State Plan on Aging offers “Listening Sessions”

Woman preparing a mealThe Maine Department of Health and Human Service – Office of Aging and Disability Services (OADS) wants to hear from older adults, adults with a physical disability, caregivers, pre-retirees, veterans and service providers to learn about their experiences!

As OADS begins to design a strategic plan to address our communities’ needs they are hosting eight sessions around the state (at the local Area Agency on Aging centers) to gather input on the priorities and strategies that are important to Maine citizens.

The Maine State Plan on Aging Listening Sessions are as follows:

Area Agency on Aging Center Date Time Location
Aroostook Agency on Aging 10/02/2019 2:00 – 4:00 PM Ashland Town Office
11 Bridgham St, Ashland
Spectrum Generations 10/08/2019 2:00 – 4:00 PM VFW Hall
50 Mill Street, Waldoboro
Eastern Area on Aging 10/15/2019 2:00 – 4:00 PM Eastern Area Agency on Aging
240 State St, Brewer
Spectrum Generations 10/16/2019 2:00 – 4:00 PM Spectrum Generations Muskie Center
38 Gold St, Waterville
Eastern Area on Aging 10/16/2019 2:00 – 4:00 PM University of Machias, Performing Arts Center
116 O’Brien Avenue Machias
Seniors PLus 10/22/2019 1:00 – 3:00 PM SeniorsPlus Offices
10 Falcon Rd, Lewiston
Seniors PLus 10/23/2019 1:00 – 3:00 PM Comfort Inn & Suites
1026 US-2, Wilton
Southern Maine Agency on Aging 10/24/2019 2:00 – 4:00 PM USM, Glickman Library, 7th Floor
314 Forest Ave, Portland

Questions

Please contact:

James Moorhead
Maine Department of Health and Human Services
Office of Aging and Disability Services

Phone: 207-287-9200
james.moorhead@maine.gov

US Access Board Webinar – Accessible Rest Rooms

From the US Access Board:

U.S. Access Board Webinars: Accessible Toilet Rooms (Oct. 3) and Bathing Facilities (Oct. 24)

US Access Board logoMost technical questions that come up in using the ADA and ABA Accessibility Standards concern toilet and bathrooms. In October, the U.S. Access Board will conduct two webinars on accessible toilet and bathing facilities.

The first webinar will take place October 3 from 2:30 – 4:00 (ET) and will clarify common sources of confusion and frequently asked questions about accessible toilet rooms. Presenters will review requirements for toilets and toilet compartments, urinals, lavatories and mirrors, doors, turning space, dispensers, and amenities such as baby-changing tables. They will explain how these provisions apply and interrelate in designing single-user and multi-user toilet rooms in compliance with the standards.

It will be followed by a webinar on October 24 from 2:30 – 4:00 (ET) that will explain and clarify requirements for bathing facilities in the ADA and ABA Accessibility Standards. This session will address common questions and sources of confusion concerning transfer showers, roll-in-showers, and bathtubs. Presenters will review components of accessible bathing fixtures, including grab bars, shower and tub seats, shower spray units and controls, and clearances. They will show how these requirements and other provisions in the standards apply and come together in the design of accessible bathing facilities.

For more information or to register for both or either session, visit accessibilityonline.org

Questions can be submitted in advance of the sessions (total limited to 25 each) or can be posed during the live webinars. Webinar attendees can earn continuing education credits. The webinar series is hosted by the ADA National Network in cooperation with the Board. Archived copies of previous Board webinars are available on the site.

Humanware: Braillant BI 40 refreshable braille display

Mainebiz mag discusses Accessibility

This week’s Mainebiz, a statewide magazine for Maine’s business community, published an article, How to make your website accessible to everyone written by two attorneys from law firm Brann & Isaacson in Lewiston.

The article minimally notes the merits of web accessibility and perhaps over-emphasizes the legal perils, focusing on the fact that  “…in recent years, thousands of ADA lawsuits have been filed alleging website inaccessibility — more than 2,000 such federal suits were filed last year.”

