Sunday, August 30, 2009

Books I Use In Practice

I find most of what I need for daily practice in the classroom, now that I am in my 12th year of teaching learners with multiple special needs, in my head or online. However there are a few books I return to over and over to guide what I do in the classroom or to give me guidance in planning IEPs.
I am sure I am missing one or two. What books do you go back to?

Number One Unused Tool

The number one unused tool of this blog is right up there in the left hand corner...

see it?

It is an empty white rectangle.

Type in a word or two relating to what you are looking for and then click "search blog" to the right of it. Give it a whirl and then come back to it when you are looking for something else. I wrote this blog and I use it all the time to find things I think I wrote about but I can't find.

But the end of this year there should be 1,000 posts on this blog, there are already over 850. Most every topic relevant to classrooms serving learners with multiple, intensive or severe special needs has been touched upon in some way... so try out the search bar up in the left hand corner if you need something.

P.S. If this didn't make any sense at all you are likely reading this in your RSS Reader... try heading over to the actual blog, you know, just this once.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Tactile Flash Cards

For now these haptic flash cards with braille on one side and textures of various locations on the other side are just an award winning prototype designed for blind students to learn about different environments.

Perhaps some day they could come to your classroom?

(They sort of remind me of my tactile books.)

The Staff Bulletin Board

Each year I think carefully about the materials I hang on the bulletin board, wall or door I designate for staff.

  • The Prompt Hierarchy (link is to Adapted Learning - log in first) is an essential tool for all of those who work with learners with any kind of special need, but especially those with multiple disabilities, in my previous position I trained all new paraprofessionals agency-wide in positive behavior supports and interventions and spent quite a bit of time on the prompt hierarchy, in my new job all classroom have a weekly one hour classroom and I hope to spend one of the first meetings reviewing this
  • "All Behavior is Communication" - this is a banner that hangs across the top of the bulletin board
  • Positive Behavior Support Reminders (another Adapted Learning link) is a little sign to remind adults when to praise, ignore, redirect and to always teach appropriate behavior
  • Instruct, Model, Practice, Praise - this is my mantra (well, one of many), it is how all great teaching from the littlest newborn learning to babble to a six year old learning to tie his shoes to pre-algebra in seventh grade to a college level seminar in the disturbed child and adolescent (best class I ever took, by the way, props to Dr. Ellen Wright, way to use that Bloom's) is done; I hang this to remind adults that no matter what we are teaching, from cause and effect to using a spoon to row/column scanning we instruct, model, practice and praise over and over again
  • The Beatitudes for Friends of the Exceptional Child this is a poster version (preview below) I made a few years ago, more recently I've seen a different version of this poem credited to the writer Andre Masse

Beatitude for Teachers of  the Exceptional Child
Beatitude for Teachers of the Exceptional Child

Friday, August 28, 2009

Please Pass on to Wheelchair Users and/or their Families
"Over my 20 years of experience with wheelchair users, I have encountered countless frustrating and even dangerous situations where people who need wheelchairs are unable to get them. Users First Alliance is trying to DO something about that. If you are frustrated with the limited choice, quality or service of your mobility equipment you are not alone. Unfortunately, your voice is not being heard by the people who set funding policies for the very equipment you need to live your life.

The disability movement has been successful in improving environmental accessibility, yet access to wheelchairs and wheelchair cushions has eroded as government and private health care policies have decreased coverage for these essential items. One of the reasons funding for wheelchairs has decreased is that nobody speaks out. Although there are many disability advocacy groups, not one focuses specifically on access to wheelchairs. Users First Alliance seeks to unite the voice of the wheelchair user by creating a community of people who believe quality wheelchairs and cushions enable people to live more fulfilling and productive lives. It is ESSENTIAL we illustrate to the policy makers that access to quality equipment, service and product choice ultimately decreases health care costs. And, more importantly, improves your quality of life.

You have a right to appropriate equipment that allows you to live your life. And, you have the power to make a difference! Tell your story about how your equipment makes it possible for you to participate in life AND tell how not getting the correct equipment has negatively affected your life. You HAVE to let the policy makers know what you need, why you need it and how you feel!

Get creative, have fun, tell your story through video, photos or writing. But speak out!!! It is your voice, your words. If you do not speak out - NO ONE can do it but you. The policy makers and insurance companies do not want to hear from health care professionals or equipment suppliers - they want and need to hear from you.

You are the only one who can do this!!!!

Email me your story.

Please share this with others, if we do not have a voice with policy makers, funding for wheelchairs will eventually disappear, regardless of the ADA. Visit"

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Website of the Day: The Spang Gang Web Program Home Page

This website, The Spang Gang, while visually a bit overwhelming, lists by grade level, academic area and standard, sites where students can learn about and practices skills. This is a great site to book mark and use in a pinch to find websites to introduce or reinforce lessons you are teaching.

Ablenet Introduces Talking Brix Communicators

Talking Brix are small (about 2.5 by 2.5 inches with a 1.8 inch switch button area) recordable talking switches, which are also interlocking in many different configurations and are magnetic.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Thank you, Senator Kennedy

It seems like many special education/disability blogs are writing about Senator Ted Kennedy today, and who can blame them? Senator Kennedy had many issues he was passionate about but disability rights, education and health care were certainly the top of his list.

This morning I went to see my father and I entered his kitchen he shouted out from the living room, "Kate, your friend Ted passed away...."

I already knew. I met Senator Kennedy a few times. The first time I was 16 years old, a high school junior I was one of the two Massachusetts winners of the 1993 United States Youth Senate Scholarship Award, which included a week spent in Washington, D.C. and, for most recipients, a meeting with your senator(s). For many years a framed photo of Senator Kennedy and I, with me wearing my Senate Youth Scholarship Medal, sat on the mantel in my childhood home. Later, teaching with learners who had complex medical disabilities, I had opportunities to met Senator Kennedy and then First Lady Clinton as well.

Yet it was my more recent correspondence with Senator Kennedy's office that met the most to me. Soon after my sister, who lived with disabilities, passed away I had an opportunity to lobby on behalf of disability rights and health care reform in her memory. To my surprise, in my Senator's office responded directly and immediately. Not form letters, but a series of direct phone calls and e-mails asking for more information about my sister, her life and experiences.

Senator Kennedy's list of accomplishments gives me chills, I will reprint those that are relevant to special education below, but as his constituent, it was his office's attention to the individuals in his state and the issues that mattered to them that made him a great man to me.

