The Way Learning Should Be Conference

ACTEM – The Association of Computer Technology Educators of Maine

ACTEM logoACTEM has opened the registration for its annual fall conference taking place

October 10-11, 2019
Augusta Civic Center • Augusta, ME

The 2019 Conference Program includes…

  • Two full days of engaging professional development.
  • Dynamic Keynote Speakers
  • Over 100 workshop sessions
  • Over 40 Exhibitors

Maine CITE will be exhibiting at the Conference and John Brandt and Hillary Goldthwait-Fowles, Ph.D, ATP will be presenting “Innovative Technologies in Special Education.”

Use this link for more information and early bird registration discounts…

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.

Change the Way You Approach Accessibility

The following free webinar announcement is from edWeb…

Change the Way You Approach Accessibility

Thursday, May 16, 2019 @ 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm EDT

Presented by Jason Don Forsythe, Senior Solutions Engineer, Blackboard

Accessible Information TechnologyAccessibility is a topic that schools and districts continue to struggle with as learning opportunities and technologies expand our potential to reach more learners in new ways. District leaders have also begun to consider a more holistic definition of inclusivity as they modify policies, requirements, and professional-development expectations. From websites to learning management systems, we are able to create even more instructional opportunities for our students. The content we create and share must take into account this broader definition of inclusivity—learning needs, access issues, and a more mobile and diverse student population than ever before.

Attend this edWebinar to learn how to provide a more accessible and equitable learning environment and experience for all learners. We will share best practices, tips, and tools districts can use to move toward greater inclusivity. This presentation will be of interest to educational professionals, webmasters, superintendents, tech leaders, special-education coordinators, and principals. There will be time to get your questions answered at the end of the presentation.

About the Presenter

Jason Don Forsythe is a senior solutions engineer with the Blackboard K12 team. Prior to working at Blackboard, Jason worked for state government for a decade overseeing distant education initiatives, accessibility compliance, and instructional design projects. Jason resides in San Diego, CA with his wife Brandie and their three children.

Use this link for more information and to register for this webinar…

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…

 

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…

Using Assistive Technology to Improve Reading

From EdWeb, this free webinar should be of interest to folks here in Maine…

Turn Struggling Readers Into Leaders Using Assistive Technology

Tuesday, Apr. 16 at 3 p.m. Eastern Time

EducationIn this edWebinar, join Dana Blackaby as members of her student-led “tech crew” demonstrate forms of assistive technology and share personal anecdotes describing how it helps them overcome some of their most daunting academic challenges. These students all have IEPs or 504 plans, but there are times when only the use of assistive technology allows them to overcome barriers.

Sometimes the biggest barrier to effectively utilizing assistive technology in the classroom is the teacher, as many feel they need to be experts themselves before allowing students to utilize it. When students are given the chance to showcase their expertise, however, teachers are often convinced to embrace the technology. Many teachers make students the tech experts in their classrooms. The result is that they regularly demonstrate marked improvements in their reading skills, social behavior, confidence, and public speaking, elevating them to leaders in their classrooms and schools.

This edWebinar will be of interest to elementary through middle school teachers, librarians, and school and district leaders.

Use this link for more information and to register for this webinar…

Free Accessible Educational Videos Available

Closed Captioning symbolThe Described and Captioned Media Program (DCMP) provides access to over 8,000 accessible educational videos on DVD and online streaming. Families, educators, and other professionals who have at least one qualifying student qualify for membership.

Registration is easy, and it takes only a few minutes to fill out the form and verify email. Please use this form to sign up…

There are no costs associated with any of our services.

Assistive Technology for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Early childhoodAs part of Maine CITE’s presentations at recent conferences, we have created a new resource for assistive technology (AT) for people affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The resource will now be updated regularly as we become aware of new AT devices and services. If you know of anything you think should be added to this page, please contact John Brandt at jbrandt@mainecite.org .

