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Zooming in on AAC and Virtual Learning

Posted Jul 19, 2021 - 2:03pm

By Margaret Moore, PRC-Saltillo Blogger

In a few days, I will be starting my nine-day residency as part of Fairfield University’s Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing Program. This semi-annual retreat has been moved online due to the pandemic. Students attend workshops, seminars, and student-faculty meetings among other gatherings. We are on Zoom on and off for between eight and ten hours a day.

There is a very specific process that I use to ensure that I can successfully participate with my AAC device. Early on in the pandemic, I checked with my PRC-Saltillo consultant to see if the Windows side of my Accent 1000 could safely run my speech software and a video call simultaneously. I decided to ask first rather than just try it myself because I did not want to risk crashing my device. Before I asked her, I was using my phone for Zoom and my Accent just for communication. As it is not easy for me to manipulate Zoom on my phone, I was relieved when we determined that Zoom can run on my Accent without interfering with the speech software.

While the Accent has a full Windows 10 system, the device is primarily designed for communication, so I must be careful with software I use on Windows. Running Zoom for an extensive period, for example, causes freezing. I alternate between my Accent and my phone for Zoom, making the switch when faculty give us a break halfway through our three-hour class.

The other effective step that I take is simply explaining my technology and how it sometimes does not tolerate Zoom well to my professors, alerting them that, if they see me exit the call in the middle of class, it simply means that I am restarting my device and will be back on momentarily. The faculty of my program have been very understanding with this.

I imagine that AAC devices will become more equipped for virtual meetings as time goes on. My current system, though, has been very instrumental in my ability to participate on Zoom and I am so glad that my Accent has these capabilities.

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Communicators In Action   -    zoom, teletherapy, college, computer access, university