Sunday, May 13, 2007

Commercial Communication Boards

Although most of us make our own communication boards for our students and use either off-the-shelf display materials or specialty display materials for them; there are commercial, pre-made communication boards available. These boards sometimes have advantages we cannot create using our classroom resources, such as a keyguard, extra durability or being waterproof. Most of the commercial board available are alphabet/text based or designed for medical use.

EMAT (left) and Candle (right) both offer spelling boards with build in keyguards, the Candleboard is safe to use in water.

The Buddy Board is perhaps the most unique of the commercially available boards. It is a clear plastic case that clips shut and holds a communication board inside. The case has a built in keyguard for a spelling keyboard or use with picture boards. The buddy board cases come in two sizes, Sr. and Jr. The overlays (underlays?) come in a variety of fdesigns including QWERTY keyboard, medical, a sticker board which includes a Mayer-Johnson PCS stickers, a blank board set and the Pro set which comes with the Boardmaker Software. You can also just buy the Buddy Board cases alone.

Satillo offers the WordPower OnBoard for literate communicators to use as a primary or back-up system. It features a spelling section, 100 high frequency words, numbers, and phrases all color coded.

ACCI is another company offering pre-made communication boards. They sell three different kinds: adult, child and design your own. These boards as much less medically oriented than those immediately above. All three boards have a QWERTY keyboard printed on the back for spelling. Likewise Language Images offers picture based communication boards.

Several companies make communication boards that can be used to indicate pain, wants and needs for patients in hospitals, rehabs and nursing homes. These can also be very useful for our students to communicate those same needs to school staff, their doctors and nurses, family and other caretakers. In fact if our students who have high medical needs learn to carry and communicate with such boards they will be at a communicative advantage if and when they need to communicate in a medical situation.

Interactive Therapy offers a series of Critical Communicators (above) for use in medical situations. Among the choices are board for the emergency room/ICU, a kid's board and a maternity board. They also offer text and very simple line drawing books.

Similarly Vidatak has a set of heavy duty laminated communication boards for hospitals that they call the EZ Board. (These boards were on the TV show ER.) The board has a pain chart with a diagram of a body to point to what hurts and on the reverse a spelling and communication books. The boards come in upwards of a dozen languages.

Trademark Medical offers an equivilant design on a clipboard or heavy duty laminated card called "The Silent Speaker". The Silent Speaker Boards come in three designs, one for home care, another bilingual board for acute care situations and a final large symbol board for use with children, individuals with learning disabilities and/or confusion and memory loss.

Another link to check out is Indoff Hospital Boards. Indoff creates custom dry erase communication boards for hospitals and others.

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