News and Events Product Spotlight

Movia Robotics Shares a Look into Robot-Assisted Instruction

Written by Muniba Masood​, Vice President, Movia Robotics

Kebbie RobotChildren with autism have always had to change for the world; but now the world is starting to change for them! Devoted to improving the lives of children with autism through Robot-Assisted Instruction, MOVIA Robotics is an innovative tech company that designs products for both the home and school environment. MOVIA’s Robot-Assisted Instruction (RAI) system integrates cutting-edge software and evidence-based curriculum delivered through captivating robotics platforms to engage children with autism in order to improve outcomes. The RAI system supports a pre-programmed curriculum with the ability to uniquely configure the experience based on each child’s educational and social-emotional learning goals. What’s more, MOVIA’s dedicated team of experts works with each family or classroom to tailor the experience to the individual, making sure each child is given all the tools he or she needs to succeed.

young boy with his parents using the Kebbi robot at home

MOVIA is also beginning to work with older students with autism, as they learn to transition from school to prevocational services and will eventually work with adults in vocational settings as well.

Teacher with young students using a MOVIA robot for instruction

Learn more on the Movia Robotics website.

MOVIA's 4 robots

ICT Accessibility News and Events

Digital Accessibility Tip! Link Text

Written by Adam Kosakowski, M.Ed., ATP,  New England Assistive Technology (NEAT) Center

Links are everywhere and are used in every type of digital content. As such, making links accessible is incredibly important. But, how to do so is not common knowledge, and there are many wrong ways to do it that will make the experience worse for people using assistive technology. Thankfully, doing it right is fairly easy once you know how.

Proper Link Text

The worst way to provide a link is to copy and paste the URL into your writing. Imagine a screen reader reading an amazon link with countless numbers, special symbols, and slashes; it does not make an accessible reading experience. Instead, create proper link text. To do this in Microsoft Word or Outlook, do the following:

  • Put your text cursor where you want the link and right click.
  • Choose Link to open the Insert Hyperlink window.
  • In the “Address” field, paste that URL.
  • In the “Text to display” field, type in a few words to describe the purpose of the link. Do not put the URL here.
  • Click OK.

The result is a link that looks like this, Candy on Amazon, rather than a garbled mess that any one wouldn’t enjoy reading let alone people using assistive technology.

Best Practices using Proper Link Text

Like Alternative Text (see my previous column), proper link text is easy to learn but a bit tricky to master because of the question, “What should I use as the link text? The general idea is that link text should be concise and describe where the link will bring the user. Here are some best practices and things to avoid:

  • Avoid “Click here”, “Read more”, “link to [some link description]”, etc.
    • Reason: Screen readers will inform the user that a link is a link even if the text on screen does not say so. “Click here” does not inform where the link goes and is not meaningful.
  • Links can be standalone or be a part of a complete sentence, just make sure the text is meaningful.
    • Standalone example: Amazon Products.
    • Part of a sentence: Read more about Amazon Products. Notice how I used “Read more,” that is OK here because it is not part of the link text, instead it is put in context of a meaningful sentence.
  • Avoid creating very short link text, take the alphabetical index for example:
    • Reason: Small links like this are small targets to access, people with motor challenges trying to click on the right letter here will have a hard time!

Alphabetical Indexes

  • Links should have an underline and be colored differently than the surrounding text.
    • Reason: People need a way to distinguish a link from the surrounding text. The best way to distinguish a link is by color AND a non-color indicator. By underlining a link, people who are colorblind will have an easier time distinguishing it from surrounding text than by color alone.

To learn more about color contrast, read this WebAIM article on Links and Hypertext.

Adam Kosakowski works as an Assistive Technology Specialist at New England Assistive Technology (NEAT), an Oak Hill Center. He can be contacted at and followed on twitter: @NEATWithAdam

News and Events Resource

SCSU Partnering for Virtual AT Success

Written by Dr. Lauren Tucker

The COVID-19 Pandemic resulted in all educational settings unexpectedly converting to alternative teaching formats. Although a challenging conversion, this transition revealed a huge opportunity to collaborate with practicing teachers for the Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU) Graduate Program in Assistive Technology. Two initiatives were implemented in the 2020-2021 academic semesters to authentically build skills in assistive technology and consultation practices within the program.

SCSU graduate students were virtually paired with practicing teachers, with the goal of using the SETT framework to analyze classroom needs and the virtual environment. The SETT Framework, created by Joy Zabala, focuses on investigating the Student, Environment, Task, and the Tools to identify appropriate AT solutions.  After this analysis, assistive technology tools or strategies were presented to meet students’ learning needs.

