UMF Offers Online Certificate Program is Assistive Technology

University of Maine Farmington - logoThe University of Maine Farmington – Division of Graduate and Continuing Education has announced they are offering a graduate certificate in Assistive Technology. The new program is offered completely online.

Those completing the certificate program will be prepared to:

  • Support the inclusion of individuals with disabilities in both school and community settings.
  • Utilize assistive technology to increase independence and eliminate or  mitigate barriers.
  • Assess, design, research, and implement Assistive Technology.

The certificate in Assistive Technology (AT) prepares a broad range of professionals who can assess, design, research, and implement Assistive Technology (AT). Those completing the certificate will be prepared to support the inclusion of individuals with disabilities in both school and community settings by utilizing assistive technology to increase independence and eliminate or mitigate barriers. Courses are chosen in consultation with your academic advisor to ensure professional goals are reached and that sufficient preparation is undertaken for those seeking national certification.

For more information and to enroll, please contact the University of Maine Farmington – Graduate Studies or by phone 207.778.7502 or email gradstudies@maine.edu

Maine AgrAbility video highlights students’ learning on the farm

Buxton, Maine — Over the past year, Maine AgrAbility and partner Alpha One integrated agriculture into the curriculum of a peer mentoring program at Massabesic High School in York county. The program, funded by the Maine Department of Labor Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and supplemented with hands-on opportunities, culminated with summer work experiences on a local farm.

Sally Farrell, owner of Rummler Run farm in Buxton and former University of Maine Cooperative Extension 4-H professional in York County, agreed to introduce three of the students to daily life on her farm in summer 2019. The stories and experiences of those three students — practicing problem-solving, handling small livestock, helping ensure biosecurity practices — are told in the video “On the Farm.”

Maine AgrAbility, a collaborative project of UMaine Extension and Alpha One, is dedicated to helping farmers, fishermen and forest workers work safely and more productively. For more information, contact Leilani Carlson at 207.944.1533; leilani.carlson@maine.edu.

More information also is available on the UMaine Extension AgrAbility website.

About University of Maine Cooperative Extension:

As a trusted resource for over 100 years, University of Maine Cooperative Extension has supported UMaine’s land and sea grant public education role by conducting community-driven, research-based programs in every Maine county. UMaine Extension helps support, sustain and grow the food-based economy. It is the only entity in our state that touches every aspect of the Maine Food System, where policy, research, production, processing, commerce, nutrition, and food security and safety are integral and interrelated. UMaine Extension also conducts the most successful out-of-school youth educational program in Maine through 4-H.

AT4Maine “Features” recycled equipment for sale

Spurwink-ALLTECH logoThe Spurwick ALLTECH Recycle and Reuse Program is now listing and featuring “gently used” assistive technology devices and products available for purchase by the public on the AT4Maine website.

Located at 892 Riverside Street in Portland, the “ALLTECH Store” is open for business four days a week and has dozens of items available for sale.

The two items featured this month are:

View more items for Resale/Reuse on the AT4Maine website

For more information and to arrange to purchase these or any items in the ALLTECH Store, visit their website or call 207-535-2017

 

UMF unveils special ed master’s program with workforce needs in mind

Theodora J. Kalikow Education Center on the UMF campus.FARMINGTON, ME  (October 31, 2019)—The University of Maine at Farmington, a leader in teacher education, is proud to announce that it is offering a Master of Science in Special Education beginning spring 2020. This program offers pathways for undergraduate students, graduate students and adults working in the field to become certified special education teachers and help alleviate the serious workforce need in schools throughout Maine.

“Farmington has long been a leader in preparing well-qualified teachers for the classroom,” said Edward Serna, UMF president. “Deep-rooted in that leadership is UMF’s ongoing pursuit of how to best serve our students, local schools and the State of Maine, now and in the future. This new special education master’s program is a valuable next step in being responsive to the higher education needs of Maine citizens while helping meet the state’s significant workforce needs.”

The UMF program offers undergraduate students an accelerated 4+1 program, in which they can obtain a bachelor’s and master’s degree in special education in five years instead of six. The program is open to undergraduate students enrolled in UMF’s bachelors in special education program or pursuing a 20-credit minor in special education at UMF. This gives students with a wide array of majors a pathway to certification as special education teachers.

