Webinar on ADA/ABA and Recreation Facilities

From the US Access Board…

Upcoming Webinar on Recreation Facilities

US Access Board logoDecember 3, 2020
2:30 – 4:00 pm ET

The final webinar of 2020 in the Board’s free monthly series will take place December 3 from 2:30 – 4:00 (ET) and will review scoping and technical provisions for recreation facilities in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) Accessibility Standards (Chapter 10).

This session will address the requirements for:

  • amusement rides,
  • recreational boating facilities
  • exercise machines and equipment
  • fishing piers and platforms
  • golf facilities and miniature golf facilities
  • play areas
  • swimming pools, wading pools, and spas
  • shooting facilities with fixed firing positions
  • sports facilities.

Presenters will address common sources of confusion and frequently asked questions about these provisions. The webinar series is hosted by the ADA National Network in cooperation with the Board.

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 webinar. Webinar attendees can earn continuing education credits.

Archived copies of previous Board webinars are available on the site. 

 

Remembering Travis Roy

Photos of Travis RoyThe news of the untimely passing of Maine Sports Hall of Fame legend Travis Roy was met this past weekend with accolades coming from all parts of the sports world. All Mainers know the story of the promising 20-year-old hockey star from Yarmouth whose life was forever changed in October 1995 when eleven seconds into his first Boston University men’s ice hockey match he slid into the boards and suffered a spinal cord injury. The injury was permanent, ending his dreams of a NHL career and leaving the young man with quadriplegia.

Most Mainers also know that two years later, Roy would start the Travis Roy Foundation and rally to become one of the country’s best philanthropists, advocates and motivational speakers.

Since 1997, the Travis Roy Foundation has distributed more than $9 million in grants to people with spinal cord injuries and to research projects and rehabilitation institutions. The individual grant funds have been used to modify vans and to purchase wheelchairs, computers, ramps, shower chairs, and other adaptive equipment to help people with spinal cord injuries live their lives.

Called the Travis Roy Foundation Quality of Life Grant Program, the program funds adaptive equipment and assistive technology, as well as home modifications for people paralyzed from a physical spinal cord injury. While there are some restrictions to the grant program, there is no age requirement and grants are available up to $5,000. Applicants must have financial need and may be asked to provide supporting financial documentation.

Thank you, Travis.

Use this link to learn more about the Travis Roy Foundation Quality of Life Grant Program

Use this link to learn more about Travis Roy – Boston Globe

 

Photo credit: Images of Travis Roy from the TR Foundation

Zoom joins forces with Otter.AI to improve accessibility

Closed Captioning logoFirst reported in summer of 2019, a partnership between videoconference giant Zoom and accessibility company Otter.ai to provide live captioning to Zoom meeting has finally been completed.

As reported by the trade publication, ZD Net, Otter.ai will now provide live captioning for Zoom meetings and webinars for Zoom Pro customers. Otter.ai has provided live captioning for meetings through the use of a smartphone app or web-based application for several years and recently introduced Live Notes, “a new feature that enables users to open a live transcript of the call during a video conference, in a separate shared file, which transcribes what is being said in real time” according to ZD Net reporter Daphne Leprince-Ringuet. She goes on to note that with the new service built into Zoom meetings, “captions will appear directly within the call, with a couple of seconds of lag, and presumably will be accurate enough for key information to consistently come out in the form of plain text.”

“Based on a sophisticated algorithm, Live Notes can separate human voices to identify different speakers and includes their name in the transcript to indicate that a given participant has started intervening,” the article also reports.

The rush to provide live captioning has been accelerated in recent months as COVID-19 restrictions have forced nearly all business meetings and academic activities to virtual space. Workers and students with disabilities who need the accessibility accommodation of live captioning have had limited options. Google‘s suite of free office suite applications have provided live captions using the system’s Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) for some time. But the quality of Google’s ASR has generally been below par and lacks the accuracy of CART transcription provided by a trained CART professional.

Microsoft has also incorporating live captioning into its Office 365 suite of services including MS Teams, their direct competitor for Zoom Meeting. Accessibility professionals around the country have commented that Microsoft’s solution, which uses ASR and artificial intelligence (AI), is generally better than Google, but still not as good as CART.

With the including of Otter.ai into the Zoom Meeting solution, the competition to improve auto captioning has been ratcheted up a notch. One can only hope people with disabilities are the beneficiaries of this partnership.

In Zoom, live captions are available now for Otter customers paying for a Business plan, as well as for Zoom Pro customers.

Read the ZD Net article…

Zoom Meeting website

Otter.ai website

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

 

Voice-Enabled Innovations for Older Adults

Amazon Echo SpotLaurie Orlov has published another great blog about Voice-Enabled/Voice First innovations in the past year. If you don’t know Laurie, her website, Aging in Place Technology Watch, is a great source of information and news about everyday electronics and technology that help seniors live safely at home.

