2019 Conference Sessions

Pre Conference

Thursday, November 14th

  • 8:30 - 3:30 Everyone Can Read & Write: Literacy for Learners with Complex Communication Needs RHODE ISLAND

    This session is designed to give information to participate who provide interventions for students who have complex communication needs (CCN). Oftentimes, it is not just enough to provide communication supports and interventions for students with CCN. Practitioners need to dive further into literacy interventions in order to help students achieve their full potential. This session will focus on evidence-based practice for promoting literacy for individuals with CCN as well as those with multiple disabilities. Practical guidance, advice, and strategies will be shared that participants can take back to their classrooms the next day to implement. Participants will explore the link between language and literacy development for students with CCN and the top ten strategies for literacy interventions for students with CCN will be explored in-depth. Hands-on exploration of supports and tools will occur as well. A PowerPoint with a wealth of resources will be shared as well. Participants should bring a personal device.

    Nicole Natale, MS, CCC-SLP, ATP, Senior Education Specialist, CREC Resource Group at the Capitol Region Education Council

    Carolann Cormier, MS, CCC-SLP, Education Specialist, CREC Resource Group at the Capitol Region Education Council

    Target Audience: Early Childhood, K-12, Teachers, Therapists, Families


  • 8:30 - 3:30 Engaging Executive Function Skill Strategies and Tools TIVERTON

    Assistive Technology practitioners have seen an increase in the number of referrals for students with executive function challenges. Dawson and Guare, authors of Executive Skills in Children and Adolescents, propose a two-pronged approach to addressing skill deficits. First, environmental factors which interfere with executive functions must be considered and removed. Then, students must receive explicit strategy instruction to develop the skills necessary for school success and independence.

    This hands-on, interactive and engaging preconference will explore factors which impact the development of executive functions and provide new ideas and technologies to compensate for and improve these skills, based on the work of Dawson and Guare. Participants will leave with an arsenal of new tools and strategies for Self-regulation, Study Skills, Time Management, Research Skills, Organization, and Productivity.

    Karen Janowski, Assistive and Educational Technology Consultant, EDTech Solutions, Inc.

    Target Audience: K-12, Teachers


  • 8:30 - 3:30 How to Think AT: Finding Solutions by Repurposing Everyday Technologies BRISTOL B

    Shareware, software, cloud-based and mobile apps – the sources for AT are always changing, and we must continuously adapt because the need for access will always be there. We cannot always relay upon dedicated AT solutions to serve all needs and must often repurpose products from more mainstream sectors to pave new accessible paths; so whether we are seeking new solutions for providing alternative access, enhancing productivity, or creating more universally designed classrooms, we must learn how to reimagine “what can be AT” requires us to be creative investigators so that we can find innovative solutions to real challenges. As one of the innovators who originally touted Chrome apps as AT, and drawing upon his 30+ years of repurposing mainstream tools, the presenter will demonstrate how to find and reimagine everyday technologies as viable AT solutions in specialized environments. This session is dedicated to the work of friend Dan Herlihy, an AT guru, carrying on his quest of keeping assistive technology a creative endeavor.

    Mark Surabian, Assistive Technology Instructor/Consultant,

    Target Audience: Early Childhood, K-12, Higher Education, Teachers, Therapists, Families


  • 8:30 - 3:30 Access 4 All! Using Technology to Provide Accessible Core Content PATRIOTS
  • 8:30 - 3:30 Postcards from the Cutting Edge: A Road Trip of AT for LD Students NARRAGANSETT
  • 8:30 - 3:30 Please Teach Me to Communicate: Expressive Communication Skills & Strategies for Students with ASD SALON IV

    This training will challenge participants to consider the difficult or unusual behaviors exhibited by students with ASD in relation to an expressive communication difference. The entire range of expressive communication abilities exhibited by students with ASD will be addressed, from students who are pre/non-verbal to students who are verbal yet lack the social communication skills to be successful communicators. The verbal behavior of echolalia will also be discussed, in relation to the positive aspects of this unusual expressive communication form. Core functional communication skills will be reviewed, as well as where to start and where to go with AAC systems for children with ASD who are pre-verbal. Numerous examples of practical instructional strategies using various modes of technology to teach expressive communication skills to students with ASD will be shared, through a combination of video clips, materials and personal stories.

