Meeting Minutes: March 20, 2014

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.

Resource Fair 2014 P2P flyer

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:

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: 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, or use the “Contact Us” tab at the top of the blog.

Thank you,

Judy Bytheway

March 20th Meeting in Cherokee County

About the meeting:

Dr. Kathryn Heller will be presenting her findings from her recent research regarding issues surrounding students with terminal illnesses. We were able to complete surveys for her for the purpose of her research, as well as many other OI teachers and related service providers around the country. The article has valuable information regarding issues related to students with terminal illnesses and how we can effectively handle these situations. This is such a huge part of our roles as OI teachers, so the information will be really helpful. If you have a chance to read the article before the meeting, that would be great!

Here is the link to the article:

You can download the article if you scroll to the bottom of the screen.

A couple of notes:

If you would like for me to add an OI teacher to this e-mail list that may benefit from our meetings, please send me their e-mail address. I am trying to keep the e-mail list as updated as possible.

The meeting will be held from 1:00-3:45 p.m.

There is another meeting that is going to be held in that room at 4:00, so we just need to make sure we exit the room by 3:45.

I hope that as many as people as possible can make the meeting!

I am working on finding a more central location for everyone for next year’s meetings. Our next meeting is at the Tools for Life Facility at Georgia Tech. We will be touring the facility so that we can become more familiar with the services that are offered there.


January 16th Meeting in Cherokee County

Hello Everyone!

I just wanted to let everyone know about our meeting in January. We will be meeting on January 16th from 1-4 p.m. The teachers from Cherokee County have offered to host our next meeting. They are going to offer a presentation of various AT that is being used with some of their students. Jim, Debbie, and Renee presented this seminar at the GATE (Georgia Assistive Technology in Education) conference a couple of weeks ago. Their presentation was very informative, and involved the use of AT with students with physical disabilities specifically. I would love for everyone to be able to attend this meeting. I know that it may be farther than we are used to, but it will be well worth it. Also, I strongly recommend that everyone attend next year’s GATE conference as it offered a great deal of resources and information geared specifically to our population of students. I will make sure to keep everyone posted regarding next year’s conference.

***If possible, please e-mail me a list of any assistive technology devices, software, etc. that you are using with your current students, and a brief explanation of how you are using the AT. I think that it would be great to follow up the presentation with a discussion and sharing of AT that we are using with our students in order to expand our knowledge. I will collect the information and then share it with the group.

Our March 20th meeting will still take place in Gwinnett, unless I am able to schedule another tour. We can discuss possible options at the January meeting.

And, I have exciting news for our May meeting! We will be touring the Tools for Life facility at Georgia Tech. This is a national organization that provides a lending library of various types of AT, AT evaluations, and training to students and their service providers. The Tools for Life website offers a more detailed explanation of the services and resources they provide. This tour will offer us a unique opportunity to tap into a huge resource regarding assistive technology. The director of the organization, Carolyn Phillips, is looking forward to our visit. I will provide more details about the tour at the March meeting.

Here is a link to their website:

Meeting Minutes: November 2013

There was a presentation by the Spina Bifida Association of GA.

The presentation was given by, Kristen DiCarlo, Exec. Director and Ginny Posid, Nurse Consult.

An overview of the Spina Bifida Association services and support were presented.

If you would like a packet of the presentation contact the Spina Bifida Association of GA

Meeting Minutes March 14, 2013

OI Consortia Meeting Minutes
March 13, 2013
1-4:00 PM
Explanations of OT/PT services and how there is a difference between the medical model vs. the educationally relevant model that is used in the school system.
OT/PT services should not restrict student’s access to instruction to the student’s detriment. OT and PT therefore should still fall under LRE.
There is often confusion between parents that come from other counties or states when PT and OT services have been more intensive vs. the model that is used to determine the extent of services in the state of Georgia.
There is often confusion about 504 vs. IDEA. Many of the OI kids are maintenance only and schools do want an IEP. There has been changes made in 504 this year and GCPS has developed a more lengthy process for 504. Schools are hesitant to agree to a 504 and want the child on an IEP. The student does not have an IEP to get voc rehab.
Discussion of School Based Occupational and Physical Therapy services through a power point was reviewed by GCPS Lead OT and PT.
The CERT is not an assessment, part of the IEP or a teaching methodology. It is a guidance tool to determine the need for educationally relevant therapy to support the IEP goals/objectives. It is a tool recommended by the GA DOE. Review of the tool was completed using the Considerations Guidelines. A sample case study was developed with group and then the tool was discussed from the case study. In some cases, the CERT may indicate that services may not be needed. The team will need to consider the child as a whole to determine if services are needed.
Meeting ended at 4:00.
Next meeting- May 9, 2013 at GCPS ISC

Meeting Minutes: October 11, 2012

Meeting Minutes from OI Consortium Meeting: October, 11 2012

Gwinnett Instructional Center, Duluth, Georgia

The meeting today centered on the topic of utilizing organizational strategies as well as various types of AT that will further increase a student’s overall organization.

