Spurwink ALLTECH moves AT Reuse Store to Portland

Spurwink: Going the distanceSpurwink ALLTECH is pleased to announce the relocation of their Assistive Technology Reuse and Equipment Loan store to Portland.

The address of our store is:

892 Riverside Street
Portland, ME 04103

ALLTECH logo

The new phone number is 207-535-2017

The store’s hours of operation will be:

Monday – 9:00 am – 3:00 pm
Tuesday – 9:00 am – 3:00 pm
Wednesday – Closed
Thursday – 9:00 am – 3:00 pm
Friday – 9:00 am – Noon

Spurwink ALLTECH will also be launching a new website within the next few weeks. The address will be spurwinkalltech.org

For further information about the store, our services, and other general questions please contact Lou Isom at 535-2017 or at lisomalltech@spurwink.org or Eric Campbell at 207-871-1200 or at ecampbell@spurwink.org

Spurwink ALLTECH is in need of donations for their new location. Please share this information with anyone that might be looking to donate any gently used items such as canes, wheelchairs, walkers, scooters, bath chairs, commodes, etc.

Mobile Accessibility Testing Guide for Android and iOS

Android TabletsA new accessibility resource has been made available from the Paciello Group:

“The TPG Mobile Accessibility Testing for Android and iOS (PDF, 2.6MB) is a free accessible PDF outlining how to test native apps and the web for accessibility on Android and iOS. It provides an overview of accessibility settings, how to use them and common testing tools.

“Instructions on how to test content are provided for Android Talkback, iOS VoiceOver, zoom and switch settings. Also included are some testing tips, differences between testing mobile web and native apps, as well as an explanation of gestures and how to use them.

“This is a great document to use if you are testing, developing or designing apps and need to understand how accessible your content is and how usable it is for people of different abilities.”

More information on the Paciello Group website…


Photo credit: Image licensed through Creative Commons by WikiMedia Commons

Google Maps calls on millions of users to boost access info

From E-Access Bulletin Live…

Google logoThe Google Maps team has requested its extensive user community help improve its accessibility listings.

As reported in previous issues of e-Access Bulletin, Google has taken various steps to increase its accessibility offerings in maps during previous months (see e-Access Bulletin December 2016). Now, however, the Google Maps team have explicitly asked that its ‘Local Guides’ – a community of millions of users who voluntarily collect data – proactively add in wheelchair-accessible location information to maps.

As the Local Guides system works primarily by users answering questions (these questions help gather new data sets that help improve maps), the following calculation is made on a Google blog post announcing the call-out:

“If each of our tens of millions of Local Guides answers three of these questions [about wheelchair-accessible locations] every day for two weeks, we can gather nearly two billion answers to help people who rely on this information every day.”

The blog post was written by Sasha Blair-Goldensohn, a software engineer for the Google Maps, Content and Community team, who also uses a wheelchair. Read the Google blog post in full at the following link…

As Blair-Goldensohn points out in the post: “Because anyone can identify and label wheelchair-friendly locations directly on [a Google Map], it’s easy to share this knowledge around the world. But not everyone knows this tool exists.”

The post then lets readers know how to add in this information: “First, make sure your Google Maps Location History is turned on. Then visit ‘Your contributions’ in the upper-left menu, tap ‘Answer questions about a place,’ and indicate whether businesses you’ve visited are wheelchair-friendly.”

Those using devices on the Android operating system can also search for nearby areas around them that don’t have this accessibility info, so that it can be added.

2-1-1 Maine Adds Text Messaging

Referrals Now Available by Text Message

211 Maine logo2-1-1 Maine is a free resource providing an easy, confidential way to connect people to information about thousands of health and human services around Maine.

Every day Information Specialists help people find assistance for complex issues such as financial problems, substance use disorders, and support needs for older adults, and for simpler issues such as finding volunteer opportunities and donation options.

Mainers can now text their zip code to 898-211 and automatically connect with a friendly, Maine-based Information Specialist. The Specialist will ask the person texting what services they are looking for and provide them referrals via text to resources in their area.

Information Specialists are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week by texting a zip code to 898-211.

Mainers can also continue to use:

 

Legal references regarding web accessibility

US Capitol DomeThe following are on-line resources that have listed and documented historic information about legal issues related to web accessibility. Resources include references to legal cases and rule interpretations. Thanks to several members of the ITACCESS listserv from Educause for assistance in compiling this list.

