Newsletters

  • May 2013 - June 2013 - Instructional Technology in Early Childhood: A New Way for a New Day

    Click here to download June 2013 - Instructional Technology in Early Childhood: A New Way for a New Day newsletter

    For some it took a while, but by now the majority of the education world seems to agree – technology is powerful and can bring significant benefits to students in both general and special education classrooms, supporting a full range of abilities and challenges. Advances in technology, however, require that we re-think how we teach and learn, how we structure our class time, and how we provide equitable access to all students. That’s not an easy task – retooling decades-long approaches to teaching – even when we recognize the benefits that can accrue. Illinois State University Professor Howard P. Parette and his colleague Craig Blum have attacked the problem head-on with respect to early childhood education, creating a framework for selecting and implementing appropriate technology tools into curriculum-based classroom activities. Their framework is detailed in their new textbook, Instructional Technology in Early Childhood: Teaching in the Digital Age. In this edition of Technology Voices, Dr. Parette discusses the components of their framework and the need for a structured approach to technology integration, and shares some of the technology tools that he finds particularly useful.

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  • March 2013 - April 2013 - Integrating Technology in the Classroom: A Teacher’s Perspective

    Click here to download April 2013 - Integrating Technology in the Classroom: A Teacher’s  Perspective newsletter

    In the FCTD newsletter, Technology Voices, our goal is to bring you a balance of views from those working at the national, state, and local levels. To paraphrase the adage, where you stand is often driven by where you sit. This is especially true with respect to issues associated with technology use in the classroom. This month’s interviewee, Joshua Jenkins, a special education teacher in New Orleans, looks at two technology tools that are widely used throughout the country – one, a traditional word processor that has served students with disabilities for years; the other, the iPad, the tablet computer which many consider the hottest technology ticket in town. In talking with FCTD, Mr. Jenkins makes the case for measured evaluation of both the old and the new. He offers recommendations for iPad apps that he and his colleagues have found to be useful in classroom settings, while also expressing his concerns about the tablet's use.

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  • December 2012 - From Ads to Apps: Checking In with Tango Inventor – and Panther Technology Pioneer – Richard Ellenson

    Click here to download From Ads to Apps:  Checking In with Tango Inventor – and Panther Technology Pioneer – Richard Ellenson newsletter

    Our interviewee this month has been featured in the New York Times Magazine, on CBS, ABC, and CNN. Now, at last, he’s reached the media outreach pinnacle – the Family Center on Technology and Disability newsletter! As you can imagine, we’re honored to bring you the insights of Richard Ellenson, the creator of the very popular Tango! communication device and the founder of Panther Technology. In our lead article, Mr. Ellenson tells the story of how his commitment to ensuring that his son could communicate with the world brought him from a career in advertising to his well-known role as a leading AT developer. In so doing, Mr. Ellenson has helped tens of thousands of children with communication disorders and has become a leading advocate for the inclusion of children at school and in the community.

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  • October 2012 - November 2012 - Distance Mentoring: An Effective Model for Low-Incidence Populations

    Click here to download November 2012  -  Distance Mentoring: An Effective Model for Low-Incidence Populations newsletter

    How do you provide technical assistance (TA) to teachers, OT’s, SLP’s, families and others who work with children who have complex sensory, motor, and/or cognitive challenges when there are far from each other and from the few available TA experts by hundreds of miles? For more than 20 years, we’ve been intrigued by the idea of using technology to bring together experts and those who need their expertise, bridging distances and reducing costs. In this issue of FCTD’s Technology Voices, you can read about the successful efforts of D. Jay Gense, Jon Harding, and their colleagues at the National Consortium on Deaf Blindness, the Kansas Deaf Blind Project, and the Kansas Schools for the Deaf and Blind, to use technology as a means of providing distance mentoring to those who work with low-incidence populations. They describe the technology tools that they use, and the challenges they’ve both overcome and still need to address, as they refine their Distance Mentoring Model.

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  • August 2012 - September 2012 - Diving into the Deep End: A Parent’s Immersion in AAC Technology

    Click here to download September 2012  -  Diving into the Deep End: A Parent’s Immersion in AAC Technology newsletter

    Parent blogger Dana Nieder understands the jargon of the education world – with its IFSP’s, IEP’s, and inclusive classrooms. She has a graduate academic degree from The Johns Hopkins University and experience as a science teacher. She and her family have an apartment in New York City with high speed access to the Internet. So when Dana and her husband discovered that their toddler daughter with the twinkling eyes and killer smile had an undiagnosed condition that prevents her from speaking, they marshaled their resources and went looking for answers. What they found, or didn’t find, and the often tortuous twists and turns of the journey are documented by Dana in her blog Uncommon Sense. In this month’s edition of FCTD’s Technology Voices, Dana Nieder shares many of the lessons her family learned (and continues to learn) and discusses the augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) tools that work for her daughter Maya. She also offers, as we begin a new school year, her perspective on the school-parent collaboration that needs to happen for children with disabilities to gain access to AT and achieve their full potential.

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  • June 2012 - July 2012 - Setting Tradition on Its Ear: Audio-Based Environments and Gaming Enhance Navigation Skills for the Blind

    Click here to download July 2012  -  Setting Tradition on Its Ear:  Audio-Based Environments and Gaming Enhance Navigation Skills for the Blind  newsletter

    This month’s issue of FCTD’s Technology Voices will be of particular interest to those who work with children and youth with blindness and vision impairments. It should also capture the imaginations of those of you who are interested in leading-edge research and the adaptation of broad consumer technologies to enhance the lives of those with sensory impairments. We’re pleased to bring you the insights and research results of Dr. Lotfi Merabet, Director of the Laboratory for Visual Neuroplasticity at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary. The work of Dr. Lotfi and his colleagues promises to change the way in which individuals with vision impairments navigate their world.

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  • May 2012 - Autism and the iPad: Finding the Therapy in Consumer Tech

    Click here to download Autism and the iPad: Finding the Therapy in Consumer Tech newsletter

    Whether you’ve got five apps or 500 downloaded to your iPad; whether you’ve got the latest iPad release or have yet to take the plunge, you’ve doubtless heard the buzz. It’s hard to miss. There is, it appears, an “app” (application) for everything and for some things, there are hundreds if not thousands. With more than 67 million iPads sold in the U.S., the device is having a real impact on the lives of many, including children and youth with disabilities. In this month’s edition of FCTD’s Technology Voices we speak with Vina Sargent of the Lakeside Center for Autism in Seattle. Ms. Sargent shares LCA’s experience in using iPad apps with children at the center. She identifies apps with which they’ve had widespread success and discusses the needs of family members in supporting their children’s use of the device.

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  • March 2012 - April 2012 - Social Media as a Collaborative Community Builder

    Click here to download April 2012  -  Social Media as a  Collaborative Community Builder   newsletter

    It’s 2012. Do you know where your hashtags are? Some of us do; some of us don’t. Some of us have no idea what the term means. Joe Mazza, Knapp Elementary School Principal, is a master user of hashtags – a way of labeling Twitter and other social media posts – so that they’re easy for their audience to find. Using Twitter and other social media tools Mr. Mazza has done what has eluded so many school principals for decades – he has found a budget-friendly way of connecting his teachers with each other, with parents and community members, with learning opportunities, and with himself. It’s an investment of time and energy that has paid off in a major way. Joe Mazza’s school-community connections have set a “best practice” standard that has drawn local, state and national attention. In this month’s edition of Technology Voices, Mr. Mazza discusses why he believes so strongly that educators, administrators, and family members need to tweet, blog, post and otherwise connect throughout the day. After you read our interview with him, you may just find that you’re ready to look for those hashtags!

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  • February 2012 - AT in Inclusive Classrooms: What Problem Are We Trying to Solve?

    Click here to download AT in Inclusive Classrooms:  What Problem Are We Trying  to Solve?   newsletter

    “Inclusive education” is one of those terms that is widely bandied about but of which many educators and most parents do not have a strong understanding. In this month’s edition of FCTD’s Technology Voices we bring you one of the country’s leading experts on inclusion – Dr. Paula Kluth. Author of "From Tutor Scripts to Talking Sticks: 100 Ways to Differentiate Instruction in K-12 Inclusive Classrooms," Dr. Kluth discusses the role of assistive technology in successful inclusive classrooms and evidence-based practices that support inclusion. This information-rich interview will strengthen your understanding of inclusion and the role that can be played by technology in making it happen.

