Monthly Archives: September 2011

Welcome to our new blog!

So, this is it!

Please follow the instructions written in the step-by-step instructions that were e-mailed to you in order to follow and contribute to our OI blog. As an author, you will be able to comment on other postings as well as create your own posts with multimedia content (i.e. text, web links, photographs, videos).

Please remember to use your best professional judgment when posting items to the blog, as this will be viewable to the public.

Thanks in advance for your contributions, and if you have any questions please contact me, Judy Bytheway, at

Happy Blogging!

Meeting Minutes: May 2011: Assistive Technology

OI Consortium May 12,

GPAT Conference Registration:

Submit proposal and receive free conference registration

Sally Kemp: Representative from GPAT, all materials that she
has handed out are on the gpat website.

Assessment and Accommodations for students with physical

Accommodations are changes to the access to the testing
materials, and are meant to add equity to the tests, not give a student a
better chance at making a higher score.

Modifications reduce the learning expectations, and
accommodations do not.

List of accommodations are found on the GADOE website on the
Special Education page of the DOE website.

Prior to testing, the testing accommodations should be used
regularly with the student in the classroom, and the student should be
comfortable and familiar with the testing accommodations.

There are standard and non-standard accommodations.
Sometimes there is pressure from administrators to have only standard
accommodations, as non-standard accommodations may affect AYP scores.

If you have questions concerning testing accommodations, you
may contact Melissa Fincher 404-656-4005 at the GADOE. Mary recommends that you
ask any questions concerning accommodations to your API.

Electronic versions of the CRCT are available through
Kurzweil, and the text to speech function can be turned off for students that
are need of just increased access to the test.

Learning Based AT Solutions

Remediation tools for Reading:

Thinkfinity (Access through DOE Website), Starfall,
Earobics, Simon SIO, Wordmaker.

AT Devices for Struggling Readers Chart is on the DOE
Website, Special Education, Resources and Materials, Or go directly to

Positioning Aids: Book Stands, Portabook Stands, Slant

Page Turners, page fluffers, powered turners

Tracking Aids: Reading
Window, Bar Magnifier, EZC Reader/Colored Reading

Contrast Aids: Highlighters, Highlighting Tape, Reading
Helpers, Colored Overlays, Saran Wrap

Colored Overlays are often overlooked, and should be
considered when working with struggling readers and writers.

Word Identification Aids: Talking Dictionaries and Reading

Stand Alone Magnification Aids

Specialized Format:

Bookshare and GIMC; Magnifier Mouse from Microsoft, Audio
Books,BookPort, The Victor (Daisy Reader)

Text Aloud; Only 29 dollars (Text to speech software)

Electronic Books: Project Gutenberg, Bookshare, Accessible
Book Selection (Accelerated Reader Books).

Search for HIAT in Goolge. That will take you to the E-Book

Also look into your library systems for access to E-Books as

Portable Text Readers: Classmate Readers that display and
read text; Intel Reader – OCR’s Text

Thinking Reader: Unabridged core literature books,
incorporated reading comprehension strategies and supports.

Start-Finish Series: High Interest-Low Readability, Age
appropriate topics, core-content books. Allows you to highlight text and
transfer into an outline.

Word Identification Aids: WordWeb Dictionary Thesaurus;
Lingos (Freeware Program)

Text Reading Software: Read Please 2003, Natural Reader,
E-Reader Pro, Microsoft Reader

PDF Reading Software available in Adobe

Word Processing:

Microsoft Word: Many different tools available such as text
to speech and Auto Summary, changing spacing of words, fonts, and backgrounds
for more readability.

Academic Suite Software: ClassroomSuite4and SOLO 6

Advanced Reading
Aids: Kurzweil 3000, Read and Write Gold, and WYNN

Text Enlargement Software: Zoom readers, JAWS

Types of Writing Difficulties: Dysgraphia, Writing Process,
Conventions of Writing (Spelling, Punctuation, Grammer)

Remediation Tools for writing and spelling:

Wordmaker for Writing, Thinkfinity, Simon SIO, Carmen
Sandiego Word Detective, Handwriting without tears, Speech recognition
software; Consult Chart for AT Devices for Struggling Writers…Available on the
DOE Website.

