Real Assistive Technology for Everyone (RATE) Conference 2023

Assistive Technology to Enhance Learning for All Students

Thank you for attending the 2023 RATE Conference!

The 2023 RATE Conference was held on Saturday, October 28 from 9:00 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. (EST). You can find conference highlights on our X (formerly known as Twitter) account and searching #RATE2023.

Conference Presentations

You can view recorded conference presentations by FCPS staff that are available for families, educators, and community members to support student success. The entire conference playlist will also be available on the Assistive Technology Services Webpage at a later date.  

Recorded RATE Conference Presentations

LAMP Across the Day: Using a LAMP Approach Across Your Home or School Routine Presentation Resources
Lydia MacKay, MA, CCC-SLP - The Center for AAC and Autism

LAMP and Literacy: How to Support Literacy When Using a LAMP Approach Presentation Resources
Lydia MacKay, MA, CCC-SLP - The Center for AAC and Autism

Fairfax County Public Schools will host the 2023 Real Assistive Technology for Everyone (RATE) Conference. The RATE Conference is an educational technology conference focusing on the use of assistive technology to support all students, especially those with special needs. The 2023 RATE Conference is sponsored by Assistive Technology Services (ATS), part of the Office of Special Education Instruction in the Department of Special Services. 

Participants will select their sessions the morning of the conference. Please see Conference Schedule and Session Descriptions below.  

All FCPS educators, staff, parents, and community members are invited to attend. Out of county teachers and support staff are also welcome. FCPS staff will receive five recertification points for attending the conference.

Conference Schedule

Time Event
9:00 - 9:30 a.m. Registration
9:30 - 10:15 a.m. Welcome and Keynote Speaker (Dell McDonald)
10:30 - 11:30 a.m. Session 1
11:45 a.m. - 12:45 p.m. Session 2
12:45 p.m. Evaluations and End of Conference


A variety of muffins, donuts, bagels, and drinks will be available for purchase from 9:00 – 10:30 a.m., sponsored by the West Springfield High School Athletic Boosters. 

Educator Credit and Certificates of Attendance

FCPS Educators will receive 5 recertification points for signing in and attending the conference. Note: You do not need to sign-up in MyPDE, credit will be awarded once you have signed in on the day of the conference.

Certificates of Attendance available for Non-FCPS Educators

Non-FCPS Educators can receive a certificate of attendance. Please email [email protected] by November 15 to request a certificate of attendance. You will be provided with a certificate of attendance

Session Descriptions

Session 1: 10:30 - 11:30 a.m.

LAMP Across the Day: Using a LAMP Approach Across Your Home or School Routine
Lydia MacKay, MA, CCC-SLP - The Center for AAC and Autism

No matter what AAC device a student uses, implementation and collaboration are essential to success when we are teaching language and communication. Using a Language Acquisition through Motor Planning (LAMP) approach requires that we teach natural responses within the context of naturally occurring, meaningful routines. This presentation will share specific resources and strategies for modeling and teaching AAC across these routines using a LAMP approach. There will be a quick overview of the 5 LAMP principles, some AAC tools and strategies that can be used to increase success, and a discussion of ways to engage both teachers and learners so that everyone is having fun using AAC. The focus will be on embedding meaningful language learning moments within the home or classroom routine.  

"Talk to Me!"  Ideas for Supporting Children Who use Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)
Jeff Powers, Colleen Kalamajka, and Jessica Keeton

Are you looking for basic strategies to support and interact with your child who uses Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)? This presentation will focus on basic implementation strategies and will also provide ideas around daily activities that can expand communication.

Just Adapt It: Assistive Technology in Adapted Physical Education (APE)             
Genie Yurgaites, Lauren Goodrum, and Matt Barker 

Join us for an interactive session to explore how assistive technology (AT) such as switches, powerlinks, battery interrupters, leaf blowers, and more can be used in adapted physical education (APE)! Gain practical strategies, hands-on experience, and insights into integrating AT to enhance accessibility and inclusivity in PE programs. Don't miss this opportunity to revolutionize your adapted PE practice and create emPOWERing experiences for all students!

Fun and Games in the Low Incidence Classroom
Betsy Komoniewski

Looking to add some "fun" to your low incidence classroom? Come gain ideas on how to gamify learning in your classroom using both edtech tools and web-based resources. A variety of gamification tools, interactive games and other "fun" activities will be explored.

Switching It Up: An Accessibility Feature for Mobile Devices        
Thang Ho and Karen Hom

Providing participants with an overview of how to use switches and switch access features within mobile devices to navigate and interact with applications that may provide support for individuals with limited fine motor skills.

Rethinking Inclusion Opportunities        
Ashley Kiley, Leslie Leisey, and Mandy Walter

Need new ways to generalize communication and social skills across the school day? Rethinking inclusion opportunities allows students with special needs to use their communication devices outside of structured class lessons with their general education peers. Come learn how staff at Poplar Tree ES cultivated ways students can expand upon their POG skills when reading books together, exploring technology, and engaging in physical education activities.