The article is short on providing any real guidance to Maine business owners, so we took the opportunity to add a comment to the article noting the significant free resources Maine CITE makes available on the topics of Accessible Web Design and Accessible Digital Documents.

The article briefly mentions how “…it (accessibility) should increase sales…” when in fact, accessible websites provides opportunities for more customers, perhaps millions of customers worldwide, to readily access the products and services of Maine businesses.

Free resources for Web Accessibility may be found here on the Maine CITE website…

Free resources for Accessible Digital Documents may be found here on the Maine CITE website…

Groups Call on the FCC to Improve Quality of Live Captions

Deaf and Hard of Hearing Consumer Groups and Researchers Call on the FCC to Improve the Quality of Live Captions

Closed Captioning logoOn July 31, ten national organizations, including the National Association of the Deaf (NAD), the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), and the Association of Late-Deafened Adults (ALDA), petitioned the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to address long-standing quality problems with captioning for live television programming. The petition was supported by the American Association of the DeafBlind (AADB).

As the petition explains, consumers routinely report serious problems with the accuracy, timing, completeness, and placement of captions on live programming, including local news, sports, and weather. The petition asks the FCC to build on its existing standards for the quality of captions by setting metrics for acceptable quality of live captions. The petition also urges the FCC to provide guidance for new captioning systems that use automatic speech recognition, which have the potential to provide captions with improved timing and lower cost but also routinely cause significant accuracy problems. Consumer groups and researchers also will be submitting additional feedback to the FCC, including an analysis of hundreds of consumer responses gathered by HLAA in a recent survey.

The FCC has asked for comments from the public about the petition. If you’ve had experiences with captions for live TV programming that you’re willing to share with the FCC, you can do so online.

Submit your comments to the FCC by September 13

Use this link to read the petition

Use this link to enter your comments online and remember to enter 05-231 in the “Proceeding(s)” field to make sure that your comment is added to the record.

 

Public Comment Wanted: Guidelines for Onboard Wheelchairs

U.S. Access Board Releases Voluntary Guidelines for Onboard Wheelchairs for Public Comment

US Access Board logoThe U.S. Access Board has released for public comment, advisory guidelines for wheelchairs used on commercial passenger aircraft during flight. These onboard wheelchairs are provided by air carriers as a means of facilitating the transfer of passengers with disabilities to aircraft lavatories since personal wheelchairs cannot be used in the cabin. The Department of Transportation (DOT) has expressed its intention to supplement its regulations under the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) to include performance standards for onboard wheelchairs on covered aircraft. The Board is developing these non-binding guidelines as technical assistance to air carriers and manufacturers of onboard wheelchairs by providing an example of how to meet DOT’s planned performance standards.

As indicated in a notice published in the Federal Register, the guidelines specify dimensions, features, and capabilities for onboard wheelchairs that will allow passengers with disabilities to be more safely and comfortably transported aboard airplanes in flight. In addition, the guidelines include criteria to allow the onboard wheelchair to fully enter the lavatory in a backward orientation and be positioned over a closed toilet, and for the lavatory door to be closed. This feature would afford those passengers who cannot independently transfer to the toilet to have privacy in performing non-toileting tasks related to personal hygiene or medical needs. The Board has posed a number of questions to the public about specific provisions in the guidelines but welcomes input on all portions of the document.

As part of a negotiated rulemaking to improve access for air travelers with disabilities, DOT has put forth plans to supplement its ACAA regulations and require onboard wheelchairs with enhanced functionality on aircraft with more than 125 passenger seats.

Related information, including instructions for submitting comments, is posted at www.regulations.gov (Docket ATBCB-2019-0002).

Comments are due October 21, 2019. In addition, on September 12, 2019, the Board will hold a public hearing that will provide an opportunity to submit comments either in person or by phone. Further details will be posted on the Board’s website.

Those who wish to provide testimony at the hearing should contact Rose Marie Bunales at (202) 272-0006 (voice) or bunales@access-board.gov by September 5, 2019.

For further details on the guidelines or the public hearing, contact Wendy Marshall at (202) 272-0043 (voice) or marshall@access-board.gov, or Mario Damiani at (202) 272-0050 (voice) or damiani@access-board.gov.

