FCC Launches Emergency Broadband Benefit Program on May 12

FCC logoThe Emergency Broadband Benefit is a Federal Communication Commission (FCC) program to help families and households struggling to afford internet service during the COVID-19 pandemic. This new benefit will connect eligible households to jobs, critical healthcare services, virtual classrooms, and more.

The FCC has announced that eligible households can apply for the program starting May 12, 2021 in three ways:

  1. Contact your preferred participating broadband provider directly to learn about their application process, or use the FCC’s online tool to find a participating company near you. Participating companies can help you apply through the National Verifier or through their company’s application process.
  2. Go to GetEmergencyBroadband.org to apply online and to find participating providers near you.
  3. Call 833-511-0311 for a mail-in application, and return it along with proof of eligibility to: Emergency Broadband Support Center, P.O. Box 7081, London, KY 40742.

Individuals who use videophones and are fluent in American Sign Language (ASL) may call the FCC’s ASL Consumer Support Line at (844) 432-2275 (videophone).

Enrollment for the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program will end when the fund runs out of money, or six months after the Department of Health and Human Services declares an end to the COVID-19 health emergency, whichever is sooner. Therefore, Mainers should also be aware of the FCC’s Lifeline Program, a permanent federal program that offers a monthly benefit of up to $9.25 towards phone or internet services for eligible subscribers (up to $34.25 for those living on Tribal/Native lands). Please use this link for more information about the Lifeline Program…


Accessibility Standards for assembly areas

From the U.S. Access Board

US Access Board logoJune 3, 2021
2:30 – 4:00 pm ET

The next webinar in the U.S. Access Board’s free monthly series will take place June 3 from 2:30 – 4:00 (ET) and will review the scoping and technical requirements for assembly areas in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) Accessibility Standards. These requirements apply to movie theatres, lecture halls, grandstands, performing arts centers, stadiums, arenas, and other assembly areas. Access Board Accessibility Specialists will discuss provisions for wheelchair spaces, companion seats, accessible routes, designated aisle seats, bleacher seating, assistive listening systems, and press boxes. Presenters will also cover frequently asked questions and common sources of confusion with assembly areas.


Please use this link for more information or to register.

All webinars include video remote interpreting (VRI) and real-time captioning. Questions can be submitted in advance of the session or can be posed during the live webinar. 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. 


Building Codes and the 2010 ADA Standards – webinar

Date: Tuesday, May 18th, 2021
Time: 2:00 – 3:30 pm ET 


Accessible buildingThe Great Lakes ADA Center in collaboration with the ADA National Network invites you to register for the upcoming ADA Audio Conference Webinar titled “Building Codes and the 2010 ADA Standards” featuring Kim Paarlberg, Senior Staff Architect, International Code Council (ICC) and Rich Sternadori, Education Coordinator, Great Plains ADA Center.

This informative session covers building codes and the 2010 ADA standards. Our speakers will discuss application of building codes and the ADA to new construction, alteration and existing facilities. Case studies will be used to demonstrate the application of building codes and ADA in different context. Following the presentation there will be time for speakers to address questions from participants.


This free webinar is provided on the Zoom Webinar Platform (closed captioning will be provided via Zoom and Stream Text link option). Certificate of Attendance, ACTCP, AIA HSW CES, ICC available.

Please use this link to register for this webinar

Registration deadline:   Monday, May 17th, 2021. Questions should be directed to webinars@adaconferences.org

May 2021 Webinars

Webinar: Accessibility Features Series – Apple

Date: May 18, 2021
Time: 1:00 – 2:00 pm

Apple logoThis webinar in part of a series focused on the built-in accessibility features included with the major technology operating systems: Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, and Google/Android. 

Accessibility features are meant to make the use of technology less challenging for those with disabilities. Common accessibility features include screen readers, text-to-speech, closed-captioning, voice control and keyboard shortcuts. Additional access features are designed to work with various assistive technologies including switch technologies.

This first webinar in the series starts off with the operating systems associated with the highly popular Apple devices, iPhones (iOS), iPads (iPadOS), Apple Watch (WatchOS), as well as their Macintosh (MacOS) devices.

Use this link to learn more about and to register for the webinar: Accessibility Features Series – Apple


The following list of May 2021 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.