Page Ups, Clip Boards and book stands

Contrast Aids: Highlighter tape

Adapted Writing Utensils: Grips, PenAgain

Alternate paper of different lines, spacing, colors, and/or

Commonly misspelled words:

Use a personal dictionary, quickword books, Spellwell
Bookmarks; Talking Dictionaries/Thesaurus

Recorders: Devices for recording notes and responses; Echo
Smartpin or Pulse (Livescribe)

Handheld Scanners

Printed Graphic Organizers (Microsoft Word, Freeology,

Portable word processors: Neo, Fusion

Concept/Webbing Applications: Inspiration, Webspiration,
Kidspiration, Draft:Builder in SOLO

Speak Q, Word Q training is much easier than Dragon
training, reads training passages to students; however, it does have some
glitches and sometimes drops voice files for students.

Text correction software: Ginger Software: Provides support
for grammar, spelling, and vocabulary usage; Web based software; subscription

Electronic Worksheets: Omniform and Paperport.

Academic Suite Software such as Solo also has very good
supports for writing as well.

Voice Recognition Software: Microsoft Speech Recognition,
Dragon Naturally Speaking, MacSpeech Dictate.

AAC Devices with text to speech capabilities

WACOM :Bamboo, only 99 Dollars. Graphics tablet like device
that enables the student to write with their finger and can also be used as a

Microkeyboards for students with Muscular Dystrophy or
smaller aged students.

Math Instruction:

Teach using Concrete, moving to Abstract C-R-A (Concrete,
Representational, Abstract)

Web Based Remediation Tools:

Create a graph, National Library of Virtual Manipulatives, A
Maths Dictionary; Cool math 4 kids, The Ruler Game

Remediation Software: Attainment Software

Access Tools:

All similar tools that were used forReadingand Writing

Mathpad has a voice recognition component as well.

See Math Chart on DOE Website for AT Devices

Calculation and problem Solving Tools: Available on

Barculator; Pieculator

Virtual Manipulatives: National Library of Virtual
Manipulatives; Classroom Suite

Print Materials: Flip Charts, Quick Math

Electronic Charts and Study Guides:

Math type and Equation Editor (Free); Microsoft Math;
Scientific Notebook; Ask Dr. Math, and

Auditory Prompts: Step Pad

Adapted Calculators: Large Button, Talking, Fraction,
OnScreen, MoffSoft (has a tape that you can print out and an enlarge button,

Graphing Software: Microsoft Word, and Excel.

MathPad and MathPad Plus (Has virtual manipulatives)

Equation Editor in Word, Scientific Notebook, Geometer’s
Sketchpad, Effax FX MathPack (Provide Eligibility and they will provide the

Mathtype can be used with Math Daisy for voice output.

Portable Math Processors:


Money: Play Money, Charts and Guides, Money Calculator,


Adapted Rulers, Measuring Devices, Finger Grip Rulers


Master Clock (Clear Overlay)

Time Wheels

Blog Information

Meeting Minutes: February 2011: The Role of an OI Teacher

OI Consortium

Dr. Kathy Heller: The
Role of the OI Teacher

What makes an OI teacher different than other teachers?

How are our students different than other teachers?

CEC Division Position Statement: Started in 1996. Dr. Heller
has written an article describing the critical role of the OI Teacher, as well as discussing the history of OI certification.
Dr. Heller’s article delineates the Specialized Skills in
Physical/Health Disabilities such as Legal Foundations, Characteristics,
Assessment, Instruction, Curriculum, and Learning Environment.  Students with physical and health disabilities are the most at risk of all the groups of students with disabilities if the teacher does not have the required knowledge and
skills.  They are not only at risk of not having an appropriate education with the needed modifications and adaptations, but the student’s well being may be at risk.
The student’s well being may hinge on the teachers’ knowledge and
ability to:  provide a safe environment to accommodate the student’s unique medical and health needs; recognize and report critical observations concerning changes in health status; recognize and respond quickly to emergency situations.

