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The Richard West Assistive Technology Advocacy Center of Disability Rights New Jersey Awards Funding For Eight New Assistive Technology Projects

The Richard West Assistive Technology Advocacy Center (ATAC) of Disability Rights New Jersey has announced grant awards for projects to expand access to assistive technology services and devices in New Jersey.  This year’s grant awards focused on services for individuals with autism, services for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing, and training and outreach services related to transition from school. During this fifth year of short-term funding opportunities, ATAC received 20 applications, from which the following eight grants were awarded:

Adam Krass Consulting, LLC (AKC):  AKC is based in Bergen County and provides assistive technology consulting services throughout New Jersey.  AKC will partner with Heightened Independence & Progress, a local center for independent living, and the Region V Council for Special Education of the New Jersey Department of Education to provide device demonstrations for students with disabilities who are transitioning from high school to higher education or careers. AKC will also provide self-advocacy training to students regarding their right to assistive technology in the transition process.

Advancing Opportunities (AO):  AO provides a variety of assistive technology services statewide, including device loan and device demonstration services. AO will partner with students from Rider University to create a series of YouTube videos highlighting how assistive technology provides opportunities for people with disabilities to live independently. AO will work with past recipients of ATAC funding to identify individuals residing in New Jersey who use assistive technology who can describe how it has made a difference in their lives.

Burlington County College (BCC): BCC operates an assistive technology demonstration and training program in cooperation with the New Jersey Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services (DVRS), the lead agency for the ATAC project.  BCC will acquire new equipment to assist individuals in southern New Jersey who are deaf or have hearing loss to achieve employment goals. BCC will also assist local high school students who are transitioning to the workplace.

Family Resource Associates (FRA): FRA, a Monmouth County nonprofit, provides device loan and device demonstration services for individuals throughout New Jersey. FRA will partner with the Neptune Township Public School Regional Deaf Education Program to provide demonstration and loan services of communication and hearing software for younger children. This program will help provide services to an underserved, predominately minority community.

The Family Support Center of NJ (FSCNJ): FSCNJ is a comprehensive family-focused human service organization that provides programs and services to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their caregivers.  FSCNJ will work with ATAC to produce a new section of their “Transition Matters” website regarding the role of assistive technology for students transitioning from school to adult life.  Additionally, FSCNJ will produce a training webinar related to the use of assistive technology in transition.

The Leaguers, Inc. (TLI):  TLI provides educational programs and services to the diverse communities in Essex and Union Counties, including Head Start programs. TLI received funding from ATAC last year to provide demonstrations of an augmentative communication application for tablet computers. This year, TLI will expand its program by purchasing additional equipment that allows children with autism and other communication barriers to participate more effectively in education. TLI will involve teachers, parents, and students in efforts to extend communication and learning experiences beyond the classroom.

Matheny Medical and Educational Center (MMEC): MMEC is a Somerset County facility that provides educational and habilitation services for individuals with disabilities throughout New Jersey. MMEC will establish a new assistive technology loan program to provide increased access to assistive technology for students who are unable to afford specific devices, or who are trying to obtain funding for these devices. MMEC will purchase a variety of switches, keyboards, and other tools that enable individuals with severe disabilities to communicate and learn more effectively.

The College of New Jersey, Center for Assistive Technology & Inclusive Education Studies (CATIES):  CATIES conducts assistive technology evaluations, augmentative communication evaluations, and professional development workshops, and provides information, technical assistance, and training to school districts and parents. CATIES will build on previous ATAC funding to expand its inventory of assistive technology applications and accessories for tablet computers, with a focus on providing hardware and software designed to assist individuals with autism.

This is the fifth year we’ve provided this funding for new projects,” said Curtis Edmonds, ATAC program manager.  “It’s been a great opportunity to expand the reach of assistive technology throughout the state. I am confident that this year’s recipients will be able to provide much-needed services to benefit New Jersey residents with disabilities, including people with autism and people who are deaf or hard of hearing.”

