ABLE ME Launches in Maine

ABLE Act -National Resource Center logoBangor, ME (October 18, 2021):  Bangor Savings Bank introduced its newest product, the first of its kind in the nation, Maine ABLE Benefit Checking. The account was created for people with disabilities to allow greater access to financial products and services, while protecting eligibility for federal and State of Maine means-tested benefits. Historically, individuals receiving benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) are limited to $2,000 in resources. ABLE Accounts provide new avenues for financial health, planning, and empowerment for individuals with disabilities and their families.

ABLE Account can change the way individuals with disabilities and their families participate in the community, build financial wellness and plan for the future by empowering them to save and invest for the added expenses that come with having a disability without losing access to federal means-tested benefits. ABLE account holders can use these funds to make purchased of things like assistive technology that are not covered by other funders.

The federal “Achieving a Better Life Experience” Act of 2014 (ABLE Act) created a new option for qualified individuals living with disabilities and their families. Most ABLE programs follow an assets-under-management model. Maine has chosen a different approach and account structure to meet the more immediate needs of participants for whom longer term investment and saving is not a primary goal.

ABLE accounts originate from the federal ABLE Act and are established and managed at the state level. In partnership with the Office of the Maine State Treasurer, which oversees and maintains the program locally, Bangor Savings Bank is proud to serve as the administrator of the ABLE ME program.

ABLE ME, with Bangor Savings Bank’s Maine ABLE Benefit Checking account as the sole deposit instrument, was announced last month by Maine State Treasurer Henry E. M. Beck, Esq., and is the first of its kind in Maine and the nation.

“The State is grateful to partner with Bangor Savings Bank to offer this first-in-the-nation, simple ABLE checking account product,” said Beck. “When we first began developing this program, we listened to Mainers who live with disabilities who told us having access to a respected brick-and-mortar Maine-based financial institution was paramount. I encourage Mainers to take advantage of the protections and dignity an ABLE account can provide.”

“Our partnership with the Office of the State Treasurer is a unique public-private collaboration that allows us to increase access to banking.” said Bob Montgomery-Rice, President and CEO of Bangor Savings Bank. “Creating and offering this program supports the financial independence and well-being of Maine’s residents with disabilities and reflects our ongoing commitment to provide better banking experiences for all community members.”

“Partnering with the State Treasurer’s Office to innovate this first-in-the-nation Bank-administered ABLE Program has been incredibly rewarding. It wouldn’t have come to fruition without the vision and commitment of former State Treasurer Terry Hayes and current State Treasurer Henry Beck, as well as the unshakable support of our President and CEO Bob Montgomery-Rice,” said Joyce Clark Sarnacki, Bangor Savings Bank Foundation Chair and a member of the ABLE ME development team.

The Maine ABLE Benefit Checking can be opened at any Bangor Savings Bank branch and is available to qualifying Maine residents. For more information about ABLE Programs across the country, visit the National Association of State Treasurers.

About Bangor Savings Bank

Bangor Savings Bank, with more than $6 billion in assets, offers retail banking to consumers as well as comprehensive commercial, corporate, payroll administration, merchant services, and small business banking services to businesses. The Bank, founded in 1852, is in its 169th year with more than 60 branches in Maine and New Hampshire and business and/or loan production offices in Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. Bangor Savings Bank and The Bangor Savings Bank Foundation have invested more than $3.4 million into the community in the form of sponsorships, grants, and partnership initiatives last year. Bangor Savings Bank is an equal opportunity employer and can be found on the Web at www.bangor.com. Member FDIC.

Architectural Trends and Social Justice

U.S. Access Board to Host Virtual Event on Designing for Inclusion: Architectural Trends and Social Justice

US Access Board logoThe U.S. Access Board will host a virtual public event on architectural trends and social justice on November 10, 2021 from 2:30 – 4:00 pm (ET).

The event will feature presentations by Board Members Karen Braitmayer and Deborah Ryan who will provide an accessibility review of current trends in architectural design, including those that have emerged in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. They will highlight aspects of those trends that advance equity and inclusion and discuss design alternatives to trends that are not fully accessible to all.

Members of the public will be able to pose questions during the event.

Use this link to learn more about this event…

 

Accessible Means of Egress – webinar

From the U.S. Access Board..

U.S. Access Board Webinar: Accessible Means of Egress

November 4, 2021 from 2:30 – 4:00 (ET)

US Access Board logoBuilding and life safety codes require that facilities provide accessible means of egress so that all people, including those with disabilities, can relocate and evacuate in a timely and safe manner. The 2010 ADA Accessibility Standards and the Architectural Barriers Act Accessibility Standards reference the International Building Code (IBC) for accessible means of egress. The next webinar in the Board’s free monthly series will take place November 4 from 2:30 – 4:00 (ET) and will review the minimum technical requirements for accessible means of egress in the IBC, including criteria for emergency evacuation for people with disabilities, evacuation planning, alarms, evacuation routes inside and outside of the building, and signage. An International Code Council representative and Access Board staff will also address frequently asked questions and common sources of confusion about accessible means of egress.

