March's Spotlight Star- Kristen

There is a saying, “Not being able to speak doesn’t mean you don’t have anything to say”. Communication is essential to everyone. I should know, because I have a disability that keeps me from speaking and, even though I can’t say words, I do have something to say.

To make a long story short, I have Cerebral Palsy.   In my lifetime, I have had thousands of AAC devices. I may be exaggerating a little, but I was there before they were known as AAC devices. I was there when electric typewriters were the wonders of the day. I was there before computers. I was there before push button phones. I was there when people actually wrote letters. I have seen the development of AAC devices over the past forty plus years and it has been amazing.

I started communicating as a “regular “child by crying and smiling. My first AAC system was to answer yes/no questions by raising my hand for yes. My first AAC device was a board with pictures. Magically, the pictures turned into words, the words became more numerous and the board got larger and larger and larger until it was the size of a piece of large tag board that fit on a chart stand that went where ever I went at school. I had a similar board at home on the refrigerator and by the table. It eventually became the size of a 12” x 16” art canvas, which I could have with me all the time.

My first electric device was an electric typewriter. For the younger generation that is an ipad before steroids. It was just a keyboard with a print out.

Since that time many devices have passed over my chair.  Like people, they each had their own personality, all of them quirky and extremely frustrating.    

One of my devices was so was so frustrating, that I wanted to take a hammer to it. My father gave me a hammer and said, “Go for it.” At that point in time, I said I would never, ever have another electronic device.

Well, a couple of years ago, I kicked myself in my bootie and said, “Ok, let’s try it again”. I was associated with CTEC, the Communication Technology Education Center in Sacramento.   They did an assessment and after trying numerous devices, I decided the NOVA chat 10 would be the best for me. I was right. It has been a life changer. I can hold conversations without someone standing next to me; I can carry on conversations with people in a room close by; it doesn’t take a person with special skills to be with me and read my board; it’s dependable; the size is great for me; and on the occasions I have had to use tech support, because it is after all a computer, they have been very knowledgeable, helpful and patient.

My NOVA chat 10 is my Knight in Purple Amour!

Strengthening Your Core Updated date

The Strengthening Your Core workshop in Peoria, IL has been rescheduled for April 29. Click here for more details!

CANCELLED- Strengthening You Core

CANCELLED – The Strengthening Your Core Workshop scheduled in Peoria, IL, for 3/12/14 has been CANCELLED due to weather. If you are already registered, you will receive an email with the rescheduled training information as soon as the new date has been set. If you have any questions, please contact the seminar coordinators at 800-848-8008.

February's Spotlight Star- Jeremy

Meet Jeremy, an active and fun-loving 12-year-old boy with a diagnosis of shaken baby syndrome. As a child it was thought that he would never speak, read, or write; let alone be an effective communicator. At first, Jeremy communicated through a means of pushing/pulling, grunting, screaming, verbalizing 4-6 words, and using barely recognizable signs. His constant inquisitiveness showed an enthusiasm for learning and communicating, which his SLP recognized immediately. She was certain that there was more that met the eye when it came to Jeremy. He was a smart boy; she just had to prove it to everyone else and to Jeremy himself.

At 6 ½ years old, Jeremy started using his first communication device, a Dynavox V. There is nothing like seeing a child’s face the very first time he activates a button saying, “My name is Jeremy.” Jeremy grew like a weed in the use of his device. Of course, he loved to “play” on it, so he had to be locked out of the settings, but he really used it to communicate. He proved that he was and is a very bright boy.

Eventually Jeremy grew tired of carrying his big device around and took to hiding it. He refused to use it and also began throwing it; needless to say it was out for repair frequently. Finally, after 5 ½ years he qualified for an upgrade. We knew Jeremy needed something that was more portable and looked cooler, which is when we found the Nova Chat.

In September 2013 his new Nova Chat 7 arrived. Despite all of our worries about how he would transition to the new device, Jeremy took to his Nova Chat like a duck to water. He needed extra guidance for only a few short weeks and then he had it down. He loved that it “looked like an iPad” and he felt cool carrying it around; he didn’t feel so different anymore. 

Jeremy uses the Chatpower 42 vocabulary file on his Nova chat 7 successfully in the classroom to answer teacher guided questions, do his math work, practice his writing, learn his Edmark reading words, read books, and to interject a novel remark here and there. It goes with him to every class, including field trips.

He loves to explore his Nova Chat and “work” on it every chance he gets. Jeremy is an excellent speller; nothing makes him happier than to go into the typing page and type out short messages, people’s names, or simply words that come to his mind - pretty amazing for a child who was not expected to read or write. Jeremy recognizes kindergarten and first grade site words and one of his favorite things to do is take a note book and pencil and write or copy words from books or his device. Not only did the device help to increase his literacy skills, but he has also increased his verbal vocabulary to over sixty words. He is still very hard to understand but will always go to his Nova Chat and try to find what he is trying to tell you.