Study in 2001: It is frightening what teachers of students with Orthopedic Impairments did NOT know regarding their students’ needs. When a specialized certification is required, there is a demand for a specialized certification program at the university level.

However, when the certification is no longer required by the state agency, then there is no delivery of knowledge and specialized skills instruction for OI teachers. This knowledge is critical for students with physical disabilities.

2009: A National Panel was formed to determine what an OI Teacher does differently from other educators, and what unique skills are required to provide appropriate service to students with physical/health disabilities.  These skills are outlined in

“What Every Special Educator Must Know: The International Standards for thePreparation and Certification of Special Education Teachers” (The Council for Exceptional Children, 1996).  Dr. Heller provided handouts and review.

The initial certification in GA for OI is either an add-on
certification program, or a masters in OI.

Dr. Heller reviews the Standards for Teachers of Students
with Physical and Health Disabilities.

Standard 1: There are key differences in the skills and
knowledge that are specific to OI teachers, i.e. medical procedures (tube
feeding, CIC, etc.) as well as having the knowledge base regarding the
different disabilities (etiology, characteristics, impact on learning,
instructional strategies for specific disabilities);  for example: How Spina Bifida effects abstract reasoning skills in Math, inferential comprehension, etc.)

Standard 2: Secondary conditions are also highly possible in
students with orthopedic impairments, such as asthma, seizure disorders and
shunt malfunctioning.  It is important to know how these conditions interact with the primary orthopedic impairment and how these conditions further impact the student’s learning.

Standard 3: Individual Learning Differences- As OI teachers,
we must effectively determine how the orthopedic impairment affects our
students’ ability to learn and respond (communicate) with others. Students with
orthopedic impairments have varying means of response (eye gaze, foot
movements, etc.) that may not be traditionally looked upon as a reliable means
of response.  However, for our OI students it is necessary to systematically determine the most efficient means of response for the student so that the student may be able to interact effectively with their learning environment, teachers, peers, etc. Also, students with degenerative diseases have further psychosocial effects and emotional effects. It may be good to have a discussion regarding how to handle the emotional component of degenerative disorders with staff members, and how we can best support our students during this time. Additionally, students with medical conditions (seizures, ADHD) and post-surgery will have interactive affects from medication and pain management. Students who are nonverbal have to have specialized interventions regarding reading instruction, i.e. additional rehearsal for decoding using the Non-Verbal Reading Approach. Experiential deficits and processing issues are also a huge concern for our students.

Overall, we have to explore the interactive effects of all
factors that students must deal with (functional effects, health effects,
psychosocial, developmental, etc.) and how these factors impact the student’s
learning in all realms.

We have to separate the motor from the cognitive in our
approach to working with students with Orthopedic Impairments. Specialized
instructional strategies will alleviate motor errors and frustration for
students with severe physical disabilities.

It is also necessary for students with physical disabilities
to be involved and knowledgeable about their health care procedures in order
for them to be as independent as possible.

Students should also benefit from adapted curriculums and
assistive technology that will maximize their educational performance according
to their unique needs.

Standard 5: Learning Environments/Social Interactions

It is necessary for teachers to accommodate their student’s
needs within the classroom environment so that the student can more fully
access their instructional materials.

OI teachers should walk the emergency evacuation route to
make sure that students with physical disabilities are able to quickly and
safely leave the building. If the suggested route is not appropriate, then it
may be necessary to create alternative plans and procedures.

Positioning techniques are also necessary to ensure the most
functional use of the students’ limbs that are functional. Correct
re-positioning and movement in and out of the wheelchair are also extremely
important in order to prevent pressure sores that may become infected, thus
leading to other possible conditions, some of which can be fatal.

