News

The Civil Rights Complaint Portal: An Accessibility Journey

From the U.S. Access Board

Section 508 Best Practices Webinar
The Civil Rights Complaint Portal: An Accessibility Journey

September 28, 2021
1:00 to 2:30 PM ET

US Access Board logoA new design to the Civil Rights Reporting Portal has integrated accessibility to improve the usability for the public to report concerns and discrimination. The next webinar in the Section 508 Best Practices Webinar Series will take place September 28 from 1:00 to 2:30 (ET) and will feature members from the Department of Justice (DOJ) and 18-F at the General Services Administration (GSA) who will present on their collaborative efforts to improve the functionality of the external user interface and the data collected as well as increase analysis and response efficiency.

This project began with DOJ staff asking how it could overhaul the Civil Rights Reporting Portal and integrate accessibility as foundational to the new design to improve the usability and accessibility of the existing online portal. The project team consolidated a complex process involving dozens of unique reporting pathways into a single stream lined accessible user experience. The enhanced site models accessibility for persons with disabilities, and the team continues to ensure that new features are vetted for accessibility.

Registration

Use this link for more details or to register – www.accessibilityonline.org.

Questions can be submitted in advance of the session or can be posed during the live webinar. Webinar attendees can receive a participation certificate for attending the 90-minute session.

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 the session and will be broadcast via the webinar platform. A telephone option (not toll-free) for receiving audio is also available.

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. All webinars are archived and available on the archives webpage.

 

Maine Celebrating National ABLE to Save Month By Announcing Program

From the Office of the State Treasurer

ABLE Act -National Resource Center logoAugusta, ME – August 17, 2021: August marks the nationally celebrated ABLE to Save Month, based on the federal Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (ABLE Act). The Act created a new option for qualified individuals living with disabilities and their families to save for the future, while protecting eligibility for public benefits. Although ABLE accounts come from the federal ABLE (Achieving a Better Life Experience) Act, they are established and managed on a state level. ABLE Savings Plan programs across the country will highlight the value and importance these plans bring to those living with disabilities this month.

In honor of the month, Maine Treasurer, Henry Beck, announced that Maine’s program, which is expected to launch by year end, will be the first of its kind in the country. ABLE ME is a new program of the State of Maine Office of the State Treasurer, and Bangor Savings Bank has been named the administrator of the program.

Beck said, “Nationally, ABLE accounts have gained traction and the structure of those accounts closely mirrors a 529 college savings account, with invested assets. Through our collaboration with Bangor Savings Bank and community advocates, we concluded that a transactional, FDIC-insured, checking account would best serve the needs of both young and adult Mainers with disabilities, and their families.”

“Creating greater financial empowerment in our communities is central to our You Matter More Promise,” said Bob Montgomery-Rice, President and CEO of Bangor Savings Bank. “We’re honored to step forward in partnership with the State Treasurer’s Office to create this innovative and beneficial program for Maine’s people with disabilities. Collaboration between the public and private sector is an integral part of Maine’s economy, and we are proud to contribute to greater economic mobility for those who qualify for this program.”

Bangor Savings Bank is currently developing the Maine ABLE Benefit Checking SM account. Until account development is complete and available, please direct all questions to The Office of the Maine State Treasurer.

About ABLE

ABLE plans 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 for the added expenses that come with having a disability without losing access to federal means-tested benefits.

ABLE accounts foster person-centered independence, build self-reliance, encourage employment, and improve quality of life. Without an ABLE account, individuals currently receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits are limited to savings in the amount of $2,000. This creates a real barrier to financial independence and limits a person’s economic mobility.

For more information about ABLE Savings Plans across the country, visit the National Association of State Treasurers.

The Office of the Maine State Treasurer will update its website as plans for ABLE ME rollout get closer. www.maine.gov/treasurer

About the Treasurer’s Office

The Office of the Treasurer of State is established in Article V, Part Third of the Constitution of the State of Maine. The core duties of the Treasurer’s Office are debt management, cash management, trust fund administration and unclaimed property administration. Other major tasks assigned to the Treasurer are directorships on many of Maine’s quasi-governmental debt issuing agencies and distributions under the Municipal Revenue Sharing Program.