He prefers to speak in two or three word phrases using his device, but can usually get his point across. His ability to communicate with others has increased even more with the use of his new Nova Chat 7.

Although he continues to hide his device on occasion, and must still be locked out of the programming mode, he enjoys using it in class and most of the time at home with his mom. It has really helped him to continue to grow as a person, and we cannot wait to see where he is in another 5 ½ years.

Medicare Capped Rental Announcement

If your clients are covered by Medicare

If you provide services to clients covered by Medicare, we want to be sure you are aware of upcoming changes to how speech generating devices (SGD) will be administered by Medicare. 

Effective April 1 of this year, Medicare will reimburse a SGD under a ‘capped rental’ category.  This includes all six of the E-codes related to speech devices.  Capped rental is one of a number of reimbursement categories within Medicare and is typically used for products such as hospital beds. 

In the capped rental category, a SGD is rented from the supplier (PRC, Saltillo, etc.) for a period of up to 13 months.  After 13 consecutive months of the rental, ownership of the SGD will be transferred to the client.  Prior to this change, speech devices were considered ‘routinely purchased’, the device immediately became the property of the client and the supplier was paid after the device was delivered.  The capped rental category also allows for the re-use of speech devices that are rented, so it is very possible that future clients will not receive a new device under Medicare.

We are concerned that this change may cause problems for those clients who are admitted to a hospital, long term care facility, skilled nursing facility (SNF) or a hospice during the 13 month rental period, referred to as an “interruption in service”.  Clients and their families are required to notify PRC and Saltillo about changes in their medical or residential status affecting eligibility thus resulting in an interruption of service.  During an interruption in service, if a speech device is not arranged and paid for by the SNF, hospital or hospice, the client could be without any means of communication during these changes in settings because the equipment will need to be returned to the supplier. As you know, speech devices for these clients are often highly customized in terms of optimum access, vocabulary programs, client-specific content, etc. so even if ‘generic’ speech devices are available, they will not meet the needs of many clients.

If the interruption in service is long enough, the client may need a new evaluation in order to re-acquire a speech device. 

Our commitment

We all appreciate your clinical services to these clients and want you to know that both PRC and Saltillo are committed to providing the best possible solutions within the Medicare regulations, now and following April 1.  We believe the need to communicate is a constant, regardless of setting or location.  Your skilled evaluations and therapy services are essential to enabling these clients to communicate to the full extent of their abilities. 

We are working actively with other suppliers, patient advocacy groups, professional and trade associations and others to educate the decision-makers at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services about complications and the potential harm when this ruling goes into effect.  We believe Medicare is unaware of the diverse population of clients, the complexity of the needs within this population and the extent to which these devices are customized to meet those needs.  We will keep you informed on our progress in this education effort.  We will also be ready to comply with these new regulations on April 1.

You can review the final regulation at:


Win a Nova Chat on Facebook!

UPDATE:  The contest is now over and the winner is.... Margaret Ann!  Congratulations!


We are so close to 1000 likes on Facebook. When we surpass this goal, we will give away a brand new Nova Chat device!

How to Enter:

1.  You MUST like the Saltillo Facebook page (

2.  Get your friends/family to like our page and post on our page that you sent them.  The person with the most referrals (posts from others mentioning their name) will win.

3.  The contest will end once we get 1000 Likes.

Rules & Regulations:  Winner will be announced via Facebook when the page reaches 1000 Likes.  By liking and posting on our page, you release Facebook from any type of liability pertaining to this promotion.  This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook. You are providing your information to Saltillo Corporation and not to Facebook. The information you provide may be used for this contest and future Saltillo marketing.


Strengthening Your Core: Building Vocabulary Muscles for Stability and Independence Seminar

Want to learn more about Core Vocabulary?  Then you'll definitely want to attend the Strengthening Your Core: Building Vocabulary Muscles for Stability and Independence workshop.  Click here or see below for more information.

Course Description

This workshop will provide an overview of core vocabulary and how it is represented across two AAC platforms. Core vocabulary is comprised of the words we use for communication regardless of context. About 80% of the words we use will be core, and teaching these words to individuals using AAC is particularly important. In this workshop, participants will develop an understanding of what core vocabulary is and how it can be represented across AAC devices and vocabulary systems. Participants will explore use of core vocabulary in social and academic environments, and get hands-on time to practice with AAC devices. Finally, specific strategies for teaching core vocabulary throughout lessons, activities and classroom routines will be discussed.

This presentation will focus exclusively on Nova Chat 5, Nova Chat 7, Nova Chat 10, ALT-Chat, Chat-PC, Vantage, Vantage Lite, ECO, Accent 1000, Accent 700, Accent 1200 and SpringBoard Lite and will not include information regarding other similar or related applications.