Use this link to visit AT for people with ASD.

 

Reaching Accessibility Goals for Higher Education

Accessible Information TechnologyA new article in Inside Higher Ed magazine Helping Institutions Reach Accessibility Goals details the fact that many institutions of higher education fail to have “coherent policies around accessibility. ” And, they note that there has been “…a recent uptick in high-profile lawsuits alleging failure to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act…”

While the reasons for this situation are many, the article suggests “time constraints” make be a factor. Quoting Cynthia Curry from the National Center on Accessible Educational Materials (NC-AEM)“Part of the problem is that people don’t have the time to do something systemic around accessibility within their institutions…” Curry said. “Most institutions, of course, aren’t looking proactively at accessibility. They’re looking at it more as a retrofit, or they’re being reactive if something litigious comes up.”

Maine CITE’s own resident digital accessibility resource person is John Brandt. Brandt’s own 25-year experience in web development and accessibility suggest that the perceived high cost to make web content accessible is probably the largest single factor in the equation. “Most organizations look at accessibility as expensive because they are approaching it from a mitigation perspective. They often fail to look at the costs associated with NOT having accessible content – lost student admissions, lack of student retention, etc.”

While most web accessibility experts will talk about the importance of “adding accessibility in at the beginning” of a web design process, colleges and universities are often not able to do this since they were among the first organizations to have websites in the 1990s – they have accumulated lots of content.

But even if an institution is committed to improving accessibility, they often don’t know where to start. To that end, the Inside Higher Education article promotes a new set of quality indicators for accessible educational materials developed by NC-AEM designed to “help institutions ensure, at scale, that all students have the same learning opportunities in face-to-face classrooms and digital learning environments.” The article focuses on the NC-AEM’s recently published  “Higher Education Critical Components of the Quality Indicators for the Provision of Accessible Educational Materials & Accessible Technologies” which promote seven quality indicators (QI), each containing specific criteria needed to achieve each QI.

For colleges and universities just starting out with the process, these quality indicators can provide a blueprint and structure of the thinking process that need to be considered. Tom Tobin, one of the people interviewed in the article, encourages “institutions (to) focus accessibility efforts on the potential impact on student access and learning outcomes, rather than merely on ‘legal-compliance arguments.’”

“While the description of the quality indicators alludes to the broad access benefits for all learners when accessible materials, tools and interface are adopted, the actual indicators and critical components are focused squarely on meeting the needs of learners with disabilities — only a part of the access conversation,” Tobin states in the article.

Read “Helping Institutions Reach Accessibility Goals”

Read/view the NC-AEM – “Higher Education Critical Components of the Quality Indicators for the Provision of Accessible Educational Materials & Accessible Technologies”

New Free Module for Teacher Prep Programs

high school studentsThe following announcement comes from the Center on Technology and Disability (CTD)

CTD has created an Assistive Technology Module for Personnel Preparation Programs in participating colleges and universities and is now making it available to all educators and trainers interested in a “ resource package”. The resources can be downloaded and copied or distributed electronically at this unique link.

According to the announcement, the materials in this module will help students in teacher preparation programs:

  • Understand the basic concepts underlying the use of assistive technology.
  • Become familiar with the words and terms associated with AT.
  • Understand your role as a teacher in helping to identify and integrate the use of appropriate AT
    in your classroom.
  • Learn about the laws governing AT in public schools.
  • Participate as a knowledgeable professional in the IEP teams to which you will be assigned.
  • Become a role model, peer mentor, and school leader in the use of AT.
  • Change the lives of students with physical, sensory, cognitive, and emotional/behavioral disabilities.

In the same announcement, CTD offered another printed (PDF) resource entitled, Assistive Technology in the Classroom: Examples Designed to Help Teachers and Other School Personnel. This resource provides several case studies and offers discussion group questions for students in teacher preparation programs to use to help identify appropriate assistive technology devices and services.

Please use this link for more information and to access the resources…