Can We Talk About It? 5 Ideas to Improve Your Communication Partner Skills to Support AAC Users
Karen Burke

We will explore 5 ways to improve your communication partner skills when working with AAC users. Lets move beyond requesting and teach conversation skills. Through communication and conversation we build connections.

Accomodations Oh My!
Judie Lieberman and Deborah Maletz

Is your young adult ready for new challenges as they transition from high school to college or employment? Find out about recommended college accommodations and navigate workplace accommodations to help your young adult thrive. Explore digital resources and strategies available to make a smooth transition to both college and employment.

Assistive Technology (AT) Resources on the Web
Alexis Preston and Lindsay Ivey

Did you know there are an array of tools and resources available at your fingertips to support students with disabilities by accessing our public website? Come join us on an exploration of AT resources on the web. You will get the opportunity to see what fantastic tools and resources are available to you. If you have any interest in learning about accessible instructional materials, our AT Ambassadors program, reading supports, executive functioning, AAC, tools to support all learners, tools to support special education instruction, or computer access, this is the session for you!

Session 2: 11:45 a.m. - 12:45 p.m.

LAMP and Literacy: How to Support Literacy When Using a LAMP Approach
Lydia MacKay, MA, CCC-SLP - The Center for AAC and Autism

Literacy and exposure to literacy-based activities can be overlooked for students who use AAC. This presentation will highlight basic strategies you can use to help engage people who use AAC during literacy-based activities. There will be a brief overview of LAMP principles, and a description of some well-known literacy strategies created by professionals in the field of AAC and Literacy. Come learn about some tools you can use to promote literacy and fun while using a LAMP approach!

Transform Learning Through Accessible Educational Materials    
Mollie Kropp and Karen Hawley

The use of accessible educational materials promotes academic success by removing barriers and supporting the emotional and social well-being of students with diverse learning needs, allowing them to effectively and equitably engage with content. The presenters will use student voice as a foundation to equip educators with practical strategies for evaluating, selecting, and creating accessible educational materials. By making small but intentional changes, educators can ensure that all students feel a sense of belonging and empowerment that leads to success.

Communication, Writing, and More: Ways to Utilize A Communication Device
Lara Long

A communication device can be used for a student to speak their opinions, likes, wants, ideas, information, bringing additional student voice to their classrooms. However, did you know that AAC devices can also be used for other activities. Students can benefit from interacting with their environment in a number of ways while using their dynamic display communication devices for writing, computer access, and other activities that promote independence around the school or home.

Boardmaker Can Do That?!?!
Caitlin Radek and Allison Schmidt

You may know and love it from all of the picture symbols, but Boardmaker can do so much more than make picture cards and printables! In this session participants will learn how to harness the power of Boardmaker 7 to create interactive activities, modify premade activities, track student progress, and provide access to materials in a variety of ways.

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Basics
Kelly Kapalka and Hannah Tickle

In this presentation we will cover what augmentative and alternative communication is, why we use it and how to implement it. This presentation is geared towards individuals that are unfamiliar with what AAC is and provides a general overview on high and low tech AAC, core and fringe vocabulary, and a multi-modal communication system.

Core Word Literacy
Christina Winkler and MaryBeth Fleming

Come learn how to adapt a unit of study that caters to your AAC students. We’ll review how to plan a unit start to finish. You will learn how to create adapted books with Nuvoice (for LAMP Words for Life and Unity) and Chat Editor (for Touch Chat), use tools like LessonPix, and embed core word instruction with your favorite story books.

Technology Tools to Support all *Chromebook* Users
Rachel Connelly and Ruth Mendelson

This session will focus on use of Chromebooks for reading and writing. We will give an overview of tools that work through the Chrome web browser. We will also demonstrate Chromebook accessibility features, such as speech recognition, text to speech, and magnification.

Inclusive Tools that Target Executive Function
Kim Malinowski and Sara Husein Bazar

This presentation will look at the many deficit areas of executive function (inhibition, shift, emotional control, initiation, working memory, planning and organization, materials organization, and self-monitoring) and share a few inclusive tools to support student in these areas.

Let's Explore: Read & Write for Google Chrome 
Jenn Regardie and Jennifer Carr

This presentation will explore the literacy toolbar Read & Write for Google Chrome. Join us to learn about a variety of tools to support reading and writing including speech to text, text to speech, prediction, and more!

TextHelp Tools: Powerful for Student Learning 
Eric Fleming and Jarrod Andros

In this presentation, participants will discover the amazing digital tools available in FCPS through Texthelp. Learn about the Read&Write interactive toolbar that supports reading, writing, web-browsing and more. Presenters will share the benefits of the Screenshot Reader tool for web-browsing with Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software included for accessibility. Participants will learn about the many features within OrbiNote, a PDF Reader tool that makes PDFs accessible and actionable, while integrating with Schoology for student/teacher collaboration and organization.

Event Support

For general conference questions or if you need help accessing conference materials or presentations, please email [email protected].

Evaluation and Feedback

Thank you for attending the 2023 RATE Conference! We value your feedback and want to hear from you. Please complete the evaluation and feedback form by November 15, 2023 to share your opinion with the RATE Conference Planning Committee.