Posts Tagged ‘Speech therapy’

Talk Shop Conference 2013

An image of two purple speech bubbles, one with "talk" the other with "shop" written in white.

Talk Shop 2013 takes place 21st of June at the Daventry Court Hotel.

Friday 21st of June, 2013, will see Trabasack once again attending the annual Talk Shop – the national Speech & Language and Occupational therapy conference.

trabasack lap tray with microphone

Trabasack can be used to mount a microphone to encourage speech

The Talk Shop fair is a one day conference that brings together Speech and Language and Occupational Therapists from around the country to discuss ideas, ignite creativity in the field and keep up-to-date with available resources.

Talk Shop is the ideal location for therapists to meet up with others in the field, and gives them an opportunity to discuss their teaching and therapy methods, share stories and learn how others help their patients get the most from therapy.

By providing a forum for those in the SLT and OT profession, Talk Shop can help keep the field of communication therapy fresh and creative. As each patient in need of communication therapy will have their strengths and weaknesses, many therapist will have unique stories to tell, and having a chance to chat and share experiences can help provide new approaches for speech and language therapy.

TalkShop Workshops 2013

This year Talk Shop will be providing 4 unique and in-depth workshops for parents, carers, SLTs and OTs to take part in.

Apps for use in Therapy

With the fast changing technology that is now available for use in communication therapy, Talk Shop have chosen to present a workshop dedicated to iPads and apps as communication and sensory aids. This workshop will be hosted by Richard Hirstwood, well known for his passionate and experienced approach to multi sensory therapy. He will be talking about how to use iPads for children and adults with additional needs, to engage, motivate and to help connect with those who have communication issues. He will also share ideas for creating multi-sensory experiences for children using toys and environments, as well as touch-screen technology. For a sneak-peak of Richard’s work, you can visit his website

Auditory Processing – ‘The Importance of a Full Sensory Assessment’

The next workshop on offer is Auditory Processing – The importance of a Full Sensory Assessment. Alan Heath, head of the workshop, has taken part in a number of Talk Shop events over the years, and is back again to discuss how the complex mix of all 5 senses allows a child or adult with additional needs to understand the world around them. He will talk about how issues with processing one of the senses can impact upon the processing of the other four, and in turn general daily functioning. For more information on Alan’s work, visit his website

An Introduction to TalkTools Oral Placement Therapy for Feeding and Speech

Next up is the introduction to TalkTools Oral Placement Therapy workshop. TalkTools products and systems were developed in the USA and are specifically targeted at helping therapist aid patients with speech and feeding issues. The workshop includes information on motor and sensory issues that can affect speech and feeding, and therapy techniques that utilise oralsensory/ motor tools. Helen Woodrow is heading the workshop, and is an accredited level 4 TalkTools Therapist, making her the most experienced TalkTools therapist in Europe. You can find out more about Helen and her TalkTools experience by visiting her website

We have been using TalkTools with our son who has Dravet Syndrome. They have really helped him with his eating and drinking and we shall continue to tell other parents about them.

‘How do you SLOT in? Joint SLT and OT working’

The final workshop available on the day is an in-depth look at what TalkShop is all about. The workshop is headed by Hayley and Jess – Speech and Language Therapist and Occupational Therapists respectively, they are highly experienced in their fields. Hayley and Jess are currently combining their skills and experience to create a new independent therapy practise called “We Do Therapy”. They will provide an interactive presentation covering how they met and came to work together, why setting up “We Do Therapy” was important to them, and plenty of hints and tips on how to work collaboratively on projects to achieve desired goals. For more information follow Hayley and Jess on twitter : @WeDoTherapy

Exhibitors and Learning Zones at TalkShop 2013

As well as a fantastic range of workshops for SLT and OT professionals, the TalkShop conference also includes a large selection of exhibitors each showcasing their products and communication aids. It is here that Trabasack will be demonstrating their multi-use lap tray bag and media mount, providing helpful ideas on how to get the most out of your Trabasack in relation to communication and sensory aids.

