July 2021 - Volume 55
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In this issue:

Explore Season 2 of 'Eyes for the Job' from Accessible Media Inc.

Alt+Shift 2021 Coach Camp - It's a Wrap!

Staff posing in their coach camp counselor t-shirts
Caption: Alt+Shift Coach Camp Counselors getting ready for camp kickoff.  From left: Sharon Thomas, Carolyn O’Hearn, Sara Pericolosi, Kate Fanelli

Each summer, Alt+Shift hosts a gathering with our partnership sites to address common needs and challenges identified throughout the year. Instructional coaching was the planned focus of the 2020 Summer Retreat; however, due to the pandemic, we were unable to get together.  Given the ongoing health and safety concerns of 2021, we invited our partnership sites to engage in a virtual Coach Camp, led by Sharon Thomas, senior consultant at the Instructional Coaching Group (
The experience began with an exploration phase in February with monthly pre-recorded videos and live Q&A sessions. We had over 100 participants from 23 intermediate school districts (ISDs) engage in this opportunity. Coach Camp culminated in June with a two-day synchronous event in which nearly 60 participants from 13 ISDs had the opportunity to connect with other sites as they learned how to create effective coaching systems. 
Participants provided key takeaways and feedback from their experience --

“This information is helping me to stop and slow down. I often just go full steam ahead without regard to what others may be thinking or feeling."  -- Ancillary Staff Member
“We are meeting regularly with our team to re-think and discuss all of this information and make a new plan to move forward. We want to put this into action!” -- Implementation Team Member

"We can advise all we want, however teacher buy-in is imperative. This makes me want to reflect on how to interact.” --Teacher Consultant

“I appreciate hearing others' questions and thinking. It gets me considering ideas through a different lens and expands my understanding and thinking.” -- Administrator

Mathematics: Reaching All Learners Together Call for Presenters (MRALT) EXTENDED

The Michigan Council for Exceptional Children (MCEC) and the Michigan Council of Teachers of Mathematics (MCTM), in conjunction with Alt+Shift, seek presenters for their 7th annual joint conference to be held during the month of October 2021.
Submit an MRALT speaker proposal to present online by July 7.
This virtual conference is designed to increase collaboration and shared learning between general and special education math teachers. Collaboration occurs at all levels including the planning committee, session presenters, and attendees. Participants learn about strategies, tools, and techniques that aid teaching and learning of math for students with individualized education programs (IEPs).
As the conference will be virtual, sessions will be pre-recorded and available for attendee viewing from October 18-29, 2021. Sessions should be approximately 30 minutes in length and should be submitted by October 11, 2021. More details will follow if your session is accepted. Additionally, presenters should be available for a web-based, 30-minute question and answer session on October 25 between 3:00 and 6:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (a schedule will be created for this).
For more information on the event, email or download the MRALT conference flyer.

Accessible Materials Made Right (AMMR)

The Alt+Shift website is getting an update. Along with all of the other changes on the site, you may notice an accessibility widget and think to yourself, “Hmm, hasn’t Alt+Shift discouraged the use of such widgets and overlays in the past?” The answer to that question is, “yes, we have.”
After receiving user feedback from a variety of individuals, we learned that including the widget on the website would give more and better access to site content to different users, especially those who do not already have a good assistive technology support system in place.
The widget is a way of making something that was already accessible even more accessible to a larger audience.
Along with the accessibility widget, the entire Alt+Shift website was developed with accessibility in mind. This means that the site has passed the highest standards for web accessibility prior to adding the widget. Accessibility widgets and overlays should not be used as a one-step strategy to make an inaccessible website into an accessible website because that strategy will most likely lead to all sorts of accessibility issues down the road.
Read on for what one user had to say about how websites designed for accessibility, plus tools like accessibility widgets, improves access to web-based information.

Perspective: Website Accessibility and Widgets

David Shachar-Hill
Alt+Shift Contractor

I’ve been substantially visually impaired since the age of 10. My visual deficits are very unusual and wide-ranging encompassing many challenges including problems with depth perception, nystagmus, and an array of other neurological visual disabilities. I have utilized and tried many information technology (IT) products to allow me to manage through my childhood and school. Since the early 2000s, I have tried many visual impairment (VI) assistive technology tools.
I am not particularly savvy when it comes to breakthroughs in VI technologies. I am often unaware of new technology that can be groundbreaking in the field of VI. After utilizing website accessibility widgets, I would highly recommend to any VI person giving them a try.
I was much more easily able to access the Alt+Shift website and see elements of the website that I was unable to see without the use of the widget.
I find on a routine basis that surfing the web is visually difficult for me because of my visual disabilities. Because of this, I try to be very focused when navigating the web and selective on what websites I visit. Many websites are visually confusing for me and other visually impaired people because of the color contrasts and visual display.
The website designers at Alt+Shift have clearly created their website with visually impaired people in mind. Therefore, even without using any accessibility widget, it is easier to navigate and requires less effort from me as a visually impaired individual. The widget makes it even more accessible.
Website accessibility widgets can help in many different scenarios and address a wide range of disability conditions with features like:
  • Color Contrast
  • Highlight Links
  • Bigger Text/Spacing
  • Pause Animations
  • Dyslexia Friendly Font
  • Larger Cursor Size
  • Line Height
Website accessibility widgets have many advantages for me, personally, as well as important advantages to help with many VI conditions that I do not have but are prevalent in the VI community.

Assistive Technology (AT) - Save the Dates!

