Assistive Technology Re-authorization Act Introduced in Senate

Casey, Collins Introduce Bill to Expand Access to Assistive Technology for Seniors and People with Disabilities

Legislation Would Help Seniors and People With Disabilities Maintain Independence

US Capitol DomeWashington, D.C. – Today, June 13, 2019, U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Susan Collins (R-ME), the Ranking Member and Chairman of the Special Committee on Aging, introduced the 21st Century Assistive Technology Act that would increase access to assistive technology—devices or services that help seniors and people with disabilities to maintain their independence and live where they choose.  The bill, which comes following a May 22nd hearing in the Aging Committee on the topic, would also help reduce the low employment and high poverty rates of older adults and people with disabilities by helping them live independently and maintain employment.

“Assistive technology helps millions of people live independently, remain engaged in their community and improves the quality of life for seniors and people with disabilities,” said Senator Casey.  “It is important that we update this bill to support the advances in assistive technology over the last 15 years, so that those who need it can be full participants in every aspect of their lives.”

“As our population ages, the need for care and support is increasing,” said Senator Collins.  “Advances in technology are working to bridge the ‘care gap,’ improving function in activities of daily living, helping to manage multiple chronic conditions, reducing risk of hazards, and making homes safer for seniors.  The 21st Century Assistive Technology Act would help to ensure that seniors continue to have access to these life-changing technologies to help them maintain their independence.”

The 21st Century Assistive Technology Act (S.1835) Act would update the Assistive Technology Act by clarifying that the program serves all people with disabilities, including veterans and older adults who developed disabilities later in life. The Assistive Technology Act would also increase the funding authorized for programs that serve rural areas. Assistive technology refers to any piece of equipment, product or service that helps someone with a disability or functional limitation accomplish their daily needs such as wheelchair ramps, hearing aids, screen readers and even smart phones.

This bill is supported by the Assistive Technology Act Programs, the Association of University Centers on Disabilities, the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, the American Association of People with Disabilities, The Arc of the United States, the National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools and CAST.

Please contact Senator Collins office to receive an accessible version of the proposed 21st Century Assistive Technology Act.

Senate Hearing Focuses on Assistive Technology

Woman preparing a mealOn May 22nd, the United States Senate Special Committee on Ageing held a hearing which discussed How (Assistive) Technology Can Help Maintain Health and Quality of Life.

Committee Chair Maine Senator Susan Collins noted in her welcoming remarks, “…with 10,000 Americans turning 65 every day, and one out of five Americans set to join this group by 2035, we are in the midst of a major demographic shift. The fastest growing segment of our population are Americans age 85 and older. While aging brings opportunity, it also comes with increased risk of multiple and interacting health conditions that can lead to disability, at times requiring long-term care, and making it more difficult to age at home.” She further noted, “Advances in technology are working to bridge the “care gap,” improving function in activities of daily living, helping to manage multiple chronic conditions, reducing the risk of hazards, and making homes safer for seniors. Not only has technology helped seniors age in place, but it is also making it possible for individuals to move out of nursing homes or other institutionalized settings back into their own homes.”

Witnesses at the hearing included:

Joseph Coughlin, PhD, Director, MIT AgeLab, Cambridge, MA; Cara McCarty, Curatorial/Director, Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, New York; Brenda Gallant, RN, Executive Director, ME Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program, Augusta, Maine, and; Robert (Bob) Mecca, Executive Director, Life and Independence for Today (LIFT), St. Marys, PA.

Use this link for more information and to view a recording of this hearing…

 

Webinar on Best Practices for Accessible Social Media

From the National Center on Accessible Educational Materials – NC-AEM

Best Practices for Accessible Social Media

Date/Time
Tuesday, May 21, 2019 @ 2:00PM – 3:00PM ET

Presenter

Mindy Johnson, AEM Center

Program Description

Social media iconsEducators are integrating social media into their professional learning routines, their daily communications, and their instructional practices. But how do we plan for variability in our social media followers? Join Mindy Johnson, Director of Digital Communications and Outreach for CAST, to learn easy tips for making your social media posts more accessible and more usable by everyone.

Unable to attend the webinar?  No worries!  The link to the recording becomes available on this same page approximately one week after the webinar.

