Sharing Stories with Beautiful Bunting

I recently came across a beautiful handmade product with storytelling at its heart. Karen Chatterley, aka Mrs Buttons, takes sentimental pieces of children’s clothing and creates custom-made bunting that preserves people’s memories. Precious pieces of material from first dresses, favourite tops and babies blankets are upcycled into bunting that is then embellished with buttons and ribbons and transformed into a beautiful keepsake and talking point for years to come.

When I met Mrs Buttons, we spoke about the wonderful way this product acknowledges children’s memories as important and provides children with a beautiful visual prompt that encourages them to share their stories. Mrs Buttons shared her own story about her son Harry who was sad at having outgrown a favourite pair of pajamas he had been given, which led her to devise a way to preserve the memories attached to cherished pieces of clothing. As a former teacher, Karen was also keen to encourage storytelling in families and on her Facebook page, Mrs Buttons urges parents to “tell your child the stories of where the materials came from, of birthdays and Christmases, this is your history, this is what makes your family unique and I hold that dear”.

For information about Mrs Buttons’ bunting and other products, please visit https://www.facebook.com/MrsButtonsAu?fref=ts10665836_739850472748887_6217847796707662063_n10604523_739850502748884_5589915684612110528_o

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Communicating Without A Shared Language

I’ve recently returned from a trip to Beijing, China and had the unique opportunity to experience communication in the absence of a shared language. Despite the obvious language barrier, I met lots of great people who were keen to chat about my smallest travelling companion (my two year old son). Through the use of pointing, gestures, natural signs and some guesswork, I muddled through with people and was able to interact quite successfully!

Here are some of the things that travelling reinforced for me:

  • Travelling with a toddler is a great conversation starter!
  • You can make an educated guess about the kinds of things people want to know about you when you are visiting another country (e.g. “Where are you from? How long are you visiting?”)
  • Having some visual aids like a map or photos makes communication so much easier. We quickly learnt to favour restaurants with photo-based menus, where we could point out what we wanted to eat and had a reasonable understanding of what we had ordered
  • People seem to really appreciate your effort in attempting to say “please” and “thank you” in another language. My toddler also learnt how to say “Xie xie” for “thank you” and uttering this guaranteed lots of attention!

Using an iPad: Options for Blocking Access to Apps & the Home Button

Lately, I’ve been working with students who are learning to communicate using different Apps on iPads and while we’ve had some great successes,  we’ve encountered one particular difficulty: the lure of the “Home” button! Too often, students press the “Home” button and close the App they were using and are unable to navigate back. An adult is then required to relaunch the App to return the student to the program. When iPads are used in an educational setting, it can be really time-consuming for the teacher to go around and make sure all the kids are using the right App (and not checking out their pictures in iPhoto or surfing the internet!)

Although there are several Apps available that claim to lock you out of specific Apps on your iPad through the use of a password, I’ve read lots of negative reviews provided by disgruntled customers who report that these Apps only request a password for a couple of Apps or don’t do what they claim at all. Another issue with password-protected Apps is that once a password is required (i.e. when the person using the iPad attempts to open another App), the person requires someone to type in the password and then relaunch the required App.

One option for preventing access to a number of tempting Apps on the iPad is to set some restrictions via the iPad’s “Settings” menu. Open “Settings”, select “General” and then go to “Restrictions”. From there you can restrict access to “Safari” (the Internet), YouTube and a number of other Apps. This only works for a few Apps though and doesn’t allow you to block access to all the Apps you have downloaded, like specific games.

The best option I’ve found is to physically prevent access to the “Home” button through the use of a product called the Bubcap. “Bubcaps” are little adhesive covers of varying levels of rigidity that stick over the “Home” button and make it difficult for children to press. Adults can still access the “Home” button with a firm press and retain a little more control over the use of the iPad. I like this idea because once a “Bubcap” has been attached, the person can then use the iPad independently.

Great News about Proloquo2Go!

In my last post I wrote about how it would be great if you could program recorded speech onto buttons in Proloquo2Go. Well…Happy New Year everyone because it’s going to happen! On the 31st of December, 2011, the Proloquo2Go Facebook page announced that “the ability to record and play back audio” will be added in 2012! It will be available as a free update and “will be added after [version] 2.0, probably in 2.1 or 2.2”. This will be a fantastic addition to the Proloquo2Go app!

I’ve previously outlined a few ideas for using audio in Proloquo2Go and I have some more to add to the list:

– recording cheers to use when watching sports

– singing a song (depending upon whether there is a time limit on the recording)

– people who are able to produce clear speech at the start of the day but fatigue as time passes might like to record their own voice into Proloquo2Go

To access the full Facebook post and comments, please follow the link: http://www.facebook.com/proloquo2go?ref=ts

Making Proloquo2Go Even Better

I recently emailed AssistiveWare (the company that created Proloquo2Go) with some suggestions for inclusion in a future software update. Wouldn’t it be great if you could program recorded speech or a sound file onto buttons in Proloquo2Go? The possibilities would be endless! You could record or add:

– laughter (instead of relying on a vocabulary item that says” ha ha ha” – which can sound a little sarcastic!)

– drama lines (for all the performers out there)

– whistles (e.g. to get a friend’s attention)

– gasps (great to convey surprise in a conversation)

I’d love to read your suggestions too. Please feel free to leave a reply via the link below.

Proloquo2Go

I’ve just been reading about the new update for Proloquo2Go, a great app that allows you to communicate using symbols and text via your iPhone, iPad touch or iPad. The app is relatively easy to use and can be customised to include all the vocabulary items you need for specific activities, which can be arranged within categories.

I’ve been doing lots of Proloquo2Go programming lately and am really happy that the bug that makes buttons move around within categories has been fixed!

For more information on Proloquo2Go, please visit http://www.proloquo2go.com/