Webinars – December 2019

computer keyboardThe following is a list of December webinars on the topic of assistive technology and accessibility. The list is generated by the Accessible Technology Consortia funded by the Center for Accessible Technology. Thank you.

Advancing AT Processes: AT in the IEP from SETC
December 9, 2019 at 6:30 pm Eastern

(Job) Accommodations… Practical Solutions for Complex Needs from JAN
December 10, 2019 at 2:00 pm Eastern

I Have (an AAC) Device, Now What? from AbleNet
December 11, 2019 at 3:00 pm Eastern

 

Transition: Creating Great Job Candidates workshop

From Employment for ME – Workforce Development System

Transition: Creating Great Job Candidates

with Marsha Threlkeld

January 23, 2020
9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. (registration 8:30 a.m.) 
Le Club Calumet, 334 West River Road, Augusta, ME

Vision: Every student can work and is ready before they exit school.  School-to-Work that really works to launch all students into the Workforce. Focus on adopting individualized employment goals leading to IEP content, creating individualized community based work experiences, Discovery and Job Development while still in school, informing and working with families, training special education aides and others to support students in work experience, and all members of the student’s team involved in employment pursuits, landing jobs before exiting school.

Presenter: Marsha Threlkeld is a consultant and trainer from Washington State working in School-to-Work, Employment First, Person Centered Career Planning, and Assistive Technology to include handheld devices and Smart Environments.  Marsha has worked on behalf of School-to-Work for the last 25 years and designed and implemented School-to-Work Projects in several states.

Registration Fees: Cost is $100 per person which includes materials, morning coffee & lunch. If you are registering as part of a group of 3 or more contact noelle@syntiro.org for a discount.

Use this link for more information and to register…

 

Transition: Creating Great Job Candidates

The following fee-based training event is being offered by Employment for ME

Transition: Creating Great Job Candidates

January 23, 2020
9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. (registration 8:30 a.m.) 
Le Club Calumet, 334 West River Road, Augusta, ME

with Marsha Threlkeld

Vision:  Every student can work and is ready before they exit school.  School-to-Work that really works to launch all students into the Workforce.  Focus on adopting individualized employment goals leading to IEP content, creating individualized community based work experiences, Discovery and Job Development while still in school, informing and working with families, training special education aides and others to support students in work experience, and all members of the student’s team involved in employment pursuits, landing jobs before exiting school.

Registration Fees: Cost is $100 per person which includes materials, morning coffee & lunch. If you are registering as part of a group of 3 or more contact noelle@syntiro.org for a discount.

Use this link for registration…

The Way Learning Should Be Conference

ACTEM – The Association of Computer Technology Educators of Maine

ACTEM logoACTEM has opened the registration for its annual fall conference taking place

October 10-11, 2019
Augusta Civic Center • Augusta, ME

The 2019 Conference Program includes…

  • Two full days of engaging professional development.
  • Dynamic Keynote Speakers
  • Over 100 workshop sessions
  • Over 40 Exhibitors

Maine CITE will be exhibiting at the Conference and John Brandt and Hillary Goldthwait-Fowles, Ph.D, ATP will be presenting “Innovative Technologies in Special Education.”

Use this link for more information and early bird registration discounts…

Accessible Media and Services for Students

Blind person walking in mall with guide dogThe Described and Captioned Media Program (DCMP) is a leading national source for accessible educational content, providing services for students who are blind, visually impaired, deaf, hard of hearing, or deaf-blind. Families and school personnel with early learners through Grade 12 students can register for free access to over 6,000 Educational Media titles on-demand and on DVD. DCMP’s Learning Center contains a wealth of information related to education, accessibility, deafness, blindness, and other related topics. DCMP provides Media Accessibility Guidelines through our Captioning Key and Description Key, used by media professionals as well as amateurs around the world.

The Described and Captioned Media Program provides premium media designed for students with disabilities and leads as a resource for families and teachers, supported by the federal Department of Education.

A recent additions to their website, Is Your Student Ready for What Comes Next? provides a set of resources to assist students in the Transition process. Some of the resources include:

  • Map It: What Comes Next is a free, online, interactive training designed for transition-aged students who are deaf or hard of hearing.
  • The Getting a Job! online training was developed and designed for students who are deaf or hard of hearing and the professionals who work with them.  Focusing on the transition from school to work, the training offers a series of activities, supporting documents and topical videos designed to help the job seeker prepare for the world of work.  All the videos in the modules are presented in ASL, and are also voiced in English and captioned.

