ABLE ME Launches in Maine

ABLE Act -National Resource Center logoBangor, ME (October 18, 2021):  Bangor Savings Bank introduced its newest product, the first of its kind in the nation, Maine ABLE Benefit Checking. The account was created for people with disabilities to allow greater access to financial products and services, while protecting eligibility for federal and State of Maine means-tested benefits. Historically, individuals receiving benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) are limited to $2,000 in resources. ABLE Accounts provide new avenues for financial health, planning, and empowerment for individuals with disabilities and their families.

ABLE Account can change the way individuals with disabilities and their families participate in the community, build financial wellness and plan for the future by empowering them to save and invest for the added expenses that come with having a disability without losing access to federal means-tested benefits. ABLE account holders can use these funds to make purchased of things like assistive technology that are not covered by other funders.

The federal “Achieving a Better Life Experience” Act of 2014 (ABLE Act) created a new option for qualified individuals living with disabilities and their families. Most ABLE programs follow an assets-under-management model. Maine has chosen a different approach and account structure to meet the more immediate needs of participants for whom longer term investment and saving is not a primary goal.

ABLE accounts originate from the federal ABLE Act and are established and managed at the state level. In partnership with the Office of the Maine State Treasurer, which oversees and maintains the program locally, Bangor Savings Bank is proud to serve as the administrator of the ABLE ME program.

ABLE ME, with Bangor Savings Bank’s Maine ABLE Benefit Checking account as the sole deposit instrument, was announced last month by Maine State Treasurer Henry E. M. Beck, Esq., and is the first of its kind in Maine and the nation.

“The State is grateful to partner with Bangor Savings Bank to offer this first-in-the-nation, simple ABLE checking account product,” said Beck. “When we first began developing this program, we listened to Mainers who live with disabilities who told us having access to a respected brick-and-mortar Maine-based financial institution was paramount. I encourage Mainers to take advantage of the protections and dignity an ABLE account can provide.”

“Our partnership with the Office of the State Treasurer is a unique public-private collaboration that allows us to increase access to banking.” said Bob Montgomery-Rice, President and CEO of Bangor Savings Bank. “Creating and offering this program supports the financial independence and well-being of Maine’s residents with disabilities and reflects our ongoing commitment to provide better banking experiences for all community members.”

“Partnering with the State Treasurer’s Office to innovate this first-in-the-nation Bank-administered ABLE Program has been incredibly rewarding. It wouldn’t have come to fruition without the vision and commitment of former State Treasurer Terry Hayes and current State Treasurer Henry Beck, as well as the unshakable support of our President and CEO Bob Montgomery-Rice,” said Joyce Clark Sarnacki, Bangor Savings Bank Foundation Chair and a member of the ABLE ME development team.

The Maine ABLE Benefit Checking can be opened at any Bangor Savings Bank branch and is available to qualifying Maine residents. For more information about ABLE Programs across the country, visit the National Association of State Treasurers.

About Bangor Savings Bank

Bangor Savings Bank, with more than $6 billion in assets, offers retail banking to consumers as well as comprehensive commercial, corporate, payroll administration, merchant services, and small business banking services to businesses. The Bank, founded in 1852, is in its 169th year with more than 60 branches in Maine and New Hampshire and business and/or loan production offices in Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. Bangor Savings Bank and The Bangor Savings Bank Foundation have invested more than $3.4 million into the community in the form of sponsorships, grants, and partnership initiatives last year. Bangor Savings Bank is an equal opportunity employer and can be found on the Web at www.bangor.com. Member FDIC.

New access features coming to YouTube

Audio DescriptionCool Blind Tech, a Canadian company who sources news about new assistive technology for blind and low vision users reported this week that YouTube is coming out with several access improvements that will make the service my accessible to people with disabilities.

