Conference Sessions

Photo of Liz PersaudKEYNOTE ADDRESS

“Teamwork, Technology and Tenacity: Reflections on a Journey of a Lifetime”

PRESENTER: Liz Persaud, Training and Outreach Coordinator, Tools for Life – Georgia’s Assistive Technology Act Program | AMAC Accessibility | Georgia Institute of Technology

Liz Persaud is a nationally recognized keynote, public speaker, and advocate addressing the need to build bridges to solidify the gaps between individuals living with and without disabilities. Liz is the proud recipient of the 1999 and 2005 Muscular Dystrophy Association Personal Achievement Award in Georgia. Liz has dedicated her life to increasing independence for individuals with disabilities by educating on self-determination and advocacy with a focus on technology and disabilities.


Accessing Your World: Exploring Environmental Control Technologies

Presenter:  Liz Persaud, Training and Outreach Coordinator, and Benjamin Jacobs,  Accommodations Specialist, Tools for Life – Georgia’s Assistive Technology Act Program| AMAC Accessibility | Georgia Institute of Technology

This session will explore affordable options for environmental control for individuals living with disabilities. The world of environmental control is constantly expanding with existing technologies adding more features to their repertoire, and new products coming to market everyday. The session will share the benefits of some mainstream products, including Google Home and the Amazon Echo family as well as telepresence robots and assistive technologies for computer access. Best practice examples of implementations of these solutions will be provided and will highlight how these technologies can be utilized together to further increase independence.

Accessible Digital Documents

PRESENTER: John E. Brandt, Training Coordinator, Maine CITE

Today’s digital environment involves the use of materials taking many forms. Word processed documents, presentation applications (PowerPoint), PDFs and images, are the norm. However, to comply with laws and policy we need to ensure all digital materials are fully accessible to everyone.

In this presentation (60-minutes), the issues and methods related to the creation of accessible digital documents will be discussed. Procedures for assessing content for accessibility and team work-flows that can ensure your digital content successfully meets accessibility standards will be examined.

American Job Center Update: Linking Assistive Technology in our Service Delivery

PRESENTERS: Jill Larmett, Disability Resource Coordinator, Capital Workforce Partners and Karen Quesnel, Operations Coordinator, CT Department of Labor

Learn about the Integrated Resource Team service delivery approach and an A.T. lending library pilot will boost effectiveness for job seekers with disabilities in the Hartford and Waterbury American Job Centers.

Apps and AT Across the Curriculum-Supporting Diverse Learners & UDL with Google and iOS

PRESENTER: Diana Petschauer, ATP, Consultant, Founder, Manager, AT for Education

Many schools are now implementing BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) or 1:1 Tech programs for learners. Some are Going Google with Chromebooks and GSuite, some are using iPads and tablets, and ALL students are using their smartphone! How do you support diverse learners on All devices, across curriculum, using free & low cost Apps & AT solutions? AT makes UDL Possible! AT solutions to support diverse learners will be explored including those with learning disabilities (including Dyslexia), physical disabilities, low vision/ blindness, and difficulties with executive functioning, literacy and math. Personalize Education- Engage & Include All learners. You will have a powerful toolkit for fostering access & success across all devices & subjects!

Assistive Technology to Support Executive Function

PRESENTER: Mike Marotta, Director Richard West Assistive Technology Advocacy Center at Disability Rights New Jersey

We are using more technology than ever. But for individuals struggling with executive functioning skills, more technology does not automatically lead to greater productivity. Let’s explore an array of mobile device apps and Chrome based apps and extensions focused on providing support for organization and executive function. Areas of focus include: organization, scheduling, task completion, time management and more.

