Two free virtual events on Employment & Transition Age Youth

From the Maine Department of Labor – Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, Division for the Blind & Visually Impaired, and Maine Medical Center – Department of Vocational Services

Your First Steps on the Pathway to Employment

A collaborative summit for youth with disabilities and their allies

Wednesday, May 12, 2021
2:00-3:30 PM

This virtual conference will explore the expansion of Special Education Services to the age of 22, the importance of Work Experience, information on Social Security disability benefits, and how working impacts benefits for transition-aged youth. Hosted by the Maine Department of Labor Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, Division for the Blind & Visually Impaired, and Maine Medical Center Department of Vocational Services.

Use this link to register for the May 12 event…

Disability Work Incentives for Teenagers & Young Adults

Wednesday, May 26, 2021
2:00-3:00 PM

This is a free webinar offered by Benefits Counseling Services at Maine Medical Center’s Department of Vocational Services. We will discuss the unique work incentives available to transition age youth, as well as important benefit transitions such as the Age-18 redetermination process.

Use this link to register for the May 26 event…

New MyJAN Portal Added

From AskJAN…

New MyJAN Portal Offers Customized Access to AskJAN.org Resources

Job Accommodations Network - JAN - logoThe MyJAN portal is a new online tool made available by the Job Accommodation Network (JAN). MyJAN offers AskJAN.org website users customized access to resources on the site. Work smarter and faster by organizing your frequently accessed and favorite JAN Newsletter articles, accommodation solutions by disability, A to Z by Topic resources, and many more, in one convenient online location. MyJAN offers quick access to the AskJAN.org resources you trust to help you navigate the interactive process, explore job accommodation solutions, and be informed about Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) rights and responsibilities.

Organize the AskJAN.org website your way!

MyJAN is an online portal where you can organize AskJAN.org resources by Accommodation, Legal, and Other categories. While using your personal MyJAN portal, simply explore the AskJAN.org website and add pages by clicking the MyJAN+ tab on the right side of the screen. From there, select a filing category, add notes about the resource and rate it, and set the list and grid view order. There’s no limit to the number of AskJAN.org resources that can be saved, and resources can be added, organized, and deleted as you choose.

Never miss a new AskJAN.org resource!

Recommended and newly released AskJAN.org resources are displayed in a “Recommended Resources” tab in your MyJAN portal. Recommended resources include a description and can easily be added to or deleted from your customized MyJAN portal.

Access all the ADA and accommodation AskJAN.org resources you need in one convenient online location.

Set-up a free customizable MyJAN account today at the MyJAN portal page.

 

Telework and Accessibility

From PEAT – the Partnership on Employment and Accessible Technology

Telework and Accessibility ToolkitMany employers and employees have shifted to telework. PEAT is here to help with the transition to ensure your digital communications and platforms are as accessible as possible for everyone, including people with disabilities.

The recent shift to telework for a staggering number of government and private sector employees has caused a surge in the use of digital communications systems. Employers and employees are now relying heavily on digital technologies to conduct business, collaborate with colleagues, host virtual events, and recruit and hire employees.

Use this link to access the PEAT Telework and Accessibility Toolkit and other resources…

Where can I get an inexpensive computer?

fingers on computer keyboardThis has been perhaps the most popular question received at Maine CITE over the past 10 months. A byproduct of the COVID-19 pandemic has been high demand for information technology (IT) particularly free and low-cost options. From students learning from home, to patients visiting their doctors via Zoom, to isolated seniors looking to connect with friends and family, the need for computers and IT has become phenomenal.

While for many, personal technology at home is commonplace, for many others, including seniors on fixed incomes and people with disabilities, the costs are prohibitive. Fortunately, there are several options for getting Maine people low-cost, recycling technology.

As part of our Maine CITE Equipment Reuse resource webpage, we have listed numerous programs and organizations that may be able to help Maine citizens get inexpensive, used assistive technology (AT). Here is a summary of programs that specialize in the recycling of computers and information technology equipment:

Give IT Get IT

Probably the best resource in Maine is Give IT Get IT a nonprofit organization that helps eligible individuals and nonprofit organizations get access to fast, high-quality computers – and outstanding user support – at the lowest cost possible.