The Hardware to the Software: Everything you need to know to make an iPad Switch Accessible, from AbleNet – note separate registrations
Part 1 – May 4, 2021 at 11am Eastern
Part 2 – May 11, 2021 at 11am Eastern

Low-Tech Assistive Technology at Home and Abroad from AgrAbility
May 11, 2021 at 1pm Eastern

Web Accessibility for Developers from inData
May 12,2021 at 11am Eastern (5 hours)

Dementia-friendly design: expert tips for inclusive websites from AbilityNetUK
May 18, 2021 at 4pm Eastern

Automated Accessibility Testing from AT3Center
May 19, 2021 at 1:30pm Eastern

Basic Accessibility Fundamentals Bootcamp from deque
Thursday, May 20th at 12pm Eastern (3 hrs.)

Technology and Dementia: a creative approach from AbilityNetUK
May 25, 2021 at 4pm Eastern

Manual Accessibility Testing from AT3Center
May 26, 2021 at 2:30pm Eastern

Providing Access to the Curriculum on the House that Google Built from Don Johnston
May 6, 2021 at 1pm Eastern


Independent Living OIB-TAC launches national public awareness campaign

Time To Be Bold is a national public service awareness campaign through the Independent Living Older Individuals who are Blind Technical Assistance Center (OIB-TAC) at the National Research and Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision. The OIB-TAC and this campaign are funded by the Dept. of Education Rehabilitation Services Administration, which also funds services and training for individuals with visual impairments, including vocational rehabilitation (VR) and the Independent Living Older Individuals who are Blind (OIB) programs nationally.

The Time To Be Bold campaign is designed to educate, engage and empower people who are 55+ with low vision to maintain/regain their independence by utilizing the free or low-cost services provided by the RSA-funded OIB programs.

  • Over 3 million Americans 55 and older have difficulty seeing even when wearing glasses.
  • Almost 1 in 10 individuals age 75 or older reports difficulty seeing, even when wearing glasses.
  • Each U.S. state and territory offers free or low-cost services to help individuals adjust to vision loss.
  • It is estimated that less than 5% of individuals with vision loss, who are eligible for services seek them each year.
  • It can be challenging to find services, which is one major reason we created this campaign.

Go to timetobebold.org for a list of free or low-cost services in your state that will give you the tools, technology, training, and support you need to live your bold, best life.

Accessible Play Areas – webinar

From the U.S. Access Board...

US Access Board logoMay 6, 2021
2:30 – 4:00 (ET)

The next webinar in the U.S. Access Board’s free monthly series will take place May 6 from 2:30 – 4:00 (ET) and will review requirements for play areas in the ADA and ABA Accessibility Standards, which apply to all newly designed or constructed play areas for children ages 2 and older. The requirements uphold accessible play areas at day care facilities, parks, shopping malls, fast food restaurants, and other facilities. They address accessible play components, ground-level and elevated accessible routes, play area surfaces, transfer systems, soft contained play structures, and water play components. In addition to an overview of the play area provisions, the presenters will address frequently asked questions and common sources of confusion with accessible play surfaces.

Visit accessibilityonline.org for more information or to register.

All webinars include video remote interpreting (VRI) and real-time captioning. Questions can be submitted in advance of the session or can be posed during the live webinar. 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.



UMaine faculty talk about assistive tech on national podcast

autonomous transporterUniversity of Maine researchers and faculty members, Nicholas Giudice and Richard Corey were recent guests on Assistive Technology Update, “a weekly dose of information that keeps you up to date on the latest developments in the field of technology designed to assist individuals with disabilities and special needs.” The host of the show, Josh Anderson, is with the INDATA project at Easterseals Crossroads in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Giudice and Corey are co-founders of the  Virtual Environments and Multimodal Interaction Laboratory (VEMI Lab) at the University of Maine and recently were awarded a $300,000 grant from US Department of Transportation.  VEMI plans to develop a smartphone app that will provide the navigational assistance needed for people with disabilities and seniors to enjoy ride-sharing and ride-hailing, collectively termed mobility-as-a-service. The app, known as the Autonomous Vehicle Assistant (AVA), can also be used for standard vehicles operated by human drivers and enjoyed by everyone.

On the podcast, broadcast on March 26, 2021, Giudice and Corey discuss the grant competition and how the AVA app could  allow people with disabilities and seniors to achieve greater independent in transportation. Some of the challenges of the autonomous vehicle technology are also discussed.