Published on October 6th, Five Recent Voice-Enabled Innovations for Older Adults 2020 cover some recent changes and new products. Here is a short part of her blog:

Voice-enabled innovation softly races ahead. Technology innovation announcements whiz by at what seems to be a breakneck pace. Consider Amazon’s Whisper Mode – “I think you just whispered to me – Sau ‘turn on’ Whisper Mode.” Not just for insomniacs, imagine its utility for the faint-voiced older adult wanting to ask a question. Or consider Apple Family Setup, which enables an Apple Watch to be set up and used without an iPhone, enabling texts, calls and GPS location. Or in-Car voice technology like Garmin Speak-Plus for directions without a screen (that’s a plus).

Here are five from recent times:

Amazon Care Hub. “Care Hub represents the next iteration of smart speakers, which have evolved from just playing music or providing the weather forecast, to enabling home security services and now supporting senior citizens at home. With Amazon’s Care Hub, users can receive notifications of their loved ones’ own Alexa interactions to monitor their activity throughout the day or ensure they have been reminded to take their medication, for example. A user can also “drop in” on a loved one by video calling them within the app. And most importantly, if a loved one uses their voice to call for help, Alexa will notify the user. (Alexa cannot call 911, but will notify the designated emergency contact.)” Learn more at Care Hub. Not yet released.

Amazon Guard Plus. “Guard Plus will add a more robust ‘sounds of activity’ detector, which will listen for doors opening or closing and other sounds associated with unwanted visitors. Second, Guard Plus will bring deterrence features, for instance triggering Alexa to play a recording of dogs barking if a security camera catches someone sneaking around the back of the house while you’re away. Finally, the Guard Plus will add a new hands-free emergency help line, run by a third-party company, to connect users to emergency services like police, the fire department or emergency contacts.” Learn more at CNET…

Read the whole blog, Five Recent Voice-Enabled Innovations for Older Adults 2020…

 

 

“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…

 

CMS Announces New Federal Funding for 33 States to Support Transitioning Individuals from Nursing Homes to the Community

WASHINGTON – September 23, 2020 – The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the availability of up to $165 million in supplemental funding to states currently operating Money Follows the Person (MFP) demonstration programs. This funding will help state Medicaid programs jump-start efforts to transition individuals with disabilities and older adults from institutions and nursing facilities to home and community-based settings of their choosing.

Today’s action delivers on the Administration’s commitment to transform Medicaid (PDF) by fostering increased state flexibility and innovation and to ensure safety and quality for beneficiaries.

“The tragic devastation wrought by the Coronavirus on nursing home residents exposes America’s over-reliance on institutional long-term care facilities,” said Administrator Seema Verma. “Residential care will always be an essential part of the care continuum, but our goal must always be to give residents options that help keep our loved ones in their own homes and communities for as long as possible.”

“Home and community-based care is not only frequently more cost effective, but is preferred by seniors and adults with disabilities seeking to maintain the dignity of independent living. This new federal investment will help states get our loved ones back home,” she added.

Today’s action is supported by new data that shows the need for this supplemental funding opportunity to accelerate states’ MFP activities.  According to a new report released by CMS today, MFP state grantees transitioned 101,540 Medicaid beneficiaries from institutional care to home-based and community services (HCBS) since the program started in 2007.  However, last year, only 4,173 Medicaid beneficiaries were transitioned under the MFP program – a 46 percent decrease from 2018.

Thirty-three states (including the District of Columbia) that operate MFP-funded transition programs and plan to continue participating in MFP after this fiscal year are eligible to participate: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, and West Virginia.

Each state is eligible to receive up to $5 million in supplemental funding for planning and capacity building activities to accelerate long-term care system transformation design and implementation, and to expand HCBS capacity, such as:

  • Assessing HCBS system capacity and determining the extent to which additional providers and/or services might be needed;
  • Assessing institutional capacity and determining the extent to which the state could reduce this capacity and transition impacted individuals to more integrated settings;
  • Provider and direct service worker recruitment, education, training, technical assistance, and quality improvement activities, including training people with disabilities to become direct service workers;
    Caregiver training and education;
  • Assessing and implementing changes to reimbursement rates and payment methodologies to expand HCBS provider capacity and/or improve HCBS and/or institutional service quality;
  • Building Medicaid-housing partnerships to facilitate access to affordable and accessible housing for Medicaid beneficiaries with disabilities and older adults; and
  • Diversion strategies to prevent nursing facility admission.

In addition, states could use this funding opportunity to support HCBS planning and capacity building activities in direct response to the COVID-19 public health emergency, such as to plan and implement the use of telehealth for nursing facility transition activities that would normally be conducted in-person or to redesign service delivery models to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection among MFP participants.

Supplemental budget requests under this funding opportunity will be accepted on a rolling basis through June 30, 2021.  CMS will provide all eligible grantee states that currently operate a MFP-funded transition program, with additional information on this funding opportunity.

For more information, please visit Medicaid.gov

 

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