For graduate students, many of whom are in the workforce already, the new UMF master’s degree program features a blended delivery model, offering course work that is 70 percent online and 30 percent face-to-face with in-the-classroom work on the UMF campus three Saturdays per semester. Unique in Maine, this flexible model provides working adults with the benefits of both online and in-classroom learning.

“While students acquire knowledge and skills through online learning, it is still important for them to have the interpersonal learning experience that a classroom offers in order to discuss, evaluate and synthesize what they’ve learned,” said Brian Cavanaugh, UMF assistant professor of special education. “This widely accepted best-practice model has students in the program interacting with faculty and course participants to personalize and enrich their learning.”

For adult learners who have already earned a bachelor’s degree, are working in schools, and are seeking Special Education 282 Certification in Maine, UMF offers access to the new M.S.Ed. in Special Education through its longstanding Special Education Alternate Route to Certification (SPARC) program.

Especially popular among people who hold a bachelor’s degree and are working in special education settings as Educational Technicians, SPARC offers a set of online courses taught by experienced Special Education faculty and professionals that leads to state certification.

UMF’s SPARC program includes 13 online graduate courses offered on a rotating schedule. Participants in SPARC must have access to students with disabilities in order to complete online course assignments and can elect to take only the number of courses they need to meet the 24-credit requirement for Special Education 282 Certification in Maine. Students who have successfully completed nine credits through UMF’s SPARC program are eligible for admission to the M.S.Ed. in Special Education program.

“Students in the SPARC courses have asked persistently for a master’s degree in special education,” says Erin Connor, associate dean for Graduate and Continuing Education at UMF. “When your students push you to develop their next educational experience, you know you are on the right track. SPARC has taught us about the strong need for continuing education at Farmington. I hope the community will continue to inform our thinking about what programming we can offer that will help them achieve their professional goals.”

The new Master of Science in Special Education program is also designed to provide students with the opportunity to specialize in areas of need within special education, such as assistive technology, inclusive education and leadership, low incidence disabilities or special education administration. This additional course work will be available through UMF or through collaborative options at other UMaine System campuses.

For more information on the new Master of Science in Special Education degree program, For more information on the new Master of Science in Special Education degree program, please contact the UMF Office of Graduate Studies 207-778-7502.

Service Animal Resource Hub

Man in wheelchair with dogThe ADA National Network has created a Service Animal Resource Hub that many of you may find helpful. All of the information provided is specific to either the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or other federal laws.  Some states may have laws the expand the definition of a service animal and the rights of individuals with disabilities.

Multiple related resources can be found at Service Animal Resource Hub website…

 

Partnership helps students with access

From the Franklin County, Daily Bulldog...Posted by Ben Hanstein

Robots connect UMF interns with K-12 students

Kevin Good and Hillary Goldthwait-Fowles with robotFARMINGTON – Interns at the University of Maine at Farmington have been working with students in Regional School Unit 21 this year, utilizing robots equipped with two-way communication devices in order to interact with their younger counterparts in Kennebunk.

Project Circuit is a new program supported by the Department of Education’s Maine CITE, an initiative aimed at improving access to assistive technologies for Maine students, residents and the elderly. Assistive technology is anything designed to remove barriers for a person with a disability – for students, this means improving their accessibility to programming. The UMF program is working with RSU 21 as that district is the first in the state to employ a certified assistive technology specialist, Hillary Goldthwait-Fowles. UMF interns are in instructor Kevin Good’s Assistive and Instructional Technology course, offered through the college’s Special Education program.

Good said that his course was designed to get future educators comfortable with technology like the telepresence robots. He tells his students that they are designers and makers, not just users of the technology.

“I’m pushing students to think through the process,” Good said. “I watch my students grow and change how they approach [new technology].”

The obvious use of the robot, which includes a two-way communication screen mounted on top of a wheel assembly, is to accommodate students that are unable to physically attend a class or event, Goldthwait-Fowles said. Students that are hospitalized or home-bound by an illness can continue to participate in their classes. However, there are potential uses for other disabilities as well. Students on the autism spectrum, for example, may not be able to attend a crowded event due to sensory overload. Educators may start by showing the student a copy of a class’ whiteboard, then move on to using the robot to allow the student to attend a class.

Beyond student-to-class usage, Good and Goldthwait-Fowles said, the robots also can allow others, such as the UMF interns, to work with K-12 students across the state. The system is on a secured network, Good said, but one that is globally accessible. This allows the UMF interns an earlier opportunity to work directly with K-12 students. At this point, Good likes to say, UMF can be anyplace it can send a robot.