Please use this link for more information and to register for this webinar…

 


Photo credit: Image licensed through Creative Commons by Wikipedia 

Innovative AT for Individuals with Autism

The following webinar is from edWeb…

Innovative Technology for Individuals with Autism

Thursday, May 16, 2019 @ 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm EDT

Presented by Christian Karter, M.A., Educational Technology Specialist, Monarch Center for Autism

Program Description

iPadIndividuals with autism benefit significantly from leaps and changes in technologies. Please join Christian Karter, M.A., Educational Technology Specialist at Monarch Center for Autism to learn about the latest in technologies and apps that are being deployed to help further their education and lives. In this edWebinar, Christian will also discuss emerging technologies that are coming to the market in the next few years.

This edWebinar will be of interest to preK-12 teachers, school and district leaders, therapists, and specialists. There will be time to get your questions answered after Christian’s presentation.

About the Presenter

Christian Karter, M.A. is the educational technology specialist at Monarch Center for Autism, a division of Bellefaire JCB, in Shaker Heights, Ohio. He holds a master’s degree in community counseling and a bachelor’s degree in psychology, both from John Carroll University. He has worked at Monarch Center for Autism for 12 years as an associate teacher in the classroom and in his present role. His chief responsibilities include iPad deployment, Monarch’s PAIRS data system management, and introduction of new technologies into the classrooms.

Use this link for more information and to register…

 

Updated VPAT Now Available from the IT Industry Council

US Access Board logoFrom the US Access Board:

The Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) maintains a free reporting tool known as the Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT) to help determine whether information and communication technology products and services satisfy accessibility requirements, including the Section 508 Standards. ITI recently released revised editions of the VPAT (2.3) based on the Board’s revised 508 Standards (VPAT 2.3 508), including the referenced Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0). It also offers VPATs for WCAG 2.1 (VPAT 2.3 WCAG), the European Union’s ICT requirements (VPAT 2.3 EU), and another based on all three (VPAT 2.3 INT).

Visit the ITI’s website for further information or send a message to info@itic.org.

Accessible Media and Services for Students

Blind person walking in mall with guide dogThe Described and Captioned Media Program (DCMP) is a leading national source for accessible educational content, providing services for students who are blind, visually impaired, deaf, hard of hearing, or deaf-blind. Families and school personnel with early learners through Grade 12 students can register for free access to over 6,000 Educational Media titles on-demand and on DVD. DCMP’s Learning Center contains a wealth of information related to education, accessibility, deafness, blindness, and other related topics. DCMP provides Media Accessibility Guidelines through our Captioning Key and Description Key, used by media professionals as well as amateurs around the world.

The Described and Captioned Media Program provides premium media designed for students with disabilities and leads as a resource for families and teachers, supported by the federal Department of Education.

A recent additions to their website, Is Your Student Ready for What Comes Next? provides a set of resources to assist students in the Transition process. Some of the resources include:

  • Map It: What Comes Next is a free, online, interactive training designed for transition-aged students who are deaf or hard of hearing.
  • The Getting a Job! online training was developed and designed for students who are deaf or hard of hearing and the professionals who work with them.  Focusing on the transition from school to work, the training offers a series of activities, supporting documents and topical videos designed to help the job seeker prepare for the world of work.  All the videos in the modules are presented in ASL, and are also voiced in English and captioned.

Additional videos and resources include:

  • Real Life 101: College Prep – With college just ahead of them, the hosts visit with some people who help students prepare for this milestone.
  • Real Life 101: Vocational Training – In this video a career planner discusses how to find the right career for the right person.
  • Paying Your Way Through College – This video helps viewers understand four-key financial aid sources: scholarships, grants, work-study, and student loans.
  • Biz Kid$ – Public television’s Emmy Award-winning financial education series of 65 videos for teens and preteens. Each video has a lesson guide, and the Biz Kid$ website has many additional ideas for learning activities.

Most of the resources on the website require a FREE DCMP membership which may be applied for on the site.

AT3 Center News and Tips for May

NewspapersThe National Assistive Technology Act Technical Assistance and Training (AT3) Center provides training and technical assistance for all AT Act Section 4 State and Territory Assistive Technology Programs, including Maine CITE, and supports a website that makes general AT information available to the public and other stakeholders.

