November 2020 Webinars

Maine CITE is offering the following webinar in November 2020:

Webinar: Automating Independence: Make your Smart Home Smarter!

Date: November 19, 2020
Time: 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm ET

Smart door locksIn this follow-up to last year’s webinar Smart Homes as Assistive Technology 101, Ben Jacobs returns with more information about the use of Smart Home technology as a way of improving the lives of people with disabilities.

Smart Home technology has made living independently easier for many people over the past few years. Being able to control your environment through smart speakers and smart phones has uncovered a new world of independence for so many people. However, through the use of sensors, button, schedules, and other smart home integrations we can make it even easier, almost to the point that your environment anticipates your needs as opposed to having to ask it to adjust all of the time. Join Ben Jacobs , Founder and CEO of RebelTech Consulting, as he shares information about how to set up various automations for existing smart home technologies to unlock the true power of the smart home.

Presenter: Ben Jacobs

Use this link for more information and to register for “Webinar: Automating Independence: Make your Smart Home Smarter!…”


The following list of November 2020 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.

Technology to Provide Services to People Living with Dementia and Their Caregivers during COVID-19 from NACRC
November 2, 2020 at 2:00 pm Eastern

Advancing Technology Keeps Pace with Changing Seating and Mobility Needs from ALSA (ALS Assn.)
November 16, 2020 at 12:00 pm Eastern

Maintaining Services and Supports for People Living with Dementia and their Caregivers during COVID-19 from NACRC
Thursday, November 19, 2020 at 2:00 pm Eastern

Personal Narrative Writing with Low and High Tech AAC from SETC
November 2, 2020 at 6:15pm Eastern

Administrators as Allies in Improving AT Services-Part 1 from AbleNet
November 3, 2020 at 1:00 pm Eastern

Testing Accommodations in the Age of eLearning from DJI
November 5, 2020 at 1:00 pm Eastern

Reading for All, Part 3: Creating Accessible Content with EPUB from NCAEM
November 10, 2020 at 2:00 pm Eastern

Administrators as Allies in Improving AT Services-Part 2 from AbleNet
November 17, 2020 at 1:00 pm Eastern

Switch Access to Literacy for Emergent Readers from SETC
November 17, 2020 at 3:00 pm Eastern

Bookshare from SETC
November 18, 2020 at 6:15 pm Eastern

AAC & AT Chatter: Shared reading and AAC from SETC
November 24, 2020 at 3:00 pm Eastern

 

“Captioning Video” resources revised and expanded

Closed Captioning logoUpdated: 10/16/2020

Captioning video is a very hot topic so we are regularly updating this resource. Please check out all the new stuff and let us know if you have any other resources to add!

 

For many years, Maine CITE had provided a resource about captioning video content. The information was very popular and bookmarked by many. As the accessibility guidelines have expanded in recent times, we have expanded the “captioning video” resource as well and have updated information about resources where you can find software and services to help you make your content accessible.

Audio DescriptionWhere we initially discussed only the need to caption video, we have expanded the Captioning Video page to also include information about “description,” an accessibility requirement that makes video content accessible to people with blindness or low vision. We have also added information about how to create accessible audio-only content (e.g., “podcasts”).

Visit the newly revised Captioning Video (and more) resource…

 

Accessible Absentee Voting for Maine People with Disabilities

Interim Agreement Reached for the November 3, 2020 Election

Access

Augusta, Maine – An interim agreement has been reached between the Maine Secretary of State’s Office (SOS) and named municipalities and Plaintiffs Lynn Merrill, Nicholas Giudice, Pauline Lamontagne, Cheryl Peabody, and Disability Rights Maine that provides Maine voters an accessible absentee ballot system for the upcoming November 3, 2020 general election. Following a lawsuit filed on July 15, 2020 by the Plaintiffs, the SOS agreed to develop and implement an accessible absentee ballot system for qualified voters with disabilities. This system will allow for accessible absentee ballots across all Maine’s municipalities.

