Thank you everyone!
Thank you everyone!
This is a long post, so please read all the way through!
I have great news! I have been in touch with Dr. Jimenez, the Program Coordinator of Intellectual Disabilities at Georgia State University, and he and his team are strongly considering re-opening a certification only program in the area of physical and health disabilities. This would be a wonderful opportunity for those who are interested in seeking their OI certification. The classes would be a hybrid of online classes as well as occasional in-person meetings.
Dr. Jimenez will be at our May 12th consortium meeting to discuss this more in detail!
The catch: We need your help!!!
If you know of anyone that would be a great candidate for becoming an OI teacher, please complete the survey below. This will provide some initial data to Georgia State so that they can determine the level of interest for beginning the program. So, if there is ANYONE that you could recommend to the program, please complete the survey and include their contact information in the comment field provided.
Also, please invite your coordinator/supervisor to the meeting so that they can explain the need for additional OI certified staff in your district.
The survey also asks you if you can attend the OI Consortium Meeting on May 12th at GSU from 12:30-3:30.
Here is the link to the survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/XWWT36S
1. Tools for Life has created a Student Advisory Council. Please read the information below and forward to anyone that might be interested in this opportunity!
I am writing this email on behalf of Tools For Life, Georgia’s Assistive Technology Act Program located at the Georgia Institute of Technology. The Tools For Life Advisory Council recently voted to start a Student Advisory Council. This council will be composed of college-bound high school students and current college students who are avid assistive technology users and would be willing to share their opinions of assistive technology. While the Tools For Life administrative staff is still finalizing the details of this council, the team would like to start collecting nominations for the council. If you know any one who would be a good nominee for this council, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or Liz Persaud at email@example.com . Also, please send any questions to Liz Persaud. Finally, Tools For Life would greatly appreciate it if you forwarded this email to your special education colleagues to spread awareness of this new council throughout the state.
2. Registration for the 2016 IDEAS Conference has opened!
2016 IDEAS Conference
If you haven’t heard yet, here’s the big news. The 2016 IDEAS registration is open! There is no registration fee for the conference again this year; however, there will be a $35.00 registration fee for pre-conference sessions.
Conference (June 7th through June 10th, 2016)
IMPORTANT! When registering, choose the number “1” on the IDEAS Conference Registration if you plan on attending the conference.
Information and Registration
Registration for IDEAS 2016 is available only online at the IDEAS webpage. Registration for the conference is free for all attendees, however everyone must register to attend. Seats for the conference are limited and will be allocated on a first registered, first-served basis. Due to the limited space, on-site registration will not be permitted. Once capacity has been reached for the conference, registration will be closed and no waitlist will be available. Attendees will be responsible for their own transportation, lodging and meals for the duration of the conference. For detailed information about the 2016 IDEAS Conference, please refer to the IDEAS Conference Brochure on the IDEAS webpage.
There are approximately 120 concurrent sessions throughout the week. The draft agenda is scheduled to be published on the IDEAS webpage in early May.
Pre-conference Sessions (June 6th and June 7th, 2016)
Don’t wait to register! These are limited slots and they are filling up fast.
These pre-conference sessions are great small group training opportunities. There will be a $35.00 registration fee for each session. Pre-conference sessions are limited to one session per each attendee. Due to limited space, on-site registration will not be permitted. Seats for the pre-conference sessions are limited and will be allocated on a first registered, first-served basis. Once capacity has been reached for each pre-conference session, registration will be closed for that session and no waitlist will be available.
Attendees should plan to attend both days of these 2-day pre-conference sessions. As these sessions are in high demand and have limited seating, attendees should ensure they are able to attend both days of the session prior to registering. This will enable the maximum number of participants to attend the pre-conference session of their choice.
Find out more about the session you would like to attend by reading about them on the IDEAS Pre-Conference Session Descriptions on the IDEAS webpage.
Meet with vendors to explore products and technology that help with student achievement and maybe a little extra for you as well.
Exhibitors should register for exhibiting at IDEAS 2016 and attending the conference online at the Georgia Tools for Life Eventbrite – IDEAS 2016 Exhibitor Registration. Exhibitors do not need to register through the link on the IDEAS webpage in addition to the Tools for Life registration.
If you have any questions or needs additional information, please contact the 2016 IDEAS Exhibit Hall Coordinator, visit the IDEAS Exhibitor Information page or the official 2016 IDEAS Conference website.
