ATIA 2017 Pre-Conference Seminars

One-day Strands:


Assistive Technology for Improved Function

Core Standards


Everyday Technology

Two-day Strands:

Assistive Technology for Improved Function

Augmentative and Alternative Communication


Sensory Impairment

One-day Pre-conference Seminars

Wednesday, January 18, 2017, 8:00 am – 4:00 pm ET



Accessible Content Management: Systematically Find, Deliver & Use Alternative Materials & Tools

Speaker: Donna McNear, COS, McNear Consulting

As the variety of educational materials traditionally used in education continues to shift to digital content that is teacher created, web-based, multi-media, and in multiple platforms, teachers are continually challenged in order to provide equal access to education curriculum and effective interaction for all students. This session explores ways to re-think access to educational content, methods to consider comprehensive access, and tools to assist in “accessible content management” (ACM) for students who use alternative approaches for learning.

Assistive Technology for Improved Function


From UDL to AT: CollaborATively Making Solutions Work for All

Speakers: Matthew Press, OT, MHS, Assistive Technology Coordinator, Peoria Unified School Distric; Judith Schoonover, OT, MEd, Occupational Therapist/Assistive Technology Trainer, Loudoun County Public Schools.

This an AOTA Sponsored Pre-Conference. AOTA members receive 10% discount on registration fees.

Are you a member of an educational team who has been asked to provide assistive technology support to students in your school district?  Do you feel as if you need to know more to answer that call?  In today’s complex and dynamic classroom environment, educators and service providers are challenged to include learners with diverse needs. Come to this make-and-take it workshop, led by experienced OTs in schools, to learn not just how to create learning environments and materials for students with disabilities but also the pedagogy behind them so you understand how, when and why to use them with your students. There are challenges and opportunities for educational teams to assist in the development of academic, physical and social environments, and determine the strategies, supports, and tools that to facilitate meaningful engagement for all learners “whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized”.

Using UDL as a foundation, looking at SETTing classrooms and individual students up for success using a continuum of tools can provide options and opportunities for all learners to meaningfully participATe, communicATe, and learn. Do you want to be able to create materials designed to assist students to be able to fully participate in learning?  Designed for OTs, educators, SLPs, VI specialists and paraprofessional working in K-12 environment with students with a variety of disabilities and learning support needs. Participants are encouraged to BYOD. No device? No problem! Come as you are. Whether new to the job, or an experienced practitioner, this institute will provide opportunities to share information, collaborate, and build upon existing knowledge. Participants will walk away self-created tangible materials along with a digital toolkit of resources to allow for immediate implementATion to facilitATe participATion and promote independence.



Innovative Technologies for Learners with Reading and Other Learning Differences

Speakers: Karen Janowski, Assistive Technology Consultant, EdTech Solutions; Sharon Plante, Eagle Hill Southport

This collaborative, highly interactive, and fast-paced pre-conference will focus on a population frequently overlooked when considering assistive technologies: students with high-incidence learning differences. Instead, educators often rely on traditional instructional methods when working with this group of students. Students become passive and disengaged; teaching is often uninspired. To counteract this reality, our workshop will investigate pedagogy across curricular areas while modeling and providing hands-on opportunities to consider a variety of engaging tools for remediation and accommodation. In addition, a brief exploration of the neuroscience of learning, based upon the work of Judy Willis, MD, neurologist and middle school teacher, will be presented using short, “Ignite” sessions, to engage and inspire participants. An understanding of the neuroscience of learning is believed essential to promote the paradigm shift necessary to consider and implement new, innovative methods to support learners with reading and other learning differences.

This workshop will equip and empower educators with the essential tools to meet the needs of the struggling learner. We will focus on technologies for reading, writing, math, and executive functions. In the area of reading, participants will interact with tools for decoding and comprehension including Bookshare and Learning Ally, as well as, full-featured text to speech programs, such as VoiceDream Reader, Snap & Read, and Read and Write for Google. Additional reading comprehension tools, including Reading Comprehension Booster, Liquid Text and Actively Learn will be explored. Broader educational options that allow for differentiation include Front Row, Newsela, Tween Tribune and Rewordify.

Technology, Autism and Communication!