List of disability/education/health care related laws and programs successfully legislated by Senator Kennedy, from Fighting Monsters with Rubber Swords.

1964: Head Start
-- Provided meals and early education to pre-school children through the Employee Opportunity Act.

1971: Federal Cancer Research Program
-- Quadrupled the amount of money spent by the federal government to fight cancer.

1972: Title IX
-- Demanded equal funding for men's and women's athletics on college campuses.

1975: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
-- Guaranteed free and appropriate public education to children with disabilities.

1978: Civil Rights Commission Act Amendments
-- Expanded the jurisdiction of the Civil Rights Commission to protect people from discrimination on the basis of disability.

1984: Improved Access to Polling Stations
-- Required polling stations to provide physical accessibility for physically disabled and elderly people on federal election days.

1986: Employment Opportunities for Disabled Americans Act
-- Allowed disabled workers to receive SSI benefits and Medicaid coverage.

1988: Fair Housing Act Amendments
-- Prohibited discrimination towards people with disabilities in the sale or rental of housing.

1989: National Military Child Care Act
-- Established the Department of Defense child care system.

1990: Americans with Disabilities Act
-- Prohibited discrimination against any qualified individual with a disability in job application procedures, hiring or discharge, compensation, advancement and training.

1990: Ryan White CARE Act
-- Provided assistance to states to develop effective and cost-efficient AIDS care programs, aimed particularly at early diagnosis and home care.

1993: National and Community Service Trust Act
-- Created AmeriCorps and the Corporation for National and Community Service to help expand volunteerism and education grants for students who choose to volunteer for service after college.

1993: Student Loans
-- Allowed students to borrow money for college directly from the federal government.

1994: Family and Medical Leave Act
-- Provided up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for family emergencies or after the birth of infants.

1994: Crime Act
-- Secured funding for 100,000 new police officers, imposed new penalties for crimes involving gangs and firearms and authorized the Police Corps, a program to award college scholarships to students in return for a commitment to serve as police officers.

1996: Kennedy-Kassebaum Act
-- Enabled employees to keep health insurance after leaving their job and prohibited insurance companies from refusing to renew coverage on the basis of preexisting medical conditions.

1996: Mental Health Parity Bill
-- Eliminated limits on mental health coverage that differ from other covered illnesses.

1997: State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP)
-- Supported state efforts to provide health insurance to uninsured children in low-income families.

2000: Minority Health and Health Disparities Research and Education Act
-- Improved data systems and research on the extent and severity of minority health problems, and authorized significant resources to help enhance the delivery of health care to minorities.

2001: No Child Left Behind Act
-- Required more rigorous testing of public school students and permitted parents to transfer their children from low-performing to higher-performing schools. Mandated special needs students have access to the general curriculum.

2006: Family Opportunity Act
-- Provided states the opportunity to expand Medicaid coverage to children with special needs and allowed low- and middle-income families with disabled children the ability to purchase coverage under the Medicaid program.

Perhaps we will name our reformed health care program, which makes sure the USA, like all first world countries, provides health care for all those who need it after Senator Kennedy?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A Student for Life

I tell my students and their families that I consider my students to be my students for life. Therefore, from time to time, I receive invitations to visit with former students from years ago (as well as e-mails, phone calls, TXTs and Facebook chats). Today I visited with a student who left my room sometime ago. I've written about this young lady before, she has multiple disabilities, including profound blindness and quadripledgia, and types Morse Code using head switches. We sat in the shade on the back porch of her group home and chatted about old times, her new found love of all things Obama (replacing or maybe more accurately adding to her former love of all things Celine Dion) and her recent experience at an over night camp for adults with disabilities.

I shared with her how I found myself telling a story about the time she went out for an ice cream and, in 100 degree heat, requested a staff member read her the list of more than 45 flavors. When the recitation was complete she asked for it to be repeated. After the second listing the staff member, dripping with sweat, asked her choice and she said, "Oh, I want vanilla." We all laughed at how angry the staff was with her for making the list be read twice only to choose the most boring possible flavor.

She shared with me how she is about to begin two correspondence courses through the Hadley School for the Blind one in French and one in Container Gardening. All the while she will continue with her work at her day placement and her frequent e-mails to President Obama to let him know her opinions about his work on healthcare and other issues.

Do you consider your students to be students for life? Do you keep in touch or leave the linds of communication open for them to keep in touch?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Read this Post: Professional Centric AAC Selection

In my heart of hearts I believe that most of the AAC decisions I have been part of have been done in a way where the opinions of the SLP (speech language pathologist), followed by the opinions of the rest of the educational TEAM were the deciding factor. The system is a professional centric system instead of a user or student centric system. This doesn't match my beliefs about self-determination or self-advocacy. It doesn't match my beliefs about person center planning. It doesn't match my beliefs about family centered special education with the parent/child dyad/tryad as the focus of TEAM. Yet, it is how things were done on the TEAMS I was part of in the past.

Still I think we were ahead of so many places. This is just because our students had speech devices at all. Our school believed that if a student did not have the means to communicate everything he or she wanted or needed to say then an AAC system was called for. In many ways this is head and shoulders above other schools.

Yet, often times parents never met the sales reps, sometimes families weren't part of the rental/data collection period and in the end many of the students I worked with left their speech devices at school or never took them out of their bags at home. This is in spite of being proficient users in the classroom. Something is very wrong with the process if the end result is a user who only uses the speech device in the classroom. We also made sure every student with a high tech AAC device had programming time on his or her IEP weekly.

Those parents who did use the devices at home were sometimes forbidden to program the device, as were some paraprofessionals and teachers. For programming changes to be made a note needed to be left for the SLP (and it could take a few days or weeks to make the changes), regardless of how simple the programming change, the knowledge of the person making the change, etc. If the teacher, for example, made a new page because there was an unexpected trip to Taco Bell and no vocabulary for ordering there then that teacher might be scolded. Sometimes the person desiring to make a change to a speech device would have the know-how to create a visual schedule, photo album, game or juke box on the device, but would not be able to because he or she was not "qualified". On occasion the SLP would "lock" the families and the rest of the TEAM out of the device (using the device's password) to stop others from programming messages and preserve the professional centric AAC system. Other times the device would be taken from the student for the IEP mandated programming without the user present, meaning the child did not have the device for class time (sometimes for preferred activities) or, occasionally, overnight.

