ATIA, the Assistive Technology Industry Conference, was hopping in Orlando, FL this year especially at our booth and evening event. Hundreds of educators and parents previewed the latest software and devices to learn more about the benefits of AT to help kids with cognitive, learning and physical disabilities.
We demonstrated the new Simply Works Switch System, the Intel® Reader, and the DAISYtoEPUB conversion tool.
Everyone was also excited about SHIFT, our new AT framework, free to educators who want to learn more about tools and strategies to integrate assistive technology into daily instruction.
More than 150 educators gathered at our ‘Reach for the Stars‘ evening event to hear Don talk about his African Schools Mission trip with his wife Cheryll. Don shared lots of compelling and beautiful photographs and a message of hope to celebrate teachers who support children with special needs.
Don and Cheryll visited local villages and helped to coordinate a microloan program to stimulate economic development and education. They also distributed hundreds of their Start-to-Finish books to schools that severely lack reading materials.
Start-to-Finish books are uniquely written and formatted to engage struggling readers, build vocabulary and improve fluency and comprehension skills. Thousands of teachers use Don Johnston’s books to support students who read below grade level and with learning disabilities such as dyslexia, autism, or cognitive impairments. The books are offered in paperback and computer book (CD) to support universal design for learning (UDL) instruction through a multi-modal (visual and audio) reading experience. Many titles are aligned to required core reading curricula and can be used in general education and Response to Intervention (RtI) classes.
“In Kenya, students look out on the fields and make a choice between picking tea for 16 cents an hour and getting a good education,” he said. “The things that struck us on our trip weren’t just the obvious differences, but also the parallels between students in the U.S. and those in Kenya. Students in both countries have choices to make to stay in school and to work hard. The reality is that without education, they will not thrive in the real world.”
The staff at Don Johnston continue to celebrate and honor the work that you do to ensure that all students learn, especially those with disabilities. We must work together to inspire children and adults to seek out new learning strategies that will help them overcome their learning barriers.
Technology accommodations can lift children up to reach their true academic potential.
The Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) conference draws educators from across the U.S. who specialize in special education technologies and services for individuals with disabilities and learning challenges.