Speaker: Carol Allen, City Learning Centre

Communication is at the centre of learning and life.  It has long been the accepted view that those learners with autistic spectrum disorders have impaired communication that we as educators have to make a priority focus but what if we explore the notion that it is our job as educators to learn to read and engage with their chosen communication routes?  Are we ‘tuned in’ to sensory communication?  How do visual supports from body language to symbol use add to our communication repertoire?  Has technology offered our students a greater power to communicate and to share their view of the world? Student voice, in the widest sense, will be a thread running through the whole day.  This lively session will consider a range of communication methodologies and, in particular, how and when technology can add value.

Access in Hand: From Print to Expression

Speaker: Dan Herlihy, Assistive Technology Resource Specialist, Connective Technology Solutions, Inc.

Whether the learning materials are in print or electronic format, large numbers of students are struggling with access due to reading and/or print disabilities, language barriers, physical or visual access issues, and more. Students experiencing issues with trying to comprehend content may also experience issues with trying to communicate knowledge gained and demonstrate an understanding through traditional means of pencil, paper and printed tests.

This session will cover a wide variety of solutions promoting student independence providing access to print or electronic content including on the fly text to speech with scan and read apps, language translation, reducing text complexity or summarization, using iPads, Androids, cell phones, computers or Chromebooks, as well as for educators needing to provide in the moment solutions. Focus will be on portable solutions utilizing apps for tablets, extensions in the Chrome browser that can follow a student from computer to Chromebook and inexpensive peripherals such as easy to use, portable document cameras.  Supports for writing that will be explored include visual supports, tools for video expression allowing students to easily create and demonstrate understanding of concepts, connections in learning or express their ideas in a multisensory approach utilizing green screen technology, apps and programs for recording, editing and presenting, integrating video into eBooks, adding captioning and visual supports within video. Learn how to provide switch access for students with physical access issues to the recording features on iPads and Android tablets including the Camera app, recording features within apps such as Touchcast, as well as to tools providing writing supports as well as scan and read apps, promoting independence and inclusion.

*This session is a Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT). Covering all platforms, BYOT (and switches as well!) for hands on. Participants will be provided with information and directions on pre-installing apps, programs and extensions on your devices before the session.

Everyday Technology


Scaffolds for Successful AT Implementation: Coaching, Gaming, Digitial Badging, Microcredentialing and More!

Speaker: Brian Wojcik, Assistant Professor, University of Nebraska at Kearney

Ever see AT implementation gone awry? Ever want to empower professionals and students to have greater success with AT implementation? Gamification, coaching, digital badging and microcredentialling provide frameworks and scaffolds for developing both professionals’ and students’ knowledge, skills, and practices for effective AT implementation. In this preconference session, participants will engage in understanding the foundations of these techniques to build effective learning experiences that motivate and drive the successful use and implementation of AT. Participants will dive deep into strategies for developing meaningful digital badges and microcredentials Then, participants will learn how to incorporate game-based design and effective coaching strategies to provide a stimulating context for digital badges and microcredentials to come to life for a path for success. Finally, participants will apply their knowledge to creating learning experiences that can be immediately used in their own schools by both students and educators.

Google Chrome Bootcamp: 2017 Edition!

Speaker: Mike Marotta, AT Specialist, Inclusive Technology Solutions, LLC

The latest trend in Assistive Technology is Google Chrome and Chromebooks in Education. In fact, according to International Data Corporation (IDC), Chromebooks surpassed iPads in education sales for the first time in the quarter ending in October 2014. More and more schools are moving to the Google cloud based learning experience. With this paradigm shift, more classroom activities are being completed using technology. What does this shift mean for struggling students and Assistive Technology? How do educators ensure they are maximizing the use of this technology to support the instruction, not drive the instruction. This day long hands on learning experience will explore the Chrome Operating System and the Chromebook platform. Participants will dive deep into the Google Apps for Education suite of tools as well as the built in accessibility features of Chromebooks. Participants will experience an array of Google Chrome apps and extensions that could be used as Assistive Technology supports to benefit ALL learners. By leveraging the power of this common browser, we can make significant customization to meet the needs of struggling students. Areas covered will include: reading, writing, brainstorming, and organization. Through hands on learning experiences, participants will develop strategies to integrate these powerful tools into the curriculum to promote a Universal Design for Learning classroom by engaging various learning styles. In order to maximize learning, participants are strongly encouraged to bring a Chrome equipped computer to the training, however, any operating system will work. The items and activities will be accessible whether on a Chromebook, Windows or Mac computer. Participants should also have a Google Account, in order to access Google Drive and the apps / extensions we will utilize throughout the day.

