March 2021 - Volume 51
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In this issue:

How to sign in Black American Sign Language (BASL)

Intermediate School District Partnership Applications Now Open

The Intermediate School District (ISD) Partnership Site Application for the 2021-2022 school year is open through March 12, 2021 for the following professional learning opportunities (PLOs):

  • Assistive Technology Journey
  • Foundations of Math
  • Foundations of Math: Teaching Students with Significant Disabilities
  • Building Blocks to Autonomous Communication (New PLO: See below for details)

Ready to explore a partnership?

To learn more about the PLOs and how we partner with ISDs, watch the on-demand preview presentations on the 2021 PLO Preview playlist at our YouTube channel.

Have questions? Thanks for your interest! Email us at

New Eligibility Guidelines from the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled

The National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled (NLS) has issued new eligibility guidelines for their services. The guidelines have been revised to align with changes to copyright made by the Marrakesh Treaty Implementation Act (MTIA).

As a result, the pool of professionals that qualify to certify eligibility for materials derived from NIMAS files has been expanded:

(2) Eligibility must be certified by one of the following: doctor of medicine, doctor of osteopathy, ophthalmologist, optometrist, psychologist, registered nurse, therapist, and professional staff of hospitals, institutions, and public or welfare agencies (such as an educator, a social worker, case worker, counselor, rehabilitation teacher, certified reading specialist, school psychologist, superintendent, or librarian).

Accessible Materials Made Right (AMMR)

Accessibility reports coming from 2020 show that, unsurprisingly, there continues to be a high demand for equal access to online content. UsableNet reports there was a 23 percent increase in web and video accessibility lawsuits in 2020 over 2019. Also, while retail and food related industries accounted for the bulk of those suits (more than 85 percent), education related lawsuits made their way to the fourth most common recipients of lawsuits, breaking into the top five categories for the first time ever. The direction of the lawsuits also show that quick fix “solutions” like overlays and widgets are not the way to go.
The demand for online accessibility is not a “problem that needs to go away.” Rather, this demand continues to speak of a problem that needs to be solved. Developing a culture of accessibility must remain a priority in our schools. If you are ready to work on developing such a culture in your district, consider working through the AMMR courses on EduPaths. If your team is ready to develop a plan to move forward, you’ll want to check out the updated Course 7. The updated course includes examples and experiences from other districts in Michigan and walks you through a series to questions aimed to help you develop your own plan to implement lasting changes to the way you create and share digital resources to your students, staff, and communities.

Assistive Technology (AT) - Educator Feature

Name: Pamela Cunningham
School: Wayne Regional Educational Service Agency (RESA)
Position/Role: AT Coordinator, Wayne Assistive Technology Team (WATT)

AS: What drew your team to the AT Journey?
PC: As an AT team that represents Wayne RESA, we are always striving to learn and grow our knowledge of AT and share with our districts. Wayne Assistive Technology Team (WATT) has spent the past two and a half years developing our program and building capacity within the county. As the largest population (per capita) in the state, we could not address all of the individual AT needs in our county with a few coordinators.
We planned to develop and support AT coaches within our districts and were drawn to the AT Journey to help us provide training and guidance in this endeavor. Having representation and professional development from our state organization lets our districts know what we are doing is not just best practice in our county, but across the state (and beyond). The partnership with Mike Marotta has further strengthened our experience with the AT Journey as a national representative.
AS: In what ways have you implemented ideas and information from the AT Journey?
PC: We have used the Journey to help our AT coaches build knowledge within each district in Wayne County and provided the resources as support to the coaches when implementing in their districts. We have a shared virtual space to house ideas and documents and have developed a listserv within the county to network with each other. The coaches are using what they have learned to create common practices across the county.
AS: What impact are you seeing within WATT and/or local districts?
PC: We have seen several of our districts develop in district teams and used the resources to train their own teams. Having coaches who are trained and understand the AT process gives WATT the opportunity to consult and support the teams instead of operating on an expert model, which we know is not effective.
AS: What would you tell others who are considering a partnership with Alt+Shift?
PC: I would tell others to take advantage of the opportunity to be a part of the AT Journey. We were not able to be face-to-face this year and we were worried that it may not be as well received. We were wrong. Our county coaches are eager to learn more and develop teams as the demand for AT supports increases and changes. The support Alt+Shift has been able to provide has helped us better navigate AT in a virtual or hybrid setting. We have been able to have greater participation and opportunities to teach and learn in a virtual setting. The expertise, flexibility, and ongoing support offered by the Alt+Shift team is appreciated.

