By Angie Sheets, Educator
Granted, I had been up since 4 AM and endured a 3 hour drive with my partner who insists on putting on makeup while driving, but this PRC All Access class was so much more than I had envisioned.
I have been a big PRC fan since I was first introduced to their products about four years ago. I love the customer service, individualized approach, and the truly scientific engineering that goes into building products that have life altering capabilities. (FYI - I am not employed by PRC, but I could be compelled to make a switch if an opportunity were to arise!) Just as I was beginning to get comfortable with the products that I utilize on a regular basis in my classroom, my PRC rep recommended that my SLP and myself attend the All Access Masters Class.
Normally, I am a pretty great multi-tasker. Most teachers are, right? I was hoping to be able to listen while doing my lesson plans for the following week, doing some progress monitoring updates, catching up on some emails, and maybe a little Tweet here or there. Now I may have snuck in a tweet or two and responded to a few emergency emails, but this class was truly captivating! I had no idea that those dedicated devices that my students had been bringing to school had so much flexibility and capacity for individualization! I loved hearing the real-life stories of consultation success and challenges. Having two full days dedicated to learning the ins and outs of the devices was invaluable. Given the explanations, modeling and hands-on trials with the equipment gave me a much better grasp on the flexibility on customizations from cell display to dwell time to smoothing and scanning options.
The first part of day 1 involved an overview of the ALPS assessment. This provided us with a relevant scale for quantitative measurement of relevant data for those with more complex bodies. Video examples were utilized as all participants were invited to share their thoughts. The instructor, Chip, guided the feedback and helped direct the thought process in an attempt to build thorough assessment skills to drive access techniques for implementation.
The second part of day 1 was composed of direct practice with head pointing and eye gaze. Specific explanations of setting features and calibration were discussed. Participants were encouraged to actively try each setting and feature and to consider a potential student or client who may benefit from these access methods. Additionally, concentration was given to many of the outlying factors that may inhibit this form of access or make considerations for alternative forms of access more suitable.
EXHAUSTED! Drinks and dinner at Basil Asian Bistro in downtown Wooster! The food was outstanding, and our waiter looked like Mister Miyagi from “Karate Kid!” Called the kids and asleep by 9:30!
Day 2 involved a little more eye gaze training. I seriously had no idea how complex the eye gaze system is! Truly an amazing piece of technology! After completing the eye gaze series, we moved on to switch access. After 18 years in special ed, I thought I was pretty competent with switches… I was wrong! Once again, the customizable characteristics blew me away! I was also taken back by how difficult it was for me to develop a rhythm for a solid scanning pattern. Being able to extensively trial each method definitely enhanced my ability teach these methods to my students and staff.
During the second part of day 2, the presenters opened up a mini access lab. They filled the perimeter of the conference hall with multiple devices equipped with a variety of switches and head pointers. We were allowed ample time to trial each piece of equipment. Additionally, several PRC consultants were available to guide our experimentation and answer questions. I love talking to our PRC consultant but to have access to multiple consultants in one room with so many devices was like AT Christmas!
Day 2 wrapped up with video grand rounds. All participants were invited to bring videos of their students/clients (with releases signed) for group consultation. What an amazing opportunity! As rural public school staff, we often feel isolated and sometimes feel like we are grasping at straws as we are seeking solutions for some of our most complex kiddos. To be able to present these individual cases to a room full of experts for guidance is a remarkable and valuable addition to this course! We presented two students for review. The responses were: 1) confirming - the methods that we were trying were verified by participants. It’s nice to know that you are on the right track.
2)inspiring - some respondents had clients with similar needs who had successful interventions and witnessed growth. 3)helpful - realistic suggestions were made that we can definitely implement to hopefully increase successful access.
If you have an opportunity to attend this course, please do so! You will not regret it! Did I mention that they serve lunch and afternoon cookies? Did I mention that we got to meet Jane Odom? Did I mention that they offer loaner access kits? What a great two day experiences!
Stories and Strategies fo...