Webinars – December 2018

December 11, 2018,  3:30 – 4:30 pm ET.

AT, AEM and Universal Design for Learning

Mind map of Universal Design for Learning conceptsAssistive Technology (AT), Accessible Educational Materials (AEM) and Universal Design for Learning (UDL) are more than just buzzwords. Alone, each are powerful supports that can benefit learners with disabilities in K-12 and Higher Education. However, when integrated in a holistic approach to learning in these environments, they are a powerful combination that promotes independence, equity, and access in ways that make sense for the learner. In this dynamic session, participants will learn about the ways that Assistive Technology, AEM, and UDL can and should be leveraged to meet the needs of all learners. Use this link for more information about webinar: AT, AEM and Universal Design for Learning

And the following list of free webinars comes from the ATC News, funded by the Center for Accessible Technology.  Please visit their website to sign up for the ATC News.

Accessibility and Compliance: How to Measure Digital Accessibility from deque
December 11 at 1:00 pm Eastern

Creating an Inclusive Work Environment Through the Use of Mainstream Technologies from AbleNet
December 12 at 2:00 pm Eastern

Chromebook Accessibility Features from SETC
December 12 at 6:30 pm Eastern

RAAP Strategy for Communication via Shared Reading from SETC (K-12)
December 13 at 3:00 pm Eastern

How Does Cortical Visual Impairment Impact Access? from AbleNet (preK-12)
December 18 at 3:00 pm Eastern

All Things QIAT! From QIAT (Quality Indicators for Assistive Technology)
December 18 at 3:00 pm Eastern (90 min.)

 

 

Group formed to test and document assistive technologies

ARIA W3C logoThe W3C – World Wide Web Consortia – has created a community group to systematically test and document  assistive technologies use of ARIA and HTML5 accessibility features in web applications. W3C membership is NOT needed to participate in the community group.

How WAI-ARIA is supported by assistive technologies, such as screen readers, is highly variable. This variation in WAI-ARIA rendering adds unnecessary complexity to the development of high-quality web experiences for users of assistive technologies and places significant limitations on the types of web widgets that can be made widely accessible.

This community group is dedicated to:

  1. Helping assistive technology developers converge on a set of clear norms for baseline support of WAI-ARIA.
  2. Helping web developers understand the current state of support for WAI-ARIA by assistive technologies.

WAI-ARIA is as important to assistive technology presentation as CSS is to visual presentation. Join us to help make WAI-ARIA as reliable as CSS.

In order to join the group, you will need a W3C account. Please note, however, that W3C Membership is not required to join a Community Group. Complete details may be found at this link…

This is a community initiative. This group was originally proposed on 2018-11-30 by Matthew King. The following people supported its creation: Matthew King, Laura Fathauer, Shadi Abou-Zahra, David Sexton, Mark McCarthy, Aaron Leventhal. W3C’s hosting of this group does not imply endorsement of the activities.

 

Let’s participate – new resource for infants and pre-schoolers

Early childhoodThe Let’s Participate! project, funded by the Office of Special Education Programs, was designed to help infants, toddlers and preschoolers with disabilities participate more fully in everyday activities through the use of assistive technology (AT).

Let’s Participate’s newly revamped website is chock-full of information on using AT with young children.

Please check out letsparticipate.org to find:

  • Numerous ready-to-be-used powerpoints and trainings
  • One-pagers on finding the right AT
  • A simple child-specific AT Plan
  • Resources on how to increase infant, toddler & preschooler participation using AT
  • Guidance on how/why to set up an AT lending library
  • Lots of tip sheets, activities, examples and more!

Use this link to visit Let’s Participate…

Photo credit: Image licensed through Creative Commons by Free Stock Photo

JAN’s 2018-2019 Monthly Webcast Series

Job Accommodations Network - JAN - logoIt’s free! It’s from JAN! And you are among the first to know!

It’s time for you to register for JAN’s 2018-2019 Monthly Webcast Series. Huddle up with the experts and refine the way you resolve accommodation situations. You wanted more information on job accommodations for motor, sensory, psychiatric, and cognitive issues. We are bringing this to you and more. Topics will also address disability inclusion, assistive technology basics, third-party vendors and accommodations, executive functioning accommodations in self-employment, wearable technology, and current events. You also don’t want to miss an annual update on the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Join JAM for an hour each month, receive a certificate of participation, and get your questions answered.

