News

2020 Guide for Maine Families on AT and AEM Published

EducationThe Maine CITE Assistive Technology Program is pleased to release the revised Guide for Maine Families on Assistive Technology and Accessible Educational Materials. The 2020 Guide provides Maine families who have children with disabilities an easy to use resource describing how to get the assistive technology (AT) devices and services they need. Information about accessible education materials (AEM) and families’ important role in the planning process are also provided.

The 2020 Guide updates general information about AT and AEM. It includes new resources about assistive technology used during “learning at home” activities, as well as AT device demonstration and loan services – AT4Maine.org.

Use this link to download the The Guide – PDF

Audio Description Project – Proposed Rulemaking

The following press release comes from the Audio Description Project of the American Council of the Blind (ACB):

On April 23, 2020, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that proposes expanding the number of broadcast designated market areas required to pass through audio description from the top 60 markets to the top 100, and to use the term “audio description” instead of the term “video description.”

The NPRM seeks to modernize the terminology in the Commission’s regulations to use the term “audio description” rather than “video description.” The term “audio description” is used by the rest of the federal government and is the term used in Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. Additionally, “audio description” is the agreed upon international terminology for audibly describing the visual elements of videos, on-stage performances, and subjects at museum and art galleries.

On May 21, 2020, the Media Bureau of the FCC released a public notice announcing the NPRM comment due dates; comments are due June 22, 2020, and reply comments are due July 6, 2020. The text of the NPRM is available on the FCC website.

Interested parties may file comments on their own by accessing the Electronic Comment Filing System. All filings must reference MB Docket No. 11-43. People with disabilities who need assistance to file comments online may request assistance by email to FCC504@fcc.gov.

Read more about the plan to expand the number of broadcast designated market areas…

Read more about the Audio Description Project…

 

June 2020 Webinars

Maine CITE is offering the following webinars in June:

Webinar: Arthritis and Agriculture: The importance of protecting your joints

Date: June 2, 2020
Time:  1:00 pm – 2:00 pm ET

This webinar, and the one on June 16th are being presented by the Maine AgrAbility Program, a project dedicated to providing education, assistance, and support to Maine farmers with disabilities engaged in production agriculture, helping them and their families maintain optimal production and experience an enhanced quality of life.

Farmers lose quality-of-life because of chronic pain, aching, stiffness, and swelling in and around the joints. Making small changes in their working routines and using Assistive Technology (AT) can significantly reduce injury to the joints. Please join us for a discussion of Arthritis, the prevalence of the disease in farmers,  and possible modifications to reduce its effects.

Presenters

  • Ketra S. Crosson, OTR/L
  • Ellen Gibson, MS

Use this link for more information and to register for the webinar: Arthritis and Agriculture: The importance of protecting your joints…

Webinar: The Essentials of Accessibility: School and Community Gardens

Date: June 16, 2020
Time: 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm ET

This presentation discusses planning for school and community gardens for all users including those of all ages and abilities. Information will discuss how to go beyond the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards including design concepts that make a space diverse, welcoming, and comfortable for all. The presentation includes concepts on making the garden an enjoyable destination, creating opportunities for social connections, and a place that users will return to again and again. Assistive technology in the form of adaptive garden tools and products will be featured.

Presenters

  • Ketra S. Crosson, OTR/L
  • Jill S. Johanning, AIA

Use this link for more information and to register for the webinar: The Essentials of Accessibility: School and Community Gardens…

The following list of June 2020 (and some in June) webinars on the topic of assistive technology and accessibility is generated by the Accessible Technology Consortia funded by the Center for Accessible Technology. Thank you.

