Pre-Conference Seminars

Start Learning Early

Pre-conference seminars are one- or two-day educational seminars designed to give attendees in-depth education on critical assistive technology topics. They deliver the in-depth professional development needed to successfully implement assistive technology in a variety of settings—including school, work, and at home—and are led by internationally recognized leaders in the field.

Two-Day Pre-Conferences by Strand:

One-Day Pre-Conferences by Strand:

Two-Day Pre-Conference Seminars

Tuesday, January 30 – Wednesday, January 31, 2018, 8 AM – 4 PM

Assistive Technology for Improved Function


Communication, Learning and Access: Severe Physical and Multiple Challenges

Are you working with children who have complex communication needs and who also face severe physical and multiple challenges, such as Cerebral Palsy, Traumatic Brain Injury, Rett Syndrome, CVI and/or Multiple Disabilities? This 2-day workshop will look at what current brain research tells us about learning, motivation and engagement. How do you provide a comprehensive aided-language and motor learning environment for children who face such significant challenges? How do you teach motor movements for accessing communication devices and computers? How do you move children beyond cause and effect to discrimination and functional use of switches? How do you adapt access for literacy? A range of technologies from ‘light tech’ to ‘high tech’ will be demonstrated.

Topics covered will include:

  • Rationale and purposes for adapting communication and learning materials
  • How the brain learns –creating neural networks/cognitive schemas
  • Characteristics and strategies for physical disabilities: Rett Syndrome, severe dyspraxia/apraxia, and CVI (cortical visual impairment)
  • Scanning techniques: Partner-Assisted Scanning & Two Switches
  • Motor learning
  • Multi-Modal Strategies to teach literacy


Headshot of Linda Burkhart Linda Burkhart
Independent Consultant
Linda J. Burkhart

Learn more about Communication, Learning and Access: Severe Physical and Multiple Challenges.


iPAD Boot Camp – Awesome New Apps, Adaptations, and Accessories

Each year, the iPad and iPhone keeps getting better with new hardware, new IOS updates, new apps, new adaptations, and new accessories to support individuals who experience vision, hearing, communication, intellectual, behavioral, and physical disabilities. With ongoing changes and increase number of apps each year, it is important to learn about feature mapping for app categories to help in the selection of the most appropriate apps based on functional goals and the specific functional limitations of the user.

Learn the latest in app, adaptation or devices created to overcome physical, sensory or cognitive limitation. Learn how to use the new built in features of the iPad such as amazing new switch access recipes using custom gestures to bypass the need to do switch scanning. Learn how to interact with the iPad without the need to touch the device through auditory mapping for executive function impairments. Learn ways to create removable tactile overlays in five minutes. Discover new and amazing features of the camera and built in photo apps. Explore new apps for organization; memory, communication, custom voice prompts; deaf and hard of hearing; learning disabilities; print disabilities; blind and low vision; text to speech; speech to text; text expander; word prediction; word completion; auto play back; audio file save and send features and so much more. Create a new hands free mounting solutions and a portable scan and read stations using OCR apps. Explore how the AirPods and Apple Pencil are becoming a game changer for physical disabilities. Discover new features and uses for the built in camera and photo app; text expander; text to speech verse speech to text; app feature mapping for executive function apps; and more. Hands-on exploration of new accessories such as AirPods, Pencil, switch interfaces and adding a monocular.

*This is a Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT) session. Please bring an iPad.


Headshot of Therese Wilkommen Therese Willkomm
Director of ATinNH
University of New Hampshire

Learn more about iPad Boot Camp – Awesome New Apps, Adaptations and Accessories.



An Eye on Visuals: Supporting Behavior, Learning, Communication and Organization

Visual supports are critical in meeting the needs of students with disabilities, including autism, executive functioning disorders, learning disabilities and intellectual disabilities. This hands-on 2-day pre-conference session is for special educators, therapists and assistive technology specialists supporting students with needs related to behavior, executive functioning, social-emotional and organizational needs. Participants will learn how to create a variety of customized visual supports for use in their own settings. Learn best practices in using first/then boards, visual schedules, token economies, social stories, graphic organizers, as they are demonstrated and modeled. Create resources to promote self-monitoring of emotions, stress, and management of resulting behaviors. We will explore both high tech and low tech visual supports including hands-on kinesthetic materials and apps.

Participants will learn specific strategies for integrating these into classroom routines as a part of a positive behavior intervention system and also as a part of an individual behavior intervention plan. Explore tools for improving organization and task completion, including the use of calendars, reminders, timers, to do list tools and schedules. You will be guided in the use of a range of tools and applications such as Lesson Pix, Popplet, Mindmeister, Google Keep, StoryBoard That, ChoiceWorks, Social Story Creator, and more.

