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The Special Ed Advocate Newsletter
August 2, 2000

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Issue - 82

ISSN: 1538-3202


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1. Letter to Wrightslaw: Daniel Questions Our Advice About Touch Typing 

The July 20 issue of The Special Ed Advocate included a new article, “Seven Steps to Effective Parent Advocacy.” One step is “Learn About Assistive Technology (and How to Touch-Type). 

A few readers disagreed with our advice about teaching children to touch type. Read “Letter from Daniel” and our response.


2. What is "Assistive Technology?” 

The term “Assistive technology” includes devices and services. 

20 U.S.C. Section 1401 – Definitions 

(1) Assistive technology device – The term ‘assistive technology device’ means any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of a child with a disability. (Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, page 24) 

(2) Assistive technology service – The term ‘assistive technology service’ means any service that directly assists a child with a disability in the selection, acquisition, or use of an Assistive technology device. Such term includes – (list of services follows) 

PW COMMENT: Assistive Technology (A.T.) Increases Independence 

“Technology allows people with disabilities to be more independent. Children who cannot write are using dictation software to communicate their thoughts and ideas. Smart machines read text to visually impaired children. Children who cannot speak are using computerized speaking machines. Congress intends disabled children to use technology devices and services to increase, maintain, and improve their ability to function independently in school and out of school.” (Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, page 25) 



3. Assistive Technology: Information & Resources 

* LDOnline * 

To learn more about Assistive technology, visit the “In Depth Section” of LD Online. 

Here are three Assistive technology (AT) articles from LD Online: 

1. “Tools for Living with Learning Disabilities (published by the Coordinated Campaign for Learning Disabilities) provides a good overview of tools that help people work around their disabilities. 

Tools can be simple or complex. Simple tools include highlighters, tape recorders, and calculators. Complex (or high tech) tools include voice recognition software, talking calculators, and software to help users spell words correctly. 

2. “Considering Your Child’s Need for Assistive Technology

includes these topics: 
* legal requirements about Assistive technology, 

* how to use technology for students with different disabilities, 

* how to include technology in the child’s IEP, 

* how to prepare for IEP meetings, * an assistive technology evaluation guide, 

* issues related to statewide assessments, 

* issues about using technology at home 

3. “Technology: Some Common Questions Answered” (by John Copenhaven in “Counterpoint,” a newsletter published by the National Association of State Directors of Special Education) 

This article, originally written for special education administrators, is a series of “frequently asked questions and answers” about technology. In a dispute about the school district’s obligation to provide technology services and /or devices, parents and advocates may be able to use information from this article to support their position. 

* LD Resources

LD Resources is an excellent source of information about technology and “low tech” and “high tech” tools. The LD Resources site is the brainchild of Richard Wanderman, a popular speaker at conferences around the country. 

When you visit the LD Resources site, subscribe to the LD Reader, his free online newsletter. Check out the fascinating information in “Tools”.

* Assistive & Adaptive Technology in Special Education



4. News! A. T. Conference in Colorado

Achieving New Heights with Assistive Technology Conference November 9 - 11, 2000 Denver Holiday Inn, Southeast Aurora, Colorado Colorado Assistive Technology Project 303-864-5100 

http://www.uchsc.edu/catp


5. News! West Virginia Parents CAN! 

On Friday, July 28, Pete and Pam Wright spoke to parents and professionals at a conference sponsored by Mountain State Parents, Children and Adolescents Network (MSPCAN). 

Pete taught parents how to find answers to questions about their legal rights and responsibilities. He used Wrightslaw: Special Education Law  and the West Virginia special education regulations as his teaching tools. We were gratified to meet a judge who traveled from Ohio for his presentation. Pam’s topic was “Effective Parent Advocacy and Self Esteem.” Pam identified difficulties parents face when advocating for their children, solutions to these problems, and how parents can help their children become effective self-advocates. Our goals were to educate and inspire. 

By the end of the conference, we were inspired and educated by the members of Mountain State Parents CAN. Director Teri Toothman knows firsthand how difficult it is for parents of children with disabilities to get the skills and services their children need. 

“Give a Man a Fish . . .” 

Initially, Teri’s staff did individual advocacy for parents – and they were very successful. Later, the organization began to teach parents how to advocate for themselves and their children. What led them to change? “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” 

Teri says, “I realized that we were actually doing parents an injustice by not giving them the tools they needed to advocate for their kids. In response to this discovery, I developed the “Parents as Advocates” Curriculum. Our parent advocates take classes for a year and learn about policymaking, negotiating, educational law, mental health law, and parent / professional collaboration.” 

Discussing her growth as an advocate, Teri said, “I remember when I started advocating for my three children and how hard it was without negotiating skills and education law knowledge. I felt hopeless at these meetings and agreed with whatever they said because I thought they were the professionals and knew what was best for my child.” 

“Then I learned educational law. I went into meetings thinking I knew what was best for my child and no one could tell me different. Barriers went up so fast that I didn’t know what was happening. I didn’t accomplish anything with that attitude.” 

“Then I learned negotiating skills. I went into meetings with an attitude that we would work together – and the barriers started coming down.” 

“I would be lying if I said it was a bed of roses. We still have struggles, but with the skills I have acquired, I have the strength to go on. Some days, I think about how things should be and how much we haven’t accomplished. But a very dear friend said to me, “Stop looking at the gravel road ahead, and look the road you’ve paved behind you.” 

Website: http://www.mspcan.org/



6. Coming Up - Conferences in New England, New York 

Our next stop is New England (New Hampshire, Vermont, Mass) on September 8-9, 2000

Special Education Law: Understanding IDEA-97, Evaluations and the Law, ADD/ADHD
Dates: September 8 and 9, 2000 

Location: Wayfarer Inn, 121 S. River Road, Bedford, NH 03110 

Speakers: Peter and Pam Wright: IDEA-97: Understanding Special Education Law 

John O. Willis: Evaluations and the Law 

Thom Hartmann: ADD/ADHD and the Law 

Sponsor: Education-A-Must, Inc
Contact: Dot French 

Phone: 603-437-6286 

Fax Registration: 603-434-0371 

Email: education7@aol.com

----------------- 

Followed by Long Island, New York on October 13-14, 2000

Friday, October 13, 2000. "Meeting the Challenge: Legal Issues in Educating Students with Disabilities in a General Education Setting
Location: Wyndham Wind Watch, Hauppauge, Long Island 

Saturday, October 14, 2000. "When Schools Say No!
Location: Brookside School, 1260 Meadowbrook Road, North Merrick, Long Island. 

Sponsors: Long Island Advocacy Center, Inc. & Nassau Coordinating Council of Special Education PTA's 

Contact: Mary DeSetta 
NCC SEPTA 

Phone & Fax: 516-374-5223 

If you are interested in learning when Pete and Pam Wright will be in your area, check the Wrightslaw Conference Schedule



7. Super Deals from Wrightslaw! Sale Ends August 15! 

If you’ve been waiting to order Wrightslaw: Special Education Law or the Wrightslaw Tactics & trategy Manual, it’s time to act.

The Summer Sale – with FREE SHIPPING on all Wrightslaw products – ends August 15. 

Order through the Wrightslaw store.

Order by Mail, Fax and Phone

Get a "printer-friendly" copy of the “Summer Sale.” Forward a copy of the SUMMER SALE to a friend!

 

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