Let’s participate – new resource for infants and pre-schoolers

Early childhoodThe Let’s Participate! project, funded by the Office of Special Education Programs, was designed to help infants, toddlers and preschoolers with disabilities participate more fully in everyday activities through the use of assistive technology (AT).

Let’s Participate’s newly revamped website is chock-full of information on using AT with young children.

Please check out letsparticipate.org to find:

  • Numerous ready-to-be-used powerpoints and trainings
  • One-pagers on finding the right AT
  • A simple child-specific AT Plan
  • Resources on how to increase infant, toddler & preschooler participation using AT
  • Guidance on how/why to set up an AT lending library
  • Lots of tip sheets, activities, examples and more!

Use this link to visit Let’s Participate…

Photo credit: Image licensed through Creative Commons by Free Stock Photo

Maine DOE Launching a New Website

Maine DOE logoThe Maine Department of Education will be launching a new website on Friday, September 28, 2018. Over the course of the summer months, Department staff have been working on updating and re-writing website content for a new website that features an improved search function, a user-friendly interface, and a content management system which will allow Department staff to keep content updated and timely.

The new website will replace the current website found at maine.gov/doe. It will have a similar, yet new, look and feel.

It is important to note that those who have bookmarked links to the Department’s current website may need to re-save their bookmarks when the new website is released because there will be some pages that have a different website address.

To ensure that the field and the public can find information on the new website on Friday and going forward, please send all inquiries, comments, concerns, and questions related to the website to doe.webmaster@maine.gov.

For further questions about the launch of the new website, please contact Maine Department of Education Director of Communications, Rachel Paling at rachel.paling@maine.gov.

Resources to Support Adaption of Assistive and Instructional Technology

The Center on Technology and Disabilities (CTD) recently published a newsletter highlighting some of their publications related to education. Among those resources:

Implement Assistive Technology and Instructional Technology

EducationFuture Ready Assistive Technology: Fostering State Supports for Students with Disabilities – This report provides insights into the current state and future of assistive technology as well as resources to support your work.

AT and IT: Where are we headed? – This new infographic outlines the technology landscape, and what it means for state and district leaders, and teachers.

Technology Implementation Strategies that Work! – Watch this video series to learn more about the critical processes necessary to effectively support technology implementation in your district or school.

Understanding Assistive Technology: Policy and Implications for State Leaders – Assistive technology (AT) is an essential part of your overall technology plan. Watch this webinar to learn more about the legal requirements for AT, different types of AT supports, and the role of Universal Design for Learning (UDL).

Contact the CTD Technical Assistance Lead for SEA/LEA support, Kristin Ruedel – KRuedel@air.org.

For more information, visit CTD on the web!

Maine DOE Announces Award for Management of Assistive Technology

From the Maine DOE…

Maine CITE Coordinating Center logoAUGUSTA July 17, 2018 – The Maine Department of Education is pleased to announce that Maine CITE Coordinating Center has been awarded a grant to provide management of assistive technology (AT) services under the federal Assistive Technology Act of 2004 (ATA).

The Maine CITE Coordinating Center has served as the ATA Grant Manager since the federal law was enacted in 1989. Maine CITE oversees a statewide effort to get assistive technology (AT) to people of all ages with disabilities who need it through device demonstrations, device loans and AT reuse. Maine CITE also provides public awareness, information and referral, and training and technical assistance on AT.

Kathy Adams OTL, ATP the Director of the Maine CITE Coordinating Center said, “we are very pleased to be awarded this grant. AT can be essential in education, employment, community living and telecommunications. We renew our commitment to assisting Maine citizens with disabilities to learn about and get the AT they need and want to lead productive independent lives.”

Under this grant, Maine CITE will continue to support the needs of Maine students with print disabilities through the Maine Accessible Educational Materials (AEM) Program as required under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004. The statewide Maine AEM Program works to improve students’ access to AEM and to facilitate the use of AT.

Jan Breton, Director of Special Services Birth – 20 said, “we are very pleased to continue working with Maine CITE which has demonstrated over many years its commitment to expanding and supporting the use of technology to assist people with disabilities.”

For details about Assistive Technology (AT) and the Maine Accessible Educational Materials (AEM) Program visit mainecite.org or maine-aem.org.

For information on AT demonstrations and loans visit at4maine.org.

Quality Indicators for Assistive Technology in Post-Secondary Education

Accessibility pictogramFrom the Great Lakes ADA Center…

The Quality Indicators for Assistive Technology in Post-Secondary Education (QIAT-PS) project created a set of indicators to describe the characteristics of high quality AT services provided to students in Post-Secondary educational environments.