Starting October 2, 2020, Maine voters with print disabilities can access an Accessible Absentee Ballot Request Form on the Secretary’s website to request an accessible electronically-delivered absentee ballot. Maine’s accessible ballot will allow voters to both receive and return the ballot electronically to the Secretary of State’s Office to be counted.

(Under this Interim Agreement,) Print disabilities [1] may include, but are not limited to, vision impairment or blindness; physical dexterity limitations; learning disabilities, such as dyslexia; brain injury or cognitive impairment; or early dementia, all which may prevent an individual from independently marking a paper ballot.

“No one should have to choose between their health in the pandemic and exercising the most fundamental and important right in a democracy-the right to vote.  We are pleased that the Secretary of State’s Office has taken steps to ensure that people with print disabilities will be able to vote privately, independently, and safely from their home for the November 3 general election,” says lead counsel, Kristin Aiello of Disability Rights Maine.

The terms of the agreement, which apply to the November 3, 2020 general election, include the following:

A new application is being added to the state’s existing Absentee Ballot Request (ABR) Service that will enable Maine voters who self-certify that they have a disability that prevents them from completing a paper ballot independently to vote by electronic ballot.

To obtain a ballot, qualified voters must complete an online request for an accessible absentee ballot and receive the accessible ballot from the Secretary’s Elections Division.

The application is accessible by standard screen reader text-to-speech software, and enables a voter who is blind or visually impaired to navigate the application and independently complete the form fields.

The Secretary is designing a welcome page on the SOS website for the accessible ABR Service.  The welcome page for accessible absentee ballot users will contain tips for each screen reader, which will walk the user through each step of accessing the ballot.  The welcome page will also contain a sample absentee ballot so people can practice prior to voting with the real ballot using their own operating system.

Once the voter’s application is approved, the voter will receive a secure log in and credentials to access the state ballot for the electoral districts in which they reside, as well as any local ballots.

The SOS will provide universally accessible pdf (UA/PDF) absentee ballots that voters with print disabilities will be able to download and review using a standard screen reader (JAWS, NVDA, or VoiceOver).

Voters will be able to mark their choices independently and confidentially, and then submit the ballot via a secure delivery system using the secure log in credential provided through the ABR service. Voters can track the status of the absentee ballot at every stage of the process.

To assist voters navigate the new system, the Secretary’s vendor has hired an expert in accessibility, Maria Delgado, formerly of American Printing House for the Blind, to troubleshoot any problems that occur when print-disabled voters are attempting to cast an absentee ballot. Ms. Delgado will work with each voter through the system if any problems should occur.  Information on how to contact her will be on the accessible ballot web page.

People with print disabilities will be able to submit their ballot requests via the online ABR service and obtain their ballots to cast starting on October 2, 2020, which is the same date that other voters will begin to receive their paper-based absentee ballots.

To request an accessible absentee ballot, voters with print disabilities should visit the Absentee Ballot Request Page online

or contact the Secretary of State, Division of Elections at: (207) 624-7650 or email cec.elections@maine.gov

Additional Information about Accessible Absentee Voting for People with Print Disabilities

  • What does this news mean? Maine will now offer an accessible, electronically-delivered absentee ballot system for use by Maine voters with print disabilities.
  • What is a “print disability?” Under this Interim Agreement [1], “print disability may include, but it not limited to, vision impairment or blindness; physical dexterity limitations; learning disabilities such as dyslexia; brain injury or cognitive impairment; or dementia, all of which may prevent an individual from independently marking a traditional paper ballot.”
  • When does it go into effect? The system is in effect starting Friday, October 2, 2020.
  • How do I access this service to request a ballot? 
  • Questions? Contact John Goetz at Disability Rights Maine at (207) 619-4778 or at VotingAccess2020@drme.org 

Voting in Person on Election Day

Accessible Voting System in MaineMaine voters with disabilities may also vote in person on Election Day and use the accessible voting machine. 

The State of Maine provides the ExpressVote universal voting system as its Accessible Voting System. The ExpressVote is a ballot-marking device that allows individuals with disabilities to vote with privacy and independence.