Cutting to the Core with AAC

PRESENTERS: Carolann Cormier, Education Specialist, Speech/Language Pathologist, CREC and Nicole Natale, Interim Supervisor: Special Services Support Team/Education Specialist Expert Solutions, CREC

Have you ever wondered why your students that use AAC are competent at requesting, but perhaps are not able to use their AAC systems to communicate other messages? Do you feel frustrated that despite large amounts of time spent programming or preparing your student’s AAC system that they still are not competent communicators? This fast paced workshop can help you understand why and will give you strategies to implement once you go back to your classroom, home or any other setting. Together we will: define core AAC vocabulary, discuss research on why we use core AAC vocabulary, demonstrate and role play how to use core AAC vocabulary, explore AAC core resources and develop a plan to implement core AAC vocabulary with the individuals you serve

Dynamic Tools for Individuals with SLD/Dyslexia

PRESENTER: Lisa Fiano, Education Specialist, Capitol Region Education Council

Students with SLD/Dyslexia can be highly successful in a rigorous academic environment with carefully designed curriculum and assistive technology. This session will share tools for both iOS and Chrome for reading, writing, organization and content creation. Participants will have the opportunity to compare features between tools that are on different platforms. Some handheld devices will also be demonstrated in this session.

Embracing Technology and Independence

PRESENTERS: Stephen Tarca, President and Co-Founder  The Be Thoughtful Movement, Inc (a non-profit); Susan Johnson, Co-Founder, The Be Thoughtful Movement, Inc; Harold Johnson III, Co-Founder, The Thoughtful Travelers, LLC

Come hear the story of this “Thoughtful” family and how they have learned to embrace technology as they look for ways to make life more independent for Harold who lives with Cerebral Palsy and recently started a travel agent business called The Thoughtful Travelers.

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Engineering AAC into the Modern Home

PRESENTER: Elena Fader, SLP/AT Specialist, NEAT Center at Oak Hill

Communication happens everywhere. Within a home, people communicate with one another for essentially all possible functions – requesting, commenting, arguing, joking, and more! Communication enables individuals to meet functional needs, achieve independence, and attain social connections. AAC users require unique support in order to reach an equal level of communication success. This presentation will focus on ways to provide such support by naturally embedding AAC tools into a home. Using NEAT’s Smart Home as a model, the presentation will describe ways to use low-, mid- and high-tech AAC in specific locations. A demonstration of ways to pair AAC with smart home technology will show innovative possibilities for supporting independence.

Hot Trends in Assistive Tech: It’s impact on EVERYONE!

PRESENTER: Nicole Feeney, Director of AT Services, NEAT Center at Oak Hill

Join Nicole for an exciting, fast-paced presentation that exposes many of the cutting-edge tools and devices in assistive technology (AT). You’ll see the latest in trends across the AT continuum including super cool gadgets, apps, hardware and software. Your enthusiasm for technology will naturally be inspired as you plan to provide services to students and individuals with disabilities.

Innovations in Homecare Technology

PRESENTER:  Mario D’Aquila, Assisted Living Technologies, Inc. and Brian Cosker, Vice President, Lifeway Mobility

More than 50 years ago the technology in the popular cartoon The Jetsons seemed unlikely even in the distant “future.” Although we probably won’t see flying cars anytime soon, some technologies, like video calling are already here and have become a part of our daily lives. Mario will explore technological solutions that promote independence, safety, and improved quality of life for seniors. Attendees will discover products for fall prevention, emergency response, remote monitoring, medication management, and home safety. We will also speak about the various home adaptive equipment such as ramps, stair glides, personal elevators and more.

Intro to AAC Implementation: Basic “Talker” Training

PRESENTER:  Ann Bedard, Assistive Technology Specialist, Speech Language Pathologist, EASTCONN and Joanne Lambert, Assistive Technology Specialist, Speech Language Pathologist, EASTCONN

In this session, we will discuss the difference between modeling and prompting. Modeling is referred to in the research as “Aided-Language Input, Partner-Augmented Input,” and “Aided Language Stimulation.” Often times these research-based strategies are not utilized to their fullest or at all. This results in device abandonment. The communication partners natural instinct is often to prompt, especially using verbal prompts. We will discuss the appropriate hierarchy for prompting, which is completely silent. This in addition to modeling can significantly increase an AAC user’s “buy-in” to spontaneous usage of their device.

QIAT Post Secondary Outcomes for the Transition to Higher Ed

PRESENTER: Lauren Tucker, Assistant Professor, University of Saint Joseph

In this presentation, we will explore the utilization of the QIAT Post Secondary outcomes to foster the transition from high school to post secondary education. We will start by investigating the ten standards of the QIAT-PS, what do they mean for student and how can we build these skills in our students. Then we will collaboratively align resources available for students to build their capacity within each standard. Finally, we we will explore the educational and assistive technology available for high school and college students to accomplish the tasks necessary for success.

