Author Archives: Christopher Bugaj

About Christopher Bugaj

Host of the A.T.TIPSCAST- A podcast about Assistive Technology, Differentiating Instruction, and Universal Design for Learning in Public Schools. Assistive Technology Specialist and Speech-Language Pathologist.

A.T.TIPSCAST Episode #154: Planning for Motor Memory

Download the audio directly – Episode #154: Planning for Motor Memory

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This episode of the A.T.TIPSCAST is sponsored by Texthelp, provider of the award-winning Read&Write software solutions. Click on the banner above to learn about the amazing Read&Write products.

Episode Overview –

Episode #154 features a discussion on the concept of using motor plans and motor memory to become automatic at using an AAC device.

A.T.TIPS in this Episode –

A.T.TIP #486: Plan for motor memory right from the onset of device implementation.

A.T.TIP #487: Don’t mess with the motor plan once established.

Attribution Notification – Portions of the following musical tracks were used in this episode:

Upcoming Live Presentations

ISAAC Conference in Toronto, Canada – August 2016

AAC Practitioners in the 21st Century: Leveraging Our Efforts through Social Media and Digital Technologies (with Carole Zangari)

4 panel comic with a genie and a lamp. Panel 1 - Genie says "You rubbed the magic lamp! Make a wish!". Panel 2 - Genie says, "What? No! I won't let you waste your wish on that!" Panel 3 - Genie says, "If you wish to learn about digital tech you don't need me!" Panel 4 - Genie says, "Go to Carole's and Chris's Precon at ISAAC on August 6th instead!" In the bottom there is text that reads "sign up today! http://bit.ly/isaacprecons

Liberator AAC Summit – Melbourne, Australia – July 2016

Contact Information

attipscast@gmail.com
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A.T.TIPSCAST Episode #153: The Corenerstone of Language

Side by side image of two diagrams featuring concentric circles. The first shows a large red circle labeled Fringe. Inside it is a small green circle that reads core. The caption below it reads Amount of Words. Beside this diagram is a large green circle matching the size of the red circle. It reads core. Inside the core circle is a smaller red circle labeled fringe. The label underneath reads Usage Frequency.Download the audio directly – Episode #153: The Corenerstone of Language 

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This episode of the A.T.TIPSCAST is sponsored by Texthelp, provider of the award-winning Read&Write software solutions. Click on the banner above to learn about the amazing Read&Write products.

Episode Overview –

Episode #153 features a discussion on which vocabulary to target when teaching language to a student who uses an augmentative/alternative communication device. This is the episode for Better Hearing and Speech Month of 2016.

A.T.TIPS in this Episode –

A.T.TIP #484: Use open-ended questions rather than closed questions. Try this exercise to practice!

table with three columns and six rows. The first column is red. The second is green. The third is white. The first column is labeled "Teacher Says". The second column is labeled "Teacher Could Say" The third column is labeled "Possible Accepted Student Response". The first column has the following written in each row respectively " “Who had a little lamb?” “Who was the first president?” “How do plants make food?” “Where do polar bears live?” “Which book is your favorite?”

A.T.TIP #485: Converse with device users in such a way that allows them to respond using the most frequently used vocabulary.

Upcoming Live Presentations

ISAAC Conference in Toronto, Canada – August 2016

AAC Practitioners in the 21st Century: Leveraging Our Efforts through Social Media and Digital Technologies (with Carole Zangari)

4 panel comic with a genie and a lamp. Panel 1 - Genie says "You rubbed the magic lamp! Make a wish!". Panel 2 - Genie says, "What? No! I won't let you waste your wish on that!" Panel 3 - Genie says, "If you wish to learn about digital tech you don't need me!" Panel 4 - Genie says, "Go to Carole's and Chris's Precon at ISAAC on August 6th instead!" In the bottom there is text that reads "sign up today! http://bit.ly/isaacprecons

Liberator AAC Summit – Melbourne, Australia – July 2016

Contact Information

attipscast@gmail.com
Register as a fan of the show to receive
e-mail alerts for new episodes

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A.T.TIPSCAST Episode #152: Breaking Down and Building Up Language

Download the audio directly – Episode #152: Breaking Down and Building Up Language

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This episode of the A.T.TIPSCAST is sponsored by Texthelp, provider of the award-winning Read&Write software solutions. Click on the banner above to learn about the amazing Read&Write products.

