Tuesday, October 2, 2012


During the last week of October, Kristi Hibbert, Instructional Facilitator for Technology in Sublette County School District will be busy promoting Assistive Technology as she presents an In-Service to her colleagues.  At a school Open House, the community will have an opportunity to learn about AT.  Kristi will have a booth where she will discuss and demonstrate several AT devices, display boards and other materials that WATR will lend her.  Kristi is eager to share her knowledge and passion about AT and informed others of the benefits of Assistive Technology devices for students receiving special services in Sublette County School District.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

iPad Features list

Earlier this year, I began thinking a lot about iPads and their features.  It seemed to me that there were some very unique aspects to the way iPads and other mobile tablets had been created and that, as many of us were involved in assessing whether an iPad would be a good tool for people with disabilities, we ought to be able to describe their features.

I asked everyone I could think of.  "What do you think are the unique features of iPads and other mobile tablet devices?  How are they different than AT options we have had previously?"  For a while I wrote down all the answers. Then I tried to synthesize the results.  I got a lot of help from Nichole Lakusta and others.

The list is posted in the Resources Section of the QIAT web site. You can click here to get to it. I hope it will be useful to you in your AT Considerations.  I imagine a group of people sitting down and asking, "What are the essential features of a device that would help this person do things that are difficult or impossible because of their disability?" The chart may help teams identify features when the conversation moves to iPads.

And a warning.  This list is only about the features of the iPad itself.  You also need some sort of way to identify the apps that you would use if you were really going to use the device for real tasks in a real area of concern.  I would pair this with an app evaluation rubric. So this is only the beginning.  Please share your feedback, ideas and any other resources of this nature with us!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Back to School Night Display

Chris Victor, reported that she attended every Back to School Night event in Big Horn School District.  She situated herself with an assistive technology information display and CHOCOLATE (her secret weapon). Obviously, the display was well received, as it drew approximately 150 families with whom she talked about the concept of assistive technology.

One of the highlights for Chris came when she was explaining some of the pictures on a poster that showed kids with disabilities playing Wii games with adapted controls.  She overheard a third grader say, "I play that (Mario Carat), too.  I'd like to play that kid!" 

Christine Victor, Speech Language Pathologist


Thursday, September 6, 2012

Two AAC opportunities

I wanted to share information about a couple of opportunities about Augmentative Communication with Wyoming educators and SLPs.  I have been working with Charity Rowland,  author of the Communication Matrix  (http://communicationmatrix.org) on a new project.  The project has developed a skills sequence for learning augmentative communication and they are looking for people who work directly with kids who use AAC to help validate the work.   In addition,  Charity is looking for people to participate in a study about the Communication Matrix itself.  If you are not familiar with the Matrix,  check it out. It's online and free to use.

I am very excited about both of these projects because they are aimed at providing useful resources to families and educators who want to teach children to communication in real world environments.  I am certainly one of those!   Both studies are looking for special education teachers or speech and language pathologists who are working with a child who uses, or could use AAC.  There is no confidentiality issue as all the information you provide will be "de-identified"  And there's a little extra perk for participating. A gift card when you finish.

Here is information about the studies.  There is a  different person to contact for each one.  If you are interested in the study or know  a teacher or SLP who might help to move this work forward, I hope you will check into participation and share the info.  You can participate in both projects if you're up for it!  Feel free to post your questions below.

Study #1-AAC IEP Study

Our Research Project, “Using the ICF-CY to Guide Communication Instruction for Learners Who Use AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication),” is seeking school-based Speech-Language Pathologists and Special Educators who:
  • Currently work at least weekly with one student with complex communication needs in grades K-12.
  • Are responsible for developing communication-related IEP goals for the student with complex communication needs in grades K-12.
You will be randomly assigned to one of two groups.  The first group will use the ICF-CY for AAC Profile, a new tool designed to make IEP goal writing easier, for the target student and create a report before developing the student’s 2012-13 communication-related IEP goals.  The other group will use any means that they normally use to develop goals.  No identifying information will be collected about the student. Both groups will provide the de-identified communication-related IEP goals and complete a feedback survey about the process. 