The indicators are divided into five general areas:

  1. Awareness and Eligibility -The Awareness and Eligibility area describes the steps programs take to make sure that students with disabilities are aware of AT services on the campus and know how to get access to them.
  2. Planning and Implementation -The Planning and Implementation area describes the things that programs do to make sure that students are able to use their AT devices as accommodations in classrooms and other campus settings.
  3. Evaluation of Effectiveness – Evaluation of effectiveness addresses activities that programs engage in to help ensure that their AT services are effective and as efficient as possible.
  4. Administrative Support -The administrative supports that are necessary in order to ensure continuity of program improvement efforts are described in this area. The indicators address the development of policies, procedures and other supports needed in order to maintain and improve AT programs at the Post-Secondary level.
  5. Professional Development and Training – Professional development and training describes critical features of AT training efforts for all staff and other key players in the AT program.

One of the primary interactive tools developed by QIAT-PS project is the Campus Self-Evaluation Matrix. The Matrix is a descriptive rating scale for each quality indicator. It is intended to be used for internal program evaluation and goal setting to improve AT services and supports. An individual or team using the tool chooses the indicator variation from 1 to 5 which most closely matches their program, 1 being a novice and 5 being expert or advanced. There is a notes section to add details about the matrix the score. With QIAT-PS, you can create a free institutional account that will allow you to keep multiple versions of your Campus Self-Evaluation Matrix results, create comparison reports, and generate an action plans to set goals and receive goal activity reminders.

Emily Hinton, Access Center for Disability Resources Manager at Waubonsee Community College in Illinois shared how her school has used the Campus Self-Evaluation Matrix:

“In the world of social service professionals, many of us are not numbers people, myself included. Much of our data is subjective and comes in the form of anecdotes and perceived trends. So, when I first became aware of QIAT-PS in December, 2015, I was intrigued by the possibility of a tool that could provide quantitative data. The tool also happened to coincide nicely with a newly developed team on campus that I was charged with leading, the Digital/Technology Accessibility Team of the the Accessibility Advisory Committee (AAC). The AAC is a cross-functional committee that includes employees from a variety of areas on campus including Business, Operations, Student Development and Instruction.

“The committee first met December, 2013 and primarily focused on physical accessibility needs for our institution’s four campuses. In Fall 2015, the AAC identified that there were additional areas requiring accessibility review and the Digital/Technology Accessibility Team was formed as well a Policy, Procedures and Guidelines Team and Physical Accessibility.

“The development of teams allowed for participation from even more departments. The Digital/Technology Team includes representation from Information Technology, Center for Teaching, Learning and Technology (training), Library, Bookstore, Educational Television and Marketing and Communications. This team worked to develop a three-year plan to address digital and technology needs for the institution and provided a framework of projects and tasks to be completed to improve accessibility. It is to this team that I proposed completing the QIAT-PS Campus Self-Evaluation Matrix. The team completed the matrix in Spring 2016, creating baseline data that showed what areas were the most lacking in assistive technology and accessibility and what areas we could easily move the needle. We were able to develop an Action Plan and incorporate it into our three-year plan.

“Fast forward two years to Spring 2018 and we completed the QIAT-PS Campus Self Evaluation Matrix for the second time. We were easily able to compare the matrices in our QIAT-PS account and identify that we had improved in 10 out of 25 indicators (40%)! Our goal is to continue using Action Plans created through the Campus Self-Evaluation Matrix to inform our ongoing three-year plan. It is an excellent way to keep momentum moving in accessibility improvements and ultimately result in a better student experience.”

To sign up for a free account and use the Campus Self-Evaluation matrix, visit QIAT-PS. Please contact Janet Peters at jpete@uic.edu or call 312-413-5931 to request an onsite training for the QIAT-PS tools.

New Family Guide on AT and AEM Published

Students using Assistive TechnologyThe Maine CITE Coordinating Center is excited to announce the release of the revised parent resource entitled, “Guide for Maine Families on Assistive Technology (AT) and Accessible Educational Materials (AEM).”

The revised Guide is for Maine families of children who have disabilities ages 3 to 21 years who are eligible for services and/or programs under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This guide will assist families to get necessary assistive technology (AT) devices and services and accessible educational materials (AEM) for their children.

Here is the link to a MS-Word document version for you to download and print.

Feel free to share the link with others and to download and print out copies of the Guide if you need “hard copy.” The digital document is fully accessible.

If you find information that is no longer accurate, please contact the Maine CITE Coordinating Center – we welcome your input.

