Utah Assistive Technology Teams

Empowering Students Through Assistive Technology

February Newsletter

Who are we?

Utah Assistive Technology Teams support school LEAs and IEP teams to evaluate, acquire and manage assistive technology for students with disabilities.

The State of Utah is divided into 28 regional teams with a UATT team serving each region. In some cases the team will serve multiple school districts, and in other cases the school district may be large enough to have more then one team. Teams consist of, but are not limited to, speech pathologists, teachers, psychologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, administrators, computer specialists, audiologists, and vision specialists.

Currently Charter Schools are supported by UATT Central. If you would like an evaluation for a student, please contact Kent Remund (801-887-9533) or Julia Pearce (801-887-9534)

Video of the month! UATT Purpose and Process

Utah Assistive Technology Teams Purpose and Process

Nadean Lescoe Represents Utah at the 2015 Closing the Gap Conference

One of our own UATT members, Nadean Lescoe from Odgen School District, was a well attended presenter at the 2015 Closing the Gap, in Minneaplolis, Minnesota. Nadean covered a two hour session on the topic, “Supporting Common Core Requirement for Vocabulary Development Using Tier Two Words and New-2-You." During this time Nadean shared how to identify Tier Two Words and how it helps students increase vocabulary. “Tier Two words are frequently occurring words that are used across the curriculum, and are a central part of comprehension and are generally understood by persons who do not present a language delay.”

The play dough with the folder was a great welcoming to the attendees as they first enter the room. Nadean continue to keep attention as she enthusiastically shared units that she had created using the News -2- You program. The units incorporated Tier Two Vocabulary in reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language requirements from the Common Core. Two of the attendees were lucky winners of a complete unit to help get them started. Nadean didn’t stop there, she offered everyone in attendance free access to all the units she had created. The attendee just had to send a zip drive and a stamped self addressed envelope and she would do the rest.

I had not used News-2-You previous to attending Nadean’s training. I have shared it with the teachers I coach and they are finding their students are using the Tier Two Words. If you are interested, she will probably present at our next UATT Conference in February 2017.

Submitted by Alisa Thacker -

February's Tech Tip

Co:writer - Powerful Word Prediction for Students with Writing Disabilities

In its most simple form, writing is recording; writing is a powerful way for humans to record and express ideas from an individual’s mind and can be kept for future generations to read. Think of some of our greatest recorded writings from Twain, Dickens, Tolstoy and Dr. Seuss.

Writing in the school setting has change over the years. From chalk and slate, graphite pencils, pens, typewriters, computers, laptops and tablets. Students with disabilities have some powerful tools to assist them in recording their thoughts.

For students with learning disabilities, it is difficult for them to get the words out. There's a wall between the idea and writing it out on paper. Word recall is a barrier and grammar and spelling almost always get in the way. One of our favorite tools to help students overcome these barriers over the past decade is Co:Writer from Don Johnston. http://donjohnston.com/cowriter

If students can write just a fraction of what they want to say, Co:Writer will help do the rest. The most basic feature of Co:Writer predicts what students are trying to say and offer word suggestions in real time. Even the worst spelling and grammar mistakes are not a problem for Co:Writer. In addition to prediction is the ability to add topic-specific dictionaries to which it uses to predicts words. If a student were to write a paper on our solar system, a dictionary specific to the solar system could be added to the words that it will predict. The students starts to type "pl" and Co:Writer will predict “Planet” and “Pluto” as a first option where it would not find these dictionary specific words without adding this dictionary.

Another feature is the ability for it to speak each letter, word and complete sentence as the student types. This allows them to check their writing through auditory feedback.

Co:Writer is also a great tool for students that lack fine motor skills or range of motion. Many students with cerebral palsy use the program with great success as it eliminates keystrokes with the word prediction.

In the past, Co:Writer was only available on the PC for computer. Last year it was released for apple devices for $19.99! Don Johnston just released Co:Writer Universal which is a yearly subscription and has some great features that we love. Co:Writer Universal uses the cloud to store its information and is available to access on a computer, iphone, ipad or chromebook. If a teacher were to set up a custom dictionary at school, the student can then log in to his/her account at home, and continue working on the same work from school. In addition, Co:Writer Universal now has some powerful data collection features for teachers and parents. It continually tracks which words and sentence the student is writing and compiles it in useful charts and graphs to monitor a full range of qualitative and productivity data. This data will help track writing skills and help set goals for the student.

Kent Remund

Recent Student Success Story

A student I will call “George” is a student in junior high in the Granite School District who has a 504 plan. He was seen by the AT Team in September, 2015 for concerns about poor legibility. It was apparent that George was very bright when speaking with him, but in class he was achieving only C’s and some D’s. Although the school wanted something to assist with George’s writing, his mom was concerned that George would use a device to access inappropriate sites, and George himself admitted that if the subject in the classroom did not interest him he would prefer to surf the web if given the opportunity. The AT and school teams decided that mid-tech rather than high-tech would be the way to go with this student to take away the temptation, so he was offered a NEO, which is a portable word processor. However, George indicated that he would like to have a calendaring option to keep him apprised of due dates for his assignments. One of the Team members brought up the idea that a Forte Writer, which is another portable word processor, did have a calendar and could help with that request. A Forte was delivered for a 2-month trial.

When the Granite School District AT Team visited the junior high school for a team follow-up meeting, George was proud to announce that he was getting A’s and B’s for the term. A current teacher of his to mentioned how much George had matured this school year. We agreed that George seemed much more focused than when we had met with him previously. Most of all, it seemed that George felt very good about himself because he was performing at a level that he was capable of. George’s success in school is due partly to one piece of equipment from the Assistive Technology Team who was able to fit a piece of equipment to adequately meet his needs.

When a student succeeds we succeed. We are all part of a winning team!

Upcoming Events

Gayl Bowser Training - The Changing Role of AT Teams.

Tuesday, April 12th, 9am

to be determined, Utah

The Changing Role of AT Teams:

Are you concerned about the viability of your school district’s AT Team? Are you looking for new ways to improve AT services in the coming years? If you are part of a team that provides AT services in public school settings, then this intensive one-day training is right for you. Working with your team or in small groups of similar teams, you will have the chance to envision AT services in the context of a Universal Design for Learning model for professionals and to modify your service model to meet the changing role of AT teams. Interactive activities will give you an opportunity to analyze your current service model, focus on improving service delivery, building agency-wide capacity, and planning effective outreach. You will identify areas of need, rethink the vision for your AT services, and begin work on a multi-faceted 3-year plan.

AT specialists are encouraged to attend in teams, develop team objectives, and discover practical ways to ensure the viability of your team. Whether you are an individual AT practitioner or part of a local or regional school-based AT team, you will leave with a clear, detailed plan to move into the next decade of AT services.

Gayl will present at a location to be determined for the Northern part of the state on April 12th and again at a location to be determined in the Southern part of the state on April 14th.