May 2022 - Volume 56
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In this issue:

In this video, students with physical disabilities share their thoughts and experiences with accessible schools in NYC

Accessible Materials Made Right (AMMR)

As we near the end of the 2021-2022 school year, please take some time to reflect on what you've accomplished this year. We're still nowhere near "normal," but I think our perspective on normal has changed. Now is a time of transition.
  • Take stock of the projects on your list and reflect on their purpose. Do you have a clear picture in your head of why these projects are important? Would your purpose speak to outsiders?
  • Consider your list of stakeholders. Is it complete? As we see an uptick in turnover, now's the time to reevaluate the members of your team and reach out to potential new partners.
  • What about your timeline? (If it's anything like mine, it has gone completely off the rails.) Take a little time to consider projects in light of your current workload and capacity. Plan out a realistic timeline with small, achievable goals along the way.
Please consider joining us for the AMMR user group meeting on May 19, 2022 at 4:30 p.m., when we will reflect on our implementation progress for the year, do some planning for 2022-2023, and wrap-up the school year in this final meeting of the year. You can Register for the May AMMR User Group meeting here.
If you need any support with Accessible Materials Made Right, please contact Joel Selby at

Assistive Technology (AT) - Educator Spotlight

Katie Butzu
Occupational Therapist and AT/Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Coordinator
Bay Arenac Intermediate School District
Alt+Shift (A+S): What challenges were you seeing related to assistive technology prior to beginning the AT Journey?
Katie Butzu (KB): Prior to beginning the AT Journey, I saw a lot of misconceptions about assistive technology. Within our ISD, there were a lot of holes where there was a lack of knowledge and understanding of true consideration of what AT was.
A+S: What differences or impact are you seeing in staff since the beginning of this school year?
KB: Since the beginning of the school year, I have seen a HUGE increase in our AT team members’ confidence in consideration for AT. I have seen so many members empowered to go back to their districts with this knowledge and advocate for needs for AT. In addition, the number of requests for AT and AT services has risen greatly!
A+S: What differences or impact are you seeing in students since the beginning of this school year?
KB: With students, we are seeing improvements in their access to classroom materials, increased independence in a variety of tasks, and increased student buy-in on how they can be successful through the use of AT.
A+S: Have you seen shifts in your own work since partnering through the AT Journey?
KB: Yes. Since partnering and beginning the AT Journey, I have seen shifts in being more collaborative versus (using the) expert model. I have done better with coaching and modeling for others as well as delegating tasks so all members play a role in this.
A+S: How did you utilize the AT Journey: Web Edition prior to the "live" partnership?
KB: Prior to “live” partnership, we used the AT Journey: Web Edition as a guide for our AT team meetings. We utilized the checklists to gather baseline information about individual team members’ knowledge in AT and helped to use this information when planning meeting content. We learned, as a team, more about the Student, Environment, Tasks, and Tools (SETT) framework and then applied this by doing case studies as a team.
A+S: Anything else you'd like to add/share?
KB: The partnership with Alt+Shift has been so pivotal within Bay Arenac ISD this year. The Alt+Shift team does a wonderful job collaborating with our team, helping to hold team members accountable, setting realistic goals as an ISD, and has helped educate us in so many ways with their level of expertise.

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

The least dangerous assumption is a theory that states, "in the absence of conclusive data,
educational decisions ought to be based on assumptions that, if incorrect, will have the least dangerous effect on the likelihood that students will be able to function independently as adults” (Donnellan, p.141).
If educators (and families) embody this approach, it places responsibility on the adult versus the learner. For example, if a student fails to make progress, we first assume that it is a problem with the instruction and/or materials versus a student deficit. When we limit the number of symbols on a student's device based on our beliefs about what they're 'able to do' without providing instruction and support, we may unintentionally be doing harm to that student as we are not presuming the potential of that student to learn. Educators must reflect on how their own beliefs about their students’ abilities to learn and make progress directly impact the instruction they provide and in turn their students’ learning opportunities. 
Donnellan, A. M. (1984). The criterion of the least dangerous assumption. Behavioral Disorders, 9(2), 141–150.

