January's Spotlight Star- Owen!

 “When everyone works together and has the best interest of the student [in mind]…it all works out.”-  Julee Nawa, Ladd School Speech-Language Pathologist    

Please meet Owen.  Owen loves to spell.  Owen is an adorable, sweet 5 year old boy who really enjoys using his NOVA chat 10.  Owen has Autism and was essentially non-verbal.  He had previously used a variety of low-tech AAC options and apps to increase his communication but nothing seemed to be the right fit.  Owen would easily become frustrated when he was not understood or when he wasn’t feeling well, as he had no way to express himself.  

Owen attends Ladd School.  The staff and administration at Ladd School knew that something needed to be done to help Owen communicate so that he could be successful and understood in school and at home.  Mr. Lawrence, the school’s Principal, contacted the Illinois Assistive Technology Program (IATP;, a state funded program that provides a wide variety of services from providing a device lending library to providing grant funded, school based AAC evaluations across the state, to seek assistance for Owen.

Marguerite Simon, a Speech-Language-Pathologist who conducts AAC evaluations for IATP, evaluated Owen last school year and began the process for determining what device may best work for Owen.  Marguerite stated, “The beauty of the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) grant AAC evaluation program is that we are able to reach out to small towns who don’t have the AAC resources available for evaluations and device trials.  I love the fact that we can reach so out to so many districts across the state.”   

The school staff and administration have fully supported Owen and his family prior to and during the funding process until he received his NOVA chat in September 2014.  Ladd School has even purchased an additional charger to ensure that Owen’s NOVA chat is fully charged and ready to be used at school.  At home, Owen is able to “find something that will help him convey his feelings”; something that he was not able to do prior to having his NOVA chat.  His school and family have demonstrated consistent support, team work, advocacy, and dedication.  They have seen Owen’s moments of frustration decrease and have observed an increase of wanting to communicate with others.

Julee Nawa, Owen’s SLP, reported that since September, Owen is using his NOVA chat to independently say ‘hello’/ ‘goodbye’ to his peers and staff members at school.  She has noted that Owen has increased his use of eye contact, interacts with his peers more, participates in classroom activities, and he has been observed to be producing more sounds and some word approximations! Julee noted that “Everyone [at Ladd School] has gone above and beyond.”   Julee says it best when she said that Owen’s NOVA chat, “Has given him a voice.  It’s his voice!”   


NovaChat – new communication path opens up

"The inability to speak his thoughts gave him a lot of frustration and us, a lot of confusion". I'm so glad this family finally found their solution in the Nova Chat 7!

Read their story here

November's Spotlight Star


Winn is our celeb for the month of November. She was born on May 20, 2003 so that makes her 11 years old. Mom, Jennifer, reports that the family did not realize there was something wrong at birth, but by the time Winn was 4 months old, it was apparent she was not progressing developmentally as she should. After 2 years of doctors visits and therapies, Winn was diagnosed with a rare condition that would “take pages” to explain! Basically she is missing most of her cerebellum, which has affected her balance, speech, and coordination. Winn also has sensory integration issues and is on the Autism spectrum.

Due to the great love, support, and care from her family as well as continued therapies, today, Winn is able to walk, say a few words, use some sign language, and use her NovaChat7 independently and spontaneously.

Winn is a fifth grader at Sonny Carter Elementary in Macon GA. Her first speech generating device was not a NovaChat! However, she did learn to use it well enough to communicate basic needs and her family realized that she knew a bunch more than they imagined and that she was capable of learning much more. Winn completed a successful trial with a NovaChat 7 and received her own NovaChat in December of 2013. The family and Winn were so excited because of the many features that made the NovaChat easier for her to use than the other device. They are thrilled that it was so much lighter than her previous device. It allows her to carry her it everywhere independently. They love the larger buttons and better software because she is able to communicate much faster. Even though Winn has about 5 words and still uses some sign language, her NovaChat is her main form of communication.   