Using this tabletop unit, voters can navigate through their ballot using a touchscreen, or a keypad and audio interface. The ExpressVote generates a printed ballot with the voter’s choices. Ballot scanners, which are in use in most of Maine’s voting places, can then count the ExpressVote ballot along with the other ballots, which helps to improve voter privacy.

The ExpressVote unit is not connected to a network and does not track or store voter choices. It is certified by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.

The State of Maine began offering an accessible voting solution in 2006, with the Inspire Vote-By-Phone ballot-marking system. The ExpressVote ballot-marking devices replaced the phone system in June 2016.

Voting Place Accessibility

Since 2006, the Secretary of State has worked with municipalities to enhance the physical accessibility of voting places as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 and the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA). The links below will provide additional information and resources to assist municipal officials in achieving compliance with physical accessibility requirements.

Use this link for more information about accessible voting in Maine.

Footnotes

  1. The term “print disability” used in this Interim Agreement is NOT the same as the term “other people with print disabilities” used in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 Section 1414 (a) (23) (A) and elsewhere in the law.

October 2020 Webinars

Maine CITE is offering the following webinar in October 2020:

Webinar: Accessible Educational Materials, Assistive Technology and Students with Dyslexia

Date: October 27, 2020
Time: 3:15 – 4:15 pm ET

student with stack of booksStudents with Specific Learning Disability – also referred to as Dyslexia – make up the largest percentage of learners with disabilities in the U.S. Qualifying as students “with print disabilities”, Maine regulations require IEP Teams to consider the need for Accessible Educational Materials (AEM) and associated Assistive Technology (AT) for these students.

In this presentation we discuss the use of various AEM and AT as part of the arsenal of tools and accommodations for students with Learning Disabilities/Dyslexia.

Presenters: John Brandt, Hillary Goldthwait-Fowles, Kevin Good.

Use this link for more information and to register for “Webinar: Accessible Educational Materials, Assistive Technology and Students with Dyslexia…”


The following list of October 2020 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.

Accommodations for hiring and work from the Great Lakes ADA & ADA NN
October 20, 2020 at 2:00 pm Eastern (1.5 hr.)

UDL in Action: Practical Ideas for the Classroom from SETC
October 1, 2020 at 12:30 pm Eastern

Implementing PODD in the Classroom (AAC) from SETC
October 5 2020 at 12:15 pm Eastern

Promoting Access, Engagement and Learning Success for Students with Severe Disabilities from AbleNet
October 7, 2020 at 12:00 pm Eastern

AT/AAC in the IEP from SETC
October 7, 2020 at 12:30 pm Eastern

Empowering Learners with Dyslexia to Acquire & Use Their Digital Voices from edWeb
October 8, 2020 at 3:00 pm ET

Home to School Connection with AAC and Google Docs from SETC
October 13, 2020 at 9:00 am Eastern

A Discussion of Empowering Autonomy and Self in Individuals with AAC Needs from ISAAC & USSAAC
October 14, 2020 at 7:00 pm Eastern

AAC Talk: Communicating with the World from SETC (for AAC users)
October 15, 2020 at 12:30pm Eastern

Tech for Teens Club : Intro to Coding & Video Games from PHP
Saturday, October 17, 2020 at 11:00 am Eastern

Apps for Alphabetic Knowledge and Phonological Awareness from SETC
October 20, 2020 at 9:00 am Eastern

Making Sense of the Math Through Fractions from AbleNet
October 27, 2020 at 12:00 pm Eastern

Virtual or Classroom Visual Support for all from SETC
October 29, 2020 at 12:30 pm Eastern

Personal Narrative Writing with Low and High Tech AAC from SETC
November 2, 2020 at 12:15 pm Eastern

 

 

AARP HomeFit Guide

Woman preparing a mealFrom AARP…

Most houses and apartments are designed for young, able-bodied adults and don’t meet the needs of older residents or people with disabilities. In fact, in many parts of the United States, most housing units were built more than a generation ago to serve a population of family households, generally consisting of two parents and at least two children.