“Anyone can access this and use this,” Goldthwait-Fowles said. While only RSU 21 has a full-time, on-site robot, others can be made available on a temporary basis for specific students.

Read the entire article at the Daily Bulldog…

UMF AT Program on Facebook…

Reaching Accessibility Goals for Higher Education

Accessible Information TechnologyA new article in Inside Higher Ed magazine Helping Institutions Reach Accessibility Goals details the fact that many institutions of higher education fail to have “coherent policies around accessibility. ” And, they note that there has been “…a recent uptick in high-profile lawsuits alleging failure to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act…”

While the reasons for this situation are many, the article suggests “time constraints” make be a factor. Quoting Cynthia Curry from the National Center on Accessible Educational Materials (NC-AEM)“Part of the problem is that people don’t have the time to do something systemic around accessibility within their institutions…” Curry said. “Most institutions, of course, aren’t looking proactively at accessibility. They’re looking at it more as a retrofit, or they’re being reactive if something litigious comes up.”

Maine CITE’s own resident digital accessibility resource person is John Brandt. Brandt’s own 25-year experience in web development and accessibility suggest that the perceived high cost to make web content accessible is probably the largest single factor in the equation. “Most organizations look at accessibility as expensive because they are approaching it from a mitigation perspective. They often fail to look at the costs associated with NOT having accessible content – lost student admissions, lack of student retention, etc.”

While most web accessibility experts will talk about the importance of “adding accessibility in at the beginning” of a web design process, colleges and universities are often not able to do this since they were among the first organizations to have websites in the 1990s – they have accumulated lots of content.

But even if an institution is committed to improving accessibility, they often don’t know where to start. To that end, the Inside Higher Education article promotes a new set of quality indicators for accessible educational materials developed by NC-AEM designed to “help institutions ensure, at scale, that all students have the same learning opportunities in face-to-face classrooms and digital learning environments.” The article focuses on the NC-AEM’s recently published  “Higher Education Critical Components of the Quality Indicators for the Provision of Accessible Educational Materials & Accessible Technologies” which promote seven quality indicators (QI), each containing specific criteria needed to achieve each QI.

For colleges and universities just starting out with the process, these quality indicators can provide a blueprint and structure of the thinking process that need to be considered. Tom Tobin, one of the people interviewed in the article, encourages “institutions (to) focus accessibility efforts on the potential impact on student access and learning outcomes, rather than merely on ‘legal-compliance arguments.’”

“While the description of the quality indicators alludes to the broad access benefits for all learners when accessible materials, tools and interface are adopted, the actual indicators and critical components are focused squarely on meeting the needs of learners with disabilities — only a part of the access conversation,” Tobin states in the article.

Read “Helping Institutions Reach Accessibility Goals”

Read/view the NC-AEM – “Higher Education Critical Components of the Quality Indicators for the Provision of Accessible Educational Materials & Accessible Technologies”

UMF Educator Preparation Program receives national and state accreditation

Loraine Spenciner
The late Lorraine Spenciner for whom the AT Library is named, shown her holding a modified keyboard.

FARMINGTON, ME —The University of Maine at Farmington (UMF) educator preparation program is proud to announce that it has received national accreditation from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). UMF is the first institution in the state of Maine to meet the new, rigorous national accreditation standards. UMF has also received full approval for state accreditation, including several commendations, from the Maine State Board of Education.

A longtime leader in Maine and one of the premier teacher education programs in New England, the UMF program has been noted for providing pre-service teachers with a unique educational experience that maximizes career preparation and post-graduation success.

The CAEP review recognized the UMF program for providing students with effective learning opportunities in and out of the classroom that help prepare them for a career in teaching. The UMF program passed the rigorous peer review on all five CAEP standards, which are based on the principles that its graduates are competent, caring educators and its faculty have the capacity to maintain and enhance the quality of the professional programs.

CAEP is the sole nationally recognized accrediting body for educator preparation. UMF’s accreditation runs from 2018 to 2025.

Notably, CAEP recognized UMF for its strong relationship with the community and how this mutual commitment enriches the student experience through activities, resources and support for educational improvement. In addition, the review applauded the UMF teacher preparation program for the quality of its candidates from recruitment through certification.

