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Introducing TalkingTILES 2.0 – The Most Versatile Assistive Care App for Individuals & Professionals

The long awaited, feature-packed TalkingTILES 2.0 is now complete and will be in your favourite app store (Apple, Google Play, Amazon Kindle & Windows) very soon!

Since the launch of TalkingTILES 1.0 back in November 2012, we’ve been humbled by the amazing response and number of downloads that happened so quickly. With thousands of users worldwide we worked diligently to gather your feedback, listen to your reviews and your awesome stories on how TalkingTILES has helped you or someone you care for. We assembled all the feedback and in less than a year have released 2.0 that drastically expands the usability of TalkingTILES in many more scenarios including communication (AAC), learning, assisted daily living and collaborative care for mental and behavioral disorders.

Here’s a quick overview of the new 2.0 features. We will be publishing a series of articles over the next several weeks with more in-depth tips and tricks to the new features – so stay tuned!

New Demo Sample Pages
We’ve added a set of demo sample pages that will introduce you to the new features in 2.0 easily and conveniently. Once you install the app click YES to download the sample pages for you to explore all from within TalkingTILES!



Custom Page Layouts
Change the number of tiles and their size on the page. Create large tiles for easy navigation and touch or show only the number of tiles you need.



Tiles Size, Color and Spacing
Change the tile size including the placement of the image and word in the tile for improved visual placement. Changing color and spacing between tiles enables users to design pages for accessibility and color coding.




Speech Bar – On or Off
TalkingTILES is being used for more than AAC Communication where it’s being used for learning, visual schedules and daily living assistance. In these scenarios there isn’t a need for a Speech Bar so you now have the ability to turn this feature on or off depending on your scenario.



True Multilanguage Support
TalkingTILES can now save special characters including language character sets (such as accents, Chinese and Japanese characters) that will speak accurately and with the right pronunciation for over 30 different languages. Check out our languages folder for ready-made language pages in our Public Library.




Expanded Ready-Made Content
Many users expressed their appreciation of our Public Library so we added new content and organized them under meaningful folders for quick access. We have over 100 ready-made pages in the library currently and regularly adding more.



Advanced Color Settings
We’ve added a number of advanced color settings that can be applied at the page level and tile level. This allows users to create rich and effective color themes that can be used for accessibility and/or color coding vocabulary and options. The possibilities are endless!


As you can see we’ve been busy and we can’t wait for you to try it and share your stories with us! Again, stay tuned for additional articles and webcasts on these new features and capabilities and keep an eye out for your TalkingTILES app update notification through your app store!

All the best!

Rini @ Mozzaz

True Multilanguage Support in TalkingTILES 2.0

We have users from all over the world, and through our voice engines (Google, Microsoft and iSpeech) have the ability to speak over 30 different native languages and now with TalkingTILES 2.0 we are able to save those special non-English characters from our supported languages.

The following are the languages supported through the iSpeech voice engine:


With TalkingTILES 2.0, non-English character sets can now be saved, such as in this example of traditional Chinese:



In TalkingTILES, select the TTS (voice output) engine to use. The richest voice engine currently in our library is the iSpeech TTS engine.

Under the SETTINGS Option, select TTS Settings. From there select iSpeech and the language you wish to use. In this example we have selected “Chinese Female”.



Enter your letters for the word for a tile and save.



Clicking on the tile should now speak the word in the language chosen in iSpeech with the characters used.

We will be posting ready-made sample pages in the Public Library for every supported language we have in iSpeech so be sure to visit the Public Library to explore.

We look forward to hearing your stories and how our language support is helping you with assistive care!

All the best!
Rini @ Mozzaz

TalkingTILES Consulting Psychologist Dr. Reynolds and ABA Therapy

"Experience has shown that a child’s progress in ABA directly related to the extent to which his or her parents are involved in his or her teaching/training."

TalkingTILES consulting psychologist Dr. R Reynolds has been working with autistic children for the past 15 years. His career first lead him to working with adults, but his interest in children with special needs - particularly autism - stemmed from his daughter’s work with autistic children. With his interest sparked, he began researching extensively and reaching out to colleagues with further inquiry. Towards the end of his lifelong career, he found a niche of working with autistic children, and now in his semi-retired state, he continues to provide services and has even written a book to help parents and other professionals gain a better understanding to introducing and integrating Applied Behaviour Analysis in a child’s care and routine.

Dr. Reynolds’ book, Teaching Children with Autism: An ABA Primer, is written in a simple and direct manner. His intended audience is both parents and therapists, with the stress that parents need to be actively engaged in carrying through the ABA therapies at home.

A key message that Dr. Reynolds hopes readers walk away with is that people need to be aware that a diagnostic label is simply just a label. If a child is diagnosed with autism, there is no answer to why or how; doctors are not able to yet distinguish what causes autism. Remembering that the person is an individual with their own unique strengths and weaknesses is a key factor to their development. Therapy and treatment plans must be developed according to the individuals needs.

