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November 2022 - Volume 63
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In this issue:

Meet the Mencap Mythbusters. A cover model. Athletes. TV stars. Activists... And more!

Accessible Materials Made Right (AMMR)


The accessibility of websites is an ever-changing and evolving challenge for web designers, content creators, and users. WebAIM (creators of the WAVE Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool and a central figure for many people in the space) has undertaken a look at accessibility of the top one million websites for the past four years. Check out The 2022 report on the accessibility of the top 1,000, 000 home pages.
 
Here’s a few interesting highlights:

  • Webpages averaged more than 50 errors per page across all sites scanned.
  • Only 3.2 percent of pages scanned had no Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 errors.
  • Twenty three percent of images on home pages had no alternative text (half of which also contained a hyperlink).
  • Thirty nine percent of form elements had no label (a noted improvement from 59 percent in 2019).
  • Only 19 percent of websites had skip links, which allow keyboard and other assistive device-users to “jump” directly to content or navigation elements.
From this information, we can gather that we all have more work to do. However, many of these websites can be improved quite easily by adding alternative text or describing each form field. Many small steps lead to big changes.

Assistive Technology (AT) - Educator Feature


Since participating in the Assistive Technology (AT) Journey and Building Blocks to Autonomous Communication, Wayne Regional Educational Service Agency (RESA) is creatively facilitating two groups of educators representing as coaches in the areas of AT and/or Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) for their local districts.
 
To accommodate for teacher and sub shortages, educators can choose to join in-person or virtually. Tiffanie, an AT coach, appreciates the in-person opportunities: “I’m so grateful for this opportunity to come together…I was multitasking with other things; but coming here, I’m able to focus and be present on these important issues.” Amy, an AAC core coach, is thankful for the flexibility of joining virtually: “I am glad that we can be virtual so I can stay at my building, but I don't have a quiet space for being in the meeting, so it's easier for me to type then share with audio.”
 
Session topics change for both the AT and AAC coaching meetings. Amber, one of the Wayne Assistive Technology team (WATT) AT consultants, reported that topics were determined by “surveying the group and from our own observations/conversations with district staff throughout the year. The order we are covering topics is a mix of randomization and timeliness. For example, we are covering Individualized Education Program (IEP) & Compliance right before "IEP season" in the spring.”
 
These meetings also offer opportunities for local coaches to share successes and progress being made at the district level. For example, Lincoln Park Public Schools are building their own AT team and gathering feedback from general education and special education teachers to determine the scope of the AT work and goals for their team. The Lincoln Park AT coaches met with their director of special education and discussed how supporting AT as a district could have a greater impact on all students, not just those receiving special education services.

The flexibility of meeting structures, responsiveness to the needs of AT and AAC coaches, and big picture thinking by both building capacity of teams and knowledge of individuals are showing to be positive assets for the Wayne RESA AT team.

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Including Building Blocks to Autonomous Communication and Comprehensive Literacy for Autonomous Communication


Our seventh block in the Building Blocks to Autonomous Communication professional learning opportunity focuses on supporting AAC users beyond the brick and mortar school building.  Within the final block, we talk about our role in creating inclusive communities where everyone is valued. As we work to create these communities, awareness and understanding are often first steps. This month, we wanted to share two resources with you that can help you start the conversation with others. The first is a documentary short film, "My Disability Roadmap." In this short film, Samuel Habib shares his experiences and journey to becoming a disability rights advocate. The second resource, Living Tree Joy, is an informative website with learning activities to help others build awareness and empathy around the topic of disability. The website was created by Annie, a teen with cerebral palsy, as her Girl Scout Gold project. We encourage you to take a few moments to explore these resources and consider how you could use them to start the conversation in your community. 

Foundations of Math (FoM)


Engaging students in conversations about their mathematical thinking is an important component of high quality math instruction. Students with disabilities tend to receive fewer opportunities to share their mathematical thinking. If you are planning and delivering math instruction, identify a few questions or prompts that will encourage students to explain their thinking or justify their response. This level of intentionality can go a long way to deepen student understanding of key concepts and ideas, and reduce misunderstandings  (see 100 questions that promote Mathematical Discourse).
 