Delta Math

With the support from Alt+Shift, the Delta Math Response to Intervention (RtI) program has expanded over the past three years to support Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) in kindergarten through Algebra 2 and include:

  • Grade Level Readiness and Tier 3 Screeners
  • Standard-based and Student Growth Reports
  • Tier 2 and Tier 3 Intervention Lessons
  • Targeted Practice Activities
The annual screening fee is only $3 per student to measure and monitor number sense and procedural fluency with whole numbers, fractions, integers, algebraic expressions, equations, and functions. Tier 2 and 3 intervention lessons are available for free to identify student strengths and to help educators provide targeted support for students identified with unfinished learning.
If you haven’t explored our implementation support website within the last 3 years, I encourage you to visit the Get to know Delta Math page to explore the support documents and videos.
If you have questions about the resources or recommendations for implementing the Delta Math RtI Program resources, please contact Mike Klavon at

Foundations of Math

Number lines are an amazing tool and support the development of number sense and many math strategies. However, do you have students with, or without, disabilities who experience a great deal of difficulty using a number line? Do they get easily frustrated or confused when using them? It is quite possible that using a number path may be helpful. While a number path and a number line look a lot alike, there is a difference! 

Number Path
Squares in a row with number inside 1-10

Number Line
Number line showing  0 - 10

A number path is a counting model. The numbers are represented by rectangles and each rectangle can be counted. A number line has equally spaced number increments. For students with disabilities, the spacing can sometimes prove to be too abstract, resulting in confusion and frustration. The number path can bridge the gap between moving from concrete manipulatives to the number line.

 4 + 3 =

Number line from 0-10 showing hops backward from 7 to 4Row of boxes numbered 1-10. Boxes 1-4 are circled one color. Boxes 5-7 are circled another.

Can you think of any situations where a number path may support your student in their learning better than a number line? Again, the number path is just a tool, but it may be a useful tool for some of our learners!


*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 where he received special education from 7th grade on. So far he has lived in six cities. Even though he is an adult, he still enjoys building Legos in his spare time.

All learners should be encouraged to excel in their academic studies. An important part of early education is being strongly encouraged and challenged in academics. Only with strong encouragement from educators can students grow up to become proficient and confident in their studies and achieve mastery. However, there are limits on the benefits of strong encouragement alone. At a certain point in their intellectual development, most students find that they are excelling in certain subject areas more than others. It’s not unusual for students to find particular academic subject areas in which they excel. Conversely, many students find subject areas that they struggle in and/or dislike.

In education it is important for teachers and other educators to help their students excel as much as they can in subjects they feel most comfortable with and/or enjoy as well as help to support them in subject areas that they may struggle with. This is even more important in special education where many students contend with significant challenges. Encouragement is the most impactful for these students, and nothing is more encouraging than success. Unfortunately, it is easy for these students to get discouraged and to abandon academic studies at the first opportunity. Based on what I’ve seen and experienced over my academic journey, I feel strongly that there is too much emphasis on subjects in which the students are struggling, at the expense of subject areas they enjoy or in which they excel. Students’ strengths should be more of a focus throughout school, rather than dwelling excessively on their weaknesses.

Through experiencing success as well as encouragement in academics, students have the greatest chance of completing school. Eventually after students successfully complete school, they should be able to focus much more of their energy on the subject areas that they enjoy in their postsecondary activities.

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

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

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 102 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

Brightly colored digital watch

Wobl+ Watch

Wobl+ Watch is a small, vibrating, waterproof alarm reminder watch, great for discreet reminders. The WobL+ can be used for timed medications, bathroom breaks, important tasks, and more. It is also great to assist those with visual or hearing impairment, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and attention deficit disorder (ADD), diabetes, and more.


Accessibility is an important feature in developing a truly inclusive world for all learners. For learners with disabilities, it means they can acquire the same information, engage in the same interactions, and enjoy the same services as their non-disabled peers. As educators, we need to ensure that any document or platform we’re creating or using can be accessed by any individual, regardless of their disability. The National Center on Accessible Educational Materials (AEM) has several informational resources dedicated to teach about accessibility measures that should be taken, including Accessible Learning Across the Lifespan and Designing for Accessibility with POUR.

Connect to Other MDE OSE Grant Funded Initiatives

Michigan Alliance for Families

Michigan Alliance for Families (MAF)

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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.