April 2020 Webinars

Maine CITE is offering the following webinars in April

Everyday Assistive Technology for People with Serious Mental Illness – Refresh

computer keyboardDate: April 1, 2020
Time: 1:00 – 2:00 pm ET

This is an update and revision of a 2017 webinar of the same name. Dr. Gitlow was kind enough to return to discuss the latest information on this important topic.

People with serious mental illness often experience difficulties comprehending, processing new information and acting appropriately. Common issue include difficulty with attention, concentration, memory, and the ability to plan activities.

In this webinar, we Identify common psychosocial motor, cognitive, contextual, and environmental barriers which may interfere with the use of Assistive Technology (AT) and everyday technology (EDT) among individuals with SMI.

Presenter

  • Lynn Gitlow

Use this link for more information and to register for the Webinar: EveryDay Assistive Technology for people with Serious Mental Illness…


The following list of April 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.

Creating High-Quality and Accessible Video from AEM
April 6, 2020 at 3:00 pm EST

Learn AAC : AAC Resources in 4 Languages! From USSAAC
April 6, 2020 at 7:00 pm EST

We’re All in This Together: Four Cs for Supporting All Learners in the COVID-19 Crisis from AEM
April 7, 2020 at 3:00 pm EST

Creating Accessible Documents and Slide Decks from AEM
April 13, 2020 at 3:00 pm EST

Making Math Notation Accessible from AEM
April 21, 2020 at 3:00 pm EST

Basics of Remediating an Inaccessible PDF from AT3
April 21, 2020 at 3:00 pm EST

Aidan’s Path to Braille – An Alternative Approach to Literacy from TSBVI
April 1, 2020 at 4:00 pm EST

UDL in Action: Practical Ideas for the Classroom from SETC
April 2, 2020 at 6:30 pm EST

Learning Ally: Motivating Struggling Readers Through Literature from SETC
April 8, 2020 at 3:00 pm EST

AAC Eval Genie: An Overview from SETC
April 9, 2020 at 3:00 pm EST

GoTalkNow: A Tool for Literacy Instruction for all Learners from SETC
April 14, 2020 at 3:00 pm EST

Unleashing the Power of UDL: Top Digital Tools for the Inclusive Classroom! From AbleNet
April 15, 2020 at 2:00 pm EST

AAC: Introduction to CoughDrop from SETC
April 21, 2020 at 3:00 pm EST

Working w/Students Using Switches: New and Emerging Technologies! from SETC
April 22, 2020 at 6:30 pm EST

AAC: Introduction to Speak for Yourself from SETC
April 28, 2020 at 3:00 pm EST

 

Google Teach From Home

Google logoIn response to the rapidly changing educational landscape, Google has created a new resource for teachers Teach from Home. The new web resource is available in eleven languages and provides teachers with answers to many questions and links to make additional resources found on their Google in Education service. There is a complete section on accessibility that describes how to turn on and use access features in Chrome and on Chromebooks.

The Teach From Home resource is also available to download (in PDF) for teachers who have limited access to the internet.

Google has also created a complementary resources, Learn @ Home a guide for parents and guardians.  Google partnered with learning creators to bring parents and families meaningful resources and activities. These resources are not meant to replace homework assigned by teachers, but meant to complement that work.

Use this link to visit Teach From Home

 

Hotspot Donations and Wireless for Educators

ACTEM and all ISTE affiliates have been asked to pass along the following information from Digital Wish…

Hotspot Donations and $10/Month Wireless for Educators

With nationwide school closures due to COVID-19, nonprofits Mobile Beacon and Digital Wish have a major hotspot donation program available that can significantly increase remote connectivity for students and teachers. Visit digitalwish.org and get up to 11 donated hotspots per school. Discounted $10/month unlimited 4G LTE internet service is provided so that teachers and students can connect and learn from anywhere in the Mobile Beacon coverage area. With a lending pool of hotspots, students-in-need can access the internet to embark on a distance learning journey during isolation.

Each hotspot has unlimited, high-speed 4G LTE mobile broadband service, and can connect up to 10 people on the internet on only one plan.

This donation program is open to all public, private, and non-profit K-12 schools and universities. For higher-need schools that exceed the cap of 11 hotspots per school, behind the scenes Digital Wish is purchasing modems that will qualify for the subsidized $10/month broadband service. If you need more, please contact: Heather Chirtea 802-379-3000, heather@digitalwish.org.

Mobile Beacon is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and the second-largest Educational Broadband Service (EBS) provider in the United States. The nonprofit has been given an EBS spectrum license by the FCC, specifically to support broadband use in schools. Nonprofit Digital Wish teamed up to make the 4G LTE hotspot device donation program available to schools throughout the United States. If your schools have connectivity issues, this subsidized service will allow you to fill the gaps with wireless hotspot donations and equitably connect all students. Schools can easily create a Hotspot Lending Pool for students needing internet access at home.

