Pic-A-Talk, JCI Iligan Maria Cristina and JCI Duwaling pose for the camera

On March 25, 2024, in Tagum City, Davao, with the joined efforts of Pic-A-Talk, JCI – Iligan Maria Cristina and JCI Duwaling, DepEd teachers specializing in SNED were brought together for a discourse on incorporating Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) tools into their teaching practices. This event marked a significant step toward enhancing the educational experiences of children with special needs in the Philippines. In a third-world country such as ours, progress can be slow but should never be stagnant. 

The workshop aimed to equip SNED educators with the knowledge and skills necessary to effectively integrate technological advancements and AAC tools into their teaching methodologies. Recognizing the unique challenges faced by children with special needs, Pic-A-Talk along with the two JCI chapters sought to provide innovative solutions that could facilitate better communication, learning, and overall development. In a world that is rapidly changing and evolving thanks to technology, it’s time to capitalize on such devices.

Andrea Celine S. Sarillo, a registered speech-language pathologist, began the insightful workshop by explaining the basics of augmentative and alternative communication. She addressed common misconceptions about AAC, emphasizing its critical role in aiding non-verbal or minimally verbal children. Sarillo urged for a more inclusive approach to teaching and learning, citing the importance of integrating AAC tools into the classroom to support SNED teachers and students effectively.

Following Sarillo’s presentation, the stage was handed over to Uma Roa, CEO of Pic-A-Talk. Roa introduced Pic-A-Talk, a Filipino-made application that was inspired by her little sister, Lea, who has autism and speech apraxia. It is an app that was developed to assist and enhance children’s communication skills with a simple and customizable design. She demonstrated how Pic-A-Talk could revolutionize SNED education by making communication more accessible. The presentation resonated deeply with the audience, many of whom were impressed by the potential of Pic-A-Talk’s tools to transform their teaching practices.

Uma Roa, Jzietel Alemania and Mia Roa from JCI Iligan Maria Cristina and Pic-A-Talk

A sucessful workshop indeed as Tagum City SNED educators smile for the camera

Despite the enthusiasm, budget constraints were a common concern among the teachers. The cost of implementing new technology in classrooms is often a significant barrier. Recognizing this, Pic-A-Talk, along with JCI Iligan Maria Cristina and JCI Duwaling, committed to working together to find ways to make these essential tools more affordable and accessible. This collaborative effort aims to ensure that no child with special needs is left behind due to financial limitations.

However, as the workshop drew to a close, the room buzzed with excitement and newfound optimism. Teachers exchanged ideas, shared their own experiences, and brainstormed creative ways to implement what they had learned. It was the spark of more ideas and collaboration in the long run. Hopefully in the future, inclusivity will become more accessible to every child in the Philippines. 

JCI Iligan Maria Cristina’s twin chapter: JCI Duwaling