April 2021 Webinars

Person engaged in video conferenceThe following list of April 2021 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.

AAC Talk (Using AAC Devices to Access Environmental Controls) from SETC
April 8, 2021 at 6:30pm Eastern

Communication Options for People With ALS from the ALS Assn.
April 19, 2021 at 2pm Eastern

Accessibility for Web Content Authors from ATAP
April 28, 2021 at 2:30pm Eastern

Diversity in AAC Apps from ISAAC
April 28, 2021 at 7pm Eastern

AT Chatter: Reading & Writing Support for Low Incidence from SETC
April 7, 2021 at 6:30pm Eastern

Proactive Interventions and Supports for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders from AbleNet
April 8, 2021 at 12pm Eastern

Tools to Support Decoding, Word Identification and Spelling from SETC
April 13, 2021 at 3pm Eastern

Let’s Explore Writing Resources for All Students from SETC
April 14, 2021 at 6:30pm Eastern

Alternative Access For iPads and Computers from SETC
April 19, 2021 at 6:30pm Eastern

Google Chrome for Students : Part 3: Tools for Notetaking and Writing from PACER
April 27, 2021 at 3pm Eastern

Making Worksheets Accessible from SETC
April 28, 2021 at 6:30pm Eastern

Consideration: Resources to find AT Answers from AbleNet
April 29, 2021 at 12pm Eastern

Decision-making & Students Who Need Accessible Formats from AEM Center
April 29, 2021 at 3pm Eastern

Tech for Teens Club : Intro to Coding & Video Games from PACER
April 3, 2021 at 11am Eastern (90 min.)


Photo credit: Image licensed through Creative Commons by mohamed mahmoud hassan

Maine Partners with T-Mobile to Provide Increased Internet Access to Maine Students

From the Maine Department of Education

HelpThe Maine Department of Education has partnered with T-Mobile to expand efforts to provide internet access and devices to Maine students through their Project 10Million initiative. If they choose to participate, the program provides mobile Wi-Fi hotspot devices directly to school districts for student use.

“We are thrilled to partner with T-Mobile to continue providing opportunities that allow Maine students to stay connected to their teachers, peers, and school communities,” said Maine Commissioner of Education Pender Makin. “The partnership helps to expand our own Connect Kids Now! initiative which supports Maine schools by providing internet connectivity through the pandemic.”

The Connect Kids Now! initiative began in the spring of 2020 at the onset of the pandemic when it became abundantly clear that technology resources were critical in closing the equity of access gap for continued learning for Maine students. In line with this these efforts, T-Mobile’s Project 10Million initiative provides the opportunity for districts in Maine to participate by signing up and choosing from three tiers of service which they can pass on to students at no cost: up to 100GB per year per device for free, or low-cost options for 100GB per month or unlimited data. Part of the commitment of the partnership will be to provide additional devices from T-Mobile over the next five years. T-Mobile will distribute these devices directly to districts and all student households with at least one student participating in the National School Lunch Program are eligible for the program. The Maine DOE will look to include districts based on economic factors such as Title 1 schools, National School Lunch Program eligibility rates, and distressed county designations. Districts can complete an online interest form to participate in the program.

“Partnering with the Maine DOE helps us identify districts and students that will benefit most from Project 10Million and get them the devices and connectivity required to fully participate in school,” said Mike Katz, executive vice president of T-Mobile for Business. “We are grateful to be a part of the solution that Commissioner Makin and her team have put in place to make sure ALL students can access the resources they need to succeed.”


Making gaming accessible to visually impaired gamers

From Cool Blind Tech...

What is the software called and how does it work?

This new software is called Mars Vision (currently in beta) and it offers a technological solution to let all players who have low-vision or are visually impaired enjoy computer games. The application monitors gameplay in real-time and assists the player in navigating the game’s environment and menus. Using a neural network, Mars Vision doesn’t change the gameplay present in a game; rather, it translates gameplay so that the player has the information they need to immerse themselves fully in the world. The technology has been developed in partnership with visually impaired end users to ensure that pain points that are present in similar software are not experienced with Mars Vision.”

When is Mars Vision available?

Mars Vision is currently in closed beta and players who are interested in taking part can sign up here…

Read the whole blog entry – Super.com announces partnership to make gaming accessible to visually impaired gamers