By 2030, one in five people in the U.S. will be age 65 or over. And it’s projected that by 2034, older adults will outnumber children under 18 for the first time ever. America’s housing stock doesn’t fit a rapidly changing and rapidly aging population.

That’s where the AARP HomeFit Guide comes in.

The guide examines what makes a home aging-friendly and suggests the kinds of designs and modifications that can make a home safer, more comfortable and a better “fit” for its residents – of every age.

Use this link for information and to download a copy of the AARP HomeFit Guide

JAN offers free webcasts

Person at desk using keyboardThe Job Accommodation Network (JAN) is the leading source of free, expert, and confidential guidance on workplace accommodations and disability employment issues. Working toward practical solutions that benefit both employer and employee, JAN helps people with disabilities enhance their employability, and shows employers how to capitalize on the value and talent that people with disabilities add to the workplace.

Starting in October 2020, JAN is offering a series of free webcasts to the public. Topics include Ergonomics for Teleworkers, ADA Update, Accommodating Veterans, and many more. The JAN Webcast Series is free, but you must register for each event. Sign up now, as space is limited!

Dates/times and titles follow. Use this link for more information and to register for any of these events.

October 2020
Intentional Inclusion: Increasing Access & Opportunity
10/13/2020 | 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM Eastern

November 2020
The Top Ten Veteran-Related Accommodation Questions and Answers
11/10/2020 | 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM Eastern

December 2020
Ergonomics for Teleworkers
12/08/2020 | 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM Eastern

January 2021
Accommodations for Respiratory Impairments
01/12/2021 | 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM Eastern

February 2021
Requesting and Negotiating Reasonable Accommodations
02/09/2021 | 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM Eastern

March 2021
ADA and Accommodation Lessons Learned: COVID-19 Edition
03/09/2021 | 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM Eastern

April 2021
Service and Emotional Support Animals in the Workplace
04/13/2021 | 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM Eastern

May 2021
Q&A with the Cog/Psych Team: Challenging Mental Health Scenarios
05/11/2021 | 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM Eastern

June 2021
Accommodating Public Safety Workers with Disabilities
06/08/2021 | 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM Eastern

July 2021
ADA Update
07/13/2021 | 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM Eastern

August 2021
AT Update: What’s new in 2021
08/10/2021 | 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM Eastern

 

Wheelchair Securement Systems on Airplanes Studied

US Access Board logoThe U. S. Access Board, in partnership with the Transportation Research Board (TRB), is studying the feasibility of installing wheelchair securement systems on commercial aircraft as directed by Congress under the FAA Reauthorization Act. A committee of experts TRB organized to conduct this assessment held its third public meeting on August 11, 2020.

The committee is evaluating the design, engineering, and safety requirements for equipping aircraft with securement mechanisms for non-motorized and motorized wheelchairs. Its members include experts in aircraft interiors and safety engineering, accessibility, wheelchair design and crashworthiness, airline operations, and other disciplines.

At the meeting, the study committee received presentations from airline engineers on technical issues and aircraft interior design considerations, wheelchair manufacturing and design experts, and speakers who addressed how securement systems could provide passengers with disabilities an equivalent level of service and safety in air travel. The meeting also included a panel on the operational implications of using wheelchair securement systems, which included speakers representing airlines, flight attendants, and contract service providers who routinely assist passengers with disabilities in the boarding process.

The Committee plans to hold its next meeting in October. Further details will be released at a later date. For further information, visit TRB’s website or contact Anusha Jayasinghe of TRB at AJayasinghe@nas.edu or (202) 334-2401.

 

UMaine assistive technology spinout UNAR Labs receives grant

From the University of Maine News

UNAR Labs receives $300,000 NIH Small Business Innovation Research award

UNAR Labs devices and mediaORONO, MAINE, August 12, 2020 – UNAR Labs, a University of Maine spinout company that develops assistive technology for blind and visually impaired (BVI) users, has been awarded $300,000 under the National Institute of Health’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I program to further prove its concept. With the award, the company plans to prototype an information access system that would help educational institutions develop accessible learning materials more efficiently.