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 Member FDIC.

 

DCMP Helps Bring Audio Described Content to YouTube

From the Described and Captioned Media Program (DCMP)

Audio DescriptionDCMP is involved with a new YouTube pilot program designed to give participating content creators the ability to add audio description to their videos through a secondary audio track. We’ve been partnering with science communicator Emily Graslie to help bring Art Lab to YouTube as the very first educational series with native audio description! DCMP was a pioneer in bringing audio description to streaming media, and we’re thrilled to be working with Emily and YouTube in expanding accessibility to people with disabilities on a global scale.

You may know Emily Graslie as the host of The Field Museum’s Brain Scoop series, which is available with audio description at DCMP, or from her recent broadcast television debut on PBS in Prehistoric Road Trip. Her new series, Art Lab, celebrates art and science, how they come together, and how the skills used by artists help teach scientific concepts to a general audience. Art Lab will also be available to families and educators at dcmp.org.

Not only does Art Lab have audio description, but DCMP serves as technical advisor and accessibility provider to help make the series accessible from concept to completion.

We hope you take the time to be involved in this project yourself by viewing Art Lab with the audio description turned on! To activate the description, look for the Settings icon (a gear shape) at the bottom of the YouTube player, click “Audio Track,” and then choose “English Descriptive” to turn on audio description. Keep in mind that only a small number of content creators currently have access to this feature—but you can always find thousands of videos with audio description at DCMP!

ArtLab on YouTube

 

Wheelchair securement on airlines – Briefing

From the U.S Access Board

U.S. Access Board to Host Public Briefing on Study on the Feasibility of Wheelchair Securement Systems in Passenger Aircraft

WASHINGTON, August 11, 2021 – The inability to use one’s wheelchair on airplanes makes air travel very difficult, if not impossible, for many people with disabilities. Among other challenges, it requires multiple transfers between boarding chairs and aircraft seats, posing injury risks. To address these challenges, the U.S. Access Board commissioned a study to assess the feasibility of equipping aircraft with securement systems so that passengers can remain in their wheelchairs on flights. The Transportation Research Board (TRB), of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, will release its final report mid-September.

The U.S. Access Board will host a public briefing on the final report on September 22 from 1:00 – 3:00 pm (ET).

The briefing will feature a presentation by the TRB Study Committee Members, including Committee Chair Dr. Alan M. Jette, on the two-year research study that focused on the design, engineering, and safety requirements for equipping aircraft with securement wheelchairs. The event is free, but registration is required. Members of the public will be able to pose questions during the event.

For further information on registration, visit the Access Board’s website or contact Rose Marie Bunales at events@access-board.gov. Note that the briefing will include video remote interpreting (VRI) and real-time captioning.

Visit TRB’s website for further information on the project. 

Travis Roy Foundation to wind down operation

As reported by MaineBiz

Photos of Travis RoyThe Travis Roy Foundation, a national nonprofit created by the Augusta native and North Yarmouth Academy hockey star who died last fall, will permanently wind down its work early next year.

The foundation will end its fundraising sometime after April 2022 in accordance with Roy’s wishes, according to a news release Friday.

He had requested that the foundation cease operation following his death, which occurred Oct. 29, 2020, after complications from surgery. Roy was 45.

In 1996, Roy launched the foundation, which grew to become the largest spinal cord injury charity program of its kind in the country, the release said. The foundation has raised over $20 million for research and for grants to thousands of individuals and their families dealing with paralysis after a spinal cord injury, and awarded more than $5.6 million in grants toward finding a cure.

Travis Roy Foundation trustees are currently in discussions with other nonprofits to establish programs that will continue Roy’s mission for years to come, according to the release.