The SCSU Assistive Technology graduate program partnered with two special education schools for this project. The first school is based on the University’s campus which focuses on reinforcing vocational and life skills for individuals ages 18-22. The second partnership was established with a newly developed private school for elementary students with autism spectrum disorder.

The collaboration had two phases. The first phase occurred in Fall 2020 in the “Assistive Technology for Access” course. The professor coordinated the communication between the graduate students and practicing teachers. The teachers identified gaps in their virtual instruction and requested specific activities aligned to students’ goals and objectives.  Graduate students then created the activities and presented them to the building administrator. During this presentation, graduate students provided specific rationalizations for choices (accessibility features, content, audio, visuals) aligned to classroom needs. Some of these projects included custom Boom Card ( decks to practice filling in personal information, simulating signing up for a website or online membership.  Another was using Thing Link ( to create a virtual job shadow for students to learn about the components of working at a bakery. This activity can be previewed here:  You can also access the activity by scanning the QR code below. This collaboration built relationships and allowed the SCSU graduate students to explore initial consultation phases to build their AT implementation and technology skills.

The second phase integrated sessions between the graduate students and practicing teachers within the “Assistive Technology for Reading and Writing” course.  The graduate students and teachers meet 4-5 times across the semester discussing challenges, identifying needs, exploring tools, and finally presenting possible solutions. Graduate students were provided with a consultation framework and guidance to identify opportunities for improvement within their practice.  They also utilized a classroom based SETT framework to identify assistive and instructional technology to support the classroom.  Based on these discussions, the students created custom activities and recommendations for the teachers. They also designed training supports and provided individual training to teach teachers about the recommended tools or strategies.

The SCSU Assistive Technology Graduate program is excited to continue partnering with Connecticut schools and teachers to build assistive technology capacity while designing authentic learning opportunities for graduate students. If you would like to  learn more about partnering with the SCSU AT graduate program or to  learn more about the course offerings, you can visit our website: or email Dr. Lauren Tucker at We are excited to continue evolving our program content and collaborations to reflect our dynamic field.

News and Events Resource

Communicating the SAME Message

By Linsey Zanchetti, SCSU Student

My name is Linsey Zanchetti and I am a graduate level student completing my 6th year certification in Assistive Technology at Southern Connecticut State University. This summer, I am completing an independent study with the guidance of Dr. Lauren Tucker, targeting core language approach and modeling with augmentative or alternative communication (AAC) devices for parents and for paraprofessionals. Individuals who are complex communicators may utilize an AAC device in order to improve their functional communication. The success of the introduction and implementation of an AAC system for an individual involves a collaborative teamwork approach (Goldbart & Marshall, 2004; Karlsson, Johnston, & Barket, 2017; Brock, Seamn, & Downing, 2017). This team includes paraprofessionals who are involved in the daily activities of individuals who use AAC devices within the schools and families who are providing natural modeling opportunities within the home. While many parents frequently feel overwhelmed with novel AAC devices, paraprofessionals also experience minimal training which impacts their use of the device within the school setting for school-aged children.

This summer I am planning to conduct two separate training sessions—one for families via Zoom and one for paraprofessionals in person at a special education school in Orange, CT. The focus on the training is to provide a research-based introduction to explain the benefits of using a core language approach with AAC and then explain the best way to model language with an AAC device. Core vocabulary is a set of words consisting of verbs, adjectives, pronouns, articles and conjunctions that make up approximately 80% of what we say. Conversely fringe vocabulary is vocabulary that is specific to an individual or a situation and makes up approximately 20% of what we say. Utilizing a core vocabulary approach helps to allow an individual who uses AAC devices to communicate more efficiently particularly when they are using direct selection to access their device.

Individuals who utilize a multi-modal approach to communicate, including using an AAC device, rarely have the opportunity to see the same modeling when they are beginning to communicate. Modeling intervention strategies have shown significant improvements in the language output for individuals who use AAC devices, however, it is important to identify specific strategies used by various communication partner when developing training programs. Researchers have found that allowing children the opportunity to access and use the device in multiple setting while modeling the use of that device is a key instructional strategy (Campbell, Milbourne, Dugan, & Wilcox 2006; Briggs Carter, & Gilson, 2019). Using communication partners to model the communication through the use of the AAC device is a unique way to allow the communication partner to use the AAC system to model expressive language within natural interactions (Sennott, Light, McNaughton, 2016).

