Tag Archives: ATIA

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,

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)

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ATIA Pre-Conference Announcement – Digital Make & Take

Digital Make and Take: Digging Deeper

Advertisement for Digging Deeper Presconference

Two Day Pre-Conference, January 28th and 29th

 2014 Assistive Technology Industry Association Conference

 with Christopher Bugaj and Beth Poss


How often do you go to workshops, learn about new tools but upon returning home, never have time to develop your skills with the tools in order to use them successfully?

Don’t Sit N’ Get!

Do More. Learn More. Create More. Accomplish More.

We created a two day session which provides you with the opportunity to dig deep, learning how to use various digital applications with guidance and support. Come with an idea for an initiative, program, lesson, or activity that you’d like to start in your educational institution to propagate a change. Brainstorm, cultivate, and formulate that idea into something tangible and actionable using digital tools. Create a resource with the tools to take back home to use with students, clients, colleagues, or other staff. Use the time in this session to see your idea all the way through to fruition with guided practice from the facilitators. This session will minimize talking at you and maximize hands on doing!


Strategy-A-Day Calendar

Multimedia Professional Development Workshop


Social Media Presence (using tools like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Vine, Pheed, LinkedIn, SnapGuide, etc.)


Video Channel

App Review Resource

Online Professional Development Workshop

Multimedia Slideshow Series



Comic Strip Series centered around a particular topic

(ex. 5 Comics to Teach Core Vocabulary, 5 Comics to Teach UDL, etc.)

Social Bookmarking Group


A.T.TIPSCAST Episode #121: EnGAMESment – Let’s Play!

A.T.TIPSCAST spelled out in blue blocks on sandy peninsula in Minecraft

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

Image that reads "Start the new school year off right! Give your students Read&Write for the Desktop, Google, or iPad. Award-winning software solutions for individuals with learning disabilities such as Dyslexia, or reading and writing difficulties. Free trials and special IEP Pricing are available now! Texthelp

Episode Overview-

Episode #121, the first episode of Season 7,  features an article written for the Assistive Technology Industry Association’s (ATIA) newsletter about the implementation of digital games to target educational goals. A big thanks to my wife, Melissa Bugaj, for narrating the article. If you prefer to read the text version of the article please enjoy the ATIA newsletter. Some paid games were mentioned in the article. Free-to-play games are listed below as A.T.TIPS.

A.T.TIPS in this Episode –

A.T.TIP #368  – Minecraft PE Lite app

Students demonstrate their knowledge of Native American culture by constructing a longhouse in Minecraft.

Students demonstrate their knowledge of Native American culture by constructing a longhouse in Minecraft.

A.T.TIP #369 – The Myth of Average Ted Talk by Dr. Todd Rose

A.T.TIP #370 – BlocksWorld HD app

A pixelated man sitting next to a pixelated evergreen tree with a yellow flower nearby. A tools palette can be seen onscreen to the right as well. A.T.TIP #371 – Lunacraft app

Spaceman hovering over a tools palette

A.T.TIP #372 – Kodable app

A digital green field with a blue path being cut through it. Control arrows are pictured in the top right.

A.T.TIP #373 – DIY app

Image of three badges: Gamer, Gardener, and Geologist Image of three badges: Ornthologist, Painter, and Papercrafter

A.T.TIP #374 – Using the plot of a story-based video game to teach narrative concepts

Also Mentioned in This Episode –

AutisMate’s Hero of the Week Interview

Minspeak Newsletter featuring A.T.TIPSCAST Episode 116

Upcoming Presentations –

Speaker at TEDxAshburn – September 28th, 2013

Logo from TEDxAshburn

Chew the P.H.A.T – Policies & How-to’s in Assistive Technology with Sally Norton-Darr – 8am on October 9th, 2013 at Closing the Gap in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Get Your Body Moving – Adventures in Gesture-Based Learning with Karen Dietrich & Dr. Tara Jeffs – 8am on October 10th, 2013 at Closing the Gap in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Multi-modal Professional Development with Sally Norton-Darr  – 8am on October 11th, 2013 at Closing the Gap in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Mission Possible: Proliferating a Culture of UDL with Beth Poss  – 8am on November 4th, 2013 at the Promoting Achievement through Technology and INstruction for all Students Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana.

REGISTER NOW! —> Digital Make N’ Take: Digging Deeper           with Beth Poss – Two-Day Preconference on January 28th and 29th at the Assistive Technology Industry Association Conference in Orlando, Florida.

Professional Development Smackdown with Beth Poss, Kirk Behnke, Mike Marotta, and Diana Carl – 12pm on January 31st at the Assistive Technology Industry Association Conference in Orlando, Florida. Room – Caribbean VII

Contact Information-

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An arrow pointing to the right made up of many little green UDL's

Episode Overview-

Cover for The Practical (and Fun) Guide to Assistive Technology in Public SchoolsThis episode of the A.T.TIPSCAST is sponsored by the book, The Practical and Fun Guide to Assistive Technology in Public Schools.

Episode #101 of the A.T.TIPSCAST features a brief discussion about what comes next in one’s personal quest to learn more about the implementation of the Universal Design for Learning framework. Download a .PDF Transcript of this episode.

