December 2022 - Volume 64
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In this issue:

BOOM Entrepreneur of the year, Katie Oswald, on peer networking for adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder. 

Accessible Materials Made Right (AMMR)

There is a complete library of asynchronous learning courses available on EduPaths for Accessible Materials Made Right (AMMR). However, we recognize that this style of learning isn’t always for everyone.

We’re planning to offer two or three live, virtual training sessions this year based on the content of the AMMR EduPaths courses:

  • Code and Foundations
  • Structure and Appearance
  • Microsoft Word
  • Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Adobe Acrobat
  • Developing Your Plan

If you’re interested in potentially attending one of these synchronous learning sessions, please respond to this quick AMMR survey so we know what to offer and when!

Assistive Technology (AT)

In the AT world, we often hear how important it is to have a professional learning network (PLN) or community of practice (CoP). The Center on Inclusive Technology and Education Systems (CITES) CoP hosts a bimonthly meeting that aims to connect “professionals interested in developing and sustaining inclusive technology and education systems as part of a cross-discipline, collaborative group of professionals.

The collective is focused on sharing knowledge and experiences, problem-solving barriers, documenting lessons learned, and celebrating successes.” In addition to their general content bimonthly meetings, the Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST) is hosting learning opportunities centered around specific topics that may be helpful for you or your team to attend. The dates/times and topics are:

  • December 6, 2022, 3:00 - 4:00 p.m. EST: Let’s Talk Inclusive Mindset + Literacy Supports
  • January 24, 2023, 3:00 - 4:00 p.m. EST: Let’s Talk Research/Studying, Executive Function, and Social Emotional Learning
  • February 14, 2023, 3:00 - 4:00 p.m. EST: Let’s Talk Cross Content Areas + Professional Learning

Note that in order to register for these opportunities, interested participants need to join the CITES Community of Practice.

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

We're excited to announce that we launched 12 modules focused on our Building Blocks to Autonomous Communication Professional Learning Opportunity. These modules are housed on the EduPaths platform, which is free to all Michigan educators. Simply create an Edupaths account and utilize the Alt+Shift: AAC Pathway to begin your learning experience.
The modules are designed for individuals and school teams to learn more about an AAC continuum of best practices while examining their current practices. Within the modules, educators can also access information on how to implement comprehensive literacy for students with significant disabilities as well as Pragmatic Organization Dynamic Display (PODD). You'll be able to go at your own pace. These modules are intended to focus on the what, why, and how of supporting learners with complex communication needs. The overarching goal is that individuals with complex communication needs (CCN) leave their educational programming as autonomous communicators. In other words, they can say what they want to say, when they want to say it, how they want to say it, and with whom they wish to communicate.

Building Blocks to Autonomous Communication - Educator Feature 

allysons profile
Allyson Cramer
Montcalm Area ISD
teresas profile
Theresa Augustyniak
AAC Specialist
Muskegon Area ISD

What impact has the Building Blocks to Autonomous Communication (BBtAC) training/process had on you and those you work with?

Allyson: BBtAC significantly changed perspectives throughout the building I work in. Over the past year, I’ve noticed willingness from teachers, related service providers, and paraprofessionals to be more open and understanding of using AAC to help our students to communicate. We have a Halloween parade every year and this is the first year I saw multiple students from multiple classrooms carrying around their communication devices. The interactions were amazing! Students were interacting with peers and teachers using their devices. It was amazing to see the process finally coming to light! The students looked so much more engaged this year than previous years.

Theresa: As a result of our intermediate school district (ISD) engagement in BBtAC, a Birth-Three AAC Shared Learning Community and Workgroup was formed and is meeting twice a month to:

  • Develop a shared understanding of AAC tools and implementation strategies to use within daily routines in the home.
  • Build an inventory of "go-to" resources to support families in beginning the communication partner journey.

Describe one implementation challenge/barrier and how you're working to overcome it.

