Recycle your old CD cases

2014-03-15 08.33.06


Turn your old CD cases into a great visual support.  Add velcro straps on the bottom to hold the case open, insert plain card stock, attach a dry erase marker to the cover and it becomes a dry erase board.  Insert picture schedules, to do lists, math charts, word wall cards, etc.  Thanks to Judi Schoonover from Loudoun County for a great idea and a wonderful presentation at the Virginia OT School Symposium.

Friday Research Spotlight: “Predicting interventionists’ intention to use video self-modeling”

Video self-modeling ( requires educators to use video recorders–which seems like “no big thing.” As those of us with packed instructional schedules know, however, it is a really big thing! A recent study (see below)  explored whether 81 educators’ use of video self-modeling interventions could be predicted based on “perceived usefulness, perceived ease of use, and treatment acceptability” reported in a survey.

Here’s a sample of the questions they asked about “perceived ease of use”:

1. Learning to operate digital camcorders, like the Flip, would be easy for me.
2. I would find it easy to get digital camcorders, like the Flip, to do what I want.
3. My interaction with digital camcorders, like the Flip, would be clear and understandable.
4. I would find digital camcorders, like the Flip, to be flexible to interact with.
5. It would be easy for me to become skillful using digital camcorders, like the Flip.
6. I would find digital camcorders, like the Flip, easy to use.

The researchers ran statistical tests on the data and found a significant (more than can be attributed to chance) portion of interventionists’ intention to use video self-modeling can be explained by:

  1. perceptions about how useful of digital camcorders are
  2. how easy they are to use
  3. how much they accepted video self-modeling

They recommend professional development around digital camera usefulness and convenience. Do you have a similar experience?

Read the study: Heckman, A., Cummings, J., & Bellini, S. (2014). Predicting interventionists’ intention to use video self-modeling: An investigation of the intervention technology acceptance model. Journal of Special Education Technology, (29)1, 35-49.

If you are in Virginia Superintendent’s regions 1&8, we’ll get the study to you!

Friday Research Spotlight: How is technology used in the education of students with disabilities? Results of a statewide study

Okolo, C., & Diedrich, J. (2014). Twenty-five years later: How is technology used in the education of students with disabilities? Results of a statewide study. Journal of Special Education Technology, 29(1),

The researchers (from Michigan State University and Michigan Integrated Technology Supports) report results of 1143 of their state’s educators who complete a survey about their use of technology in their personal and professional lives and in the instruction of students with disabilities. The survey responses reflect that the professionals use it for themselves more than student instruction.

“Scores on measures of self-reported knowledge and perceived support vary significantly among different categories of respondents and are only moderate for special educators and low for general educators. Nevertheless, educators express interest in further professional development about AT. The need for additional professional development, along with better access to technology and more funding, are perceived as top barriers to more widespread AT use. Other findings include a lack of knowledge about how technology is used by students in and out of school and the low rate of participation of general educators, students, and parents in AT decisions.”

Want to read the entire article? Find it at a local library or contact us if you are in Virginia’s Superintendent’s Regions 1 and 8.

Microsoft Partners in Learning Blog

Last week we highlighted our guest bloggers from Loudoun County Schools.  They shared their strategies for adapting books for all learners.  This week our hats go off to two other members of the Loudoun County Assistive Technology team, Tara Jeffs and Cynthia Feist. Tara and Cindy host an accessibility blog on the Microsoft Partners in Learning Blog.  This is an excellent source for finding information about meeting the needs of diverse learners in your classroom.  Check out  recent posts on developing MathLit kits and Strategies for Improving Organization and Time Management Skills.  All of the posts contain photos, videos and web links.  This blog is worth bookmarking and sharing far and wide!!

Friday Research Spotlight: TTS, adolescents, and expository reading

Why read the article? The authors (from Purdue University) include a nice literature review on three key aspects of adolescents’ use of TTS: fluency, reading comprehension, and task completion. That alone is worth a review.

The research questions are:

“In comparison to reading on the computer without TTS, does the use of TTS affect oral reading fluency, comprehension, and task completion time while reading grade-level expository text?” and

“What are students’ perspectives of using TTS for reading grade-level expository text?”

In this study, researchers worked with three middle school students with specific learning disabilities in reading and conducted a multiple-baseline-across-participants design to explore the first question.

In the words of the authors, “TTS did not affect students’ fluency, comprehension, or task completion time, although social validity interviews revealed that each student valued the independence and efficiency TTS provided. Students believed they comprehended fully, read more fluently, and finished the reading task more quickly with TTS than without it.”

What do we think of that?

Meyer, N., & Bouck, E. (2014). The impact of text-to-speech on expository reading for adolescents with LD. Journal of Special Education Technology, 29(1), 21-33.

Want to read it? Find it online, in print in your local state university library, or contact us if you live in Superintendent’s regions 1 and 8 and we’ll send it to you!

Free professional development opportunities

It’s another snow day for many of our school divisions.  After schools were closed last week and additional days this week, many of you may be having a little cabin fever.  Tired of watching old Mary Tyler Moore reruns, run out of cookies and chips in your kitchen, then spend 45 minutes getting some free professional development in assistive technology.

Tools for Life, the Georgia Assistive Technology Act Program, has numerous archived webinars available for viewing.  I just finished the “CREATE: Using Technology to Meet the Common Core Writing Standards” webinar.  Access the webinars here:

And don’t forget the Virtual TechKnowledgy 2013 webinars are still available for viewing:

Friday Research Spotlight: “What I need to know about assistive technology research”

Check out Greg O’Connor’s “Keeping up to date: What I need to know about assistive technology research” at for a nice overview of getting rolling on researching AT and for a handout.

National Assistive Technology in Education (NATE) Network

It’s been a while since we featured the NATE Network, so here you go!

The NATE Network’s mission is “to help service providers develop their capacity to work collaboratively to implement assistive technology services that are legal, ethical, cost effective and efficient.” (

NATE — the National Assistive Technology in Education Network — brings together information from the many fields and disciplines that are involved in assistive technology services in educational settings. We provide that information in a cohesive, integrated manner, so that people from all disciplines can access it. We promote and encourage increased collaboration between people from different disciplines at the local team level and at the larger regional and national levels.

You can join the NATE network here:

Turn You Tube videos into a switch accessible activity

Need to find more switch accessible activities for your students?  Don’t have time to create your own?  Here’s a great website that does the work for you.   Enter in the url for the You Tube video, select the length of play, and click “Play”.  That’s all there is to it.  Super easy and quick.