Visit www.accessibilityonline.org for more information or to register.

All webinars include video remote interpreting (VRI) and real-time captioning. Questions may be submitted in advance of the session or can be posed during the live webinar. Webinar attendees can earn continuing education credits. The webinar series is hosted by the ADA National Network in cooperation with the Board. Archived copies of previous Board webinars are available on the site.

Maine Celebrating National ABLE to Save Month By Announcing Program

From the Office of the State Treasurer

ABLE Act -National Resource Center logoAugusta, ME – August 17, 2021: August marks the nationally celebrated ABLE to Save Month, based on the federal Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (ABLE Act). The Act created a new option for qualified individuals living with disabilities and their families to save for the future, while protecting eligibility for public benefits. Although ABLE accounts come from the federal ABLE (Achieving a Better Life Experience) Act, they are established and managed on a state level. ABLE Savings Plan programs across the country will highlight the value and importance these plans bring to those living with disabilities this month.

In honor of the month, Maine Treasurer, Henry Beck, announced that Maine’s program, which is expected to launch by year end, will be the first of its kind in the country. ABLE ME is a new program of the State of Maine Office of the State Treasurer, and Bangor Savings Bank has been named the administrator of the program.

Beck said, “Nationally, ABLE accounts have gained traction and the structure of those accounts closely mirrors a 529 college savings account, with invested assets. Through our collaboration with Bangor Savings Bank and community advocates, we concluded that a transactional, FDIC-insured, checking account would best serve the needs of both young and adult Mainers with disabilities, and their families.”

“Creating greater financial empowerment in our communities is central to our You Matter More Promise,” said Bob Montgomery-Rice, President and CEO of Bangor Savings Bank. “We’re honored to step forward in partnership with the State Treasurer’s Office to create this innovative and beneficial program for Maine’s people with disabilities. Collaboration between the public and private sector is an integral part of Maine’s economy, and we are proud to contribute to greater economic mobility for those who qualify for this program.”

Bangor Savings Bank is currently developing the Maine ABLE Benefit Checking SM account. Until account development is complete and available, please direct all questions to The Office of the Maine State Treasurer.

About ABLE

ABLE plans can change the way individuals with disabilities and their families participate in the community, build financial wellness, and plan for the future by empowering them to save for the added expenses that come with having a disability without losing access to federal means-tested benefits.

ABLE accounts foster person-centered independence, build self-reliance, encourage employment, and improve quality of life. Without an ABLE account, individuals currently receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits are limited to savings in the amount of $2,000. This creates a real barrier to financial independence and limits a person’s economic mobility.

For more information about ABLE Savings Plans across the country, visit the National Association of State Treasurers.

The Office of the Maine State Treasurer will update its website as plans for ABLE ME rollout get closer. www.maine.gov/treasurer

About the Treasurer’s Office

The Office of the Treasurer of State is established in Article V, Part Third of the Constitution of the State of Maine. The core duties of the Treasurer’s Office are debt management, cash management, trust fund administration and unclaimed property administration. Other major tasks assigned to the Treasurer are directorships on many of Maine’s quasi-governmental debt issuing agencies and distributions under the Municipal Revenue Sharing Program.

About Bangor Savings Bank

Bangor Savings Bank, with more than $6 billion in assets, offers retail banking to consumers as well as comprehensive commercial, corporate, payroll administration, merchant services, and small business banking services to businesses. The Bank, founded in 1852, is in its 169th year with more than 60 branches in Maine and New Hampshire and business and/or loan production offices in Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. Bangor Savings Bank and The Bangor Savings Bank Foundation have invested more than $3.4 million into the community in the form of sponsorships, grants, and partnership initiatives last year. Bangor Savings Bank is an equal opportunity employer and Member FDIC.

 

Wheelchair securement on airlines – Briefing

From the U.S Access Board

U.S. Access Board to Host Public Briefing on Study on the Feasibility of Wheelchair Securement Systems in Passenger Aircraft

WASHINGTON, August 11, 2021 – The inability to use one’s wheelchair on airplanes makes air travel very difficult, if not impossible, for many people with disabilities. Among other challenges, it requires multiple transfers between boarding chairs and aircraft seats, posing injury risks. To address these challenges, the U.S. Access Board commissioned a study to assess the feasibility of equipping aircraft with securement systems so that passengers can remain in their wheelchairs on flights. The Transportation Research Board (TRB), of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, will release its final report mid-September.

The U.S. Access Board will host a public briefing on the final report on September 22 from 1:00 – 3:00 pm (ET).

The briefing will feature a presentation by the TRB Study Committee Members, including Committee Chair Dr. Alan M. Jette, on the two-year research study that focused on the design, engineering, and safety requirements for equipping aircraft with securement wheelchairs. The event is free, but registration is required. Members of the public will be able to pose questions during the event.

For further information on registration, visit the Access Board’s website or contact Rose Marie Bunales at events@access-board.gov. Note that the briefing will include video remote interpreting (VRI) and real-time captioning.