*This session is a Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT). Bring a Chrome enabled device (Chromebook, PC or Mac)  to experience the power of these tools.


Two-day Pre-conference Seminars

Tuesday, January 17– Wednesday, January, 18, 2017, 8:00 am – 4:00 pm ET

Assistive Technology for Improved Function


AT Bootcamp

Speakers: Kelly Fonner, Education/Assistive Technology Consultant,  Kelly Fonner Consulting; Mike Cole, Owner, Use Your Words, PC; Mike Marotta, AT Specialist, Inclusive Technology Solutions LLC; Brian Wojcik, Assistant Professor, University of Nebraska at Kearney

This pre-conference workshop is designed for people new to the field of Assistive Technology or first time conference attendees. This two-day session will provide a fundamental overview of assistive technology (AT) that includes AT consideration, implementation, application and a structure to further your personal learning experience. Through an array of topics, the participants will obtain a snapshot of AT supports for people of all disabilities, ages and environments. Various topics to be covered include: Augmentative Communication, Literacy, Access, Leadership, Policy, Assessment, Mobile Learning Devices, Accessible Instructional Materials, Intellectual, Sensory and Physical impairments will be highlighted through real-world examples. Participants will develop strategies regarding how to leverage access to both common and specialized technologies to realize a world where barriers are minimized and access/engagement is emphasized for all individuals.   Participants are highly encouraged to bring their own personal mobile learning devices to aid in their learning experience. Presenters will use a web-based content delivery system to facilitate learning during the two-day workshop and beyond.

iPAD Boot Camp – Awesome New Apps, Adaptions and Accessories

Speaker: Therese Willkomm, Director of ATinNH, University of New Hampshire

Join this two-day intensive hands-on exploration of  iPAD apps, adaptation and accessories to support individuals who experience vision, hearing, communication, intellectual, behavioral, and physical disabilities.  Learn how to use built in features of the iPAD such as switch access recipes; 101 uses for the camera; text expander; text to speech verse speech to text; app smashing, smacking; app feature mapping and more.  Hands-exploration of new accessories and adaptations and make and take four iPAD adaptations and discover and explore over 100 new and amazing apps.

Augmentative and Alternative Communication


More Than Core: AAC Implementation for Early Childhood and Beyond

Speaker: Chris Bugaj, Assistive Technology Trainer, Loudoun County Public Schools; Beth Poss, Montgomery County Public Schools

Examine practices for coaching educational professionals and families in the set-up and use of robust communication systems for early language learners. Explore proven strategies for teaching even the youngest students how to become effective, functional communicators by teaching them language and by engineering environments to provide opportunities for rich, meaningful practice in the context of everyday routines. After reviewing current research, we will examine the creation of a systematic plan for introducing language in the context of augmentative communication systems, and how to plan for their use in the context of everyday routines and tasks, across settings, including the home, the classroom, and the community. We will take an indepth look how assistive technology professionals can use coaching practices to empower parents and educators to take ownership of promoting the consistent use of AAC systems. Explore the importance of core vocabulary for all early language learners, as well as how to integrate fringe vocabulary necessary for successful communication. The importance of aided language stimulation, motor planning, and engineering the environment for communication will be highlighted. The session will emphasize fun yet practical ideas for working with parents, educators and students to ensure that all students are provided early access to language systems that promote communication success all day long in all settings and situations.

Multi-Modal Communication and Learning Strategies for Children with Significant Challenges

Speaker: Linda Burkhart, Independent Consultant at Linda J. Burkhart

Children who face significant physical and multiple challenges as well as those children on the more severe end of the autism spectrum, often struggle to access communication, interaction and learning.  Some of these children may have very little control of moving their bodies.  Others have difficulty taking in and processing sensory information from their environment.  Many find communication and interaction skills challenging.

This two day presentation will address questions such as: What are we learning from brain research that can help us understand how children learn?  How do we motivate children and provide opportunities for active learning? What strategies help give these children a sense of control and facilitate interaction and communication?  How does the child on the severe end of the autism spectrum perceive the world and how does this impact learning and communication?  How does Cortical Visual Impairment impact learning?