Use this link for more information and to register for these events…

Maine DOE Launching a New Website

Maine DOE logoThe Maine Department of Education will be launching a new website on Friday, September 28, 2018. Over the course of the summer months, Department staff have been working on updating and re-writing website content for a new website that features an improved search function, a user-friendly interface, and a content management system which will allow Department staff to keep content updated and timely.

The new website will replace the current website found at maine.gov/doe. It will have a similar, yet new, look and feel.

It is important to note that those who have bookmarked links to the Department’s current website may need to re-save their bookmarks when the new website is released because there will be some pages that have a different website address.

To ensure that the field and the public can find information on the new website on Friday and going forward, please send all inquiries, comments, concerns, and questions related to the website to doe.webmaster@maine.gov.

For further questions about the launch of the new website, please contact Maine Department of Education Director of Communications, Rachel Paling at rachel.paling@maine.gov.

Resources to Support Adaption of Assistive and Instructional Technology

The Center on Technology and Disabilities (CTD) recently published a newsletter highlighting some of their publications related to education. Among those resources:

Implement Assistive Technology and Instructional Technology

EducationFuture Ready Assistive Technology: Fostering State Supports for Students with Disabilities – This report provides insights into the current state and future of assistive technology as well as resources to support your work.

AT and IT: Where are we headed? – This new infographic outlines the technology landscape, and what it means for state and district leaders, and teachers.

Technology Implementation Strategies that Work! – Watch this video series to learn more about the critical processes necessary to effectively support technology implementation in your district or school.

Understanding Assistive Technology: Policy and Implications for State Leaders – Assistive technology (AT) is an essential part of your overall technology plan. Watch this webinar to learn more about the legal requirements for AT, different types of AT supports, and the role of Universal Design for Learning (UDL).

Contact the CTD Technical Assistance Lead for SEA/LEA support, Kristin Ruedel – KRuedel@air.org.

For more information, visit CTD on the web!

GetATStuff website closing

Assistive Technology Exchange in New England & New York - Get AT StuffAfter ten years of service, the Maine CITE Coordinating Center along with the New York and New England Assistive Technology State programs have decided to close the Get AT Stuff Assistive Technology Exchange at the end of September 2018.

No new postings will be accepted after September 20th and the GetATStuff.com website will be closed on September 30, 2018. All postings to sell or give away AT equipment listed on GetATStuff.com will be removed on September 30 and all personal information deleted from the system.

Here are some options for donating or selling your used AT/equipment:

Additional resources and information are located on our Equipment Reuse page…

For further assistance please contact the Maine CITE Coordinating Center at 207-621-3195 V or Maine Relay 711.

 

Tech4Good Awards 2018

From E-Access Bulletin, July 2018…

From smartwatch wayfinders to robot farmers…

Tablet showing the definition of the word "access"Earlier in July, the AbilityNet Tech4Good Awards took place in London, showcasing everything from tiny farming robots to an innovative new way of contacting emergency services.

Now in its eighth year, the event was created by technology access charity AbilityNet to celebrate digital technology projects designed to improve people’s lives and benefit society. Entries can be new or existing ideas, and can come from anyone, such as a charity, business or individual.

In 2016, for example, nine-year-old Arnav Sharma won the Tech4Good People’s Award for his asthma-managing digital device, the AsthmaPi, while in this year’s event, projects from Microsoft and Facebook both made the finals.

Awards are split into nine categories, each highlighting a different strand of digital innovation: accessibility; connected society; young pioneer; ‘Tech4Good for Africa’; community impact; digital health; digital skills; digital volunteer of the year, and; community impact.

A panel of 23 judges from across the technology and charity sectors selected 28 finalists chosen from over 250 entries, while the final category – the People’s Award – was chosen by the public.

Here’s a rundown of this year’s winners.

The AbilityNet Accessibility Award was won by Be My Eyes, a free app for iOS and Android designed to help people with sight loss live more independently by assisting them in completing everyday tasks.

The app works by connecting visually impaired users to sighted volunteers via video link. The volunteers then answer questions from the user, who might want to know, for example, whether the date on a food expiry label has passed, or what a nearby road sign says.

