January 2019, Volume 25
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In this issue:

Featured Video:
Blind birdwatchers learn to see by hearing sounds.

Foundations of Communication Update

The implementation process is in full swing. The overwhelming feedback from the individual teams who attended the Summer Retreat last June is that the planning process would have been very good to go through prior to the first year of implementation. Alt+Shift initiatives have taken heed of the advice, and the Foundations of Communication teams are all pushing forward through the structured Implementation Planning Process used at the Summer Retreat. This process is going smoothly and affords the implementation sites vision to keep their eyes on the big picture while accomplishing very specific goals. Some of the things the teams have done are: identified their values and beliefs, created overarching goals for a three to five year period, identified some outcomes they would like to see in the short term, and developed and prioritized objectives that will help them achieve their outcomes. 

Pragmatic Organization Dynamic Display (PODD) Implementation Sites Update

The PODD implementation sites are working on modeling this tool (and other forms of augmentative and alternative communication or AAC) throughout natural contexts of the students’ days. By involving all potential communication partners (e.g., teachers, paraprofessionals, ancillary staff, and administrators), students are being modeled to with aided language more often throughout the school day. Further discussions are starting to develop in how teams can involve additional staff, parents, and caregivers.
A few teams are focusing on providing access to communication for students who cannot directly select (i.e., point/reach out and touch) and providing aided language input in an alternative access. This is a learning curve for all involved, but the mentality remains the same: all students deserve a voice and it’s our job to help find which tool allows them to be autonomous communicators.

Accessible Materials Made Right (AMMR) Update

AMMR continues to spark interest and change practice across the state with many new participants engaging in the online courses offered through EduPaths. Teams from Berrien Regional Educational Service Agency (RESA), Muskegon Area Intermediate School District (ISD), and Saline Area Schools have been working directly with Alt+Shift on taking AMMR from theory to practice as they engage in ongoing implementation supports. These teams are primarily focusing on changing board policy and training staff.
Whether you are just getting started on creating accessible materials or you have recently finished training a cohort of coworkers, Alt+Shift continues to offer support in this area. The climate of accessibility in our state is improving, and you can play an important part with each step you take forward no matter how small it may seem or where you are starting from.

Comprehensive Literacy Instruction Update

The cohort of three potential Conventional Literacy trainers who are working with Dr. Karen Erickson and Dr. David Koppenhaver have completed their instructional training. The potential trainers have engaged in learning all of the Conventional Literacy strategies at a level which will enable them to present to others around the state. They will each present a section of the training with Dr. Erickson and Dr. Koppenhaver when they join us in Michigan during February to present Conventional Literacy Instruction for Students with Significant Disabilities and Complex Communication Needs. This also serves as a reminder to sign up for the training by clicking on the link above.    
Emergent Literacy trainings are complete, and the sites are engaging in the Strategic Implementation Process. The sites will be developing value and belief statements along with overarching three to five year goals, which will lead to outcomes, objectives, and action items to ensure implementation is smooth and maintains a vision.

Assistive Technology (AT) Journey Symposium Update

Travel-goers on the AT Journey have had opportunities to participate in a webinar, coaching session, and Twitter Chat with Carolyn O’Hearn and Mike Marotta. Teams are engaged in shifting the mindset of AT consideration, selection, and implementation by developing a plan that focuses on multidisciplinary collaboration, sharing information with colleagues, and developing a process for their districts.
Follow along with the AT Journey and start to create your own team’s roadmap by joining the AT Journey: Web Edition. Find more information on the website under “Resources,” “Assistive Technology.”

(Mi)^2 Update

LAST CALL: Enhancing Mathematics Instruction for Students with Learning Difficulties
This course is designed to deepen understanding of the kinds of difficulties students have with mathematics, with a focus on content related to expressions and equations. The course will provide an approach and strategies to support the math learning of struggling students, particularly those with learning disabilities. **Course content has been revised to include connections to the Standards for Mathematical Practice, content examples from upper elementary through Algebra 1, and an updated video. For more information or to register for the course, see the Enhancing Math course flyer.
When: January 29-30 and March 5, 2019
Where: Clinton County Regional Educational Service Agency (RESA) in St. Johns
Time: 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (lunch will be provided).
Fee: $75.

