April 2022 - Volume 55
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In this issue:

Students with intellectual disabilities discuss their experience at University of Central Florida.

Accessible Materials Made Right (AMMR)

This month I invited friends of mine from my local Disability Network West Michigan to share some information on their organization and the resources that are available to every community around the state. I look forward to including them as the AMMR group moves forward with our work.

- Joel Selby, Contracted Facilitator, AMMR Project

 Michigan has 15 federally-designated Centers for Independent Living (CIL) that focus on removing barriers for people with disabilities and promoting self-sufficiency. We take a two-pronged approach to our services; helping people discover and reach their independent living goals and helping communities become more inclusive through education and advocacy. CILs are unique in that they are community-based, private nonprofits governed and staffed predominantly by people with disabilities. CILs serve people of all ages and all types of disabilities. But, it doesn’t stop there. We are also a great resource for families, caregivers, state and local government, legislators, businesses, and community organizations.
Supports to individuals are focused on working in partnership with them to achieve their goals, which often include increased independence, connections to their community, and self-sufficiency. We do this through a variety of services including: Information and Referral, Peer Support, Independent Living Skill Development, Individual and Systems Advocacy, and Community Transitions.
If you are looking for input from people with disabilities on a project, please reach out to your local CIL for feedback. All counties in Michigan are served by a CIL and each CIL belongs to a statewide network called Disability Network/Michigan. To find your CIL and more information about Disability Network/Michigan, please follow the links below.

Assistive Technology (AT)

Last month, the Region IV Assistive Technology Consortium virtually brought Shelley Moore to speak about inclusive education. During her engaging and inspirational full-day session, Moore referenced how Universal Design for Learning (UDL) can help create a sense of community and belonging for all students in all classrooms, but the guidelines themselves can be difficult to understand at face value. Moore adapted the UDL Guidelines Engagement, Representation, and Action & Expression to be user-friendly self-assessments for educators. These self-assessments include a means for educators to review UDL goals and objectives, as well as identify their team’s goal for improvement.

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

The National Joint Committee for the Communication Needs of Persons with Severe Disabilities (NJC) is made up of representatives from eight member organizations that are connected with other professionals who have a shared interest in enhancing the communication effectiveness for individuals with severe disabilities. The NJC published the Communication Bill of Rights which highlights the fundamental communication rights of all individuals, including those with disabilities. The NJC Network continues to build a platform for researchers, clinicians, and other professionals to collaborate around supporting the communication needs of all individuals. If you are interested in learning more, check out the NJC Facebook page or sign up to Join the NJC Network!

Delta Math

Online practice opportunities are available for every grade level readiness standard on the Delta Math website’s  Tier 2 Intervention and Tier 3 Intervention tabs. Online practice for each readiness and Tier 3 standard includes three to five activities to provide distributed practice and reinforce conceptual understanding. Our goal for online practice was to include as many activities as possible that include visual representations to support conceptual understanding.
Resources were selected from the following websites:  IXL (Provides up to ten free problems per day), (Might require students to watch an ad), Math Playground, Michigan Virtual University, NCTM Illuminations, and Think Central.
Please encourage teachers and interventionists to engage students in reflection and strategic math talk by implementing the suggested instructional protocol at the top of the Online Practice web page or by using an instructional routine of their own.
If you have any questions about Delta Math RtI Program resources or implementation, please contact Mike Klavon at

Foundations of Math

Consider combining reading and math by reading children’s books about math. Here are some features to look for to ensure that the books align with Foundations of Math principles:

  • Quantity: Look for books that demonstrate quantity by showing sets of objects. For example, illustrations that show three cookies and not just the numeral “3” or four rows of five flowers and not just a sentence that says “4 x 5 = 20” or “four times five equals twenty.”
  • Structure and discussion: Look for books that provide opportunities for learners and their families to talk about the mathematical ideas in them. For example, “Will there be enough cookies?” “Show me where you see four.” “Can a square really do that?” “What about a circle?” or “What’s another way they could have figured that out?”
  • Symbols: Look for books that also provide a connection to numerals and symbols. For example, if the picture shows two friends joining a group of three friends, the author has also written the equation “2 + 3 = 5” or if the picture shows two ladybugs, it also has the numeral “2” written.
  • Interest: Always choose books that connect to ideas and situations that are interesting to the learner. Books that learners can relate to provide “stickiness” that help students connect current understanding to new ideas, making the learning permanent in the brain.
For students with disabilities, remember to support this activity by providing the assistive technology that is required for them to fully engage. Watch this speech-language pathologist combine reading, the Foundations of Math approach, and language development by reading Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons.
Looking for more book titles?
  • Wayne Regional Educational Service Agency (RESA) has compiled a bibliography of children’s math books aligned to the Common Core State Standards for grades kindergarten through 8th grade.  
  • The Center for Mathematics, Science, and Technology Education from the University of Alberta also compiled a bibliography of children’s literature for teaching and learning mathematics in elementary and secondary schools. This resource includes instructional suggestions. 


