends adult camp sessions, and spends some time
volunteering at the camp.
In his spare time, Alan enjoys using his iPad with Saltillo’s TouchChat app, to create iMessages and email messages with family and friends. He uses the text‐to‐speech feature to read his incoming messages. Alan’s iPad station is set up with a ModularHose iPad mount.
Alan enjoys sports, as a fan and as a participant. His favorite sport is basketball; he loves to attend NBA games, and plays Special Olympics basketball. The Denver Nuggets Dancers know Alan by name. This photo of Alan with the Dancers was taken at a Special Olympics basketball tournament, and was posted on the Denver Nuggets NBA website.
Alan’s love of basketball is quite well known. A few years ago, he was recovering from another open‐heart surgery in the ICU. His doctor got the hospital to authorize a sports channel on the hospital TV service so that Alan could watch NBA playoff games during his hospitalization! More recently, Alan spent a night on the cardiac observation floor of the hospital, successfully relying on his Nova‐Chat 5 to communicate with the nurses. It was the first time he ever spent a night in the hospital without a family member to assist with communication. Wow! Life can be quite a journey, and an AAC device can make a huge difference!!