Over the next few months we will share blogs and webinars with Dr. Reynolds regarding his book and his experiences in working with autistic children. Currently, his book can be purchased through his publisher, Lulu, on Amazon, and Parentbooks in Toronto, Ontario. In future, his book may be available through Chapters. You can also read his personal blog, RMReynoldsBlog.

ISTE 2013: Perspectives on Universal Design for Learning & Technology

I had the privilege of attending and presenting at ISTE2013 this year in San Antonio. Thanks to Dell and Microsoft for inviting us and giving us the opportunity to showcase TalkingTILES as part of the Special Education Technology track.



Firstly, this conference was HUGE! Unofficial numbers were over 20,000 educators, IT in education pros, and education technology vendors.



One of the areas where I had some great conversations was around Universal Design for Learning (‘UDL’) and learning and teaching special education. In fact, Mozzaz is now a member of ISTE’s Special Education Technology group.

UDL is an interesting concept that is really part of an overall movement toward design in general that involves engineering for flexibility, for alternative access, options and adaptations to meet the challenge of diversity. With TalkingTILES, our mission is to create an Accessible, Adaptable & Affordable solution for everyone who may require assistive care or learning through a mobile app utilizing a lot of the concepts and ideas in UDL.

At its simplest, the scope of UDL is based entirely on three principles:



In real-life practice with our education clients, we actively encourage TalkingTILES to be an integrated component of the individual’s learning program, particularly for a special needs student. TalkingTILES can be used for presenting information through visual symbols and words, to express themselves with personalized pictures and content and to stimulate interest through interactive tiles. This when used with real objects, games, and their surroundings can make for a real engaging and inclusive learning experience.

We’re proud to be part of this initiative and look forward to contributing to the content and concepts in driving UDL forward with TalkingTILES.

To learn more about UDL and technology check out:

www.cast.org
www.udlcenter.org
www.iste.org

As always, feel free to send us an email with your comments and thoughts.

All the best!
Pam – Customer Care

Treating Sensory Integration Disorders with the Sensory Diet

What on earth is a “sensory diet”? Is this is another new fad diet? Not at all! In fact this is not a strictly a food diet but a term used to describe sensory activities that are used to treat kids with Sensory Integration Disorder. Your Occupational Therapist will create a “menu” of activities to do with your child. He/she will have you perform these activities in a particular order to create a sensory “meal” or “snack”. Just like nutritional diets, the sensory diet is designed for your child’s sensory needs. Your Occupational Therapist will create a plan of activities for you to do throughout the day.

In our new “Ask the OT” webcast topic, Dr. Covington explains sensory diet and its use as an effective treatment plan.


Common Sensory Diet Activities:

Proprioception activities- Proprioception has to do with body awareness (being aware of where your body is positioned in relation to other parts of your body). Receptors in the muscles and joints help to coordinate movements even without vision. Proprioception activities would include things like

  • Pushing and pulling activities 
  • Squeezing toys or popping bubble wrap 
  • Wrapping your child in a “burrito” by rolling him up in a blanket

Vestibular activities- Vestibular input has to do with your sense of movement and balance that is processed in the inner ear. Vestibular activities include:

  • Rocking in a rocking chair 
  • Swinging on a swing at the park 
  • Running, jumping or skipping

Tactile activities- Tactile activities include any activities that involve the sense of touch, texture or temperature. Some tactile activities are:

  • Messy play such as playing with shaving cream, finger paint, or play dough 
  • Reading and touching textured books
  • Tracing shapes on to your child’s back and letting him guess what shape

Auditory activities- Auditory activities include hearing and listening. Some auditory activities might include:

  • Playing with instruments, such as imitating a rhythm with a drum or tambourine 
  • Playing listening games to see if your child can guess the sound 
  • Listening to music or songs

Visual activities- Visual activities involve making eye contact, processing what is seen with the eyes and interpreting visual input. Some visual activities might be:

  • Stringing beads 
  • Matching games such as matching cards or matching words to cards
  • Picture games, finding pictures in a picture book like the “eye spy” books

Smelling and tasting activities

  • Play a guessing game with scratch and sniff stickers. See if he can guess the smell without looking. 
  • Add a new texture to a food your child already likes. For example if your child likes yogurt, try adding some crunchy granola to his yogurt. 
  • Play a guessing game with foods your child likes to eat. Put two or three foods and have him try them blindfolded.

A great resource for information, books and tools can be found with our friends at SensorySmarts. You can also post your questions directly to Dr. Covington, our resident Occupation Therapist, at Ask DrCovington.com.

Tune in to our Sensory Diet Webcast to learn more.

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