Media Mount holding a communication switch and a 'hello' symbol

Trabasack being used for symbols and switches

The Learning Zones offer different environments for experimenting with and seeing various equipment and technology in action. This year sees four zones on offer – Tech Zone, featuring the latest in assistive, speech and interactive technologies. Then the Sensory Zone provides an area dedicated to providing the latest in engaging sensory equipment and experiences. The Classroom Zone is a ‘mock’ classroom which will showcase the most inclusive and innovative furniture and school equipment on the market. Lastly the Design Zone will allow you to see ideas that are still in development, get involved with prototypes and take part in discussion on how to develop innovative therapy tools.

Finally, there will be a “Day in the Life” presentation where companies and experts examine the daily equipment needs of children with additional needs, including everything from waking, hoisting, feeding, travelling and bathing. This presentation will demonstrate some of the products on offer from many of the exhibitors and will help provide you with ideas on new equipment that may help your own child.

Image of someone with a Talk Shop tote bag on their shoulder, browsing items for sale on a table.

Each attendee will receive a Talk Shop bag filled with resources and ideas.

TalkShop Venue and Ticket Bookings

TalkShop 2013 will take place on Friday, 21st of June at the Daventry Court Hotel, Northamptonshire. Doors open at 9:15am and the work shop and exhibits are available throughout the day until closing at 4:45pm. There is a large car park available for attendees and tickets are available for £55 per person. To book a place at TalkShop 2013 simple fill in the online form here or contact Louise Scrivener via phone 07881 523804 or email


The video below is a little taste of the kind of information Alan Heath will provide during his sensory and iPad app workshop:

Communication Aids for Deaf People

Communication Aids for Deaf People

Living with a hearing impairment can make communication difficult. In most instances those living with a severe degree of deafness learn some form of sign language which makes communicating with their family, friends and other deaf people much easier. Unfortunately the rest of the population are less likely to use any form of signing. However, there are a range of devices developed for deaf people, allowing them to communicate more easily when signing isn’t possible.

Below are some communication devices which could be useful to those living with hearing impairment or even profound deafness. Please note, the development of modern technologies, especially in telecommunication means many of these devices may seem defunct but this isn’t necessarily so as every individual is different.


The VV-Talker is a wonderful gadget that could enhance the interaction abilities of deaf children as they learn to talk. Deaf youngsters hold the device against their throats and it provides feedback vibrations, helping them to ‘hear’ their attempts at speech. It also has a visual display so they can see the sounds they are making as a sound graph on a screen. This helps them to improve their speech by producing vocal vibrations that are comparable to those shown on the display.

A child using a device that helps deaf children learn to talk

More infomation about the VV talker can be found by clicking the image. Photo credit: Yanko Design

Induction loop systems

Hearing loops are now common in public buildings. They produce amplified sound using an electric field, that can then be picked up by a device used by a deaf person. Often it is by changing a setting on a hearing aid to ‘T’.

Hearing Loop Systems in the Home

In the, you might install a loop system so that the sound from your tv, hi-fi or radio could be amplified. A loop could also be used with a microphone so that you could be able to pick up a conversation with someone close by in an otherwise noisy place. Induction Loop Systems can now be bought online for the home and need no specialist knowledge to set up or install.


Amplified Phones

An Amplified Telephone is a fantastic option for those living with a degree of hearing impairment. They’re designed to ensure that you can hear more clearly as the volume can be increased much higher than that on a regular telephone. What’s more, many also feature additional features including one-touch dialling and spaces for photographs of individuals so numbers don’t need to be remembered and you can simply press the corresponding button.

ClearText Textphone

Textphones are available to those who are unable to used amplified telephones and the Cleartext model featured in the video below is one of the simplest on the market, making communication simple and fast. Featuring a large screen and buttons, communication via text can be quick and efficient. It also automatically inserts the prefix number for TypeTalk which allows for text communication with many companies making it easy to use for professional purposes as well as personal.

The below video explains more about this item:

Communication Uses for Mainstream Technologies

Communication device web cam

Skype Compatible WebCam

Of course plenty of technologies developed for regular usage can be adapted and used easily for communication for deaf people.

You may not need a textphone if you have a mobile phone for example, as you can send messages without difficulty. Similarly, the Skype free internet calls service is ideal if used in conjunction with  Skype compatible webcams. This video capacity removes the need for text as deaf people can communicate as if face to face using their sign language although there is still the option to include text messages.