Quoting from their blog

YouTube is improving video accessibility for both viewers with vision loss and other languages. The company is testing the option of adding multiple audio tracks to videos. This will help with international viewers, of course, but it should also enable descriptive audio for people with some vision to no vision. This arrives sometime in the “coming quarters,” YouTube said.

The announcement of the inclusion of the additional audio track will allow users to add Audio/Video Description to their YouTube videos. The terms Audio Description and Video Description are sometimes used interchangeably although the FCC has recently stated Audio Description to be the preferred term. The term, used in Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, is the agreed upon international terminology for audibly describing the visual elements of videos, on-stage performances, and subjects at museum and art galleries.

Although Audio Description has been around for many years, it only recently became part of Section 508 requirements. Content creators have struggled to meet the requirement as an open source video playback solution that allows for multiple audio tracks has not be available. While not open source, the announcement from YouTube will give video content developers a new – and free – tool to meet the requirement. Currently, the only solution on YouTube was to create two videos, one with Audio Description, and one without.

 

Closed Captioning from Space

The American Radio Relay League (ARRL) is the national association for Amateur (Ham) Radio in the US. Founded in 1914 by Hiram Percy Maxim as The American Radio Relay League, ARRL is a noncommercial organization of radio amateurs. Little know Maine fact: Hiram Percy Maxim was the son of Sir Hiram Stevens Maxim a Sangerville, Maine born inventor best known as the creator of the first automatic machine gun, the Maxim gun. Maxim, the father, held patents on numerous mechanical devices such as hair-curling irons, a mousetrap, and steam pumps. 

The following article was published in the ARRL newsletter…

Students at UK School for Deaf Youngsters Enjoy Space Chat

Students in UK talk with astronauts at the ISS
Mary Hare School student Jacob asks his question during the Mary Hare School contact with astronaut Mark Vande Hei, KG5GNP, on the ISS

Ten students at the Mary Hare School for deaf children in the UK took part in what appears to have been a world-first event for Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS). Facilitating the late-morning direct contact with astronaut Mark Vande Hei (Ham Call Sign: KG5GNP) at NA1SS (the Call Sign for the radio station on the International Space Station – ISS) were Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) volunteers and members of the Newbury and District Amateur Radio Society (NADARS).

The ground station used the call sign GB4MHN. ARISS volunteers handled the technical aspects, while NADARS members provided students with the “amateur radio experience” through events and activities.

Students asked their questions orally, and the astronaut’s replies — as well as questions and answers posed by the audience before the contact began — were displayed in closed caption format beneath a huge video screen.

Students wanted to know if the astronauts used sign language in space in case something goes wrong, how the ISS would be evacuated in the event of a fire, and whether mobile devices such as cell phones work in space.

Read more about this on the Mary Hare School website…

Architectural Trends and Social Justice

U.S. Access Board to Host Virtual Event on Designing for Inclusion: Architectural Trends and Social Justice

US Access Board logoThe U.S. Access Board will host a virtual public event on architectural trends and social justice on November 10, 2021 from 2:30 – 4:00 pm (ET).

The event will feature presentations by Board Members Karen Braitmayer and Deborah Ryan who will provide an accessibility review of current trends in architectural design, including those that have emerged in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. They will highlight aspects of those trends that advance equity and inclusion and discuss design alternatives to trends that are not fully accessible to all.

Members of the public will be able to pose questions during the event.

Use this link to learn more about this event…

 

National Disability Employment Awareness Month – Maine Activities

Maine Department of Labor logoAccording to Disability Rights Maine, October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) and the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) has called on Congress, the Administration, and state policy leaders to work toward the employment of people with disabilities in jobs that pay a competitive wage and are integrated.

According to the NDEAM website, the theme for NDEAM 2021, “America’s Recovery: Powered by Inclusion,” reflects the importance of ensuring that people with disabilities have full access to employment and community involvement during the national recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

NDEAM is held each October to commemorate the many and varied contributions of people with disabilities to America’s workplaces and economy. Browse our website for ideas and resources for employers, community organizations, state and local governments, advocacy groups and schools to participate in celebrating NDEAM through events and activities centered around the theme of “America’s Recovery: Powered by Inclusion.”