Participants will be provided with access to digital online subscriptions and apps. For an additional fee*, attendees will also have access to other materials needed to create a variety of visual supports for use in their own classrooms over the course of this 2-day pre-conference learning experience.

*There is an optional $15 materials fee associated with this program. Fee covers the make-and-take activities and should be paid to the speaker(s) directly during the seminar.

Beth Poss shares why she wants you to attend her 2-day seminar:

“Join Mo Buti and me for a 2 day in-depth exploration of visual supports and tools for creating them! Visual supports go way beyond simple choice boards or picture schedules. For many students, visual supports mean the difference between a great day and a day that falls apart. Whether for a student with self-regulation issues who needs a visual representation of ways to calm down or for a student with a learning disability who relies on a graphic organizer to pre-plan a writing assignment or a social story for a student with autism, visual supports are essential in every classroom. We can’t wait to see you for this fast-paced, fun filled pre-conference!”

Beth Poss, Educational Consultant


Headshot of Beth Poss Beth Poss
Educational Consultant
Montgomery County Public Schools
Mo Buti
AiepA: Advocate and Instructional Expert for People with Autism

Learn more about An Eye on Visuals: Supporting Behavior, Learning, Communication and Organization.


Innovative Technologies for Learners with Reading and Other Learning Differences

Many students with high-incidence learning differences are often overlooked when IEP teams consider assistive technology needs. Additionally, many IEP teams struggle with how best to consider, plan and implement appropriate assistive technologies with their students with learning variabilities. This collaborative, fast-paced and highly interactive pre-conference will focus on providing a neuroscience foundation, based upon the work of Judy Willis, MD (neurologist and classroom teacher) and exploring technologies to support learners with reading, writing, executive function, and math challenges.

With the focus on reading and writing during Day 1, participants will understand the educational rationale for using assistive tools that support students with alternative ways to access curriculum and innovative methods that help students demonstrate learning while accommodating for areas of variability. Numerous innovative technologies will be modeled so that participants will experience a variety of tools as learners. Universal Design for Learning principles will be modeled and embedded in the instructional methods used throughout the workshop.

Day 2 will focus on technologies related to math, executive functioning, and alternative and innovative ways to demonstrate learning. Participants will review case studies to guide consideration and implementation of appropriate AT recommendations and strategies. As a culmination of this day of learning, participants will develop a collaborative online resource that will serve as a Technology for Reading and Other Learning Differences Toolkit.

*If you participated in Karen and Sharon’s ATIA 2017 workshop, we encourage you to attend the 1-day, Wednesday session, which will offer new content and opportunities to network. For more information, please contact the presenters or


Headshot of Karen Janowski  Headshot of Sharon Plante
Karen Janowski, MS Ed
Assistive & Educational Technology Consultant
EdTech Solutions
Sharon Plante
LD Technologist
Eagle Hill Southport

Learn more about Innovative Technologies for Learners with Reading and Other Learning Differences.

Everyday Technology


Google Bootcamp 2.0

Google Chrome and Chromebooks continue to drive technology integration in education. 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.

Let’s dig deep into all the Googley goodness we can squeeze into two days. Not only will we explore Chromebooks, G Suite for Education and Chrome apps and extensions but we will also look at other Google tools we can use to meet the needs of all learners. For example, augmented / virtual reality with Google Cardboard and Daydream. We will learn in a UDL environment and experience Google supports that provide multiple means of engagement, representation and action/expression.

Participants will dive deep into the G Suite of Education – all those Google apps that make up the productivity suite of tools (Doc, Slides, Sheets, Keep, Classroom, Sites). The Chrome operating system (OS) will also be analyzed for customizations we can employ to meet the needs of our learners, whether through built in accessibility features or adjusting features within the apps. Participants will also 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, which will promote a Universal Design for Learning environment, 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 through multiple means of engagement, representation, action and expression.

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


Mike Marotta Headshot Mike Marotta
AT Specialist
Inclusive Technology Solutions LLC

Learn more about Google Bootcamp 2.0.