UMF’s teacher preparation program provides students with field experience, early and often, with student teaching, practicum and internships boasting an average of 329 students in formal placements in schools around the state annually.

These experiences prepare educators for the real classroom and create a statewide demand for UMF graduates while helping to support educational partnerships at more than 130 Maine schools annually, not including early childhood and infant centers.

According to UMF’s 2018 teacher education unit alumni survey, 84 percent of respondents indicate being employed as a teacher in the field and a majority being hired within one year of graduation. In addition, 98.9 percent of graduates responding to the survey said they were very satisfied or satisfied with the UMF program.

In its overall approval of the UMF program, the Maine State Board of Education also commended UMF for its commitment to staff its educator preparation program with full time faculty. It observed that UMF is unique in the fact that all field supervisors who mentor and oversee pre-service teachers in schools around the state are full time faculty that can model the best in professional practices.

The Maine review also commended UMF for its dedication to assistive technology within the Spenciner Curriculum Materials Center. The center, connected to the Maine Department of Education’s Maine CITE Program, houses an extensive collection of assistive technology devices such as adaptive gaming controllers and 3-D printers that are available to loan to students, educators and the general public.

These resources can help all children, including those with disabilities, succeed in the classroom. The report noted the facility is “a remarkable resource for the students, faculty, and the larger community encouraging inclusive practice with state of the art materials and equipment.”

More on University of Maine at Farmington

A nationally recognized public liberal arts college, UMF enjoys a 150-year tradition of providing a quality academic experience combined with the personal attention and close student / faculty collaboration that help prepare all students to be successful. Rooted in a tradition of teacher preparation, UMF offers top quality programs in the arts and sciences, teacher preparation, and business and pre-professional studies. UMF is located in the heart of Maine’s four-season outdoor recreational region and is a welcoming, close-knit academic community that prepares students for engaged citizenship, enriching professional careers and an enduring love of learning.

Work & Benefits Navigator Training Available

From MaineHealth Educational Services and the Maine Department of Health and Human Services…

A person receiving Social Security disability benefits or SSI has likely been told they can’t work, or if they do work that they should limit their hours. They may believe they can’t work. They may have limited work experience or education. And likely they fear losing their financial and medical safety net if they try to work.

How can a service provider encourage work for a consumer who is living this experience? What is a social service provider to do in this “Employment First” state, especially without experience in employment services?

Join a session to learn what “Work and Benefits Navigation” means, and how you can be an employment champion for your clients and your agency.

As case managers, community integration workers, DSPs, residential staff, or others with a supporting role in the life of a person with a disability, you have a critical role in the employment success of the individuals you serve.  Work and Benefits Navigation training will equip you with information, skills, and resources you need to challenge myths about work and benefits and encourage employment.

Training will be provided by Community Work Incentives Coordinators (CWICs) from Maine Medical Center’s Department of Vocational Services.  They have many years of experience in assisting people with navigating Social Security’s return-to-work rules, and encouraging them – and those who play a supporting role in their lives – to think about earnings and work in a new way.

Use this link for more information and to register for the training programs…

Spurwink ALLTECH opens store in Portland

Website Launch and Store Opening

Spurwink-ALLTECH logoSpurwink ALLTECH has announced the re-opening of the Assistive Techology Equipment Reuse and Loan Store in Portland and the launch of the new website spurwinkalltech.org.

Equipment Reuse

The new Portland location at 892 Riverside Street, offers consumers access to gently-used recycled durable medical equipment at a much-reduced cost, as well as short-term loans of Assistive Technology equipment. Some items available for purchase or loan include scooters, wheelchairs, canes, and bath chairs.

The Assistive Techology Equipment Reuse and Loan Store, which  was previously located in Bangor, also accepts donations of gently-used durable medical equipment to be cleaned and repaired and offered to consumers.

Demonstration/Loan

The Portland store will also house ALLTECH’s assistive technology demo and loaner program. With over 140 AT devices in the inventory, the demo/loan program allows Mainer to try before they buy.

 

Store Location

892 Riverside Street
Portland, ME 04103

Store hours are:

Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, 9:00 am – 3:00 pm
Friday, 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
Wednesday, Closed

For more information, please call at 207-535-2017 to ask any questions.

New Website

For additional information about ALLTECH’s recycle and reuse program, AT demo and loaner program, or about additional services that ALLTECH offers, please visit the new website at spurwinkalltech.org