Mrs. Seals (DeKalb) asked about recommendations for physical
therapists regarding older students who are often dismissed from services
regarding decreased range of motion issues over time. Recommendation: “Are
there strategies that I can use as a teacher during the extra time that we have
during the day to assist with increasing range of motion that may be impacted
by contractures?”

Also, in order to prevent teacher injury, proper lifting and
handling techniques are important to know when lifting and handling students.

Spread:  Sometimes when people see a student with physical disabilities they assume there are other disabilities as well, i.e. a student with CP is intellectually disabled.

Making sure that paraprofessionals are not over stepping their boundaries which further enables learned helplessness.

Standard 6: Language

Making sure that students with disabilities are able to
communicate effectively through the use of an AT device or other assistive
technologies or strategies, always having a secondary form of communication
available when the primary system is inoperable.

Standard 7: Scheduling and Programming

OI students will often require an individualized approach
when determining what activities and classes may require accommodations and

OI teachers will often be called upon when a student is
being initially assessed for special education services.

Standard 8: Assessment

Assessment is a continuing and frustrating issue.

Standard 9: Professional and Ethical Practice

Attending consortium meetings are a wonderful example of
professional and ethical practice.

The physical and health and multiple disabilities division
is our CEC division for OI.

Standard 10: Collaboration

OI teachers must collaborate with an array of professionals
in order to most effectively serve the needs of our students with physical

Meeting Minutes: January 2010: Creating a Walk-Through Instrument

Mary:  email to ask
for Phone numbers to send Betty for Conference Call
Set up a gmail account in Google documents
Send the notes with the d/hh protocol
Judy and Janie will set up the document on Google documents
Everyone must set up an email account on Google documents

OI Consortium January 26, 2010
Sign in and Introductions were made.
Welcome to Ms. Nancy Buice and Ms. Rebecca Reeves
Upcoming Dates, Locations and Topics
Ms. Buice and Ms. Reeves
Consortia Focus and Administrative Walk-Through Instrument for Students with Orthopedic Impairments

The Metro Directors of GLRS met in a retreat to discuss the
stimulus funding and how we as educators can get our heads together to increase excellence in special education that will remain beyond those funds.  Ms. Buice presented the focus of Metro Consortia and the development of a universal design tool with non-negotiable specifics in a walk-through classroom instrument for the various disability areas.  The project idea originally focused on math but has since grown.  Ms. Reeves provided guidance in the development of the project walk-through instrument.  She shared that some of the other metro area consortia have completed their walk-through.

The Metro Directors of Special Education Shared Two-Year


  • To increase achievement of students with disabilities in Math,Reading and ELA
  • To increase successful transitions of SWD’s from school to other viable
  • To create a sustainable model for building the capacity of special education personnel and their stakeholders
  • Each Consortium will develop a walk-through instrument to be used by Principals and other Non-Special Education Personnel
  • Purpose of instrument is to provide guidance on observable, non-negotiable practices and items that should be in place for students with a specific type of disability served in various settings – resource, self-contained or general education.
  • All consortium members were invited to bring tools that they are currently using in the various systems.

Ms. Reeves discussed the informational meeting that took place with the Metro Directors and Consortia Chairs.  Purposes of current consortia were reviewed.  Common threads included networking and providing resources. Some were set up to do projects but others did not have the structure to do so.

Ms. Reeves shared the results of the on-line survey.  She then asked the group if they feel they are up to the development of this proposed project.  One concern mentioned is the ability of members to meet more often.  The Metro Directors said they were willing to give more release time.  Ms. Parks stated that we are finding it will work to our advantage to have local school system Principals and administrators on board as to non-negotiables.  Ms. Nelson said she would like to see more consistency from the State Department.  She also stated that with many teachers participating in the OI Consortia that it is important not to interrupt and impact instruction in the classroom with release time, but to utilize technology and webinars to increase collaboration.

