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Spring 2022 Newsletter

Spring 2022 Newsletter

Welcome to the spring 2022 newsletter of WI AAC Network
(by Mike Hipple; WI AAC Network founder; https://wisconsinaacnetwork.org)

For WATRN this quarter we will be discussing students transitioning from school.   I thought hey I should write about that topic for the newsletter. For most people in the country, school is a tiny part of their life. You have only thirteen years of being in school. We do transitioning planning for many months and sometimes years for students who have a disability. The days, months leading up to graduation should be a happy and exciting time for them and their family, but for some it is a sad and frustrating time.  It is their last year with their friends, some of them have known their friends since they were in kindergarten.  The last school year of my education journey was full of memories, funny stories, and meaningful discussions with my friends. I was a part of homecoming festivities, took a date to the homecoming dance, went to football games, played jokes on my teachers and aides, was busy in Key Club and the History Club, volunteered in a classroom and got to go anywhere in the community that I wanted to. I feel that I was a typical student in twelfth grade, because I had a voice to state my desires and my team understood that. I hope everyone who uses AAC can say that. If you don’t know what a typical twelfth grade year looks like, here is my list. Go to at least two football games, join a club, dress up for all of the homecoming spirit days, be silly with friends, and enjoy the year. The students only get to go through this one time and they should be enjoying the year, not consumed with meetings about the future. I want to end with two stories about my twelfth grade year. One of my best friends, Tim, was sick most of our highschool years. In twelfth grade Tim was finally better and we had a ball that year. I have excellent memories of me and Tim discussing sports and playing jokes on everyone and everything in between. Sadly Tim died in 2014, but I always have the memories of our twelfth grade year. Thanks Tim. The 2nd story is about my other best friends Logan and Tyler who always ate lunch with me. One day we were talking about something when Logan saw a spider. Logan and Tyler are big and strong people but both of them ran out of the classroom fast.  They left me there with the spider.  I said “thanks guys”.   I thought how can I kill it?”  My aide walked back in and said are the big boys afraid of a little spider.  I will take care of it for you. Are memories amazing or what?? I would like to say a huge congratulations to the AAC Communicators in the class of 2022 and welcome to adulthood, your best is yet to come.

In this issue you will find

  • Welcome by Mike Hipple
  • Online Materials for Transition with AT compiled by Kelly Fonner
  • My thoughts on transition and my highschool journey by Mike Hipple
  • My highschool journey by Mike Hipple
  • Durable Medical Equipment survey being conducted

Online Materials for Transition with Assistive Technologies (by Kelly Fonner, MS; WI AAC Network leadership member; AT consultant & special educator; www.kellyfonner.com)

Over the years, there have been resources developed for supporting the transition (little “t” – between schools/agencies) and (bit “T” – post K-12 schooling) of individuals who use AAC (Augmentative & Alternative Communication) and other AT (Assistive Technologies). Here in Wisconsin, the WATI (Wisconsin Assistive Technology Initiative) developed one of the first AT-specific set of supports for transition planning. Here are links to those as well as other state and national transition resources:

  • WATI developed The Teacher and Student Transition Portfolio, which is described on their website as “..a two-portfolio system designed to help teachers assist students in developing a personally tailored portfolio. Together, teachers and students begin preparing the student portfolio at age 14. This portfolio moves with the student year to year. The teacher houses the portfolio and adds information as it is developed. Upon graduation, the teacher wraps it up and gives it to the student for graduation to bring to their post school setting. The intent is for the student to use the portfolio as a framework for pursuing post secondary goals, adding materials under each category as needed.”                                http://www.wati.org/free-publications/other-materials/ 
  • QIAT (Quality Indicators in Assistive Technology Services) has an indicator area in Transition. These include 6 quality indicators of transition services, intent statements and common errors. They also have a self-evaluation matrix for school teams or individual service providers to review their own practice and to plan for growth and development of their transition services and strategies https://qiat.org/indicators/indicator-6-at-in-transition/ 
  • A companion project to QIAT is QIAT-PS (Quality Indicators in Assistive Technology – Post Secondary) this project was an outgrowth of the initial QIAT work which brought together service providers and consumers of AT who were in community colleges’ trade schools’, and universities’ disabled student services divisions, as well as staff from Offices of Vocational Rehabilitation and other post-secondary support services. Together they reviewed and created a set of quality indicators specific to the need for and use of AT in post-secondary situations. There are two online surveys intended for 1) self/family and 2) campus./support staff reflection  http://qiat-ps.org/ 
  • Specific to AAC communicators and transition is the book Transition Strategies for Adolescents & You Adults Who Use AAC, authored by Dr. David McNaughton and the late Dr David Beukelman. This very practical book includes chapters such as foundations for successful transitions; chapters specific to education, employment and volunteer programs, relationships & social engagement, and preparing people who use AAC to communicate with personal care attendants and medical professionals. Published in 2010 by Paul H Brookes, it can also be found on Amazon Books.https://www.amazon.com/Transition-Strategies-Adolescents-Young-Adults 
  • Dr. David McNaughton has also brought his Transition strategies as well as co-presented with transition experienced, AAC Communicators for the Wisconsin AAC ECHO series hosted by the staff from the University of Wisconsin – Madison’s AAC outreach program. In the fall of 2021, he spoke during 2 monthly events, those and future ECHO-AAC events can be found at https://www.waisman.wisc.edu/echo/echo-aac/  Additional handouts on Transition and AAC from Dr. McNaughton can be downloaded from the PennState AAC resources https://rerc-aac.psu.edu/files/2020/05/AAC-Supports-3-5-20-HO.pdf 
  • The RERC-AAC (Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Augmentative and Alternative Communication developed under grants from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR). The current research 2020-2025 is described https://rerc-aac.psu.edu/research/ and includes a link to an article Gormley, J., & Fager, S. K. (2021). Personalization of patient-provider communication across the lifespan. Topics in Language Disorders, 41(3), 249-268; The research from 2014-2020 includes information on Investigating AAC technologies to support the transition from graphic symbols to literacy https://rerc-aac.psu.edu/research/r2-investigating-aac-technologies-to-support-the-transition-from-graphic-symbols-to-literacy/ ; The original RERC-AAC project ran from 2008-2013 and included the Dare to Dream project, resulting in the book by Dr. Diane Bryan Daring to Dream: Turning Dreams into Future Realities; Central Connecticut State University offers a Transition Specialist Official Certificate Program (OCP) is designed to prepare post bachelor’s professionals and those already licensed or certified in Special Education, School Counseling, School Psychology, Social Work, Rehabilitation, or general counseling to promote successful post-school employment and/or education outcomes of youth and young adults with disabilities.https://www.ccsu.edu/program/OCPTransitionSpecialist 
  • Transition Tennessee has several resources/videos about how to write transition-focused IEPs that are not only compliant, but move toward best practices. Their website is transitiontn.org, you will need to register but all of the lessons and materials/downloads are free. Although they are based in TN, their materials about transition-focused IEPs should be accessible to those working in most states/territories with minimal differences.

