Maya is diagnosed with cerebral palsy and gets upset when people rush to help her with every task.
Accessible Materials Made Right (AMMR)
Greetings! I’m Joel Selby, the new lead for the Accessible Materials Made Right (AMMR) project. I’ve been working with document accessibility and the AMMR project since 2016 when the Muskegon Area Intermediate School District (ISD) received notification of an accessibility complaint via the federal Office of Civil Rights (OCR) and we all got to work figuring out what this was all about. (I’m excited to share that MAISD’s accessibility complaint was officially cleared in the spring of 2021, after a successful website audit, thanks to the tireless efforts of our web and social media manager, Pam Jackson.)
I am stepping in to take over for Peter Schaafsma, from whom I learned a lot back in 2017 when I attended his two-day AMMR workshop, in addition to numerous retreats, training sessions, and Zoom meetings over the years. For the past nine years, I have served as the special projects manager in the Instructional Services department for the Muskegon Area ISD. This role was quite vast in its inclusion of arts, technology, and certification/registration responsibilities (a unique set of things I pulled together myself over the years). As I start this role with Alt+Shift, I am also beginning a whole new phase of my career at the MAISD as I transition over to the Technology Services department and join our PowerSchool support team.
I’m excited to continue our collaborative efforts to improve the accessibility of our materials both for students and our communities! I hope you’ll join us on November 18, 2021 from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. for the first of our next, monthly AMMR user group meeting. Register for the November AMMR user group session.
Assistive Technology (AT) - Educator Spotlight
(From left: Amber Wade, AT Consultant for Wayne RESA, and former Former POHI/AT Specialist for Dearborn Schools; Dawn Jones, AT/AAC Consultant for Oakland Schools, and former POHI teacher; and Gayle Evans, AT Consultant for Allegan Area ESD and Van Buren ISD, Former SLP and instructional technology coach)A+S: What interested you in joining the AT Leadership planning team?
Amber: I was interested in joining the planning team to support other leaders in the state and build my network of other AT specialists.
Gayle: Being on the AT leadership planning team would allow me to make strong state wide connections with peers that I haven’t worked with in years and make connections with others who support AT (Vendors, Company Reps, other presenters, etc…). I just knew it would help be a better AT leader to my home districts.
A+S: What are you looking forward to most this year?
Gayle: I’m excited about the guest speakers we are lining up. Thinking about the knowledge around AT that will [go from] the AT leaders to the local districts and ultimately help students is really exciting!
Dawn: The opportunity to learn and grow together with an awesome community of AT leaders. We have all had an intense few years. As things begin to get back to a type of normal, people are looking to review their processes and practices. I always enjoy learning from others.
A+S: Speaking of reviewing processes and practices, what are common themes or goals that participants are focusing on this year?
Building awareness of AT at school and home
Building capacity throughout the ISD and local districts (ex: developing and/or sharing AT processes and guidelines, growing administrative support, sharing AT resources related to their students/caseload)
Providing professional development in new and exciting ways (both live and on-demand)Developing systems to support AT consideration, evaluation, and implementation
Growing their own skills set and knowledge of tools and supports for students in their programs/ISDs.
A+S: Many think that this is a group only for AT professionals. Why would teachers, paraprofessionals, administrators, or other ancillary staff want to join the AT Lunch & Learns and/or the AT-Contacts Listserv?
Amber: The connection to many smart, talented, and caring individuals who are willing to support other professionals across the state!
Dawn: Being an AT leader can be a lonely position. Within your organization, there may be only one or two with your role. [Lunch & Learns are] a way to expand your network and learn and grow with others. You can always gain new ideas and approaches or help with a technology tool. The listserv provides ongoing communication to learn about what is happening and to post questions you may have that others can help with. It is a great tool to remain in contact with each other.
The next AT Lunch & Learn meeting will be on Thursday, December 2, 2021 from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. EST. Complete the AT-Contacts interest form to be added to the listserv, connect to other AT leaders, and be alerted to upcoming Lunch & Learn topics.
Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) including Building Blocks to Autonomous Communication and Comprehensive Literacy for Autonomous Communication
Building Blocks to Autonomous Communication kicked off at the end of September. Initial sessions focused on the fundamentals of supporting AAC users, the AT consideration process, and building communication partner skills. During the sessions, participants had opportunities to connect with one another and create action plans for their individual classroom(s). The sessions also offer opportunities for participants to ask questions and share key takeaways. Participants noted that learning about alternatives to hand-over-hand (e.g. waiting, offering to 'hop on,' incorporating student interests, enticing students to communicate) as well as Kate Ahern's Prompt Hierarchy were very helpful. Participants also noted Jill Senner and Matthew Baud's S'MoRRES acronym and handout were helpful.