These types of communication are best accessed using a laptop or tablet, allowing for easy communication wherever you may be. Additionally, to provide a sturdy surface so the user doesn’t need to keep hold of their laptop or feel it wobble on their laps, we’d suggest using a Trabasack lap tray. The Trabasack provides the sturdy, level surface you need, allowing conversation to flow via your computer screen and cam without fail. What’s more if you opt to use a Trabasack Media Mount you can also position your devices exactly where you need them. As Mark Mayer who describes himself as  “Hard of Hearing with cerebral palsy” and who is chairman of a children’s charity, Worster-Drought Syndrome Support Group, says


Single Earphones

For people who have deafness in that is worse on one side, there a also a range of Stereo to Mono earphones that can help amplify sound to one ear or convert talking books or podcasts so that they can be heard in one ear only. As this person on Amazon

This product is primarily designed for runners and cyclists to let them listen to music while having an ear on traffic and surrounding noise, but it’s also brilliant for people with hearing loss – I’m deaf in one ear and can finally listen to “stereo” music through a mono earphone after years of only hearing half the track I’m listening to. The quality of the sound is great – I must be honest and say that my hearing means that I didn’t use earphones a lot, so I don’t really have much else to compare it to, but it sounds fab to me – and the noise isolation means that I can listen to loud music at work without anybody hearing a single annoying tinny beat of what I’m listening to. Overall a really great product.


Communication aids and gadgets for Deafness

So there are a range of useful communication aids for helping deaf people, some very specialist but many being widely available and needing no technical knowledge to buy or install. To browse a wide range of products click here

iPad helps American Boy find his Voice

iPad helps American Boy find his Voice

The benefits of iPad apps and technology for those living with disabilities proven again

Hunter benefits for iPad AAC support

Hunter in a speech therapy session

Despite the iPad being popular with absolutely everybody, we are convinced they help and support learning and communication for people with disabilities. Hunter Harrison is a five year old boy uses his iPad to communicate. Hunter lives with a neuromuscular disability which effects his motor abilities including those needed for verbal communication. Despite this, Hunter is learning to read, knows his numbers, letters, colours and shapes and will be attending mainstream school in September.

Hunter needs a communication system that works. It’s clear he has the facilities to flourish in a mainstream classroom environment. This view is shared by Jane Kleinert from the University of Kentucky who has been working with Hunter. She highlights how popular the iPad has been for use in classrooms, particularly with pupils with autism. The adaptability of the device is one of its most popular features.

Access to AAC Devices Limited, despite iPad affordability

iPad and Proloquo2go

iPad featuring Proloquo2go AAC app

Research in the US has shown that less than 50% of children who require AAC support have access to it. We don’t have statistics for the UK but we’re sure they won’t be significantly different. Access to AAC devices is essential for supporting communication development in children with disabilities. Professor Kleinert and a UK colleague are working together to develop an initiative to build communication systems for children with disabilities. The scheme has allowed Hunter his own iPad loaded up with the popular Proloquo2Go App. The app allowed Hunter to find ways to communicate  but over time it has also led to improvement in his oral speech.

Unfortunately in America, the leading funding options won’t supply iPads as they restrict their funds to dedicated instruments designed for communication. The iPad doesn’t fit this category. However, dedicated AAC devices are often heavy and extremely expensive. The iPad of course has many portability and cost advantages and the success Hunter has achieved is something that every child should have access to. This video shows Hunter in action:

Trabasack can be used successfully as a low cost iPad or communication aid mount for more info click here

QR Codes Communication Ideas

QR Voice and using QR Codes for Communication

How QR Codes can be used for communication

Communication Aids QR Code

Try this QR Code

Quick Response (QR) Codes appear everywhere. You’ll see them in magazines, on bus stop advertisements and pretty much anywhere you can reach with a smart phone. They have become an integral part of modern mobile society but what exactly do they do and how can they be used to aid communication? We look at QR Voice and Symbol Boards.

What are QR Codes?