Ms. Reeves charged us to think about the most essential accommodations and best practices that are crucial for students with orthopedic impairments. This should be a simple, informative type of tool that would be helpful to non-special educators.

Gwinnett and DeKalb shared their OI checklists they use for student evaluation, as well as their classroom adaptation/modification checklists.

Consideration factors in developing the walk-through tool:
*The instrument must be user friendly.
*This tool is for Administrators to know what to look for to
be able to be good instructional leaders of special education
*We are building the capacity of stakeholders.  Therefore the tool must be:
Regular ed. Friendly
Jargon free
2+ tools for different settings

concept – 5 minutes
Keep “non-special ed” administrators in mind
Include the physical set up of the classroom
-Principals have such a load on them: this becomes an opportunity to help the Principals and other instructional leaders in the building to have an instrument to use over time.
What it is NOT for: evaluation of the teacher

The members were asked to break into small groups and determine the 3 most important factors for students with orthopedic impairments. These Best practices for OI are listed below :

I = Instruction


A=Assistive Technology


C=Classroom Schedule

C – Classroom schedule that provides consistency of instruction – physical and health management
A – Assistive technology is available and used
A – Access to curriculum through assistive technology & alternative formats for materials (e.g. copies of notes)

E- Environmental set-up that does not isolate the student – ease of access to materials, equipment {Shows respect for fire code
while also providing outlets for student needs}
E- Medical equipment

I -Include special factors on checklist
I -Student engagement {activation of background knowledge}
I –Chunking of information

P – Level of support provided by parapros
P -Personnel sufficient for student supports:
Parapro, PT, OT, SLP, etc.

E– Positioning & mobility for students:
Student aids, e.g. crutch is nearby
Understanding that a student who is tilting in chair is not sleeping

A – Knowledge of the range of AT – low tech, no tech, high tech

I –Extended time is provided for students to perform
tasks and process information
I –Issue of performance of some children who are OI in self-contained setting . . . more intensive, individualized instruction
I – Instructional focus for OI students is related to general curriculum, not adapted for the most part

QUESTION: How can Principals know the difference in the performance of an OI student who is in self-contained class compared to one who is MI?

Format for the walk-through instrument:
First Actions:
Format of the tool should include :

(1) Category
(2) Element
(3) Checkmark
(4)  Notes
(5) Columns

Next Steps/Actions
*Send a copy of  d/hh sample to everyone (Mary)
*Investigate placing draft on google documents for everyone
to review and add changes (Judy H. And Janie)
*EVERYONE sets up a g-mail account
*All practices will be put into a format by Judy H.
*END RESULT:  Judy will do 2 documents – general education and special education
*Everyone will save the documents for themselves and adopt
for their system
*FINAL STEP: Betty Nelson will arrange conference call to consolidate document
CONFERENCE CALL takes place Feb. 18th from 3:00 – 4:00
The Metro Directors will be meeting Feb. 18th

Meeting Minutes: November 2009: Social Security Benefits Navigator

OI Consortium

November 3, 2009 –Gwinnett County Instructional Center

Co-Chairs:  Mary Wright and Eva Parks

  1. Sign in and introductions were made.
  2. Welcome to Sally Atwell form Benefits Navigator
  3. Topics for upcoming meetings were recommended, as well
    as dates
  4. Topics for discussion:

– possibly Nancy O’Hara or Elise Lynch from the DOE

Link, an Independent Living Center
in Decatur was

Elliott – 404-687-8896 at 755
Commerce Drive will be contacted

Expo this weekend:  Abilities Expo at
Cobb Galleria

Originally started for people
with orthopedic impairments; vendors, AT Pavilions,

*504 vs. Special Education Eligibility

*Eligibility:  particularly for consultative services

*Assessments for OI students:  especially nonverbal students
with little to no hand movement capabilities

*Assistive Technology for
students with orthopedic impairments –
Gwinnett and DeKalb’s AT teams together

Jan. 26th, March 30th, May 11th

Shepherd’s Center – See handouts – feel free to pass this information on to families.