An additional feature is ‘Specialized Help’, which lets companies use Be My Eyes to provide tailored customer service to users with a visual impairment. Users can contact the Microsoft Disability Desk directly through the app to ask for help with Microsoft products.

As reported in e-Access Bulletin earlier this year, Be My Eyes has announced a partnership with transportation app Moovit, to help people with sight loss use public transport around cities.

The winner of the Digital Health Award was TapSOS, a non-verbal method of contacting emergency services through an app. Designed primarily for people who are deaf, hard of hearing, speech impaired, or in a situation where it’s difficult to speak, TapSOS lets users set up a profile with their medical history, which gets shared with emergency services when the user contacts them. GPS provides a caller’s exact location to emergency services, making it easier to send out a response vehicle.

Small Robot Company won the Connected Society Award for their miniature farm robots, designed to automate elements of the planting, feeding, watering and weeding process on a farm in a lightweight, environmentally friendly and cost-effective way.

The Water Watcher was the winner of the BT Young Pioneer Award. The device fits on to a tap and uses an alarm and timer system to alert users if the tap has been left on too long. Powered by a simple BBC Micro:bit computer (a winner in the 2016 Tech4Good Awards), the Water Watcher is particularly useful for people with dementia or dyslexia.

The Unlocking Talent Through Technology scheme, which provides solar-powered tablet computers and literacy apps for schools in Malawi, won the Comic Relief Tech4Good for Africa Award. Led by international development organisation VSO, the Unlocking Talent programme has reached 90,000 schoolchildren so far, and has been integrated into Malawi’s National Education Policy framework.

The Community Impact Award was won by MOMO (Mind of My Own), an app to help keep children and young people safe. MOMO encourages users to record thoughts, feelings and observations, which can help them communicate about difficult or dangerous situations which they might not feel able to discuss elsewhere.

A ‘wayfinding’ app for people with learning impairments was voted for by the public to win the Tech4Good People’s Award. WaytoB helps guide users who may not be able to fully operate other navigation or mapping systems. The app works through a smartwatch, giving users clear directions on a specified journey, and letting them know when to cross a road or which bus to catch, for example.

Crucially, WaytoB is used in harmony by a ‘navigator’ and ‘partner’, such as a family member or friend. Journeys are pre-programmed by the ‘partner’, who can track where the navigator is through the app.

The Digital Skills Award was won by Generation Code, a national scheme to help develop coding skills in young people around the UK. People aged 16-25 who already have coding knowledge are trained to become ‘Code Champions’, who then provide coding activities to people aged 11-19 in their local area.

The importance of coding was also recognised in the Digital Volunteer of the Year Award, presented to Anna Holland Smith. Anna is involved with a number of inclusive coding initiatives, including Manchester’s Codebar, which provides programming opportunities for underrepresented groups.

Read more about all of this year’s winners and other projects at the Tech4Good Awards website…


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Photo Credit: Image licensed through Creative Commons by The Blue Diamond

Maine DOE Announces Award for Management of Assistive Technology

From the Maine DOE…

Maine CITE Coordinating Center logoAUGUSTA July 17, 2018 – The Maine Department of Education is pleased to announce that Maine CITE Coordinating Center has been awarded a grant to provide management of assistive technology (AT) services under the federal Assistive Technology Act of 2004 (ATA).

The Maine CITE Coordinating Center has served as the ATA Grant Manager since the federal law was enacted in 1989. Maine CITE oversees a statewide effort to get assistive technology (AT) to people of all ages with disabilities who need it through device demonstrations, device loans and AT reuse. Maine CITE also provides public awareness, information and referral, and training and technical assistance on AT.

Kathy Adams OTL, ATP the Director of the Maine CITE Coordinating Center said, “we are very pleased to be awarded this grant. AT can be essential in education, employment, community living and telecommunications. We renew our commitment to assisting Maine citizens with disabilities to learn about and get the AT they need and want to lead productive independent lives.”

Under this grant, Maine CITE will continue to support the needs of Maine students with print disabilities through the Maine Accessible Educational Materials (AEM) Program as required under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004. The statewide Maine AEM Program works to improve students’ access to AEM and to facilitate the use of AT.

Jan Breton, Director of Special Services Birth – 20 said, “we are very pleased to continue working with Maine CITE which has demonstrated over many years its commitment to expanding and supporting the use of technology to assist people with disabilities.”