Successful Transition to College: AT, Accommodations & Advocacy

PRESENTERS: Diana Petschauer, ATP, Consultant, Founder, Manager, AT for Education and Alyssa Marinaccio, ATP, AT Coordinator UConn & AT Consultant, AT for Education, UConn Disability Services and CSD Tech

Transition from high school to college is a significant and critical time in a student’s life & educational career. This session will inform participants of process, strategies, technology & resources to help ensure that the transition is a successful one! Topics include: Assistive Technologies (Laptop, Chromebook, iPad, smartphone), Supportive Accommodations, Differences between High School & Post-Secondary Laws; Admission process; How to Access and Use your Accommodations, & The Importance of self-advocacy. Assistive Technologies will be demonstrated including support for literacy and math, note taking, executive function, sensory & physical disabilities. Many Resources shared for participants to refer back to & use immediately.

Top Ten Technology Treasures

PRESENTER: Steve Famiglietti, Blind Services Vocational Manager, NEAT Center at Oak Hill

There are many pieces of technology available to help people with low vision or blindness as they go through different phases of their lives. Each day, we are presented with many challenges ranging from equal access during school to staying healthy and fit. Join me as we explore and discover exciting, new developments, apps, and tech supports addressing the needs of individuals with visual impairments in today’s fast paced world.

UDL 2.0 in the K-12 Setting

PRESENTER: Lauren Tucker, Assistant Professor, Southern Connecticut State University

Wondering what assistive, educational, and instructional technology tools could help you facilitate Universal Design for Learning your K-12 classroom? Participate in an interactive workshop to investigate the new UDL guidelines and align a variety tools to the updated framework. Tools presented will be compatible with iPads, SmartBoards, and Chromebooks – there’s something for everyone! We will explore examples of student tools to access learning through interactive videos, behavior supports for teachers to increase student engagement, whole class technology integration activities to give your lessons that little extra, and more!

Using AT to Support Inclusive Employment Practices

PRESENTER: Mike Marotta, Director Richard West Assistive Technology Advocacy Center at Disability Rights NJ

Join us as we discuss how to apply the principles of Universal Design to create Inclusive Employment Practices (IEP). While businesses sometimes encounter serious challenges as they seek to implement inclusion strategies for people with disabilities, as AT practitioners, we can assist them in overcoming those hurdles with robust and creative practices. This session will highlight successful strategies and give real-life examples that can be implemented by businesses of all sizes to create more inclusive workplaces.

Utilizing Smart Technology to Combat Social Isolation

PRESENTER: Kristopher Thompson, Coordinator, Oak Hill’s NEAT Center

The ability to connect with others is crucial. Whether it be someone facing health challenges, disabilities, or aging in place, it is important to have a plan and find creative ways to combat social isolation. Fortunately, there are many emerging, smart, assistive technology options in today’s fast paced world that can greatly impact independence and social opportunities. Participants will discover powerful smartphones & tablets and the exciting apps that provide easy access to information, enhance one’s communication, connecting to other’s through text or video, or joining friends and family on social media. An exploration of voice-controlled technologies will illuminate the powerful impact it has on creating a more connected independence.

Westbrook Public Schools Students + AT Tools = Success in School

PRESENTER:  Westbrook Students and Educators

Facilitated by Madeline Illinger, Director of Special Education and Student Support Services & Amy Norton, Assistive Technology Professional, EASTCONN

Take a look at what Assistive Technology tools students in Westbrook are using to support their learning! Westbrook Middle and High school students will demonstrate some tools they are using to gain access to the curriculum and increase their achievement. When tools are introduced to students at a young age, it becomes a part of their tool box. With the support of EASTCONN Consultants, Westbrook students are transitioning to post-secondary schools and employment settings well rehearsed in the use of tools that will support their success as adult learners.

Your Right to AT under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

PRESENTERS: Gretchen Knauff, Executive Director, Disability Rights Connecticut and Linda Mizzi, Lead Advocate, Disability Rights Connecticut

The ADA is the most comprehensive piece of civil rights legislation for persons with disabilities. Did you know that the accommodation requirements of the ADA may entitle a qualified person with a disability to receive AT in employment, state and local governments programs and places of public accommodation. Know your rights!