You do not need to bring an AAC device to this training.

Registration is from 8:00 - 8:30 a.m. and the seminar begins at 8:30 a.m.

  • Cost: $75.00
  • Date: Mar 12, 2014 8:30 am - 3:00 pm
  • Facility: Easter Seals - Peoria
  • Location: Peoria, IL
  • ASHA CEUs: 0.5
  • Instructor: Lisa Timm & Sarah Wilds

 To register, please click here.


ATIA Orlando 2014 Saltillo Presentations

Are you heading to sunny Orlando this week for ATIA?  If so, you are very lucky.  Not only will you have warm and sunny weather (hopefully), but you'll also get the chance to see some awesome presentations.  See below for descriptions, dates and times.

Friday, January 31st

Different Kids, Different Systems: Core Vocabulary with Saltillo and PRC

Presenters: Lisa Timm and Sarah Wilds

Time: 2:20pm – 3:20pm, Room: Curacao 7/8

There are many different AAC systems on the market, and an increasing awareness of the importance of teaching core vocabulary. This session will explore why core vocabulary is important for children using AAC, and the differences in core representation between PRC and Saltillo devices. Implementation ideas using basic and extended core vocabulary will be presented, and differences in how to teach core across different devices (e.g., NovaChat, Accent, iPad) will be highlighted.

Saturday, February 1st

Developing Relationships and Leadership Skills for People Who Use AAC

Presenters: Chris Klein and Lisa Timm

Time: 8am – 9am, Room: Curacao 1

The majority of leaders in the AAC field are mostly clinicians, manufacturers, and university faculty. People who use AAC have a difficult time getting into a leadership role and functioning effectively in those roles because of time-based communication limitations and lack of education. The majority of this session will be spent on addressing the following 4 questions: (1) “What kinds of relationships are critical for people who use AAC and why?” (2) “How can clinicians, support teams, and teachers promote the building of these critical relationships?” (3) “What resources are available to help support teams, teachers, and clinicians support relationship building with PWUAAC?” and (4) “What resources and tools are available to help PWUAAC develop their own leadership skills? “ During this presentation, specific details will be provided regarding: 1) the role of clinicians and teachers in promoting AAC awareness and education within their professional settings; 2) the organization of local parent, teacher, and PWUAAC support groups; and 3) implementation of AAC mentoring programs to build relationships and promote leadership skills among PWUAAC.


Barb and her "lifeline", the Nova Chat 10

Meet Barbara Weber from El Paso, IL.  About one and half years ago, she started losing the ability to use her voice.  Currently, she has a possible diagnosis of Bulbar ALS.  She is retired now, but remains a very active member in her community and in her church.  She received her NOVA Chat 10 in May of 2013. Her NOVA Chat 10 has changed her life!  Barb’s vocabulary system is called Essence.  It has been modified to meet her needs best.

Barb was a stay at home mom for several years, then went to work in an insurance and real estate office for 25 years.  She has two grown children.  Over the years she volunteered to provide meals on wheels to elderly individual with disabilities that are sometimes homebound.  She also became a helper for her neighbor who had a disability and has now moved to a nursing home.  The NOVA Chat has been a lifesaver, as she can still communicate with her neighbor and everyone else!

Last year, her method of communication was writing everything she wanted to say.  Barb is also part of a mentoring program for students needing help after school. She mentors two sophomore girls in a local high school.  The girls struggled to get the message because they couldn’t read Barb’s writing. Today she can communicate everything and is excited to share information with her new method of communication.  The NOVA Chat is also a “cool” tool in the high school!

Barb uses her NOVA Chat everywhere. She uses it to do her banking, talk with her doctors, at the library, shopping and with her church groups, etc.  Barb commented that the NOVA Chat has opened up a whole new world for her.   In addition to communicating with her NOVA Chat, she is using her device for email.  She is the treasurer for her ladies group at church.  She is able to give her reports using her NOVA Chat now.  People ask her where she got this wonderful machine-and that they wouldn’t mind having one!  She enjoyed a recent visit with a friend from Minnesota with her new means of communication. When she goes to the mall, people will remember her by her machine and are fascinated!  Barb said this is “priceless”!  She also joked that her husband doesn’t hear well when she had limited ability to communicate.  NOW, she has a machine that works wonders!  It is her lifeline!


NOVA Chat Software Update 1.11.0

Welcome back everyone! Hope you all had a nice break. In case you didn't have time to update before the holidays, be sure to do the Nova Chat 1.11.0 update soon. This update addresses miscellaneous issues caused by Android 4.4 update.

To download the NOVA Chat 1.11.0 Software Update, go to Downloads, choose your language and download the NOVA Chat Software Update version 1.10.0 to 1.11.0.  Instructions for updating are included with the downloaded files.

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