QR Codes are simply a particular type of small barcode which is extremely quick to read via the right device and can load up large volumes information in comparison to traditional bar codes. You can scan a QR Code with most smartphones, tablets and also specifically built QR reading devices. After scanning they connect to a webpage, sound bite, video or other digital information source.

How can QR Codes be used for speech and communication?

This is where QR Voice comes in. As mentioned any digital information source can be encoded simply into a QR barcode and this includes verbal responses, statements and more. QR Voice encodes text messages into a QR code and then this message can be stored in a smartphone or tablet and used multiple times. Once created and scanned the QR Voice clip can be used regularly to aid communication for those who have non-verbal issues or may just have specific times where verbal speech becomes difficult.

The QR Voice site was developed for regular use but it can be easily adapted as an extremely simple AAC device that’s completely free for anybody to access. You could programme in some specific phrases such as ‘I’m thirsty’, ‘I’m hungry’ and simple ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ utterances and support the user to select specific codes when trying to communicate verbally through their smartphone or tablet.

QR codes on a Symbol Board

You could create a symbol board using these QR codes. Usually Symbol Boards have letters or pictures but using QR codes and a smart phone takes the board to another level of sophistication. The QR symbol could be used with QR Voice to create small sentences that are spoken when the code is read, or the Symbol could lead to a website or image online.

Symbol board mount, using a trabasack to secure a symbol board on the lap

A Trabasack Mini Connect could be used to hold a QR code symbol board

With a little practice, it should be quite simple to get used to and for more advanced users of technology messages of up to 100 characters can be crafted, allowing for a short conversation where possible. Another use could be a series of instructions or a set of sentences, weblinks or images for a talk or presentation.

This short video shows QR Voice in action:

We think trabasack would make an idea bag for QR codes on symbol boards and a smart phone for communication. Please send us your pictures or videos if you have used a  trabasack in this way. We will send you a free T-shirt!

The V Pen and Voice Symbol Software

A Trabasack Mini Connect is a great lapdesk for your communication aids

Voice Symbol Software gives you the opportunity to create talking pictures activated by the simple touch of a V Pen. With this software you can actually design and print your own ‘talking paper’, communication boards and books, which can be accessed through the innovative V Pen.  At Trabasack, we believe this pioneering technology is extremely revolutionary and the range of products available complement the V Pen is vast.

The V Pen itself is a radical new AAC learning support device which generates speech. It generates speech through reading sound codes from printer paper materials, thus creating the ‘talking paper’ that was previously mentioned, as well as communication boards and materials for teaching. This video shows the range of vocabulary that the V Pen can access

Attach communication cards to the versatile “Connect” surface

The V Pen is very easy to use and you simply touch the picture that corresponds with your thought to create the spoken voice. The communication boards are extremely useful for anybody who has reduced speech capabilities or is non-verbal and even better, they are a perfect fit for the Trabasack Mini Connect, which can be used as a tray to hold your communication board or cards. Using your Trabasack Mini Connect as a supportive lap tray whilst using your V Pen will mean you can easily access and touch the symbols at any given time.

The other important point to mentioned with the Trabasack Mini Connect is its “Connect” surface which acts as a great base for Velcro hooks meaning you can attached any laminated voice symbol software materials to your Trabasack and then you can access them more easily. Using your Trabasack Mini Connect in conjunction with your V Pen means you can communicate with ease.

A range of V – Pen products and bundles are available from Ability World.

Five Great Communication Apps for your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch

Five Great Communication Apps for your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch

Your Trabasack is a great lap tray surface for your iPad

Apple’s position as one of the most popular, important and powerful computing and telecommunications companies cannot be disputed. Their range of devices from the original iPod to the more recent iPad and iPhone series are fantastically equipped to handle a huge range of apps and many of these can be used to significantly improve day to day life.

Many people thought Apple had designed their apps purely for entertainment and fun but there are many more uses for many of their great apps, most significantly for us, communication. At Trabasack for Communication Aids we are always looking for the latest and the best technology available to aid communication and make it more accessible. Here we’ve compiled five of the best communication apps currently available through the Apple App Store!

