Access Board to Assess Feasibility of Wheelchair Restraint Systems on Aircraft

From the US Access Board:

The inability to use one’s wheelchair on airplanes makes air travel very difficult, if not impossible, for many people with disabilities. It requires multiple transfers between boarding chairs and aircraft seats, posing injury risks. Airline seats are a poor alternative to personal wheelchairs which are typically customized for the user’s safety, comfort, and specific medical needs. Further, passengers’ wheelchairs are stowed in the cargo hold and often damaged, mishandled, or lost as a result.

To address these challenges, the Access Board is undertaking a study to assess the feasibility of equipping aircraft with restraint systems so that passengers can remain in their wheelchairs on flights. Congress directed the Board to study this question in its most recent reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration. The Board has enlisted the Transportation Research Board (TRB), which is part of the congressionally chartered National Academy of Sciences, to conduct this assessment and to issue a report. The Board and TRB will consult the Department of Transportation, aircraft manufacturers, air carriers, and disability advocates in the course of the study, as directed by the act.

“The Board is eager to examine this issue which has the potential to make flying safer and more comfortable for thousands of people who use wheelchairs,” stated Board Executive Director David Capozzi. “We look forward to building upon and advancing the work of other organizations who have provided critical leadership, advocacy, and research on this subject, notably All Wheels Up, Flying Disabled, and Paralyzed Veterans of America.”

TRB will organize an expert panel to assess and evaluate the feasibility of equipping passenger aircraft with in-cabin wheelchair restraint systems. This panel will include experts in aircraft manufacturing, aeronautics, aviation safety, accessibility, disability policy, airline operations, and other disciplines. It will examine the design, engineering, and safety requirements for equipping aircraft with locking or tiedown mechanisms for non-motorized and motorized wheelchairs used as seats. If such restraint systems are found to be feasible, the panel will then assess how they can be used to accommodate passengers using wheelchairs through all phases of flight, from boarding to deplaning. A peer-reviewed report on the panel’s findings will be published at the conclusion of the project and submitted to Congress. The report is expected by October 2021.

For further information on this study, contact Mario Damiani of the Access Board at (202) 272-0050 (voice), (202) 272-0066 (TTY), or damiani@access-board.gov.

Public Weighs in on Proposed Voluntary Guidelines for Aircraft Wheelchairs

In August, the Access Board released advisory guidelines for wheelchairs used on airplanes and made them available for public comment. These voluntary guidelines specify dimensions, features, and capabilities for wheelchairs used during flights to access aircraft lavatories. The guidelines address maneuverability, stowage, stability, back support, restraints, assist handles, and other details. The published notice also posed a number of technical questions to the public.

By the close of the 60-day comment period, the Board received over 40 comments from various interests and stakeholders, including people with disabilities, advocacy groups, aircraft manufacturers, trade associations, manufacturers of onboard wheelchairs, researchers, and others. In addition, the Board held a public hearing on the guidelines in September that provided an additional forum for submitting comment. The docket, which includes all submitted comments and hearing testimony, is available on regulations.gov.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) plans to supplement its regulations under the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) to require onboard wheelchairs with enhanced functionality on certain single-aisle aircraft as part of a negotiated rulemaking (PDF) to improve access for air travelers with disabilities. The Board is developing these non-binding guidelines as technical assistance to air carriers and manufacturers of onboard wheelchairs by providing an example of how to meet DOT’s planned performance standards.

For further information on the Board’s development of these guidelines, contact Wendy Marshall at (202) 272-0043 (voice) or marshall@access-board.gov, or Mario Damiani (202) 272-0050 (voice) or damiani@access-board.gov.

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.

Webinars – October 2019

The following is a list of October webinars on the topic of assistive technology and accessibility starting with Maine CITE’s next webinar on October 2nd. The remaining list is generated by the Accessible Technology Consortia funded by the Center for Accessible Technology.

Webinar: Smart Homes as Assistive Technology 101

Date: October 2, 2019
Time: 1:00 pm ET

Amazon Echo and Google Home "Smart Speakers"“Smart Speakers” (Amazon Echo, Google Home, etc.) are becoming more and more prevalent in homes, however most people don’t realize the true potential of these devices, especially when combined with connected environmental control devices throughout the home. Marketing for many of these devices fail to show how powerful they can be in the hands of people with disabilities. Join Ben Jacobs as he shows how to unlock the full potential of these solutions, shares strategies for starting a smart home, which devices to consider, and some uses for environmental controls you might not normally consider.