Use this link to learn how to set up a lending pool...

Please share this announcement with your colleagues who are struggling to acquire access for remote students.

 

AEM Center offers series of training on accessibility in distance learning

The AEM Center at CAST is offering free webinars on access and distance education for educators, parents, and those involved in remote instruction.

The series of six webinar, beginning on March 30, 2020 are designed to help educators who are now offering all of their lessons online – and parents – to support learners with disabilities, particularly those who use Assistive Technology (AT) and need Accessible Educational Materials (AEM).

Topics and dates are as follows:

Webinar 1: Personalizing the Reading Experience 
Monday, March 30, 2020 from 3:00 – 4:00 PM ET

Webinar 2: Creating High-Quality and Accessible Video
Monday, April 6, 2020 from 3:00 – 4:00 PM ET

Webinar 3: We’re All in This Together: Four Cs for Supporting All Learners in the COVID-19 Crisis 
Tuesday, April 7, 2020 from 3:00 – 4:00 PM ET

Webinar 4: Creating Accessible Documents and Slide Decks
Monday, April 13, 2020 from 3:00 – 4:00 PM ET

Webinar 5: We’re All in this Together: Communication and Collaboration In-the-Trenches
Tuesday, April 14, 2020 from 3:00 – 4:00 PM ET

Webinar 6: Making Math Notation Accessible
Tuesday, April 21, 2020 from 3:00 – 4:00 PM ET

For those unable to attend the live sessions, all webinars will be recorded and archived.

Use this link to read complete program descriptions and sign up…

Supporting Students with IEPs During eLearning Days

With schools across the country forced into the situation of closing and providing services to students via distance education, this webinar focused on the specific educational and technical needs of students with IEPs. Particular emphasis was paid to supporting students who use Assistive Technologies (AT) and Accessible Educational Materials (AEM) and the importance of ensuring distance learning systems work effectively with these. Resources and offers for technical assistance were described.

Due to high demand and a tremendous turn out, the live session on March 23rd was not available to most who registered for the event.

The recording from edWeb is now available to view at this link

Supporting Students with IEPs During eLearning Days was presented by Christine Fox, Deputy Executive Director, SETDA; Cynthia Curry, Director, National Center on Accessible Educational Materials and the Center on Inclusive Technology & Education Systems (CITES) at CAST; and Luis Perez, Technical Assistance Specialist, National Center on Accessible Educational Materials at CAST –

“Study from Car” Initiative Starts in Maine

Network Maine logoNetworkmaine is a unit of the University of Maine System providing Maine’s Research & Education (R&E) community with access to high-bandwidth, low-latency connectivity and complimentary services that enhance their ability to successfully deliver on their missions. Founded in 2009 Networkmaine provides K-12 schools and public libraries in the state with Internet connectivity at little or no cost through the Maine School Library Network – MSLN project.

The following announcement comes from Networkmaine:

Study-From-Car Initiative

With the closure of public schools and the subsequent transition to remote learning, many schools have identified a lack of adequate Internet access in the homes of some of their students, limiting the ability of those students to participate in online learning opportunities.

Networkmaine has offered assistance to the roughly 140 local schools that have their WiFi networks provided through the Maine Learning Technology Initiative (MLTI) in creating an additional “guest” WiFi network.  This additional WiFi network will be completely segregated from any existing network(s) at the school.  The hope is that the MLTI wireless service currently bleeds out of the building to the extent that someone could park in the parking lot and obtain service, allowing them to participate in online learning while maintaining the social distancing that the school closures are intended to facilitate. We have already heard from schools that are re-positioning their WiFi access points near exterior wall and windows to help extend the outside coverage.

We have dubbed this effort Study-From-Car as a play on the phrase work-from-home that has become so prevalent in the media.

We encourage participating schools to use the hashtag #studyfromcar if they make any announcements on social media.

Use this link for more information – and to see an interactive map where Study from Car schools are located

Don Johnston offers free software to schools

This announcement comes from Don Johnston, a company that makes assistive technology software, services and curriculum materials

As some of the most vulnerable students head home for eLearning, our role is to let our tools go to work helping students access learning—so they don’t miss a beat.

Whether you’re a current customer or a new customer, we’re here to help you provide essential accommodations and learning supports across your caseload or school district.

Fill out our online form, we’ll contact you with next steps. (This is a manual process, so it may take some time to get set up due to the increasing need.)

 

Freedom Scientific offers free licenses until June

Freedom Scientific is offering college students in the US and Canada a Free Home License of JAWS, ZoomText, or Fusion which will expire June 30, 2020.