This workshop will introduce the concept of providing a receptive aided language learning environment, and demonstrate how learning alternative and augmentative forms of communication can and should parallel the developmental process that typical children go through in learning speech.  We will also take a brief look at Pragmatic Organization Dynamic Display (PODD) Communication books developed by Gayle Porter, in Melbourne, Australia.  (Please note: This is not an official Introductory PODD course, which would require two full days training on just that topic.)

This workshop is for anyone working with young children or children functioning at young levels, who have difficulty communicating and interacting with others.  This includes children with significant physical and multiple challenges and/or young children on the more severe end of the autism spectrum.  Information shared will be useful to parents, teachers, speech therapists, occupational therapists, physical therapists and  other supportive personnel.



The Changing Role of AT Teams

Speaker: Gayl Bowser, M.S.Ed., Independent Consultant, Assistive Technology Collaborations; Denise DeCoste, Ed.D., Assistive Technology Specialist/Consultant, Accessible Technology Consulting

Much has changed in school-based assistive technology during the past two decades. While technology for the user has changed, so have the tools AT service providers can use to communicate, to collect data, to track changes and to provide support.  Additionally, there are new options for providing professional learning that are increasingly job-embedded and tailored to the individual needs of educators.  How recently have you analyzed the degree to which your AT services are employing 21st century tools?

During this two-day workshop, we will challenge you to envision AT services in the context of Universal Design for Learning for professionals and to move forward to develop your vision of ways to meet the changing role of AT teams. Interactive activities will offer an opportunity for you to analyze your current service model, focus on improving service delivery, use more online tools to increase efficiency and data collection, build agency-wide capacity, and plan effective outreach. You will identify areas of need, rethink the vision for your AT services, and create a multi-faceted 3-year plan. AT specialists are encouraged to attend in teams, develop team objectives, and discover practical ways to ensure the viability of your team. On day two of the academy, participants will be joined by others who participated in this workshop in previous years for networking and sharing of information and resources.  Team members will have time to hone their AT service delivery redesign and have opportunities to work with alumni AT service providers for input on your 3-year plan objectives.

Sensory Impairment


Alternative Technology for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

Speaker: Ike Presley, National Project Manager, American Foundation for the Blind (AFB)

This is a two-day hands-on training for educators of adults or youths who are blind or have low vision. The training is designed for experienced computer users who have little or limited knowledge of alternative access software. The session will cover the basics of the NVDA screen reader, the basics of the Window Eyes screen reader, the basics of the MagWin screen magnifier, and the basics of the iOS screen reader and magnifier for iDevices. Day-1 will be devoted to learning the accessibility features of iOS including the screen reader, VoiceOver, and the screen magnifiers, Zoom. Participants will practice the gestures for adjusting settings, navigating on iDevices and basic operation of apps. Additional information about the use of refreshable braille displays will also be covered. The instructor, Larry Lewis, a daily user of iOS devices will provide additional tips and tricks to improve and enhance the user’s efficiency with iOS devices.

On day two participants will learn how to use keyboard commands to adjust settings in the latest versions of NVDA, WindowEyes, and MagWin. Participants will receive instruction and practice using the keyboard commands required to navigate and edit simple MS Word documents along with additional practice in navigating accessible websites using the Firefox browser. These software packages have been chosen to acquaint service providers with low-cost alternatives for screen magnification and screen reading. Participants will be required to bring a Windows laptop computer (a Mac running a Windows emulator will not work), an iPad 2 or higher tablet, and an external keyboard for the Windows laptop computer. The laptops will need to have their security features set to allow the installation of demo versions of NVDA, WindowEyes, and MagWin. The computers will also need to have Microsoft Word and Firefox installed. Participants will be required to make laptops available to instructors at the beginning of Day-1 for installation of demo versions of NVDA, WindowEyes, and MagWin if they have not already been installed.

Demo download links will be provided via email to registered attendees prior to the conference. Participants may download the demo versions prior to the session, but extreme care must be taken because some of the demos only work for 30 days. Therefore the programs should not be downloaded until after December 20, 2016. If the demo version is downloaded before 12/20/2016, the program may time-out and will not be usable during the hands-on training.

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