Situations like this destroy the trust of the families and the users that we need to be working with and for in our jobs. When we lose focus on those we signed up to educate and aide in finding their voice and instead make their worlds professional centric they loose, and we loose as well. We loose because users and families may turn to helplessness and give up (and not use the device at home for example), or those users and families may turn to hostility and we will end up in battle after battle. In both situations what we all want for the child doesn't happen; the child doesn't get the education of find his or her voice.

Over at Fighting Monsters with Rubber Swords author Rob Rummel shares about a debate between users and professionals online and his own experience with such a professional centric system. If we, as professionals, especially SLPs and AT specialists, can read this post with humility (and think outside of our boxes) perhaps we can see more students using devices to excel like Rob's daughter Schuyler; instead of students who do not have a device, have an inappropriate device, have a device that can not grow with them or only use their device at school because it was a professional centric decision making process with no family/user "buy-in".

2009-2010 National Special Education, Disability and Assistive Technology Conferences of Interest

This is a listing of national conferences for this coming school year. Please be sure to check with your school district, local agencies, local chapters of national groups, etc. for other conferences.

Here is an excellent listing of conferences outside the USA.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Unique Learning System - September Extensions - Government

This Post Still In Progress!!!!!

Adapted P.E.
  • giant safety sign images (from Boardmaker or Google images) and make a Safety Sign obstacle course - following the orders of the signs (stop, bear left, yield, slow)
  • go on an outdoor or indoor safety sign scavenger hunt
  • have a patriotic parade
  • have a Citizenship Walk, collecting pledges of hours of charity work (perhaps for Veterans) for laps walked (or rolled) around a track over the course of a week
  • recycle basketball - shoot empty soda/water bottles into recycle bins

Life Skills/Vocational
  • Survival Sign Matching
  • Survival Sign Bingo (download from Adapted Learning)
  • make the Pupcakes (link below under cooking) and deliver to an animal shelter
  • sort cans, bottles and paper for recycling (part of the Rachel Carson and Citizenship lessons)
  • turn in soda cans for a refund (in certain states) and use money to buy supplies to make care kits for veterans or troops

  • red, white and blue rice in a sensory bin (how to dye rice)
  • fast music/slow music with instruments - play fast patriotic music and slow patriotic music (consider using a visualizer on a big screen to show the music as well) and have the student play the music fast/slow

Arts and Crafts
  • dye rice red, white and blue and use to make shakers, mosaics and put in sensory bins
  • America Crafts
  • red, white and blue tie dye to make class shirts to wear on field trips/CBI/CBE or to use as smocks for crafts (cut up the back for easy on/off)
  • DLTK USA Crafts
  • make recycled paper

Online Activities/Weblinks

Multimedia (Video Downloader Site) - For VOD (Video of the Day) or Friday's at the Movies
(Does some amazing soul want to make the You Tubes into a Classroom Suite Activity? Most You Tubes are also on Teacher Tube.)

  • Make an American Flag - count out the stripes and stars (work on counting, 1:1 correspondence, patterns and shapes)
  • Bingo Dauber Papers (bingo dauber papers are great for teaching 1:1 correspondence, visual spacial intergration and fine motor skills

Social Studies
  • Create a classroom Bill of Rights and Classroom Citizen Responsibilities - make it look like the real constitution using coffee or tea (coffee and tea are, of course, wonderful multi-sensory experiences)
  • USA Worksheet Set (with Maps)
Commercial Software

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Interesting News from News-2-You

The News-2-You folks made some big announcements today for all of their products: News-2-You, Unique Learning and SymbolStix.

  • More activities at the Fun Site (and praise be to heavens Joey's Date and Weather Activity is back! My class was lost at the end of the year last year when it suddenly disappeared two weeks before school was over! Every day we would get to the part where you need to dress Joey and I make the same (tired and for that matter stolen from my former student teacher) joke, "Oh, no! Joey is NAKED! Quick! Put some pants on him!" I do hope Naked Joey never goes missing again!)
  • More Level 3 Worksheets (that is the highest level)
  • Weekly Power Point
  • More links to pictures, websites and videos (less blogging for me!)
  • More communication boards and AAC Device Overlays (Go Talks? Please say Go Talks!)
  • More word strips for communication
Unique Learning
  • Progress Monitoring (Pre/Post Checks, Content Monitoring)
  • Guiding reading and leveled books
  • One click download
  • Further alignment and integration with News-2-You
  • Dolch/Fry combined word lists for high frequency words
  • SymbolStix Online subscription service to download 12,000 SymbolStix Symbols available this fall for a starting price of $99 (I hope I get to try it out and review for this site)
  • Tobii SymbolMate software to create printed materials using SymbolStix symbols (AAC boards, games, schedules, books, etc)
TLWMSN Comments
I am worried about content in News-2-You, but more so in Unique, for the learners with very significant disabilities here are some things I hope to see added:
  • The addition of an Access Level/Sensory Level/Entry Level to all the grades that address things like cause and effect, sensory awareness, early cognitive development and other skills our learners may be working on
  • Extremely relevant and concrete vocabulary, perhaps use of photos with SymbolStix to teach the symbols
  • Links to online activities on this level
  • Some way for teachers of those with more intensive special needs to share adapted materials; we know we will likely have to do the adapting ourselves, but it would be nice if we didn't also have to create the web spaces to share what we adapt.
  • Activities on the cause/effect or simple 2-4 field choice making level made in Classroom Suite, Power Point, Switch It or Choose It (and if it is Classroom Suite it will need to come with Classroom Suite Player, the others have the players available for free)
  • Perhaps some kind of partnership with a company like Aimee Solutions that addresses students with this level of need and offers things like error-free switch writing activities and repeating line books for use with a Big Mack switch (I will be using the Aimee Solutions My Country Software Set to supplement Unique's September government unit.)

My Country

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Back to School Safety Issues: Medical ID, Temporary Tattoo ID and Allergy Lunch Bags

Being a huge proponent of children and adults with any kind of medical issue or special needs wearing identification/medical alert tags there have been a few posts on this blog about the issue before. My favorite false argument is that non-speaking students do not need medical ID because someone is always with them, which fails to take into account what could happen if that "someone" is the person who has a medical emergency. How will the non-speaking individual identify him or herself? Or give emergency information for his or her caretaker? Or give a phone number to reach someone else to help? Or assure emergency responders that everything is OK? Trust me no one is going to turn on and set up an AAC device. Medical identification is essential for all non-speaking individuals.

Click to see full size image
Beyond this medical identification can save precious minutes at school and other places in a crisis. If all the teacher/aide/school nurse has to do is call 911 and read the info off a bracelet/necklace/shoe tag then the ambulance will get their fast compared to the amount of time it would have taken to locate the emergency forms in the file cabinet/binder/desk drawer. This are minutes that count.

