February 2022 - Volume 53
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In this issue:

Hiring people with autism can be a winning business formula.

Accessible Materials Made Right (AMMR)

Often the accessibility of the information we wish to share is out of our control due to the platforms we use to disseminate information. If you’re looking at platforms and trying to determine their accessibility, consider looking for a Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT) on the organizations’ websites. A VPAT is a document that lists the requirements of Section 508, whether a platform or product is compliant with the requirements and if not, what limitations might be in place. Oftentimes, if a platform doesn’t post this document on their website, asking for it can be a good way to open the dialogue about accessibility. VPATs are generally required for federal contracts, but there’s no reason you can’t ask for one as well! You can learn more in this Level Access article titled What is a VPAT and how do you get one?

Consider registering for the AMMR Usergroup meeting scheduled for February 17, 2022 at 4:30 p.m., when we will discuss different web-based platforms we have used and our experiences in evaluating and researching their accessibility.

Assistive Technology (AT)

TikTok is not just for Gen Z! Did you know there are AT product developers as well as AT users all over TikTok? Now, instead of scrolling through silly dances, movie voiceovers, or countless product placements, you can learn through one to three minute videos on this social media platform. Most videos can be easily shared or saved, which means you can share them on other platforms, emails, newsletters, or text messages. Learn more about real barriers AT users face in the community and low-cost AT supports made from dollar store items, or see AT in action.
Not sure where to start? Search “assistive technology” or check out @TechOwlPA, @TheBlindLife, or @JustKeepStimming.

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

Many parents, teachers, paraprofessionals, and ancillary staff often read books to students.  Rather than reading to students, shared reading puts the emphasis on the interaction and engagement that occurs when we read books with students. Tar Heel Shared Reader provides free access to professional development modules, coaching information, materials, and technology that support the implementation of shared reading for students with significant disabilities. If you're contemplating how to share this information with others, check out the facilitated modules as they offer all of the handouts, activities, videos, and slides that you will need to share this content with others.

Delta Math

The winter screening cycle continues through February 28, 2022. Many schools screen up in February to measure each student’s readiness for the next grade level. “Screening up” data is used to identify students who may benefit from additional tier 1 support. Then, “screening up” in May can measure the impact of tier 1 intervention and inform planning for students who may benefit from additional support during the summer and/or fall. For students receiving tier 3 support, use the readiness screener for the same grade level of the tier 3 screener they completed during the fall and winter to screen up to accelerate their learning closer to their current grade level.
The Standard Summary report can be generated to display the percent of students not meeting benchmark for each readiness standard. When large percentages of students need additional tier 1 support, targeted intervention can be provided to the whole group during warm-ups or integrated within core instruction. The Intervention Group report can be used to display students who would benefit from targeted tier 1 support during centers or other times when students can receive targeted support.
If you have questions about using Delta Math Response to Intervention (RtI) program data to identify unfinished learning and provide targeted support, please contact Mike Klavon at

Foundations of Math

Engaging students in productive mathematical conversation is a key component of a quality math experience. If your students require AAC, be sure these tools are available to students at all times. Mathematical conversation does not need to be limited to the math block. It can occur at any time and include conversation around a wide variety of topics. Consider using pattern prompts, picture prompts, and examples of incorrect solutions to get students talking! If students struggle to communicate or organize their thinking, consider adding in sentence stems to set them up for success.    
Along with a good prompt, structure the experience to include individual think time as well as an opportunity to talk with a peer. Finally, provide opportunities for students to hear the thinking of others. Learning to appreciate a different perspective or solution not only builds the mathematical skills of our students but serves as an opportunity for students to listen and seek to understand another point of view or idea. 


*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.

Established practices sometimes must be set aside to make room for new ideas and approaches. Kopp (2021) defines such creative destruction as “the dismantling of long-standing practices in order to make way for innovation.” Destruction that’s forced on us doesn’t feel creative, but it becomes a creative force when we are able to take the opportunity to do things in innovative ways. Thanks to the creativity of teachers and parents, the COVID pandemic is proving to be such a force.
The changes brought on by COVID-19 have been unwanted and uncomfortable for many people because K-12 education has remained largely unchanged for over a century. However, these changes have arguably made schooling more agile and competitive. In contrast, colleges and universities have been utilizing the internet for over a decade prior to COVID-19, changing and adapting all along to hybrid and online classes as technological innovation allowed. These different learning institutions had less of a brutal awakening than traditional public schools when the pandemic hit. I graduated from Michigan State University (MSU) in September of 2019, six months before the COVID-19 pandemic forced MSU and all other universities online. If I were still at MSU in 2020, this would not have been a big deal for me because I, and all other students, were already established with online platforms.
Many of us learned how much can be learned online beyond the teacher posting assigned readings or homework. Earlier this year, I took a self-paced course online to earn certification to sell insurance. As well as reading the rules and regulations online, I took regular quizzes to monitor my progress and tests on each area to ensure mastery before tackling the next topic. I found that going through the training at my own pace was helpful and less stressful. As someone for whom keeping up at school at times created a lot of pressure over the years, this new experience was refreshing. It opened my eyes to new, lower pressure, and more accessible ways of learning.
Self paced learning existed before the pandemic, even before the internet. But when COVID disrupted conventional in-person education, online teaching and learning created more opportunities for people to learn at their own pace, while also having access to synchronous learning if they chose. Having experienced the benefits of this modality, I believe some parents and learners will want this option to remain available beyond the pandemic.
 There is much truth in the old saying: “Necessity is the mother of invention.”

Upcoming Events: Michigan

Math in Action
February 26, 2021
Allendale, MI

Michigan Council for Exceptional Children 82nd Annual Conference
March 2-4, 2022
Grand Rapids, MI

Michigan Reading Association 66th Annual Conference
March 11-14, 2022
Lansing, MI
Michigan Association of Computer Users in Learning (MACUL) Conference
March 16-19, 2022
Grand Rapids, MI
Michigan's - Speech - Language - Hearing Association Conference
March 24-26, 2022
Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center
East Lansing, MI
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

Council on Exceptional Children Special Education Convention and Expo 2022
Virtual: February 1-4, 2022

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

Lending Library Update

There are 104 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


Single Switch Kit

The Single Switch Kit includes everything you need to conduct a single switch assessment.

Lending Library Helpful Info

Have you purchased a Pragmatic Organization Dynamic Display (PODD) book from Alt+Shift or are you borrowing one from the Lending Library? Alt+Shift uses Revlar paper to create PODD books. Revlar paper can be cleaned and sanitized. Follow the REVLAR cleaning guide to get the best life out of your PODD book


Linking literacy and math is a great way to maximize instructional time and make connections to our world! Visit The Best Children’s Books for Early Math Learning and 10 Living Books for Middle School Math for some suggestions!

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.