Presenter: Ben Jacobs

Use this link for more information and to register for this free webinars Smart Homes as Assistive Technology 101…

Other Webinars in October 2019

How to Ensure an Inclusive Workplace: A Conversation with a Digital Accessibility Expert from JAN on Tuesday, October 8th at 2:00 pm Eastern.

Tips and tools for supporting disabled people in training and work from AbilityNet (in the UK)
October 17th at 8:00 am Eastern

Apple’s New Accessibility Features from PACER (LiveStream event)
Wednesday, October 30th at 2:00 pm Eastern

Create a Technology Toolbox for Struggling Students with ADHD and LD from ADDitude
Wednesday, October 2nd, at 1:00 pm Eastern

Working with Students Using Switches: Collaboration is Key from AbleNet
Part I: October 9th at 3:00 pm Eastern
Part II: October 16th at 3:00 pm Eastern

How Getting a Speech Device Changed My Life from ISSAC
Wednesday, October 16th at 7:00 pm Eastern

 

State Plan on Aging offers “Listening Sessions”

Woman preparing a mealThe Maine Department of Health and Human Service – Office of Aging and Disability Services (OADS) wants to hear from older adults, adults with a physical disability, caregivers, pre-retirees, veterans and service providers to learn about their experiences!

As OADS begins to design a strategic plan to address our communities’ needs they are hosting eight sessions around the state (at the local Area Agency on Aging centers) to gather input on the priorities and strategies that are important to Maine citizens.

The Maine State Plan on Aging Listening Sessions are as follows:

Area Agency on Aging Center Date Time Location
Aroostook Agency on Aging 10/02/2019 2:00 – 4:00 PM Ashland Town Office
11 Bridgham St, Ashland
Spectrum Generations 10/08/2019 2:00 – 4:00 PM VFW Hall
50 Mill Street, Waldoboro
Eastern Area on Aging 10/15/2019 2:00 – 4:00 PM Eastern Area Agency on Aging
240 State St, Brewer
Spectrum Generations 10/16/2019 2:00 – 4:00 PM Spectrum Generations Muskie Center
38 Gold St, Waterville
Eastern Area on Aging 10/16/2019 2:00 – 4:00 PM University of Machias, Performing Arts Center
116 O’Brien Avenue Machias
Seniors PLus 10/22/2019 1:00 – 3:00 PM SeniorsPlus Offices
10 Falcon Rd, Lewiston
Seniors PLus 10/23/2019 1:00 – 3:00 PM Comfort Inn & Suites
1026 US-2, Wilton
Southern Maine Agency on Aging 10/24/2019 2:00 – 4:00 PM USM, Glickman Library, 7th Floor
314 Forest Ave, Portland

Questions

Please contact:

James Moorhead
Maine Department of Health and Human Services
Office of Aging and Disability Services

Phone: 207-287-9200
james.moorhead@maine.gov

Audio Description in Education – Student Contest

Benefits of Audio Description in Education Contest – “BADIE”

Young People Who Are Blind Write Reviews of Film and Video

Audio DescriptionSeptember 9, 2019 – The American Council of the Blind’s Audio Description Project (ACB-ADP) and the Described and Captioned Media Program (DCMP) are continuing their co-sponsorship of an exciting opportunity for blind and visually impaired young people, in four categories from ages 7 to 21: the Benefits of Audio Description in Education (BADIE) contest.

Kids love movies!

Movies, videos, and other forms of multimedia are, these days, integral to public, private, and special education curriculum. If you’re a young person who can’t see or can’t see well, audio description provides access to all the visual images of the movies that sighted young people enjoy.

Students choose an audio-described film or video from the more than thousands of titles available through DCMP – visit www.dcmp.org. Or a young person who is blind can borrow an audio-described video or film from a library, and dozens of audio-described films videos are available for purchase through the ACB-ADP’s website.

How to enter the contest…

Reviews can be submitted in writing, in braille or via an audio recording.