The Waterville-based nonprofit formed last year out of a merger between PCs for Maine and eWaste Alternatives and has increasing its capacity to recycle retired technology devices from Maine businesses, refurbish them, and distribute them to “technologically isolated” Mainers.

Give IT Get IT can provide information technology equipment to eligible individuals or non-profit organizations including schools and libraries at costs well below market-value. Eligibility to purchase equipment is based upon family size and household income – see/download this link for details – PDF

Give IT Get IT does have a Sponsorship program which will provide computers to needy individuals for free, but the waiting list for these is quite long.

Qualified persons with disabilities may be able to get funding for this equipment through a MaineCARE assistive technology waiver, through vocational rehabilitation, or other insurance. Please check with your funder before contacting Give IT Get IT.

Both laptop and desktop computers are available and come with MS Windows 10 installed (Note: Laptops are more expensive than desktops). Prices start at $95.00 for a basic desktop and range up to $330 for an advance laptop.

All the computers recycled by Give IT Get IT are commercial grade and three years old or newer. There are three pricing levels based upon the device specifications. All devices also come with preinstalled basic software; the advanced devices come with more memory, processor speed, to accommodate advanced software needs. Some of the latest equipment come with web cameras and are ready for video conferencing or on-line learning.

In addition to computers, Give IT Get IT also sells refurbished, low-cost monitors, surge protectors, ethernet cable, headsets, and laptop docking stations. Devices may be shipped to your location for a fee: $38 for desktops, $22 for laptops. Devices may also be picked up for free from their Waterville location.

All devices come with a six-month warranty by Give IT Get IT and all devices can be returned within 15 days for a complete refund.

Free phone support and online training is also available. Call (207) 338-4233 if you have any questions.

Give IT Get IT
60 Industrial St.
Waterville, ME

Phone: (207) 338-4233

Website: giveitgetit.org/

Email: info@giveitgetit.org

PCs for People

Founded in 1998, PCs for People is a national leader in digital inclusion. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, every project, program, and initiative at PCs for People is centered on getting low-cost computers and affordable broadband internet into the homes of low-income individuals.

PCs for People provides services to both individuals and businesses looking to acquire or dispose of technology. Any family or individual receiving government benefits or living below 200% of the federal poverty line is eligible for services (please see website for specific eligibility criteria and documentation requirements). In addition to the services offered directly to families, PCs for People offer free recycling and data sanitization services to corporations. PCs for People’s corporate recycling services are extremely simple, cost efficient, helps those in need, and is a better alternative to traditional recycling.

PC for People operates from seven locations in six states (unfortunately, none in Maine) but all their devices, including desktop computers, laptop computers, and internet “hotspots” may be purchased online and delivered with free shipping. All computers are MS Windows 10, come with a 90-day warranty and may be returned or exchanged within 30 days (note: restocking fee may be charged for returns).

PCs for People
1481 Marshall Avenue
Saint Paul, MN 55104

Phone: (654)354-2552

Website: pcsforpeople.org/

Email: info@pcsforpeople.org

Other Resources

In addition to these two programs, there are numerous businesses and organizations that provide similar recycling programs around the country. The following is a partial list of similar programs that resell refurbished information technology equipment:

 

 

JAN offers free webcasts

Person at desk using keyboardThe Job Accommodation Network (JAN) is the leading source of free, expert, and confidential guidance on workplace accommodations and disability employment issues. Working toward practical solutions that benefit both employer and employee, JAN helps people with disabilities enhance their employability, and shows employers how to capitalize on the value and talent that people with disabilities add to the workplace.

Starting in October 2020, JAN is offering a series of free webcasts to the public. Topics include Ergonomics for Teleworkers, ADA Update, Accommodating Veterans, and many more. The JAN Webcast Series is free, but you must register for each event. Sign up now, as space is limited!

Dates/times and titles follow. Use this link for more information and to register for any of these events.