Read the complete MaineBiz article

Read the press release from the Travis Roy Foundation

 

U.S. Access Board Launches New Site for the ICT Testing Accessibility Baseline

From the U.S. Access Board

US Access Board logoWASHINGTON – August 4, 2021 – Testing information and communication technology (ICT), including websites, for accessibility is essential to ensure conformance with the Section 508 Standards that apply to ICT in the federal sector. However, there are two ways to test webpages for conformance: manual review and fully automated tools. Often a mix of manual and automated testing is needed to fully evaluate most websites.  The results, however, may vary according to the test methods used. It is important that test procedures align to an established framework or “baseline” to ensure that the results accurately evaluate conformance with the standards.

In partnership with the General Services Administration (GSA) and the ICT Baseline Working Group in coordination with the CIO Council Accessibility Community of Practice (CIOC ACOP), the U.S. Access Board has released a baseline for testing web content. The ICT Testing Baseline for Web Accessibility sets minimum testing criteria and evaluation guidance to determine if web content meets the 508 Standards that incorporate by reference the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level AA. Issued by the W3C’s Web Accessibility Initiative, WCAG 2.0 is a globally recognized, technology-neutral standard for web content.

The ICT Testing Baseline describes how to evaluate conformance and is organized by categories to help users easily identify applicable requirements. The Baseline itself is not a test process and does not include testing tools, but it can be used to create an accessibility test process. It can also be used to assess how well an existing test process evaluates conformance with the Section 508 requirements.

For more information:

Read the entire news release

ICT Testing Baseline for Web Accessibility

Accessible Autonomous Vehicles (AVS) webinar

The Great Lakes ADA Center in collaboration with the ADA National Network invites you to register for the upcoming ADA Audio Conference Webinar entitled:

Accessible Autonomous Vehicles (AVS)

autonomous transporterFeaturing Randall Duchesneau, Accessibility Specialist, U.S. Access Board.

Date: Tuesday, August 17th, 2021
Time: 2:00 – 3:30 pm ET 

The U.S. Access Board, in conjunction with other federal agencies earlier this year, completed a four-part series on the inclusive design of autonomous vehicles (AVs) for persons with disabilities. Join us as representatives from the Access Board provide an overview and summary of these sessions. In addition, this session will look at the next steps in ensuring AVs are accessible to and useable by persons with disabilities including persons with mobility, sensory and cognitive disabilities. Participants will have an opportunity to ask questions following the speaker’s presentation.

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

Cost: No Charge

Registration Required:  Use this link to register for this session…

If you do not have an account with our system you will be required to establish one before registering.

Registration deadline: Monday, August 16th, 2021

CEUs: Certificate of Attendance, ACTCP

Questions: should be directed to webinars@adaconferences.org

 

U.S. Access Board Releases Report on Autonomous Vehicles

US Access Board logoThe U.S. Access Board has released a summary report on its four-part series of virtual meetings on making autonomous vehicles (AVs) accessible to passengers with disabilities. The sessions featured presentations by invited speakers who shared information and research results on design considerations and solutions for making AVs accessible to passengers with mobility, sensory, or cognitive disabilities. They also provided an opportunity for members of the public to pose questions and to share information and ideas during the session or through an online discussion platform.

Use this link to read more about the summary report

A Virtual Conference for Veterans in Agriculture

AgrAbility logoFrom the National AgrAbility Project

Veterans Harvest: A Virtual Conference for Veterans in Agriculture

Five consecutive Tuesdays beginning July 27, 2021
1:00 – 2:30 p.m. ET

The National AgrAbility Project is pleased to present Veterans Harvest: A Virtual Conference for Veterans in Agriculture.

Registration

Use this link for the registration form.

All sessions are free. Those already registered for the 2021 AgrAbility National Training Workshop Virtual Sessions are automatically registered for the veterans’ conference. Register by Thursday, July 22. Instructions for accessing the session will be sent to registrants by Monday, July 26.