The Changing Role of AT Teams

During this 2-day workshop, we will challenge you to envision AT services in the context of Universal Design, and to move forward to develop your vision of ways to meet the changing role of AT teams. Interactive activities on Day 1 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 be given time to design 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 2, participants will have time to hone their AT service delivery redesign and have opportunities to work with alumni AT service providers to gain input on your 3-year plan. We’ll begin Day 2 with an alumni panel that will address “new ways of doing new things” and the payoff associated with carrying out re-visioned 3-year plans. Thereafter, there will be mini-sessions on new trends in AT. The afternoon work session will use a Design Lab approach allowing you to collaborate with and mentor teams from across the globe in small groups. There will be a “Smackdown” on resources to enhance AT Teams. We will round out the day with a discussion on the evolution of change and what has been learned from the journey of AT Teams on the road to building capacity.

*If you have participated in previous workshops about the changing role of AT Teams offered by Denise and Gayl, we encourage you the attend the 1-day, Wednesday session entitled “Taking Action to Update Your AT Team,” which will offer new content and opportunities to network. For more information, please contact the presenters or


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

Learn more about The Changing Role of AT Teams.

Hear How “The Changing Role of AT Teams” Will Help Others Make an Impact

Hear Gayl’s AT Story

Hear Denise’s AT Story

AT Bootcamp: Foundations Through Implementation

This 2-day pre-conference workshop experience is designed for people new to the field of Assistive Technology or first time conference attendees. Day 1 will provide a fundamental overview of assistive technology (AT) service delivery processes that includes AT consideration, assessment, implementation, and application as well as a structure to further your personal learning experience. Through an array of topics, the participants will obtain a snapshot of AT supports related to empowering access for people of all disabilities, ages and environments. In addition, participants will develop an understanding of how to leverage access to both common and specialized technologies to realize a world where barriers are minimized and access/engagement is emphasized.

Day 2 extends participants’ experiences by strengthening their knowledge and experience working with AT devices, and providing AT services. This session continues participants’ explorations of AT devices including communication, literacy, positioning/mobility, cognition, social integration. Furthermore, the session moves from the overview of AT services delivery processes from Day 1 to a deeper exploration of moving toward effective AT implementation using real-world examples. Both days are designed to allow choices for how participants would like to engage in their well as strategies to increase their own personal learning networks.

Participants are also encouraged to attend the edcampAccess International unconference on Friday night – where the instructors will lead a session focused on the application of all the information that participants experienced throughout the conference week.


Headshot of Kelly Fonner Headshot of Mike Cole Headshot of Kirk Behnke
Kelly Fonner
Education/Assistive Technology Consultant
Kelly Fonner Consulting
Mike Cole
Use Your Words, PC
Kirk Behnke
Behnke Consulting, LLC

Hear Kelly Fonner’s AT Story

Hear Kirk Behnke’s AT Story

Learn more about AT Bootcamp: Foundations Through Implementation.

Sensory Impairment

Alternative Technology for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

This is a 2-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 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 2, participants will learn how to use keyboard commands to adjust settings in the latest versions of NVDA 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 Internet Explorer. These software packages have been chosen to acquaint service providers with low-cost alternatives for screen magnification and screen reading.

*This is a Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT) session. Please 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. Demo download links and instructions will be provided via email to registered attendees prior to the conference.


Ike Presley Larry Photo of Alyson Gullette
Ike Presley
National Project Manager
American Foundation for the Blind (AFB)
Larry Lewis
President and Founder
Flying-Blind LLC
Alyson Gullette
Adjunct Professor
Salus University

Learn more about Alternative Technology for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired.

One-Day Pre-Conference Seminars

Wednesday, January 31, 2018, 8 AM – 4 PM

Augmentative and Alternative Communication


Literacy for All: Instruction for Learners with Complex Communication Needs 

This Pre-Conference workshop will present evidence-based instruction (Light & McNaughton, 2009; Caron, 2016) to support the literacy development of children and adults with Complex Communication Needs (CCN) who require Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC).

Teaching literacy skills is one of the most empowering things that we can do for individuals with CCN. Literacy is fundamental to communication and participation in educational, community, and vocational settings. This workshop will provide professionals and family members with effective evidence-based literacy intervention strategies and adaptations in order to support individuals with CCN in participation in literacy instruction, as well as maximize outcomes. The session will also address recent technical developments in AAC technology that can be used to support the development of literacy skills.

In summary, the workshop will: (a) describe the components of effective evidence-based intervention in key early literacy skills (e.g., letter sound correspondence, decoding, encoding), including both direct instruction, as well as ways in which literacy intervention can be embedded in communication throughout the day; (b) demonstrate, through videotaped case examples, components of evidence-based literacy intervention; and (c) support application of intervention components to session participant’s current cases through role-play, brainstorming, and discussion so that participants will have a complete understanding of evidence-based practices to support literacy with their students. We will also share web-based literacy training materials so that participants will be able to access ongoing instructional supports in the use of the literacy intervention materials, as well as easily share the instructional strategies with colleagues and family members.