Allyson: Some of our educators continue to ask why students need robust communication systems. For example, a picture exchange communication system (PECS) book contained food items for a student who does not eat by mouth. The teacher asked why food items were needed as they don’t eat orally. We discussed that even though we don't like certain foods, we can express our dislike for them. This is a right our students should have too. Another barrier is the use of switches, which can be so limiting for our students. To overcome this barrier, I have had multiple conversations with staff about the limitations of switches and the potential to try something different. I’ve encouraged educators to check out the Alt+Shift Lending Library as well.

Theresa: Muskegon Area ISD Birth-Three primary service providers identified building fluency and familiarity with several robust language systems available as apps as a professional learning priority. Our Early On®/Michigan Mandatory Special Education (MMSE) Director secured funds to purchase several iPads and licenses for robust language system apps for providers to support their continued learning and exploration.

How do you feel Level 2 Instructor Training will help you (and your ISD) continue this work in the future?

Allyson: Level 2 Instructor Training allows me to have access to materials that I can use to support my ISD in their continued learning  at a pace that is manageable for them to make changes in their respective areas. The training also allows me access to a support group that can help when I need to make a change and I feel like I am out of ideas. The collaboration within the group of trainers is phenomenal.

Foundations of Math (FoM)

Participants from the summer instructor course training are preparing to lead Foundations of Math professional learning with a new cohort within their ISD. Sessions will focus on the components of number sense and formatting lessons to ensure all students can access and engage in high quality math instruction. Since mathematics is often taught procedurally, focusing on memorization and using steps to solve problems can often confuse learners, particularly those with disabilities.

Memorizing and keeping track of when to apply certain procedures (and when not to) is difficult. With greater mathematical content knowledge, educators can reduce efforts aimed at making learners better memorizers and step followers and increase robust mathematical instruction. The Foundations of Math course is designed to deepen the teacher’s content knowledge and connect procedural knowledge to conceptual understanding.

If you are interested in learning more about Foundations of Math, considering a Partnership with Alt+Shift, or if you would like a refresher, watch our preview videos!

Alt+Shift Partnerships

Alt+Shift engages in multi-year partnerships with ISDs to strengthen their capacity to sustain implementation efforts at local educational agencies LEAs and ISD programs, yielding improved outcomes for all students.

Visit the Partnership section of our website to learn more about how Alt+Shift engages with ISDs to co-construct partnerships in the areas of Assistive Technology (AT Journey), AAC including PODD and Comprehensive Literacy (Building Blocks to Autonomous Communication), and math instruction (Foundations of Math and Foundations of Math: Teaching Students with Significant Disabilities)

Upcoming Events: Michigan

Supervisors of Low Incidence Programs (SLIP) Winter Conference
January 23, 2023
Lansing, MI
Michigan Council for Exceptional Children (MCEC)
March 1-3, 2023
Grand Rapids, MI
Michigan Association of Computer Users in Learning (MACUL)
March 15-18, 2023
Detroit, MI
Michigan Reading Association 67th Annual Conference
March 17-20, 2023
Grand Rapids, MI
Michigan's - Speech - Language - Hearing Association Conference
March 23-25, 2023
Kalamazoo, MI
MiAEYC Annual Early Childhood Conference
Michigan Association for the Education of Young Children
April 20-22, 2023
Grand Rapids, MI
START Conference
May 1, 2023
East Lansing, MI

Upcoming Events: National

Future of Education Technology Conference (FETC)
January 23-26, 2023
New Orleans, LA
Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) Conference
January 31-February 4, 2023
Orlando, FL
Council on Exceptional Children Special Education Convention and Expo
In-Person: March 1-4, 2023
Louisville, KY
Virtual: April 26, 2023

Lending Library Update

There are 124 items out on loan. 
EyeOn product photo


EyeOn is an eyegaze device made for the AAC community. It comes with OnBright - a software application suite. It has hands-free screen control with predictive eye-tracking technology; removing the most common obstacles to achieve independent and reliable communication.


Take a moment to visit the Learning and Teaching with Learning Trajectories website. You will find some great math resources, but most importantly you will find mathematical learning trajectories. These trajectories reflect the natural developmental progression in learning mathematics. Research shows that when teachers understand how children develop mathematics, they are more effective in questioning, analyzing, and providing activities that support student learning. 

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.