Benefits Navigator works from a grant from Social
Security.  It is a nationally funded
program so they can get families in touch with other states when needed.  Benefits Navigator works closely with the
schools and can give parents starting information and tips about applying.  They are community-based and free, and can
come to the school and to a meeting if needed to discuss benefits.  Benefits Navigator goes to lots of transition
events and are always available as a resource.
They network with lots of other resources as well.

They cannot sit down and work with parents to help them apply
for social security, but they can give tips.
Calling the toll free number is the best way to get the ball rolling.

When applying for SSI, the tip sheet (from handout) points
out that the parents want to focus on what the student.

In the handout is a guide to social security and SSI work
incentive.   SSI is a needs based
program, and typically most OI students will be able to get SSI.  Contact information was given out, and Work
Incentives Planning Assistance (WIPA) was described.  Included in the powerpoint and handout is a
map of Georgia
counties in the WIPA service area.  There
is a website telling the project that serves each state.

Ticket to Work Program was discussed.  It is another social security tool helping
students go to work.  It provides incentives
to service providers other than VR to hire people with disabilities  In addition to talking about transition
issues with families, WIPA provides ongoing support.

Overview of the two systems:
Social Security and SSI Work Incentives (different rules that apply to
each program).  SSDI is the program for
people who have worked and paid into the system (or a parent who has worked and
paid in and qualify as an adult child).
Often parents think that check is going to end when the student turns 18
years of age.  It is recommended to go
through the steps of applying for social security benefits about 6 months prior
to the 18th birthday to continue to draw the check.

SSI is a needs based program (basically a welfare program)
and you must meet social security criteria to be eligible.  You must have less than $2000 in the child’s
name.  Before the child turns 18 mom and
dad’s income is considered.  If a child
is ineligible for SSI, they can apply for the Katy Beckett waiver to qualify
for Medicaid until they turn 18 years old and can apply for SSI on their
own.  As long as the gross income is less
than $900/month they can continue to receive SSI.  You CAN own a home and/or a vehicle of any
value and it will not make you ineligible for SSI.

Earned income as well as Medicaid benefits were discussed at
length and are in the powerpoint handout.
It is always to think in terms of an impairment related work expense,
for example (must be approved by social security and you must have
receipts).  When you are on SSI and you
need to set something straight on your record, call the toll free number and
request an appointment with a claims representative.  The claims representative has the most
knowledge and can give the most accurate information.

Student Eared Income Exclusion (SEIE) is for students under
the age of 22 (counts for summer jobs).
You have to follow the process and provide school enrollment information
– and be sure to check accuracy for the SSI check regarding reduction.  When families first apply for SSI and the
student gets the reduced amount, often it is because they are NOT paying
rent.  The student must pay their fair
share of expenses.  You can charge them a
flat rate for food and shelter.  Sally
has a prototype of a lease agreement that families have used.  For right now, the number for fair market
value in Atlanta
is around $425/month.  Be sure to
document to have a paper trail about that rent payment.  Often you provide the lease agreement once
the student is receiving the check (reduced amount) to get the increase.

PASS plan does not reduce the social security check.  It can allow you to save for vehicles,
training and education that VR won’t cover, to set up a self-employment
venture.  This vehicle allows you to save
for a need (through an approved plan) with no reduction from social security
check..  They can get the full SSI and
save the money needed for independent living and employment purposes.  If you know a student who could benefit from
the PASS plan please contact Benefits Navigator.

In “Economic Independence” handout is information on the age
18 redetermination.  When students turn
age 18 the student is reevaluated using the adult standards of disability.  Section 301 Protection (if they are getting
benefits prior to age 18) is now opened up to the school system and not just VR

VI.  Q&A and Closing:  A lengthy discussion took place regarding
technology      programs available to
teachers and students with orthopedic impairments.  Also    the
topic of directives from the GLRS Directors was reviewed.