The AT Leadership planning committee has set dates for 2021-2022 AT Lunch & Learns! Join these informal, yet informative, virtual meetings to connect with other Michigan educators and learn about AT resources, tools, and strategies on Wednesday, October 6, 2021; Thursday, December 2, 2021; and Wednesday, February 2, 2022.
Keep your fingers crossed for an in-person meeting in the spring of 2022! If you would like to receive Zoom information, updates, and access to a community of AT leaders, join the AT-Contacts Listserv by completing the AT-Contacts Listserv sign-up form.

Building Blocks to Autonomous Communication

In order to become autonomous communicators, augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) users need to spell letter by letter. Dr. Karen Erickson and Dr. David Koppenaver are leaders in helping educators understand how to teach students with significant disabilities to read and write. Their book, Comprehensive Literacy for All: Teaching Students with Significant Disabilities to Read and Write, provides detailed instruction and student examples of both emergent and conventional literacy strategies.
If you're looking for an opportunity to engage in a community of learning around their work, join the Comprehensive Literacy For All Book Study Facebook Group

Delta Math

Maria Klompmaker
Zeeland Christian School

My name is Maria Klompmaker, and I work for Zeeland Christian School as a math champion. Throughout our implementation of the Delta Math Response to Intervention (RtI) program, we have been able to use data better to support our students. When small groups of students were identified to receive tier 2 support for a readiness standard, we were able to support students with temporary RTI groups. And, when large groups would benefit from tier 2 support, classroom teachers provided the targeted support to the whole class.
The intervention resources are a fantastic resource to use as we reteach these standards. We believe when we are able to identify high priority standards with unfinished learning and provide tier 2 intervention for these standards, we are able to create a more solid foundation for students to build their math understanding in the future!
This fall, Delta Math resources will support our district’s ability to create my new position called, “Math Champion.” I will be able to help students in a few different ways. First, I will help teachers become more familiar with using Delta Math data to plan additional support based on their students' needs. We plan to integrate additional tier 2 classroom support during the first half of the school year and then transition our focus to additional tier 1 support during the second half. Second, I will be able to provide access to targeted intervention for more students in small, flexible groups. And third, I will get to work with teachers to analyze their students’ data, create a plan based on their data, and explore visual representations and math strategies to help each student deepen their conceptual understanding. By working together as a team, we will be able to increase targeted support for all students and as a result, increase each student’s understanding and confidence to be a successful mathematician.

Foundations of Math (FoM and FoM:SD)

Looking for math activities to do at home or in summer school with students studying the Essential Elements? Peruse these "choice boards" (really, choice lists) from Alt+Shift that contain activities designed to help students maintain progress toward individualized education program (IEP) goals related to counting, geometry (shapes), and addition/subtraction.
Activities are designed to be used as is or as a springboard for you as you plan summer math learning opportunities.

Upcoming Events: Michigan

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 of Teachers of Mathematics (MCTM) 72nd Annual Conference
July 27-29, 2021
Virtual conference

Making Early Mathematics Joyful: An Overview of the Essential Instructional Practices in Early Mathematics, PreK to Grade 3
August 10, 2021
Virtual Event

Alt+Shift Emergent Literacy for Students with Significant Disabilities and Complex Communication Needs
Days:  October 5, 2021, November 3, 2021, December 9, 2021, and January 11, 2022
Time: 8:30 - 9:00 a.m. EST (Registration); 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. EST (Training)
Virtual Conference
Alt+Shift Conventional Literacy for Students with Significant Disabilities and Complex Communication
Days:  October 5, 2021, November 3, 2021, December 9, 2021, and January 11, 2022
Time: 12:00 - 12:30 p.m. EST (Registration); 12:30 - 3:30 p.m. EST (Training)
Virtual Conference

9th Annual Autism Conference
October 7-8, 2021

Mathematics: Reaching All Learners Together
Asynchronous conference October 18-29, 2021, synchronous conference October 25, 2021
Hybrid Virtual Conference

Pre-Conference: November 4-5, 2021
Conference: November 8-9, 2021
Virtual Conference

Upcoming Events: National

Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA) Conference
July 7-9, 2021

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

National Autism Conference
August 2-5, 2021

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

Closing The Gap 2021
Pre-conference Workshops: October 7-8, 2021
October 11-13, 2021
Virtual conference

National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) Regional Conference
October 27-29, 2021
Phoenix, Arizona

ASHA Convention 2021: Rising United
November 18-20, 2021
Hybrid Virtual Conference (Washington, DC)

Lending Library Update

There are 70 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


9 Expanded Functions Eyegaze PODD Book 

Pragmatic Organisation Dynamic Display (PODD) is a means of selecting and organizing symbols so students with complex communication needs and their communication partners can communicate more easily. PODD books are printed at a low cost for Michigan educators who have attended the two day introductory PODD training and own the PODD software.


Do you have students whose parents have questions about special education and how they can better support and advocate for their child with disabilities? Have them check out Michigan Alliance for Families. Through this initiative, parents can connect with a local parent mentor who is a parent or family member of an individual with disabilities who has first-hand experience with the aspects of the special education system. The Michigan Alliance for Families website has resources covering a variety of topics, including behavior, eligibility, IEP, and the transition to adulthood.

Connect to Other MDE OSE Grant Funded Initiatives

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 Supports Technical Assisitance (MiMTSS) - Visit the MiMTSS website and look under “Announcements” for updates and events.
Special Education Mediation Services (SEMS) - Visit the SEMS website for updates and information.
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.