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  • January 2012 - Utterance-Based Communication: Using the Right Tool for the Right Task

    Click here to download Utterance-Based  Communication:  Using the Right Tool for the Right Task   newsletter

    The ability of digital technologies to provide augmentative and alternative means of communication (AAC) to children with limited or no means of physically voicing their needs, wishes and educational progress has been nothing short of spectacular. These devices have required compromise, perseverance, and significant investment of time and money. Still, they have changed the voice of disability. Now, in what we might consider a second era of AAC technology, leading-edge researchers and developers are pushing the envelope, making the devices faster, more flexible, and more responsive to the needs of their users. In this edition of Technology Voices, we are pleased to share with you the work of Dr. Jeff Higginbotham, a professor in the Department of Communicative Disorders and Sciences at the University at Buffalo and AAC-RERC Partner. Dr. Higginbotham’s work (along with that of his colleagues) promises to expand and enhance the ability of children with communication disabilities to interact with others in real time in deeper and more nuanced ways.

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  • December 2011 - AI as AT: Artificial Intelligence Technology with Crossover Potential

    Click here to download AI as AT:  Artificial Intelligence Technology with Crossover Potential   newsletter

    Artificial intelligence (AI) - the ability of a machine to imitate purposeful human behavior - has long captured our imagination. Since the 1970’s, computer scientists have made significant progress in applying AI research to a broad range of challenges. Some, such as the University of Delaware’s Kathleen McCoy, have merged their passion for computer science with other academic disciplines to expand the communi­cation capabilities of individuals with disabilities. In this edition of FCTD’s Technology Voices, Dr. McCoy discusses natural language generation, rehabilitation engineering, augmentative and alternative communication and assistive technology.

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  • November 2011 - Diversifying Instruction with Technology: Professors Can Take a Lesson from K-12 Teachers

    Click here to download Diversifying Instruction  with Technology:  Professors Can Take a Lesson from K-12 Teachers   newsletter

    This month’s edition of FCTD’s Technology Voices features an interview with Dr. Robert Stodden, Director of the University of Hawaii-Manoa’s Center on Disability Studies. For more than 20 years Dr. Stodden and his col­leagues conducted re­search on the effectiveness of classroom technology in helping students with dis­abilities access the general K-12 curriculum. Recently, he and his re­search team have turned their attention to the use of technology in post-secondary environments, where, he explains, educators need to ask themselves some difficult questions, in light of the growing use of communication technology.

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  • October 2011 - AT Evaluation: No Shortcuts to Good Outcomes

    Click here to download AT Evaluation: No Shortcuts to Good Outcomes newsletter

    When Bryan Ayres consults with educators on the best ways to evaluate and use assistive technology, he understands the challenges they face. Before assuming his current role as Director of the Easter Seals Arkansas Technology and Curriculum Access Center, Bryan spent fourteen years in the classroom himself. Many of you know him from his work with QIAT-PS (Quality In¬dicators for Assistive Technology in Post- Secondary Education.) In this edition of FCTD’s Technology Voices we’re pleased to bring you Bryan Ayres’s insights as he discusses AT evaluation and other key issues involved in ensuring successful AT use.

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  • September 2011 - An AT Pioneer Trains a New Generation of Educators

    Click here to download An AT Pioneer Trains a New Generation of Educators newsletter

    When it comes to assistive technology in the class¬room, Ellen Engstrom has seen it all, or at least quite a bit of it. In recent years, she has devoted herself to teaching what she’s learned to a new generation of teachers. In this month’s edition of Technology Voices, we asked her to share her “lessons learned” with readers. We think you’ll find her insights both interesting and useful.

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  • August 2011 - Advice to School Districts: Want Your AT to Be Used? Build the Infrastructure First!

    Click here to download Advice to School Districts: Want Your AT to Be Used? Build the Infrastructure First! newsletter

    If you were an assistive technology consultant to school systems, what would you advise them to do as the school year begins? How would you balance budgets and needs, individual supports and universally-designed interventions? How would you encourage teachers to embrace technology? In Technology Voices, we bring you a range of answers to such questions. This month we feature an AT consultant from Long Island, New York. A former special education teacher, Lorianne Hoenninger is CEO of Accessible Learning Technology Alternatives. Developer of the FASTTRAC system for AT consideration, Ms. Hoenninger shares her views on the need to build an AT infrastructure within school systems and the elements she considers important in doing so.

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  • July 2011 - Beyond ARRA: Put AT Purchases on Hold; Ramp up Training and Implementation Plans

    Click here to download Beyond ARRA: Put AT Purchases on Hold; Ramp up Training and Implementation Plans  newsletter

    When we asked this month’s national expert, Fred Tchang, Director of Assistive Technology Services at Advancing Opportunities’ Assistive Technology Center, what advice he would offer to schools and school systems as they prepare, AT-wise, for the upcoming school year, he had a surprising reply: “I would tell them ‘Please, please, please do not buy any more equipment between now and August 30!’” To learn how Mr. Tchang, a long-time assistive technology specialist and advocate, believes schools should spend their technology funds, read this month’s edition of FCTD’s Technology Voices.

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  • June 2011 - Technology Helps Students Plumb the Mysteries of an ‘Unfamiliar Past’

    Click here to download Technology Helps Students Plumb the Mysteries of an ‘Unfamiliar Past’ newsletter

    “If The New York Times best-seller list is an accurate barometer, history is a fascinating field for many Americans,” observes Michigan State special education professor Dr. Cynthia Okolo. “Unfortunately, many middle and high school students are not as fond of history as are adults.” Dr. Okolo is not one to sit around damning the darkness, however. Instead, she and a few other inspired colleagues have developed the Virtual History Museum, a web-based inclusive learning environment offering cognitive supports. In this edition of Technology Voices, Dr. Okolo discusses VHM and the way it supports not only history but literacy. She also shares insightful comments about universal design for learning that we’re pretty sure you will not have heard elsewhere. You won’t want to miss this in-depth interview with one of the country’s most experienced, tech-savvy education professionals.

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  • May 2011 - Raising the AT Bar: From Teacher Training to Tech Integration

    Click here to download Raising the AT Bar:  From Teacher Training to Tech Integration newsletter

    Professor Charmaine Lowe of Austin Peay State University is a power user of technology. Among those with whom she uses it are highly mobile students whose parents are seasonal workers. Those students, she notes, may use technology to retain connection with family members abroad. “I have students,” Dr. Lowe tells FCTD, “who will web-cam in. I say to them, ‘When you’re finished web-camming your family I have a podcast for you. Here’s a lesson and some assignments. Read this, watch that, work on this and send the completed assignment back to me from wherever you are.’” In this month’s edition of FCTD’s Technology Voices, Dr. Charmaine Lowe shares her insights on a variety of assistive and instructional technology topics, including pre-service training, universal design for learning, and some of her favorite tech tools.

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  • April 2011 - Cultural and Linguistic Diversity & AAC Technology: Immersion Is the Mother of Communication

    Click here to download Cultural and Linguistic  Diversity & AAC Technology:  Immersion Is the Mother of  Communication newsletter

    “Best practice” in assistive technology planning, acquisition, and implementation includes meaningful family involvement. That, however, can be a challenge for any number of reasons, including cultural, ethnic, racial, and/or religious differences in perspective. In this edition of FCTD’s Technology Voices, we’re pleased to bring you the insights of an expert educator who specializes in the multicultural aspects of bringing augmentative and alternative communication tools to children with disabilities. Dr. Sheila Bridges-Bond, Associate Professor in North Carolina Central University’s Department of Communications Disorders, discusses the challenge of working with a diverse student population and shares strategies that have worked for her and her colleagues.

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  • March 2011 - Glancing Backward, Gazing Forward: AT Trends In an Era of Flux

    Click here to download Glancing Backward, Gazing Forward: AT Trends In an Era of Flux newsletter

    In the past, notes long-time AT expert Russ Holland, “We said that the purpose of assistive technology was to place band-aids on mainstream technology to make it work.” Now, he says, “companies need to make accessibility part of the design parameters for all products.” After attending the recent Assistive Technology Industry Association conference, Russ reports that while there may not be a lot of “breakthrough technologies”, there are “incremental, but important, changes in software and changes in strategies for utilizing that software.” In this month’s edition of FCTD’s Technology Voices, Mr. Holland, co-founder of Adirondack AccessAbility and former program director of the Alliance for Technology Access, shares valuable information about those software developments and strategies.

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  • February 2011 - Weapons of Mass Instruction

    Click here to download Weapons of Mass Instruction newsletter

    They include iPads and iPods, smartphones and lap­tops. They cost far less than more specialized technology and their prices continue to drop. Many, like this month’s expert interviewee, Dr. Milton Chen, believe these devices have the potential to help change the course of U.S. K-12 education for nearly every child, both with and without disabilities. The Family Center on Technology and Disability is pleased to bring you the insights of education researcher and author Milton Chen, who calls these increasingly ubiquitous devices, “weapons of mass instruction.”