Episode Overview –

Episode #152 is a discussion on how to teach language by breaking it down into component parts and structuring lessons around language concepts.

A.T.TIPS in this Episode –

A.T.TIP #481: Developing a plan to target one or two words per week (or so) building up to more complex/grouped language concepts.

Sample Planning Sheet

Targetted Word – Put

Numbers in Language Opportunities column are minimum opportunities

to use the targetted word

TIME ACTIVITY

LANGUAGE OPPORTUNITIES

8:00 – 8:30

Morning Circle

Attendance – Where to put others (5)

Calendar – Where to put # day (5)

Weather – Where to put clothes on character (5)

8:30 – 9:00

Science

Plants – Soil in cup (3), seeds in soil (5), water in soil (2), plant near window (1)

9:00 – 9:30

Storytime

Story w/ “put” – Grocery shopping. Put in basket (3), put on belt (3), put in bag (1) put in car (1), put in house (1), put away (3)

9:30 – 10:00

Snack

Plate on table (1), cup on table (1), Put on plate (5), put in cup (5), put in hand (5), put top on (1), put in mouth (5), put away (1)

10:00 – 10:30

Art

Paper on table (1), paint on table (3), brush on table (1), water in cup (1), water on table (1), smock on (1), paint on brush (5), brush on paper (5), brush in water (5), paper away (1), paint away (3), brush away (1), water away (1), smock off (1)

10:30 – 11:00

Maths

Addition – Squares on board (10), Group squares (10), Numbers to match squares (10)

A.T.TIP #482: Plan for at least 100 structured experiences to expose and use the targeted word or language concept.

A.T.TIP #483: Teaching language is more like building a house than unlocking a door.

Picture of a lock with a red arrow that reads not this and a picture of a house under construction with a green arrow that reads this

Upcoming Live Presentations

ISAAC Conference in Toronto, Canada – August 2016

AAC Practitioners in the 21st Century: Leveraging Our Efforts through Social Media and Digital Technologies (with Carole Zangari)

4 panel comic with a genie and a lamp. Panel 1 - Genie says "You rubbed the magic lamp! Make a wish!". Panel 2 - Genie says, "What? No! I won't let you waste your wish on that!" Panel 3 - Genie says, "If you wish to learn about digital tech you don't need me!" Panel 4 - Genie says, "Go to Carole's and Chris's Precon at ISAAC on August 6th instead!" In the bottom there is text that reads "sign up today! http://bit.ly/isaacprecons

Liberator AAC Summit – Melbourne, Australia – July 2016

Contact Information

attipscast@gmail.com
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e-mail alerts for new episodes

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The Origin of a NERD – National (Open) Educational Resource Database

This is a blog only post.

There is not an A.T.TIPSCAST Episode associated with this post.

 

BACKGROUND INFO

Before I begin, I want to make it clear that what you are about to read is not meant to be a criticism but rather a call to help me, and likely others, understand more about what is apparently a confusing topic.

Recently, the Open Educational Resources movement has picked up a head of steam with the announcement of the Open eBooks initiative championed by Michelle Obama and The White House. At the forefront of this initiative was the launch of a new Open eBooks app. Like so many, I was initially excited. Open sourced materials have the potential for providing greater and more varied learning opportunities to everyone including people with disabilities, so what was not to be excited about?

Many of the people in my extended network of educators (Marvin Williams, Mike Marotta, Jamie Martin, etc.) working for and with people with disabilities began exploring the app for its accessibility features, including myself. The results were concerning as many discovered that the registration process to utilize the app was cumbersome and a barrier in itself, requiring educators to input demographic data that isn’t necessarily readily accessible to them. Once past the registration process, some necessary features were not universally available on every book within the app. Features such as text to speech, text to speech with dual highlighting, and image descriptions were simply not present ubiquitously.

These findings spurred an outcry (encapsulated in this blog post by June Behrmann), which, I think, led to the accessibility features of the Open eBooks app to be a topic of #ATchat on March 2nd. Andrew Marcinek, the Open Education Advisor to the Office of Educational Technology was an active participant in the chat and addressed the concerns.

ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTIONS

But, here are the questions that have been plaguing me. Why does another app need to exist in the first place? Could open educational resources be created, organized, and shared in such a way that are device agnostic? Or, to put it simply, could open educational resources be made available in such a way that the user chooses which application he or she wants to use to experience the content? Could the government, rather than backing an additional app with a limited library of materials, support a structure where a user could search the entirety of open educational resources and then, select and open a file using whatever tool they want?

Currently, a person might need to maintain multiple apps to get to a specific piece of content. Each app has its own UI experience and accessibility features. Users need to maintain all of these apps, navigate the differing UI experiences, and mitigate varied features of the different apps, which makes for a giant ball of confusion.

A typical user experience might be as follows:

“Hmmm…where can I find this title? Let me check this app. Nope, that title is not there. Now let me check this other app. Nope, that title is not here either. Now, let me check yet another app! Huzzah, the title is here but this app isn’t an app that has the accessibility feature I need (or even prefer).”

If I’m a user who already has trouble reading and possibly has executive functioning difficulties, adding yet another library for me to check likely adds a barrier rather than knocks one down.

Instead of asking users to search multiple libraries individually could the government help provide one central place where all users go to get the content in the format they choose? Instead of backing yet another new app, could the money be spent building a tool which ties all the existing open educational resources together to make them searchable?

TRANSPORTATION AS A MODEL

Consider how the government works to facilitate transportation in the US. As part of the nation’s infrastructure, the government contracts out the companies to build roads. The government doesn’t contract out to companies to build cars that go on these roads. The government provides regulations for the construction of the cars but doesn’t manufacture them.

Could the same model be applied to open educational resources? Like the building of roads, the government could contract out to a company to build a searchable structure tying all open education resources together. When a user is looking for a resource, they could just go to this one place. The user could search the database and results could come back with all the file formats available. The user could then select the file format to open in the app of her or his choice (Open in…). To ensure accessibility and compatibility, the government could provide regulations about the criteria necessary for that file to be found in the search, just like what currently exists for the creation of automobiles regarding safety and environmental regulations. “If you’re going to sell a car in the US, it needs to meet these safety and environmental parameters. If you’re going to share a resource in the National (Open) Educational Resource Database (NERD, for short! Yes! How great is that?!?!) it needs to meet these accessibility standards.”

I fear the time, effort, and money spent creating the Open eBooks app was like building a car when what was really needed was a road. As a driver, I want to be able to choose my car knowing no matter which I choose, I’m ensured some base level of safety. As a reader, I want to be able to choose my reading application, knowing no matter which I choose, I’m ensured some base level of accessibility. I shouldn’t need to have multiple cars in order to get to where I want to go just like I shouldn’t need to have multiple eBook applications in order to read the materials from which I want to learn.  

All that written, I could be completely backward on this. I’m open to the idea that I’m completely and utterly wrong, which is why I started this post asking for a call to further my understanding. Please comment below to further the conversation!

 

UPDATE 5/12/16 – This might be just the NERD we’re looking for- http://learningregistry.org

A.T.TIPSCAST Episode #151: SNUG & Presuming Competence with AAC

Download the audio directly – Episode #151: SNUG & Presuming Competence with AAC

Chris standing in front of a whiteboard with the words Spontaneous Novel Utterance Generation written on it.

 

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This episode of the A.T.TIPSCAST is sponsored by Texthelp, provider of the award-winning Read&Write software solutions. Click on the banner above to learn about the amazing Read&Write products.

Episode Overview –

Episode #151 is a discussion of the philosophy of Spontaneous Novel Utterance Generation (SNUG) and what the term “Presuming Competence” means in relation to teaching language to users of augmentative/alternative communication.

A.T.TIPS in this Episode –

A.T.TIP #478: Spontaneous Novel Utterance Generation (SNUG) – http://bit.ly/ashasnug

A.T.TIP #479: The Least Dangerous Assumption – http://bit.ly/leastdangerousassumptionpdf 

A.T.TIP #480: http://bit.ly/aacagreements – A list generated at Edcamp at ATIA 2016 by professionals working in the field of AAC outlining 12 agreed upon principles.