This is the first episode of Season 6 of the A.T.TIPSCAST!

A.T.TIPS in this Episode-

A.T.TIP 288 – SpiderScribe.net – Web-based Graphic Organizer

An example of a graphic organizing web made using Spiderscribe.net. Features UDL Next logo, small google maps picture of Orlando Florida, and two text bubbles with links to presenation information about ATIA 2013A.T.TIP 289 – UDLResource.com by Paul Hamilton

Upcoming Presentations


Logo for ISTE's Course on UDLUniversal Design for Learning – ISTE 6 Week Online Course – Starts September 10th, 2012.

Mission Possible: Proliferating a Culture of Universal Design for Learning with Beth Poss & Chris Bugaj. January 29th & 30th, 2013 at the Assistive Technology Industry Association Conference in Orlando, Florida.

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A.T.TIPSCAST Episode #49: AutoCorrect in Word

Episode Overview-

Hey everyone,

Episode #49 features a description of how to use the Autocorrect function of Microsoft Word as a way to practice errorless learning.

The episode features a bumper from Jeannette Van Houten, an assistive technology curriculum strategist from New Jersey. I was fortunate enough to meet Jeannette at ATIA 2010 in Orlando.

A.T.TIPS In This Episode-

A.T.TIP #75: Autocorrect in Microsoft Word

Step 1. Click on the Office Button

Step 2. Choose “Word Options”

Step 3. Select “Proofing” and then “AutoCorrect Options”

Step 4. Put the text you want to have replaced in the “Replace” box and the text you want to appear instead in the “With” box.

Screenshot of AutoCorrect Window in Word 2007

AutoCorrect in Word 2007

Or just watch this cool www.woopid.com tutorial I found on YouTube.com:

AutoCorrect in Word 07 Tutorial

Contact Information-

A.T.TIPPERS group on Facebook and Classroom 2.0

Facebook Fan Page


Leave a comment down below or drop me a line at attipscast@gmail.com. Let me know what you think of the show! You can access the podcast and register as a fan of the show from here:

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Thanks everyone and happy listening!

A.T.TIPSCAST Special Episode: Big Announcement #2- The Book

Hey everyone,

Well this was the big secret project I’ve been working on that I had mentioned in previous episodes.  I introduce to you now “The Practical (and Fun) Guide to Assistive Technology in Public Schools: Building or Improving Your District’s AT Team” by Christopher Bugaj and Sally Norton-Darr.  The book is being published by the International Society for Technology in Education (better known by the acronym ISTE) and will be available for pre-order in February March of 2010.

The Content:

As the title suggests the book provides strategies of building an assistive technology program in public schools.  Answers to common questions such as “How do we consider AT for every student?”, “How does assistive technology get documented in an IEP?”, “What are some effective ways of working with Instructional Technology?”, “Who should be on an AT Team?”, “When and how do you write an AT evaluation report?”, “What is the most effect service delivery model?”, “How do you adequately follow-up with teachers and students?”, “How do you collect data and demonstrate progress?”, and “How do you build a comprehensive assistive technology program?” are all found in the book.

The Style:

The book is written in such a way that it is easy to use and fun to read. We wanted to create a book that wouldn’t feel like a chore to read.  Therefore, the book is laced with engaging analogies and humorous stories which emphasize and clarify the points being made.  In the future we hope to have some excerpts for you to sample, both in text and audio formats.  Throughout the book we provide procedures that have not only been relatively easy to implement but also have proven exceptionally effective for us.  In fact, that was kind of our mantra for the book, “If it’s working for us, why wouldn’t it work for you?”

More to Come:

I’ll be sharing more information in the coming weeks and month about purchase information, pricing, and how you can help spread the word about the book if you’re interested in helping out.

Upcoming Presentation Information:

 The Building Blocks of a Successful Assistive Technology Team presented with Sally Norton-Darr – ISTE Webinar – October 21st- 4pm – 5pm EST

Eight is Enough: Ways to Use What You Got – Clarksville, Maryland –                                                                                  November 9th – 7:30pm – 9:00pm EST

Alternative Professional Development Powering Up With Technology Conference 09 – Upper Marlboro, Maryland –  November 14th- (Time TBD)

Alternative Professional Development Assistive Technology Industry Association Conference 2010 – Orlando, Florida – January 28 – 2:45pm – 3:45pm EST

UDL 2.0 presented with Beth Poss – Assistive Technology Industry Association Conference 2010 – Orlando, Florida – January 29 – 9:15pm-10:15pm EST

I hope to meet you at any or all of these presentations.  But, if you can’t make it to those, and you’re interested in any of this (or other) content for workshops in your district please contact me at attipscast@gmail.com.  We can work together to set something up either in person or virtually!

Join the A.T.TIPPERS group on Facebook and/or Classroom 2.0 ! You can also follow me on twitter.com as @attipscast.

Leave a comment down below or drop me a line at attipscast@gmail.com. Let me know what you think of the show! You can access the podcast and register as a fan of the show from here:

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Thanks everyone and happy listening!