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  • January 2011 - An OT’s Panoramic Perspective

    Click here to download An OT’s  Panoramic Perspective newsletter

    When conducting an assistive technology assessment for a child with a disability, Professor James Lenker says, the key question is "Is the child better off with or without the device?" The question may seem basic, but answering it correctly requires the type of expertise that Dr. Lenker brings to his research and his work with schools and families; and which he is imparting to a new generation of students of assistive technology and rehabilitation. In this issue of the Family Center on Technology and Disability's Technology Voices, Professor Lenker, director of the advanced graduate program in assistive technology and rehabilitation at the University of Buffalo, SUNY, addresses the role of parents and teachers in the AT assessment process, the factors that contribute to device success or abandonment, and much more!

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  • December 2010 - Virtual Worlds: STEM Education Adds a Dimension

    Click here to download Virtual Worlds: STEM  Education Adds a Dimension newsletter

    Even if you haven’t seen The Matrix, Tron, or, dare we suggest it, Avatar, you’re probably aware of virtual world environments and the role of avatars in them. Recently, forward-looking researchers and educators have begun to explore the value of virtual worlds as an assistive technology. Focusing on a range of physical, cognitive, and emotional/behavioral issues, researchers are finding that the freedom, control, and engagement provided to users in virtual worlds can be powerful assistive tools. In this issue of the Family Center on Technology and Disability’s Technology Voices we speak with Robert Todd, Senior Research Scientist at Georgia Tech’s Center for Assistive Technology and Environmental Access. We think you’ll find fascinating the work being done by Todd and his colleagues as they push the limits of virtual world technology to support students with disabilities.

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  • November 2010 - Blended Learning: A Vision Comes to Life

    Click here to download Blended Learning: A Vision Comes to Life newsletter

    When well designed, “blended instruction” or, from the student’s vantage point, “blended learning” combines the best of traditional classroom instruction with research-based, computer-assisted resources. Those resources may be made available online or be provided via digital storage media, but the combination can be a powerful one, resulting in greater student engagement and increased student achievement. In this issue, Becky Bordelon, Executive Director of Instruction and Learning for North America for the Israeli-based company Time To Know, Inc., discusses her company’s approach to blended learning and shares the results they are seeing from their classroom pilot programs. With a background as a teacher, special educator, and parent, Ms. Bordelon brings valuable insight to the education technology table.

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  • October 2010 - Robotics and Autism: Is the Future Nao?

    Click here to download Robotics and Autism:  Is the Future Nao?  newsletter

    Robots have long fascinated the humans who create them, who render them on large and small screens and who explore their ever-expanding limits. From the Jetson’s housecleaning Rosie to Star Wars’ valiant R2-D2, we are challenged to imagine the potential good that might be rendered by a well-programmed piece of hardware, perhaps with a complex “personality chip.” A robotics research and development team at the University of Notre Dame is doing more than imagining. This talented team, led by professors Joshua Diehl, Charles Crowell, and Michael Villano, are creating leading-edge software programs and therapy protocols for a 22-inch humanoid robot named Nao. Their goal: to help children on the autism spectrum strengthen their ability to read social communication cues and respond appropriately. In this issue of FCTD’s monthly newsletter we are pleased to bring you an in-depth interview with Drs. Diehl, Crowell, and Villano about their team’s work. Following the lead article, you’ll find information on other robotics work being done around the world, designed to help children on the autism spectrum.

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  • September 2010 - AT Assessments: The Right Device Is the Best Device

    Click here to download AT Assessments: The Right Device Is the Best Device newsletter

    The mistake made by some IEP team members, says Dr. Leonard Trujillo, Director of the Occupational Therapy Assistive Technology Certification Program at East Carolina University, is to focus too broadly on AT devices that attempt to do too much, well into a child’s future. Instead, he counsels, parents and educators should “determine [a] child’s specific current need,” recognizing that the child’s need “may change once he acquires the ability provided by the device.” In this issue of FCTD News and Notes, Dr. Trujillo shares insights developed over decades of conducting AT assessments, devising his own AT solutions and recommending off-the-shelf devices for both children and adults with disabilities.

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  • August 2010 - Developing Family Stories: Moving the Backstory to the Forefront

    Click here to download Developing Family Stories:  Moving the Backstory to the  Forefront  newsletter

    Story telling. It is, note Illinois STARnet Family Resource Specialists Sandy Ginther and Roseann Slaght, a common language that crosses cultures and geography. "Since the dawn of time," Sandy reminds the family members of children with disabilities, "people have passed along information through telling stories.” That rich tradition, strengthened by today's technology tools, provides a powerful advocacy tool for families wanting to secure access for their children to education, work, and recreation. In this edition of the Family Center on Technology and Disability's monthly newsletter, Ms. Ginther and Ms. Slaght talk about the importance of using "People First Language," of presuming competence, and of making the "least dangerous assumption" about individuals with disabilities.

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  • July 2010 - Preservice Teacher Technology Training: Digital Inequality Is the New Digital Divide

    Click here to download Preservice Teacher Technology Training: Digital Inequality Is  the New Digital Divide newsletter

    The assumption that technology will be effectively brought into the classroom with the arrival of newly minted teachers who have come of age in the digital era – the so-called “millennials” – may be an erroneous one. The ability, and preference, to communicate in PDA text-speak is not the same as the ability to identify and use appropriate technology tools in education. This month the Family Center on Technology and Disability is pleased to bring you the insights of Boise State University professors Barbara Schroeder and Chris Haskell, who are on the front line of this important issue, as they teach “edtech” to a new generation of education students.

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  • June 2010 - Revolutionary Evolution: Will Consumer Apps Replace Specialized AT?

    Click here to download Revolutionary Evolution:  Will Consumer Apps Replace  Specialized AT? newsletter

    While computer programmers at Microsoft and Google spend their days inventing products designed for the masses, a small dedicated team of computer science students at the University of Washington, led by Professor Richard Ladner, spend their time finding ways to make existing technologies accessible to those who are blind, deaf, or deaf-blind. In this month’s edition of News and Notes you can read about the exciting work of Dr. Ladner and his team as they open closed Web worlds and facilitate the study of math and science through tactile graphics and math Braille translations.

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  • May 2010 - STEM Curricula in a Technology-Based UDL Framework: A Formula for Narrowing the Middle School Science/Math Achievement Gap?

    Click here to download STEM Curricula in a Technology-Based UDL Framework: A Formula for Narrowing the Middle School Science/Math Achievement Gap?  newsletter

    Recent studies have shown evidence that middle school students with disabilities perform far below their peers in both math and science. The data shows the chronic struggles that these children, their parents and their teachers have seen for years. Dr. Matthew Marino, a researcher working at the Washington State University is focused on finding a way to narrow the gap in middle school science and math achievement . Read more about the innovative research and development being conducted by Dr. Marino and his colleagues.

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  • April 2010 - Epistemic Games: Role-Playing, Technology-Based Games for Real-World Thinking and Learning

    Click here to download Epistemic Games: Role-Playing, Technology-Based Games for  Real-World Thinking and Learning newsletter

    Computer games delight and distract kids – and occasionally infuriate parents and teachers – but some games aim to encourage students to think about their world and their place in it. That category encompasses epistemic games. Epistemic what? In this edition of the Family Center's News and Notes, we learn about the emerging world of epistemic gaming from one of its principal researchers and proponents, Dr. David Williamson Shaffer. Dr. Shaffer is a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the departments of Educational Psychology and Curriculum and Instruction and a game scientist at the Academic Advanced Distributed Learning Co-Laboratory. Dr. Shaffer explains how epistemic games can help prepare students for 21st century careers.

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  • March 2010 - IT Plan Implementation: Making Change a Friend

    Click here to download IT Plan Implementation: Making Change a Friend newsletter

    In the U.S. public education system, no one is more on the front lines of the technology revolution than the chief information officers of school districts large and small. They are generals in the battle for the budgets needed to make our schools competitive in a high-tech world. Theirs is the technology vision that affects hundreds of thousands of students and teachers. The decisions of the teams they direct decide whether teachers will be able to bring Internet-based resources into the class, whether students will be able to collaborate online, and whether emerging technologies will be welcomed and supported or barred from the school room. This month, the Family Center on Technology and Disability is pleased to bring you the insights and experience of Maribeth Luftglass, Assistant Superintendent and Chief Information Officer for Fairfax County, VA, the 12th largest school district in the country.