The most recent AT3 News and Tips publication has just been released and may be viewed at this location... Articles include information about new AT devices, AT Reuse and Recycling efforts around the country and information about how to make videos accessible.

 

JAN Spring Newsletter published

Job Accommodations Network - JAN - logoThe Job Accommodations Network (JAN) has published their latest JAN ENews to their website.

Topics include:

  • The Path to Reassignment as an Accommodation
  • Giving Hiring Preference to People with Disabilities
  • Cognitive Impairment and the Interactive Process
  • Thoracic Outlet Syndrome: Not So Forgettable to Some
  • Can’t Ban Fragrances? Consider a Fragrance Free Zone

Other articles include events “E-Vents” and information from the JAN Blog and the Consultants’ Corner

Use this link to access the latest JAN ENews...

Fall Detection Assistive Tech

Senior with assistantThe following information comes from Aging in Place Technology Watch a blog maintained by Laurie Orlov. Read the whole article Ten technologies that can help with fall detection in 2019 at this link…

Here are ten example-only fall detection options in alphabetical order, material derived from the company websites or available media:

Apple Watch

“If the Apple Watch Series 4 detects a hard fall while you’re wearing your watch, it taps you on the wrist, sounds an alarm, and displays an alert. You can choose to contact emergency services or dismiss the alert by pressing the Digital Crown, tapping Close in the upper-left corner, or tapping “I’m OK.” If your Apple Watch detects that you’re moving, it waits for you to respond to the alert and won’t automatically call emergency services. If your watch detects that you have been immobile for about a minute, it will make the call automatically. After the call ends, your watch sends a message to your emergency contacts with your location letting them know that your watch detected a hard fall and dialed emergency services.” Learn more at Apple.

FallCall

“FallCall Solutions announced today that FallCall Lite, the only personal emergency assistant for Apple Watch fully integrated into a national 24/7 emergency call center, now supports Apple’s new Siri Shortcuts. Users can record simple phrases like: “Assistance needed,” to contact trained emergency medical dispatchers and/or linked family and friends. “Time is of the essence when someone needs help,” states Shea Gregg, MD, a Trauma Surgeon and the President of FallCall Solutions. “Siri Shortcuts have simplified the ability to communicate and initiate commands on Apple devices. We have harnessed this revolutionary capability to contact family, friends and our 24/7 call center in an emergency. Additionally, FallCall will send location and heart rate information to aid in the response.” Learn more at FallCall.

GreatCall Lively Mobile Plus

“The Lively Mobile Plus, like its predecessor, the Lively Mobile, has the fastest response time, as noted in published medical alert reviews. Its enhanced GPS technology, provided by Snapdragon Wear™ 1100 Platform, enables reliable and accurate locating in emergency situations. The device is equipped with fall detection technology, connecting to an agent when a fall occurs. Features also include the loudest amplified speaker yet for clear two-way communication, improved battery life – up to 80 hours – and a waterproof design so it can be worn in the shower.” Learn more at GreatCall.

MobileHelp

“Our Fall Button provides extra protection by automatically sending an alarm if you fall and are unable to push your button. Our Fall Button is compatible with our Duo, Classic and Solo systems. Along with its Automatic Fall Detecting capabilities, it also has all of the features of our standard help buttons and allows you to send an alert to our US-based 24 x 7 x 365 Emergency Monitoring service by pressing the emergency button. The Fall Button will work approximately 350 feet from the Mobile Device and 600 feet from the Cellular Base Station of our Duo and Classic systems.” Learn more at MobileHelp.

MyNotifi

“MyNotifi is a fall detection device that is worn on the wrist or belt and connects directly to the user’s smart device. Since MyNotifi is worn on the wrist or on the belt line and is smart app driven, it can travel with you maintaining a continuous fall detection signal. In other words, the user is not relegated to the house as is the case if they are linked via a land line. Many or our aged population desire to live at home and MyNotifi allows them to do so, while keeping them in close contact with loved ones.” Learn more at MyNotifi.