    Susan K. Lewis Stokes, M.A., CCC-SLP, SLP/Autism Consultant and Trainer, Private Practice

    Target Audience: Early Childhood, K-12, Teachers, Therapists, Families



  • 8:30 - 3:30 The AT Toolkit for Invisible Disabilities SALON V



Friday, November 15th

Day 2 Grid


Please click tabs below to view full session descriptions.  

Download the Day 2 Session Grid Here

Salon IV
Rhode Island
Salon V
Bristol A
Bristol B
  • 3D Printed Keyguards – Your Gateway to 3D Printed Assistive Technology

    Outline of presentation:

    • What is a 3D printer?
    • Why is 3D printing unique?
    • Examples of 3D printed Assistive Technology
    • What is a keyguard?
    • Why would I need LOTS of keyguards?
    • How much does a commercial keyguard cost?
    • How much does a 3D printed keyguard cost?
    • How much does a 3D printer cost?
    • How difficult is it to operate a 3D printer?
    • How much does it cost to use a 3D printer?
    • How can I get a 3D printer?
    • How can I take advantage of 3D printed AT if I don’t want to or can’t invest in a 3D printer?
    • Let’s design and print a custom keyguard!
    • Resources and Next Steps

    Ken Hackbarth, President and Founder of

    Level: Beginner

    Target Audience: Early Childhood, K-12, Higher Education, Adult Services, Elder Services, Rehabilitation, Therapists, Families, STEM Programs


    3D Printing: Application for Education and Clinical Practice In Occupational Therapy

    The ability to build individually designed custom assistive devices is an exciting prospect for occupational therapy practitioners. As the technology continues to develop, occupational therapy programs are in a unique position to provide students with the fundamental knowledge required to incorporate this technology into their clinical practice once they graduate. Our presentation will review the necessary resources needed to incorporate 3D printing technology into an academic program and share the framework used at Boston University to not only expose occupational therapy doctoral students to 3D printing technology, but provide opportunities for advanced application through collaboration with engineering students and engineering professor, Dr. Rebecca Khurshid. The presentation will include an opportunity for participants to work in small teams to apply to use 3D printing to real case studies.

    Ian Sutherland, Student, Boston University

    Karen Jacobs, Ed.D., OT, OTR, CPE, FAOTA, Boston University

    Level: Beginner

    Target Audience: Higher Education, Adult Services, Elder Services, Rehabilitation, Therapists


    Validating “Technology Enhanced Performance” with AT Research and Outcomes: Defending a Student’s Right to Access Against Ableist Assumptions

    K-12 students rarely have autonomy in choosing to utilize assistive technologies to enhance their participation in the classroom; instead, education professionals and parent/caregivers typically coordinate the consideration, selection, and integration of such tools. These adult gatekeepers must understand how such tools may benefit a student before pursuing an assessment, and subsequently must know how to effectively employ and integrate them into school and homework settings. Due to a lack of college teacher prep programs that demonstrate integrated assistive technology use, and many misguided pedagogical beliefs, many educators (of all ages) are still pushing back on student daily use of AT, siding with familiar 20th century measures for student participation and productivity. Although most educators acknowledge the need for AT to address physical and sensory challenges, they too often draw the line when students exhibit more neurological and learning challenges based on their ableist assumptions that students can overcome those challenges and that technology will only be a crutch to impair remediation. This session will familiarize attendees with the peer reviewed research that validates student use of AT for learning challenges so that they might better advocate for effective selection and integration of such tools. Attendees will develop an understanding of the problems, research, and valuable AT products, and learn about outcomes for real users.