The trainings will provide a brief background on AAC, core vocabulary, and modeling. Participants will then interact to brainstorm communication opportunities within their daily routines. For example, communication temptations will be described and video examples will be provided to promote integration into daily routines. A communication temptation is when an adult sets up the environment to tempt the individual to communicate. For example, during snack time providing only a small amount of the desired snack, requiring them to ask for more. After participants brainstorm opportunities to integrate core vocabulary and communication opportunities, modeling will close the presentations. To facilitate the adoption of modeling, I have created an acronym to help families and paraprofessionals remember key aspects of modeling: SAME (See/Slow, Always, Model, Expand). This simplified model is derived from other approaches in the field (Kent-Walsh & McNaughton, 2009) and redesigned to be more accessible to families. See/Slow emphasizes making sure that the individual is looking at what you are doing when you are modeling with the device. Always focuses on having AAC available all the time and integrating it in an as many opportunities as possible. Model without expectations: making statements, describing things, and restating messages. Finally, expand your model approximately 1-2 words above their use. The goal of SAME is to develop a mnemonic to easily integrate AAC into the home and school routine. Following the Zoom trainings, families and instructional professionals will have the opportunity to attend a follow-up, open-ended training session to answer any questions and to provide ongoing support.

Our goal is to build confidence in families and paraprofessionals to model the language and to help individuals who are complex communicators be exposed to using core language and their AAC devices in all opportunities. We want to build the confidence in order to reduce the abandonment rates for families when introducing AAC devices and to help support the communication partners to be as successful as possible. When school-aged children are introduced to these types of devices, providing adequate training and support to the educators and paraprofessional working with them throughout the school day is vital for the success of the system.

AT Success Stories News and Events

Interview between Ann Bedard, M.S., CCC-SLP and Kevin Williams, Prentke AAC Distinguished Lecture at ATIA 2021

How were you chosen to give the Edwin and Esther Prentke Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Distinguished Lecture at ATIA?

Kevin WilliamsI was nominated by Celeste Helling, a Charlotte based SLP who works at the North Carolina Assistive Technology Program (NCATP). Celeste submitted a written nomination to the review committee for the lecture. The review committee chose me from the pool of nominees they had this year. It wasn’t much to do on my end as Celeste knows most of my history, because she has helped me get my AAC devices since I moved to North Carolina from Ohio. There was just a quick e-mail exchange asking for my consent to be nominated, my topic for the lecture, and a 5-minute video of me speaking in order to demonstrate I could answer questions spontaneously after I completed my talk.

What could other PWUAAC (People who use AAC) learn from your journey?

I hope that people learn that each person’s journey to communicate is unique to them, and the journey is hard work for everyone. Yes, I have a love and talent for using technology, but I also put in the time to learn my communication system outside therapy sessions and time with my family. Being raised by a single mother putting herself through school, I saw and learned to always appreciate the help but strive for independence with a strong determination. A person will know what I am trying to communicate by any means necessary.

I’m always trying to figure out how to increase consistency for the AAC user and it’s often hard to figure out where the breakdown is. How did it work out so well in your case?

I know SLPs love having everyone “buy-in” to AAC, but I think you are looking at it from the wrong direction. The only person that needs to “buy-in” into the AAC strategies is the augmented communicator. Parents, teachers, and friends that the Augmented Communicator encounters rarely care or really grasp the nuts and bolts about the new strategies learned in therapy. They just want to reap the results of the application of the strategy in communication. The “buy-in” for them is having the patience to listen, keep the system running, and keep the system available to the communicator at all times. Any other things are done in therapy.

To use a sports analogy comparing it to basketball: in a training session, a player and trainer work on playing skills like footwork and form on their jump shot. The player and trainer can get excited over the strategies to improve skills on the court. Other players, who are peers on the court, may notice and have interest in the drills the player does to improve skills on the court. But coaches and family members may concentrate on the results of applying those skills to make plays and score. They may not know or care about the drills. Yet if the player “buys into” the drills, they will then be successful.

My mom didn’t know any Bliss (symbols set) when I was little, nor did any of my family or friends. They just read the labels. Yet my SLP worked on an advanced Bliss while I was in therapy sessions. My friends and family don’t know Minspesk, and still they support me 100% just by talking to me. I still finger spell and use my natural voice to communicate with close family and friends. Yet I can easily use my device when in public.