Upcoming Live Presentations

ISAAC Conference in Toronto, Canada – August 2016

AAC Practitioners in the 21st Century: Leveraging Our Efforts through Social Media and Digital Technologies (with Carole Zangari)

Contact Information

attipscast@gmail.com
Register as a fan of the show to receive
e-mail alerts for new episodes

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A.T.TIPScast Episode #150: A.T. Movie Review – Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Download the audio directly – Episode #150: A.T. Movie Review – Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Chris as a Jedi with young Yoda in the background

Texthelp advertisement

This episode of the A.T.TIPSCAST is sponsored by Texthelp, provider of the award-winning Read&Write software solutions. Click on the banner above to learn about the amazing Read&Write products.

Episode Overview –

Episode #150 is a review of the film Star Wars: The Force Awakens from an educational perspective.

A.T.TIPS in this Episode –

A.T.TIP #477: The National Education Plan of 2016

Upcoming Live Presentations

ISAAC Conference in Toronto, Canada – August 2016

AAC Practitioners in the 21st Century: Leveraging Our Efforts through Social Media and Digital Technologies (with Carole Zangari)

Contact Information

attipscast@gmail.com
Register as a fan of the show to receive
e-mail alerts for new episodes

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Top Ten Reasons to Avoid ATIA 2016

This is a blog only post. There is not an A.T.TIPSCAST Episode associated with this post.

ATIA 2016 logo with a null sign over it

If you haven’t heard about it before, there is this event coming up in a few weeks called The Assistive Technology Industry Association conference. It happens every year. I’ve been before and, unfortunately, I have to be there again. For me, it is too late. I must go. You, however, might still have a chance to avoid it, which I HIGHLY recommend you do based on the following top ten reasons…

10. You’re sick of learning new stuff. Learning new things is so 2015. Why would you want to learn about the latest innovative approaches to using technology to help people with disabilities? It’s better to stay home and binge watch some show on Netflix.

9. It’s in Florida in January. The weather is horrible. The glare from the sun can be blinding. That much sun can have a drying effect on your skin let alone the risk of sunburn. Better stay home, especially if where you live is cold. If you really need a place to go in January, consider Buffalo. I hear they need your help shoveling. You could do way more good to the world there than by learning how to be better at your job of educating others (not to mention build some muscles).

8. Pre-conference overload. If your supervisor is forcing you to go to ATIA, whatever you do, DO NOT GO to the pre-conference sessions.  Why spend even more time in Florida? What a waste! Especially avoid any pre-conference provided by Beth Poss and that guy she presents with sometimes (I forget his name, handsome though). They are doing something on UDL and 21st Century Learning. No one who has ever gone to one of their sessions before has come out happy, enthusiastic, or inspired to try the new tools and approaches they experienced. Who wants to learn best practices for engaging contemporary students? Pish posh. Long live worksheets! Afterall, that’s how I done learned all the things I done learned. Do not click on this link to sign up for their session – http://bit.ly/atia16precons Avoid it like you avoided spoilers for The Force Awakens.

7. MEGA pre-conference overload. Just who do these organizers of ATIA think they are? Offering the choice between two-one day pre-conference sessions and one two-day pre-conference sessions is ridiculous. I can’t decide what I want to eat in the morning let alone choose from all these different types of sessions. Don’t they know people want less choice, not more? Just tell me what to go to already! But whatever you do, don’t sign up to learn about how to establish, maintain, and grow your team from actual people who have established, maintained, and grown a team. Members of the Loudoun County Public Schools AT Team are the last listed pre-conference session on this page – http://bit.ly/atia16precons. Your team is already strong enough, large enough, and operates with practices streamlined enough that you don’t need to work with them to learn innovative service delivery design methodologies. If you’re like me, you’re too busy working harder to work smarter. Skip it like hopscotch.

6. It’s boring. Sessions are just borzzzzz. Sorry, fell asleep just thinking about all the face-to-face conversations I’ll be forced to have with professionals from all around the world who do what I do. Why, it’s absolutely mind numbing to think of the conversations where we’ll be talking about strategies and techniques that actually work for people. Choose to do something more interesting with your time, like watching paint dry.