October 2020
Intentional Inclusion: Increasing Access & Opportunity
10/13/2020 | 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM Eastern

November 2020
The Top Ten Veteran-Related Accommodation Questions and Answers
11/10/2020 | 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM Eastern

December 2020
Ergonomics for Teleworkers
12/08/2020 | 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM Eastern

January 2021
Accommodations for Respiratory Impairments
01/12/2021 | 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM Eastern

February 2021
Requesting and Negotiating Reasonable Accommodations
02/09/2021 | 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM Eastern

March 2021
ADA and Accommodation Lessons Learned: COVID-19 Edition
03/09/2021 | 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM Eastern

April 2021
Service and Emotional Support Animals in the Workplace
04/13/2021 | 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM Eastern

May 2021
Q&A with the Cog/Psych Team: Challenging Mental Health Scenarios
05/11/2021 | 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM Eastern

June 2021
Accommodating Public Safety Workers with Disabilities
06/08/2021 | 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM Eastern

July 2021
ADA Update
07/13/2021 | 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM Eastern

August 2021
AT Update: What’s new in 2021
08/10/2021 | 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM Eastern

 

2020 Guide for Maine Families on AT and AEM Published

EducationThe Maine CITE Assistive Technology Program is pleased to release the revised Guide for Maine Families on Assistive Technology and Accessible Educational Materials. The 2020 Guide provides Maine families who have children with disabilities an easy to use resource describing how to get the assistive technology (AT) devices and services they need. Information about accessible education materials (AEM) and families’ important role in the planning process are also provided.

The 2020 Guide updates general information about AT and AEM. It includes new resources about assistive technology used during “learning at home” activities, as well as AT device demonstration and loan services – AT4Maine.org.

Use this link to download the The Guide – PDF

Tips for Hosting Accessible Meetings with Deaf Participants

Accessibility pictogramThe National Deaf Center on Postsecondary Outcomes (NDC) has hosted a valuable set of tips for hosting meetings where some of the participants may be deaf or hard of hearing. They note, “besides running a better meeting, effective communication between hearing and deaf people has other benefits for career success. Research shows it strengthens relationships, increases well-being, and fosters meaningful participation in the workplace.”

Among the tips are recommendations regarding:

  • the use of captioning for any videos shared in the meeting,
  • the importance of providing the right accommodations – including in-person American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter, remote ASL interpreter, remote speech-to-text services, large print materials, and presentations slides as handouts with presenter notes, and
  • establishing some meeting ground rules, including taking turns, and identifying yourself before making comments.

The complete list of tips (PDF) may be downloaded from this link to the NDC website

In need of further assistance? Connect with the NDC Help Team

 

Access to air travel for passengers who use wheelchairs

From the U.S. Access Board

Study Initiated on Equipping Passenger Aircraft with Wheelchair Restraint Systems

US Access Board logoThe U.S. Access Board is undertaking a study that has the potential to advance access to air travel for passengers who use wheelchairs. As directed by Congress, this project will assess the feasibility of equipping passenger planes with restraint systems so that passengers can remain in their wheelchairs on flights. Having to transfer out of wheelchairs makes air travel very difficult, if not impossible, for many people with disabilities.

The Board is conducting this study through the National Academy of Sciences’ Transportation Research Board (TRB). TRB has organized a committee of experts to evaluate the feasibility of in-cabin wheelchair restraint systems. Members include experts in aircraft interiors and safety engineering, accessibility, wheelchair design and crashworthiness, airline operations, and other disciplines. Committee members will evaluate the design, engineering, and safety requirements for equipping aircraft with locking or tiedown mechanisms for non-motorized and motorized wheelchairs used as seats. If such restraint systems are found to be feasible, the committee will then assess the wheelchair restraint systems that can be used to accommodate passengers using wheelchairs through all phases of flight, from boarding to deplaning.

The committee will hold its first meeting February 5 – 6, 2020 at the Access Board’s conference center. Most sessions will be open to the public and available by web conference. Those attending in person do not need to register in advance, but registration is required (free) to attend online.

Visit TRB’s website for further information on this project, the meeting agenda, and the committee.

Questions about the study can be directed to Mario Damiani of the Access Board at damiani@access-board.gov, (202) 272-0050 (v), or (202) 272-0066 (TTY). Inquiries about attending the committee meeting or registering for the web conference should be addressed to Anusha Jayasinghe of TRB at AJayasinghe@nas.edu or (202) 334-2401

 

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.

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.