World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) – Web Accessibility Laws and Policies – lists United States and international governmental policies related to web accessibility, although it is not a comprehensive or definitive listing.

Law Office of Lainey Feingold – Legal Updates – The articles listed on this page are about legal developments related to web, mobile (digital), technology and information accessibility in the United States. These articles include advocacy initiatives by the Law Office of Lainey Feingold and her co-counsel and clients, and also by other lawyers, organizations, and government agencies.

Resources primarily focused on institutions of higher education

ATHEN – Legal news – Focused on Office for Civil Rights (OCR) complaints and resolutions in that have occurred in higher education.

Karl Groves – List of Web Accessibility-Related Litigation and Settlements – last updated 2015.

University of Washington – Legal Cases by Issue – Recent legal actions against higher education institutions related to the inaccessibility of information technology (IT).

University of Minnesota – Higher Ed Accessibility Lawsuits, Complaints, and Settlements – List of higher educational institutions face liability for inaccessible web content and technologies.

 

ARIA – What should we know?

ARIA W3C logoAccording to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), “…ARIA, the Accessible Rich Internet Applications Suite, defines a way to make Web content and Web applications more accessible to people with disabilities. It especially helps with dynamic content and advanced user interface controls developed with Ajax, HTML, JavaScript, and related technologies. Currently certain functionality used in Web sites is not available to some users with disabilities, especially people who rely on screen readers and people who cannot use a mouse. ARIA addresses these accessibility challenges, for example, by defining new ways for functionality to be provided to assistive technology. With ARIA, developers can make advanced Web applications accessible and usable to people with disabilities.”

But some critics have said that ARIA has “tried to be too many things to too many people” and has resulted in more problems that solutions. This recent blog article by WebAIM summarizes the controversies and gets into some of the nitty-gritty on ARIA. Be aware that this is rather technical stuff; something directed mostly to web developers.

PDF conversion tools and services

Digital DocumentsA frequent request that we receive at Maine CITE is for assistance in converting complex digital documents into an accessible format. Often these are documents that have been converted to Portable Document Format (PDF) and the original document may no longer be available. The requests often come from organizations and institutions that have a large volume of these types of documents and lack the time and skilled personnel to successfully convert these digital documents into accessible digital documents.

Below we have pulled together list of some “tools and services” that can assist in this process. Thanks to Jiatyan Chen of Stanford University, Damian Sian of Princeton University and Tristan Price of Mt. Hood Community College who generated the initial list.

Note that these companies and tools vary extensively and some tools are free and others are fee for service.

Services

SensusAccess – SensusAccess is a self-service, alternate media solution for educational institutions. SensusAccess allows students, faculty, staff and alumni to automatically convert documents into a range of alternate media including audio books (MP3 and DAISY), e-books (EPUB, EPUB3 and Mobi) and digital Braille. The service can also be used to convert inaccessible documents such as image-only PDF files, JPG pictures and Microsoft PowerPoint presentations into more accessible and less tricky formats.

CommonLook – NetCentric Technologies, a global leader in document accessibility, provides software products and professional services enabling faster, more cost-efficient, and more reliable processes for achieving compliance with the leading PDF and document accessibility standards, including WCAG, PDF/UA, and Section 508. CommonLook software makes the creation, remediation, and management of accessible PDF and Microsoft Office documents easier than ever before.

247 Accessible Documents – On-demand Accessible Documents – Upload a Document and receive an Accessible PDF, Accessible Word Document or an Accessible PowerPoint that meets Accessibility Standards & Guidelines 2.0 in 5 days.

inclüd – Accessible content conversion, creation, and consulting services, inclüd provides institutions with a path to accessible information, ensuring that those with exceptional needs can access content tailor made for them.

Equidox Equidox is an automated solution that simplifies the process of discovering, converting, and publishing PDF documents to WCAG 2.0 compliant HTML. Manual PDF to HTML conversion requires a significant amount of time and extensive HTML knowledge. Not only is manual HTML conversion less efficient, but it can also introduce errors. Equidox automates the conversion process, and saves organizations time and money.

BrailleWorks – Braille Works is a solution for repair or remediation of your documents so organizations can meet WCAG and 508 compliance standards. WCAG and Section 508 document compliance can be difficult and navigating these waters is not a job for the inexperienced. Elements of a document such as paragraph structure, tables, charts, lists etc, need to be properly organized and tagged to provide true accessibility.