*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. So far he has lived in six cities. Even though he is an adult, he still enjoys building Legos in his spare time.

The vast majority of special education teachers, professionals, and staff are extremely committed to helping their students succeed. Most special education teachers devote their careers to best enable the success of their students. It can be difficult for these professionals especially when the students in their classes are not able to demonstrate mastery of content or significant progress on standard educational measures. When thinking about special education, it is clear that these students have very unique challenges which underlie their different, sometimes substandard educational outcomes.
Educators, especially in special education, should ideally strive to achieve equality of opportunity in their students. Special education students often have many challenges that make learning especially difficult for them. As a former special education student, I see the greatest possibility for these students when their disabilities or challenges can be as deemphasized as possible while allowing them to capitalize on their strengths.
When I returned to public school in 7th grade after being ill for a substantial amount of time, I had many barriers, some of which I still have today. Some of these barriers include trouble reading because of poor vision and trouble writing and typing because of shakiness in my hands and muscles. Throughout school, I received occupational therapy and physical therapy services to help manage some of my most educationally limiting conditions. I needed to have many of these issues addressed before I shifted more of my focus in school to academics and to eventually move to general  education. All special education students have their own specific challenges, but they can only succeed at a limited level unless most of their underlying difficulties are seriously considered and addressed.
I feel strongly that allowing for equality of opportunity or leveling the playing field for these individual students is one of the most important goals special education departments should  ultimately be focused on. All students receiving special education services have unique challenges in school or barriers to learning. Only when teachers can address some of these underlying issues and challenges for special education students are they able to academically succeed.

Lending Library Parent Perspective

With Margie S.

Alt+Shift: What impact have you seen for your child by trialing a device/devices from the lending library?
Parent: The impact we've seen in my son by trialing a few devices is that now he has a voice! We use several low-tech books to communicate with our son but now with the high-tech device, he can use and get an immediate response with a male voice of his choosing. What a thrill for him to choose the voice that he wants to sound like. We cannot tell you how happy it makes me to hear my son speak!

Alt+Shift: Do you think it has helped in making informed decisions for your child's needs?
Parent: By trialing devices from the lending library, now we know exactly what works for our son and have saved our family a huge expense. We have purchased several items in the past, trying to find some way to have our son communicate with us with no real success. That didn't happen this time. We purchased a similar device compared to what we borrowed from the lending library. We are grateful for them helping us in this process of giving our son his voice.
Parent adds: I appreciate the goal of the Alt+Shift Lending Library to help all children learn to read, write, and communicate. Also, to their dedication to literacy and belief it's never too late to start. Thank you for providing us the service and the tools to borrow to find out what works for our children to make this achievable for them.

Upcoming Events: Michigan

 21st Annual START Conference
May 2, 2022
Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center
East Lansing, MI

2022 MiAEYC Annual Early Childhood Conference
Michigan Association for the Education of Young Children
May 5-7, 2022
Grand Rapids, MI

Upcoming Events: National

Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA) Conference
July 14-16, 2022
Arlington, VA

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) Connect Conference
July 13-25, 2022

Closing The Gap
Pre-Conference: October 17-18, 2022
Conference: October 19-22, 2022
Minneapolis, MN

Lending Library Update

There are 115 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


Tiny Switchy

Tiny Switchy is a small switch-modifier with a single-switch input and an output for adapted toys and other switch-operated devices. TOGGLE mode changes the output each time the user presses their switch-press to turn the toy on or presses to turn the toy off. TIMED mode turns on the toy for a specific duration; press and the toy turns on for, say ten seconds.

Lending Library Helpful Tip

Having trouble customizing a file for 3D keyguard printing? There is now a new site that works with Thingiverse. Watch this 3D Customizer and Thingiverse OpenSCAD Models video to learn more. Don’t forget that custom keyguards can be 3D printed and shipped at no cost to Michigan public schools. Request using the Key Guard Order Form.


We often include reading as part of a bedtime routine. Why not include math? Check out the Math Before Bed website and click on the Prompts or Strands tab to see a variety of free options available to get you started. Prompts can be used as part of a bedtime routine or during snack time to inspire mathematical conversations.

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.