Visit TRB’s website for further information on the project. 

Accessible Autonomous Vehicles (AVS) webinar

The Great Lakes ADA Center in collaboration with the ADA National Network invites you to register for the upcoming ADA Audio Conference Webinar entitled:

Accessible Autonomous Vehicles (AVS)

autonomous transporterFeaturing Randall Duchesneau, Accessibility Specialist, U.S. Access Board.

Date: Tuesday, August 17th, 2021
Time: 2:00 – 3:30 pm ET 

The U.S. Access Board, in conjunction with other federal agencies earlier this year, completed a four-part series on the inclusive design of autonomous vehicles (AVs) for persons with disabilities. Join us as representatives from the Access Board provide an overview and summary of these sessions. In addition, this session will look at the next steps in ensuring AVs are accessible to and useable by persons with disabilities including persons with mobility, sensory and cognitive disabilities. Participants will have an opportunity to ask questions following the speaker’s presentation.

Format: Zoom Webinar Platform (closed captioning will be provided via Zoom and Stream Text link option)

Cost: No Charge

Registration Required:  Use this link to register for this session…

If you do not have an account with our system you will be required to establish one before registering.

Registration deadline: Monday, August 16th, 2021

CEUs: Certificate of Attendance, ACTCP

Questions: should be directed to webinars@adaconferences.org

 

U.S. Access Board Releases Report on Autonomous Vehicles

US Access Board logoThe U.S. Access Board has released a summary report on its four-part series of virtual meetings on making autonomous vehicles (AVs) accessible to passengers with disabilities. The sessions featured presentations by invited speakers who shared information and research results on design considerations and solutions for making AVs accessible to passengers with mobility, sensory, or cognitive disabilities. They also provided an opportunity for members of the public to pose questions and to share information and ideas during the session or through an online discussion platform.

Use this link to read more about the summary report

Assistive Technology in the Workplace – webinar from HKNC

Helen Keller National Center - logoThe Helen Keller National Center for Deaf Blind Youths and Adults (HKNC) is pleased to announce the release of their latest courses and more.

These are asynchronous courses (take them when you want to) and are free of charge until further notice. Please contact Brenda.Baroncelli@hknc.org to get the coupon code.

Assistive Technology in the Workplace

This course provides an overview of the types of adaptive technology available for individuals who are DeafBlind. Focus is placed specifically on access to computers and mobile devices. This course was designed as a resource for employers looking to ensure full access for their DeafBlind employees. However, this information can be beneficial to individuals who are DeafBlind themselves as well as providers working with or supporting people with combined vision and hearing loss. The DeafBlind population is quite diverse and therefore the types of technology or accommodations needed vary greatly from person to person.  This course does not provide in-depth training on how to use a specific device or software but rather provides an overview of what is available and the features and limitations of each. Resources on where to obtain and learn more about this technology are provided. The course is divided into two modules. The first module focuses on access via braille and speech output and the second module addresses screen magnification and enhancement software which allows an individual with some residual vision to access their computer screen or mobile device. The presenters in this training, Scott Davert, and Bryan Ward are both leading professionals in the field of Adaptive Technology and are DeafBlind themselves. They share personal and professional perspectives and a wealth of experience.

ACVREP CE Hours: 1.0

Technology Solutions for Older Adults with Combined Hearing and Vision Loss

Technology Solutions for Older Adults with Combined Hearing and Vision Loss is a first-of-its-kind resource. This new course is designed for people who directly work with, or otherwise provide support to, older adults who have combined hearing and vision loss and provides a foundation to better understand adaptive technologies that improve participants’ ability to communicate with others and live independently.  Authored by experts from various departments throughout HKNC and with input from the DeafBlind community, this 3-part course offers practical guidance to help improve the overall quality of life and self-sufficiency among older adults with combined hearing and vision loss. HKNC would like to gratefully acknowledge the Consumer Technology Association Foundation for the generous grant to develop this critical resource.

ACVREP CE Hours: 3.0

 

Public Input Sought on Removing Barriers to Voting for People with Disabilities

From the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

Accessible Voting System in MaineWASHINGTON – June 16, 2021 – The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has released for public comment a request for information (RFI) to remove barriers to voting for people with disabilities. The RFI is in response to Executive Order (EO) 14019 on Promoting Access to Voting. The public comments will inform NIST’s December 2021 report that will offer recommendations on how to overcome barriers that these voters with disabilities experience.

NIST will evaluate the steps needed to ensure that the online Federal Voter Registration Form is accessible to people with disabilities. NIST, in consultation with the Department of Justice, the Election Assistance Commission, and other agencies, will also analyze barriers to private and independent voting for people with disabilities, including access to voter registration, voting technology, voting by mail, polling locations, and poll worker training.

Public comments are due July 16, 2021. Comments may be submitted at www.regulations.gov by searching for NIST-2021-0003 or by email at pva-eo@list.nist.gov.

Complete instructions for comment submission can be found in the RFI.

FCC Launches Emergency Broadband Benefit Program on May 12

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

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

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

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

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