5. Camping is not my idea of a vacation. Last year there was this free event AFTER the conference (like I wasn’t already completely drained from the experience of the actual conference) called Edcamp. It’s done in an informal “unconference” format where people just show up, throw ideas on a board, and then go to designated rooms to talk together about those ideas. What a nightmare! Who wants to sit around in large circles discussing the most important issues impacting people with disabilities…for free? This year, the organizers have the gall of doing it again and, get this, they are informally calling it “EdCamp After Dark” because it is in the evening. No. I’m sorry. I’d rather go clubbing than sit around talking with some of the “names” in the field about the issues that matter most. Avoid clicking here to register – http://bit.ly/edcampatia16 Call me an Uber and dial up the Taylor Swift. This guy is off to get his dance on.

4. Obnoxious vendors and their wares. Why do I need to float through the vendor hall touching hundreds of actual products, pushing the buttons, and interacting with the people who develop those products? I CAN GOOGLE IT! Vendors stand over their booths like trap door spiders waiting for prey to walk by so they can leap out and snatch them. Then, once they have you ensnared, they show you all the stuff their product can do to help all the people you’re supposed to be serving. Who would want to learn about the latest innovations and updates? They don’t want to hear about our practical consumer needs. They just want to further develop their products based on guesswork, not actual feedback from real people like you and me. If you have to be at ATIA, do yourself a favor and avoid the vendor hall altogether. Learning about products, new and old, from the people who actually make them is about as fruitful as punching yourself in the face. Instead, spend your time scrolling through your Facebook feed to see what your old high school buddies think about Donald Trump.

3. The facilities are disgustingly horrid. The constant sound of the waterfall pouring into the pool is irritating. The pool is surrounded by palm trees which provide way too much shade. There is even this tropical bird outside sometimes that makes this abnormal screeching sound reminding you that you’re not in Kansas anymore. What are you, a pirate? ARRRRGGHHHH!!! Don’t be fooled into thinking this is enjoyable, fun, or relaxing. It is just so stressful to have to decide how and where to position the lounge chairs. Avoid the hassle and stay inside, or better yet, home.

2. There’s a hashtag! It’s 2016 people! Haven’t you heard that conferences are passe’ and that you can learn everything online? Why BE at the conference when so many nerds will be posting their experiences using the #atia16 hashtag? You don’t need to actually be there interacting in person with people! Instead, you can just follow along online. People who have done that in the past have never ever stated a feeling of FOMO. They all say that it is just like being there. If it is just like being there, then why go? Prove the administrators right who said that you don’t need to travel to learn new things. They need the ego boost.

1. The selfish people. If you’ve been to ATIA before then you know the absolute worst part of the entire experience is how selfish the people are who attend. Presenters talking the entire time in their sessions telling you how great their ideas are is just one example of how conceited and stuck up people there can be. Without any respect for YOUR time, people interact with you to bring about real change in the lives of others. Some might think they do this out of a genuine concern and compassion for others; a desire to make the world a better place. But really, they just want to get their names out there. When you’re sitting is sessions, chatting in the hall, networking by the pool, and sharing meals with anyone at ATIA, just remember that they probably have some sort of secret agenda. They’re most likely looking out for number one, trying to manipulate you in some way, and have no genuine interest in actually helping you or people with disabilities.

I hope you heed my warnings. I hope I’ve convinced you to stay far away from Central Florida in early February. I have to be there but it might not be too late for you! You don’t have to click this link to register – http://bit.ly/atia16registration. You don’t have to sign up for the “awesome” pre-conference sessions. You don’t have to meet and hobnob with others in the field. You don’t have to succumb to the pressures of the pool. You don’t have to go at all, do you?

Unfortunately yours,
Chris

Some Upcoming Live Presentations

The Assistive Technology Industry Association Conference in Orlando, Florida – February 2016

One-day Pre-conference – Universal Design for 21st-Century Learning (with Beth Poss) REGISTER NOW!

One-day Pre-conference –Evolution of an AT Team: Real World Experiences Shaping Practices (with Sally Norton-Darr, Stacy McBain and Mark Nichols) REGISTER NOW!

ISAAC Conference in Toronto, Canada – August 2016

AAC Practitioners in the 21st Century: Leveraging Our Efforts through Social Media and Digital Technologies (with Carole Zangari)

Contact Information

attipscast@gmail.com

Register as a fan of the show to receive

e-mail alerts for new episodes

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