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:

 

 

January 2021 Webinars

Maine CITE is offering the following webinar in January 2021:

Webinar: Assistive Technology for Your Life – Tools for Independence

Date: January 26, 2021
Time: 1:00 PM ET

Man wearing dark glasses holds cane and smatphoneTechnology is a part of daily life for most of us, making our lives easier, safer, and more enjoyable. For people with disabilities, Assistive Technology (AT) can be especially empowering and create opportunities for greater independence and access. Join us for a webinar on how people with disabilities and their providers can identify, obtain, and use assistive technology to support a wide range of needs.

Presenters: Ketra Crosson, Henry Powell, Victoria Schalk

Use this link for more information and to register for the webinar: Assistive Technology for Your Daily Life- Tools for Independence


The following list of January 2021 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.

Implantable Brain-Computer Interfaces in Late-Stage ALS: Real-World Implications from G3ict
Tuesday, January 5, 2021 at 12:00 pm Eastern

Using Screen Readers and Testing Tools to Evaluate the Accessibility of a User Journey from the Paciello Group
Tuesday, January 12, 2021 at 12:00 pm Eastern

Morphic – Making Computers Easier to Use from Great Lakes ADA
Friday, January 15, 2021 at 2:00 pm Eastern

Making Social Media Accessible for People with Disabilities from CIDI
Wednesday, January 20, 2021 at 2:00 pm Eastern

Artificial Intelligence (AI) Fairness for Persons with Disabilities in Workplace Technologies from Southeast ADA & PEAT
Thursday, January 21, 2021 at 2:00 pm Eastern (90 min.)

Review of the Revised 508 Standards (Part 1): Requirements for Federal Websites and Electronic Content from Great Lakes ADA
Tuesday, January 26, 2021 at 1:00 pm Eastern

Creating Accessible Content in 2021 from AEM
Thursday, January 7th at 4:00 pm Eastern

Implementation: Adoption vs. Abandonment from AbleNet
Thursday, January 14, 2021 at 12:00 pm Eastern

 

 

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

 

Assistive Technology for people with Autism

child using GPS watch phoneAs part of Maine CITE’s presentations at recent conferences, we have created this resource for assistive technology (AT) for people affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Resources include the handouts and links of information shared at the Southern Maine Autism Conference as well as links to other resources on related topics.

This resource is 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 Maine CITE.

Use this link to go to Assistive Technology for People with Autism Spectrum Disorder

 

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

 

UMF unveils special ed master’s program with workforce needs in mind

Theodora J. Kalikow Education Center on the UMF campus.FARMINGTON, ME  (October 31, 2019)—The University of Maine at Farmington, a leader in teacher education, is proud to announce that it is offering a Master of Science in Special Education beginning spring 2020. This program offers pathways for undergraduate students, graduate students and adults working in the field to become certified special education teachers and help alleviate the serious workforce need in schools throughout Maine.

“Farmington has long been a leader in preparing well-qualified teachers for the classroom,” said Edward Serna, UMF president. “Deep-rooted in that leadership is UMF’s ongoing pursuit of how to best serve our students, local schools and the State of Maine, now and in the future. This new special education master’s program is a valuable next step in being responsive to the higher education needs of Maine citizens while helping meet the state’s significant workforce needs.”

The UMF program offers undergraduate students an accelerated 4+1 program, in which they can obtain a bachelor’s and master’s degree in special education in five years instead of six. The program is open to undergraduate students enrolled in UMF’s bachelors in special education program or pursuing a 20-credit minor in special education at UMF. This gives students with a wide array of majors a pathway to certification as special education teachers.

For graduate students, many of whom are in the workforce already, the new UMF master’s degree program features a blended delivery model, offering course work that is 70 percent online and 30 percent face-to-face with in-the-classroom work on the UMF campus three Saturdays per semester. Unique in Maine, this flexible model provides working adults with the benefits of both online and in-classroom learning.

“While students acquire knowledge and skills through online learning, it is still important for them to have the interpersonal learning experience that a classroom offers in order to discuss, evaluate and synthesize what they’ve learned,” said Brian Cavanaugh, UMF assistant professor of special education. “This widely accepted best-practice model has students in the program interacting with faculty and course participants to personalize and enrich their learning.”

For adult learners who have already earned a bachelor’s degree, are working in schools, and are seeking Special Education 282 Certification in Maine, UMF offers access to the new M.S.Ed. in Special Education through its longstanding Special Education Alternate Route to Certification (SPARC) program.

Especially popular among people who hold a bachelor’s degree and are working in special education settings as Educational Technicians, SPARC offers a set of online courses taught by experienced Special Education faculty and professionals that leads to state certification.

UMF’s SPARC program includes 13 online graduate courses offered on a rotating schedule. Participants in SPARC must have access to students with disabilities in order to complete online course assignments and can elect to take only the number of courses they need to meet the 24-credit requirement for Special Education 282 Certification in Maine. Students who have successfully completed nine credits through UMF’s SPARC program are eligible for admission to the M.S.Ed. in Special Education program.

“Students in the SPARC courses have asked persistently for a master’s degree in special education,” says Erin Connor, associate dean for Graduate and Continuing Education at UMF. “When your students push you to develop their next educational experience, you know you are on the right track. SPARC has taught us about the strong need for continuing education at Farmington. I hope the community will continue to inform our thinking about what programming we can offer that will help them achieve their professional goals.”

The new Master of Science in Special Education program is also designed to provide students with the opportunity to specialize in areas of need within special education, such as assistive technology, inclusive education and leadership, low incidence disabilities or special education administration. This additional course work will be available through UMF or through collaborative options at other UMaine System campuses.

For more information on the new Master of Science in Special Education degree program, For more information on the new Master of Science in Special Education degree program, please contact the UMF Office of Graduate Studies 207-778-7502.

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.