My highschool journey by Mike Hipple

I can’t believe that this coming September will be 10 years since I started my twelfth grade year. I have great memories of all of my highschool years from chatting with my friends, finding myself, and learning some life lessons. Three of my great  friends Tim, Ty,  and Logan nicknamed me Mr. Talk a lot.  The guys were quiet, men of few words.   They didn’t see me as someone having a disability at all. I was one of the guys. I loved them for that and we made some lifelong memories. Logan, Ty, and Tim didn’t feel sorry for me and I didn’t feel sorry for them {they had learning disabilities too}, we challenged one another to do our best on everything. We had amazing teachers and aides to help us through anything and everything. We were in  learning disability classes.  For me it was the best thing, because I was a part of the class everyday. In May of 2013, Tim, Ty, Logan, and I were having lunch together.  I said guys this might be our last men’s lunch for a few years and I want to say thank you for being there for me. Tim, Ty, and Logan said no Mike thank you for being there for us. That is what highschool should be all about making true blue friends that ask where you are if you are sick, talk to you during science and history classes(it was a welcome distraction), wait for you every morning at my bus drop off spot, and get you out from doing therapy or making therapy more let’s say interesting. So please include peers and highschool activities in your AAC Communicator’s day.

I remember sitting in my eighth grade IEP and someone asked me what my goals are after highschool? I said can I get through highschool? I was just excited to start highschool and just wondering what highschool would be like. I was not thinking about  life after highschool.  My goal was to enjoy my highschool years. Why do we need to ask students when they are just starting highschool what do you want to be? At 14, I was afraid and worried that I did not have a plan for adulthood. No one knows what field they’re going to be working in at the age of 14, we shouldn’t be asking students with complex communication need that question. We should be asking questions like what school clubs do you want to join, do you want to go to any sporting events and how can we support you at the events, and what role do you want to have in the school community.  We don’t need to have everything planned for their whole life by the time highschool ends. I didn’t have that and I don’t know anyone without a disability who needed to do that either. Please allow transition to happen on their time, not on special education time frames. We are all in transition time. It is called life. Enjoy the ride and I hope it will take you somewhere amazing. Mike Hipple

Some transition websites that might be helpful for your journey


https://www.incontrolwi.org/?fbclid=IwAR0K-swlsujrhWheYxerJnWGaxcnFX8UkmCtcOoswU1C6IWT53HyOA2MRWM They ĥave an AAC Communicator working for them. She writes a monthly blog, she is a beautiful writer.

WI BPDD https://wi-bpdd.org/?fbclid=IwAR3SFsyk6cr_qX4GAT9DHctzy1Ixo2_p_LqoMz5B-n59ulNqQmxkXM-_Amo

Durable Medical Equipment survey being conducted

Please take a few minutes to complete and/or share the Durable Medical Equipment survey so we can better understand the process for obtaining durable medical equipment and make improvements.   We are looking for people who have purchased Durable Medical Equipment such as wheelchairs, walkers, AAC and more to share their experiences.  

When people with disabilities need durable medical equipment, there are a lot of challenges such as the length of time the process takes, lack of providers, and insurance denials.  This project will examine the process for getting durable medical equipment such as wheelchairs, walkers, oxygen, AAC, Hoyer lifts and hospital beds to find ways to streamline the time it takes from needing the equipment to using the equipment.  The project will also look for ways to attract more rehabilitation specialists to the field to better manage the volume of repairs that can leave people with disabilities stuck at home waiting for extended periods of time due to a lack of providers. 

Participation in the survey is completely voluntary.

This survey to inform a project being worked on by Jordan Anderson who was selected as one of only 6 2022 Fellows for SARTAC (Self-Advocacy Resource and Technical Assistance Center) and host WI Board for People with Developmental Disabilities.  The SARTAC Fellowship is a year-long opportunity for self-advocates to develop and grow their skills as leaders in the self-advocacy movement. 

If you have questions, please contact Jordan Anderson at jordan21glena@gmail.com.

Thank you,

Jordan Anderson

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