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  • Writer's pictureStacy Crouse

The Tried-and-True PDF: Two Ways in Teletherapy

Back in the early teletherapy days, PDFs were pretty much it in terms of speech therapy resources. There were no Boom Cards. No PowerPoint games. The ability to Screen share websites like YouTube was not as common among teletherapy platforms as it is now. No doubt about it; PDFs are the OGs of teletherapy. But don't file them under "digital antiques" just yet. PDF resources still offer a huge variety of engaging therapeutic value. If you want to feel really old and realize that, like me, you might be significantly older than the PDF 😳, you can read here about how PDFs came to be. Or I can spare you the agony and just give you the nitty-gritty details of PDF resources in speech teletherapy right here.

There are two main types of PDFs, static and interactive. Both types can be used in teletherapy. Let's take a closer look to see how some PDFs are better suited for digital use.

Static PDFs are the most common type of PDF, (both in terms of speech therapy resources and the world in general). Static PDFs are your basic downloads from TpT or other websites such as recipe blogs. You download, open, scroll through the pages, read the text and/or look at the pictures, and then save and/or print. In teletherapy, you can either upload static PDFs to your teletherapy platform or screen share the resource in a PDF reader software (such as Adobe Reader), as shown below.

Not all static PDF resources are equal in terms of practicality for teletherapy. Many speech therapy PDFs are designed to be printed as worksheets. Others would not be practical to print, and are much more suitable for display on a device (computer or tablet). The chart below shows some considerations, such as color, orientation, and content layout, that make some PDFs more useful for teletherapy than others.

Now hold on. I am not saying that you will never be successful using a black-and-white, portrait-orientated, printable activity in teletherapy. I've done it many times and will continue to do so in some cases. It can work just fine. But, when creating or searching for digital resources to present on a computer or tablet, you'll want to consider the factors mentioned above.

Before I bring you off the edge of your seat and tell you about the other type of PDF, be sure to check out this blog post on annotation of static PDFs to take those static PDFs to the next level in teletherapy.

Back to our history lesson. Soon after their invention, smart computer people created a way for PDFs to contain built-in interactive features. They can beyond just pages of text and pictures. There are now additional ways for the user to interact with the PDF rather than just reading or looking at it. The most common example would be clickable links, where you click on an image or button on the page of a PDF and are taken to another page in the document, or even a website or multimedia file. In a speech therapy resource, these buttons are often answer selections or links to navigate to other sections of the activity.

Interactive PDFs can also contain fillable fields, such as text boxes and checkboxes. Rather than using annotation tools to create a text box like you might on a static PDF, interactive PDFs have the text box built in and ready to be typed in. Similarly, interactive PDFs may contain check boxes that can be clicked to create a checkmark. Like static PDFS, this type of PDF also opens in Adobe Reader and can be used in teletherapy via screen share.

I know. You feel like you have underestimated the power behind the basic PDF. Maybe you haven't been giving PDFs enough credit all these years for all the interactivity they're capable of as a no-print resource.

If you want to try out annotation, clickable buttons, and fillable text and check boxes, compare the two types of PDFs side-by-side (or tab-by-tab)! Click here to download a FREE static PDF and here to download a FREE interactive PDF to see for yourself!

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