    Mark Surabian, Assistive Technology Instructor/Consultant,

    Level: Intermediate

    Target Audience: Early Childhood, K-12, Higher Education, Teachers, Therapists, Families

  • App Smashing for Reading, Writing, and Note Taking

    The iPad has steadily improved as an assistive technology tool for students with learning disabilities. The built-in accessibility of iOS includes text-to-speech, dictation, and word prediction that can help students with reading and writing. In addition, there are many AT-related apps that can be used to make language-based activities easier. Since many apps have single or limited functions, the challenge is figuring out how to combine apps in order to complete multi-step or complex tasks in school. The practice of combining apps into workflows has become known colloquially as “app smashing.” This presentation will focus on various app workflows that LD students can use to complete various assignments. Attention will be given to schoolwork involving reading, writing, and note taking.

    Jamie Martin, Assistive Technology Specialist, NEAT Center at Oak Hill

    Level: Intermediate

    Target Audience: K-12


    Symbol-supported Communication and Writing in a Chromebook Classroom (Vendor)

    Come discover how students with a vast array of special educational needs benefit from symbol-supported software designed specifically for Chromebooks. This session will explore Clicker Chromebook Apps and how they give your learners access to powerful literacy and communication tools. The integrated symbol support of Clicker Communicator and Clicker Connect SymbolStix, along with the innovative features of Clicker Sentences and Clicker Docs, help students with special educational needs become more independent learners. It is quick and easy to personalize the Apps to meet the needs of your students and to match the learning objectives of your curriculum. And the Chromebook compatibility makes them accessible for all your learners.

    Nathan Mozian, Education Sales Consultant, Crick

    Level: Intermediate

    Target Audience: K-12, Teachers


    Go with the (Work) Flow

    Tap, tap, swipe, tap, scroll, tap. We all rely on our technology throughout the day, but is it productive? Is it effective? Workflow is the term used to describe the sequence of steps that are passed through to complete a task. Workflow is also the name of the iOS app where task automations are created through a drag and drop interface. Through caseloads and sample Workflows participants will develop a shared understanding of increasing productivity and efficiency through automations. Then participants will get hands-on with the iOS Workflow app. We will explore a sample workflow to learn about the components, features, and limitations of the app before jumping to developing our own automated workflow. To get the most out of this hands-on session bring your iOS device with the Workflow app installed.

    Karen Waddill, Director of Cotting School

    Level: Beginner

    Target Audience: K-12, Teachers, Therapists

  • Continuous Use of Clinical Brain Computer Interface Assistive Technology Devices

    The goal of Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) researchers to use brain signals for the purpose of controlling clinical BCI assistive technology devices has been ongoing since the 1970s. Clinical BCI assistive devices categorized as those for communication or those for movement based on the disorder are likely to move from research to commercial use soon. Clinical BCI assistive technology devices primarily leverage computer science aspects related to ergonomics and signal processing but must also consider User-Centered Design otherwise device use might be diminished or abandoned because the technology does not meet the expectation of the patient. Thus, meeting Patient Centered Outcomes to influence continuous use intention by incorporating user-centered design is integral to the development of viable clinical BCI devices. Strategies that computer scientists might consider for meeting Patient Centered Outcomes to influence User-Centered Design of clinical BCI devices will be highlighted as part of this presentation.

    Dr. Gerri Light, Walden University

    Level: Beginner

    Target Audience: Other (Restorative)


    Creating Switch-Adapted Toys to Teach Cause and Effect to Nonverbal Children with Severe Disabilities

    Attendees will learn how to introduce switches to nonverbal preschool children with the purpose of transitioning to using AAC devices. Attendees will also learn how the use of a switch can impact children’s learning, behavior, and interactions with peers. We will present findings from a study of three nonverbal preschool students who were introduced to switch-adapted toys with the purpose of teaching cause and effect and using a switch. The goal was for the children to be able to use single switches for communication as a precursor to more complex AAC devices. We will also present the results of interviews with teachers, speech-language pathologists and occupational therapists regarding how learning to use a switch impacted the way the children interacted with their environment in terms of learning, social interaction, and behavior.