Zoo Bears ID carries some wonderful ID items for infants and children, including special needs children (such as shoe tags and zipper pulls for kiddos who will not wear anything else). Carrying some kind of ID is a must for all adults, period. N'Style ID offers a nice selection for Tweens and Teens. My personal advice is to go through Medic Alert for the toll free hot line paramedics/ERs can use to get your medical records and then print that on stylish or sensory appropriate ID. Yes, it costs more, but it is worth it. (As an insulin pumping diabetic who is allergic to penicillin I personally wear a Medic Alert bracelet with a pretty beaded bracelet for special occasions.)

Safety Tats are personalized, rub on tattoos (write on, stick on also available) sold in packs of 30 for about $20.00). You can order them to indicate I.C.E. (In Case of Emergency), Allergies, Medical Conditions, Special Needs or Original. School field trip sets can be ordered as well. Kids Kontact sells a similar product in Australia. FiddledeeIDs sells alert stickers and temporary tattoos and other medical alert gear. These are a nice options for family trips, day trips, vacations, and similar excursions to unknown and unfamiliar locations.

Another product that can increase safety for some individuals with special needs, especially those with limited or no-speaking skills is a special lunch box which clearly indicates food allergies and/or feeding issues. Allergators and STAT Kids both sell lunch bags which clearly mark lunch bags with a child's allergies. STAT Kids bags can be personalized (i.e. for pureed food, diabetic diet, ketogenic diet, choking precautions or food from home only); they also sell backpacks and fanny packs. Individually customized Health ID Lunch Bag

At the very least ask parents to (or make for your child) a medical alert wallet card for free:

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Handmade Special Needs Products

Etsy is a website that sells handmade and vintage items made by individuals. It is also be a great source for items for individuals with special needs. By searching for terms such as, "sensory", "developmental" or "tactile" you can find all sort of unique products. (Try also autism, teacher, special needs, educational, and more.) If you need something even more special many of the crafters and artists take requests.
.Sensory Sacks - Set of SixLarge Multi Color Alphabet Set - 26 Stuffed Felt Letters - Lower CaseSorting Block BoardGROW WITH ME   Interactive-Busy- Book---ALL PIECES ATTACHED----DURABLE

Monday, August 17, 2009

Sources for Training Videos Online

Don't forget you can look on vendor websites like Ablenet or Tobii ATI. If it is in your budget, Atomic Learning is another source of training videos.

(Thanks to the QIAT Listserv for the mentions of sources of training videos.)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Two Weeks Until School Starts

For me at least, there is two weeks until school starts, although I know many of you have already started back and many of you have a week or so longer than that. For the first time in many years I will be starting in a new job, with all new students, new staff, new boss and so on.

Here is what I have been doing to prepare:

  • reading IEPs and converting into IEPs at a Glance (aka One Page IEPs)
  • creating embedded skills charts for recurring lessons (morning meeting, cooking, etc)
  • making FISH (Family Involvement Starts Here) Notebooks (similar to MOOSE Notebooks) (which contain the school calendar, contact info, and where I put my daily correspondence to families.)
  • reviewing and adapting Unique Curriculum's September Unit
What are you doing to prepare?

End note: you know you have been blogging for a while when you run a Google search for links to include in your post and the first several hits are all to your own blog!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Wordless Wednesday (Sorta)

This is Maslow's Heirarchy of Needs adapted into Mayer-Johnson PCS (in a rather blurry screen shot). The question is how do we as classroom teachers of learners with very signficant disbilities ensure that ALL of our students needs as people are being meet, not just the bottom one or two rows? How could we use this or a similar picture board to help us?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

News Apps Added

New Apps have been added to the iPod App Round Up Perma Post!

Improving Auditory Access to the Curriculum through Technology

notes on a presentation by Charlotte Mullen MA-CCC-A Audiologist Children's Hospital - Waltham

Mass ESE Deaf/HOH Seminar August 11, 2009 Holy Cross College

This discussion is about students who are Deaf/HOH and use audition to learn in the classroom - other modalities may be used but this is about kids who use audition - amplification or implants.

Why are their more Deaf/HOH kids in the mainstream?
  • newborn hearing screening
    • 41 states, PR, DC mandate - MA included -- homebirths can be an issue, accidental homebirths usually tested planned home births usually not
    • age of ID down from 2.5 to infancy
    • mild ID also now ID at infancy down from kindergarten (age 5)
    • screen by 1 month, diagnosed by 3 months, amplification and treatment by 6 months will stay on normal developmental course
    • thus incidence of hearing loss is the same but placement in public schools is up and placement in private schools is down
  • cochlear implants happening as early as 12 months, thus students ready for mainstream education in pre-school or kindergarten

Goal of amplification and implants is to allow students to use audition for instruction because 60%+ of learning in schools is auditory.
Consideration must be made for socialization as well as academics.

Factors that affect a child's auditory performance:
  • degree of hearing loss
  • type of hearing loss (where in the ear the loss is coming from)
  • age of diagnosis was made and intervention began
  • stability of hearing loss (static, progressive, fluctuating)

Note: Good speech does not mean good hearing!

Question re: aided audiogram
  • no longer done because of new digital hearing aide technology, the aided audiogram only tells you what the hearing aide is doing for soft sounds which is really how well the hearing aide is working, not the ability to hear

What to take from the Audiological Evaluation
  • An overall description of the child's degree of hearing impairment
  • Unaided word recognition scores
  • A description of what the child is able to hear with their amplification device (hearing aids, cochlear implant(s), combo)
  • how do they do on the single word level, in sentences, in conversations, how do they do in quiet, how do they do in noisy places, how do they do with visual cues
  • if the audiological report does not include a description of the child's ability to hear and understand speech under different conditions a new referral may need to be made

Simulation of Spelling Test with Hearing Loss
List One My Guesses at the Words severe loss with aides
(note: the blank ones I could not hear at all)
4. move
6. loud
7. twist
8. say
9. bite
10. beet

List two (same list) moderate loss with aides
1. pill
2. pap
3. pump
4. move
5. wise
6. back
7. sit
8. froze
9. purse
10. juice

List three (same list) normal hearing

1. fill
2. catch
3. thumb
4. knee
5. wise
6. bath
7. fish
8. shows
9. bed
10. juice

(My comments --- wow! The only word I got all three times was move! That's 10 percent! The first list - which I could not understand really at all was like a kid with severe hearing loss WITH hearing aides! The second list was moderate loss WITH hearing aides! This makes me feel terrible for all my moderate HOH kids with aides AND other disabilities trying to function in my room. I need to do so much more for these students!!! Teachers of the Deaf are so so so important! they need to be on the teams for these kids, actively involved and there to point out what we speducators need to be doing!)

