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Designing and Implementing an Auditory Scanning System for AAC Users: Better Decisions for Successful Outcomes

  • 30 Oct 2023
  • (AEDT)
  • 3 Nov 2023
  • (AEDT)
  • Hybrid: Online, in-person, and self-paced


Designing and implementing an auditory scanning system
for AAC users

Better decisions for successful outcomes

A multi-event masterclass series
proudly presented by
AGOSCI and Liberator Australia



Communicating using a speech generating device through auditory scanning presents unique and demanding challenges for an AAC user.   Providing the AAC user with the option of auditory scanning is much more than a couple of simple toolbox choices.  It requires careful consideration of how symbols are used, how symbols are organized in quadrants and rows, and the auditory prompts that provide clues as to what is contained in each group of symbols.  This is essential to minimize the cognitive load for communicating through auditory scanning. 

This masterclass series includes:

  • 4  learning modules (includes a hands-on workshop option)
  • Plus: LIVE Q&A event with all the presenters 
  • To be completed over one week (Oct 30 - Nov 3)

Learning outcomes

After attending this presentation, participants will be able to:

  • Discuss current scanning options.
  • Describe considerations and design factors for the use of auditory scanning in a Minspeak® system.
  • Identify factors that influence the design of an auditory scanning array.
  • Identify access needs and use of switches for auditory scanning. 
  • Implement strategies for teaching expressive language through auditory scanning.

Target Audience

This presentation is geared towards individuals on a multi-disciplinary team who support AAC users who need auditory scanning as an access method.  Information will be relevant to educators, assistive technology specialists, occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, and family members/advocates.   

Presented By

Tracy Kovach, Karen Kangas, Michele Bishop, and Gail Van Tatenhove.

Important Information - Please Read Carefully

This is a multi-part event, with hybrid online and in-person attendance options. The content is pre-recorded by the team of 4 presenters.

AGOSCI is offering in-person and online learning opportunities with trained Liberator facilitators in Australia, plus a live Q&A with the 4 presenters direct from the USA.

Learning is designed to occur over the duration of a week, finishing with a LIVE Q&A with the presenters on Friday 3rd November.

NOTE: Some content can be completed in a self-paced manner. However, the learning content will NOT be available after November 3rd. Self-paced learners must complete all modules on or before November 3rd.

Please see an example learning schedule here:

Monday 30th

Tuesday 31st

Wednesday 1st

Thursday 2nd

Friday 3rd


Module 1 Self paced

1 hour


Module 2 live in person or online

3 hours



    Rest day!

      No new           content today.


Module 3 self paced or online

2 hours


Module 4 & live Q & A online

1 hour + 1 hour

Module content and details

Module 1 (self-paced):

  • Covers historical approaches for supporting auditory scanners, along with case study examples of custom systems developed for auditory scanners. 
  • Approximately 60 minutes duration.
  • Self-paced content. A recording and learning materials will be provided.
  • Aim to complete this module in your own time, before October 31st. 

Module 2 (in-person OR online OR self-paced):

  • A hands-on session requiring access to relevant technology
  • You will evaluate organizational strategies frequently implemented with auditory scanners. Through hands-on activities, you will learn how to modify the arrangement of multi-meaning symbols based on frequency of use, adjust auditory prompts, and more!   
  • Approximately 2 hours of content, and up to 3 hours of learning when allowing for time to stop for hands-on activities.
  • In-person events happening on Tuesday, October 31st. 
  • See more details below for Module 2 event options!

Module 3 (online OR self-paced):

  • You will learn how to support access development, with specific information on motor development and switch options. 
  • Approximately 2 hours duration.
  • Option 1: can be completed as a self-paced module. A recording and learning materials will be provided.
  • Option 2: can attend an online event with a live audience to watch the content together, on Thursday November 2nd. Zoom link provided in your event confirmation email.

Module 4 (online OR self-paced):

  • You will learn strategies for teaching the organization of the vocabulary and supporting the expressive language development of auditory scanners. 
  • Approximately 60 minutes duration.
  • Option 1: can be completed as a self-paced module. A recording and learning materials will be provided.
  • Option 2: can attend an online event with a live audience to watch the content together, on Friday November 3rd. Zoom link provided in your event confirmation email. This session will be followed immediately by a LIVE Q&A with the presenters.

Q&A with the presenters (LIVE online):

  • Streaming live via zoom on November 3rd. 
  • Opportunity to ask the presenters any questions about the content covered during the masterclass series. 
  • Approximately 1 hour duration.

Module 2 hands-on learning options

  1. Attend an in-person workshop hosted by trained Liberator facilitators in Brisbane (Shailer Park 4:30pm – 7:30pm), Sydney (Ashfield 1-4pm), Melbourne (Forest Hill 4pm – 7pm) or Perth (Coolbinia 1-4pm) ; Or
  2. Attend an online workshop via Zoom (1-4pm AEDT), hosted by AGOSCI and facilitated by trained Liberator staff. Must have access to own technology for this option; Or
  3. Complete the module as a self-paced module. Must have access to own technology for this option. You can pause/stop the recording to practice the hands-on activities in your own time.

