Category Archives: Tips & Advice

Short posts that explain a topic or tip from either side of our group: Makers or AT folks.

For example, “How to Diagram w/Fritzing” or “What is Person-First Language”

Flooding the Zone w/AAC Devices

This summer, we’re trying something new!  We’ve worked with LessonPix Custom Learning Materials and Minor Achievements Learning Center to create a camp where every kid has access to a basic AAC device.  We have two types of devices: an Android-based tablet running CoughDrop, and a custom device built on the Adafruit PyPortal intelligent screen.

In this video we review how things went when the devices met the campers!

How it’s Made

The custom devices are made with an Adafruit PyPortal, a battery charger and a speaker along with some custom CircuitPython code.  You can see more about it in this section of the Show & Tell broadcast from June 20, 2019:

A Team Effort

This project couldn’t have succeeded without the work of many people, so here’s a short list of those involved.  Thank you all!

  • Bill Binko from designed and built the custom boxes.
  • Lori Binko is the director of Minor Achievements and green-lighted the project (as well as drawing all the symbols for LessonPix!)
  • Lori Goehrig was our on-site AAC Specialist and was instrumental in running the week
  • Theresa Ruth is the principal SLP at LessonPix & Minor Achievements: she also runs most of the camps this summer and was the Chief Cat Herder all week
  • Brian Whitmer from CoughDrop AAC was so forward looking that he developed the Open Board Format which allowed us to build the boards in CoughDrop and export them to our custom devices
  • Dan Halbert at provided outstanding support as we tried to make this brand new device do something beyond what was intended.
  • Lori Geist from Project Core at UNC Chapel Hill was gracious enough to listen to this nutty idea and help guide us in the initial core word selection.

We will have separate guides on how to build the devices after our camps are through (and we’ve learned all our lessons), as well as how to implement a “Flood the Zone” approach on the Minor Achievements blog.

CircuitPython Creates New AT Opportunities

For those of you who don’t know, CircuitPython is a programming language and environment for small computers and microcontrollers that is sponsored by our friends at Adafruit.

It is a variant of Python, and a fork of the popular MicroPython that’s been out for a few years.  However, CircuitPython has a few differences that are really helpful for Assistive Technology., and we’re going to use it to amazing things!

Continue reading CircuitPython Creates New AT Opportunities

How to be a (More) Maker-Friendly AT Vendor

Thank you to all the Assistive Technology vendors out there: the devices you create make everyday activities possible for AT Users every day!

We’d love to work with you to make your products and policies more Maker-Friendly.  To that end, we’ve asked our community of AT Users, Practitioners, Makers and Care-Givers to share their challenges using Assistive Technology products.
Continue reading How to be a (More) Maker-Friendly AT Vendor

How to Diagram w/Fritzing

When you’re first starting out with electronics, it’s hard to know how to make good-looking, easy-to-understand diagrams of your ideas and creations.  But doing so is a huge plus when others are trying to help you!

Luckily, there’s a free program named Fritzing that makes physical, schematic and even circuit board diagrams very easy.

Continue reading How to Diagram w/Fritzing