Tools

Adobe Acrobat Pro DC – The defacto PDF conversion tool. Includes an Accessibilty Checker to assess your PDF files.

axaio MadeToTagaxaio MadeToTag is an Adobe InDesign CS6 to CC plug-in to properly prepare InDesign documents for export as accessible, tagged PDF file – much more easier, faster and more reliable. The tagged PDF complies with the terms of the PDF/UA-Standard, the international standard for universally accessible PDF. PDF/UA is important to all organizations and companies delivering documents which have to be conform to regulations requiring accessible electronic content including WCAG 2.0, Section 508 in the US.

PDF Accessibility Checker (PAC 2) – PAC 2 quickly tests PDF files for accessibility. PAC 2 is used to support expert and affected tests during assessment. NOTE: The company offering this software, Access for All, is based in Switzerland, you may need to use translation to understand the content.

 

South Portland Housing Authority Offers Home Repair Program for Seniors

From the South Portland Housing Authority:

Smart HomeSouth Portland, ME, MARCH 7, 2017 – The South Portland Housing Authority (SPHA) today announced the new and exciting Home Modification for Seniors and Disabled (HMS) program. The Authority hopes to demonstrate that small investments in home safety help extend the time seniors and disabled persons can remain in their own home, reducing health care expenses and improving quality of life in their homes.

“Essentially, homeowners contact us for a simple assessment of their property, and we use the results to focus on high quality safety enhancement,” SPHA Executive Director Michael Hulsey noted. “We are looking for South Portland homeowners to work with at our expense, for simple safety issues.” Hulsey added, “Most work would get done in one -day or-less; more-complicated work would get contracted out when needed. A Grant from MaineHousing pays for the program expenses.”

Melanie Cahill, Coordinator of the Program, explained, “When a homeowner contacts us, we schedule an appointment to discuss their concerns, and take a good look at what needs to be done for the homeowner to stay safely in their home. We have experience selecting and installing equipment and can offer suggestions.” Experienced maintenance staff’s typical installations include grab-bars, hand-held showerheads, transfer benches, raised toilet seats, handrails, and lever-style doorknobs. “We also make smaller home repairs,” added Ms. Cahill. “These repairs, such as securing flooring, motion lights, electrical upgrades (like GFI outlets near water sources) adjusting exterior doors, and stair tread repairs, can make daily living safer. Input from homeowners is crucial for us to be successful.”

South Portland Housing Authority is excited to connect housing and healthcare in innovative ways through this Home Modification Program. The very small per home investment helps to ultimately improve health outcomes and can defer or decrease medical costs. Homeowners themselves drive the process and work closely with the team to make sure that their needs are addressed.

Qualifications for the program include:

  • 60 years of age or more, or have a disability;
  • Own your own home, or live in a home owned by someone in your family;
  • Live in South Portland;
  • Have annual income under $43,050 for a single person; under $49,205 for a two-person family; or under $55,350 for a 3-person family.
  • Less than $50,000.00 in liquid assets

For more information about this program, and how we can help you, please call Melanie Cahill, Program Coordinator, at 207-773-4140

Punch-In: Service for youth with disabilities seeking employment

This news comes from the Great Lakes ADA Center – AT Bulletin of Jan-Feb 2017

Punch-In logoPunch-In is a free resource for young adults with disabilities preparing for and seeking employment. One of the many offerings on the site is a free, online course to develop the skills and strategies necessary to be successful in career endeavors. Teachers and other professionals can set up a self-paced course to administered as group or individuals may take the course independently. The course includes over 100 high quality videos for instruction and advice. There is also a moderator for every course to assist and encourage students.

There are five content modules:

  • Discover Yourself (Module 1) – This module is designed for students who are beginning to prepare for a job search. It offers tools to examine strengths in any potential job and explore careers options.
  • Get Prepared (Module 2) – This module offers the foundational steps to develop your work readiness skills and jump into the critical steps of writing a good resume and cover letter.
  • Find A Job (Module 3)- The Find A Job module helps set a job search in motion. A job search includes the way you find out, apply, and interview for employment. The module also has a special section on networking skills using social media to locate employment opportunities.
  • Know Your Rights (Module 4) – Understanding one’s rights and responsibilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is critical in the employment process. This module is an introduction to the ADA and other disability laws.
  • Use Technology (Module 5) – This module is an introduction to Assistive Technology (AT). AT may be a critical component for a successful career.

If you are interested in administering or taking the newly updated course join the Punch-in network at success-network.punch-in.org. You may also contact Janet Peters with any questions.