The Step Up AT to Promote Early Literacy Project (Step Up AT) is an innovative professional development resource to increase teacher and parent knowledge of evidenced based assistive technology (AT) practices to increase early literacy outcomes for preschool children with disabilities. Through interactive online modules, access to AT devices, and expert coaching, teachers and parents learn how to identify children’s needs and incorporate AT to increase their participation in early literacy activities at home and school.
Teachers and parents are able to acquire AT knowledge and strategies utilizing the interactive toolkit that is comprised of the following three elements:
This project is funded by the U.S Department of Education Office of Special Education, Stepping Up Technology Implementation Grant, and developed and implemented in partnership with Florida’s state-run program to improve access to AT, the Florida Alliance for Assistive Services and Technology (FAAST) and the University of Miami (UM) Mailman Center for Child Development and Pediatrics. The FAAST program provides information and referrals, device demonstrations, outreach services, and device loans to Floridians with disabilities across the lifespan. The implementation team members work directly with FAAST and an interdisciplinary team from the UM Mailman Center.
|Michelle Schladant, Ph.D.
The Principal Investigator, Dr. Michelle Schladant, is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at the University of Miami’s Mailman Center for Child Development and the project director for the SFRDC. With over 20 years’ experience in special education, with specific training and expertise in AT service delivery. Dr. Schladant is RESNA certified and has in-depth knowledge and expertise with the philosophy, methods, and implementation of AT supports for communication and learning. In addition to directing the project, Dr. Schladant spearheads the curriculum development.
|Ruby Natale, Ph.D., Psy.D.
The Co-Principal investigator, Dr. Ruby Natale is a licensed Clinical Psychologist. She has 14 years of expertise in the areas of infant and early-childhood intervention and curriculum development, including the cultural and practical issues of serving high-risk ethnic-minority children and their families. She provides support for the development, implementation, leading the research team, and management of the project.
|Kelli Fontaine, M.S. Ed.
Kelli Fontaine earned her Bachelors in special education and has a Masters in educational leadership. She has more than 18 years of experience assessing and implementing assistive technology solutions in home, community and educational settings throughout Florida. Mrs. Fontaine is a Co-Investigator for the Step Up AT grant and serves as the Director of Multimedia for the project. She also assists with the development of lesson plans, provides supervision of coaching, and serves as a consultant to the curriculum team.
| Christina Sudduth, MPH
Christina Sudduth is a public health professional with 8 years of experience managing community-based public health and civic engagement initiatives. She is skilled in facilitating collaboration between public, private and university partners, as well as monitoring and evaluating programs related to children’s health and development, food access and women’s health issues. She serves as the project manager for Step Up AT.
|Ana Nevares, M.A.
Ana Nevares, M.A. is a state certified special education teacher. She is a native Spanish speaker and as the coordinator of the South Florida Regional FAAST program. Ms. Nevares has extensive experience providing trainings on AT, educating individuals and professionals on how these devices can support education, employment and/or daily life. She facilitates the Boardmaker Share Trainings, co-leads the curriculum developmentof the content of the online interactive modules, and collaborates in the translation of materials.
|Betty Carricaburú, M.S. Ed.
ATcoach, Betty Carricaburú, M.S. is a state certified special education teacher. She was selected as the coach based on her bilingual skills, early education teaching experience, masters in special education, expertise in assistive technology and personal experience advocating for individuals with developmental disabilities.
|Nancy Cruz, M.S. Ed.
AT coach, Nancy Cruz M.S. Ed. is a bilingual reading disabilities specialist and assists the Interdisciplinary Developmental Evaluation Services (IDES) team, as their coordinator and education/AT specialist. Ms. Cruz collaborates in thecurriculum development, and translation of material. She also implements fidelity checks, and provides feedback on the coaching session lesson plans.
Christina Nunez received her Bachelors in Psychology from the University of Miami in 2015 and her Masters of Science in Psychology from Nova Southeastern University in 2018. She is excited to use what she learned as a student and apply it to something she finds meaningful. Christina currently serves as a research assistant for the Step Up AT project.