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  • February 2010 - A New Approach to Early Intervention: Virtual Home Visits

    Click here to download A New Approach to Early Intervention: Virtual Home Visits newsletter

    Delivering early intervention services to families in remote rural areas has long been a challenge to service providers. Technology has, for the past twenty years, held the promise of helping to reach those families. Yet limited access to computers and the Internet has hampered efforts to use technology to overcome geographic barriers. Now, however, more than ever before, growing familiarity with, and access to technology has raised the hope that distance technologies will make possible "virtual home visits" and with them, increased service to families of young children. This month we're pleased to bring you the insights of Sue Thain Olsen and Amy Henningson of the Utah State University's Center for Persons with Disabilities (CPD). Their center received a grant from the U.S. Department of Education's Steppingstones of Technology Innovation for Children with Disabilities program. Under the grant, they and their colleagues have been researching the benefits and challenges of providing virtual home visits as part of the early intervention services for which they are responsible. Their research will help inform the efforts of many others throughout the country.

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  • January 2010 - Crossing the Technology Bridge -- Where Do We Go as a Field to Help All Learners Succeed?

    Click here to download Crossing the Technology Bridge --  Where Do We Go as a Field to Help All Learners Succeed?  newsletter

    In January, the Family Center had the opportunity to speak with Ruth Ziolkowski, President and CEO of the well-known assistive technology company Don Johnston, Inc. Ruth has worked with Don Johnston since 1987 and many of her insights into the AT field have been influenced by him. In this issue, Ruth shares her experience and perspective, as she talks about the impact of federal stimulus funds on schools districts throughout the country, and of the importance of accessible instructional materials. This deep and wide ranging interview touches on AT for students on the autism spectrum, ongoing resistance to digitization of curricular materials, and the need for education administrators to think systemically about the role of technology in helping every student to reach his or her potential.

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  • December 2009 - C-Print®: Technology Research for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students

    Click here to download C-Print®:  Technology Research for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students newsletter

    In the FCTD's current newsletter, we are pleased to feature the innovative research and development of Dr. Michael Stinson and his colleagues at RIT's National Technical Institute for the Deaf. Dr. Stinson, Dr. Lisa Elliot and Pam Francis form the core of the team that has developed state-of-the-art speech-to-text displays for deaf and hard of hearing students. With support from the Office of Special Education Programs at the U.S Department of Education, the C-Print team is conducting randomized, classroom-based trials of the technology. This issue features C-Print and the current state of this leading-edge captioning system.

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  • November 2009 - Family Advocacy: Finding Common Cause

    Click here to download Family Advocacy:   Finding Common Cause newsletter

    Every month the Family Center on Technology and Disability brings you the insights of expert professionals who work with children with disabilities and/or their families, teachers, therapists, and advocates. This month, we bring you the perspective of a professional family advocate - Vivica Brown, Esquire. Founder of Exceptional Student Advocacy in Stone Mountain, Georgia, Ms. Brown, an attorney, shares her experience and advice on family-school relations. Following our lead article with Ms. Brown, you'll find a variety of related resources and organizations. Please feel free to pass the newsletter and its resources on to the families with whom you work.

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  • October 2009 - AT in the Classroom - Give Us the Tools

    Click here to download AT in the Classroom - Give Us the Tools newsletter

    Since the early days of the digital era, assistive and instructional technologies (AT/IT) have evolved along with other technologies, producing tools that can dramatically increase learning gains by children with and without disabilities. Still, getting that technology into the hands of those who need it the most remains a struggle in many schools and districts. In this month's FCTD News and Notes, long-time technologists and educators Ben and Pat Satterfield, of the Center for Research and Expansion of Assistive Technology Excellence, provide valuable insights into both the challenges and benefits of AT and IT. They share best practices, application recommendations, views on emerging trends and more!

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  • September 2009 - “Nobody Is Too ‘Anything’ to Read, Write or Communicate”

    Click here to download “Nobody Is Too ‘Anything’ to Read, Write or Communicate” newsletter

    The newest issue of the FCTD newsletter is now online! This month we are pleased to welcome Barbara Wollak, SLP as she joins the Family Center to discuss assistive technology-supported literacy. A member of her Minnesota school district's AT Team, Ms. Wollack shares valuable insights and advice. Supporting our interview with Ms. Wollak are resources related to AT teams and the role of speech-language pathologists.

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  • August 2009 - “...Whether acquired off the shelf, modified, or customized...”

    Click here to download “...Whether acquired off the shelf, modified, or customized...” newsletter

    This month the Family Center turns its newsletter focus to an icon of the AT industry, someone who has spent several decades modifying and customizing devices to serve the needs of the broadest range of children with disabilities - RJ Cooper. Over the years RJ has offered inspiration and guidance to thousands of families, educators and disability professionals, seeing possibilities where others see obstacles.

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  • July 2009 - Emerging Technology for Autism Research and Treatment

    Click here to download Emerging Technology for Autism Research and Treatment newsletter

    In this issue of the Family Center on Technology & Disability's monthly newsletter, we explore state-of-the-art work being done in Personalized Assessment Technology for Autism Research and Treatment. In an in-depth interview, Dr. Matthew Goodwin discusses the development of wearable sensors that can offer teachers, parents, and therapists an unprecedented opportunity to monitor and respond to arousal levels of children with autism. Dr. Goodwin also describes two-way audio and video data-capture technology that can enable clinicians to obtain behavioral data from children in their natural environments.

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  • June 2009 - Computer-Based Assessment and Instruction : Do They Make the Grade?

    Click here to download Computer-Based   Assessment and Instruction : Do They Make the Grade? newsletter

    Well-conducted assessments of student achievement are critical to developing student-centered instruction. The key, however, is not to let the assessment process become so burdensome that it detracts from instruction rather than supporting it. This month we look at the relationship between assessment and instruction, and specific computer-based tools developed by the company Wireless Generation. WG's Director of Assessment, Mel Lee, and Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Michael Kasloff, discuss the need to keep teachers at the center of assessment and instruction, while utilizing leading-edge consumer technology to make both activities more efficient and effective.

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  • May 2009 - Summer Camp: Trees, Tents & Technology

    Click here to download Summer Camp:   Trees, Tents & Technology newsletter

    In this year's AT Goes to Camp issue, FCTD features an interview with Darla Motil, R.N., from the Achievement Centers for Children in Ohio. Supporting our interview with Ms. Motil are resources to help families of children with disabilities who utilize AT for their child's camp experience. We also feature organizations that focus on aspects of the summer camp experience and the role of AT in enriching that experience. Please share this newsletter with other organizations, families and professionals who may benefit from it.

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  • April 2009 - Computer-Based Assessments & Accommodations

    Click here to download Computer-Based Assessments & Accommodations newsletter

    This month's edition of the Family Center on Technology and Disability's News and Notes focuses on computer-based testing accommodations and universally-designed assessments. NimbleTools co-founder and researcher, Dr. Michael Russell, discusses the state ofthe field and identifies the key components of effective testing accommodations.

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  • March 2009 - Teaching Tech-Hungry Parents: an SLP’s Take on Technology

    Click here to download Teaching Tech-Hungry Parents:  an SLP’s Take on Technology newsletter

    Speech language pathologist (SLP) Joan Green has been on the front line of assistive and instructional technology use for the past 15 years. Author of Technology for Communication and Cognitive Treatment: a Clinician’s Guide and Technology Supports for Writing, Ms. Green has seen technology change the lives of the children and adults with whom she works. In this month’s issue of the Family Center on Technology and Disability’s News and Notes, Ms. Green shares insights and advice on how to make effective use of emerging technologies.

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  • February 2009 - Assistive Technology Implementation in the Classroom

    Click here to download Assistive Technology  Implementation in the Classroom newsletter

    The current Family Center on Technology and Disability newsletter focuses on Assistive Technology Implementation in the Classroom. This edition features an interview with Matthew Press, AT Coordinator for the Pendergast Elementary School District in Phoenix, Arizona. Mr. Press addresses the need for teacher “buy-in” and shares tips for how to get it; describes AT barriers and how to overcome them; identifies AT tools that he has found to be effective; and discusses universal design and other concepts key to effectively implementing technology in real-life classrooms.

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  • January 2009 - Meeting Classroom Technology Needs in an Era of Scarcity and Change

    Click here to download Meeting Classroom Technology Needs in an Era of Scarcity and Change newsletter

    This month education technologist Dr. Yeunjoo Lee, of California State, Bakersfield, talks to FCTD newsletter editor Tom Allen about the state of pre-service teacher technology training, minority group attitudes about assistive technology and alternative sources of technology funding.

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  • December 2008 - U.S. Education Policy and Assistive Technology

    Click here to download U.S. Education Policy  and Assistive Technology newsletter

    As in all public sectors, in the education world, policy drives funding. At the national, state, and local levels, policy decisions determine priorities and budgets. What happens within the classroom, including use of assistive and instructional technologies, is tied directly to overarching education policies. This month, we speak with Dr. Martin Blair of the Mountain Plains Regional Resource Center. In addition to his work at MPRRC, Dr. Blair serves as assistant director for policy development at the Utah Center for Persons with Disabilities and as director of the Utah Assistive Technology Program.