3. Interesting job opportunity for a student with a hearing impairment!
A friend of mine is making a film that is centered around a young woman with a hearing impairment. She is seeking two actors to play the role of the teenager and her mother. The requirement is that both actors need to know ASL. If you know of anyone that might be interested, just let me know. Here is more information about the project:
FILM TITLE: Composing Anna
Award winning student filmmaker is casting for a short fiction film.
ANNA : (Lead) Female, ages 14-18, Caucasian or Mixed Race, Deaf, ASL fluent a MUST, creative, willing to take chances; discovers freedom to be herself.
NOTE: We are not casting hearing actresses for this part, only deaf actresses, please. Thank you.
Pay: $300 a day, plus meals
JENNY: Female, ages 34-45, must be fluent in ASL, a Deaf teen’s hearing mother, an overprotective single parent, realizes that her daughter needs freedom to grow up.
Pay: $200 a day, plus meals
Location: East Atlanta and Downtown Atlanta
Contact: casting@composinganna. com
Thank you for reading through this information. Please let me know if you have any questions, and please take the survey! 🙂
Susan Baker, an OI teacher in Floyd County Schools, has provided us with some valuable information regarding adapted driver education programs for our students with physical disabilities. I have also spoken with a parent who has had direct experience with this process and would be happy to help with any additional information if needed.
While driver’s education is required for an actual license, there are options available to them other than participating in a certified driver training course.
The Department of Driver’s Services has put together a 40 hour parent/teen program that can be completed at home.
More information on obtaining a permit or license can be found at the Department of Driver Services website:
This is a comprehensive list of adapted driver programs in Georgia:
Other options include:
Shepherd Center Adapted Driving Services (Atlanta)
Siskin Hospital Rehabilitation Program Driving Services (Chattanooga)
Freedom and Mobility Driver Services (Marietta)
Please contact Susan Baker with any additional questions.
Firstly, we have a new e-mail address for the OI Consortium:
I will be sending out all of our e-mails and meeting notices from this address, so please just e-mail me at this address if you have any questions for the group.
It’s been too long since my last blog post! This school year has been very busy for me, as I’m sure it has been for everyone else! We had a great turnout at the panel discussion at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta in January. We had over 100 people in attendance, and I have received a lot of good feedback as a result. I am hoping we can plan a similar event for next spring.
Our March meeting included a presentation by Susan Ruediger of the Charcot-Marie-Tooth Association, which is a national organization that raises awareness for CMT, as well as provides support for persons living with CMT. Susan is a huge resource in this area, and is available at any time for support regarding a student with CMT. Here is a link to the CMTA website:
We will have our last meeting for the year tomorrow at Georgia State University. Kyle Pease, of the Kyle Pease Foundation, will be speaking with us about the KPF, and it’s goal of providing adapted athletic equipment and community building for persons with physical disabilities. This is an incredibly impacting organization as it provides free adapted sports equipment to people across the state, as well as providing a support system to persons with physical disabilities that encourages athleticism and positivity. I am really looking forward to hearing more about this organization and the people behind it!
We will also have a discussion led by Elise James of the GADOE regarding OI certification needs in Georgia. As there is currently no certification program in the state, Elise wants to generate input regarding the need for OI certified teachers in Georgia, and possible ways that we can bring a viable certification program back to life!
We are also going to be able to Skype the meeting for tomorrow, so if you would like to join the meeting via Skype, please e-mail me your username at:
Thank you and I’m looking forward to seeing everyone at the meeting tomorrow!
Our consortium is continuing to grow and prosper this year as a result of all the hard work our members are doing across the state. I have been able to make additional contacts for us in California, through the California Association for Physical and Health Impairments (CAPHI). CAPHI is another great resource that is available to us as OI teachers. They hold a conference every two years in different locations in California and are hosting webinars for OI Teachers through the Council for Exceptional Children. I highly recommend that you look into CAPHI and what they offer as they are a very large organization for OI Teachers in California. It’s great to see what other organizations, similar to ours, are doing to promote our field and support our teachers and students. You can visit their Facebook Page at:
You can also visit their website at:
I have added several new links that were provided at the recent GATE conference on December 5, 2014 in the links section, under the Assistive Technology section. The link to the GATE wikispaces site provides all of the information that was given by the presenters. If you were not able to attend this conference, the link will provide you with a chance to see what was presented as well as all of the materials that were given to the participants. I also have included links to two of the presentations that I attended, Tips and Tricks for OI Teachers by Renee Dawson, Debbie Brineman, and Jim Whitley of Cherokee County, and a presentation by Lee Green of the Floyd County School System on FREE Google apps and extensions that would be of great use to us. Lee is also the co-leader of the Google + Georgia Educators Group. This is a great AT resource utilizing Google supported apps and extensions that are incredibly useful to us as OI teachers. The GEG is a great networking opportunity and hosts meetings as well for further collaboration.
