Event Description


Alternative Pencil: Helping Students with Complex Bodies become writers webinar

Date: January 15, 2019

Time: 3:30-4:30

PresenterLocationEvent LimitEvent Hours
Heidi Brislin, OTR/L & AT Specialistinternet 991

Registration Information:
Create an online registration

Contact: e-mail Sue Wright at the SETC office to register, wrightsu@cwu.edu


Writing is an essential component of literacy instruction for all students. It becomes a significant challenge for students with complex bodies and communication needs. When inefficient handwriting is influencing the student’s ability to meet their educational goals, the team often tries to use universal or assistive tools such as keyboarding, word prediction or speech recognition. These tools often do not work for student’s with complex bodies and/or complex communication needs. To address this challenge the Center of Literacy and Disability Studies at UNC-Chapel Hill has developed a variety of “alternative pencils.”  In this session, participants will learn the developmental progression of writing and learn to use Alternative Pencils to teach writing skills to students with complex needs.

Learning Objectives:

1. Participants will be able to explain the developmental progression of writing and the importance for all learners to get the opportunity to progress through this sequence.

2. Participants will be able to describe how to use Alternative Pencils to teach a student authentic writing.

3. Participants will be able to describe the difference between firm and function of writing.


Heidi Brislin, OTR/L, AT Specialist

Heidi is an Occupational Therapist and Assistive Technology Specialist in the North Kitsap School District supporting students in Kingston and Poulsbo, WA. She has worked in the schools for 15 years and has supported students who range in age from 3-21. Over the past 4 years, Heidi has worked to develop the Assistive Technology Augmentative Alternative Communication team for her district. Prior to working in the schools, Heidi worked in a variety of adult in and out patient rehab settings. She graduated from Boston University with her Bachelor of Science degree in OT and received her Master of Science degree in Rehabilitation Medicine from the University of Washington. Heidi is passionate about helping teams provide authentic learning opportunities for all students, including improving literacy opportunities and skills, switch access, powered mobility and helping students become autonomous communicators using augmentative alternative communication tools.

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