Participants will first observe the use and impact of these evidence-based practices in video-case studies with learners at a variety of ages, and with a variety of disabilities. Workshop participants will then practice, with feedback from the presenters, the use of these evidence-based practices. Finally, workshop participants will analyze the strengths and learning needs of a current student, and develop an intervention plan to support the acquisition of literacy skills for that student.

USSAAC, the US Society for AAC, is pleased to co-sponsor this pre-conference seminar. USSAAC members receive 5% off registration for this seminar.USSAAC logo


Jessica Caron David McNaughton Christine Holyfield  Salena Babb
Jessica Caron, Ph.D., CCC-SLP
Assistant Professor, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD)
Penn State University
David McNaughton, Ph.D.
Professor, Educational and School Psychology and Special Education
Penn State University
Christine Holyfield, Ph.D, CCC-SLP
Assistant Professor, Department of Rehabilitation, Human Resources, and Communication Disorders
University of Arkansas
Salena Babb
Doctoral Candidate in Special Education
Penn State University

Learn more about Literacy for All: Instruction for Learners with Complex Communication Needs.

This session is sold out. If you would like to be added to the waitlist for this session, please email

Assistive Technology for Improved Function


Breaking Out the AT Toolkit: A Hands-on Experience

Do you work with a diverse population and need help connecting the dots? We will help you draw an AT picture for your school district. This session will show you how one of the most diverse districts in the country enables students in special education to access their curriculum. New York City serves 1.1 million students and 1,800 schools. The NYC Department of Education Center for Assistive Technology (CAT) has streamlined a toolkit that works with all of the various platforms in our schools.

We will explore several new case studies in form of videos, samples of curriculum tasks and actual work with students utilizing their AT. Attendees will learn implementation strategies to be used in the classroom. Presenters will discuss case studies of students evaluated by the NYCDOE CAT. We will show our recent pilot video conferencing implementation support initiative. Based on collaborative efforts between CAT and the IEP team, these students acquired the ability to access their curriculum alongside their peers and became active participants in their classrooms. The students used various AT devices across platforms, such as computer operating system (OS/Win), mobile operating system (iOS), and web browser (Chrome). Attendees will be given an opportunity to explore how to use AT with these platforms to help struggling students participate in a specific academic area (e.g., reading, writing, math, and communication). This will be a hands-on session with technology made available to the participants.

The CAT team provides assistive technology AT evaluations, trainings and implementation support to NYC students from age 3-21 in preschool, public, charter, and private schools.

*This is a Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT) session. Attendees are recommended to bring the following: iPad, laptop computer and/or Chromebook. The speakers will bring several devices preloaded with the toolkit that will be discussed from each platform which may include: Read and Write for Google, Co:Writer universal, Snap and Read Universal, Capti Narrator, WordQ, Clicker Apps, Dictation, ModMath, CPen, Prizmo, Claro Apps, Proloquo2go, Touchchat, LAMP, Speak for Yourself, Total Talk, GoTalk NOW PLUS, and an eye gaze device, Tobii-Dynavox I series with Compass/Communicator/Indi software.


Loreto Dumitrescu Mylene Matro
Lindsey Huntley Speech Supervisor Center for Assistive Technology
NYC Department of Education Center for Assistive Technology
Maricris Formoso-Santos
AT Supervisor
NYC Department of Education Center for Assistive Technology
Loreto Dumitrescu
AT Evaluator
NYC Department of Education Center for Assistive Technology
Mylene Matro
AT Evaluator 
NYC Department of Education Center for Assistive Technology

Learn more about Breaking Out the AT Toolkit: A Hands-on Experience.


Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes: Assistive Technology Access and Assessment 

Assistive technology can be used to improve quality of life, health, and well-being for individuals with and without disabilities. For consumers and those working in the assistive technology field, it is necessary to know what is available and critically assess what would work best, considering the individual’s unique abilities and needs to help improve functional performance and participation. Participants of this 1-day seminar will gain an overview of various no, low, and high tech assistive technology available, with an emphasis on access and assessment throughout the lifespan. Key considerations for determining and improving skills for motor access will be provided. A hierarchy for determining appropriate switch access will be applied, along with different types of switches to address motor impairments. Additionally, participants will discuss and demonstrate alternate means for accessing computers, tablets, and other devices.