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  • November 2008 - Orchestrating a Comprehensive AT View: A Psychologist Looks at AT

    Click here to download Orchestrating a   Comprehensive AT View: A Psychologist Looks at AT newsletter

    They are members of their school’s IEP teams. Their responsibility includes the educational, emotional and social evaluation of students with disabilities. Some psychologists go beyond their assigned roles, however. On their own they have developed a deep knowledge of technology and technology’s growing role in securing the education of all children, including those with disabilities, ensuring that the technology is accessible, appropriate and that its use is maximized. In this issue we are pleased to welcome Leonard V. Pisano, Ph,D. as we examine the integrative role of school psychologists who have made themselves expert in classroom technology.

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  • October 2008 - Assistive and Instructional Technology in the General Ed Classroom

    Click here to download Assistive and Instructional Technology in the General Ed Classroom newsletter

    This edition of FCTD News and Notes explores the convergence of assistive and instructional technologies and the use by both in general education classrooms. Our in-depth interview, with AT/IT expert Lon Thornburg, discusses technology advocacy as well, with a little help from ace parent advocate, Chuck DiPietro.

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  • September 2008 - Caption This: Television Captioning and Description in the Digital Age

    Click here to download Caption This:   Television Captioning and   Description in the Digital Age newsletter

    “Seeing is believing” for the millions of deaf individuals who rely on captioned video as a means of access to television, movies, and the increasingly ubiquitous videos in our lives. Likewise, those with blindness and vision impairments find that audio description brings to life the video images to which they’re otherwise denied access. As a society we’ve come much farther in providing captioning than we have in offering description, but rapidly evolving technologies pose significant challenges to both. This issue of tracks the history of captioning and description with three leaders in the field - Bill, Dianne, and Jason Stark - and looks at the current status of both.

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  • August 2008 - AT & High Incidence Disabilities: Goodbye Darkness

    Click here to download AT & High Incidence Disabilities: Goodbye Darkness newsletter

    For generations, children with high incidence disabilities faced frustration and failure, unable to make effective use of existing classroom tools. Parents and teachers often felt anxiety and sometimes resignation, wanting to help but lacking the knowledge and tools to do so. The information age has brought a wide range of technology tools that offer hope and the promise of success in the classroom and beyond. In this issue of News and Notes we are pleased to welcome Karen Janowski, educator and AT/educational technology consultant as we explore connecting these children with technology that can help them.

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  • July 2008 - 911: Emergency Preparedness, AT and Universal Design

    Click here to download 911:  Emergency Preparedness, AT and   Universal Design newsletter

    "The challenge of creating emergency preparedness strategies and communications systems to accommodate those with disabilities, seniors and others," says Barry Cronin, "extends far beyond a terrorism scenario and can include any emergency situation. It speaks to the entire issue of emergency preparedness for everyone, those with disabilities and those without, and it forces all of us to consider universal design and the deployment of all kinds of technology, from no-tech to high-tech, as ways to create a level of emergency preparedness that suits all of us in an increasingly inclusive society in threatening times.” We are pleased to feature Dr. Cronin, Senior Vice President for Project Development at Bridge Multimedia, a New York City-based organization focused on universally accessible media with emergency, educational, commercial and government applications. Dr. Cronin and Matt Kaplowitz, President and CEO of Bridge Multimedia, are supported by John Cavanaugh and Anne Malia, Editor and Associate Editor respectively of the company's emergency preparedness online operations.

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  • June 2008 - Inclusive Tourism and AT: And Away We Go

    Click here to download Inclusive Tourism and AT: And Away We Go newsletter

    For families of children with disabilities, taking a summer trip involves a great deal of planning and preparation. Fortunately, families do not have to do so in an information vacuum. Thanks to pioneers such as this month’s interviewee, Dr. Scott Rains, inclusive tourism is a field that is fast emerging. This issue of the Family Center on Technology and Disability's News and Notes examines inclusive tourism and its impact on families of children with disabilities.

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  • May 2008 - On the Front Lines: AT and Families

    Click here to download On the Front Lines: AT and Families newsletter

    Among the organizations that provide much-needed disability information and services are the State Assistive Technology Programs, funded under the Assistive Technology Act of 1998, as amended. Tech Act programs work hard to connect parents and guardians with the information, equipment and services they need to acquire on behalf of their children. AT is a frequently addressed topic, as it is an area in which families often need a great deal of support -- from a basic introduction to terms and concepts to equipment trials, evaluations and assessments. In this issue we look at AT through the eyes of an experienced Tech Act center professional. Joining us to help explore this topic is Alice Wershing, M. Ed., ATP, educational technology coordinator at the East Tennessee Technology Access Center (ETTAC). The organizations spotlighted this month focus on family AT needs.

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  • April 2008 - Preservice Assistive Technology Training

    Click here to download Preservice Assistive Technology Training newsletter

    With a tip of the hat to Jane Austen, it is a truth universally acknowledged that one of the barriers to more widespread use of assistive technology in classrooms across the nation is inadequate teacher training. Every year, teacher training colleges send thousands of graduates out into the world with little to no exposure to AT. It is of little surprise, therefore, that teachers struggle to use it appropriately, whether in inclusive or self-contained classrooms. This month, the Family Center on Technology and Disability's newsletter features an interview with Dr. Sharon Judge of Old Dominion University. Dr. Judge studied 162 teacher preparation programs, looking at the ways in which they addressed, or did not address, assistive technology. The insights she draws and the conclusions she reaches are important to all those who believe that assistive technology offers critical tools for the academic and community success of students with disabilities.

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  • March 2008 - The Evolution of AT: A Long Night’s Journey into Day

    Click here to download The Evolution of AT: A Long Night’s Journey into Day newsletter

    Powered by federal and state disabilities legislation, the concept of 'assistive technology' has evolved with the technology revolution driving the information age. Today, in its high-tech iteration, it is as sophisticated and effective as any technology in any category. In its no- or low-tech version it is simple yet effective. This month, we are pleased to welcome John M. Williams, a seasoned AT writer and user of assistive technology. Those, like John Williams, who have witnessed AT's evolution and experienced AT's benefits and growing acceptance continue to marvel at the road traveled from darkness into light. This issue takes a look back at A's evolution and offers a glimpse of what is to come.

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  • February 2008 - Summer Camp '08: The Break That Refreshes

    Click here to download Summer Camp '08:  The Break That Refreshes newsletter

    From August through May, kids with disabilities in summer camp morph into full-throttle dynamos, hurtling from one organized activity to the next in an environment that is safe, social and supportive. Fueled by good food, fresh air, high activity and companionship, kids in summer camp sleep the sleep of the satisfied, the day*s challenges met, new friends made and another day just ahead. For parents and other caregivers, however, the trick is to find that most appropriate camp, one that in addition to offering the best environment for recreation and socialization also has staff that are knowledgeable about campers* assistive technology. This issue is dedicated to the summer camp experience which, for many children with disabilities, may be the most meaningful experience of their lives. Joining us, we are pleased to welcome Charlie Becker, Executive Director of Camp Courageous of Iowa. Supporting our interview with Mr. Becker are resources that provide information on a range of summer camp resources.

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  • January 2008 - Matching Child and Technology: Closer to a Sure Thing

    Click here to download Matching Child and Technology: Closer to a Sure Thing newsletter

    It has bewildered consumers, providers and schools since the dawn of assistive technology: the challenge of making sure that children with disabilities and their AT are a match. Too often, despite the good intentions of all parties, children and their AT are a mismatched set. The consensus is that there has to be a better way. Matching-person-and-technology (MPT) AT assessments offer children and their families a better way to match a child with the most appropriate technology. This month Marcia Scherer Ph.D., MPH, CRC, FACRM , founder and president of the Institute for Matching Person & Technology joins us to examine the process of matching a child with the AT that can change his or her life for the better.

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  • December 2007 - When Freedom Is Free: The Allure of Free Open

    Click here to download When Freedom Is Free:  The Allure of Free Open  newsletter

    "The American free enterprise system sometimes isn't all that free, or all that enterprising." The man who uttered that remark, former Texas governor and presidential candidate John Connally, never met open source AT developers or those who promote their efforts to produce portable AT, which is free for anyone who knows how to access it, including schools and families of children with disabilities. Defined as a set of principles and practices for writing software in which the source code is available to all users, open source licensed applications enable users to use an application free of charge and to modify it to meet user specifications. According to Steve Jacobs, president of The IDEAL Group, an open source AT consultancy, "Open source refers to a state of development, not an application." While commercial AT is a major and growing contributor to the education and quality of life of children with disabilities, many individuals, schools, social organizations and government agencies are unable to afford it. Open source AT can make AT available and affordable and fully portable, even through life*s transitions. This issue examines open source AT, its portability and its place in the wireless world now taking shape.