To celebrate NDEAM in Maine, the Bureau of Rehabilitative Services has published a list of activities of interest to Maine. Here are some highlights:

October 18/20, 2021 – State Rehabilitation Councils – Annual Meetings

State Rehabilitation Council for the Blind and Visually Impaired and the State Rehabilitation Council (General) hold their annual meetings virtually and open to the public over the course of these two days. For more information, contact Cheryl Peabody epeabody@roadrunner.com

October 20, 2021 – Virtual Job Club

Virtual Job Club for students ages 14-21 – Fun, multi-week sessions to help youth and young adults build skills and prepare for the world of work! For More Information, contact Valerie.Brown@maine.gov

October 20, 2021 – ODEP – NDEAM Celebration!

US Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh and Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy Taryn Williams celebrate NDEAM –  2 p.m. – 3 p.m. This exciting event will feature insightful dialogues and a video showcase highlighting strategies in action for an equitable disability inclusive recovery. Featured guests include: Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs Director Jenny Yang and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Disability Employment Policy Jennifer Sheehy. Use this link for more information and to register for the NDEAM Celebration.

October 20, 2021 – Career Exploration Event with Clark Phinney, Goodwill NNE.

Tune in for a live interview on Thursday, October 20 at 4:00 PM to hear Clark Phinney talk about the work environment and culture at Goodwill NNE. Goodwill offers a wide variety of job positions at various locations around the state, to include retail, Community and Employment Support services. Use this Zoom link to attend the event with Clark Phinney.  Webinar ID: 836 8244 7678. This event will be recorded.

October 21,2021: 1:00 PM  – Career Exploration Event – Video Game Analyst

Josh Dieckmann a Video Game Analyst for Epic Games, the makers of FortNite, talks about what it’s like to work as a Video Game Analyst. Josh is a Maine high school graduate, talk about his career as a Video Game Professional — an Analyst for FORTNITE. Use this link to Tune in for a live interview on Thursday, October 21 at 1:00 PM – 2:00 pm. Webinar ID: 820 4159 3574. This event will be recorded.

October 26, 2021 MADSEC Fall Conference

“Pre-Employment Transition Services: Partnering with Vocational Rehabilitation Early to Promote Successful Transition” with Libby Stone-Sterling, Director, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and Brenda Drummond, Director, Division for the Blind & Visually Impaired. Use this link for more information about the MADSEC Fall Conference.

October 27, 2021 Career Exploration Event with Susan Brunig

Pixar Colorist, Susan Brunig fell in love with Cinema studying avant-garde film at Binghamton University. She went on to get her MFA from San Francisco State University and for the past fifteen years she’s worked in Color Grading at Pixar Animation Studios. Her credits include such Oscar-winning feature films as Up, Inside Out, Coco, Soul and more. Most recently, her work on Pixar’s Luca was featured in Digital Vision World’s Artist in the Spotlight. A screenwriter in her spare time, she is a NYWIFT Writers Lab Alum, a Cinestory Feature Fellowship winner and an Academy Nicholl Fellowship Semi-finalist.  Use this link to Tune in for the live interview on October 27 at 10:00 am – 11:00 am. Webinar ID: 831 2285 6822. NOTE: This event will not be recorded.

October 28, 2021 – Career Exploration Event with Michael Paradis, Retired Civil Engineer

Michael Paradis is a graduate of Fort Kent Community High School and the University of Maine’s Engineering program. Learn about his career path — from high school to college to professional engineer.  Use this link to Tune in for the live interview on October 28 at 1:00 – 2:00 pm. Webinar ID: 881 3828 3029. This event will be recorded.

