Accommodations for hiring and work – webinar

From the Great Lakes ADA Center  and ADA National Network

Accommodations for hiring and work

October 20, 2020
2:00 – 3:30 pm Eastern Time 

Speaker:

Wendy Strobel Gower, Program Director, YTI, Project Director, Northeast ADA Center, Co-Project Director, EARN

Session Description

Person at desk using keyboardOctober marks National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Join us for this session as our speaker provides an overview of ADA requirements for persons with disabilities and managers/supervisors. The session will discuss the ADA requirements applying to the application/interview portion of the employment process. Additionally, the session will also address requesting reasonable accommodation and how to respond to those accommodation request. The Presenter will provide an overview of the Northeast ADA Center’s Small Business at Work Toolkit. Following the presentation there will be time for participants to ask questions of the speaker.

This FREE session is offered via the Zoom webinar platform. Captioning is available in the webinar room or via Stream Text link.

Registration

Use this link for more information and registration

You will need to set up an account if you do not have one already. Registration closes 24 hours prior to the session.

Questions:  877-232-1990 (V/TTY) or by email at webinars@adaconferences.org

 

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.

 

September 2020 Webinars

Maine CITE is offering the following webinar in September:

Webinar: Accessible Digital Documents – Correspondence and Social Media

Date: 9/17/2020
Time: 1:00 – 2:00 pm ET

Various icons for social mediaEvery day we send and receive dozens if not hundreds of e-mails, and for many of us, an equal number of social media posts and comments. But are all these e-mails, attachments, and social media posts accessible to people with disabilities who use Assistive Technology?

This webinar will provide an overview of the accessibility of digital documents specifically digital correspondence and social media. Guidance is provided on how to make digital content accessible

Presenter

  • John E. Brandt, MS. Ed.

Use this link for more information and to sign up for the Webinar: Accessible Digital Documents – Correspondence and Social Media


The following list of September 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.

Back to School and Virtual Accessibility from Cornell University
September 9, 2020 at 12:00 pm Eastern

2020 Virtual Leadership Briefing from M-Enabling Summit
September 15, 2020 at 11:00 am Eastern (2 hours)

Online and Face-to-Face – They Want Me to do What? Thriving in a Blended Learning Classroom from AbleNet
September 9, 2020 at 3:00 pm Eastern

Integrating AT into Virtual Instruction for Struggling Readers from EdWeb
September 10, 2020  1:00 pm – 2:00 pm EDT

AAC – A Year of Core Words from SETC
September 15, 2020 at 6:00 pm Eastern

Making Math Digital from SETC
September 16, 2020 at  6:30 pm Eastern

AT and AAC Tools for Literacy for All from SETC
September 22, 2020 at 3:00 pm Eastern

AAC Talk: Communicating with the World from SETC
September 24, 2020 at 6:30 pm Eastern

AT Chatter-Setting up the Classroom for Literacy from SETC
September 29, 2020 at 3:00 pm Eastern

Introduction to MathShare from SETC
September 30, 2020 at 6:30 pm Eastern

AT to Increase Independence for Young Adults with Disabilities from PACER
September 30, 2020 at 3:00 pm Eastern

 

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

 

Webinar on Accessible Virtual Meeting Platforms

Recording Available of Webinar on Accessible Virtual Meeting Platforms

US Access Board logoThe U.S. Access Board recently (July 21, 2020) conducted a webinar on the accessibility of virtual meeting platforms as part of its Section 508 Best Practices Webinar Series. Presenters from the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Communications Commission reviewed features and considerations for ensuring access to virtual platforms according to the Section 508 Standards. A recording of this free webinar – including handouts – is available on the webinar site. 

The Section 508 Best Practices Webinar Series provides helpful information and best practices for federal agencies in meeting their obligations under Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act which ensures access to information and communication technology in the federal sector. This webinar series is made available by the Accessibility Community of Practice of the CIO Council in partnership with the U.S. Access Board.

 

ATP Fundamentals Course

ATP - RESNA logoRESNA – the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Association of North America – administers the Assistive Technology Professional (ATP) Certification system. The ATP certification recognizes demonstrated competence in analyzing the needs of consumers with disabilities, assisting in the selection of appropriate assistive technology for the consumers’ needs, and providing training in the use of the selected devices.

As part of this system, RESNA offers training programs to individuals interested in sitting for the ATP Certification exam. The latest class schedule has been posted on the RESNA website.

Online instructor-led courses will meet two times per week in the evening for 2 hours. Course length is 4 weeks (please review complete session schedule). All class sessions will be recorded for unlimited view and review by course participants – including 90-day access following the last class. Participants will be granted access to their course instructor for the duration of the class schedule. All course information will be communicated to you directly, including delivery of all class materials.

To register for this course, you will need to create a RESNA account (if you don’t already have one) at www.resna.org.

 

2020 Guide for Maine Families on AT and AEM Published

EducationThe Maine CITE Assistive Technology Program is pleased to release the revised Guide for Maine Families on Assistive Technology and Accessible Educational Materials. The 2020 Guide provides Maine families who have children with disabilities an easy to use resource describing how to get the assistive technology (AT) devices and services they need. Information about accessible education materials (AEM) and families’ important role in the planning process are also provided.

The 2020 Guide updates general information about AT and AEM. It includes new resources about assistive technology used during “learning at home” activities, as well as AT device demonstration and loan services – AT4Maine.org.

Use this link to download the The Guide – PDF