ARPDC Professional Development Resources
Dedicated to ongoing professional learning at the local, regional and provincial level.

Resources to Support Low Incidence Population

These resources are intended to provide professional learning for professionals working with Children and Youth in the Low Incidence Population.


Webinar: From Presence to Contribution: A Family’s Journey Towards an Inclusive Life

When her daughter Maggie was diagnosed with significant disabilities, her future appeared grim and isolated. Including her in the regular classroom has been a complex journey. However, after meeting adults with significant disabilities who were receiving support to lead ordinary but enviable lives, their family began to form a vision for Maggie’s future and their idea of “inclusion” began to broaden and transform. Erin shares three strategies that built the foundation for Maggie’s future as she transitions to high school and beyond: person-centred planning; raising our learning expectations through an understanding of emergent language and literacy development; and a focus on natural supports and strong friendships.


Complex Communication Needs (CCN)

Children and youth with complex communication needs (CCN) benefit from assistive technology and augmentative and alternative communication to support communication and language development. Students who have complex communication needs are unable to communicate effectively using speech alone. They and their communication partners may benefit from using alternative and augmentative communication (AAC) methods, either temporarily or permanently.

AAC systems of communication do not rely on speech. Children and youth who require AAC may have some speech but not enough to meet their daily needs. AAC systems may be used to augment existing communication skills or provide an alternative to speech.


Webinar: Issues and Trends in AAC Interventions for People with ASD – In Conversation with Dr. Ganz

How we can use naturalistic aided AAC instruction and parent and peer-mediated interventions to support communication and language development for children and youth with Austism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) who also have complex communication needs. Potential topics of discussion include the necessity of involvement of family members in AAC intervention, a focus on functional language in natural contexts, and using multiple modes of communication in developing communication in this population.


Communication Bill of Rights – Reboot!

Archived webinar with Amy Goldman from April 20, 2017.

Environmental Communication Teaching (ECT)- Webinar 3-part Series

Environmental Communication Teaching (ECT) is a researched-based classroom intervention strategy for teams who serve students who struggle with expressive communication. It is appropriate for special and regular education settings as well as in preschool/early childhood settings. It is appropriate for identified students who have high-tech and low-tech communication systems/apps, but who have not begun to implement them in school settings. It is not an AAC assessment training. This is not a pull-out therapy model. It is an implementation planning strategy for symbolic communicators. If you are interested in strategies for presymbolic communicators, please request information on CEP: the Communication Enhancement Process.

The researched-based model of ECT determined that the most effective ECT teams consist of a teacher, SLP and para-educator. The typical training support is through a school year-long process where these educators gathered at 4 to 5 days of training at various points throughout the school year as they make systematic changes in order to increase the communication output of targeted students.

This webinar series will highlight the 5 main points of the ECT process that has been running in US and Canadian classrooms for over 25 years.


Webinar: Planning for Communication in the Classroom with Kelly Fonner

Training on the basics of ECT and the common solutions to classroom communication that it can provide. You will be taken through the process of identifying “ECT” students and looking at classroom activities as to the type of communication opportunity it provides to students with complex communication needs who typically are already identified, provided with some type of an AAC app/system, but have yet to use that on a regular basis. Examples through information and video will be used to develop an understanding of communicative requirements of educational, vocational, and community activities. Teams will begin the process of choosing an activity and be provided with information on how to script an activity.



Webinar: Core Vocabulary Resources with Kathy Howery

Core vocabulary contains all parts of speech- nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, and interjections and serves as a great medium for teaching language.

Did you know? 85% of what we say is communicated with only 200 basic words. We call these our “core” words. Core is consistent across place, topic, and cognitive ability.


Webinar: Environmental Communication Teaching (ECT) with Kelly Fonnor

Participants were encouraged to have looked through videos of their student in a chosen activity that has been recorded throughout the school year prior to the webinar to have a sense of what data they may be able to represent. Kelly gives a variety of ways in which to analyze that information. Communicative functions can be charted through a variety of ways including graphing based upon opportunity, occurrence or independence in production. Examples are demonstrated through video and charts that can be modified by teams to be used at their own local site. This webinar will be most meaningful to those who have followed the ECT process. It will be difficult for someone to just take this webinar alone and have the data collection process be meaningful without knowing the ECT process itself.



Blind or Visually Impaired (BVI)

Visual impairment generically covers a continuum of visual functioning and can include the following terms: blind, legally blind, partially sighted, low vision, or cortically visually impaired. For educational purposes, an individual with visual impairment is one whose visual acuity is not sufficient for the student to participate with ease in everyday activities. The impairment interferes with optimal learning achievement and can result in a substantial educational disadvantage unless adaptations are made in the methods of presenting learning opportunities, the materials used and/or the learning . ~Quick Guide Supporting Children & Youth From Low-Incidence Populations

These resources are intended to provide professional learning for professionals working with Blind or Visually Impaired (BVI) Children and Youth.




Webinar: Access to Core Vocabulary Using 3D Tactile Symbols with Kathy Look Howery

New research is challenging the commonly held belief that students who have severe visual impairment, significant intellectual disability and complex communication needs must focus their symbolic communication with symbols that have a concrete referent. (Snodgrass, Stoner & Angell, 2013)

It is now commonly understood in the field of augmentative and alternative communication that all students need access commonly used core vocabulary. Core vocabulary is a small set of simple words, in any language, that are used frequently and across contexts. (Cross, Baker, Klotz & Badman, 1997)

This webinar will introduce you to a newly developed set of 3D tactile symbols created by the Centre for Literacy and Disability Studies. Current research and practice focusing on the use of these symbols to support language development and expressive communication will be also shared. You will also be directed to resources that can assist you in teaching and modelling use of core-vocabulary throughout the day for students whose challenges come in multiples.