Look at how the person augments their communication strategies in therapy, in class, or at home. Can the person employ a strategy to say something more effectively?

How did you come up with the term “augmented communicator” and why is it better than the alternatives?

I came up with the term Augmented Communicator myself. I believe through hard work and a level of mastery in the methods we use to communicate, it actually changes (“augments”) how we communicate or at least how we approach communicating. Optimizing our approach to fit our methods, makes people better communicators.

Looking at the use of the phrase as a tool for advocacy, all of my assistive technology, wheelchair and AAC Devices are just extensions of my identity as a disabled person. The phrase Augmented Communicator is used in the spirit of the identity-first language model in order for the communication disability to be seen as a limitation put on by surrounding society rather than something to overcome with the aid of technology.

The goal is not to be seen separate from my Assistive Technology. The goal is to see my assistive technology as just how I speak, walk, cook or whatever I use it for to accomplish success in my daily life. My assistive technology is an essential part of me and how I interact with the world. It goes everywhere I do, and it can’t be turned off or put away (e.g. in a bag, or on a shelf) at any time I need to interact. The label, Augmented Communicator, captures all of that in two words and allows people to take ownership of their communication. Anybody can be a person who uses AAC, but not everyone can be an Augmented Communicator without putting in the work, or that’s at least how I feel.

Like any label, Augmented Communicator is no better or worse than any other label. They are a personal choice of how we perceive ourselves and how we organize things to make sense from a particular perspective. Not everyone will agree with my perspective, but having the ability to put it into words for people to disagree with is something to savor.

News and Events Resource

Registering to Vote & Basic Rights of Voters with Disabilities

By Melissa Cruz, Parent Advocate

Are you registered to vote?  Are you eligible? To be eligible to vote in Connecticut, you must be a U.S. citizen and 18 years of age by the day of the election.

Vote button

You must also be a resident of a town in Connecticut. That’s it!

There are many options for voter registration. One of the fastest and easiest ways to register is online through the Secretary of State’s website: You also have the option of registering at the Department of Motor Vehicles, and many other organizations offer paper registration forms. Some of these locations include your local Town Clerk and Registrars of Voters Offices, colleges and universities, public libraries as well as the Departments of Rehabilitation Services, So

cial Services, Developmental Services, and Public Health.

On Election Day, if you forgot to register to vote, it’s NOT too late! You can still register and vote on the same day at your Town’s Election Day Registration location or (EDR). The EDR location is open during the same hours as the polling place, 6:00 AM to 8:00 PM.  Because you are registering to vote on the day of the Election, the I.D. requirements are more stringent. Some of the acceptable forms of I.D. include:

  • Driver’s License
  • Birth Certificate
  • Learner’s Permit
  • Utility Bill Within 30 Days of Election Day
  • Paystub
  • Paycheck
  • Current Bank Statement
  • Social Security Card

Advocacy Tip: If you are registering to vote on Election Day, check with your local Registrar of Voters about the location of the EDR and the requirements for I.D.s.  Get there early – they can be very busy places on Election Day!

Voters with Disabilities – What are your rights?  All polling places must be physically accessible to persons with disabilities. The route from the accessible parking to and through the polling place must be able to be navigated by individuals using mobility devices such as wheelchairs, canes, and crutches. The process or methods of voting must also be accessible to voters with disabilities.  Some of the other rights of voters with disabilities include:

  • Access to a sample ballot in large print.
  • Any videos for use by voters must be closed captioned.
  • Voting privately and independently – voting equipment for voters who cannot use a paper ballot to vote privately and independently.
  • Moving to the front of the line if the disability prevents the voter from waiting.
  • Unlimited time in the polling place to complete the ballot.
  • Have someone assist you with marking your ballot – there are some exceptions to this rule.
  • Vote using any method at the polling place. Currently, voters can manually complete a paper ballot or use the ballot marking device that must be available at all polling places and the Election Day Registration location.
  • Bring a service animal into the polling place.

If you are a person who has a guardian or conservator of person, you cannot be denied the right to vote unless a probate court has issued a specific order stating that your right to vote has been taken away.

Advocacy Tip: If your polling place is not accessible – on Election Day, contact t

he Elections Division of the Office of the Secretary of the State at (860) 509-6100.

After Election Day, you can file a complaint with State Elections Enforcement Commission at:

State Elections Enforcement Commission

55 Farmington Ave

Hartford CT 06105

Phone Number: 860 256-2940