1 – Yes/No – a very simple communication app which is fantastic for simply answering questions. Yes/No allows the user to voice their preference to most questions with a yes or no answer. This app is fantastic for those with learning difficulties who may find open questions difficult and therefore are more confident and comfortable with simple answers. Yes-No - Smarty Ears

2 – iCommunicate. – Grembe Inc. – a communication app which allows for simple expression of feelings through symbols and sounds. You can customise it with specific photos of your environment, for example you could put together a storyboard or social story photos of the individual with the disability doing their usual daily tasks. Like an interactive PECs system. iCommunicate. - Grembe Inc.

3 – TouchChat AAC with WordPower – Silver Kite – an app designed for those who have difficulty using their own voice. There are a range of set messages and sentences stored within TouchChat but you can also add your own if the non-verbal individual has particular favourite phrases or sentences they’re used to and also you can add their name to TouchChat’s vocabulary. TouchChat AAC with WordPower - Silver Kite

4 – Assistive Chat – assistive apps – much like TouchChat, Assistive Chat supports those who have difficulty using their own speech. It’s a much more affordable option and has a range of customisable settings including the voice it speaks in, the size of the font on the screen and also word prediction so keystrokes can be kept to a minimum. Assistive Chat - assistive apps

5 – Grace – Picture Exchange for Non-Verbal People – an award winning app designed for non-verbal individuals. Developed for those on the autistic spectrum, Grace is designed to allow users to choose pictures to express their needs independently and in time, where possible, vocalise their needs alongside using the picture.Grace - Picture Exchange for Non-Verbal People - Steven Troughton-Smith

These are just five of the great communications apps on the market and we believe each one of them can be really useful for furthering independence and general life experiences!


Your iPad is perfectly safe inside your Trabasack’s bag compartment

If you’re lucky enough to own one of these great Apple devices, don’t forget how useful your Trabasack can be. The Trabasack Mini in particular is designed to perfectly fit an iPad 2 and it’s a brilliant storage space for any Apple device. Equally, the Trabasack tray surface gives you the option of somewhere safe and secure to rest your Apple device when not in use!

Trabasack at Talk Shop 2011

Trabasack at Talk Shop 2011

This Friday, September 30th, Trabasack will be at Talk Shop’s National Speech & Language and Occupational Therapy fair. 2011 is the national year of communication which aims to help highlight the importance of communication, speech and language. We are very pleased to be part of an event embracing this.


Talk Shop communtication fair

The Communication Champion, Jean Gross will be speaking at the event and we are very much looking to hear about her work as a champion of the needs of children with communication difficulties.

This one-day event will the be attended by Speech and Language Therapists and Occupational Therapists and their assistants and students . There will be a trade area where we will have a stand alongside some of our old friends such as Guy from Disabled Gear. There will also be a resource sharing area, workshops and discussion groups running throughout the day.


The event is being held between 9am and 4.30pm in Derby’s Yew Lodge Best Western Hotel in Kegworth, East Midlands. So it is a venue very near to us. The conference facilities will give the professionals in both speech and language and occupational therapy a chance to communicate, share ideas, products and developments.
As one of the many exhibitors at the event, Trabasack we will be taking the opportunity to demonstrate trabasack and its uses to the many professional attendees. We are hoping that they in turn will be able to pass on information about the quality of our product and its uses as a communication aid mount or for speech therapy tools and educational toys.
As well as the other exhibitors showing off their products and services, a number of workshops are available. From Working Effectively in an Inclusive Classroom for professionals who work in an mainstream educational capacity to Sound Foundations – The Power of Music & Sound, the range of workshops is really diverse and bound to interest a range of different delegates.

If you do decide to attend please say hello, we will be the ones making notes on at the workshops on a Trabasack!


While doing some research for the conference I found this very interesting new video for the Hello campaign:

Earlier this year, Wendy Lee, Professional Director at The Communication Trust, interviewed 7 children with speech, language and communication needs about their life, their experiences at school and what it’s like to have a communication difficulty.  The Way We Talk is a new film from the Hello campaign showing how speech, language and communication needs can appear in some children through the words of Oliver (aged 8), Attiyyah (15), Luke (4), Jamie (15), Barnaby (6), Aiden (7) and Alex (6).

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Trabasack is available from these Communication Aid companies (to add your company to the list, please email duncan{at}