Upcoming Events: Alt+Shift

Enhancing Mathematics Instruction for Students with Learning Difficulties

January 29, January 30, and March 5, 2019 (also March 6 for facilitator certification ONLY)
St. Johns, MI

2019 Supervisors of Low Incidence Programs (SLIP) Conference

Michigan Association of Administrators of Special Education
January 17-19, 2019
Lansing, MI

Alt+Shift breakout sessions include:

  • Emergent Literacy for Students with Significant Disabilities by Megan Zell
  • From Research to Practice: Teaching Mathematics to Students with Significant Disabilities by Kate Fanelli

Upper Peninsula Special Education Conference

February 22, 2019
Marquette, MI
Alt+Shift breakout sessions include:
  • Emergent Literacy Instruction for Students with Significant Disabilities and Complex Communication Needs (title subject to change) by Megan Zell
  • From Research to Practice: Teaching Mathematics to Students with Significant Disabilities by Kate Fanelli

Conventional Literacy Instruction for Students with Significant Disabilities and Complex Communication Needs
February 25-27, 2019
St. Johns, MI
Michigan Council for Exceptional Children Annual Conference
March 6-8, 2019
Grand Rapids, MI
Alt+Shift breakout sessions include:
  • Assisting the Team with Assistive Technology by Carolyn O’Hearn and Ashley Rust
  • Building CapAACity - Implementation of School-Wide AAC by Carolyn O’Hearn
  • Don’t Get Stuck in the Math Mud, Use Concrete by Briana Bancroft
  • From Research to Practice: Teaching Mathematics to Students with Significant Disabilities by Kate Fanelli
  • Shared Reading for Students with Significant Disabilities by Megan Zell
  • Writing for Students with Significant Disabilities by Megan Zell

Upcoming Events: Michigan

79th Annual Michigan Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) Conference
March 6-8, 2019
Amway Grand Plaza
Grand Rapids, MI
Michigan Reading Association 2019 Annual Conference
March 9-11, 2019
DeVos Convention Center and Amway Hotel
Grand Rapids, MI
Michigan Association of Computer Users in Learning (MACUL) Conference
March 20-22, 2019
Detroit, MI
Michigan's - Speech - Language - Hearing Association Conference
March 21-23, 2019
Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center
East Lansing, MI
2019 MiAEYC Annual Early Childhood Conference
(Michigan Association for the Education of Young Children)
April 11-13, 2019
Amway Grand Plaza Hotel and DeVos Place
Grand Rapids, MI
18th Annual START Conference (Grand Valley State University START Project)
April 29, 2019
Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center
East Lansing, Michigan

Upcoming Events: National

Using Technology to Support UDL Instruction
February 15, 2019
New York, NY
2019 Everyone Reading Conference
March 4-5, 2019
New York, NY
California State University at Northridge (CSUN) Assistive Technology Conference
March 11-15, 2019
Anaheim, CA
Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA) Conference
June 24-28, 2019
Toronto, Canada
ASHA Connect Conferences - 2019
July 19-21, 2019
Chicago, IL
Closing The Gap 2019
October 2-4, 2019
Prior Lake, MN
International Literacy Association 2019 Conference
October 10-13, 2019
New Orleans, LA

Lending Library Update

There are 76 items out on loan. 

New item:

UbiDuo 2 Wireless

UbiDuo 2 is a communication solution for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Use it to facilitate face-to-face communication between deaf/hard-of-hearing and hearing people. This device will help to eliminate bluffing, frustration, and communiphobia as well as promote communication equality. Use it to empower people to share their thoughts and emotions seamlessly in real time text just as in a normal conversation. The hinge technology holds the two halves securely in place for easy transportation. The UbiDuo 2 connects each half with a built-in proprietary networking protocol that has a range of up to 300 feet so you can be in a different room and still have a conversation. The wireless system does not depend on Wi-Fi or the internet. 

Opportunities to Learn More:

Do you have questions about how to use the device you’ve borrowed? Not sure about everything the iPad apps can do? YouTube has many tutorials and how-to videos for the items in the lending library. Many of the companies that make the devices in our library have their own YouTube channels including Saltillo, AbleNet, Enabling Devices, Tobii Dynavox, Prentke Romich, and Assistive Ware.


Are you looking for evidence-based practices for teaching reading and writing to students with significant disabilities? You are in luck!  PBS Learning Media has a collection of videos that feature comprehensive literacy instruction for students with significant disabilities. The videos feature educators using research based strategies to provide instruction in reading, writing, and communication including the use of Augmentative and Alternative Communication systems. 

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