Public Hearing on Advisory Guidelines for Aircraft Onboard Wheelchairs  
September 12, 2019, 9:30 – 4:00 (ET)
Remote attendance options will be posted soon
Access Board Conference Center
1331 F Street, NW, Suite 800
Washington, D.C.

Note: For the comfort of all participants and to promote a fragrance-free environment, attendees are requested not to use perfume, cologne, or other fragrances.

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.

Senate Hearing Focuses on Assistive Technology

Woman preparing a mealOn May 22nd, the United States Senate Special Committee on Ageing held a hearing which discussed How (Assistive) Technology Can Help Maintain Health and Quality of Life.

Committee Chair Maine Senator Susan Collins noted in her welcoming remarks, “…with 10,000 Americans turning 65 every day, and one out of five Americans set to join this group by 2035, we are in the midst of a major demographic shift. The fastest growing segment of our population are Americans age 85 and older. While aging brings opportunity, it also comes with increased risk of multiple and interacting health conditions that can lead to disability, at times requiring long-term care, and making it more difficult to age at home.” She further noted, “Advances in technology are working to bridge the “care gap,” improving function in activities of daily living, helping to manage multiple chronic conditions, reducing the risk of hazards, and making homes safer for seniors. Not only has technology helped seniors age in place, but it is also making it possible for individuals to move out of nursing homes or other institutionalized settings back into their own homes.”

Witnesses at the hearing included:

Joseph Coughlin, PhD, Director, MIT AgeLab, Cambridge, MA; Cara McCarty, Curatorial/Director, Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, New York; Brenda Gallant, RN, Executive Director, ME Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program, Augusta, Maine, and; Robert (Bob) Mecca, Executive Director, Life and Independence for Today (LIFT), St. Marys, PA.

Use this link for more information and to view a recording of this hearing…

 

JAN Spring Newsletter published

Job Accommodations Network - JAN - logoThe Job Accommodations Network (JAN) has published their latest JAN ENews to their website.

Topics include:

  • The Path to Reassignment as an Accommodation
  • Giving Hiring Preference to People with Disabilities
  • Cognitive Impairment and the Interactive Process
  • Thoracic Outlet Syndrome: Not So Forgettable to Some
  • Can’t Ban Fragrances? Consider a Fragrance Free Zone

Other articles include events “E-Vents” and information from the JAN Blog and the Consultants’ Corner

Use this link to access the latest JAN ENews...

New law promises to make federal websites more accessible

From the Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology (PEAT):

The Integrated Digital Experience Act (IDEA)

US Capitol DomeThe year 2018 closed with the passage of the 21st Century Integrated Digital Experience Act (21C-IDEA) in December, which promises to make federal websites more accessible, user friendly, and secure.

This new law requires federal agencies to modernize the websites and digital services they offer, according to eight specific criteria, including accessibility for people with disabilities. All federal agencies in the Executive Branch must already meet the accessibility standards of Rehabilitation Act Section 508, as codified in the Section 508 Rule published by the U.S. Access Board.  However, 21C-IDEA is noteworthy for several reasons, including its emphasis on increasing agencies’ compliance with Section 508.

Within 180 days of the law’s passage, all new and redesigned federal websites must comply with the new criteria, and agencies must submit plans to Congress for how they will accelerate the use of electronic signatures.

21C-IDEA also requires federal chief information officers (CIOs) to coordinate with other executives and ensure that departments plan adequate funding and resources to execute these requirements.

The provisions include several significant requirements to make federal websites more user friendly, usable, and robust for all users, including a requirement that digital formats of all paper-based forms be available within two years. Under the requirements of 21C-IDEA, federal websites must:

  • provide a customized digital experience to individual users
  • maintain a consistent appearance
  • be fully functional and usable on common mobile devices
  • use an industry-standard secure connection
  • contain a search function that allows users to easily search content intended for public use

These user-friendly requirements overlap substantially with principles of Universal Design, and their use by federal agencies should help make federal websites easier to use for everyone, including people with disabilities.

 

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.