Virtual card sorts are now available on the Delta Math Tier 2 Intervention tab for students to strengthen or maintain conceptual understanding of whole numbers, fractions, and integers. We created each card sort using the Desmos classroom activity tool for teachers to use during warm-ups and math stations, or to supplement instruction.
Card sorts contain four self-correcting slides with color-coded cards to help students be more efficient with their time while identifying similarities and differences between multiple representations. Many of the representations used include symbolic problems, visual problems, visual solutions, and symbolic solutions.
Instructional recommendations are provided at the top of the Virtual Card Sort webpage and include a teacher think aloud, partner practice, and student reflections. When used to complete a student's unfinished learning, students can monitor their own progress and set personal learning goals using Delta Math Quick Checks and Growth Charts.
If you have questions about Delta Math RtI Program resources or implementation opportunities, please contact Mike Klavon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Foundations of Math
Training sessions at our partnership sites are underway both virtually and in-person for the 2021-2022 school year. Sessions focus on the components of number sense and formatting lessons to ensure all students can access and engage in high quality math instruction. Since mathematics is often taught procedurally, focusing on memorization and using steps to solve problems can often confuse learners, particularly those with disabilities. Memorizing and keeping track of when to apply certain procedures (and when not to) is difficult. With greater mathematical content knowledge, educators can reduce efforts aimed at making learners better memorizers and step followers and increase robust mathematical instruction. The Foundations of Math course is designed to deepen the teacher’s content knowledge and connect procedural knowledge to conceptual understanding.
If you are interested in learning more about Foundations of Math, considering a Partnership with Alt+Shift, or if you would like a refresher, watch our preview videos!
*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.
As an adult who has had disabilities most of my life, and gone through Michigan public schools, one of the most helpful things for me was my parents’ support throughout my education. As a teenager, I appreciated their support but now, as an adult, I value it even more. I realize their help back then set me on a course to be successful through high school and college and also in my life beyond school.
Here are some adjustments to the environment and routine that really can make a big difference in supporting the healthy growth and education of students. These things really made a difference to me as a learner.
Parents can help their learners by:
Reducing distraction and overwhelm (e.g., turning off televisions, video games). Some people may want to seek out community resources such as libraries for distraction-free environments.
Allowing their learners the mental space and environment for optimal learning to occur (e.g, clear off a small workspace area, reduce noise and foot traffic if possible so your learner can more easily concentrate).
Setting time boundaries on screen time (other than for educational uses). The American Pediatric Association gives clear screen time recommendations which can be found on their website.
Participating in pro social behavior (e.g., trying to maximize face-to-face interaction; reading together; sitting down together for a snack, breakfast, or dinner and talking).
Supporting their learner’s individualized educational program (IEP). Staying aware of key components of their child’s IEP so they can engage and collaborate with other team members and advocate/encourage self-advocacy, as necessary.
Providing a sense of routine and predictability (e.g., having a supported morning and bedtime routine). Many students benefit from seeing a clear schedule. This is called a visual schedule and can be written words or simple pictures. Visual schedules allow students to feel more in control of their day. This also sets up clear expectations and can allow for positive reinforcement such as “free time,” “break,” or “snack.” Setting a regular bedtime is often very important. Good sleep hygiene is essential for optimal educational performance, and this can also be incorporated into a child’s schedule.
As everyone knows, technology is ever-changing. Companies like Apple, Android, and Microsoft have been listening to the requests of individuals with disabilities, their families, and their advocates for more built-in accessible tools. For our students with disabilities, this means there’s more of a chance that a tool they need to be independent or successful in academics, daily living, and executive functioning will look like the same phone, tablet, or computer their peers without disabilities are using (just with the modifications and customizations they specifically need). Learn more about Apple accessibility features, Android accessibility features, and Microsoft accessibility features to open the world to new possibilities for your learners (or even yourself).
Upcoming Events: Michigan
Pre-Conference: November 4-5, 2021
Conference: November 8-9, 2021
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
Cosmo Bluetooth Switch
The Cosmo Bluetooth Switch is a unique light-up, multi-color Bluetooth switch interface for tablets, mobile phones, and computers. It is highly responsive, making it very easy to activate regardless of your motor abilities. The switch lights up in a variety of colors, making it very engaging and providing visual feedback with every press.The Cosmo Switch provides access to all switch accessible apps or software on iOS, OS X, Chromebooks, Windows, and Android devices.
In Case You Missed It: Keyguard Printing
Custom keyguards are currently being 3D printed and shipped at no cost to Michigan public schools. Check out the KeyGuard Order Form to find out how to order a keyguard.