The company’s mission is to make the visual graphic information that has become such a big part of modern daily life more accessible to BVI users on the digital devices they already have, including smartphones and tablets.

“More than 60 to 70 percent of digital content is completely inaccessible to visually impaired users — think of maps, images, photos, Facebook, Twitter,” says Hari Palani, co-founder and CEO of UNAR Labs. “We want to provide a bridge and enable BVI users with access to all this information.”

UNAR Labs’ core technology is a software platform called Midlina that translates visual graphical information into an accessible multisensory graphic that BVI users can touch, feel and hear using the haptic, vibration and audio features built in to digital smart devices (phones/tablets).

The SBIR award will allow Portland-based UNAR Labs to focus on improving the process to translate textbooks and other educational materials – including the graphical components — into a multisensory format that makes them fully accessible for BVI students. Using existing methods, this process can take two weeks to two months (depending on the complexity of the material), involves significant manual labor, and can cost many thousands of dollars, according to Palani. The company is developing a software system that aims to cut this time down to hours and reduce the manual labor that makes it so expensive.

“Translating visual information into equivalent non-visual information is not a trivial task, so we have a long research agenda to achieve this technical feat,” says Palani, who came to UMaine in 2011 to conduct graduate research on accessible technology with professor of spatial informatics Nicholas Giudice, co-founder of UNAR Labs.

The two began to explore commercialization of their research after connecting with the team at UMaine’s Foster Center for Innovation in 2017. Their path to commercialization has been deliberate. In 2017, UNAR Labs became the first team from Maine to be invited to participate in the National I-Corps program. After completing I-Corps, where Palani and Giudice conducted extensive customer discovery research, they joined the MIRTA accelerator at UMaine in 2019, built a prototype, and began to prove the feasibility of their technology. A $225,000 National Science Foundation Phase I SBIR award in 2019 helped fund this work, along with a $100,000 commercialization support grant from the Maine Technology Institute. UNAR Labs is participating in the 2020 Top Gun program, a statewide accelerator that targets startups with high growth potential.

Giudice, who is visually impaired, believes that UNAR Labs has a distinct edge in advancing this technology.

“Lots of companies are interested in this type of technology, and for good reasons, but they’re often coming at it from a technical standpoint and not thinking about it from the human side — the perceptual, cognitive aspects of it,” says Giudice. “We’re working in a field that we both have had a lot of experience in, personal and professional. This company is built out of a lot of Hari’s dissertation work and my experience as a blind scientist who has dealt with trying to find solutions to this for the last 20 years and understands what works, what doesn’t and the real challenges.”

That’s a key reason why UNAR Labs is building solutions for use in commercially available hardware (e.g., smartphones). A dedicated device with a braille display to show graphics can cost upwards of $15,000, Giudice says. For institutions, the process of producing accessible versions of textbooks involving graphic information is in the range of $20,000 to $30,000 and involves a complex, multi-step production process that requires an experienced transcriber to convert the materials to a tactile format and a second person to check that they are accurate before printing on a tactile embosser. UNAR Labs’ software would automate this process and eliminate those manual steps, setting it up so that educational institutions (or commercial production facilities) could quickly and easily prepare accessible material from standard visual materials for printing and delivery.

The company’s long-term goal is to create a suite of products that will meaningfully improve information accessibility for the BVI community across platforms and devices.

“We have met all our planned milestones thus far and are well on our trajectory toward creating a truly inclusive and accessible digital world,” Palani says.

UNAR Labs is in the process of hiring its first full-time employee, and Palani says they hope to add four more positions before the end of 2020. In addition, the company has contracted with UMaine’s Virtual Environment and Multimodal Interaction (VEMI) Lab — known for innovative research to support nonvisual information access — to help conduct some of the human usability studies with the products being developed as part of their new NIH project.