Winn’s teachers and SLP at Sonny Carter describe her as a delightful 5th-grade student. They say she currently uses a NovaChat device for her main means of communication at school. At school this device is known by her peers and teachers as her "talker"! Winn carries her "talker" from class to class, for all activities, and to lunch. She uses it to greet teachers, staff, and friends in the hallways, as she enters the room, and around the school. She enjoys using her NovaChat at lunch to chat with her friends. Her "test answer" page allows her to respond to multiple choice and true/false questions during assessments or class response activities. You will often find Winn in a group of students who are so eager to talk with her using her "talker". She enjoys being social and her “talker” helps her engage in more meaningfully communicate. She is currently working at the sentence level to communicate. For example, she will create a sentence such as "I am hungry or I want to eat to express her wants and needs. Winn knows that she needs to use her "talker" at school to communicate her needs. While social academic-related communication is critical and made possible by her NovaChat, Winn can also use her "talker" to communicate more serious, personal information. For example, Winn recently was not feeling well at school. When asked what was wrong, she responded with "I am sad. I am sick. I want to go home. I need mom." Winn was, in fact, sick and was quite happy to see her mother when she came to pick her up from school. Without her NovaChat, this important message would have likely not been known. Winn's NovaChat makes a wide range of communication possible at school, and with staff training, implementation becomes more successful each week.

It’s always great to hear success stories like this. Everyone is so proud of Winn and glad to share her story. They all know Winn will continue to be a great success.

NOVA Chat version 1.13.0 now available

Check out the latest update, version 1.13.0 for your NOVA Chat Device and NOVA Chat Editor.  It has some awesome new features, including auto updates!

Saltillo Corporation Donates Speech-Generating Device to Maryland Kindergartener with Speech Disability

Employees of Assistive Technology Leader Present NOVA chat 10 to

Five-year-old Ryann Frantz at

Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children


Photo Courtesy of Adelma Gregory-Bunnell of Cecil Whig newspaper


Millersburg, Ohio, October 14, 2014:  The employee owners of Saltillo Corporation, a leading manufacturer of alternative and augmentative communication (AAC) devices, are celebrating Employee Stock Ownership Plan Month (ESOP) in October by donating a communication device to a Maryland child with severe speech disabilities.

 Five-year-old Ryann Frantz of Chesapeake City, Maryland, was selected as the recipient and received her NOVA chat 10 plus device today at Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Delaware, where she is a speech therapy patient. The device was presented to Ryann by Aaron Shute, a Saltillo Regional Consultant.

 Ryann, who attends kindergarten at Chesapeake City Elementary, has low muscle tone, or hypotonia, which makes speaking or using sign language extremely difficult. She is one of only two individuals in the world diagnosed with a rare genetic mutation.

 Nova chat 10 plus is a powerful speech-generating device with proprietary Chat software designed to help children acquire and use language skills. Built on an Android platform, NOVA chat 10 plus offers a durable yet sleek, portable design with features that include a 10.1" display, switch scanning, ChatPower vocabulary, IVONA speech synthesizer, and many other Chat features. The device costs about $4,395.

 “Ryann is a very happy little girl and she has a real desire to communicate with those around her,” said her mother, Heather Frantz. “She took to the NOVA chat device immediately when she was introduced to it during speech therapy. However, our insurance company does not provide coverage for speech devices.

 “Having her own NOVA chat 10 that she can use not only in therapy but at home and in school is going to change her life immensely,” Frantz continued. “We are so grateful to Saltillo and its employees for their generosity.”

 “Ryann, her mother, and her Nemours Speech-Language Pathologist are so very appreciative of the roles that Saltillo and the Nova Chat are playing in her journey to more effective communication throughout all domains of her young life,” stated Richard Lytton, M.A., CCC-SP, Coordinator, Clinical Assistive Technology Services at Nemours/A.I. duPont Hospital for Children.

 “Our employee-owners take great pride in helping our customers succeed to their greatest potential,” stated Saltillo President Dave Hershberger. “Like all Saltillo AAC devices, NOVA chat 10 plus supports speech output as well as robust language development. We are very proud to help Ryann live her life to the fullest by enabling her to communicate to her greatest potential.”