    Marcie M. Belfi, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Education, Assistant Professor of Education

    Abigail Burnett, Student, Wells College

    Hannah Hatton, Student, Wells College

    Abigail Schoenfelder, Student, Wells College

    Level: Intermediate

    Target Audience: Early Childhood, K-12, Higher Education

    Gaming Accessibility – What is all this Buzz About?

    Gaming accessibility has been abuzz in the media ever since the release of the Xbox Adaptive Controller being showcased on a Super Bowl commercial. So, what is accessible gaming all about? Come to this workshop to learn what makes a game accessible, how to help gamers with disabilities find the best way to play, and how to advocate with game developers to continue this amazing trend in gaming accessibility. We’ll explore several gaming platforms, play some games while utilizing some accessible settings and accessories, and then discuss what type of gamers each tool can serve. After this workshop, you’ll be better equipped with the gaming accessibility mindset so you can help everyone play!

    Adam Kosakowski, Assistive Technology Specialist

    Level: Beginner

    Target Audience: K-12, Rehabilitation, Families, any age group looking for a leisure activity to engage socially in

  • Effective AAC Consultation in ABA-based Settings: Practical Solutions to Avoid Clashes

    This session focuses on effective methods of AAC assessment and intervention within a consultation model that includes ABA providers or other educators. The authors’ professional experiences span a variety of settings, including public school, private/residential programs, private practice, and training caregivers/educators to implement AAC interventions. Topics will include reviewing best practices in AAC intervention, an overview of ABA-based programming, and evidence-based methods to provide AAC intervention within the frameworks of a consultative model. The goal of the presentation is for participants to leave with literal and figurative tools for providing effective consultation. Case studies and video examples of coaching and training will be used to demonstrate effective methods and frameworks will be provided for assessing the training needs of communication partners and problem-solving collaboration challenges. Data will be presented from an ongoing study using Behavioral Skills Training (BST) as part of SLP consultation. BST is a well-researched training package that includes explicit instruction, modeling, rehearsal, and feedback in order to teach a new skill. Teachers and direct care staff are being trained to operate high-tech communication devices fluently, to set up authentic communication opportunities within daily routines, to prompt targeted AAC skills, and to provide aided language input.

    Kate Grandbois, MS, CCC-SLP, BCBA, LABA

    Jennifer Neal, Ed.S., CCC-SLP, BCBA, LABA

    Amy Wonkka, M.A., CCC-SLP

    Level: Intermediate

    Target Audience: Early Childhood, K-12, Teachers, Therapists, Families


    Getting on Board – Creative Training Ideas for Staff Using AAC

    Teaching staff to understand how to use AAC and why it is important to have it is difficult. Finding creative and unique ways for staff to be motivated to learn and demonstrate ownership of teaching their students/clients will be targeted in this training. Also, devising ways to help with accountability for using AAC and implementation will be part of a discussion.

    Meghan Broz, Supervisory Speech Language Pathologist, Assistive Technology Professional

    Level: Intermediate

    Target Audience: K-12, Adult Services, Teachers, Therapists


    AAC and Engagement: The Use of Movement and Music to Increase Communication and Socialization for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Users

    Embedding motivating reinforcement for AAC learners of all kinds, especially those with ASDs is imperative in the educational setting in order to increase and facilitate communication. Educators and practitioners in many contexts are faced with creating fun and engaging activities that may expose learners to new leisure activities, activities that promote functional and academic skills, as well as physical well being and communication skills. There is a lack of natural exposure to many activities, especially in the domain of movement and fitness for many AAC users. It is necessary as educators and clinicians to build a repertoire for preferences that may be utilized across environments for the learner’s lifespan.