Contact: Ashley Forbes, ashley.forbes@maine.edu

Photo credit: Image from University of Maine News

AT for Older Adults

The following comes from Laurie Orlov’s Aging and Health Technology Watch current newsletter. Laurie’s excellent site reports out on issues related to seniors and various new and emerging technologies. This week’s newsletter article focused on several new assistive technologies. Use the links in the list below to learn more about each product.

And you might want to consider subscribing to Laurie’s newsletter…

HomeEXCEPT.  “HomeEXCEPT is hardware and software for active seniors, caregivers, healthcare professionals, and researchers. The hardware is used to tag objects and monitor their use.

Livindi.  “Livindi keeps families connected with LivindiPad, a tablet for seniors. Simply touching a picture on the screen starts a video call. Voice to text helps those with diminished hearing. Families can send pictures to a digital picture frame. Livindi includes a set of sensors which monitor activity and environment and recognize behavioral changes.

Sundial Alexa Skill. “The Sundial skill for Alexa and the mobile app work together to connect older adults (the Center) to their loved ones (Care Circle). The Center uses the voice and touch enabled Sundial skill for Alexa (optimized for the Amazon Echo Show) to interact with their private Care Circle of family and friends.

Tembo.Health.  “Tembo.Health, funded at least in part by Primetime Partners, a new aging-focused VC firm, is a provider of telemedicine services intended to connect patients with specialty services like psychiatry and cardiology, including those in nursing homes. The company’s platform connects the specialists to patient data and collaborates with the nursing staff to provide better care plans and also, enabling patients with the care option as per their needs.

Verizon Care Smart Watch. “Care Smart comes with a number of pre-loaded messages making it easier than ever for seniors to respond to text messages. An easy-to-read screen displays the date and time and streamlined 3-touch navigation for accessing contacts, placing calls or sending texts makes this smartwatch a snap to use.

Read the entire article Five notable technology offerings for older adults

 

Governor Marks 30th Anniversary of ADA

The following proclamation was made on July 26, 2020:

State of Maine – PROCLAMATION

WHEREAS, July 26, 2020 marks the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life; and WHEREAS, the ADA has expanded opportunities for individuals with disabilities by increasing awareness, removing barriers, changing perceptions, and promoting greater inclusion in community life; and

WHEREAS, the full promise of the ADA will only be reached if public entities, including the State of Maine, remain committed by providing leadership and continued attention to its purpose; and

WHEREAS, the State of Maine recognizes that all people within its borders have the right to fully participate in leading productive and active lives without regard to their disabilities, and that supporting the rights of persons with disabilities is essential to the economic and social well-being of the entire State; and

WHEREAS, the State of Maine has enacted laws, issued orders, and adopted policies to protect the rights of people with disabilities, to provide accessibility for people with disabilities in all State programs, and to comply with and carry out the State’s responsibilities under the ADA; and

WHEREAS, the removal of barriers to equal opportunity for all that limit the participation of people with disabilities in employment, programs, and activities of the State of Maine remains an ongoing focus and requires the concerted efforts of all agencies and their partners to devote resources to coordinate ADA compliance; and

WHEREAS, State government bears a unique responsibility in demonstrating to all people the goals and values of our common life, including serving as a model of accessibility, inclusion, and nondiscrimination for people with disabilities; and

WHEREAS, with information technology and digital services continually becoming a more integral part of everyday life, the State of Maine responsibilities described in Executive Order 2 FY 11/12 are reaffirmed in their entirety, with modifications to ensure that agency procured, utilized, or created digital information and services are available to people with disabilities in an accessible format;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Janet T. Mills, Governor of the great State of Maine, do hereby proclaim the week of July 26, 2020 as ADA Recognition Week throughout the State of Maine and I urge all citizens to celebrate the great progress made under the ADA, reaffirm the principle of equality and inclusion, and recommit our efforts to full accessibility and inclusion of people with disabilities in compliance with the ADA.

In testimony whereof, I have caused the Great Seal of the State to be hereunto affixed GIVEN under my hand at Augusta this sixteenth day of July Two Thousand Twenty.

Seal of the State of Maine

/s/
Janet T. Mills
Governor

/s/
Matthew Dunlap
Secretary of State