The great thing about starting a day on a bad note is that usually, it can only get better. This morning’s “bad note” was to make a pot of coffee using the water from the faucet in the hotel room. Big mistake. Huge. I’m pretty convinced that all hotels have special filters installed that turn perfectly acceptable water into something that tastes as if it’s just dripped off an industrial sludge compactor, and to which is added a selection of chemical cleaners that are banned by the United Nations. Call me cynical, but the fact that they also strategically place bottles of water right next to the faucet and charge more than a cost of gas. Seriously, $5.00 for 1/2 gallon of water. This also explains why the “water-powered car” has yet to be invented – it’d be too expensive to run!
After at least two mouthfuls of the warm, brown liquid that was clinging hopefully to the side of my cup, I decided to use it to descale the sink and poured it down the drain. There! Better now.
The day did, indeed, improve because I’d managed to schedule more sessions than meetings, so I had the pleasure of sitting back to listen to presenters and describbling notes in my notebook.
Describble is a real word, even though my spell checker disagrees. Honestly. It’s in the Oxford English Dictionary, and that, for me, is a working definition of “real” as far as words are concerned.  It is, however, not a particularly popular or well-used item. In fact, it is credited as being a nonce word. And for those for whom nonce is new, it means “a word apparently used only ‘for the nonce’, i.e. on one specific occasion or in one specific text or writer’s works.” 
Geeky as I may sometimes seem to be (although technically I’m more of a nerd than a geek) I still find that my favorite piece of technology for a conference is a pen and a notebook. I can still write faster than I can type or swype, and there’s also something vaguely satisfying about seeing brown ink dry quickly on cream paper, watching the light momentarily flash off of the wet blaze as you describble quickly across the parchment.
And I describbled a lot at the presentation by Deborah Witkowski entitled Data Collection in AAC: Gathering Performance and Outcomes Evidence. Debbie talked about the difference between standardized evaluations and profiles/inventories, and how it makes sense to be eclectic in your choices. In AAC, she stressed that “measurement” is not just counting words but looking at access, vocabulary, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics. She also encouraged people to do two basic things before implementing any therapeutic intervention; (a) take a baseline measure and (b) determine you measure of success. This may seem obvious but once of the current issues with the iApp approach to AAC is that there is little to no data being collected. The “baseline” is typically “we downloaded this app” and the measure of success is “Bob is now communicating” but with NO specification as to what “communicating” is; and I have seen YouTube videos where folks push the iPad against the child’s hand and say “Look, he said it!”
Debbie provided her slides as a PDF so we have them available for you at the Speech Dudes Box account:
Witokowski 2012 Data Collection in AAC
Today was an 8:00 to 5:00 day, which is not different from a normal day, but somehow at a conference, by the end of several sessions, you feel a little drained. Sitting down and listening seems like an easy thing to do but oddly it uses energy. Well, something must be using up energy because by the time I was back at my room around 5:45 p.m. I was pretty much ready for a nap. Or maybe I’m just old.
…but not too old. By 7:00 p.m. I was revitalized and ready to eat, although not ready to take a long trip somewhere. So, we went to the hotel’s Tropicale restaurant for a delicious Shrimp Bisque, followed by a Seafood Pasta, generously loaded with chunks of salmon, swordfish, scallops, and crab claws, all washed down with ice-cold, lime stuffed Coronas. On the way back, we called in at our friends’ villa and spent the rest to the evening chatting, laughing, and helping to clear the refrigerator of beer.
I’d forgotten all about the morning coffee.
 I’m also one of those who recommends the Urban Dictionary as a source for current slang and entertainment, but a word’s presence in the UD doesn’t classify it yet as a “real” word for me – more of a “hopeful monster” ready for being tested against lexical natural selection.
 It’s also been used more recently (since the 1970’s) to mean a sexual pervert, particularly a child molester. It may derive from the earlier nance or nancy, a word to describe a homosexual male, which in turn comes from 19th century slang for buttocks. Once again, the Dudes have access to facts you didn’t even know you wanted to know!
 There’s a whole minefield of issues out there with regard to “over-the-counter” AAC, where parents skip any evaluation of their child and use YouTube, iTunes, and “the nice man at Best Buy” to decide what app is best. One step toward improving the situation is to determine measures of performance, preferably built into apps. Of course, many app “designers” won’t want this because measurement not only shows success but also failure. The importance attached to success makes us loath to see failure as a critical measure; and knowing something is NOT working is as valuable as knowing it is.