In addition, be sure to provide significant wait time. Students with disabilities often need more time than others to formulate or organize what they want to say. Finally, somes students find it easier to show their thinking rather than explaining it with words. Create an environment where students have access to a wide range of math tools /resources which can be accessed and used at any time, including when trying to communicate mathematical thinking.

Perspective


Perspective is written by David Shachar-Hill. David is a Michigan State University graduate in the area of social science. Prior to that, he attended Okemos Public Schools where he received special education services from 7th grade on. So far he has lived in six cities.


There have been many changes in public school education since the Covid 19 lockdown period in the United States that have strongly impacted special education in positive and negative ways.
 
The post COVID lockdown era presents many potential opportunities for increased flexibility and adaptability in education. This is especially true for those students for whom access to learning opportunities is challenging. The major advantages I see come from having options for learning remotely as well as in person. In November 2022, most Michigan Public School students are back in school buildings, but some parents can opt to have their children continue learning virtually wholly or partially.
 
Today, in contrast to when I was in school, teachers should have the technology available to deliver instruction to students who might not have access to learning in their classroom. Such students include those who benefit from self-paced learning, whose school may not offer a particular class, who cannot attend in person full time for medical or other reasons, and those whose individual learning needs can be better supported at home.
 
However, I can clearly see potential disadvantages for students as well as teachers. Schools are required to account for the presence of all students who are enrolled in their districts, and while online attendance can be monitored, I feel that it is almost impossible to appropriately determine the well-being of students when relying solely on virtual learning. Other services that schools provide, such as social engagement, nutritional services, and physical education can be more challenging or impossible to provide without in-person involvement. With the implementation of increased opportunities for students, we must also ensure that teachers receive the necessary support, resources, and workload assignments.
 
I feel optimistic about the future of education and believe that these and other obstacles should be possible to be overcome. There are clearly positive and negative elements of the post-covid educational landscape, and the choices educators make now will have long lasting impacts for the future of K-12 education.

Upcoming Events: Michigan


Mathematics: Reaching All Learners Together (MRALT) Conference
Live (virtual) Keynote Session - November 14, 2022 at 4 p.m.
Asynchronous Sessions available November 14 - December 2, 2022

Michigan CEC
March 1-3, 2023
Grand Rapids, MI
 
MACUL
March 15-18, 2023
Detroit, MI

Upcoming Events: National


OCALICONLINE
November 15-18, 2022
Virtual
 
ASHA Convention 2022: Resilience Reinvented
November 17-19, 2022
Hybrid Virtual Conference (New Orleans, LA)

ATIA 2023 Conference
January 31-February 4, 2023
Orlando, FL
 

Lending Library Update

There are 83 items out on loan. 

Cheap Talk 6 for Visually Impaired


The Cheap Talk 6 six level communicator has six bright yellow and red switches outlined in black that make it easier for users who are visually impaired to see and activate them. It has six levels, space for 225 seconds total recording time, and a built-in icon holder.

Resource


Are you looking for more information about how to implement Shared Reading in your classroom? Check out Tar Heel Shared Reader. Tar Heel Shared Reader provides free online- and facilitator-guided modules, materials, and technology that support the implementation of shared reading for learners with significant disabilities. The Shared Reader interface allows adults to engage in shared reading using technology. In addition to the modules, this website provides helpful self-reflection forms for adult reading partners and detailed suggested steps for coaches.

Connect to Other MDE OSE Grant Funded Initiatives


Michigan Alliance for Families

Michigan Alliance for Families (MAF)

Subscribe to the newsletter to stay up-to-date on events and special education news.


 

Michigan Department of Education Low Incidence Outreach (MDE-LIO)

Sign up for email notifications and the newsletter from MDE-LIO.
Michigan Multi-Tiered System of Support Technical Assistance Center

Michigan's Multi-Tiered System of Support Technical Assistance Center (MiMTSS TAC)

Visit the MiMTSS TAC website and look under “Announcements” for updates and events.

 Special education mediation services

Visit the SEMS website for updates and information.

Statewide Autism Resources and Training

Statewide Autism Resources and Training (START)

Subscribe to “START Connecting,” a monthly email with an article and information about START’s project activities, events, and resources.

Request Technical Assistance


If you have any questions about our offerings or resources, request technical assistance and someone from our staff will follow up with you.


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Alt+Shift is an Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Grant Funded Initiative out of the Michigan Department of Education, Office of Special Education.
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