I think it is easy to feel very isolated as an AT Specialist. For most of us, we aren’t sitting eating lunch with the other AT Specialists or chatting as we walk to our cars at the end of the day. We have to actually work a little harder to collaborate with others in our field. We are fortunate though that there are tons of awesome people in the Assistive Technology world who like to share their knowledge. At ATIA, I was lucky enough to chat with some of the QIAT leadership team, who are leaders in our field. Although I recognized their names from the QIAT listserv, I had never met them in person. It felt like I was meeting the president! Talk about an inspirational group! From that conversation and others at ATIA, I have come to my biggest takeaway—Take advantage of the resources that are out there in the AT field. I will make time to read all those QIAT listserv emails, read blogs of others in the AT field, and learn from my co-workers, as well as try to be a resource for others. It is give and take. For anyone not already on the QIAT list, it has been a huge support for me and is an easy place to access really knowledgeable people. Although you will get lots of emails each day, it is an invaluable (and free) resource.
Okay, on to the tools. A couple of things from the exhibit hall and sessions that caught my eye:
- I was very impressed with the Clicker apps--Clicker Docs and Clicker Sentences. They are very similar to Clicker 6—clean interface, simple to use. Clicker Docs is a talking word process with word prediction and word banks. Clicker Sentences helps emerging writers using Clicker grids. Bonus: These apps work with Clicker 6, so activities you created in Clicker 6 will run on the apps, and vice versa.
- I have been on a quest to beef up my evaluation skills in the area of reading. I was very happy to learn about PAR (Protocol for Accommodations in Reading) created by Denise DeCoste and Linda Bastiani Wilson in conjunction with Don Johnston. This is an assessment tool that helps an evaluator determine the most appropriate reading accommodations for students, based on data. Bonus: Free download from their website. I’ll definitely be reading through this over the next week or so. http://www.donjohnston.com/products/par/index.html
- I also learned a little more about Diigo.com, a website I had heard about but never really explored. Diigo.com is a social bookmarking tool that allows users to collect info on the Internet. You can bookmark web pages, highlight text on a webpage, and create sticky notes, etc. This could be a super useful tool for teachers to find web sites for their students on a specific topic to narrow down the vast information found on the internet. Bonus: It is all on the cloud, so you can access anywhere.