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Thesis Season with AAC

Posted May 17, 2022 - 11:00am

By Margaret Moore, PRC-Saltillo Blogger

I will be graduating from Fairfield University’s Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing Program this summer, and I am now in the home stretch of my thesis semester. I think this semester best exemplifies how to take advantage of many of the unique features of my Accent 1000 AAC device. 

As discussed in previous articles, I use the Windows Calendar and a myHomework planner app on the Windows side of my Accent to track my deadlines. Perhaps a student overly cautious about staying on schedule, I input my deadlines into both apps. The planner app allows me to have a checklist solely dedicated to my academics. Using the Windows Calendar allows me to see these school deadlines amidst all the deadlines and events I have for my personal and professional obligations, giving me an idea of how I’ll need to plan my time to balance and accomplish everything.

To organize my thoughts and ideas for my thesis, I use Windows Sticky Notes. I love this tool. Not only does it enable me to have the benefit of manipulating “sticky notes” without needing to handwrite—an action challenging for me to legibly do with my disability—it also helps me categorize my thoughts for each aspect of my thesis. The app comes with a directory of existing notes that I currently have. Because of this, I can have multiple sticky notes, but I don’t have to have them open all at once. For example, my thesis is comprised of a memoir that I wrote about my childhood, poetry separate from the memoir, and the essays and bibliography among other pieces required for me to graduate. I have a note for revisions I need to make to my memoir, another for my poetry, and another that lists questions that I need to ask faculty members. I can leave these notes closed and can choose which one to have open as I work. Because each note has a label, it is easy and only takes a matter of seconds to pull up the note I need.

Lastly, a key feature enabling my productivity this semester is my capability to alternate between access methods. I write fastest by using my eyegaze, and I go through my documents to revise and format my work fastest by using my joystick, so I have the most efficient method no matter what I am working on. If my eyes or my hand get tired, I can shift gears, changing my access method and working on another part of my assignment for a little while I take a rest from the other method. This means that I have more choice of when I want to take a break rather than having to rest more frequently as I had to do when I only had one access method. I’m also able to get more work done faster.

No matter what level of education or activity users are involved in, I hope my experience gives others ideas on optimizing their processes for working on an AAC device. 

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Communicators In Action   -    language, communication, Accent, PRC, Saltillo, college, university, thesis, graduation, education