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  • November 2007 - Accessing Literacy AT In the Classroom

    Click here to download Accessing Literacy AT In the Classroom  newsletter

    At home and at play children, including those with disabilities, have access to an array of technology unimagined even five years ago. Trouble is that at school, technology, both assistive and educational, is nearly absent. Also nearly absent among a percentage of classroom teachers is a comfort level with technology. Like their students, many teachers find themselves caught between two eras. The result is often a cultural and educational standoff that benefits tradition, not progress. Nevertheless, forward looking and resourceful professionals remain determined to find ways to insert literacy AT into the classroom environment. This issue examines current technology aimed at improving literacy instruction and the ways students and their teachers can access it. Joining us, we have Sam Sennott, Special Educator and Assistive Technology Specialist from Nova Southeastern University.

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  • October 2007 - Occupational Therapy & AT: Pushing Toward Independence

    Click here to download Occupational Therapy & AT: Pushing Toward Independence newsletter

    The name of the profession has been made archaic by the evolution of language and the passing of time, but occupational therapy*s impact on children with disabilities, especially those requiring assistive technology, remains timeless. Today, according to the American Occupational Therapy Association, occupational therapy is a "health and rehabilitation profession that helps people regain, develop and build skills that are important for independent functioning, health, well-being, security, and happiness." In the 21st century OTs, supported by assistive technology, strive toward a single goal: enhancing the opportunities for individuals with disabilities, including children and young adults, to achieve independence. This issue examines the role of the occupational therapist in employing AT to support children and young adults with disabilities. This month we feature an Interview with Miriam Struck, OTR/L, ATP, Occupational Therapist, Certified AT Practitioner with Montgomery County (MD) Schools.

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  • September 2007 - Team Member Collaboration and Coordination: Beware of the Furniture

    Click here to download Team Member  Collaboration and Coordination: Beware of the Furniture newsletter

    Early in his presidency former movie and TV actor Ronald Reagan was asked what it takes to become a star in Hollywood. He replied, "Understand your role. Know your lines. Don*t bump into the furniture." The same holds true for Individualized Education Program (IEP) team members who must establish and maintain a high level of collaboration and coordination in the consideration of assistive technology for children with disabilities. Team members must understand their roles and work together for the benefit of kids, parents and teachers. The same holds true for IEP team members seeking a optimum level of collaboration: You have to know where the furniture is in order to avoid the bruises collision with it can cause in the form of contentiousness and possible litigation. This issue examines the role of the IEP team's AT coordinator as well as IEP team member collaboration and the ingredients to create it, build it and make it stick. This month we feature an interview with John Castellani, Ph.D.. Dr. Castellani is an Associate Professor, Teacher Development and Leadership, Center for Technology in Education (CTE), Johns Hopkins University. He is also Program Director of the Maryland Assistive Technology Network (MATN).

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  • August 2007 - Statewide AT Planning for the Year Ahead

    Click here to download Statewide AT Planning for the Year Ahead newsletter

    Many state and local school officials responsible for assembling assistive technology-related budgets are hard at work planning for the year ahead, finding ways to stretch tight budgets to ensure AT accessibility for the children and families in their states who need it. This month we are pleased to welcome Jeff McCormick. He's the technology and low incidence administrator for OCALI, the Ohio Center for Autism and Low Incidence disabilities, an organization formed by the Ohio legislature and entrusted by the state's special education director, Greg Maloney, as the lead state agency for year-to-year statewide school assistive technology planning. OCALI facilitates AT loans, oversees AT-related professional development (training), supplies AT teaching resources, maintains relationships with AT vendors, and generates AT-focused webcasts. Jeff responds this month via email to a series of questions examining the AT planning process at the state level, featuring the State of Ohio as an example.

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  • July 2007 - Adapted Physical Education & AT: To Play or Not to Play

    Click here to download Adapted Physical Education & AT: To Play or Not to Play newsletter

    For generations children with disabilities nationwide received little or no physical education. More recently they have been consigned to special education PE classes. Still, many with severe and profound disabilities were left out by well-meaning phys ed teachers who possessed little or no training in how best to include them in a class's physical activities. Today, however, an increasing number of educators trained in adapted physical education - a growing number of whom are certified by the Adapted Physical Education National Standards (APENS) -- are applying their training nationwide. The result: aided by the AT students are accustomed to using, plus less sophisticated AT, more children with severe and profound disabilities are experiencing the exultation of play and the health benefits of physical activity. This issue examines the role of assistive technology in adapted physical education. This month we feature and interview with Dr. Timothy Davis, associate professor of adapted physical education at the State University of New York/Cortland.

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  • June 2007 - A Gift for the Gifted: AT and the Twice Exceptional Student

    Click here to download A Gift for the Gifted: AT and the Twice Exceptional Student  newsletter

    They're a living, breathing human paradox: children with exceptional cognitive and intellectual gifts and talents who have learning disabilities. There are tens of thousands among us, though their exact number is uncertain. What is certain is that the gifts some possess can literally change the world. For these students assistive technology is a key compensatory tool that helps to neutralize their disabilities. This month we feature an interview with Marisa Stemple, instructional specialist for gifted and talented children with learning disabilities (GT/LD) in Maryland's Montgomery County public schools.

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  • May 2007 - Teacher Appreciation Month 2007: Youth Is Not Wasted on the Young

    Click here to download Teacher Appreciation Month 2007: Youth Is Not Wasted on the Young  newsletter

    There is a new breed of young teachers now entering the classroom whose presence in increasing numbers, along with their vast technology knowledge and expertise, may dramatically change U.S. education and its relationship to assistive technology. The representatives of Generation T, the incoming generation of technology savvy young teachers, are appearing in schools nationwide. Fresh out of graduate school and in their early 20s, these young teachers offer a glimpse of a future in which assistive technology, from low-tech to high-tech, will likely be regarded as normal in the classroom as pencils and loose-leaf paper have been to earlier generations. In this issue we are featuring an interview with Denise McGuire, special education teacher at the Elizabeth Lee Black School, which is run by the Dr. Gertrude Barber National Institute.

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  • April 2007 - Summer Camp 2007: Anything You Can Do....They Can Do To

    Click here to download Summer Camp 2007: Anything You Can Do....They Can Do To newsletter

    Through the years a new way of camping has evolved for children with special needs and their families, a way that emphasizes a child's abilities over his or her disabilities, a way that not only accommodates assistive technology but is dependent on it, along with other factors, to ensure a summer of rich experience. This issue examines the evolution of summer camp for children with disabilities, the level of training achieved by contemporary camp counselors and staff and the role of assistive technology in the camp experience. This month's issue features an Interview with Bernie Kosberg, Executive Director of Ramapo for Children, an 85-year-old non-profit umbrella organization that includes Camp Ramapo and serves more than 1,700 special needs and at-risk children in the New York City metropolitan area.

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  • March 2007 - AT and Early Childhood Education

    Click here to download AT and Early Childhood Education newsletter

    Can children be too young for assistive technology? Some educators and parents fear that the introduction of AT into the life of a very young child may result in its use as a crutch by the child. Yet researchers and other professionals are proving that AT, far from further weakening a child with disabilities, can in fact act as an equalizer tool by enabling the child to participate in activities and interact with materials in ways that would have previously been impossible. This issue of the Family Center on Technology and Disability newsletter examines the role of assistive technology in early childhood education and the resources currently available to facilitate its use. This month we are featuring an interview with Linda Robinson, Project Director of the Center for Best Practices in Early Childhood at Western Illinois University.

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  • February 2007 - Web Accessibility: Accessing the Equalizer

    Click here to download Web Accessibility:  Accessing the Equalizer newsletter

    For children and students with disabilities, access to the Web has provided an educational and social lifeline to a wired world in which technology is an equalizer with unparalleled impact and enormous potential. This issue focuses on the evolving issues related to Web accessibility. This month we feature an interview with Jon Gunderson, Ph.D. Dr. Gunderson carries two job titles at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana (UICU): Coordinator of Assistive Communication and Information Technology, Division of Disability Resources and Education Services, and Director of Information Technology Accessibility for Campus Information Technology. Hes labored over Web accessibility issues for more than 25 years.

