September 2019, Volume 33
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In this issue:

Featured Video:
Have You Heard of Two Blind Brothers?

Foundations of Communication (FoC) Update

Many of our FoC teams are focusing on ensuring that every student has access to core vocabulary throughout the school day. As you welcome students back for another school year, walk through your school environment to ensure each student has access in all environments. During the next school year, some of our FoC teams are focusing on expanding the use of core vocabulary into the home environment. 

Pragmatic Organization Dynamic Display (PODD) Update

Remember that any communication goal, interaction, or support should be reflected through the AARCH. Anything we’re doing to support our students in their communication development should promote Autonomy (saying what they want to say, when they want to say it, how they want to say it, to whom they want to say it), create Accessibility (making sure there are people in their environments who understand the alternative communication form and can scaffold, model, and respond as helpful communication partners), meet their varied communication Requirements (their ability to engage, interact, and communicate appropriately with people within their lives [e.g., peers, parents, family members, school staff, caregivers]), develop their communicative Competence (sufficient knowledge in linguistic, operational, social, and strategic competencies), and build Habits that allows for communication to happen at ANY time.

Accessible Materials Made Right (AMMR) Update

One reason creating accessible content might feel challenging is that the software we commonly use may not have been designed to prioritize accessibility. One way that can change is letting the software developers know what we would like to see.
This month, reach out to Google and let them know that you want their software to allow you to create accessible material in an easy and intuitive way. You can follow these steps:

  1. Go to the Google Accessibility Feedback and Suggestions Page.
  2. Check Other and type “Suggestions to Improve the Ability to Create Accessible Material” in the box.
  3. Leave your suggestions for how G Suite can be improved to make it easier to create accessible content. Feel free to copy and paste the sample text below or use your own.

As schools transition to Chrome from other platforms, many content creators and not just consumers are looking to G Suite to meet their needs. Although G Suite tools themselves have become more accessible to people with disabilities over the years, there are still limitations that make it challenging for creators to make content that is accessible to all.
Specifically, here are some features that I would love to see come to Docs and G Suite:
  1. The ability to set header rows and columns in tables and set the header rows to repeat across pages.
  2. Allow for the creation of multiple style sets.
  3. The ability to easily see and rearrange the reading order in slides (and documents).
  4. A built-in accessibility checker.
Most Importantly:
  1. Export to “tagged” PDF.
  2. Exported PDFs are not only tagged, but able to meet PDF/UA standards.

These features will make it significantly easier for people to both consume AND create accessible content within G Suite.
Thank you.

Comprehensive Literacy Instruction Update

Alt+Shift provided scholarships that allowed six providers from around the state to attend Camp Alec in August. While at camp, providers received intensive instruction from Dr. Karen Erickson and Dr. David Koppenhaver. Providers were also able to implement Conventional Literacy practices with students in 1:1 and small group settings. Alt+Shift is committed to building capacity related to comprehensive literacy instruction for all students by offering trainings, implementation support, and a Michigan conventional and emergent wiki for training attendees. 

Assistive Technology (AT) Journey Symposium Update

Two more stops are now available through the virtual AT Journey! Stop 3: Developing a Strategic Implementation Plan walks teams through the process of creating a plan to make meaningful, visible process, while Stop 4: Evaluating Effectiveness assists teams in evaluating how effective program AT services are and provides a webinar about how to  support executive functioning through assistive technology. Additional stops will be coming soon. Stay tuned!

(Mi)2 Update - Mathematics: Reaching All Learners Together

The 6th annual Mathematics: Reaching All Learners Together (MRALT) conference is an opportunity for general and special education teachers, elementary through secondary, to come together for a day of engaging sessions designed to help improve student learning. The general speaker, Brad Witzel from Winthrop University, will kick off the day discussing strategies to use in core and intervention settings across all grade levels. He will also offer a breakout session on helping students gain access to complex mathematics at the high school level. Along with Brad, we have ten other presenters offering sessions for educators at all levels to help reach struggling learners. Come be a part of the conversations and learning!
When: October 28, 2019
Where: Lansing Community College West
Time: 8:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Lunch is included.
To register, visit the conference registration page.

Upcoming Events: Alt+Shift

Emergent Literacy Instruction for Students With Significant Disabilities and Complex Communication Needs
October 1-2, 2019
Clinton County RESA
St. Johns, MI
Mathematics: Reaching All Learners Together Conference
October 28, 2019
Lansing Community College West Campus
Lansing, MI
Conventional Literacy Instruction for Students with Significant Disabilities and Complex Communication Needs
February 17-18, 2020
Clinton County RESA
St. Johns, MI

Upcoming Events: Michigan

MASA Fall Conference (Michigan Association of School Administrators)
September 18-19, 2019
Grand Traverse Resort and Spa
Traverse City, MI
7th Annual Autism Conference
October 10-11, 2019
Radisson Plaza Hotel and Suites
Kalamazoo, MI
Upper Peninsula Special Education Conference
Registration not yet available
October 10-11, 2019

Northern Michigan University
Marquette, MI
(Oct 14: Pre-conference registration)
(October 15-16: Conference Registration)
October 14-16, 2019
Kellogg Conference Center
East Lansing, MI
2019 Van Riper Lecture Series
October 25, 2019
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo, MI
Assistive Technology Playdate
November 15, 2019
Battle Creek Math and Science Center
Battle Creek, MI

Upcoming Events: National

Closing The Gap 2019
October 2-4, 2019
Prior Lake, MN
International Literacy Association 2019 Conference
October 10-13, 2019
New Orleans, LA
 12th Annual Clinical AAC Research Conference
October 17-19, 2019
Washington, DC
National Association for the Education of Young Children
November 20-23, 2019
Music City Center, Nashville, TN
American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) Annual Convention
November 21-23, 2019
Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, FL
Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) Conference
January 28-February 1, 2020
Caribe Royale Hotel and Convention Center, Orlando, FL

Lending Library Update

There are 17 items out on loan. 

The iPod touch is a device that’s 6.1 mm thin and 3.1 ounces, so you can take it anywhere. Accessibility features help people with disabilities get the most out of their iPod touch. With built-in support for vision, hearing, physical & motor skills, and learning & literacy.

*preinstalled apps from the lending library include Proloquo2Go, TouchChat HD, Snap+Core First, AAcorn, and many more!


In the fall of 2017, a task force of 24 Assistive Technology (AT) specialists throughout Michigan began working on the AT Handbook for Educational Professionals which outlines and suggests a process and set of resources to support the consideration, assessment and implementation of AT for students with disabilities. This task force grew to include over 40 AT specialists representing 11 intermediate school districts (ISDs), 4 local educational agencies (LEAs), Alt+Shift, and a Michigan State University (MSU) special education professor. Special thanks to the task force leadership team (Jeff Crockett, Laura Griffith, Susan Hardin, Kindy Segovia, Amy Baad, Gayle Evans and Phil Booth), those involved with creating the At-A-Glance Version (Makia Alexander, Shekenia Mann, Heather Weaver, and Stacey Banks), and those who added accessibility supports (Phil Booth, Jim Kauppila, and Derrick Graves).  This handbook, which has been reviewed and endorsed by well-known AT experts Penny Reed and Gayl Bowser, can support AT specialists, special education administrators, and other members of individualized education program (IEP) teams who may not have regular access to AT specialists.

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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.