IDEA says every school/LEA is required to ensure that hearing aids worn in school by children with hearing impairments and Deafness are functioning properly (Section 300.113 (a) and (b))
  • someone must be appointed to check the equipment and make sure it is working (CHECK ADAPTED LEARNING I HAVE POSTED A HEARING AID CHECK LIST)
  • there MUST be a back up person to check
  • there MUST be a back up plan if it does not work

Classroom Considerations
  • distance between speaker and listener
    • average conversational speech is 3-4 feet
    • every doubling of distance speech is decreased by 6 decibels
  • background noise
    • classrooms are noisy places
    • heaters, air conditioners, lights, etc - old buildings can be very noisy
    • kids making noise (kid with ADD and nylon wind pants, all the kids turning to page 93 and the teacher keeps talking)
    • noise from outside the classroom - street, playground, hallway, cafeteria, gym, low flying planes, sirens, car alarms, lockers, printers, projectors etc
    • noise type makes it easier or harder to ignore but noise is noise, noise may exceed the loudness of teachers voice effecting ability to be hear (and leading to teacher vocal strain, increasing teacher sick time)
    • speech to noise ratio ASHA and acoustical society of America recommend speech be 15 dB higher than background words... but it needs to be higher
    • open classrooms/open schools are a real problem
    • as are modified large spaces (redone/sub divided gyms or auditoriums)
    • modular classrooms are noisy with HVAC on top and thin walls
  • acoustics and reverberation
    • you want some, but not too much reverberation
    • surfaces near teacher should be hard
    • soft, absorbant surfaces should be else where
    • acoustical tiles (reduces reflection of noise does not reduce noise through ceiling)
    • is a good place for more info
  • preferential seating
    • in front of wear the teacher gives the majority of instruction - where the teacher actually is, not his or her desk
    • away from obvious noise
    • away from not obvious noise (fish tank, hampster cage, kids who are involuntarily noisy, etc)
  • consider professional help
    • an acoustical engineer can be higher to measure ambient background noise and reverberation (about $2,000-3,000 - but you will save that in ligation)
    • put the wrong things in place you can make it worse
    • they can locate noise sources and give suggestions
  • tips
    • get an area rug, it can follow a kid through the years (send out to be cleaned every year)
    • chair socks (standard tennis balls have latex and you might lose a finger cutting them)
    • Quiet Feet felt pads go on chair legs
    • plastic chair glides that are felt on the bottom
    • reduce reflective surfaces, curtains, quilts, carpets, blankets, flags, blankets
  • Paying for Modifications
    • sped funds
    • building funds
    • 21st century green high performing schools facility act HR3221 goes before senate in fall
    • stimulus money

Who should address classroom modifications?
Chapter 433 of the Acts of 2004 (Mass Law) Assistive Technology (not Deaf/HOH - all)

What was being used then (2004) (number of educators using):
  • comm boards (79)
  • FM systems (75)
  • PECS (73)
  • Alphasmart (64)
  • Voice Output Device (49)
  • TTS readers (18)
  • Other (31)

Who does the training on Classroom Mod and Amplification Systems in Schools (in descending order)
  • SLP
  • Don't Know
  • Other
  • Clinical Audiologist
  • Some IEP Member
  • Teacher

Is the person doing the training comfortable?
about 50/50 yes/no!!!!!

In other states, an Educational Audiologist is a standard member of the TEAM for a student who is Deaf/HOH.
  • Make recommendations
  • Manages equipment/tech
  • Not consistent mechanism in MA
  • Only 2 or 3 in public school systems in MA (OMG!!!!)
  • (Side Note CB, teacher of the Deaf/HOH I worked with at Old Job, I appreciate you more than ever!!!)
  • Scope of Practice - Based on professional scopes of practice ion audiology (AAA, 2004,; ASHA 2004), the audiologist is the ONLY ONE qualified to deal with the technology for learners who are Deaf/HOH
  • Under IDEA Educational Audiology, teacher of the deaf and speech-language pathologists are sperate roles/scopes of practice (as are severe sped teachers for that matter)
  • Educational Audiologists are members of the IEP team (or legally should be!)

Amplification Options for the Classroom
  • just hearing aides
  • just cochlear implants
  • ALD (assistive listening devices)
    • individual FM systems
      • designed to overcome effects of distance, noise and room acoustics
      • teacher wears microphone and FM transmitter
      • child wears attachment on hearing aide or implant
      • FM signal goes directly into hearing aide/implant
      • no matter where teacher moves her voice can be heard
      • teacher voice always louder than background noise
      • two manufacturers - Otocon (used to be Phonic Ear) and Phonac
      • two kinds of hearing aide/implant receivers - clip on (called "shoe" or "boot") and all-in-one -- schools like the shoes
      • to find out what you need talk to audiologist
      • do I have to buy something new? maybe not. what do you have? discuss with audiologist
      • FM systems usually last 5-6 years (even if you are careful they get dropped, wear and tear etc)
      • companies offer services contract that allow you to send systems back in the summer for cleaning and upgrade and will replace a boot or shoe one time in the life time of a device for a boot or shoe replacement for $100 instead of $800
      • rechargeable batteries (in transmitter) are only good for 12-18 months
      • before the student uses a system it MUST be evaluated by an audiologist - purchase the system from a local dispensing audiologist (who will charge more, but will do the evaluation part too and will fix any problems and will trouble shoot any issues)
      • adult with normal hearing must monitor the system daily (aides/implant and FM) ask different questions daily
      • FM does not preclude the need for other services
      • older kids may not want to wear or carry
    • Soundfield FM
      • amplifies whole room
      • if the room has poor acoustics this will make it worse
      • can be added to personal FM

Teaching Tips
  • secret signal to redirect attention
  • rephrase when kids ask questions, comment, give answers
  • use visuals
  • give handouts, outlines
  • use powerpoint and SMART Boards, etc
  • in Foreign Lang remember listening labs and websites do not have any visual cues
  • many Deaf/HOH require a foreign lang exemption
  • some schools allow ASL as alternative to foreign lang
  • may require a note taker
  • think about social impliications of handing off a personal FM every period to teachers
  • if you are taking notes you can't be looking for facial cues/lip reading
  • if you don't have a note taker at least compare notes
  • use carbonless notebook paper
  • use notesharing websites
  • if the child can type allow use of laptop or alphasmart
  • be creatice with technolgy - give kids powerpoints, share SMART notes, use web 2.0