A thorough understanding of the user’s motor, sensory, communication, and cognitive abilities, as well as efforts taken to minimize the learning demands, are essential for promoting improved functional outcomes using assistive technology. With knowledge of occupations, client factors, technology, lifestyle, funding, value, and contextual considerations, those working in the area of assistive technology serve a critical role in helping individuals benefit from assistive technology. A comprehensive framework will be shared for key considerations and strategies related to holistic assessment and intervention approaches for assistive technology across the lifespan. Case studies will be used to illustrate challenges and successes based on clinical practice. Interactive instruction, multi-media handouts and resources, and group case-based learning opportunities will be used throughout this workshop.


Douglene headshot

Douglene Jackson, PhD, OTR/L, LMT, ATP 

Occupational Therapist
University of St. Augustine-Miami, University of Miami-Mailman Center for Child Development

Learn more about Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes: Assistive Technology Access and Assessment.

Hear Douglene’s AT Story



Autism: Engagement and Creative Communication!

‘Why is life so hard?’ This question was flung rhetorically by a young autistic man, frustrated once more by his inability to understand the complexities of an unexpected change in the school day. We know that barriers to communication are a key issue when working with the range of those students on the autistic spectrum, from those working at a sensory level; those who use AAC to communicate; those who need minimal technological intervention to those who speak fluently yet struggle with flexibility, intuition, inference and reciprocity.

This pre-conference seminar will work through a wide range of activities and examples, all based on practical work to consider a range of potential opportunities and strategies that might be deployed effectively in your own practice. The session will be active and will consider a range and variety of communication methodologies, from low to high tech, that we can use to connect and engage our students in learning activities. We will explore practical strategies utilising physicality for engagement and readiness for sensory exploration, mark making, handwriting and learning. We will examine the impact and potential of mobile technology on choice making for this group of learners and create apps to take away and use with our students. Finally, we will investigate the role of social media both as a communication channel and gateway to professional collaboration.

Come along, join in, share, have fun and leave with a buzz to take back to your workplace.


Headshot of Carol Allan Carol Allen 
School Improvement Adviser (ICT and Inclusion)
North Tyneside City Learning Centre

Learn more about Autism: Engagement and Creative Communication!

Check Out a Sneak Peek of Carol Allen’s Pre-Conference Seminar

Sensory Impairment


Practitioner’s Handbook on Technology Implementation for People with Visual Impairments

This is a 1-day pre-conference training for experienced AT specialists and others who provide training and support to people who are blind or visually impaired. This training is designed at the intermediate and advanced level for professionals working in the VI technology arena, such as Teachers of the Visually Impaired (TVIs), Certified Vision Rehabilitation Therapists (CVRTs), Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialists (COMS), and Certified Low Vision Therapists (CLVTs). This training was designed in conjunction with the new certification, “Certified Assistive Technology Instructional Specialist for People with Visual Impairments” (CATIS), from the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation & Education Professionals (ACVREP).

This training will include collaborative learning opportunities and hands on experiences with a variety of AT solutions. Topics will include: Remote assistive technology training and support, AT solutions to meet the needs of people with visual impairments and other disabilities, configuring Windows for compatibility with AT, built-in and free AT solutions, Google accessibility, etc.

Participants will learn about technology solutions to meet the needs of people with visual impairments, as well as other disabilities. For people who need speech or voice recognition in addition to screen reading technologies, due to learning disabilities, physical disabilities, or other purposes, a number of options will be demonstrated and discussed. Other features will be explored as applicable for people with physical disabilities, including using sticky keys, using switch enabled devices, and using specialized devices, such as alternative mice and keyboards. Options for people who are hearing impaired or deaf, as well as visually impaired will also be demonstrated.

We will focus on learning keyboard commands for Google’s G Suite software and settings that will allow a screen reader user to navigate within different G Suite web-based applications. We will focus on how to use either NVDA on a Windows computer, VoiceOver on a Mac or ChromeVox on a Chromebook to access common G Suite applications, including Google Drive, Google Docs, Gmail and the Google Calendar. Participants will have hands on experience using these different applications with a screen reader to create, explore, edit, save, and share documents.

*This is a Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT) session. Please bring a Windows laptop computer with NVDA installed. Other optional devices recommended include a Mac computer, and/or a Chromebook. Demo download links and instructions will be provided.


The Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation & Education Professionals (ACVREP) is pleased to co-sponsor this pre-conference seminar.


Rachael Trinkowsky Rachael Sessler Trinkowsky, Ph.D., CRC, CATIS
Technology Training and Vocational Coordinator 
Lighthouse for the Blind of the Palm Beaches

Hear Rachael’s AT Story

Learn more about Practitioner’s Handbook on Technology Implementation for People with Visual Impairments


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