October 28, 2021 – BRS Stakeholders’ Forum

Join Leaders from the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services – including Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and Division for the Blind and Visually Impaired – to learn more about services and programs available.  Use this link to attend the NRS Stakeholders’ Forum on October 28 at 1:00 – 2:00 pm. ASL and CART provided.

October 28, 2021 – Employment First 2.0 Forum

Offered from 3:30 – 5:00 pm, this event is hosted by the Employment First Maine Coalition & Disability Rights Maine. Please register for this event using this link.

October 29, 2021 – Reverse Job Fair – Direct Care Positions

After a great month of learning and exploration, we invite Job Seekers and Employers to participate in a Reverse Job Fair. Job Seekers who want to work in direct care positions will share their interest, knowledge and skills and discuss opportunities with businesses who hire for these positions and have openings. The employers will be given the chance to ask questions, meet with you privately, or schedule a formal interview. This is your chance to shine, so dress to impress, and bring your best selves!

 

Accessible Means of Egress – webinar

From the U.S. Access Board..

U.S. Access Board Webinar: Accessible Means of Egress

November 4, 2021 from 2:30 – 4:00 (ET)

US Access Board logoBuilding and life safety codes require that facilities provide accessible means of egress so that all people, including those with disabilities, can relocate and evacuate in a timely and safe manner. The 2010 ADA Accessibility Standards and the Architectural Barriers Act Accessibility Standards reference the International Building Code (IBC) for accessible means of egress. The next webinar in the Board’s free monthly series will take place November 4 from 2:30 – 4:00 (ET) and will review the minimum technical requirements for accessible means of egress in the IBC, including criteria for emergency evacuation for people with disabilities, evacuation planning, alarms, evacuation routes inside and outside of the building, and signage. An International Code Council representative and Access Board staff will also address frequently asked questions and common sources of confusion about accessible means of egress.

Visit www.accessibilityonline.org for more information or to register.

All webinars include video remote interpreting (VRI) and real-time captioning. Questions may be submitted in advance of the session or can be posed during the live webinar. Webinar attendees can earn continuing education credits. The webinar series is hosted by the ADA National Network in cooperation with the Board. Archived copies of previous Board webinars are available on the site.

Virtual Assistive Technology and Community Living Summit

Assisitive Technology at exhibit spaceThe Richard West Assistive Technology Advocacy Center (ATAC), New Jersey’s designated Assistive Technology Act program, is a program of Disability Rights New Jersey (DRNJ), with the New Jersey Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services (DVRS) as its lead agency, has served as the central clearing house for information about AT devices and services statewide since 1997.

ATAC announces their 5th Annual Assistive Technology Statewide Virtual Conference on September 23 – 24, 2021.

Join consumers and professionals for a day of learning and sharing about all areas of Assistive Technology. In order to increase the learning and sharing, we have super sized this year’s virtual event! Disability Rights New Jersey and ATAC have partnered to bring quality content focused on Assistive Technology and Community Living.

Last year’s virtual event was attended by over 350 individuals and featured over 25 concurrent sessions focused on all areas of Assistive Technology. This year’s virtual event will be even bigger and better – with speakers and participants from all across the country!

Day 1: Thursday, September 23, 2021; 8:30am-3:00pm Eastern Time

Day 2: Friday, September 24, 2021; 8:30am-1:00pm Eastern Time

Please visit the ATAC website for more information and to register to attend this free event.

ADA and COVID

The Great Lakes ADA Center in collaboration with the Southwest ADA Center is pleased to announce the upcoming ADA Legal Webinar session titled:

ADA and COVID

featuring Barry Taylor and Rachel Weisberg.