The current conference agenda includes the following sessions:

  • July 27: “Conference Introduction” by Cindy Chastain, National AgrAbility Project, and Jeanette Lombardo, Farmer Veteran Coalition, plus “One Veteran’s Journey from PTSD to Farmer” by Sarah Creech, Blue Yonder Organic Farm and Indiana Farmer Veteran Coalition
  • August 3: “Celebrating Veteran Total Farmer Health” by Linda Emanuel and Shay Foulk, AgriSafe Network
  • August 10: “Programming for Veterans in Agriculture: How Maine Does It” by Anne Devin, veteran outreach specialist with Maine AgrAbility
  • August 17: “Update on USDA’s support for Veterans” by Bill Ashton, USDA Military Veterans Agricultural Liaison
  • August 24: “Panel Presentation on State/Regional Programs for Farmer Veterans” moderated by Cindy Chastain, National AgrAbility Project

“Agriculture has become an important source of employment and healing for many veterans,” says Cindy Chastain, National AgrAbility’s veteran outreach coordinator. “A large percentage of veterans come from rural areas, even though not all of them grew up on farms. After leaving the military, they discover that working in agriculture fulfills them in ways that other occupations can’t.”

Groups involved with the conference include Farmer Veteran Coalition (FVC) and Indiana AgVets. FVC is a national organization with chapters in Indiana and 23 other states that helps veterans develop viable employment and meaningful careers through the collaboration of the farming and military communities. Indiana AgVets is a USDA-sponsored agricultural career training program, led by Hoosier Uplands Economic Development Corporation in cooperation with Purdue’s Indiana AgrAbility Project, which provides internships and other support for U.S. military veterans in Indiana or surrounding states.

Contact AgrAbility at 800-825-4264 or email agrability@agrability.org if you have questions.

The National AgrAbility Project is supported by USDA/NIFA Special Project 2016-41590-25880.

 

Assistive Technology in the Workplace – webinar from HKNC

Helen Keller National Center - logoThe Helen Keller National Center for Deaf Blind Youths and Adults (HKNC) is pleased to announce the release of their latest courses and more.

These are asynchronous courses (take them when you want to) and are free of charge until further notice. Please contact Brenda.Baroncelli@hknc.org to get the coupon code.

Assistive Technology in the Workplace

This course provides an overview of the types of adaptive technology available for individuals who are DeafBlind. Focus is placed specifically on access to computers and mobile devices. This course was designed as a resource for employers looking to ensure full access for their DeafBlind employees. However, this information can be beneficial to individuals who are DeafBlind themselves as well as providers working with or supporting people with combined vision and hearing loss. The DeafBlind population is quite diverse and therefore the types of technology or accommodations needed vary greatly from person to person.  This course does not provide in-depth training on how to use a specific device or software but rather provides an overview of what is available and the features and limitations of each. Resources on where to obtain and learn more about this technology are provided. The course is divided into two modules. The first module focuses on access via braille and speech output and the second module addresses screen magnification and enhancement software which allows an individual with some residual vision to access their computer screen or mobile device. The presenters in this training, Scott Davert, and Bryan Ward are both leading professionals in the field of Adaptive Technology and are DeafBlind themselves. They share personal and professional perspectives and a wealth of experience.

ACVREP CE Hours: 1.0

Technology Solutions for Older Adults with Combined Hearing and Vision Loss

Technology Solutions for Older Adults with Combined Hearing and Vision Loss is a first-of-its-kind resource. This new course is designed for people who directly work with, or otherwise provide support to, older adults who have combined hearing and vision loss and provides a foundation to better understand adaptive technologies that improve participants’ ability to communicate with others and live independently.  Authored by experts from various departments throughout HKNC and with input from the DeafBlind community, this 3-part course offers practical guidance to help improve the overall quality of life and self-sufficiency among older adults with combined hearing and vision loss. HKNC would like to gratefully acknowledge the Consumer Technology Association Foundation for the generous grant to develop this critical resource.

ACVREP CE Hours: 3.0