Mrs. Bytheway presented a powerpoint presentation discussing the various realms of organization, and how students with physical and health impairments are more directly affected by a lack of organization resulting in failing grades, lack of confidence, etc.

The group also discussed options for students who are medically fragile and require multiple breaks throughout the day to prevent fatigue. One teacher discussed how a student would use Skype within the school in order to participate in her classes in another part of the school building that was more comfortable for her. This accommodation allows the student to attend school without causing extreme fatigue during the day, offering a creative solution to the problem of prolonged and frequent absences.

The group offered many suggestions as well regarding other organization strategies as well as AT that will further enable organization skills.

–         Teacher websites are useful for students to keep up with their homework assignments as well as long-term planning for upcoming tests and quizzes. It was also recommended that students use a regular hanging calendar to write their long-term or short-term assignments on as a visual reminder that can be displayed at home.

–         AT solutions that were offered were:

–         Scanning wands (Less than 50 dollars at Wal-Mart)

–         Web Based version of Kurzweil

–         Microsoft 7 version of their on screen keyboard (useful for students with Muscular Dystrophy or other degenerative conditions)

–         Utilize the hover feature instead of requiring mouse clicks.

–         Speech to text on Microsoft 7

–         Dragon on Iphone

–         Swiftpoint 300 Mouse

–         Having someone from CATEA come out again to offer another presentation on their research at Georgia Tech, or even going there to tour the facilities.

–         Attending another tour of the AT department at the ShephardCenter

–         The group also wanted to discuss how a planning tool could be developed for determining service hours for a student.

–         Lastly, the group wanted to discuss how to write IEP objectives for students who are served on a consultative basis. It was recommended that the each person brought a copy of their Present Levels of Performance in order to discuss possible service times for that student, and how the OI teacher should effectively serve that student. There may be differences among the counties regarding how students are served, and this would be a helpful exercise in comparing service models for OI Itinerants across the Metro Area. Lastly, the group discussed future topics for upcoming meetings.

Welcome Back!

Welcome to the 2012-2013 school year! I hope that everyone is back in full swing. We will have our first consortium meeting today, October 11, 2012. After a brief presentation and discussion on a couple of topics, I would really like for us to take a few minutes and write on a sticky note a particular on-line resource that you always find yourself going to throughout the school year. I can then add these links to the OI Blog so that they are available to everyone. I would love for us to be able to use the OI Blog as a go-to resource for online information and resources that applies to our students in any way. Don’t be shy! 🙂

Thanks again!


Dates for 2012-2013

Hello Everyone!

I just wanted to go ahead and let you know what the dates are for our meetings next year. I will send out additional reminders at the beginning of the school year.

The dates are:

October 11, 2012

January 10, 2013

March 14, 2013

May 9, 2013

Thanks again! Please go ahead and mark your calendars ASAP so that you can attend! 🙂 I hope you are having a restful summer.


Notes from March 2012 Meeting: IEP versus 504 Plans & Brittle Bone Disease

OI Consortium

Gwinnett County Instructional Center

March 15, 2012

Presentations by:

Mr. John Shaw

Director of Legal and Policy Issues,

Department of Special Education and Support Services,

Gwinnett County Public Schools

Dr. Kathryn Wolff Heller

Professor, Physical and Health Disabilities and Project Director,

Georgia Sensory Assistance Project, Georgia State University

504 vs. Special Education and Osteogenesis Imperfecta

Presenter:  John Shaw – 504 vs. Special Education

504 is a nondiscrimination statute that went into law in 1973.  This was initially an employment piece of legislation designed specifically to help Vietnam veterans get jobs.

Since 1973 it has been politicized

There are Crossovers between 504 and IDEA:

IDEA = the federal statute for special education

Regulations are through the U.S. Office of Civil Rights.

504 borrowed the concept of FAPE and brought it into 504.  It means students with disabilities must be given a free education, and appropriate as determined by an IEP team.

504 covers people from birth to death and includes:

-Child-Find responsibilities

-Comparisons between people with disabilities and without

-Parent Involvement

-Equal Education Opportunity

-Confidentiality of Information

-Participation in the least restrictive environment  (LRE)

-Evaluation, Placement, reevaluation, programming to meet individual needs

Under Section 504 a person with a disability is anyone who:

1.  Has a mental or physical impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities (major life activities include activities such as caring for one’s self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, reading, concentrating, thinking, sleeping, speaking, breathing, learning, and working)

-Substantial Limitation.

Has a record of such an impairment

What does “substantially limits” really mean?

    • Unable to perform a major life activity that the average person can do.
    • Nature and severity of impairment
    • Duration or expected duration of impairment
    • Permanent or long-term impact

Note:  in some situations, such as a broken arm impairing one’s ability to write, the 504 may be temporary

Where do we start?

Hold an SST Meeting:

  1. Is the child a child with a disability?
  2. If yes, does the disability have a significant impact on learning?
  3. If yes, schedule a meeting to develop a 504 plan (Invite the parents to this meeting).

The job of the team is to determine accommodations to level the playing field, i.e. large print books, preferential seating in the classroom, etc.