  • Computer Aided Realtime Translation
  • Instant translation of spoken word to English text
  • in classroom or done remotely
  • uses stenotype machine, laptop and special software

C-Print and Typewell
  • content based transcriptions
  • requires a laptop with special software
  • trascriber trained but not as much as CART
  • C-Print has new graphic program

  • most things can be captions
  • harder online
  • scripts available if not captioned (but not as useful)
  • if you can't give visual access, don't use it

Extracurricular Activities
  • accommodations and modifications also apply to school activities sponsored after school

  • extended school year also needs to be using these things

Key Take Home Points
  • reduce background noise
  • minimize reverb
  • quieter classrooms
  • lunch buddy (don't eat in cafe)
  • allow normal conversation in library
  • be creative with classroom tech

Why do these things?
  • to allow full access
  • it is the law

Transitioning to Oral or Mainstreaming programs - DEAF/HOH Seminar Massachusetts Dept of ESE August 11, 2009 - Holy Cross College

The following are notes from a presentations by Terrell Clark of Children's Hospital Boston I am attending today. Many of these notes apply not just to Deaf/Hard of Hearing students but to all students with disabilities and to students who have multiple disabilities including hearing impairment.

Meeting the Needs of Students who are Deaf and HOH Book
2003 revision nation effort 40 people contributed - original 1994
guidelines not mandates or rules (best practices)

LRE - 1994 "Thou Shalt Not Exclude"
  • you need to understand unique language, social, communicative, tech needs of Deaf/hoh when making placement decisions
  • parents MUST be informed (by law - IDEA) of all placement choices
  • parents placements should be taken into consideration before making final decision (by law - IDEA)
  • (Mass has no public/state school for Deaf/hoh, but has some private, some collaborative and some public schools (with tuition options) Deaf/hoh programs)

Students preferences and choices must be considered in IEP development - i.e. for instruction, services, setting. (After age 14 student should be given the choice of IEP participation. This is up to the parent until age 18. After 18 student must be included.)

Evaluation must guide IEP/

Eval must include:

  • reason for referral
  • education levels of performance
  • educational needs
  • evaluation/date results of direct intervention
  • evaluation and information from parent
  • summary/finding of interpretation of results
  • recommendations to the IEP team

Determination of Communication Mode:
  • audiological, communication skills, speech and language assessments
  • are competences sufficient for child to access language via audition?
  • will additional visual supports enhance performance?
  • do demonstrated competencies show need for access to language learning via visual modality? (not just sign language - text, powerpoints, pictures, etc.)

  • Teams must be knowledgeable about evaluation and managing a classroom placement that requires an interpreter.
  • There are many implications and times it is not exactly appropriate (3 year old with 50 signs, interpreter who is not qualified, child who does not understand sign, etc.).
  • Interpreter does not replace a qualified teacher of the Deaf.
  • Students need guidance to manage the social interactions using an interpreter
  • Student's access to education is directly corrected to quality of interpreting services.

Self-advocacy vs. Self-embarrassment
  • Why do we ask students whoa re Deaf/hoh to ask for clarification etc. in large groups/discussions when often times they don't even know they missed anything? Are we asking them to self-advocate or embarrass themselves?
  • Who's responsibility is it to create a learning environment conductive to learning for ALL students?

Note: If Deaf/hoh kids could learn spoken language from speaking models they would... 90% of kids who are Deaf/hoh live in speaking home with speaking models. There is a gain to having an authentic peer gain/match. Student who are Deaf/hoh in a school placement must have full language/communication access, high academic standards, authentic peers interactions, social communication and participation in activities during and outside of school, physical and communication access.

TEAMS must ensure that communication access is supported in the:
  • classroom
  • whole school
  • family

Audiograms, gains from Hearing Aids and Cochlear Implants are important but alone are not an indicator of how student can use hearing for understanding. Program must reflect needs.

Decisions are child led, not device driven!

Decisions/planning should consider:
  • demonstrated preferences and competencies
  • may require gradual transitional process
  • amount of educational and communicative support needed and available to child

As the years pass kids with cochlear implants, who are of average intelligence, will be/are fully included, especially those who are implanted early. They learn sign at 7-9 months, get implanted at 12-14 months and by 24 months have spoken language. By 36 months they are typically on track. Decisions are child led, not device driven. Children getting implants later have a much different outlook. Child led, not device driven.

Social networks, connecting kids with implants with other kids with implants, etc. is very important - authentic peer groups. The psychosocial support can help increase resilience.

Kids should be grouped with age-appropriate peers who share language and communicate preferences.

The TEAM should ensure the CULTURAL needs of students who are Deaf/hoh are met. (The issue psychologically isn't capital D Deaf vs. deaf, but is the issue of feeling like you belong versus feeling "other" or like an outsider.)

Considerations for direction instruction:
  • language skills must be within two years of instructional level (very important!)
  • "Deaf friendly" environment
  • ability to use an interpreter
  • availability of qualified/certified interpreter
  • remember interpreter lag
  • accommodations must be able to integrated into the classroom experience

Cochlear Implant Technology
  • the early the implantation the more the benefit (jokingly after age 3 is geriatrics to get an implant)
  • In Mass 5 cochlear Implant Centers (3 in Boston, 1 in Worcester, 1 in Springfield)
  • Increase in numbers of kids getting them
  • Critical services
    • monitor equipment
    • consultation on amplification and classroom acoustics
    • provision of auditory habilitation

Question re: Cochlear Implants and older students
  • implanting older kids who have progressive hearing loss (they once heard, and speak) is accepted (post-lingual deafness)
  • implanting older kids who never heard is not very helpful

Question re: cochlear implants and students with other disabilities
  • originally implants only offered to deafened adults
  • then deaf children age 2 and older
  • now deaf children age 1 and older
  • deaf children with other disabilities were ruled out
  • rules were loosened a little, but goal of implants was still speech understanding and production
  • some parents fought and were able to win the chance for kids without the likely capability to produce speech to be implanted (based on access)
  • some kids with PDD are still not seen as candidates based on the likeliness that implants will be a very negative experience because of increase auditory sensitivity/SI issues