Philips Lifeline

“The GoSafe medical alert system is our most comprehensive system; it provides coverage and support wherever you go—whether that’s at home or to the supermarket. In addition to the GPS-enabled pendant, the in-home communicator provides an added layer of connectivity in your home. AutoAlert is designed to detect falls accurately and connect seniors to help in an instant, even if you can’t push the button.” Learn more at Philips.

Starkey Livio AI

“A hearing aid feature, Livio AI benefits from the anatomy and physiology of the human body. During typical, daily activities and instances of falls, muscles in the neck work with the balance system of the inner ear to protect and stabilize the head. Since hearing aids are worn on the head, they are naturally less prone to mistake daily activities for falls than the devices worn on other parts of the body.” Learn more at Starkey.

UnaliWear

“The Kanega watch is a self-contained watch and is not dependent on a connection to a home-based system or a smartphone, so you can get assistance at home or on the go in one simple, stylish watch. We combine cellular, Wi-Fi, GPS, BLE (for hearing aids and telemedicine devices), an accelerometer for automatic fall detection, and continuous speech to provide an active medical alert that works anywhere, along with data-driven artificial intelligence that learns the wearer’s lifestyle to provide predictive, pre-emptive support.” Learn more at UnaliWear.

Vayyar Walabot Home

“Vayyar Imaging, a company best known for its 3D sensor imaging technology, launched a new product called Walabot Home that can detect if a person has fallen and automatically call for help.  Walabot attaches to a wall in the user’s home and is about the size of a small tablet. Users can put in their emergency contact list and if a fall is detected, the system automatically calls their contact.” Learn more at Mobihealth News.

VitalTech Fall Alerts

“With VitalCare, through our innovative PERS wearables, a fall is detected or SOS panic alert is sent. The alert can be configured to phone numbers, emails, or to our medical alert call center. Connect VitalBand to our emergency medical response center for 24/7 safety coverage. Alerts are pushed directly to our call center for quick response. Seniors quickly get the help they need to prevent serious complications associated with falls.” Learn more at VitalTech.

 

Partnership helps students with access

From the Franklin County, Daily Bulldog...Posted by Ben Hanstein

Robots connect UMF interns with K-12 students

Kevin Good and Hillary Goldthwait-Fowles with robotFARMINGTON – Interns at the University of Maine at Farmington have been working with students in Regional School Unit 21 this year, utilizing robots equipped with two-way communication devices in order to interact with their younger counterparts in Kennebunk.

Project Circuit is a new program supported by the Department of Education’s Maine CITE, an initiative aimed at improving access to assistive technologies for Maine students, residents and the elderly. Assistive technology is anything designed to remove barriers for a person with a disability – for students, this means improving their accessibility to programming. The UMF program is working with RSU 21 as that district is the first in the state to employ a certified assistive technology specialist, Hillary Goldthwait-Fowles. UMF interns are in instructor Kevin Good’s Assistive and Instructional Technology course, offered through the college’s Special Education program.

Good said that his course was designed to get future educators comfortable with technology like the telepresence robots. He tells his students that they are designers and makers, not just users of the technology.

“I’m pushing students to think through the process,” Good said. “I watch my students grow and change how they approach [new technology].”

The obvious use of the robot, which includes a two-way communication screen mounted on top of a wheel assembly, is to accommodate students that are unable to physically attend a class or event, Goldthwait-Fowles said. Students that are hospitalized or home-bound by an illness can continue to participate in their classes. However, there are potential uses for other disabilities as well. Students on the autism spectrum, for example, may not be able to attend a crowded event due to sensory overload. Educators may start by showing the student a copy of a class’ whiteboard, then move on to using the robot to allow the student to attend a class.

Beyond student-to-class usage, Good and Goldthwait-Fowles said, the robots also can allow others, such as the UMF interns, to work with K-12 students across the state. The system is on a secured network, Good said, but one that is globally accessible. This allows the UMF interns an earlier opportunity to work directly with K-12 students. At this point, Good likes to say, UMF can be anyplace it can send a robot.

“Anyone can access this and use this,” Goldthwait-Fowles said. While only RSU 21 has a full-time, on-site robot, others can be made available on a temporary basis for specific students.

Read the entire article at the Daily Bulldog…

UMF AT Program on Facebook…