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  • January 2007 - Edtech and AT: Two Technologies Converge

    Click here to download Edtech and AT: Two Technologies Converge newsletter

    Educational and assistive technologies are steadily converging, presenting hard-pressed school districts with a growing opportunity to fund technology purchases that benefit all children. This issue examines technological convergence, its benefits and the barriers to it as the former world passes into history and a new world continues to take shape. This month we are pleased to welcome Terry Cavanaugh, Ph.D.. Today he’s a visiting assistant professor at the University of North Florida’s College of Education where he teaches undergraduate courses in educational technology, which he defines as the applied use of technology to improve or enhance teaching. To Dr. Cavanaugh, edtech and AT have already merged into what he terms assistive educational technology, technology that serves a dual purpose depending on the needs of the individual student.

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  • December 2006 - QIAT Please: Quality Indicators for Assistive Technology

    Click here to download QIAT Please: Quality Indicators for Assistive Technology newsletter

    In the beginning, all was quiet on the AT front, but quiet was not what special education professionals and AT experts needed. What they needed back in 1998, when IDEA ’97 and the Internet were new, was a way to determine quality indicators for the AT to which many more students with disabilities would need access in the years ahead. QIAT filled the information void, providing updated, reliable information on AT quality indicators that school districts, AT service providers, consumers, universities and professional developers and policymakers utilize to help students with disabilities and their families realize the promise of IDEA. A member of the original group of QIAT founders and founder/director of the SETT Framework, Dr. Joy Zabala joins us to examine quality indicators for AT.

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  • November 2006 - Toys for Children with Special Needs

    Click here to download Toys for Children with Special Needs newsletter

    The process of selecting a toy for a child with a disability can sometimes seem daunting. According to Sue Mistrett, director emeritus of Let’s Play!, the key to selecting the best toy for a child with disabilities is observation. She tells parents, “Observe, watch, see what is happening between the child and the toy. You think you’ve picked the perfect toy for your child. Now see what she can do with it.” Watching and observing children at play with their toys, she states, “provides clues about the child’s interests and developmental stage and the direction in which the child should be guided.” Observe the child, she advises, “learn what she likes and how she best plays with things - and then buy accordingly.” This issue examines the impact of play on children with disabilities and ways parents and others can select the toy that will achieve the right balance for a child between challenge and pure fun.

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  • October 2006 - In-Service AT Training : Time Has Come

    Click here to download In-Service AT Training :  Time Has Come newsletter

    Time is neutral, author Charles Silberman wrote. What matters is how time is used. Despite a daily time - and money - crunch, teachers, administrators, and disability professionals are increasingly freeing up time to participate in in-service assistive technology. Yet the fact remains: Many school districts that purchase AT fail to take advantage of in-service training opportunities. As a consequence, assistive technology too often is not properly employed - and the children who use the equipment fail to get optimum use from it. This issue of the Family Center on Technology and Disability's "News and Notes" examines in-service assistive technology training and the resources available to help educators and disability professionals access it.

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  • September 2006 - AT Loan Programs

    Click here to download AT Loan Programs newsletter

    The Florida Alliance for Assistive Services and Technology (FAAST) is a statewide organization that is rather splendid at its line of work and a model for similar state organizations nationwide. Staffed by expert and dedicated legislative bulldogs who know their way around a statehouse and how to push and guide a bill from conception to implementation, these types of organizations are often prime movers in producing AT-focused legislation that benefits families of children with disabilities. In FAAST's case, the organization's statewide skill has resulted not only in landmark legislation enabling students to carry their AT from school district to district but also in effective AT loan programs based on best practices and offered to Florida families. This issue examines FAAST, AT loan programs in general and the resources that aid families of children with disabilities in selecting the program that best fits their financial profile and their child's needs.

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  • August 2006 - There’s No ‘I’ in Team: School-Based AT Teams

    Click here to download There’s No ‘I’ in Team:   School-Based AT Teams newsletter

    Across the nation teams of special education professionals harness their interdisciplinary energy in the interest of children with disabilities and their parents. Some teams are school-based while others have a district-wide scope. Today, as the evolution and sophistication of technology accelerates faster and faster, the expertise and care exercised by these teams is increasingly important in aiding children, their parents and school-based teams to strike the right balance in their quest for the most appropriate AT devices. This issue examines these organizations and their pivotal role in helping schools to match the right high- and low-tech accommodations to the needs of the children and families who need them.

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  • July 2006 - Parent Information and Training Centers- An Evolving National Network

    Click here to download Parent Information and Training Centers- An Evolving National Network newsletter

    At age 30, Parent Information and Training Centers (PTIs) have begun to glimpse the potential muscle of a nationwide network. Technology, harnessed by organization and cooperation, is helping the nationwide network of PTIs reach new heights. Supported by U.S. Department of Education funding, PTIs exist in every state and Puerto Rico, American Samoa & US Virgin Islands – founded by parents to provide access to information, training and education to families of children with disabilities. This issue examines the current state of PTIs and the resources currently available from them.

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  • June 2006 - AT and the IEP

    Click here to download AT and the IEP newsletter

    Across the nation the school year draws to a close. Students squirm in seats, sniffing the freedom of the impending summer. Teachers, striving to rein in the students’ urge to bolt, grow more impatient as well. These are the hallmarks of an academic year’s recession into the torpor of summer. Yet as the familiar classroom rhythms play out, another annual event occurs that will determine the immediate futures of many hundreds of thousands of special education students nationwide: the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meeting, when teachers, administrators, other professionals and parents decide a child’s academic goals and, importantly, consider whether or not that child is assistive technology-eligible. This issue examines the challenges of effectively and efficiently integrating AT into a child’s IEP and the resources currently able to facilitate it.

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  • May 2006 - Paraprofessionals and AT

    Click here to download Paraprofessionals and AT newsletter

    “No matter which way you fit together the pieces of the puzzle, something about paraprofessionals playing a dominant role in teacher-type activities just doesn’t fit,” write Michael Giangreco, Ph.D. and Stephen Broer, Psy.D. of the University of Vermont in their essay, The Paraprofessional Conundrum: Why We Need Alternative Support Strategies. They add, "Assigning paraprofessionals to classrooms or individual students has become a dominant and growing model of support, especially for students with disabilities in inclusive classrooms." The authors administer Project Evolve, which investigates the role of classroom paraprofessionals and advocates changed roles for "paras." This issue examines the changing role of paras in the nation’s schools, and the influence of assistive technology in refitting the pieces of the paraprofessional puzzle.

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  • April 2006 - Speech-Language Pathology and AT

    Click here to download Speech-Language Pathology and AT newsletter

    Finding and using one’s voice is a necessity for every child, especially those with speech and language difficulties who most need to be heard, acknowledged and understood in a noisy world. This issue examines the influence of increasing use of AT on SLPs, especially those in the nation’s public school systems.

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  • March 2006 - Summer Camps 2006: Necessity is the Mother of Invention

    Click here to download Summer Camps 2006:  Necessity is the Mother of Invention newsletter

    Ten years ago, a troubled Colorado third grader, Tucker Cathcart, approached his mother and told her that he wanted very much to go to summer camp. Recently diagnosed with attention deficit disorder (ADD) and dyslexia, the child was struggling socially and academically. Recognizing her son’s need for a recreational respite flavored by academics, his mother set out to find a camp that might accommodate her son’s needs. At that time, parents seeking information on summer camps, especially those accommodating kids with disabilities, had to rely on old standbys like the telephone, snail mail and word-of-mouth. Progress, if there was any, was slow and often produced an unsatisfactory result. Tucker’s mom, frustrated by her inability to locate a camp for her son, took an unusual and risky route: She opened her own camp for children with disabilities. This issue examines the summer camp experience, how to prepare for it and how to enjoy it, and the resources currently available to help families make the best possible summer camp choice.

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  • February 2006 - Parent Support Groups: Start Where You Are

    Click here to download Parent Support Groups:  Start Where You Are newsletter

    When asked when and where to begin the long, hard road to progress, early civil rights leader Booker T. Washington replied, “Cast down your bucket where you are and start there.” The same principle holds true for the formation of groups made up of parents of children with disabilities whose aim is to gain access to services and to assistive technology. There is no prescribed starting point for the formation of these groups. It requires the energy and imagination – and yes, the desperation -- of individuals acting in ones or twos who have had enough and want to move ahead on their children’s behalf. This issue examines parent support groups and the resources available to facilitate their formation and to provide them with information about access to vital services, including AT.

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  • January 2006 - A Special Relationship: AT Manufacturers and Their Customers

    Click here to download A Special Relationship:   AT Manufacturers and Their Customers newsletter

    “In the so-called “real” world, where manufacturers of new products, especially consumer package goods, face vicious competitive pressures, the failure rate for new products has held steady at nearly 90% for many years. Manufacturers of assistive technology devices, however, confront a very different reality: the need, sometimes desperate, for their products by a customer base that consists of individuals with disabilities and their families. In that world, compassion, not competition, is the driving force behind new product decisions and product pricing as well. AT manufacturers create products aimed at anticipating and meeting real needs in an all-too-real world where their customers are often financially hard-pressed and not informed about the AT products they may need. With this reality always in mind, AT manufacturers strive to enrich the lives of end-users while also avoiding device abandonment by the very individuals they seek to help.

