Real Assistive Technology for Everyone (RATE) Conference 2021

Assistive Technology to Enhance Learning for All Students

Real Assistive Technology for Everyone (RATE) Conference 2021

The Real Assistive Technology Conference for Everyone (RATE) will be held on Saturday, October 23, 2021 from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. This year's conference will be virtual with synchronous (live) sessions and a keynote speaker. Registration is now open!

Fairfax County Public Schools will host the 2021 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 2021 RATE Conference is sponsored by Assistive Technology Services (ATS), part of the Office of Special Education Instruction in the Department of Special Services. This year's conference theme is Assistive Technology to Enhance Learning for All Students.

Participants will select their sessions the morning of the conference and will receive information on how to attend the synchronous (live) sessions via Zoom. 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 - 9:45 a.m. Welcome and Keynote
9:55 - 10:40 a.m. Session 1
10:50 - 11:35 a.m. Session 2
11:45 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Session 3 

Session Descriptions

Session 1: 9:55 - 10:40 a.m.

Free and Easy Resources for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Implementation    
Ashley Kiley and Jeff Powers       
Need ideas of how to support your student’s communication device use at home and at school? In this session participants will explore FREE available resources to use related to current events, social skills, literacy activities and much more.

Read&Write: An Overview of The Program and its Tools    
Lauren Goodrum and Alexis Preston        
In this session, participants will learn how the Read&Write Google extension can support students throughout the reading and writing process. Participants will also learn how Read&Write can be supported in FCPS and which students may benefit from it.

Google Keep: The Secret for making Executive Functioning Easy at Any Age    
Sara Husein Bazar and Kim Malinowski        
Google Keep is a note-taking program included in the Google Chrome environment. Features in Google Keep help students stay organized, take notes, track assignments, set up reminders and much more. Teachers and students can share and collaborate on notes and lists. Google Keep synchronizes across all devices, so your notes and lists go anywhere with you.  

Technology Tools to Support Social Skills    
Kelly Kapalka and Jarrod Andros        
This session will provide an overview of technology tools to incorporate social skills instruction in a low-incidence classroom. Presenters will share resources to support video modeling, video self-modeling, social stories and social skills practice. 

LessonPix: Quick and Easy Visuals    
Celeste Rodrigo and Jenni Pazmino        
LessonPix is a symbol-based website that can be used to create materials and activities in the special education setting. We will explore a few of the website's basic features, specific templates, and interactive tools and how best to adapt them for the individual needs of your students. This workshop is best suited for early childhood or low incidence special education teachers. 

Return Strong...and Accessible!    
Mollie Kropp            
As we "Return Strong" to in person school, we have a great opportunity to design inclusive instruction. Technology can help overcome some of the learning challenges our students face. In this session, you will learn about accessibility tools within Windows 10 and Zoom; how and when captioning can be beneficial to support classroom activities; and how to make classroom interaction more accessible while mask-wearing. Additional resources will be provided for further learning.

Session 2: 10:50 - 11:35 a.m.

Utilizing LAMP Words for Life and Lesson Pix to Support Learners With Their Behavioral Needs 
Thang Ho and Karen Hawley        
In this session, participants will explore a variety of supports in LAMP Words for Life (WFL) and Lesson Pix to better support students in the low incidence classroom with communication. Strategies for using WFL to help with behavioral needs and using Lesson Pix to create reinforcement systems, behavioral visual charts, schedules and choice boards will be shared.

Discover Audiobooks through Learning Ally
Jenn Regardie and Rashida Owens
This session will explore Learning Ally, a resource for online audiobooks with digital text and human voice. Join us and learn more about access to audiobooks and how they can support your students.

Online Tools To Support Reading For All Learners    
Rachel Connelly and Karen Hom        
In this session participants will explore a variety of tools and resources to support students while reading text online. Featured tools will include screen readers, online book repositories, auto summarizers, and Web browser supports. 

Peary Accessible: Using Pear Deck to Support the Adapted Curriculum Caitlin Radek and Allison Schmidt                          
In this session, participants will learn how to use Pear Deck to create interactive lessons for students who access the adapted curriculum. Participants will have the opportunity to see and interact with the different response formats within Pear Deck and explore ways these responses can be made more accessible for all learners. Participants will also discover how Pear Deck can be used in conjunction with  various instructional and assistive technology tools. 

Roadmap to Everyday Success with Assistive Technology
Judith Lieberman and Karen Wiltraut        
Assistive technology tools can be just what you need to be successful throughout the day: at home, at school and when in the community. Join us for a resource-filled session and see what everyday AT tools look like for kids from elementary through graduation and post-secondary education or employment. 

Session 3: 11:45 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Low Tech Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Resources and Tools    
Colleen Kalamajka and Jeff Powers        
Do you have student(s) in your class who use Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)? Are you looking for easy ways to find, modify and print device overlays and visual supports? In this session participants will be introduced to communication device overlays that can be printed from the FCPS portal. Strategies to modify the overlay access and core word icons to make teaching materials will be shared.

Introduction to Read&Write    
Ruth Mendelson and Mich Vangellow
Read&Write is a language arts program that helps students create and access content across all subjects. This session will provide an overview of the fundamentals of Read&Write, review the reading and writing tools, and offer activities for teachers to use when introducing and implementing the program with their students.

I Didn't Know Microsoft Could Do That! Microsoft Writing Tools
Mary Beth Fleming and Eric Fleming
Join this session to explore FREE strategies and resources to support students with writing difficulties in the virtual environment. Learn how to implement accessibility tools within Microsoft 365. Participants will explore how to use the speak tool, dictate, immersive reader, outline view, tables-to-text and the send-to-powerpoint tool to complete research and the steps of the writing process. Discover how easy it is to transfer documents between Microsoft 365, Google G-Suite and Google Classroom. These tools are available to help support all students of all ages who struggle with writing.

Inclusive and Interactive Technology for the Low Incidence Classroom    
Karen Burke and Betsy Komoniewski        
In this session participants will explore a variety of inclusive interactive tools that could be used in the low incidence classroom. This session will review a variety of web based tools and resources to promote participation and learning for all. Featured tools include Google slides, Jamboard, Padlet, EdPuzzle and more.

Assistive Technology Resources on the Web    
Lindsay Ivey and Ashley Kiley        
Did you know there are an array of tools and resources available at your fingertips to support students with disabilities by accessing the ATS public website? In this session participants will explore AT resources on the web and have the opportunity to see what fantastic tools and resources are available. 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!

Event Support

For general conference questions or if you need help accessing conference materials or presentations, please email