April 2019, Volume 28
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In this issue:

Featured Video:
Martin Pristorius: How my mind came back to life - and no one knew

Foundations of Communication Update

The Foundations of Communication implementation teams continue to model core vocabulary and provide multiple communicative opportunities for their students with complex communication needs. Discussions this month focused on improving staff buy-in and increasing models throughout school environments. While many of the teams are targeting early childhood classrooms and younger students, they are also working toward developing a model of how to naturally incorporate this in classrooms with older, post-secondary students. This month, successes included fostering an environment for an open dialogue about barriers with all staff (which will help improve staff buy-in) and creating materials to assist with familiarity of core and increased models during activities.

Pragmatic Organization Dynamic Display (PODD) Update

I have something to say! More to say - I like this - Awesome. I think it’s awesome! The PODD implementation teams are creating communication-rich environments that truly foster authentic communication at any point of the day. Sites are seeing increased expressive language skills in students and feeling more confident and fluent in their use of “PODD-speak” (i.e., knowing how to navigate and express a variety of communicative functions). Many teams are looking to duplicate their successes seen in the classroom by creating a process to introduce PODD communication books with new staff, as well as provide parent and caregiver instructional sessions.

Accessible Materials Made Right (AMMR) Update

As schools have worked hard to make their websites accessible, many have employed automated tools to scan the website, checking for any accessibility issues. While these tools are critical to our accessibility efforts, they, like any accessibility checker, have their limits. Even with automated scanners, expert reviews, and user testing, the truth is that it is possible to miss something.

Accessibility Statements can be a helpful and effective way for your district to communicate its ongoing commitment to accessibility and provide a means for end users to notify you if they encounter a lingering accessibility issue. These statements are already a requirement for public bodies across the European Union and have also been required as part settlements between the U.S. Department of Justice and public and private organizations.

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has a created an easy to use accessibility statement generator that will guide you through a step-by-step process that produces a usable Accessibility Statement for your website. You can also learn more and find links to a variety of real world Accessibility Statements in Lainey Feingold’s post about accessibility statements.

Comprehensive Literacy Instruction Update

 Three Conventional Literacy trainers-in-training will complete their certification process by co-teaching with Dr. Karen Erickson at Kent Intermediate School District (ISD) later this month. These trainers-in-training have engaged in full-day meetings with Drs. Erickson and Koppenhaver to deepen their knowledge of the course content, attended Camp Alec to gain practical experience with the course content, personalized the trainings with their own experiences as teachers and therapists, and practiced presenting sections of the course with Dr. Koppenhaver in February at a training in Romulus.
Keep an eye on this newsletter for opportunities to engage with Alt+Shift for training and implementation of both Emergent and Conventional literacy for the upcoming school year.

Assistive Technology (AT) Journey Symposium Update

AT Journey teams participate in whole symposium webinars where they receive information on tools, engage in reading selected articles or listening to podcasts, and discuss new ways to share information with colleagues in order to foster a cohesive team. In addition to the webinars, individual sites meet with Mike Marotta and Carolyn O’Hearn to address their specific implementation plan and develop a more formalized process for considering and documenting assistive technology.
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: Mathematics: Reaching All Learners Together Annual Conference: Call for Presenters

Date: October 28, 2019
Location: Lansing Community College West Campus
Time: 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

The Michigan Council for Exceptional Children (MCEC) and the Michigan Council of Teachers of Mathematics (MCTM), in conjunction with Alt+Shift, encompassing (Mi)2, seek presenters for their fifth annual joint conference Mathematics: Reaching All Learners Together. This one-day conference is designed to increase collaboration and shared learning between general and special education math teachers.
Why should I present?
Both general and special educators are discovering and creating ways to increase math achievement for students with individualized education programs (IEPs). Solutions exist at large systems levels like creating opportunities to collaborate or improve communication and also exist at the personal level, like aligning instructional strategies to the needs of individual students.
Presenting would be a great way for you and your colleague(s) to model collaboration and help support other teachers who want to improve. Presenters are also offered a discounted rate for the conference.
What could I present?
If you are using or supporting instruction that is having a positive effect on students including those in inclusive environments, resource rooms, self-contained rooms, and center-based programs, please consider submitting a proposal to share those ideas with others.
Topics could include, but are not limited to:

  • Co-teaching strategies.
  • Instructional strategies.
  • Concrete-Representational-Abstract (C-R-A) models for math content.
  • Intervention tools.
  • Assessment tools.
  • Assistive technology supports.

How do I submit a proposal?
Submit online: 2019 speaker proposal
Due Date: April 30, 2019

Lending Library: Borrower Highlight

Lindsey Fountain
Speech-Language Pathologist
Allendale Public Schools

AS: How long have you used the lending library?
LF: This was my first time using the library.
AS:  How did you hear about the lending library?
LF: I learned about the library through colleagues in my district, and then I learned more after attending 'Start the Assistive Technology Journey' PD last April.
AS:  What items have you borrowed through the library?
LF: I borrowed a ProSlate 10D to use Proloquo2Go and Words for Life - LAMP.
AS:  What are the results from borrowing items from the library (ie: student success story, purchasing items, implementation etc)?
LF: I trialed both options with two different students and now they each have their own devices with Words for Life - LAMP to communicate.
AS:  Would you recommend the lending library to others?
LF: I would absolutely recommend the lending library to others! This option allowed us to collect data over a period of time and then make informed decisions regarding communication devices.

Upcoming Events: Alt+Shift

AT Leadership Meeting
April 12, 2019
St. Johns, MI
AMMR Zoom Webinar - PDF Accessibility
April 15, 2019 at 3:00 p.m.
Or join via phone: +1 646 876 9923, meeting ID 767 033 885
Alt+Shift Implementation Team Summer Retreat
June 18-20, 2019
Traverse City, MI
*This event is open by invitation to our current implementation teams. More information to come.

Upcoming Events: Michigan

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
12th Annual Life Without Limits Through Assistive Technology Conference
May 9, 2019
Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Detroit/Dearborn
Detroit, MI
Michigan Council of Teachers of Mathematics (MCTM) Conference
July 30-August 1, 2019
Eberhard Center
Grand Rapids, MI
Mathematics: Reaching All Learners Together Conference (registration not yet open)
October 28, 2019
Lansing Community College West Campus
Lansing, MI

Upcoming Events: National

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 67 items out on loan. 

New item:

Turtle Wireless Voice Amplifier

The Turtle voice amplifier is a 2.4 GHz wireless digital voice amplifier with a pre-matched transmitter and receiver. It has clear sound quality and high sensitivity due to its digital audio processing which is great for classroom settings. It also comes with a wired mic for attaching directly to the amplifier if needed. The amplifier has a belt clip so that it may be worn on the waist for ease of movement.


 Looking for ways to assess the current communication skills of your students with complex communication needs? Here are three free assessments that use an interview-style approach to create a comprehensive picture of the student’s communicative skills. These assessments delve into a variety of communicative functions with space to describe how the interviewee knows the student communicates that function. Follow the links to see more or obtain your free copies: Communication Matrix, Pragmatics Profile of Everyday Skills in Children, and Pragmatics Profile for People Who Use AAC

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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.