Date: Wednesday, September 22, 2021
Time: 2:00 – 3:30 pm ET

Format: Zoom Webinar Platform (closed captioning will be provided via Zoom and Stream Text link option)

Cost: No Charge

For the last 18 months, COVID-19 has significantly impacted all of our lives, including people with disabilities. The COVID-pandemic has also caused the courts to apply traditional ADA principles to an entirely new context. This session will review court cases, settlements and federal agency guidance involving the interplay between COVID and the ADA. Topics will include COVID as an ADA-disability; employment rights; mask/vaccine mandates; voting rights; effective communication; corrections; access to healthcare; access to private businesses; and access to education. This is a constantly evolving area of the law so be sure to attend this session to make sure you have the latest information about COVID and the ADA. This session will use lots of examples to show what accessible design looks like to the end user as well as the user experience when web page elements are not accessible. The session will not go into technical details and will not require knowledge of coding or technical language.

Please use this link to register for this ADA Legal Webinar Series (An account is required to register)

Registration deadline: Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Certificate of Attendance available.

Questions should be directed to webinars@adaconferences.org

WCAG V2.1: Understanding the Basics

The Great Lakes ADA Center in collaboration with the Great Plains and Southeast ADA Center is pleased to announce the upcoming Accessible Technology Series session titled

“WCAG V2.1: Understanding the Basics”

featuring Julie Brinkhoff, Director of the Great Plains ADA Center.

Rescheduled

New Date: Wednesday, September 29, 2021
OLD Date: Thursday, September 16, 2021
Time: 2:00 –  3:30pm ET 
Format: Zoom Webinar Platform (closed captioning will be provided via Zoom and Stream Text link option)
Cost: No Charge

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are technical standards designed to make web content more accessible to people with a wide range of disabilities. This session will discuss:

  • How the standards were developed and organized based upon the principles of accessible design (POUR)
  • The relationship between Section 508 and WCAG V2.1 Level AA
  • Why the accessibility guidelines are organized into levels and how that is important in developing/assessing your webpages.
  • Most common level A accessibility errors.

This session will use lots of examples to show what accessible design looks like to the end user as well as the user experience when web page elements are not accessible. The session will not go into technical details and will not require knowledge of coding or technical language.

Please use this link to register for the Accessible Tech Webinar Series (An account is required to register)

 

Certificate of Attendance available.

Questions should be directed to webinars@adaconferences.org

rev:9/11/2021

Learning Strategies for Children with Vision Impairment and Deafness/Hard of Hearing

The New England Consortium for Deafblind Technical Assistance and Training (NEC)The New England Consortium on Deafblindness (NEC) announces the Fall 2021 on-line learning cohort is about to begin.

The online modules are an exciting opportunity to learn more about Deafblindness and engage with a consortium of service providers in CT, ME, MA, NH and VT. Upon completion of each group of modules, you will receive a certificate of completion and Professional Development Points (6 PDPs per module)

Description of the Modules

Each module is designed to increase knowledge related to intervention for students who have combined vision and hearing loss or at risk (ages 3 through 21). The module content was created by a diverse group of experts in the field of Deafblindness including state and national deafblind project staff, parents of children who are deaf-blind, higher education faculty, teachers, educational
interpreters, and interveners. Also each module takes about 6 hours to complete and includes accessible videos, photographs, slide presentations, and learning activities.

Target Audience

Paraprofessionals, Teachers, Related Service Providers, Parents, Agency Personnel

  • NEC will also host NCDB On-Line Modules to support continuing groups of service providers
    working with child(ren) who have combined vision and hearing loss or who are at-risk.
  • NEC will host NCDB On-Line Modules to support a new group of service providers working
    with child(ren) who have combined hearing loss or who are at-risk.
  • We encourage teams to participate (i.e., one classroom teacher and one paraprofessional/aide)
    but parents and individual service providers are also welcome!
  • Modules are hosted by a Facilitator and participants will be provided support and feedback in
    completion of each module. The modules can be completed at a time most convenient for you
    and at your own pace.

NOTE: Each Individual module takes 6-8 hours to complete so there is a time commitment. Many
participants report that it’s a fun and convenient opportunity to share ideas and expertise!

For More Information, visit: www.nec4db.org, email: nec@perkins.org  or call: 617-972-7515.