The donation was also featured in Ryann's local newspaper today.  Get the full story here.


About Saltillo Corporation

 Saltillo Corporation, an employee-owned company in Millersburg, Ohio, develops and manufactures augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices, computer access products, and other assistive technology for people with speech disabilities.

 Saltillo is a subsidiary of Prentke Romich Corporation, a global leader in AAC technology, and a member of the PRC consortium of AAC solution providers. PRC and Saltillo have enabled thousands of children and adults worldwide with speech disorders to achieve spontaneous, independent, and interactive communication regardless of their disability, literacy level, or motor skills.

 The National Center for Employee Ownership (NCEO) estimates there are roughly 7,000 employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs) covering about 13.5 million employees in the U.S. in 2014. Employee ownership demonstrates dedication to innovative, quality communication technology products and customer-driven service standards.

 For more information, go to or call (800) 382-8622.




Free Exhibition Admission to Closing the Gap 2014

If you're going to be in the Minneapolis, MN area on Friday, October 17th, and you'd like to learn about Assistive Technology in Special Education, Rehabilitation and Everyday Living, be sure to head over to the Closing the Gap Conference to gain FREE admission to the Exhibit Hall.  The FREE Exhibition Admission is only good on Friday, October 17th between 9am-1:30pm.

32nd Annual Closing The Gap Conference
Minneapolis, MN

DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Bloomington
7800 Normandale Blvd.
Bloomington, MN  55439

September's Spotlight Star- Carmen


Meet Carmen, an energetic 5 year old with a cheerful personality and contagious smile.  She enjoys bubbles, music, computer activities, and sensory-motor play. She has a strong interest in letters and numbers and is beginning to demonstrate early literacy skills. Carmen enjoys looking at books and pictures of animals and can identify and name more animals than most other children her age.  Carmen is definitely eager to learn.  

Carmen has faced many challenges, including difficulties with gait, balance, coordination, regulating body temperature, self-care skills, and functional communication.  She was diagnosed with a seizure disorder, characterized by frequent, intractable seizures, often followed by the global regression of skills including decreased verbal language.  Carmen is able to imitate verbal models; however, she struggles to express her wants and needs spontaneously.

Previously, Carmen was successfully using a mid-tech communication device at school.  She was able to access a static voice output device with up to 20 buttons. About two years ago, the family and school team decided it was time to introduce a device with robust vocabulary system. After trialing multiple high-tech communication devices, Carmen received her NOVA chat 7 just over a year ago. During her early time with the NOVA chat, Carmen enjoyed exploring the device.  She quickly learned how to label items in her environment with the support of her new device. Her favorite phrases included “Are you kidding me?” and “I’m so over it”.  As her navigation abilties of the NOVA chat 7 improved, she began to include functional phrases in conjunction with her favorite phrases. She is able to greet, request items, specify using modifiers, request actions of others, request more, close an activity, and bid farewell.

Carmen’s skills fluctuate following seizure activity; however, her NOVA chat 7 has provided a consistent form of communication. Strong family support has been a defining factor in Carmen’s communication skills. Her mother, father, and brother are always supportive and encouraging of Carmen.  The family is learning how to implement the device across settings.  Despite Carmen’s many challenges, she continues to make great leaps and bounds with her communication.  She is a joy to watch as she continues down her path with the NOVA chat 7.



August's Spotlight Story- the NOVA Chat from an SLP's view

It is human nature for us to take for granted our ability to communicate. We forget the power of words. With our words we love, dream, fear, hope, encourage, tear down, and rejoice. All the while never dwelling upon what it would be like if we didn’t have a way to communicate. As a Speech Language Pathologist, we face this challenge almost daily when we are presented with an individual who does not have an effective way to communicate. Luckily, we live in a society that has made great strides in technology. Individuals who previously never had a voice – now have the ability to be heard.