Deafness/HOH and Literacy
  • were very poor but are improving
  • formerly people made decisions based on there theoretical camps rather than research and reality (i.e. ASL ruins kids must use SEE, sign ruins kids must use aural/oral) actual problem has been we didn't identify hearing loss until after age 2 and vital brain plasticity and language learning period was missed
  • early identification of hearing loss (newborn screening) and early intervention (sign by 6 months, parent teaching, EI until 36 months) lead to entrance to preschool at correct developmental level and maintenance of that in school
  • home birthed kids must be screened at first dr visit!!!
  • NOTE: if EI fails these kids are behind for life (in MASS NOV 12-13 EI conference on Deaf and HOH in Boxboro check there is a session on deafblind too).
  • There also seems to be an issue with kids not being identified early in newborn screening (deafened in infancy) and then assumed to be "late talkers" and parents told not to worry about it until "after two" and then the window is mostly missed for language
  • landscape of literacy is changing due to early ID and technology
    • implants
    • digital hearing aids
    • sound fields
    • FM
    • ALD
    • visual supports

Children with Cochlear Implants/Hearing Aids and other technology who Sign Guidelines for Transition to Inclusion
Things to think about:
  • oral receptive and expressive language
  • written English skills
  • social emotional
  • academics
  • self concepts
  • attention
  • age group considerations
  • how are skills evaluation?

Monday, August 10, 2009

The New Dynavox Xpress

The new Dynavox Xpress
  • 1.5 pounds
  • 6"x4"x1.4" (tiny, but not as tiny as an iPod)
  • 5" screen
  • touch screen with sweep and scroll screen (like iPhone or Blackberry storm)
  • touch screen needs no calibration
  • visual and/or auditory scanning
  • hot swap batteries (3.5 hours) (Yay!)
  • standard battery (8 hour)
  • magnesium case
  • 8G flash memories
  • three voice choices (ATT&T, Acapela, Loquendo)
  • front firing speakers
  • external volume control (YES YES YES!!!)
  • Wi-fi
  • bluetooth
  • infrared remote control
  • contacts and calendar
  • MP3 and video players
  • can use AccessIT to control computer
  • InterAACt system with new core vocab settings (You all know I am not a fan of InterAACt - especially VSDs - for most students in our severe/multi-disabled classes, hopefully we can get Gateway on the Xpress if we need to - Dynavox care to comment?)
My questions:
  • Boardmaker Bridge?
  • Picture symbols sets? (I assume the same Dynasym/PCS mixed up mess as on Series 5)
  • Price, I can't find it anywhere?

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Games to Reward Vocalizations

Encourage vocalizations and vocal play or pressing a switch that plays sounds with these fun, free activities:

You will need a microphone on your computer to play (umm... obviously).

via One Switch Blog via Juegos Atencion Temprana.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Welcome New Bloggers!

I want to introduce three new special education/disability blogs.

Exceptional Paradise is a new blog by a teacher of learners with significant disabilities/AT specialist in Virginia. She already has an excellent post up about avoiding an Edmark Coma from teaching and re-teaching (and re-teaching) those Edmark words (I haven't taught Edmark in years and I still know that yellow is in in the first few lessons, eight?) I expect more great posts soon!

Empowering People/Changing Lives
is by a young woman named Erin who has mild cerebral palsy and is just starting on her journey to college, but is already a disability activist. I look forward to reading more about her adventures.

Building a Program that Works by Monica Braat is a new blog that will focus on sharing materials and activity ideas for the severe special needs classroom, specifically she will share extension activities for News-2-You.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Lessons From ESY

This summer I worked for a public school ESY (extended school year) program. After seven summers as an administrator of a rather large summer camp/ESY for learners with moderate to severe multiple disabilities teaching a small class of middle school students with more moderate intellectual disabilities and some emotional disabilities was a change and it was great fun. In many ways it was a refresher course for me on positive behavior supports and higher level reading and mathematics instruction while still focusing on AAC and life skills.

Our summer was very, very successful! Here are some of the things that made it so:

  • Clear and positively stated expectations - one of the first things we did as a class was write out our expectations for our room which included: we keep our hands to ourselves, we listen to each other, we leave our gum at home, we keep our cell phones in our bags and turned off, we are safe at all times
  • A clear, consistent schedule with embedded routines - the students were given the schedule in pictures and words the first minute they arrived, there were plenty of extra copies if needed and it was posted, any changes were announced early and often
  • Grandma's rule (after you eat your vegetable's you get dessert)- work was always alternated with fun, students knew that individual folders (the hardest part of the day) was followed by free time
  • Plenty of choices - students were allowed to pick which work they did from a set of options, which work they did first, where they sat, who they worked with and so one; if work looked too challenging they were told to pick any 6 problem to complete, etc.
  • Naturally evolving behavioral contracts - the students arrived with behavior intervention plans, but behavioral contracts (we called them "deals") evolved. Soon they learned to negotiate "deals", my feigning disinterest in their offers worked well because they would up the ante, offering not only the "be safe", but to "do all their work" and "to help their friends do all their work" until I would (pretend to) begrudgingly agree. The hottest things earned in these deals were the Beanie Babies currently being given away with Happy Meals (I ate a lot of those Apple Dippers this summer) and one dollar bags of "Army Guys" from the Dollar Tree.
  • Plenty of physical activity - we started every morning with a workout and free time was often spent on the exercise bikes having "pedaling contests", students were encouraged to ask to "walk it off" when they were frustrated, which often meant doing some aspect of school work while walking laps within the building (seven times around is a mile!)
  • Direct instruction of coping skills - if the staff and I noticed a coping skills issue the next days whole group lesson would be about that coping skills, we worked on differentiating positive vs. negative thoughts, "thought stopping", identifying anger before it turns to rage and loss of control, etc. If at all possible these lessons were turned into physical activities, but not role plays (these kiddos were not role play kind of kids), examples of physical activities would include Positive Thought/Negative Thought Red Light/Green Light, Thought Stopping Bombardment, etc.
  • Student lead differentiation of instruction - the students were acutely aware of their strengths and needs, and each others strengths and needs, they knew each other much better than I would have been able to get to know them in the course of a single summer session; therefore asking them to decide what was "fair" in terms of what to expect each student to do on a certain assignment worked out well for the most part. I did have the occasional issue (i.e. one student who pretended to not be able to read so he could do picture based work instead of text based work) but the other students could be counted on to differentiate for their peers.
  • Interdependent positive reinforcement - the students (and staff, and me) earned stars working toward a total of 300 stars to be able to have a big party the last day of summer school. The more stars the more elaborate the party. Students knew that each person need to earn 3 stars a day for a basic party (with ice cream sundaes). If someone didn't earn 3 stars a day (or was absent) then others needed to earn extra. Peer pressure was on my side! We ended up with about 390 something stars.
The party was awesome!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

To Latch a Switch

(this post is a list of resources I created for the RESNA list-serv)

Latching means that the first hit of a switch turns the item on and the second hit turns it off. This is useful for a learning who cannot sustain pressure on a a switch or when sustained switch closure is not practical because of the student's needs, the item being activated (switch scissors come to mind) or the type of switch (i.e. a tilt switch in some cases).


