Friday, May 22, 2009

Interview with Sam Sennott

Sam Sennott of All Together We can, recently released a new communication system. With David Niemeijer he helped develop Proloquo2Go. Proloquo2Go is a complete communication system for the iPod Touch or iPhone. Before the release of Proloquo2Go, I asked Sam if he would answer a few questions, and he agreed. So this is my interview with Sam:

Let's start off with some background - who you are, where you work (if you want to say), education, etc...

Currently, I am a PhD student in Special Education at The Pennsylvania State University and am focusing on augmentative communication, literacy, and universal design for learning. It is a fantastic environment as their are so many resources here, from experts in effective instruction, to AAC, to Autism Spectrum Disorders, to Transitions, to Measurement and Statistics. I feel thankful and blessed for the opportunity. It is really a dream come true for me, as I have come quite a long way. I originally became interested in working with people with disabilities at age 19 when I volunteered at the Michael Carter Lisnow Respite Center in Hopkinton, MA. It was like a second family for me in no time. I was holding babies with cerebral palsy, leading crafts and outings with adults with developmental disabilites, and starting to learn about teaching and job coaching. It inspired me to get a dual certification degree in special education and elementary education from Gordon College in Massachusetts, a fantastic small school by the ocean on the North Shore of Boston.
From, there I got my first job leading an inclusion program for individuals with more significant needs. It was amazing what we created and it inspires my work as it takes so much to make a program like that work, not just technology or good teaching, but team work on many levels.

What got you interested in Assistive Technology?

My students helped me develop an interest in using technology to help them. It all came together about the same time, as I got my first mac and started teaching. Seeing how I could leverage good teaching with technology to completely change outcomes for my students made me hungry for knowledge.

What helped you decide to start writing your blog? -

I love to share, but also I saw it as a way to process all that was coming in. AT, and teaching in general is an endless job and writing is a great way to keep that ongoing learning going in a very tangible way. Also, I knew I had aspirations for a research degree and thought that it would be a terrific way to practice writing before I made that step.

Did you have any inspiration - a specific student, colleague, situation, etc...?

Well, for me there is this growing body of students and their families that I have taught or served. I think of them often and they are the source of my inspiration.

Where did the inspiration for Proloquo2go come from?

It was a bit of a stroke of inspiration actually. The whole concept to "do it", came all at once, but the rest of it was mainly developed during a sabbatical time I recently took where David Niemeijer and I created the system. It was a very fun time of pulling linguistics texts from the Dartmouth Library and thinking deep thoughts in the Vermont woods.

Why did you decide on the iPhone/iPod Touch as a platform?

When we saw exactly how powerful it is and how it has so many things of value to the people we serve: low cost, cool factors, and amazing touch capabilities, and more.

What can you tell us about it's upcoming release?

We have successfully released and are approaching one month. We have had an amazing outpouring from parents and practitioners. The reviews on the iTunes store would make you cry and the emails that we have been getting are simply moving.

As Sam Stated Proloquo2Go is available at the iTunes Store for $149. I've recently received a copy and will be giving a short review in the near future. Check out Sam's blog - All Together We Can.


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