    Kai De Palma, M.A.T., CCC/ SLP, AAC Specialist

    Level: Intermediate

    Target Audience: Early Childhood, K-12, Higher Education, Adult Services, Elder Services Rehabilitation, Teachers, Therapists, Families, Transition Coordinators

  • Action! Use Audio & Video to Engage EVERY Learner

    How can we effectively differentiate instruction to engage EVERY learner? What about using audio and video supports to promote an inclusive learning environment? Let’s explore the range of tools – both websites and apps – that are available to provide multiple means of engagement, representation and action/expression. Whether we are using these tools to share content or to amplify student voices, there is no denying that students are engaged by audio and video. This session will focus on ways to use these supports to create accessible, engaging learning opportunities. Make sure to bring your device and ideas.

    Mike Marotta, Inclusive Technology Evangelist, Inclusive Technology Solutions, LLC

    Level: Intermediate

    Target Audience: K-12, Higher Education, Teachers


    Tech Trends that DOMINATE!  Making Education More Inclusive

    Over the past few years, the changes in assistive and educational technology have been constant and exhilarating. It’s nearly impossible to look around a classroom, home, store, city and not see the extensive technology trends developing around us. The question becomes: how do we keep up with these trends and which ones do we adopt into our lives? More importantly, how does this impact our students and the way they are included in our classroom? In this session, participants will explore new, essential and innovative assistive technology trends that can enhance the way we approach education. Strategies and solutions will be revealed to create optimal access and inclusion for all students.

    Nicole Feeney, Director, The NEAT Center at Oak Hill

    Level: Beginner

    Target Audience: K-12, Higher Education, Rehabilitation, Teachers, Therapists, Families, Transition Coordinators


    UDL Technology 2020: The Best Technology for Special Education

    This session is about the best technology for special education students and struggling learners. The information is based on research for an upcoming book and past books published by the presenter. Topics that will be explored include technology for executive function, reading disabilities, writing disabilities, speech and language, visual impairment, engaging projects and formative/summative assessments in the classroom. Attendees will leave with a massive amount of information on innovative technologies that can be used to engage students, remove many barriers to learning and change your teaching practices for the better. For examples of the technologies presented go to

    John F. O’Sullivan, UDL Technology 2020: The Best Technology for Special Education, Chelmsford Public Schools

    Level: Intermediate

    Target Audience: K-12, Teachers

  • Top 10 Free Tech Tool Treasures: Help for Individuals Across the Lifespan!

    Are you overwhelmed trying to figure out how to leverage the benefits of tech to help someone who struggles with everyday tasks? Most of us are swamped with little spare time to search for the best apps and cutting-edge features on our computers and mobile devices that can be life-changing for the families we support. Save time and minimize frustration by joining me as I highlight the customizable features, free apps, and strategies you need to know now to maximize successful outcomes. Learn about resources and strategies that you may not know exist to improve reading, writing, productivity, speaking, understanding, attention, and learning. Learn about new ways to help individuals with ADHD, ASD, aphasia, dyslexia, dysgraphia, developmental disabilities, brain injuries and other cognitive and communication challenges. Let’s “be in the know” to help families learn how they can thrive at home, in school, at work, and in the community.

    Joan L. Green, Speech-Language Pathologist and Technology Specialist, Innovative Speech Therapy

    Level: Beginner

    Target Audience: K-12, Higher Education, Adult Services Rehabilitation, Teachers, Therapists, Families, Transition Coordinators



    This session focuses upon creating sensory feedback for individuals appropriately and transparently in any given environment. All too often, environments create the need for sensory breaks and releases without giving some means for them. In other cases, sensory items and techniques are taught in a vacuum with the expectation that they will work in all circumstances. Finally, the outside world incorrectly propagates a one-size-fits all mentality. The reality is that individuals will need differing modes of sensory feedback dependent upon the environment. We will look at socially appropriate therapies which can be included in any environment and are good for all. We will also experience sensory items which can blend into activities naturally without creating external distraction for others.