Please check out these new links! I have also provided links regarding these presentations under the useful apps tab.
Additionally, don’t forget to visit the Georgia Tools for Life website, their link is provided as well. They presented on many topics including accessing funding for AT, and other resources that are useful to us such as new AT equipment and resources that are now available. Their website includes all of the presentations that they gave at the conference, as well as an archive for all of their webinars.
Lastly, I have included a link to Parent 2 Parent of Georgia in the links section. This is a great organization that provides free resources and training to parents, students, and teachers of children with disabilities, across all age ranges and disability areas.
A quick re-cap of our remaining meetings for 2015:
January 14, 2015:
A panel discussion/seminar at the Scottish Rite campus for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta regarding various disabilities and their educational implications for students within the school environment. The program information will be provided very soon!
March 19, 2015:
Susan Ruediger of the Charcot-Marie Tooth Association will be presenting information and resources regarding CMT, a peripheral nerve disorder that affects at least 2.8 million people world wide, and hundreds of thousands of people here in Georgia. We will also be given a re-delivery of the GATE presentation by Renee Dawson, Debbie Brineman, and Jim Whitley of the Cherokee County School System on useful apps and Google extensions. The location is to be determined.
Here is the link to the Charcot-Marie-Tooth Association for more information on CMT:
May 14, 2014
Kyle Pease, of the Kyle Pease Foundation, will be presenting at Georgia State for our May meeting. He will cover various topics, including the mission and resources available through the foundation.
Here is the link to the Kyle Pease Foundation for more information:
Thank you for reading this long blog post, and I hope the information provided is useful.
Below are the minutes for the October 2014 Consortium Meeting and the link to the materials that were given to us at the meeting from Laurie Smith of Parent 2 Parent of Georgia. Please share these materials to parents and teachers who need additional resources for students that are approaching their post-secondary transition.
Georgia OI Consortium Meeting Minutes
October 16, 2014
Parent 2 Parent Presentation by Laurie Smith:
Transition to Adult Healthcare: Learn what health has to do with transition; who makes up the transition team and their roles, how to incorporate health transition into a medical home, healthcare financing, legal issues and timelines.
More information: www.p2pga.org (handout Alphabet Soup) P2P supports Georgia families and individuals from birth to age 26 with disabilities or health care needs. Statewide training agency required by IDEA in GA. Also Family to Family Health Information Center. Special Needs Database online to help find services. Supporting Parent Program can help parents feel less isolated. Provide one-on-one assistance for parents that would rather call than look online. Free trainings (2 or 4 hours) all parent friendly. Facebook page for youths transitioning to adulthood to connect with others who have gone through the transition. Also have a parent FB page to connect. Monthly e-blast to highlight upcoming events and news from P2P.