Building Blocks to Autonomous Communication

Building Blocks to Autonomous Communication focuses on the what, why, and how of supporting students with complex communication needs. This professional learning opportunity is designed to meet the unique needs of each partnering ISD. If you want to learn more about the design, content, and implementation of the building blocks, watch this brief Building Blocks to Autonomous Communication Preview Week video

Delta Math

Due to many students learning remotely, recommendations have been developed to support using intervention lessons at home.  Also, using physical manipulatives during remote learning posed new barriers, since each Delta Math lesson integrates the C-R-A learning sequence to help support conceptual understanding.
Beginning on page 6 of the support document, links are provided to access free virtual manipulatives from the Math Learning Center for each 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade readiness standard.  These apps were selected for both their ease of use and for the feature that allows teachers and students to share their screen. Each link opens to student directions and the “We do together” or “You do together” problems for session 2.  This formatting eliminates the barrier of needing to simultaneously view the Guided Practice page while using the manipulative and attempting to view the teacher’s actions.
Formatting links to virtual manipulatives for the remaining grade levels is ongoing. New links will be added to the support guide as they become available.  If you have any questions about Delta Math RtI Program resources or implementation, please contact Mike Klavon at

Foundations of Math (FoM and FoM:SD)

Foundations of Math is an approach to teaching math in a meaningful way. This course develops the mathematical knowledge of special and general educators who work with students with disabilities or students who struggle in math. The focus of the course is on the Prototype for Lesson Construction and the Components of Number Sense. The course is designed to deepen the teachers’ content knowledge and connect procedural knowledge to conceptual understanding. An emphasis is placed on formatting lesson construction to develop strong mathematical foundations in students.
If you are interested in learning more about Foundations of Math, considering Partnership with Alt+Shift, or if you would like a refresher, watch our preview videos!

Are you wondering which Foundations of Math would be best for you? This informational video describes the difference between the two.
If you have any questions or would like to learn more, please contact

Michigan Department of Education (MDE) Office of Educator Excellence

MDE Office of Educator Excellence will host a pre-recorded webinar to introduce the Michigan Teacher Preparation Standards for Mathematics for grades 5-9 and 7-12. It will be available for viewing during the first week of March. A follow-up question and answer session will be held on March 15 at 11:30 a.m. Please contact Darcy McMahon ( to attend the live Q&A session.


Three speech language pathologists from Washtenaw ISD created a great resource that provides short video tutorials and parent-friendly ideas for how to promote communication throughout the day. Their site, entitled “CLIP for COVID,” highlights important topics such as encouraging communication without requiring it, early augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) wins, and focusing on creating connections with complex communicators. Check out their site today!

Upcoming Events: Michigan

Michigan Math Educators (MichME)
Various - check the registration page for information
Virtual meetings

IM Math Professional Learning brought to you by Michigan Math and Science Leadership Network (MSLN)
Spring and Summer 2021 - check registration page for information
Virtual meetings

Michigan Council for Exceptional Children (MCEC) Conference
March 3-5, 2021
Grand Rapids, MI

Michigan Transition Service Association (MTSA) Conference
March 8-12, 2021
Virtual conference

Michigan Reading Association 2021 Annual Conference
March 12-14, 2021
Virtual Conference

Michigan Council of Teachers of Mathematics (MCTM) “Empowering Mathematics Educators” Series
Speakers: AJ Edson & Yvonne Grant (MSU)
March 15, 2021
Virtual Session (Registration link not yet available)

Michigan Association of Computer Users in Learning (MACUL) Conference
March 17-20, 2021
Virtual conference
Michigan Speech Language Hearing Association Conference
March 18-20, 2021
Virtual conference

Michigan Council of Teachers of Mathematics (MCTM) “Empowering Mathematics Educators” Series
Speaker: Rochelle Gutierrez
April 15, 2021
Virtual Session (Registration link not yet available)

Responsive Instruction and Leadership Webinar Series: Braving a New Pandemic World
May 2021
Webinar series
20th Annual START Conference
(Grand Valley State University START Project)
May 3, 2021
Virtual Conference
May 7, 2021
Virtual conference

Michigan Council of Teachers of Mathematics (MCTM) “Empowering Mathematics Educators” Series
Speaker: Kris Childs
May 17, 2021
Virtual Session (Registration link not yet available)

Upcoming Events: National

Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) 2021: AT Connected Home
Available for access through June 30, 2021
Virtual conference package includes: exhibitor activities, sponsored ATIA member education content, and select social networking activities

Council for Exceptional Children 2021 Convention and Expo
March 8-13, 2021
Online event

National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics (NCSM) Bold Leadership Summit
April 25-27, 2021
St. Louis, MO

Expanding AAC Conference (American Speech-Language Hearing Association)
May 5-17, 2021
Virtual Conference

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) Schools Connect
July 14-26, 2021
Virtual Conference

NCSM Annual Conference
September 20-22, 2021
Atlanta, GA

Lending Library Update

There are 89 items out on loan. 

The Alt+Shift library is open.
Please return items/devices to the Alt+Shift office at:
1037 S U.S. Highway 27
St. Johns, MI 48879

Mounting Assessment Kit

New Item:

Mounting Assessment Kit

Full kit to assess mounting of any device or switch to wheelchairs, including sophisticated and heavy duty setups. The mounting elements cover a full range of assistive technology mounting needs.

• Allows for assessing positioning needs and practical handling of AAC equipment.

• Enables coping with tricky wheelchairs or unusual mount lengths.

• Includes a number of generic adapters.

• Includes helpful documentation for beginning and advanced users.

Lending Library FAQ

How do I request for specific apps to be added to the iPad I am borrowing?

You can email Ashley at to make sure the app you are wanting to trial is loaded onto the iPad. Most apps in our app library come preloaded on the iPad. We try to add apps to the library to stay up to date on what is available for Assistive Technology on ioS. A couple of recent additions are Avaz AAC and Present Pal.

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.