    Raymond T. Heipp, PhD, Senior Specialist for Special Education, School Health

    Level: Intermediate

    Target Audience: Early Childhood, K-12, Higher Education, Adult Services, Teachers, Therapists

  • (Google) Keeping it All Together

    From shared to do lists to pictures with OCR, Google’s Keep app adds dimension to to-do lists. As a G-suite core service, Google Keep is cost-effective, widely available, and cross-platform. With UDL features like voice notes, images, drawings, tagging and more, the needs of a multitude of learners are readily accommodated. Grabbing information is fast and convenient. When paired with Docs and Slides, Keep makes moving your saved thoughts into more structured applications easy. And Keep is not just for students.  We will share tips for adults too! Be prepared to go hands on and complete our Keep Challenges. To get the most of out of this BYOT sessions, please bring a laptop with Chrome, a Chromebook, a phone and/or tablet with the Keep app.

    Karen Waddill, Director of Cotting Consulting

    Level: Beginner

    Target Audience: K-12, Teachers, Therapists


    Are you Secure with your AT Tools and Services?

    Do you check the Privacy Policy of every tool that you recommend for a student’s use? Some are confusing and even misleading. As we are enlightened on data vulnerability through Facebook, are the tools you’re using at school and in your programs COPPA compliant and secure? Free isn’t always free. If you’re not paying for the content, you’re not the consumer–you’re the product.  So beware, just because it’s a tool in the world of disability, doesn’t mean that the data isn’t being used. As educators we are obligated to check the policy on every tool. Come join the discussion and learn and share what you are doing to insure that free isn’t getting you called into the principal’s office…

    Mike Marotta, ATP – AT Specialist, President, Inclusive Technology Solutions, LLC

    Level: Intermediate

    Target Audience: Early Childhood, K-12, Higher Education, Adult Services, Elder Services, Rehabilitation, Teachers, Therapists, Administrators, IT Staff


  • Connecting Core Vocabulary to Curriculum Content

    Classrooms in K-12 settings are all inherently unique, yet they all share the common theme of focusing on specific, academic content areas. The world of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) designates that core vocabulary should be the common theme for AAC users within their classrooms. How can these two separate, yet related, “common themes” connect together to truly make curriculums relevant and accessible to diverse learners of all abilities? The presenters pose an answer to this challenging question by showing educators and support staff personnel a systematic strategy for viewing existing lesson plans in a new, language-based light. By referencing the extensive free, research-based resources that already exist in the field and discussing ways to naturally incorporate components of them into the classroom setting, the presenters pose a “lesson plan shift” that accounts for the use of core vocabulary right from the beginning of the lesson preparation process.

    Elena Fader, SLP/AAC Specialist

    Mary Sagstetter, AbleNet Sr. Business Development Manager

    Level: Beginner

    Target Audience: Early Childhood, K-12, Teachers, Therapists


    What comes after that AT/AAC Assessment is just as important as the actual assessment. Often though, AT/AAC services stop at the assessment. We found ourselves in this position – focusing so heavily on assessments that we did not have time to support teams in implementation. By simplifying our assessment process, we were able to turn our attention to AT/AAC Implementation. As AAT/AAC Specialists, we know that we should create Implementation Plans for students, but practically, how do we do this? This workshop will explain how to involve the student’s team in the development of the AT/AAC Implementation Plans, describe five important features of AT/AAC Implementation Plans, and explain how to embed training elements within the AT/AAC Implementation Plan. This session will cover how we work with teams to develop implementation plans, including the use of G-Suite to enhance collaboration.

    Amy Wonkka, MA, CCC-SLP, AAC Specialist, Lexington Public Schools

    Rachel Kuberry, Assistive Technology Specialist, Lexington Public Schools

    Level: Intermediate

    Target Audience: K-12, Teachers, Therapists, AT/AAC Specialists