Use this link to Register for the contest…

Entries can also be submitted via e-mail or postal mail (submissions from outside the United States are fine) to:

ACB-DCMP Benefits of Audio Description In Education
1703 N. Beauregard St., Suite 420
Alexandria, VA 22311 USA

E-mail: jsnyder@acb.org
Phone: (202) 467-5083

DEADLINE FOR ENTRIES: Friday, December 6, 2019

Contest winners in each category will be chosen by January of 2020, and the grand prize winner will receive an iPad Mini! Each first-place winner will receive a $100 iTunes gift card. Second-place winners will receive a $50 iTunes gift card, and third-place winners will receive a $25 iTunes gift card. Each supporting teacher who has a first-place winning student will be awarded a $100 Amazon gift card.

 

US Access Board Webinar – Accessible Rest Rooms

From the US Access Board:

U.S. Access Board Webinars: Accessible Toilet Rooms (Oct. 3) and Bathing Facilities (Oct. 24)

US Access Board logoMost technical questions that come up in using the ADA and ABA Accessibility Standards concern toilet and bathrooms. In October, the U.S. Access Board will conduct two webinars on accessible toilet and bathing facilities.

The first webinar will take place October 3 from 2:30 – 4:00 (ET) and will clarify common sources of confusion and frequently asked questions about accessible toilet rooms. Presenters will review requirements for toilets and toilet compartments, urinals, lavatories and mirrors, doors, turning space, dispensers, and amenities such as baby-changing tables. They will explain how these provisions apply and interrelate in designing single-user and multi-user toilet rooms in compliance with the standards.

It will be followed by a webinar on October 24 from 2:30 – 4:00 (ET) that will explain and clarify requirements for bathing facilities in the ADA and ABA Accessibility Standards. This session will address common questions and sources of confusion concerning transfer showers, roll-in-showers, and bathtubs. Presenters will review components of accessible bathing fixtures, including grab bars, shower and tub seats, shower spray units and controls, and clearances. They will show how these requirements and other provisions in the standards apply and come together in the design of accessible bathing facilities.

For more information or to register for both or either session, visit accessibilityonline.org

Questions can be submitted in advance of the sessions (total limited to 25 each) or can be posed during the live webinars. 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.

Humanware: Braillant BI 40 refreshable braille display

Mainebiz mag discusses Accessibility

This week’s Mainebiz, a statewide magazine for Maine’s business community, published an article, How to make your website accessible to everyone written by two attorneys from law firm Brann & Isaacson in Lewiston.

The article minimally notes the merits of web accessibility and perhaps over-emphasizes the legal perils, focusing on the fact that  “…in recent years, thousands of ADA lawsuits have been filed alleging website inaccessibility — more than 2,000 such federal suits were filed last year.”

The article is short on providing any real guidance to Maine business owners, so we took the opportunity to add a comment to the article noting the significant free resources Maine CITE makes available on the topics of Accessible Web Design and Accessible Digital Documents.

The article briefly mentions how “…it (accessibility) should increase sales…” when in fact, accessible websites provides opportunities for more customers, perhaps millions of customers worldwide, to readily access the products and services of Maine businesses.

Free resources for Web Accessibility may be found here on the Maine CITE website…

Free resources for Accessible Digital Documents may be found here on the Maine CITE website…

Webinars – September 2019

The following is a list of September webinars on the topic of assistive technology and accessibility starting with Maine CITE’s next webinar on September 18th. The remaining list is generated by the Accessible Technology Consortia funded by the Center for Accessible Technology.

Webinar: Augmentative and Alternative Communication in School-Aged Populations

Date: September 18, 2019
Time: 3:00 PM ET

Augmentative Communication deviceThis webinar explains the importance of providing language learning and exploration opportunities for children and young adults who use augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). A review of child language development milestones and fundamental components of language learning in early childhood is provided.

Presenters: Jane Puhlman and Jennifer M. Seale

Use this link for more information and to register for the webinar:Augmentative and Alternative Communication in School-Aged Populations…

Other webinars in September (and October)

Evaluating Websites for Accessibility from U.S. Access Board & Great Lakes ADA
September 5, 2019 at 2:30 pm Eastern (90 min.).

Accessibility and arthritis: your questions answered from AbilityNet (UK)
September 12, 2019 at 10:00 am Eastern.

Evaluating and Managing Accessibility in 3rd Party Web Content from the Southeast ADA Center, Great Lakes ADA Center, and Pacific ADA Center
September 19, 2019 at 2:00 pm Eastern (90 min.).

AAC and Disasters: Are You Ready? from USSAAC
September 19, 2019 at 7:00 pm Eastern.