Curating Accessible OER with Confidence from NCAEM
June 8, 2020 at 3:00 pm ET

The Ins and Outs of Wearable AT from Georgia Tech
June 16 2020 at 2:00 pm ET

Features in Accessibility: Microsoft’s Tools in Practice from NCAEM
June 22, 2020 at 3:00 pm ET

Expand Your Vision with Video Magnification from Georgia Tech
June 23 2020  at 2:00 pm ET

Exploring Options for Non-visual Access from Georgia Tech
June 30 2020 at 2:00 pm ET

Switch Access Beyond Cause and Effect: Stepping Stones for Effective Learning Part 2 from AbleNet
June 2, 2020 at 1:00 pm ET

Supporting Learning from Home for Students with Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities from edWeb
June 3, 2020 at 2:00 pm ET

Ideas for Distance Learning and Back to School from AbleNet
June 4, 2020 at 12:00 pm ET

Switch Access Beyond Cause and Effect: Stepping Stones for Effective Learning – Part 3 from AbleNet
June 9, 2020 at 1:00 pm ET

Executive Function Tools and Strategies for K-12 Students from PACER
June 11, 2020 at 3:20 pm ET

Personalizing the Writing Experience from NCAEM
June 15, 2020 at 3:00 pm ET

Educational Apps for Young Children from PACER
June 22, 2020 at 3:00 pm ET

Assistive Technology and Play in the Natural Environment from PACER
June 29, 2020 at 2:00 pm ET

 

Happy Global Accessibility Awareness Day

Tablet showing the definition of the word "access"

Today, May 21, 2020, we celebrate the 9th anniversary of Global Accessibility Awareness Day – GAAD. Unlike previous years, when celebrations involved many face-to-face meetings and special events around the world, this year we celebrate virtually.

Check out some of the virtual events

Learn more about GAAD

Indeed the need to work and learn from home this year has intensified the importance of access for all in a powerful new way. Hopefully, now the message will be well-heard, remembered and action taken.

 

 

Audio Description Project Conference

Audio DescriptionThe American Council of the Blind (ACB) – Audio Description Project (ADP) will sponsor a Virtual Conference on July 3-10, 2020.

Here is the announcement:

This year’s Audio Description Project Conference will be held as a virtual conference (via Zoom) daily (except for Monday, July 5) starting July 3, 2020.  The cost to attend the ADP Zoom sessions will simply be the $25 fee required to register for the overarching ACB Conference.  Your $25 registration fee includes admission to all of the Audio Description Project events.

Registration will open on May 21 at 7:00 AM eastern time for ACB members and May 28 for nonmembers. Registration closes at 11:59 PM eastern time on June 21.

For more information and to register online use this link: acbconvention.org

Interested parties may also call (612) 332-3242 and select option 5 for convention. Your phone call will be returned as quickly as possible; leave your name, telephone number and time zone.

 

Best Practices Webinar: Accessible Office Documents

From the U.S Access Board

Section 508 Best Practices: Accessible Office Documents

May 26, 2020
1:00- 2:30 pm ET

Presenter:

  • Nicshan Floyd, U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Accessibility Systems & Technology

US Access Board logoThe updated 508 Standards apply to many types of documents that federal agencies generate on a daily basis. This session will explain the different types of electronic content covered and review how to make various file formats accessible, including Word documents, PDFs, spreadsheets and PowerPoint files. The presenter will review best practices and resources developed by the Accessible Electronic Documents Community of Practice that are helpful to all types of federal employees who are responsible for creating, posting, and distributing electronic content.

For more details or to register, use this link to accessibilityonline.org.

Questions can be submitted in advance of the session or can be posed during the live webinar.

The Section 508 Best Practices Webinar Series provides helpful information and best practices for federal agencies in meeting their obligations under Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act which ensures access to information and communication technology in the federal sector. This webinar series is made available by the Accessibility Community of Practice of the CIO Council in partnership with the U.S. Access Board.

Note: Registration closes 24 hours before the start of the session. Instructions for accessing the webinar on the day of the session will be sent via email to registered individuals in advance of the session. Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) and Video Sign Language Interpreters are available for each session and will be broadcast via the webinar platform. A telephone option (not toll-free) for receiving audio is also available.