What is Health Transition? Moving from pediatric to adult healthcare; moving from dependence on family to independence. A plan is important because it breaks down tasks, ensures continuity of care, fosters independence, and helps them maintain better health as an adult. Health transition plan differs from IEP transition plan. It is not mandatory and is a parent/caregiver/youth responsibility, not an IEP team decision. The health transition team members may never meet physically during the development of the plan. (see Planning WS) Members of the transition team include: youth, parent/caregiver, pediatrician, primary care doctor, adult providers, and educators. Role of the child is to find their voice and learn self-advocacy and self-management. Laurie discussed self-advocacy and self-management and barriers to them that youth may face. Parent/Caregiver plays the role of the coach or spokesperson (non-verbal students) for their child. Parents should help their child develop the skills they need to manage their medical care (if appropriate) such as: scheduling appointments, refilling medications, documentation, insurance knowledge, and medical decision making. Website: www.healthtransitionsny.org Primary care doctors can continue seeing children in the practice after they transition to adults. If they are a pediatrician, they may have good recommendations for finding a new adult doctor. They can provide a health summary for the child transitioning to an adult doctor. Educators/Teachers can help make the health transition plan become a part of the IEP transition plan and embed some health related goals into their IEP or transition plan to help them get ready for this transition (i.e. calling in a prescription, process to obtain power of attorney). Medical home (handout)- not a physical place but is a family centered approach to care, coordination, and partnership. All health related services and supports are engaged to keep the welfare of the youth in mind. All providers are aware of the plan of care for the youth. If child has a chronic condition, make sure they understand how the condition can/will impact them in the future. Renee suggested using an ICE/medical alert app for students. She suggested the ICE Standard app that creates an emergency alert on the phone’s home screen. If the child has a mental health need, then there needs to be a circle of support in place for the child once they are away from home. If the child has a developmental disability, the scaffolding of support needs to be in place before going away from home. Healthcare financing- age 26 = off of parents’ healthcare, Medicaid could end after 18 depending on disability- apply for SSI (automatically receive Medicaid). Katie Beckett and Peach Care expire at 18 years old. Medicare only covers certain disabilities. Help youth understand the age of majority- signing contracts, free credit cards, register to vote. Send parents to P2P for information on guardianship and power of attorney. Transition timeline (WS on back of Parent Health Transition WS)
Physical and Health Disabilities (OI) Consortium Meeting
Judy Bytheway, Renee Dawson and Eva Parks
May 15, 2014
The group is considering teleconferencing, skyping, satellite meetings, webinars for increased participation
Judy is exploring more advanced web page access
On site meetings can be alternating districts hosting
PLUs can be provided with descriptions and agendas given to the State Dept. 3 weeks ahead of time, etc.
The same Consortium in California does a bi-annual conference with speakers
They pay dues (around $25/annually)
Tour – Tools for Life
June 2 – 5 = IDEAS and Tools for Life Conference
Lots of Resources and PLUs
Tools for Life has Webinars the last Wednesday of every month (see website) –
Sign up to have notices sent to your email
Tools for Life has a loaning library, which gives people a chance to try out solutions for AT, seating, positioning, etc.
Laser keyboard – is a like regular keyboard (runs a little below $200 around $179 on Brookstone)
Good to use with mobile tablets, Iphone, laptop, whatever has Bluetooth capability
Google Glass (costs $1500) – Phone compatible device
Pair of glasses with a display in front of your eyes
Built in voice recognition
With the Command “OK Glass”:
It brings up a list of commands you can scroll through by tipping your head up and down
When you wink it will take a picture
Anything you can do on your phone you can do with Google Glass – make calls, texts, etc.
It also has a swipe pad on the side you can use if voice recognition is not identifying, or can use
If you have low vision in your right eye, this would not be a useful tool
AMAC is a membership program
For 8-12 individuals no fee, but if you need services there is a fee for services
Tools for Life does the AT evals for AMAC
You get a written comprehensive report (eval is $450 plus travel)
No fee for demonstration or loan for equipment, or calls to brainstorm (can also answer through Skype)
AMAC – has school memberships
Online systems, Apps for accessible textbooks (free 4 students)
And Wiki automated emails and can do support calls
Captioning Dept. – provides remote captioning mostly for college classrooms
Books over internet wherever the lecture is (have done in Guam!)
Students can use laptop, IPAD, phones and provide notes to the student
This dept. has captioned some videos and movies
Audio Descriptions – which describes actions in a movie for the Blind, and can read subtitles as well.
AMAC = postsecondary primarily – corporate and nonprofit
Serves colleges all over the US
Contacts disability services and the colleges as needed – paid and unpaid memberships, which include lots of access to technology
Individual services are available through Tools for Life
AMAC website= menu at right – frequently asked questions – WIKI – teachers can go through with students
All colleges in Georgia and many around the country are members (see list on website)
Paul – Access Text which is under the AMAC umbrella
Electronic access portals for most textbook publishers
Telepresence Robotics: Students can come to the site to try
– VGO $5,000 uses Cloud technology and can move around a room like a person, has a camera
– KUBI $499 – which is a tabletop robotic (can be used with Skype)
– Nano Robot – new and coming to TFL
Electronic Accessibility – uses optimal characteristic software – makes electronic files that are accessible
– Similar to what Bookshare and GIMC offer
Firstly, I just wanted to give a big THANK YOU to everyone for attending and hosting the meetings. I felt that we had a great year, and next year will be even better. I am hoping that our consortium grows immensely over the next year so that we can support more teachers around the State.