Technology required for completing Module 2 at home:

Participants should have either:

(1) an Accent speech generating device and 2 switches OR

(2) a computer running the PASS software with Unity®84 loaded into the PASS software. 

If using a computer with the PASS software, specific keyboard keys are used to simulate the use of 2 switches.

You can download the FREE PASS software here.

About the presenters

Michele Bishop, MS-SPED is an Assistive Technology Practitioner with over 30 years of experience working with individuals who have complex needs. Her career began as a special education teacher focusing her efforts on children with physical and orthopedic needs who used powered mobility and augmentative communication with an aim toward independent access that leads toward independent lifestyles.  While working at an internationally known non-public school in the San Francisco Bay area specializing in serving children using assistive technology and a range of AAC systems, Michele’s role was to identify alternative access methods and to train staff, families, and the children to access their speech generating devices and other assistive technology.  She currently works as a Clinical Education Specialist for Invacare where her expertise in programming and the integration of mobile devices, speech generating devices, and computers has set her apart.  Michele is a nationally known speaker at conferences and has presented at several national conferences on teaching strategies and the development of support materials for children who use auditory scanning.

Karen Kangas, OTR/L is currently in private practice within which she continues to treat both children and adults directly, provides consultation to local school educator/therapy teams and their students, works with state-wide multi-year projects with students with complex bodies and their teams in the use of AT within the classroom, as well as provides education through clinical workshops.  She is currently writing and developing a course study on Seating, Mobility, and Access, as well as completing a book on seating, access, and powered mobility.   Karen has worked as an OT in pediatrics since 1973 in many and varied settings including the school system, early intervention programs, home health, rehabilitation centers, and long-term care facilities.  In 1985 she was invited to develop programs to support inclusion and increased independence through the use of seating and access with assistive technology through the PA Board of Education, Bureau of Special Education, PA’s Assistive Device Center.  In 1990 she was invited to initiate an Assistive Technology Assessment Program at Pennsylvania State University’s Hershey Medical Center in Rehabilitation.  She has been actively teaching since 1985 on Seating and Positioning; Sensory Processing and Sensory Integration as it relates to Seating for Function; Alternative Access and Powered Mobility; Assessment and Integration of Assistive Technology all over the USA, as well as in Canada, Sweden, Israel, Ireland, Scotland, the United Kingdom and New Zealand.  She teaches a summer graduate course on Pediatric Seating at Misericordia University in PA.  

Tracy M. Kovach, PhD, CCC-SLP, has over 35 years of experience as a speech-language pathologist.  She has worked in public schools, clinic and hospital-based programs, and currently is in private practice.  Her primary focus has been in the area of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) including assessment and intervention for children with complex communication needs and their families. As an associate clinical professor in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, and the Department of Pediatrics, School of Medicine at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver, Colorado Dr. Kovach taught graduate courses in AAC and Early Childhood Special Education at the University of Colorado-Boulder and Denver, and currently teaches courses related to disabilities care through Metro State University – Denver. Dr. Kovach has been involved with leadership in her field through the United States and International Societies for Augmentative and Alternative Communication; the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association; and the Colorado Speech-Language-Hearing Association and Foundation.  She is an ASHA Fellow. Dr. Kovach authored the chapter focused on “auditory scanning” in Communicative Competence for Individuals Who Use AAC: From Research to Effective Practice (Light, Beukelman, & Reichle, 2003).  She also developed and authored the AAC Profile: A Continuum of Learning (LinguiSystems, 2009/ProEd, Inc.).

Gail M. Van Tatenhove, PA, M.S., CCC-SLP is a speech-language pathologist who specializes in augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). Gail started working with children with significant, multiple disabilities in 1977 at a self-contained school for students with significant disabilities.  While part of that program, Gail helped author a state grant that allowed her to purchase a variety of AAC devices for the students in her program that allowed her to provide both home and school-based AAC intervention.  From 1982-1988, Gail worked at a state-wide AAC evaluation and training center, serving students by conducting AAC assessments, completing follow-up services at local schools, and conducting state-wide AAC teacher trainings.  Since 1988, Gail has maintained a private practice, providing on-going therapy with children and adults with significant communication challenges and worked as a consultant with Semantic Compaction Systems. 

Refunds and cancellations

As this content is recorded for on-demand viewing, AGOSCI will not be offering refunds except in extraordinary circumstances. If you need to discuss your registration or request a cancellation, please email education@agosci.org.au


This workshop series will use the Minspeak Unity84 Sequenced Program as the platform for discussing Auditory Scanning. The presenters have financial affiliation with The Minspeak Academy. The Australian facilitators of these sessions have financial affiliation with Liberator Australia.

AGOSCI is grateful to Liberator Australia, and our 4 Presenters for making their content available to AGOSCI for our Australian audience to access. 

AGOSCI is an independent body and does not endorse individual products or brands over others.

AGOSCI acknowledges the presence and contributions of all suppliers and expertise in the Australian and International communities of AAC and diverse communication.

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