Gestalt Language Processing & Using Google Maps to Communicate (including Split View and AAC)

Jennifer from N of 1 recently shared a story in a Facebook group about how a child used Google Maps to communicate. Mind blown 🤯 I had several students/patients/clients who LOVED maps, addresses, countries and flags. At the time I knew that those served a purpose for self-regulation and pleasure. It makes my heart sad though to think that I may have missed communication via what they were looking up on Google Maps or Google Earth. There are definitely times I wish I had a time portal to go back with knowledge that I have now.

Read the story by Faithmummy. I LOVE her posts and have followed her page for years. Somehow I either missed this when it was written in 2016 or don’t remember it:

After sharing this on my OMazing Kids AAC Consulting Facebook page and subsequent shares on other pages and groups, I’ve seen LOTS of parents & SLPs share stories about their kids doing this to communicate very specific things. Totally amazing!

This got me digging through all of my AAC apps to see which ones either have a button action or opening a website URL to allow Google Maps to be opened within the app and/or that app supports use of Split View or Slide Over to allow this. If you have a specific model of iPad Pro or iPad Air with M1 chip you might also be able to use other multitasking options in Stage Manager (my iPad Pro 9.7” is still on iOS 10.3 so that’s too old for the most current versions of most AAC apps or to use Stage Manager)

  • CoughDrop (in the app: via URL; used in Safari browser: could also use Split Screen)
  • Dialogue AAC (specific button action for this or via Split Screen)
  • GoTalk Now (via URL)
  • LAMP Words for Life (specific button action for this)
  • Niki Talk 2 Pro (via URL)
  • Proloquo2Go (via Split Screen)
  • Speech Assistant AAC (via Split Screen)
  • TouchChat with WordPower (specific button action for this or via Split Screen)
  • Etc…

Here are screenshots showing the two different ways to do this in TouchChat with WordPower:

TouchChat with WordPower (WP60 Basic) in Split View with Google Maps
TouchChat with WordPower (WP60 Basic) where I added a button for Google Maps under Places and used the specific button action to open the Google Maps app.
Speech Assistant AAC in Split View with Google Maps

The easiest option was Split Screen and it allows Google Maps and the AAC app to be on the screen at the same time but only a few AAC apps support use of Split Screen. Split Screen will alter the size of the buttons in that AAC app so it might be tricky when using large grid sizes.

The second easiest option was the specific button action within the three AAC apps by PRC-Saltillo.

Apps that allow you to program a button to open a website URL were a bit finicky / tricky to get it to work. I’ll be adding tips in the feature matching resources.

Another alternative is to use a second iPad or tablet or laptop with Google Maps / Google Earth that can be viewed alongside their AAC device or iPad or tablet being used for AAC.

In-depth details about this will be coming soon. I’m working on this month’s update for my AAC feature matching resources and am adding that info in two new rows. So be watching for it in a few days.

Important Notes:

  • I’m exploring these as ways to supplement (not replace) how an individual is already using Google Maps. It’s likely that a Gestalt Language Processor already has a well established “gestalt” for how they like to do that but it’s likely that adding this to their AAC system might be something that would spark interest and resonate with them.
  • I’d only explore this for individuals who have an interest in this. There is no “one size fits all” to anything about AAC. I’m NOT suggesting that we need to add access to Google Maps for every AAC user or even for every GLP who uses AAC.
  • Guided Access will likely block these methods of using more than one app on an iPad.

Looking for in-depth and up to date info about features AAC apps? Check out these resources:

Have a question? The best way to reach me is via Facebook messaging over on my OMazing Kids page:

Angela Moorad, MS, CCC-SLP, Founder of OMazing Kids, LLC, OMazing Kids AAC Consulting

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