Switches with built in latching:

Latching add-on devices for switches:

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

So You Want to Blog?

I don't consider myself a blogging expert (or even a blogger most of the time), but this is my 840th blog entry here in 3 and a half years with more than 360,000+ visitors. I have about 400+ people who read me in an RSS reader and 90+ "Google Followers" and I have placed in the top ten in the education category of the Weblog Awards the past two years. So when asked to share my tips for educational blogging this is what I can come up with:

The most important thing to understand is that a great blog is created by having great content!

Beyond that:
  • Be very clear on what your employer's policy for blogging is ahead of time and if you are applying for a new job and you have an established blog put it on your resume and mention it in interviews, you want your employer to think of your blog as the asset it is
  • If you choose to use photos of people you need to have a clear understanding of rules, policies and ethics around photo releases and confidentiality and follow them.
  • Let your content stand on its own, there is no need to "push" every blog entry by sharing it, stumbling it, digging it, starring it, rating it, highlighting it, plurking it, tweeting it etc. It will likely only annoy your friends who probably already read what you write anyways. Especially if they find it in their "People I Follow" section on their RSS reader and on Twitter and on Facebook, etc.
  • You should, however, submit your blog to blog directories and to search engines.
  • By all means introduce yourself to fellow bloggers you respect and ask them to introduce your new/newish blog on their blog.
  • It is cool, and helpful, to mention a blog entry you wrote about a topic that comes up in the course of a conversation, be it in real life or on a social network (and provide a link).
  • Be careful of swag, there is nothing wrong with free stuff per se, just be clear with your readers what your stand is around what you get for free, your bias around recieving free items and so forth (full disclosure).
  • It is ok to stand up for yourself if you find other bloggers plagerizing your content without link backs or respect for copyright or CC, just be aware it is a small bloggin' world, think about a note to the author asking politely for a link back and citation before you write a rant on your blog.
  • Decide on your policy for things like approving/censoring comments, how frequently you post, advertising, etc and try to stick to it; your readers WILL notice if you change something, no matter how small, so be sure to explain if you do once you have been doing things a certain way for a while.
  • Work to build a community of bloggers, especially "blog-alike bloggers" (i.e. Special Ed. Bloggers, ESL Bloggers, Pre-K Bloggers, Tech Ed Bloggers), read other blogs, take time to discover other blogs, comment on each others posts, mention each other in posts, link to each other on blog rolls, e-mail one another and chat online
  • Know why you are blogging, there are many valid reasons for starting a blog and many valid reasons for continuing to blog, it is important to stay clear on why you continue to do this work.
  • Know your target audience, who are you trying to reach and what do you want to share with them?
  • Bigger isn't always better, you don't need fancy widgets, a domain name, a logo, a social networking site or anything like that to have a great blog - you only need great content (on the other hand there is nothing wrong with any of those things, it is just that they don't make a great blog, content does).
  • On the same note more entries isn't always better either, clogging up someone's RSS reader with 16 blog entries that could have been 3 blog entries might be a better idea
  • Blog because you like writing, sharing and teaching!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Palmtop3 Retires

Dynavox announced today it is retiring (but as always will continue to support, for the lifetime of the product) the Palmtop3. It is also running a rather large and flashy teaser about their new handheld which is reported to have a large (5 inches?) touch (multi-touch?) screen and weight less than one pound (how much less?). No word yet on operating system (android? just playing!), software (supposedly not Series 5), specs, symbol system (PCS, Dynasyms, BlinkTwice/Tango? A choice? Please no mixed sets!), etc. Seven days until we know more! Check back in a week!

2010 Hidden Curriculum Calendar for Kids

The Hidden Curriculum: One a Day Calendar for Kids offers simple social rules advice and pragmatic language in easy to understand language for all students, although it is aimed at learners on the Autism spectrum. It retails at about $16. There is also a version for adults and older adolescents that looks more towards work situations and a combo package with both calendars ($22).

These could be used with our students in the way intended and with our AAC users, since so many of the daily lessons are language related as ways to teach and assess AAC use. Also old Hidden Curriculum Calendars can be cut up into squares and used as "Hidden Curriculum in a Jar" games.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Full Disclosure Perma Post

As the author of Teaching Learners with Multiple Needs I often times work with vendors and companies who create, produce or resell products for special education or disabilities.

Here are my policies around reviewing products and similiar on this website:
  • I do NOT accept compensation EVER for reviewing products
  • I do NOT accept "sponsored blog entries" or other euphemisms for paid advertisements disguised as posts
  • I do NOT do giveaways of products which normally have cost (i.e. I might give away Google Wave codes, but I won't give away free software)
  • I do use Google Ads, which often advertise AT and Special Education products on my blog; I do NOT endorse any of these products merely by them appearing in a Google Ad
  • I do participate in free beta trials of new software and products, which I often then review, I will fully disclose having done so
  • I do accept free products and services (i.e. subscriptions to websites) to try with my students and review on the blog, I consider these donations to me as a teacher,  I will fully disclose having done so
  • I reserve the right to say neutral or negative things about a product I have participated in a beta trial or used a donated to me as a teacher or to not post about the product, giving me something free is comes with no promise of a review or a good review on this blog

In the spirit of full disclosure here is a lost of vendors/companies who have given me free products for review or as a professional courtesy:
  • Ablenet, Inc (twist top Jelly Bean switch and many covers, sample Splash ESY Curriculum, Weekly Reader sample - I think other things I need to check my inventory)
  • Aimee Solutions - two theme units (professional courtesy)
  • AssistiveWare - a copy of Proloquo2Go (thank you gift for Beta Testing)
  • Say-It-With-Symbols - a Picture Symbol Name Stamp
  • Mayer-Johnson/Dynavox - beta testing of Adapted Learning site, preview of Print Editor
Vendors you can contact me at:

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