I also wanted to pass this information along…The Kyle Pease Foundation is hosting a camp for children and adults (ages 3-30) who have cerebral palsy. Please forward this information to your students’ parents. I have attached the event flyer.
Kyle Pease will be presenting at our May 14th, 2015 consortium meeting which will be held at Georgia State. He will share information about his foundation whose primary goal is to provide adaptive sports equipment to persons with disabilities. You don’t want to miss meeting Kyle, he is an amazing person! Dr. Paul Alberto, who is now the Dean of the College of Education, helped reserve a room for us at Georgia State. We are lucky to have his support in this way. I will give more information in the fall about all of the meetings and locations.
Here is the link to his foundation website:
***I have also attached the meeting minutes from our last meeting at Tools for Life. The tour was incredibly interesting and beneficial. Thank you to the staff of Tools for Life for opening your doors to us! We are looking forward to working with you in the future. The meeting minutes are posted in the blog post above. Thanks to Mary Wright for taking such thorough notes!
I will be updating the blog next week, so don’t forget to follow it…There is a tab that says “Follow” at the very bottom of the page, you just need to scroll all the way down to find it. If you are following the blog, then you will be able to receive e-mail updates regarding new information, events, etc. You may want to receive updates to your personal e-mail address so that you can stay up to date over the summer.
The link to our blog is:
Lastly, I am working on planning our meetings in advance over the summer, in hopes that I can submit our plans to the State Department of Education for approval to receive PLU credits for our meetings. If you are able to attend all of the meetings, then you will be able to gain 12 contact hours which would hopefully provide one PLU for the year plus 2 additional contact hours. It is my understanding that we will need to begin accumulating PLU’s again in 2015. This is still in the works, so I will keep everyone updated. If you have any recommendations for meeting topics please let me know. Next year is going to be a great year!
Have a great summer.
Highlights from the meeting:
Our meeting today included a presentation by Dr. Heller regarding her recent research on how teachers can more effectively manage situations where a student has a terminal illness and/or when a student death occurs. Her presentation highlighted information about the grieving process, and how many people grieve differently, as well as the stages of grief that many experience.
She also discussed how teachers can manage communication with their terminally ill students, and their peers within the school setting. We learned that there are various ways of going about this while maintaining a positive and encouraging environment for the student while they are school. We also discussed how other family members, especially siblings may need support if their sibling is experiencing a terminal illness. These siblings will need a support system as well in the school setting.
Dr. Heller’s research determined that while teachers are feeling much more supported regarding students’ terminal illnesses and death than they were more than twenty years ago, there is room to grow. It is Dr. Heller’s wish that teachers, students, and school staff are well supported in order to deal with these sensitive topics in the school setting, well before and after a student has died from a terminal illness. The presentation was very informative and prompted an engaging conversation among the group.
We are pleased to announce that Renee Dawson, itinerant OI teacher in Cherokee County, is going to join the consortium leadership team. She brings a great deal of knowledge to the table as well as a great deal of experience in professional development.
Here is a link to access the Medicaid Fair flyer that is being held on April 2nd in Fulton County, please share this information with your students and their parents.
The consortium also discussed the possibility of hosting an OI symposium next year. This would allow OI teachers and other related professionals the opportunity to meet other OI teachers, and to share information and resources related to out field. If you are interested in assisting with the planning of this event, please contact Judy Bytheway at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other announcements included the possibility that we are going to gain permission to receive Professional Learning Units for our meetings, as well as any other activities that we organize, such as a symposium. I will keep you posted on any developments regarding our PLU status.
Available OI Positions:
There are currently 1-2 OI positions available in the Gwinnett County School System. Please contact Eva Parks at: email@example.com if you are interested if you are seeking an OI position. There are also 1-2 OI positions open in the Columbia County School System in Evans, Georgia, located near Augusta. Please contact go to this web address to view and apply for the positions:
Lastly, the blog has been recently updated to include a list of helpful apps for our students and teachers. Please take a look at these apps under the “Useful Apps” tab at the top of the blog. Please feel free to share the blog with other teachers so that they can access this resource. Also, please share additional apps that you find helpful.
We are so appreciative that so many people were able to attend the meeting yesterday. We had 19 members attend from several counties in the metro area. Thank you!
The next meeting on May 15th, 2014 will be held at the Tools for Life Facility at Georgia Tech University. I will provide more information regarding directions and parking in the next few days.
If you have any questions, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or use the “Contact Us” tab at the top of the blog.