Technology Tips for Oral Administration

Special Education teachers spend a lot of their time reading tests and quizzes out loud to students, not to mention regular classroom lessons and assignments. For some students, this is an unavoidable part of their instructional plan. But we think that, for many students, technology tools can provide an equally good, if not better, approach to this accommodation. And the less time teachers spend in the “reader-role”, the more time they can spend doing what they do best — teaching students.

In the video below, Kim and Nichole explore two approaches to using technology for Oral Administration: using text-to-speech tools and letting teachers record themselves. Beneath the video you will find an array of resources for planning the implementation of this approach. These tools might be more than enough to set you on your way, but if you have questions or would like to talk through your campus’s unique needs, please don’t hesitate to contact: Region 13 Assistive Technology Specialist Region 13 Access to the General Curriculum Specialist


Tech Tips for OA (Quick Reference)
Accurate Accommodations
Accommodation Effectiveness Form

Basic Computer Skills Assessment

Does He Really Need an FM? – Part IV

Yes! He really does need an FM!  Now what?  Before purchasing that FM system, you may want to complete a trial with the student.  ESC Region 13’s Assistive Technology Preview Center is here to help.  Our motto is “Try before you buy”.  We have a limited number of FM systems available for short term loan (6 weeks). These are checked out under our Assistive Listening Devices Loan Process.

  1. As these systems are not appropriate to every student, we follow a particular process to evaluate the appropriateness of the loan of this equipment.
  2. Please follow our process and submit the correct documentation. Here’s a link to information on our loan process:
  3. As a part of the process, the requestor must complete the Special Education Director’s Approval form.  Here’s a link to that document:
  4. These systems are checked out through our Assistive Technology Preview Center (ATPC)/Library at ESC Region 13.  The requestor must have a patron account for the library.  They are free and easy to set up.  Here’s the link for our patron application:
  5. Our Assistive Listening Devices must be picked up from and returned to ESC Region 13.  We do not ship these items. Robin Reimund from the Assistive Technology Preview center will contact the requestor to arrange for checkout.

Questions? Contact:

Does He Really Need an FM? – Part III

In addition to being able to hear speech in a classroom, the added critical component of course is being able to understand that speech.  Speech recognition in noise is a skill that is developed by about 6th grade.  Adults with normal hearing score better on speech understanding in noise than children with normal hearing.  Children with normal hearing score better on speech recognitions tasks than children with a hearing loss.  Anyone with a hearing loss has difficulty understanding speech in noise. The greater the degree of hearing loss, the more difficult it is to understand speech in noise.  Also, children with other disabilities struggle with listening in noise.  These include students with Central Auditory Processing Disorder or difficulty, Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, Dyslexia, Auditory Memory challenges, and English Language Learners.

If you decide to provide an FM system, please remember that “you get what you pay for”. Not all FM systems are created equal.  Make sure an audiologist recommends a system that is compatible with the student’s personal amplification and is also adequate for your needs.  You want to make sure you are purchasing a system that has been designed for classroom use.

Download a summary document of Does He Need an FM? Parts I-III

Does He Really Need an FM? – Part II

As previously stated, the three common obstacles to a clear speech signal reading the person with hearing loss are: Distance, Reverberation and Noise.  Let’s take a quick look at each of these and how FM systems mitigate these effects.

Distance. By wearing a microphone (transmitter), the teacher’s voice is made to sound as if it were only 6 inches from the student’s ear – instead of 10 feet away.  The teacher’s voice is then ‘closer’ to the student’s hearing device and ear than the other noise around that student (such as coughing, chairs moving, noise from a heating unit, noise in the hallway, talking, etc.) and therefore the teacher’s voice sounds louder than the ambient or background noise. New technology also has the ability to automatically raise the level of the teacher’s voice over any increase in the background noise in the classroom.  This has been a huge advancement in FM systems.

Reverberation. Another issue to combat in any listening environment is reverberation.  Reverberation is caused when a sound is produced in an enclosed space and bounces off the walls and other hard spaces until it is absorbed.  These ‘echoes’ of the teacher’s speech and the ambient noise in a classroom interfere with a single direct delivery of the message.  When using an FM system, the teacher’s voice is delivered directly to the personal hearing device and is not subject to reverberation.

Noise. Even though state of the art personal amplification devices (such as digital hearing aids, cochlear implants, and BAHS) deliver high quality sound to a person in an ideal listening situation, classrooms are not ideal.  The average ambient noise level in classrooms has been measured as 61dB!  This is louder than the sounds of speech.  Students with hearing loss need a signal-to-noise ratio (e.g. speech louder than the background noise) of 15-20 dB – again, the average classroom teacher speaks only 1 to 5 dB louder than the ambient noise in her classroom.

