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Dr. Caroline Ramsey Musselwhite

Monday, January 2, 2017

Compressing Videos - Great app & wiki!

WHY:  We all need to compress videos for different purposes

- Significant Compression:  For example, when compressing videos for students to use on apps such as Go Talk Now, file size is crucial!!  We typically want resulting videos to be under 5 MB!

- Compress Size, but Need Excellent Quality:  When making a video for a professional use, such as a webinar, it is crucial that the resulting video be moderately small size (ex:  < 100 MB) but very high quality

WHAT:  One free program that works very well is Handbrake.
Download Handbrake Here


HOW:  I played around with Handbrake  and had great success with significant compression (e.g., 1.5 GB to 35 MB!)  However, the size of the window was greatly reduced and the quality was significantly degraded.

After searching various blogs, I found this one, on Wikihow, which was extremely helpful!

 How to Reduce Video Size

Good luck!!


Sunday, December 11, 2016

The Case for a Good Case

 by Deanna K. Wagner, MS/CCC-SLP                  October 23, 2016 (last updated 12/11/16)

This year we have had reason to discuss pros and cons of various cases based on requests from our funding source, so thought I should share some of what we found out.

First of all, vendors who need to protect their AAC devices carefully research cases, and often end up having them made specially to meet their standards.  When we recommend a communication device that already has a case, then replacing or adding parts is so much easier.  Just call the vendor!  This is the case (pun intended) for the following devices:

Accent devices by Prentke Romich Company
Chat Fusion by Saltillo Corporation
NOVA chat devices by Saltillo Corporation
T10, T15, i12, i15 by TobiiDynavox 

Some companies have bundled iPad-based devices for Medicare funding.  The one like this to come already configured and dedicated (locked) was the ComLink ProSlate by FRS Solutions, and the individual components are not sold separately.  These devices are also warrantied by the vendor, just like other AAC devices.  They come in 10" iPad and 8" iPad mini sizes.

ComLink ProSlate by FRS Solutions
PRiO by Prentke Romich Company
TouchChat Express by Saltillo Corporation

The PRiO and TouchChat Express come in a case called the ChatWrap, which can be purchased without an iPad.  This is not a cheap case, but it includes a bluetooth amplifier, handle and stand as well as 2 switch ports and keyguard options.  The keyguards have guides that slip under the boot at the edges of the case and can flip up when not needed.  The amplifier has a battery that can be replaced by the family or removed and sent in for technical assistance.

The battery in the iAdapter by AMDi cannot be replaced in the field.  This vendor requires the family to send in the case to replace the battery after a couple of years.  The keyguards must be purchased from another vendor.

Other cases do not have built-in amplification, and varying degrees of durability.  I often refer to the Pinterest by Lauren Enders before making a recommendation.  Daedalus sells a couple of these cases (Ballistic, Survivor) with a device plate for wheelchair mounts attached, including options to twist from landscape to portrait mode.

A few other observations...  The amplifier and keyguards are attached to the ProSlate (from FRS- see link above) with really strong magnets and are high quality; keyguards are custom fabricated by this vendor in their shop and can have holes that are round or square and of varying thickness.

Keyguards by Beyond Adaptive are much thinner and are held on by straps.

Keyguards by LaseredPics also have options for straps, but also offer others with tabs that slip under the case or use suction cups/tape.  Order first based on the app, then options for suction cups or straps based on the case you are using.

Many cases that have stands that fold up or pop open get broken quickly by the students we work with (e.g., GumDrop Hideaway cases).  Trident cases have an option to attach a stand that also functions as a handle.

Carefully consider the difference between suction bases (e.g., Tabletop Suction Mount by Ablenet) and vacuum bases (e.g., Naked Flex Mount by Seasucker).  Vacuum bases are much stronger.

If you need a water-resistant option, consider the LifeProof Nuud cases.  There is also an option for the 12.7" iPad Pro, which means the amplifier is louder than an iPad Air.  In the past, this case was designed with a top cover.  I haven't ordered the latest version to see whether it still seals well with a screen protector in place.  Another nice option for this case is the handle/shoulder strap.  The suction option does not have a vacuum seal.  To add another layer of protection, you can consider the extra LifeJacket option, which actually floats!



Thursday, December 8, 2016

AAC in the Desert Conference 2017

AAC In the Desert 2017

WHEN & WHERE:  
WHO:  Speakers include:  Dr. Caroline Ramsey Musselwhite, Dr. Gretchen Hanser, and Erin Sheldon, MS.;  This conference is open to parents, teachers, therapists, and others interested in supporting communication and early literacy for students with significant disabilities.

HOW:  
Download the flyer here:  AAC in the Desert Flyer

Register here:  AAC in the Desert Registration 

Mini Adventures Apps - Great Photos and Videos!

What:  New Reviews of old apps!  These three apps are free or very inexpensive ($ .99), and include hundreds of photos and videos on three topics, sorted alphabetically:
- Mini Adventures - Let's Go (Transportation)
- Mini Adventures - ABC Animals
- Mini Adventures - Music


Where:  Look for the reviews at the Spedapps2 wiki:

Reviews for these apps are posted under:
  Letter Names
 Ideas for using these apps for letter exploration,, and beginning to use Alternative Pencils

Social Skills / Pragmatics 
Ideas for using these photos & videos to support commenting

Inspiring Writing
Strategies for using these photos and videos as writing prompts




Saturday, November 19, 2016

Julia & Gene's First Thanksgiving - A Funny Story!

This powerpoint tells about a very fun family story.  I used it as an opportunity for students to predict, then write a response. 

Enjoy!!

C



Julia and Gene's First Thanksgiving












Here is a sample story response from 2 of my students, using PicCollage
 

Thanksgiving - Shift of Perspective!

SHIFT OF PERSPECTIVE

Fun Thanksgiving activity.

I had students watch 2 videos, and read a poem.  All looked at Thanksgiving from different perspectives:

1) Mary Chilton, Young Girl from Plymouth Colony:
 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yh_0t4EcsjE



2) Plymouth Rock (yes, the actual rock tells the story)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=faUYJ9fMiGg



3) Point of View Poem by Shel Silverstein (From the turkey's perspective!)
https://allpoetry.com/Point-Of-View
 

It would be great to add the perspective of Native Americans re: the 1st Thanksgiving - please share with me, if you find a good one.

 Enjoy!

Thursday, October 20, 2016