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  • December 2005 - Best AT Practices in School Districts

    Click here to download Best AT Practices in School Districts newsletter

    “In the so-called “real” world, where manufacturers of new products, especially consumer package goods, face vicious competitive pressures, the failure rate for new products has held steady at nearly 90% for many years. Manufacturers of assistive technology devices, however, confront a very different reality: the need, sometimes desperate, for their products by a customer base that consists of individuals with disabilities and their families. In that world, compassion, not competition, is the driving force behind new product decisions and product pricing as well. AT manufacturers create products aimed at anticipating and meeting real needs in an all-too-real world where their customers are often financially hard-pressed and not informed about the AT products they may need. With this reality always in mind, AT manufacturers strive to enrich the lives of end-users while also avoiding device abandonment by the very individuals they seek to help.

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  • November 2005 - Deaf-Blindness and Assistive Technology

    Click here to download Deaf-Blindness and Assistive Technology newsletter

    Nationwide, their numbers are relatively small: 70,000 individuals nationwide are deaf-blind, including approximately 10,000 children ages birth-21. Yet although children with deaf-blindness comprise but a small slice of the disability population their impact belies their numbers: 73% of children with deaf-blindness also have multiple severe disabilities, including cerebral palsy, epilepsy, various orthopedic problems and muscular disabilities. Their condition limits their ability to communicate mainly to their fingertips, through which they can read sign language and Braille. Increasingly, however, assistive technology offers children with multiple disabilities means through which they can connect with the world around them. This issue examines the affect of AT on children with deaf-blindness and resources available to understand, acquire and use it.

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  • October 2005 - AT Recycling: Everything Old Is New Again

    Click here to download AT Recycling: Everything Old Is New Again newsletter

    For too many children with disabilities and their financially hard-pressed families obtaining assistive technology is a dream deferred. Recycled AT, however, can make those dreams of AT ownership come true sooner rather than later. Tech Act projects, local business organizations, engineering clubs and other groups nationwide, are bringing those dreams to life by refurbishing low and high tech AT devices, from wheelchairs to sophisticated computers. Recycling has proved to be a reliable, cost-efficient way to achieve two objectives: providing quality AT to those who need it while aiding communities seeking ways to avoid packing local landfills with toxic computer trash. Significantly, many recycling programs also enable children with disabilities to take direct ownership of AT devices rather than remaining dependant on school districts for AT acquisition and use. This issue examines AT recycling and the resources currently available to facilitate it.

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  • September 2005 - AT and Inclusion: A Design for Better Learning

    Click here to download AT and Inclusion: A Design for Better Learning  newsletter

    For years, parents, school officials, therapists and teachers have sought ways to achieve large-scale inclusion of special needs students in general education classrooms. Success so far has been spotty but often dramatic, and many barriers remain to be surmounted by individuals of goodwill. Assistive technology, with its equalizer role, has often played a pivotal part in inclusion success stories. AT’s increasingly widespread use and acceptance may pave the way for a world of inclusion based on the principles of universal design, where all students benefit from the technology conceived for the betterment of a few. That world may not be achieved for years or even decades but progress toward its realization is made daily in classrooms nationwide by general education and special education teachers, therapists and paraprofessionals who recognize the value of an interdisciplinary, team approach to inclusion, one child, one class, at a time. This issue examines inclusion and the role of assistive technology in helping achieve a universal design environment that may make inclusion a reality.

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  • August 2005 - Socialization and AT: It's Not Childs Play

    Click here to download Socialization and AT: It's Not Childs Play  newsletter

    Parents are the key to the socialization of a child with disabilities. Assistive technology plays a crucial role in the socialization process by enabling children with disabilities to be heard, to be recognized as individuals of value, to build the self-confidence necessary to interact positively with the world at large. Parents who advocate for AT, who believe in its ability to help children perform at their highest possible level, have given their children powerful tools. Pairing the use of the AT with the setting and maintaining of high standards for a child’s achievement can produce startling results, according to this month’s featured expert, Dr. James Messina.

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  • July 2005 - Post-AT Act Statewide Network Building

    Click here to download Post-AT Act Statewide Network Building newsletter

    With the AT Act reauthorized but lacking funding, many state and local assistive technology AT organizations are seeking ways, not only to grow, but to survive in a time when federal AT funding may be evaporating. A few states have well established, relatively secure AT networks that will likely weather the current financial pressures. In other states, AT organizations exist as best they can with no formal network and only temporary alliances.There is hope, however, that in-state AT organizations, by learning how to find common ground and to collaborate in ways that enable them to meet the needs of multiple constituencies, can construct webs of statewide AT organizations at a time when they are most needed: now.This issue examines statewide AT networks and the resources currently available understand and contact them.

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  • June 2005 - Invisible No More: Technology Transfers

    Click here to download Invisible No More: Technology Transfers newsletter

    This month's issue of News & Notes features an interview with Dr. Stephen Bauer, Project Director, Rehabilitation Engineering and Research Center on Technology Transfer (T2RERC) at the University of Buffalo. Dr. Bauer developed and implemented the Demand Pull Technology Transfer program, based upon best practices drawn from the academic and private sectors. He led the team’s search for advanced technologies, supervised technical teamwork and established strategic partnerships with and between dozens of public and private sector organizations.

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  • May 2005 - AT Funding: An Expert Forecasts a Mixed Future

    Click here to download AT Funding: An Expert Forecasts a Mixed Future newsletter

    Politics is often defined as the allocation of scarce resources. In an era of federal budgetary constrictions that annually grow more severe, and with no lessening of the budgetary pressures on the horizon, resources that have been dedicated to assistive technology programs are becoming scarcer. Nevertheless, funding for needed assistive technology remains available, thanks to federal legislation, including IDEA 2004. The funding process can be difficult, though, and families can find themselves at odds with school authorities who may be responsible for both providing AT information and funding the inevitable requests that stem from having provided the information. For families seeking funding in an era of scarcity and for school officials administering shrinking budgets and swelling educational mandates, the road ahead will be a shared journey involving contentiousness and collaboration. This issue examines funding for assistive technology and identifies resources currently available to understand the funding process and to successfully facilitate it.

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  • April 2005 - Testing Accommodations

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    Framed by federal disabilities legislation and thrust ahead by the imperatives of high stakes testing and No Child Left Behind, testing accommodations, including the use of assistive technology, have become an uneasy part of the American educational landscape. Recently the Department of Education increased to 3%, the percentage of special education students in a district who may be tested using alternate assessments, and have their scores counted toward meeting the federal mandate of showing "adequate yearly progress (AYP)." This newsletter examines testing accommodations, including assistive technology, their impact on children with disabilities and on schools and districts striving to reach the ambitious proficiency goals set by No Child Left Behind.

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  • March 2005 - Mom, I Want to Go to Camp

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    As the camp selection process for families of children with special needs peaks in the early spring, we examine the summer camp experience and the resources currently available to maximize its benefits for special needs children and families.

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  • February 2005 - Universal Design for Learning: All for One

    Click here to download Universal Design for Learning: All for One newsletter

    The goal of universal design (UD), whether architectural or educational, is the achievement of accessibility for the greatest number. UD, most agree is aimed at meeting the accessibility needs of a diversity of users, as opposed to the needs of the average user. In terms of learning, universal design is defined as the design of instructional materials and activities that make learning goals achievable by individuals with wide differences in their abilities to see, hear, speak, move, read, write, understand English, attend, organize, engage and remember. Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is achievable via flexible curricular materials and activities that provide alternatives for students with differing abilities. This issue examines Universal Design for Learning and the role of assistive technology in its implementation.

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  • January 2005 - Mediation: Fixing a Failure to Communicate

    Click here to download Mediation: Fixing a Failure to Communicate newsletter

    Mediation, in the hands of professional practitioners, is a desirable and beneficial alternative to due process hearings and other forms of litigation. It helps shift the potential for adversarial legal warfare to a civilized discussion between parties who ultimately come to understand and appreciate the needs of those sitting on the opposite side of the table. The result, happily, are decisions that are forged and agreed upon by all parties, instead of verdicts imposed by judicial fiat. This issue examines mediation and the resources currently available to facilitate it.

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  • June 2003 - Adapted Physical Education

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Family Center on Technology and Disability (FCTD)
FHI 360 1825 Connecticut Avenue, NW 7th Floor Washington, DC 20009-5721
phone: (202) 884-8068 fax: (202) 884-8441 email: fctd@fhi360.org
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