For details about Assistive Technology (AT) and the Maine Accessible Educational Materials (AEM) Program visit mainecite.org or maine-aem.org.

For information on AT demonstrations and loans visit at4maine.org.

Quality Indicators for Assistive Technology in Post-Secondary Education

Accessibility pictogramFrom the Great Lakes ADA Center…

The Quality Indicators for Assistive Technology in Post-Secondary Education (QIAT-PS) project created a set of indicators to describe the characteristics of high quality AT services provided to students in Post-Secondary educational environments.

The indicators are divided into five general areas:

  1. Awareness and Eligibility -The Awareness and Eligibility area describes the steps programs take to make sure that students with disabilities are aware of AT services on the campus and know how to get access to them.
  2. Planning and Implementation -The Planning and Implementation area describes the things that programs do to make sure that students are able to use their AT devices as accommodations in classrooms and other campus settings.
  3. Evaluation of Effectiveness – Evaluation of effectiveness addresses activities that programs engage in to help ensure that their AT services are effective and as efficient as possible.
  4. Administrative Support -The administrative supports that are necessary in order to ensure continuity of program improvement efforts are described in this area. The indicators address the development of policies, procedures and other supports needed in order to maintain and improve AT programs at the Post-Secondary level.
  5. Professional Development and Training – Professional development and training describes critical features of AT training efforts for all staff and other key players in the AT program.

One of the primary interactive tools developed by QIAT-PS project is the Campus Self-Evaluation Matrix. The Matrix is a descriptive rating scale for each quality indicator. It is intended to be used for internal program evaluation and goal setting to improve AT services and supports. An individual or team using the tool chooses the indicator variation from 1 to 5 which most closely matches their program, 1 being a novice and 5 being expert or advanced. There is a notes section to add details about the matrix the score. With QIAT-PS, you can create a free institutional account that will allow you to keep multiple versions of your Campus Self-Evaluation Matrix results, create comparison reports, and generate an action plans to set goals and receive goal activity reminders.

Emily Hinton, Access Center for Disability Resources Manager at Waubonsee Community College in Illinois shared how her school has used the Campus Self-Evaluation Matrix:

“In the world of social service professionals, many of us are not numbers people, myself included. Much of our data is subjective and comes in the form of anecdotes and perceived trends. So, when I first became aware of QIAT-PS in December, 2015, I was intrigued by the possibility of a tool that could provide quantitative data. The tool also happened to coincide nicely with a newly developed team on campus that I was charged with leading, the Digital/Technology Accessibility Team of the the Accessibility Advisory Committee (AAC). The AAC is a cross-functional committee that includes employees from a variety of areas on campus including Business, Operations, Student Development and Instruction.

“The committee first met December, 2013 and primarily focused on physical accessibility needs for our institution’s four campuses. In Fall 2015, the AAC identified that there were additional areas requiring accessibility review and the Digital/Technology Accessibility Team was formed as well a Policy, Procedures and Guidelines Team and Physical Accessibility.

“The development of teams allowed for participation from even more departments. The Digital/Technology Team includes representation from Information Technology, Center for Teaching, Learning and Technology (training), Library, Bookstore, Educational Television and Marketing and Communications. This team worked to develop a three-year plan to address digital and technology needs for the institution and provided a framework of projects and tasks to be completed to improve accessibility. It is to this team that I proposed completing the QIAT-PS Campus Self-Evaluation Matrix. The team completed the matrix in Spring 2016, creating baseline data that showed what areas were the most lacking in assistive technology and accessibility and what areas we could easily move the needle. We were able to develop an Action Plan and incorporate it into our three-year plan.

“Fast forward two years to Spring 2018 and we completed the QIAT-PS Campus Self Evaluation Matrix for the second time. We were easily able to compare the matrices in our QIAT-PS account and identify that we had improved in 10 out of 25 indicators (40%)! Our goal is to continue using Action Plans created through the Campus Self-Evaluation Matrix to inform our ongoing three-year plan. It is an excellent way to keep momentum moving in accessibility improvements and ultimately result in a better student experience.”

To sign up for a free account and use the Campus Self-Evaluation matrix, visit QIAT-PS. Please contact Janet Peters at jpete@uic.edu or call 312-413-5931 to request an onsite training for the QIAT-PS tools.