It should take no more than two hours to complete the requested activities. All participants will receive $150 Target gift card upon completion of study tasks.

If you are interested in participating in this study, please contact: ICFAAC@ohsu.edu and indicate:
1.      Whether you are a Special Educator or a School-based Speech-language Pathologist
2.      When you anticipate the 2012-2013 IEP meeting for this student (day, month and year)
3.      The age and grade of the target student

Grant #R324A090028
Institute of Education Sciences
U. S. Dept. of Education
Dr. Charity Rowland, P. I.
Oregon Health & Science University
Portland, OR USA

Study #2- Communication Matrix

We are seeking Special Education Teachers and Speech-Language Pathologists to participate in an interesting study funded by the U.S. Department of Education.  Participants must:
  • Currently serve at least one student with complex communication needs at any grade level, including early intervention/early childhood special education
  • Be responsible for developing communication-related IEP/IFSP goals for one student, as described above.
  • NOT currently use the Communication Matrix to evaluate students
Participants will receive an honorarium ranging from $200-$350 depending on the group they are assigned to.  If you are interested in further details about this study, please email quinnem@ohsu.edu.

Grant #H327A110010
U. S. Dept. of Education
Dr. Charity Rowland, P. I.
IRB #1517

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


The Family Center on Technology and Disability has published the Family Information Guide to Assistive Technology and Transition Planning in both English and Spanish.  The guide includes an overview of transition planning and assistive technology, guidance on how to make a successful transition with assistive technology, information on laws governing accommodations and transition in birth-12th grade and postsecondary settings, a glossary and additional resources.  The web address is:

Monday, August 27, 2012


The eight members of the WATR Assistive Technology Professional Learning Community attended a week-long, intensive training at the University of Wyoming.   The sessions focused on in-depth, interactive and hands-on learning and was facilitated by Gayl Bowser, a nationally-known and highly published assistive technology consultant from Oregon. 

Above is Casey Widhalm, AT Coordinator and Case Manager for Elementary Special Education in Fremont County, trying out a device.

WATR faculty presented information and demonstrations of various assistive technology products.  On the left, is Darcy Regan, who is a speech-language pathologist.  She conducts comprehensive Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) assessments, trainings, presentations, demonstrations, and statewide technology-related assistance.  On the right, is Kathy McWhorter who supervises the WATR and AIM programs at WIND and works with staff to provide accessible instructional materials for Wyoming students.

Gayl Bowser is the PLC Project Consultant, who works as an independent consultant and focuses on the integration of technology into the educational programs of students with disabilities.
There were many opportunities for the PLC members to get acquainted with devices that might meet the needs of their students.  Here, Alivia Bingham, ESL teacher and AT Coordinator from Teton County, gets some advice from Karen Thayer, Occupational Therapist from Platte County on how to use an application. 
The PLC group was able to spend time in the WATR lab.  At the the end of the training,  each member developed a Personal Action Plan that they will begin to implement in their own school districts.  Some items include:  creating an Asssitive Technology team and a process for identifying students with AT needs, conducting an in-service about Assistive Technology and its educational value for students, and improving "needs assesments" by using Gayl Bowser's collaborative strategies.

Friday, August 17, 2012


The school year has just started and the eight members of the Wyoming Assistive Technology Resources Professional Learning Community will begin to implement the Personal Action Plans that they developed at the week-long training in June and dedicate themselves to improving AT services in the state.  Top Row:  Gayl Bowser (Trainer); Chris Victor, Bighorn; Alivia Bingham, Teton; Casey Widhalm, Fremont; Kathy McWhorter (WATR); Eric Freeman, Natrona; Pat Casey, Albany.  Front Row:  Karen Thayer, Platte; Katie Harmon, Sweetwater; Kristi Hibbert, Sublette; Barb Locke (WATR).