Evaluating Websites for Accessibility under the Section 508 Standards from the U.S. Access Board and the Great Lakes ADA Center
September 24, 2019 at 1:00 pm Eastern (90 min.).

Create a Technology Toolbox for Struggling Students with ADHD and LD from ADDitude
Wednesday, October 2nd, at 1:00 pm Eastern.

 

Groups Call on the FCC to Improve Quality of Live Captions

Deaf and Hard of Hearing Consumer Groups and Researchers Call on the FCC to Improve the Quality of Live Captions

Closed Captioning logoOn July 31, ten national organizations, including the National Association of the Deaf (NAD), the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), and the Association of Late-Deafened Adults (ALDA), petitioned the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to address long-standing quality problems with captioning for live television programming. The petition was supported by the American Association of the DeafBlind (AADB).

As the petition explains, consumers routinely report serious problems with the accuracy, timing, completeness, and placement of captions on live programming, including local news, sports, and weather. The petition asks the FCC to build on its existing standards for the quality of captions by setting metrics for acceptable quality of live captions. The petition also urges the FCC to provide guidance for new captioning systems that use automatic speech recognition, which have the potential to provide captions with improved timing and lower cost but also routinely cause significant accuracy problems. Consumer groups and researchers also will be submitting additional feedback to the FCC, including an analysis of hundreds of consumer responses gathered by HLAA in a recent survey.

The FCC has asked for comments from the public about the petition. If you’ve had experiences with captions for live TV programming that you’re willing to share with the FCC, you can do so online.

Submit your comments to the FCC by September 13

Use this link to read the petition

Use this link to enter your comments online and remember to enter 05-231 in the “Proceeding(s)” field to make sure that your comment is added to the record.

 

Public Comment Wanted: Guidelines for Onboard Wheelchairs

U.S. Access Board Releases Voluntary Guidelines for Onboard Wheelchairs for Public Comment

US Access Board logoThe U.S. Access Board has released for public comment, advisory guidelines for wheelchairs used on commercial passenger aircraft during flight. These onboard wheelchairs are provided by air carriers as a means of facilitating the transfer of passengers with disabilities to aircraft lavatories since personal wheelchairs cannot be used in the cabin. The Department of Transportation (DOT) has expressed its intention to supplement its regulations under the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) to include performance standards for onboard wheelchairs on covered aircraft. The Board is developing these non-binding guidelines as technical assistance to air carriers and manufacturers of onboard wheelchairs by providing an example of how to meet DOT’s planned performance standards.

As indicated in a notice published in the Federal Register, the guidelines specify dimensions, features, and capabilities for onboard wheelchairs that will allow passengers with disabilities to be more safely and comfortably transported aboard airplanes in flight. In addition, the guidelines include criteria to allow the onboard wheelchair to fully enter the lavatory in a backward orientation and be positioned over a closed toilet, and for the lavatory door to be closed. This feature would afford those passengers who cannot independently transfer to the toilet to have privacy in performing non-toileting tasks related to personal hygiene or medical needs. The Board has posed a number of questions to the public about specific provisions in the guidelines but welcomes input on all portions of the document.

As part of a negotiated rulemaking to improve access for air travelers with disabilities, DOT has put forth plans to supplement its ACAA regulations and require onboard wheelchairs with enhanced functionality on aircraft with more than 125 passenger seats.

Related information, including instructions for submitting comments, is posted at www.regulations.gov (Docket ATBCB-2019-0002).

Comments are due October 21, 2019. In addition, on September 12, 2019, the Board will hold a public hearing that will provide an opportunity to submit comments either in person or by phone. Further details will be posted on the Board’s website.

Those who wish to provide testimony at the hearing should contact Rose Marie Bunales at (202) 272-0006 (voice) or bunales@access-board.gov by September 5, 2019.

For further details on the guidelines or the public hearing, contact Wendy Marshall at (202) 272-0043 (voice) or marshall@access-board.gov, or Mario Damiani at (202) 272-0050 (voice) or damiani@access-board.gov.

Public Hearing on Advisory Guidelines for Aircraft Onboard Wheelchairs  
September 12, 2019, 9:30 – 4:00 (ET)
Remote attendance options will be posted soon
Access Board Conference Center
1331 F Street, NW, Suite 800
Washington, D.C.

Note: For the comfort of all participants and to promote a fragrance-free environment, attendees are requested not to use perfume, cologne, or other fragrances.