When I took a job with Active Development Therapies LLC in the greater Houston, TX area, one of my first cases was an 8 year old boy with the diagnosis of autism. He displayed classic autism: echolalic speech, perseverative behaviors, stemming, no joint attention, extremely limited expressive language, and limited eye contact. For months, I attempted a picture exchange system, but the only item he requested independently was a Thomas the Train toy. In addition, he experienced poor behaviors such as screaming and tantrum like behavior. One day I finally made the decision to trial high-tech devices with him.  

Initially it was a struggle, but slowly he began to realize the devices I presented to him were a mode of communication. We trialed multiple devices but I never could find one that quite fit him. Throughout the trials it became apparent that his dominant language was Spanish. I contacted a representative at Saltillo to receive a trial device upon learning they produced a bilingual system.

I’ll never forget the moment that I saw comprehension dawn on his sweet face. I was attempting to have him label various animals using the NovaChat 10-bilingual (it hadn’t been going all that well), and then all of a sudden it was like a ‘light bulb’ came on. He grabbed all of the animal figurines I was holding, and one by one he held up the animal and told me their names using the device. Over the past few months, I have observed his vocabulary explode.  Upon entering a treatment session he immediately searches for the device. He requests activities independently and during structured activities labels animals, colors, body parts, and food independently. In addition, while using the device, he demonstrates joint attention in shared book readings; he requests items to complete structured tasks; and he is beginning to share personal information like his name. All the while, his expressive vocabulary has begun emerging and his eye contact has improved. This device is impacting his life in phenomenal ways and I believe it will continue to empower him in the years to come. 

The Nova Chat is an amazing user friendly device – read below what my fellow co- workers have to say:

I have been working with a 9 year old child, who first came to us with self-mutilating and aggressive behaviors in addition to a complete lack of verbal language. He was resistant to physical touch and often became extremely agitated upon being presented with any task that required him to attend. We began by slowly introducing a picture exchange program upon gaining rapport and found that we were quickly in need of a higher tech form of alternative communication. Eventually, he began using the Nova Chat 10 and presented with increasing success within each therapy session, resulting in decreased aggression and demonstration of appropriate communicative intent. The best moment in working with this child and the Nova Chat 10 device was definitely hearing his boyish giggle and sharing in his elated smile as he received bubbles upon requesting for them independently. His smile was worth a thousand words. – Candace Kopech M.S. CCC-SLP

I have personally been very pleased Saltillo’s communication devices.  I currently have a patient who owns the NovaChat 7 and I  have seen immense gains in her communication skills with the use of the device.  As she is nonverbal secondary to her diagnosis, she once demonstrated frustration from the inability to communicate with others, often resulting in breakdowns consisting of screaming and crying both at home and at school.  When she was introduced to augmentative communication, she responded with ease, resulting in changes in her overall attitude noted by many. She now smiles and laughs often, as well as reaches for her device to communicate in times of frustration.  Using the NovaChat 7, she is now able to communicate in all settings with all conversational partners.  The NovaChat 7 has provided for both her basic and complex communication needs as she is able to use appropriate social greetings such as “hello” and “goodbye” as well as introduce herself.  She can also successfully use her device to provide personal information such as her address and telephone number, providing her parents with a sense of security, given a time of emergency should arise.  The device has empowered my patient as she is now able to request desired activities and foods, as well as express her feelings and wants to others.  Additionally, she uses the device to participate in leisure and play activities, by completing phrases in books and songs, which she loves. Having used various types of communication devices and by speaking to parents of both NovaChat and other device users, the programming and set up for the device is to understand for both service providers and caregivers.  As the device is lightweight, durable, and easy to carry using the shoulder strap, my patient transports her device with her everywhere.  Recently, as is common with technology, the device began malfunctioning for an unknown reason.  The technical support team at Saltillo was phenomenal and walked me through the trouble shooting over the phone with great patience and even allowed me to ship the device to them, performing maintenance free of charge. They understood my need for timely assistance with the device and I received the device back within a week!   The NovaChat 7 has been successful in assisting me with my goal in providing my patients with a means for communication, and I will consider the use of Saltillo’s devices in the future.  I cannot speak for all NovaChat users, but I do know one little girl and her family whose lives have been immensely blessed through the use of her NovaChat 7 communication device. Stephanie Mitchell M.S. CCC-SLP