 

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

Q&A about captioning from NDC

Closed Caption feed on TV screenThe National Deaf Center on Post Secondary Outcomes (NDC) has recently been publishing a number of valuable resources regarding accessibility accommodations for people with deafness or hearing impairments. The latest comes in the form of a Q&A (questions and answers) with section that was particularly helpful. We picked this one to share, but please view the full resource and consider signing up for their newsletter.

Read the entire NDC Q&A resource

Captions – automatic, closed captions, real-time, transcription: What do these all mean?

Automatic captions – Also referred to as speech-recognition, automated captioning, or auto-captions, are generated by a computer with Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) technology. These captions tend to lack punctuation, speaker identification, and require a human to fix mistakes.

Many platforms include this feature, such as:

  • Video streaming platforms (i.e. YouTube automated captions or Microsoft PowerPoint Translator)
  • Apps (i.e., Translate or Otter.ai)
  • Learning Management Systems (i.e., Blackboard, Canvas)
  • Live video streaming services (i.e., Zoom, Google Meet)

Captions – Also referred to as open/closed captions or subtitles. These are captions for pre-recorded video content that are time-synced and embedded into the media. Accurate and edited captions provide equivalent access. Captions also provide auditory information that ASR technology may not be able to identify.

Real-time captioning – Also referred to as live captioning or speech-to-text services.  This service is provided by a qualified speech-to-text professional.  Examples: Live captioning for news broadcasts or by a third-party vendor streamed into Blackboard for a synchronous online class.

Transcribe/Transcription – Also referred to as a transcript. This process involves converting audio into a plain text document. Transcripts are commonly used for stand-alone audio, such as podcasts or presentations without video. They are also used as the first step towards creating captions for media. Transcripts can be auto-generated using ASR or by speech-to-text professionals.

 

Tips for Hosting Accessible Meetings with Deaf Participants

Accessibility pictogramThe National Deaf Center on Postsecondary Outcomes (NDC) has hosted a valuable set of tips for hosting meetings where some of the participants may be deaf or hard of hearing. They note, “besides running a better meeting, effective communication between hearing and deaf people has other benefits for career success. Research shows it strengthens relationships, increases well-being, and fosters meaningful participation in the workplace.”

Among the tips are recommendations regarding:

  • the use of captioning for any videos shared in the meeting,
  • the importance of providing the right accommodations – including in-person American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter, remote ASL interpreter, remote speech-to-text services, large print materials, and presentations slides as handouts with presenter notes, and
  • establishing some meeting ground rules, including taking turns, and identifying yourself before making comments.

The complete list of tips (PDF) may be downloaded from this link to the NDC website

In need of further assistance? Connect with the NDC Help Team

 

Give IT Get IT provides PCs for Maine citizens

From MaineBiz Magazine

Person using laptop computer

An organization that refurbishes donated computers and provides them at low or no cost to people who need them is stepping up its efforts to help Mainers who are offline during the pandemic.

Waterville-based give IT. get IT., a nonprofit formed last year out of a merger between PCs for Maine and eWaste Alternatives, is increasing its capacity to recycle retired technology from Maine businesses, refurbish it, and then distribute it to technologically isolated Mainers.

“We were planning to launch give IT. get IT. in March, before COVID-19 forced businesses of all sizes to completely alter their operations,” co-founder Chris Martin said in a news release. “With so many Mainers now facing isolation due to shelter in place mandates, the need for give IT. get IT.’s services has never been greater or more urgent.”

PCs for Maine was formed in 2002 to provide computers and free technical support in Maine, and other parts of northern New England. The merger with eWaste Alternatives added the recycling function.

The pandemic has created more reliance on technology throughout the state, particularly for education and work, and the need  for computers in the home has increased. Of the estimated 70,000 Maine households that don’t have access to the internet or a personal computer, half have students who need to participate in online classes. “This represents a significant threat to Maine’s future workforce and economy,” the nonprofit said.

Read the complete article on MaineBiz magazine

Give IT Get IT website


Photo credit: Image licensed through Creative Commons by Pexel.com