Webinar: Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) Readasaurus Kit

You may be familiar with CNIB’s Braille Creative Writing Contest and CNIB’s role in providing an accessible TD Summer Reading Club. But have you heard of the Readasaurus Kit and, CNIB’s website about alternative literacy for kids and teens with vision loss? Did you know that CNIB has a Pinterest board, and a series of videos about DIY braille and tactile books?

Webinar: Accessible Literacy for Young Children with Vision Impairments – Supporting a Love for Literacy

Sandy Kenrick will share her journey of making literacy accessible for her son. She will share practical tips and strategies so that viewers can create their own accessible materials for the children with vision impairments in their life. The following areas will be discussed and examples given: story boxes, experience stories, conversation boxes, tactile graphics, concept books and an accessible braille-rich environment. This is a webinar designed for educators and families alike on how to help support a love for literacy for our children with vision impairments.

Presenter Slides

Webinar: A Few of My Favorite Things for Teaching Math to Students with a Vision Loss

In this webinar, Susan Osterhaus will review some of her favorite accessible tools, technology, materials, resources, and strategies for teaching mathematics to students who have a vision loss from early childhood through grade 12 and beyond.

Susan Osterhaus is an international speaker and author in the field of mathematics for students who are blind/visually impaired. She has worked as a teacher and consultant for the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Austin, Texas for over 38 years. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and a Master’s degree in Mathematics Education. She is certified in Secondary Mathematics, English, and Teaching the Visually Impaired.

Webinar: Orientation and Mobility (O&M) – A Provincial Perspective

In this webinar, Mr. Nicolajsen will provide a provincial perspective in the area of Orientation and Mobility (O&M). He will focus on trends in O&M and will address major issues/hurdles that have come up in this field over time. He will also discuss white canes (assessment, where to acquire one and parental involvement), the importance of the ID cane and the role of the TVI.

Webinar: Braille 2000

Braille 2000 is a well-recognized piece of software used by many, particularly in Northern Alberta, to create braille. Wendy Benckhuysen will take participants through some of the more advanced features of Braille 2000 in an effort to have participants develop a deeper working knowledge of the software.

Webinar: Concept Development for Transition Planning with Students Who are Blind & Visually Impaired

In this webinar, Courtney will focused on Concept Development for Living Skills with an emphasis on the development of essential skills that are important for a successful transition process for students with vision loss. For students transitioning to adulthood, concept development is a crucial component of success. “Knowledge is not only useful but also empowering, and promotes confidence and self-determination.”

Webinar: Career Education Awareness for Children with Vision Loss from a Young Age with Karen Wolffe

Dr. Wolffe is a strong advocate for developing career education awareness for children with vision loss from a young age. This webinar will provide information and strategies that will assist professionals in supporting and reinforcing career education with parents in the: home, school, and community.


Deaf or Hard of Hearing (DHH)

Children and youth who are Deaf or hard of hearing (DHH) make up a very diverse population, making it difficult to make general statements about them as a group. Some of this diversity is rooted in factors like cultural, linguistic, social, medical, and physical variables. Because the Deaf or hard of hearing population is so diverse, it is critical to address the individual’s unique set of strengths and needs when planning to support teaching, learning and development. It is important to assist children and youth to develop the ability to exercise self-advocacy and self-determination and develop ways to access communication. This may include visual and signed language such as American Sign Language (ASL), acoustic communication through  audiological interventions, and technologies such as hearing aids, cochlear implants, and amplification systems. A strengths-based approach also considers the ways in which children and youth who are Deaf or hard of hearing may best be able to access, understand and use information. Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles, combined with a responsive, whole-person approach, can support effective teaching, learning, and inclusion while addressing individual needs and preferences.  ~Quick Guide Supporting Children & Youth From Low-Incidence Populations


Webinar: Facilitating the Development of Auditory Skills in Children with Hearing Loss: An Introduction to the CID SPICE Auditory Training Curriculum

This introductory webinar is designed for speech-language pathologists, teachers of the deaf and audiologists to capitalize on auditory information made available to students with cochlear implants and/or hearing aids.

It will focus on research-based practices for auditory training and recommended procedures using the Central Institute for the Deaf (CID) Speech Perception Instructional Curriculum and Evaluation (SPICE) to build a foundation for auditory skill development.


Webinar: Language and Speech Services For The Hearing Impaired (LSSHI) Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital

The Language and Speech Services for the Hearing Impaired (LSSHI) at Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital shares the services they offer to help children with permanent hearing loss in both ears learn speaking and listening skills. The LSSHI works together with families, community agencies, and health service providers to support clients and families to reach their goals and use technology in their day-to-day lives.

Webinar: Audiological and Educational Needs of Students Who Have Mild to Moderate Hearing Loss

Mary Pat Moeller will be speaks about her on-going research on the auditory and educational impact of mild and mild to moderate hearing loss. She shares information about the needs for devices (hearing aids, FM) as well as educational supports required in schools. Some of this information has been shared at recent international conferences and some is still in the development as Dr. Moeller’s research in this area continues.



Webinar: Short and Long-Term School Difficulties for Children following Cancer Treatment

Cancer treatment can result in short and long-term education needs. Up to 75% of children with cancer will experience some form of learning difficulty. Both short and long-term learning difficulties can significantly impact a student’s education and potential. Short-term difficulties are temporary and usually confined to the time of treatment or shortly afterwards. Common short-term difficulties are related to school absences, temporary attention problems related to fatigue, malaise and medication side effects. Long-term difficulties include learning disabilities related to brain tumors, cognitive late effects related to treatment, as well as exacerbation of pre-existing learning problems.