Why learning math facts is so important…

If you are worried this will happen to your students, come to To Drill or Not to Drill: Factastic Math Strategies training.

July 25, 2014, 9:00 am to 4:00 pm at ESC Region 13 (5701 Springdale Rd, Austin, TX 78723).

Learn research-based strategies for teaching students basic math facts and receive 2 set of Factastic Math Strategy Cards.











To register and learn more about the workshop visit

Does He Really Need an FM? – Part I

Hearing technology today is better than ever with digital hearing aids and cochlear implants. They give the wearer tailored access to the sounds of speech.  So if a student has this great hearing aid, cochlear implant or BAHS, why does he need an FM system?  These personal amplification devices are designed to amplify the sounds that are near the person’s ear.  Certainly sounds from a distance can be ‘picked up’ by the microphone of a personal hearing device, but when it comes to understanding speech, the spoken message going into the device needs to be loud and clear.  There are three common obstacles to a clear speech signal reaching the person with hearing loss:  Distance, noise, and reverberation.  FM systems are designed to mitigate these effects.

For a simulation of how FM works with hearing aids, take a look at this short video:

Rachel Simon to Keynote Beat the Heat 2014

beat the heat logo

Rachel Simon, author of Riding the Bus with My Sister, will be the keynote speaker for Beat the Heat 2014.  She is an award-winning author and a nationally-recognized speaker on issues related to diversity and disability. Riding the Bus with My Sister is Rachel’s memoir of the year she spent riding the bus with her sister, Cool Beth.  Beth, a spirited woman with an intellectual disability, spends her days riding buses in her unnamed Pennsylvanian city.  The bus drivers are her mentors and her fellow passengers her community.  In this book Rachel brings light to the almost invisible world of adults with developmental disabilities, finds unlikely heroes in everyday life and show us Beth, as the joyful, feisty, independent person she is.

Check out Rachel’s PBS NewsHour interview with Judy Woodruff:

Accelerating Instruction

Accelerating Instruction

through “Data-Based Individualization”

Region 13’s Access to the General Curriculum team will review slides from the National Center on Intensive Intervention’s webinar “Introduction to Data-Based Individualization”. The webinar will last 60 minutes: 45 minutes with the slides and 15 minutes for questions and comments. The webinar will be recorded and archived for future use.

Intensive Interventions
Wednesday, May 21, 2014

11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. CDT


Beat the Heat 2014: Registration Is Open

beat the heat logo

Registration is open with 4 registration options available!

ESC Region 13’s Beat the Heat is a three-day professional development opportunity for educators who work with children 3-5 and children with significant disabilities ages 6-21.

Pre-Conference: Wednesday, June 25, 2014.  Back by popular demand this day provides day-long, in-depth learning opportunities at a more advanced level.

Beat the Heat: Thursday & Friday, June 26-27, 2014. This popular traditional format of a keynote speaker and breakout sessions on best practices features area professionals and ESC staff.  Content for the breakout sessions is developed to meet the needs of new and veteran teachers.  Topic include: Curriculum & Instruction; Classroom Management & Organization; Behavior; Autism; Communication; Assistive Technology; Sensory-Motor; Preschool Program for Children with Disabilities (PPCD); Transition; and 18+ Programming.

Want the entire experience?  

  • Register for Beat the Heat 2014 – 3 Day All Inclusive!  
  • June 25-27, 2014
  • Workshop #SU1428736
  • Cost: $120.00 (This represents a discounted price over registering for individual days)

Can only come 1 or 2 days?

  • Register for Beat the Heat 2014: Day 1 Pre-Conference
  • June 25, 2014
  • Workshop #SU1428536
  • Cost: $50.00
  • Register for Beat the Heat 2014: Days 2 & 3 Main Conference
  • June 26-27, 2014
  • Workshop #SU1428537
  • Cost: $100/00

Don’t want to fight Austin traffic?  Try our Virtual Conference!

  • Register for Beat the Heat 2014 Virtual Conference
  • June 26-27, 2014
  • Workshop #SU1429966
  • Cost: $50.00


  • Paraeducators attend at no cost for any registration option!  Use the discount code: Para2014
  • Parents attend at no cost for any registration option! Use the discount code: Parent2014
For more information contact:

Beat the Heat 2014: Call for Proposals


beat the heat logo

Beat the Heat Main Conference June 26 & 27, 2014

Your expertise is valuable!  

Education Service Center Region 13 invites you to share your knowledge and expertise as a presenter at Beat the Heat 2014.   This is a professional development opportunity for educators who work with children ages 3-5 and children with significant disabilities ages 6-21. We look forward to showcasing our local experts every year!   Please submit a proposal to present.