Additional videos and resources include:

  • Real Life 101: College Prep – With college just ahead of them, the hosts visit with some people who help students prepare for this milestone.
  • Real Life 101: Vocational Training – In this video a career planner discusses how to find the right career for the right person.
  • Paying Your Way Through College – This video helps viewers understand four-key financial aid sources: scholarships, grants, work-study, and student loans.
  • Biz Kid$ – Public television’s Emmy Award-winning financial education series of 65 videos for teens and preteens. Each video has a lesson guide, and the Biz Kid$ website has many additional ideas for learning activities.

Most of the resources on the website require a FREE DCMP membership which may be applied for on the site.

Partnership helps students with access

From the Franklin County, Daily Bulldog...Posted by Ben Hanstein

Robots connect UMF interns with K-12 students

Kevin Good and Hillary Goldthwait-Fowles with robotFARMINGTON – Interns at the University of Maine at Farmington have been working with students in Regional School Unit 21 this year, utilizing robots equipped with two-way communication devices in order to interact with their younger counterparts in Kennebunk.

Project Circuit is a new program supported by the Department of Education’s Maine CITE, an initiative aimed at improving access to assistive technologies for Maine students, residents and the elderly. Assistive technology is anything designed to remove barriers for a person with a disability – for students, this means improving their accessibility to programming. The UMF program is working with RSU 21 as that district is the first in the state to employ a certified assistive technology specialist, Hillary Goldthwait-Fowles. UMF interns are in instructor Kevin Good’s Assistive and Instructional Technology course, offered through the college’s Special Education program.

Good said that his course was designed to get future educators comfortable with technology like the telepresence robots. He tells his students that they are designers and makers, not just users of the technology.

“I’m pushing students to think through the process,” Good said. “I watch my students grow and change how they approach [new technology].”

The obvious use of the robot, which includes a two-way communication screen mounted on top of a wheel assembly, is to accommodate students that are unable to physically attend a class or event, Goldthwait-Fowles said. Students that are hospitalized or home-bound by an illness can continue to participate in their classes. However, there are potential uses for other disabilities as well. Students on the autism spectrum, for example, may not be able to attend a crowded event due to sensory overload. Educators may start by showing the student a copy of a class’ whiteboard, then move on to using the robot to allow the student to attend a class.

Beyond student-to-class usage, Good and Goldthwait-Fowles said, the robots also can allow others, such as the UMF interns, to work with K-12 students across the state. The system is on a secured network, Good said, but one that is globally accessible. This allows the UMF interns an earlier opportunity to work directly with K-12 students. At this point, Good likes to say, UMF can be anyplace it can send a robot.

“Anyone can access this and use this,” Goldthwait-Fowles said. While only RSU 21 has a full-time, on-site robot, others can be made available on a temporary basis for specific students.

Read the entire article at the Daily Bulldog…

UMF AT Program on Facebook…

Using Assistive Technology to Improve Reading

From EdWeb, this free webinar should be of interest to folks here in Maine…

Turn Struggling Readers Into Leaders Using Assistive Technology

Tuesday, Apr. 16 at 3 p.m. Eastern Time

EducationIn this edWebinar, join Dana Blackaby as members of her student-led “tech crew” demonstrate forms of assistive technology and share personal anecdotes describing how it helps them overcome some of their most daunting academic challenges. These students all have IEPs or 504 plans, but there are times when only the use of assistive technology allows them to overcome barriers.

Sometimes the biggest barrier to effectively utilizing assistive technology in the classroom is the teacher, as many feel they need to be experts themselves before allowing students to utilize it. When students are given the chance to showcase their expertise, however, teachers are often convinced to embrace the technology. Many teachers make students the tech experts in their classrooms. The result is that they regularly demonstrate marked improvements in their reading skills, social behavior, confidence, and public speaking, elevating them to leaders in their classrooms and schools.

This edWebinar will be of interest to elementary through middle school teachers, librarians, and school and district leaders.

Use this link for more information and to register for this webinar…

New Xbox Adaptive Controller – Try it out!

Owen and friend play with XboxIf you are a New England Patriots fan you watched a wonderful Super Bowl win a few weeks ago and, no doubt, enjoyed the many special Super Bowl ads which have become almost as popular as the game itself. So, you probably saw the special advertisement featuring a group of children extolling the virtues of the newly released Microsoft Xbox Adaptive Controller (if you missed the ad, we’ve provided a link below). As they say, the video “went viral” but not just because of the product, but the impact of the product on the lives of children with disabilities.