I have been a certified Speech-Language Pathologist for only a short 3 years, and I will admit that when I graduated with my Masters degree I knew very little about Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices and strategies. However, when I began my clinical fellowship year at a pediatric outpatient facility it was immediately evident to me that I needed to learn more – and fast. The population that we serve at Active Development Therapies varies widely in severity and types of diagnoses, but what I noticed immediately was that so many of the kids on my caseload had little to no hope of being successful verbal communicators – what was I going to do? I needed to find a way to move my kids beyond communicating with basic signs (which most people do not understand) and to encourage them to use their communication skills for more than just requesting (a limitation I was finding in using printed pictures).

Thankfully, through the help of my colleagues and some clinical research, I began delving deeply into the world of AAC. And boy, were my eyes opened wide! The opportunities for communication through the use of AAC are endless! I currently have two children on my caseload going through a trial period with the Nova Chat 10, and in recent past I have assisted in obtaining a Nova Chat 7 for two other patients. I am a firm believer that not one device fits all; however, I have found that the Nova Chat can be tailored to suit the needs of several children on my caseload. I have one child with severe spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, age 10, who is non verbal and in a wheel chair using the Nova Chat 10 with two head switches, communicating information about her (name, age, brother’s name, what she likes), communicating what she wants to do, and communicating greetings through the 2-switch scanning access mode on the Nova Chat. In contrast, I have a child with Wolf-Hirschorn Syndrome, age 13, who is also non verbal using the direct access method with his right and left hands on the Nova Chat 10 to communicate primarily basic wants and needs with the hopes of expanding his language once he becomes more familiar with the Nova Chat.

I cannot say enough positive ways in which the use of AAC has significantly improved the quality of life of many children on my caseload. The Nova Chat has proven to be a device that is easily tailored to fit both the communication and physical needs of my patients with the ability to modify the complexity of the vocabulary system used on the Nova Chat to meet my clients where they are communicatively. Feel free to call our speech therapy team for more information on our success with using the Nova Chat! – Hannah Key M.A. CCC-SLP

Here at Active Development Therapies LLC, we have seen the Nova Chat impact many children’s lives, and we will continue to consider this awesome device as we strive to meet the needs of our patients. - Jessica McAdams M.S. CCC-SLP


Introducing the NOVA chat 8!

NOVA chat 8 is our newest addition to the already popular NOVA chat family of products.  Like the other models, NOVA chat 8 runs on an Android platform and offers a variety of vocabulary choices including ChatPower.  NOVA chat 8 includes thousands of SymbolStix symbols with the option to add PCS.

Key Features

  • Front and rear facing cameras
  • Single and dual switch scanning
  • Word Prediction (Plus Models only)
  • 4 interchangeable color shells included with purchase
  • Ivona speech engine or optional Acapela speech engine


Click here to learn more about NOVA chat 8.



AAC Evaluations: Painting a Successful Submission Webinar

Would you like to learn about the various funding sources available that fund SGDs, as well as the report writing requirements for those funding sources?  Then we have the course for you!  Our funding partner, PRC offers this course on a monthly basis and the next one is coming up on September 9th.  Don't delay, sign up today!

The course will provide training in effective report writing strategies for securing speech-generating devices (SGDs) from various funding sources such as Medicare and Medicaid. Participants will learn about the various funding sources available that fund SGDs, as well as the report writing requirements for those funding sources. Please note this course covers national guidelines. State specific differences do exist, but will only be briefly covered here. Participants will also learn strategies for responding to deferrals or denials of SGD funding from the various funding sources.

This program is offered for 0.1 CEUs (Introductory level, Related area). See course handouts for instructions and the ASHA CEU Participant form.

Price: $35.00

  • September 9, 2014 11:00 am EST - 12:00 pm EST

Register for the class.

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