Alt Shift

Conventional Literacy for Students with Significant Disabilities and Complex Communication Needs


Day 1:  October 5, 2021

Day 2:  November 3, 2021

Day 3:  December 9, 2021

Day 4:  January 11, 2022


Registration: 12:00 - 12:30 pm EST

Training: 12:30 - 3:30 pm EST 


This event will be held virtually using Zoom Video Conference Software

Participants will receive Zoom connection information via email closer to event date.


Registration closes on September 26, 2021


Michigan Attendees:

This training series is no cost for Michigan educators and Parents. As part of the registration process, participants (and their administrator) will be asked to acknowledge that participants will attend all four sessions of the training (or the district will be charged $50.00)


Out-of-State Attendees:

Out-of-State registrants will be placed on a waiting list. They will notified by September 20 if there are seats available.

To be placed on the wait list, contact

The cost of the training for out-of-state registrants is $50.00.


Registration Fee:

In-State: No cost

Out-State: $50.00


Course Information

Students with significant disabilities can and do learn to read conventionally with supportive print-experiences and interactions. Students must be provided daily comprehensive literacy instruction. Instructional interventions in this course are for students who are conventional literacy learners with significant disabilities and complex communication needs. These students can:


  • Communicate meaningfully with others.
  • Identify most of the letters of the alphabet.
  • Understand the printed word carries meaning.


Interventions include:

  • Guided reading.
  • Word identification and decoding.
  • Writing.
  • Independent reading.
  • Communication with symbols and spelling.


In conventional literacy, participants learn a framework for organizing comprehensive conventional instruction. This framework can be used to systematically teach students to decode and spell words, read with comprehension and fluency, and write using letters and words. The session introduces participants to a range of training and implementation supports as well as videos and work samples of real teachers and students applying the suggested strategies in both self-contained and inclusive-learning environments.

Presenter Information

Bethany Vandenbrand

Bethany VandenBrand is a special education teacher for students with significant disabilities and/or complex communication needs. Bethany has been teaching for over a decade with two Master Degrees in the area of special education. Her favoirite part about teaching is helping students gain autonomous literacy skills. According to Bethany, 'There are no yeah, buts when it comes to teaching literacy, ALL students can do it, they just need adults to teach them and to believe in their abilities.'


Theresa Augustyniak

Theresa is an Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Consultant for the Muskegon Area Intermediate School District. Theresa's experience includes direct provision of school-based speech & language services and consultation with local educators serving students with autism spectrum disorders. As an AAC Consultant and member of the MAISD's Assistive Technology Team, Theresa supports educators in the development and implementation of communication and educational supports for students experiencing complex communication and learning challenges. Theresa earned her Master's Degree in Speech-Language Pathology from Central Michigan University.

Continuing Education Units

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) Verification of Attendance forms will be available upon completion of the course.


State Continuing Education Clock Hours (SCECHS)