When a student requires specially designed instruction – an IEP is necessary.

504 is about accommodations.

The 504 Committee:

The law is not specific on the members, but persons knowledgeable about the child, the meaning of the evaluation data, and the placement options.

Areas of Accommodations:

  • Seating arrangements
  • Homework assignments
  • Homework assignments records
  • Modifications in testing
  • Readers or taped materials
  • Grouping arrangements

Parent Rights under Section 504 (similar to IDEA)

Office of Civil Rights (part of the US Department of Education) has some newly defined parent rights on their website.

Procedural Safeguards under Section 504:

  • Notice
  • Opportunity for parents or guardian of the student to examine relevant records
  • Impartial hearing
  • Review Procedure

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Acts  (FERPA)  controls educational records.

Are we being “fair” to other students by providing accommodations to disabled students?

Are the appropriate staff members aware of the 504 plan, and is the plan working?

Review the plan regularly and make changes as necessary.

An IEP is necessary for a student who requires SPECIALIZED INSTRUCTION – this includes factors like the child missing school, pain, advocacy skills (may have learned helplessness, or may need something and will not ask for it).

Discipline and the 504 student:

  • Similar to the procedures set forth in IDEA
  • Suspensions of 10+ days are considered a change of placement
  • Students are entitled to oral or written notice of charges and the opportunity to tell their side before suspensions of 10 days or less.
  • BEFORE expelling a student for 10+ days, a manifestation determination meeting must be held.

ADA Amendments ACT of 2008

Expanded definitions of the following terms:

  • Substantially limits
  • Major life activities
  • Major bodily functions
  • Episodic or in remission
  • Mitigating measures
  • Regarded as

Under 504 a case manager must be designated.  Many schools have a 504 coordinator.  A logical person is assigned on a case by case basis, like a nurse, counselor, and teacher.

Accommodations are made, and related services are available in order for the student to access the accommodations.

Specially designed instruction includes functional life skills, and access to instruction.  The disability eligibility criteria and the evaluation process drive the decision making.

As a district, be mindful of over-representation and disproportionality, and your policies, practices and procedures.

Presenter:  Dr. Kathy Heller – Osteogenesis Imperfecta

Osteogenesis imperfecta is a condition causing extremely fragile bones.

Diagnosis involves several inherited conditions.

The reason the bones break – defective collagen fibers, less bone salts to get on the bone and stay on the bone (ongoing defect of the mutated gene).

Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI)- typically normal intelligence

OI is an ongoing condition


  1. Bone fragility
  2. Scoliosis
  3. Limbs bowed
  4. Sclera of eye more translucent in some (due to the bluish collagen in the eye)
  5. Middle ear affected
  6. Teeth may wear down

Type 1

  • Mildest form
  • Mild bone fragility
  • Little or no bone deformity
  • Blue sclera
  • Fractures decrease after puberty
  • 20% develop scoliosis
  • Often mild hearing loss

Type II

  • Most severe form (almost never see in schools because the child did not survive)
  • Infant dies at birth or shortly after
  • Born with multiple fractures, limbs are short, bent, deformed
  • Difficulty breathing secondary to rib cage deformity

Type III

  • Severe bone fragility and bowing of limbs (often see in the schools)
  • Multiple fractures
  • Short stature
  • Triangular face
  • Spinal curve, brittle teach
  • Kyphoscoliosis (including humping back)
  • Respiratory complications
  • Often hearing loss

Type IV

  • Moderate bone deformity
  • May be improvement with onset of puberty
  • 1/3 able to walk with crutches by age 4
  • Wheelchair use for independence
  • Most have short stature
  • Sclera is white

Severity –

  1. Type I (mildest)
  2. Type IV = next mildest
  3. V, VI, VII
  4. Type III more severe
  5. Type II most severe – most often do not survive

There can be a lack of diagnosis, and with all the breaks parent/s may be accused of abuse until clear diagnosis.  Although detection of OI can be done through a number methods:  Clinical observations, X-rays, Biopsy, Genetic studies, Ultrasound.

Treatments – see handout

Educational Implications:

  • Know how to lift and handle
  • Activity restrictions, adapted PE
  • Mobility accommodations
  • Fire evacuation plans
  • Absences
  • Transportation needs
  • Personal aide
  • Have procedure in place when think may have a broken bone
  • Other accommodations/adaptations

An OI child MUST have a plan – some type of plan.

See Brochure:

Osteogenesis Imperfecta OI Foundation – Plan for Success

An Educator’s Guide to Students with Osteogenesis Imperfecta

Print this brochure for people in need of education on OI.

OI Issue:  Education

Special Education or 504 Plan for students with OI:

-Usually is questioned when the student has the mildest form of OI

-Lack of attention due to the pain component may be present

-It always comes back to the particular student – determination made on a case by case basis.

Note:  There are some students with the mildest form of Osteogenesis Imperfecta who are on 504 plans.  However, there are some for whom specialized instruction through an IEP is more appropriate and required.

Tongue Drive System at Georgia Tech

Please read this article concerning the Tongue Drive System research going on at Georgia Tech. Share your thoughts!