“What I like about the Adaptive Controller is that now everyone can play…”

About the new device

Microsoft Xbox Adaptive ControllerAs reported in the AT3 Center’s Blog, the Microsoft Xbox Adaptive Controller was released last September and is the first of its kind video game controller designed specifically for people with disabilities.

Ben Jacobs, Accommodations Specialist at GA Tools for Life, and a gamer since childhood, doesn’t mince words about the significance of this release, “For a first-party company to acknowledge there’s a demographic they were missing and create a controller is amazing. Also, I can’t think of how to make this controller any better than it is.” In a recent article in the AT3 Center’s Monthly Blog, Jacobs goes on to explain: “The Xbox Adaptive Controller (XAC) falls into the category of gorgeous AT. While its branding fits with other Xbox controllers, it is distinguished by two large responsive black buttons set in an elegant bone console. Jacobs stresses, however, that the central achievement of the XAC is how it works as a hub to allow for all kinds of customization.”

And, according to the touching video ad which shows a half dozen children using the Xbox Adaptive Controller, apparently it is a hit with kids. As one boy in the video says, “I love video games, my friends, my family and again video games…” The boy’s father, moved to tears, is later seen in the ad saying, “It’s his way if interacting with his friends when he can’t physically otherwise do it…”

For the AT techs and gamers, Jacobs notes the Controller houses 19 3.5 mm input jacks and two USB ports for switch accessibility to every function, a testament to Microsoft’s commitment to building a device that works within the existing AT ecosystem. He adds, “for gamers with motor disabilities, this is profound. The Xbox Adaptive Controller’s built-in buttons will work for some users (and the console is ready for mounting with three threaded holes), but the unit’s interoperability with third-party switches means individuals with an existing method of gaming on a PC can get quickly comfortable on the Xbox.”

“Whether it’s a head array or switches for use with a knee, however a gamer uses switches, they can use the Xbox controller,” Jacobs says.

Try Before You Buy

AT4Maine - Assistive Technology of All Maine PeopleWhile the Xbox Adaptive Controller is reasonably priced at around $100 it is always great when you can “try it before you buy it” just to make sure a product is right for you or your family member. Fortunately, Kevin Good, Special Education faculty at the University of Maine Farmington and coordinator of the Center for Assistive Technology’s Collection of Assistive Technology (AT) at UMF anticipated this need and added TWO of the Xbox Adaptive Controller to the university’s AT collection. Supported by Maine CITE, Maine’s Assistive Technology Act program, the Adaptive Controllers are part of a statewide collection of AT that is available to all citizens of Maine. Information about these devices, and over 1,200 other assistive technology devices that are available to borrow on a short-term loan, may be found at AT4Maine.org the online repository for the UMF collection, as well as three other AT equipment loan centers in Maine.

We’ve included the video of the Xbox Adaptive Controller ad below on the chance that you haven’t seen it. We’re sure you’ll enjoy it.

As Owen, the boy in the video says, “What I like about the Adaptive Controller is that now everyone can play…”

Special thanks to AT3 Center’s Eliza Anderson for the article See Xbox for All featuring the interview with Ben Jacobs.

Punch-In: Service for youth with disabilities seeking employment

This news comes from the Great Lakes ADA Center – AT Bulletin of Jan-Feb 2017

Punch-In logoPunch-In is a free resource for young adults with disabilities preparing for and seeking employment. One of the many offerings on the site is a free, online course to develop the skills and strategies necessary to be successful in career endeavors. Teachers and other professionals can set up a self-paced course to administered as group or individuals may take the course independently. The course includes over 100 high quality videos for instruction and advice. There is also a moderator for every course to assist and encourage students.

There are five content modules:

  • Discover Yourself (Module 1) – This module is designed for students who are beginning to prepare for a job search. It offers tools to examine strengths in any potential job and explore careers options.
  • Get Prepared (Module 2) – This module offers the foundational steps to develop your work readiness skills and jump into the critical steps of writing a good resume and cover letter.
  • Find A Job (Module 3)- The Find A Job module helps set a job search in motion. A job search includes the way you find out, apply, and interview for employment. The module also has a special section on networking skills using social media to locate employment opportunities.
  • Know Your Rights (Module 4) – Understanding one’s rights and responsibilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is critical in the employment process. This module is an introduction to the ADA and other disability laws.
  • Use Technology (Module 5) – This module is an introduction to Assistive Technology (AT). AT may be a critical component for a successful career.

If you are interested in administering or taking the newly updated course join the Punch-in network at success-network.punch-in.org. You may also contact Janet Peters with any questions.

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.