Legal references regarding web accessibility

US Capitol DomeThe following are on-line resources that have listed and documented historic information about legal issues related to web accessibility. Resources include references to legal cases and rule interpretations. Thanks to several members of the ITACCESS listserv from Educause for assistance in compiling this list.

World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) – Web Accessibility Laws and Policies – lists United States and international governmental policies related to web accessibility, although it is not a comprehensive or definitive listing.

Law Office of Lainey Feingold – Legal Updates – The articles listed on this page are about legal developments related to web, mobile (digital), technology and information accessibility in the United States. These articles include advocacy initiatives by the Law Office of Lainey Feingold and her co-counsel and clients, and also by other lawyers, organizations, and government agencies.

Resources primarily focused on institutions of higher education

ATHEN – Legal news – Focused on Office for Civil Rights (OCR) complaints and resolutions in that have occurred in higher education.

Karl Groves – List of Web Accessibility-Related Litigation and Settlements – last updated 2015.

University of Washington – Legal Cases by Issue – Recent legal actions against higher education institutions related to the inaccessibility of information technology (IT).

University of Minnesota – Higher Ed Accessibility Lawsuits, Complaints, and Settlements – List of higher educational institutions face liability for inaccessible web content and technologies.

 

New guidance on IDEA

From the U.S. Department of Education

US Department of Education logoThe U.S. Department of Education (on 12/12/2016) made available to the public final regulations under Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), aimed at promoting equity by targeting widespread disparities in the treatment of students of color with disabilities. The regulations will address a number of issues related to significant disproportionality in the identification, placement, and discipline of students with disabilities based on race or ethnicity. The Department is also releasing a new Dear Colleague Letter addressing racial discrimination.

Children of color—particularly African-American and American Indian youth—are identified as students with disabilities at substantially higher rates than their peers. It is critical to ensure that overrepresentation is not the result of misidentification, including both over- and under-identification, which can interfere with a school’s ability to provide children with the appropriate educational services required by law. It is equally important to ensure that all children who are suspected of having a disability are evaluated and, as appropriate, receive needed special education and related services in the most appropriate setting and with the most appropriate discipline strategies employed.

This rule sets a common standard for identifying significant disproportionality in representation of students within special education, segregated school settings, and in receipt of disciplinary actions and ensures that school districts where disproportionality is found carefully review their policies and practices to determine root causes and whether changes are needed. The final rule ensures that school districts explore and address situations where the cause of significant disproportionality is due to under-identification of a group as well as over-identification.

Meanwhile, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is also releasing a new policy document to support educators and administrators as they work to identify students’ need for special education [PDF]. This new policy document was created to remind states, school districts, and public schools of their legal obligation to prevent discrimination on the basis of race in special education. OCR’s enforcement experience suggests both over-identification and under-identification based on race are occurring in schools.

For more information: please read – FACT SHEET: Equity in IDEA…

Pre-Employment Transition Services

As posted in the Maine Parent Federation News

High School student working in laboratoryThe Maine Department of Labor’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (or “VR” as it‘s commonly referred to) provides services to transition-age youth with disabilities to help prepare them for employment. Every high school in Maine has an assigned VR Counselor.

With the passage of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), there’s an increased national focus on making sure that young people with disabilities and their families start career planning early. To support this, VR is partnering with schools and organizations across the state to expand opportunities for high school students to learn about the world of work through “Pre-Employment Transition Services”.

Here are some examples:

  • Job Tours/Job Shadows
  • Job Clubs
  • Mock Interviews
  • Self-Advocacy/Independent Living Skills
  • Group Career Preparation Activities

Additionally, VR has a number of career assessment tools and helpful labor market information that can assist students to learn about education requirements, projected openings, and wage information for their career fields of interest.

To learn more about Pre-Employment Transition Services available in your area please contact your high school or local VR office. A complete listing of offices is available on the VR’s website.

For more information call (207) 623-6799.

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Photo credit: Image licensed by Creative Commons by Speed of Creativity.

Digital Accessibility Toolkit for State and District Education Leaders

StudentsAccessibility of websites and other digital technologies have seen increased attention this year from the Department of Education Office for Civil Rights when it comes to state departments of education and school districts.

eSchool News published a recent article about a Digital Accessibility Toolkit for state and district education leaders.  The toolkit provides an overview of digital accessibility in four areas:

  • Why accessibility is important;
  • Procurement of accessible technology by states and districts;
  • Benefits of accessible technology; and
  • The last section is a discussion of the legal requirements for digital accessibility.

Resources

And also check out the new Accessibility in Schools resource here on the Maine CITE website.