If you are suddenly at home with no access to your AT software, we have you covered.

We know many of you must remain at home and will need to continue to work or attend school remotely. To ensure that your life remains accessible we are offering those in the US and Canada a Free Home License of JAWS, ZoomText, or Fusion which will expire June 30, 2020.

For those outside of North America, Freedom Scientific and our international distributors are working together to provide home solutions for our customers during the COVID-19 crisis. Please contact your states distributor if you need assistance connecting to school or work from home.

Use this link for more information…

 

US Department of Education updates guidance

The United States Department of Education (USDOE), in response to apparent incorrect assumptions being made across the nation, that providing educational services to student with disabilities via “distance instruction” presents too many barriers. On March 21, 2020 the USDOE published, Supplemental Fact Sheet Addressing the Risk of COVID-19 in Preschool, Elementary and Secondary Schools While Serving Children with Disabilities. 

This guidance states the following:

At the outset, OCR and OSERS must address a serious misunderstanding that has recently circulated within the educational community. As school districts nationwide take necessary steps to protect the health and safety of their students, many are moving to virtual or online education (distance instruction). Some educators, however, have been reluctant to provide any distance instruction because they believe that federal disability law presents insurmountable barriers to remote education. This is simply not true. We remind schools they should not opt to close or decline to provide distance instruction, at the expense of students, to address matters pertaining to services for students with disabilities. Rather, school systems must make local decisions that take into consideration the health, safety, and well-being of all their students and staff.

To be clear: ensuring compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), † Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (Section 504), and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act should not prevent any school from offering educational programs through distance instruction. School districts must provide a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) consistent with the need to protect the health and safety of students with disabilities and those individuals providing education, specialized instruction, and related services to these students. In this unique and ever-changing environment, OCR and OSERS recognize that these exceptional circumstances may affect how all educational and related services and supports are provided, and the Department will offer flexibility where possible. However, school districts must remember that the provision of FAPE may include, as appropriate, special education and related services provided through distance instruction provided virtually, online, or  telephonically.

The Department understands that, during this national emergency, schools may not be able to provide all services in the same manner they are typically provided. While some schools might choose to safely, and in accordance with state law, provide certain IEP services to some students in-person, it may be unfeasible or unsafe for some institutions, during current emergency school closures, to provide hands-on physical therapy, occupational therapy, or tactile sign language educational services. Many disability-related modifications and services may be effectively provided online. These may include, for instance, extensions of time for assignments, videos with accurate captioning or embedded sign language interpreting, accessible reading materials, and many speech or language services through video conferencing.

It is important to emphasize that federal disability law allows for flexibility in determining how to meet the individual needs of students with disabilities. The determination of how FAPE is to be provided may need to be different in this time of unprecedented national emergency. As mentioned above, FAPE may be provided consistent with the need to protect the health and safety of students with disabilities and those individuals providing special education and related
services to students. Where, due to the global pandemic and resulting closures of schools, there has been an inevitable delay in providing services – or even making decisions about how to provide services – IEP teams (as noted in the March 12, 2020 guidance) must make an individualized determination whether and to what extent compensatory services may be needed when schools resume normal operations.

Finally, although federal law requires distance instruction to be accessible to students with disabilities, it does not mandate specific methodologies. Where technology itself imposes a barrier to access or where educational materials simply are not available in an accessible format, educators may still meet their legal obligations by providing children with disabilities equally effective alternate access to the curriculum or services provided to other students. For example, if a teacher who has a blind student in her class is working from home and cannot distribute a document accessible to that student, she can distribute to the rest of the class an inaccessible document and, if appropriate for the student, read the document over the phone to the blind student or provide the blind student with an audio recording of a reading of the document aloud.

Download and read this entire PDF document: Supplemental Fact Sheet Addressing the Risk of COVID-19 in Preschool, Elementary and Secondary Schools While Serving Children with Disabilities…

Online teaching resources for Maine educators

Providing Equal Access to Distance Curriculum

As schools in Maine close in response to concerns about the spread of COVID-19 and begin to educate their students “from a distance,” we offer some resources to assist in the process.

This resource includes links to articles, videos and services which will assist Maine educators to ensure access to all of their students as they move to teaching online. There are also some references for therapists.

Use this link to go to Resources for Maine Educators Teaching Online

Thanks to our colleagues for sharing their resources. We acknowledge the work of Hillary Goldthwait-Fowles, PhD, ATP of RSU 21, Kennebunk, ME and Mike Marotta, Director, The Richard West Assistive Technology Advocacy Center, NJ, and Luis Perez, Ed.D. of the National Center on Accessible Educational Materials.