Disability Rights New Jersey (DRNJ) is the designated protection and advocacy system for people with disabilities in New Jersey.  DRNJ is a non-profit corporation whose governing board consists of a majority of persons with disabilities or family members of persons with disabilities. DRNJ provides legal and non-legal advocacy, information and referral, outreach, training and technical assistance to advance the human, civil, and legal rights of persons with disabilities.

The Richard West Assistive Technology Advocacy Center (ATAC) of Disability Rights New Jersey (DRNJ) serves as New Jersey’s federally funded assistive technology project through a sub-contract with New Jersey’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development. Its purpose is to assist individuals in overcoming barriers in the system and making assistive technology more accessible to individuals with disabilities throughout the state.

 

Request For Proposal: One-Time Grant for Expansion of Assistive Technology Services to People with Disabilities in New Jersey

Disability Rights New Jersey/Richard West Assistive Technology Advocacy Center

Request For Proposal (RFP)

*** New Due Date – March 15, 2014 ***

One-Time Grant for Expansion of Assistive Technology Services to People with Disabilities in New Jersey

Introduction and Description

 

Disability Rights New Jersey (DRNJ) is the federally-funded, independent non-profit designated as New Jersey’s protection and advocacy system for people with disabilities.  It provides legal and non-legal advocacy, information and referral, technical assistance and training, outreach and education in support of the human, civil, and legal rights of people with disabilities.

 

The Richard West Assistive Technology Advocacy Center (ATAC) of DRNJ is the designated state program authorized by the Assistive Technology Act of 2004 (AT Act) to  provide enhanced access to assistive technology products and services on a comprehensive, statewide basis through a system of device loan, demonstration, equipment reuse, training and technical assistance, and public awareness activities.

 

The grant(s) are available under the following activities:

 

  • Device reutilization programs – provide for the exchange, repair, recycling, or other reutilization of assistive technology devices, which may include redistribution through device sales, loans, rentals, or donations.

 

  • Device loan programs – provide short-term loans of assistive technology devices to individuals, employers, public agencies, or others seeking to meet the needs of targeted individuals and entities.

 

  • Device demonstration programs – demonstrate a variety of assistive technology devices and assistive technology services (including assisting individuals in making informed choices regarding, and providing experiences with, the devices and  services), using personnel who are familiar with such devices and services and their applications.

 

  • Transition training ­– conduct training on the provision of assistive technology services for individuals transitioning from school to career, from early intervention to school, or from a restrictive environment to a nonrestrictive environment.

 

  • Evaluation – work with a past or current RFP recipient to evaluate their performance in the grant program and to create narratives, disseminated through photography, video, websites, print, or other media, that provide a positive message about how assistive technology can help individuals with disabilities.

 

Background

 

ATAC is providing one-time funding to enhance the scope of existing assistive technology services available to people with disabilities in New Jersey.  The primary focus for this year’s funding includes:

  • Expansion of AT services for people with autism.
  • Expansion of AT services for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
  • Provision of training on issues related to transition.
  • Evaluation and dissemination of information about programs funded under this RFP.

 

The total estimated amount under this RFP is $98,000.  This funding is contingent on availability of funds.

 

ATAC intends to award grants ranging from approximately $7,500 to a maximum of $15,000.

Scope of Work

The successful applicants will, under these one-time grants, develop and implement a plan for expanding existing assistive technology activities currently operating in New Jersey, consistent with the ATAC state plan, which is available on the ATAC website (http://www.drnj.org/atac/?p=4603), or by request.

 

Examples

Examples of possible activities that ATAC may fund through this RFP include, but are not limited to:

 

  • Updating and purchasing state-of-the-art AT devices, such as augmentative communication devices, for loan and/or demonstration;
  • Widening the statewide reach of AT services, particularly in underserved communities;
  • Assisting families of students with disabilities who are transitioning out of K-12 education or out of restrictive environments;
  • Expanding services to include specialized populations of individuals with disabilities, and;
  • Helping to highlight positive stories across New Jersey about how AT services improve the lives of people with disabilities.

Qualifications of Applicant

Individuals or organizations in New Jersey with recognized expertise in the field of assistive technology, or those demonstrating an understanding of assistive technology devices and services.  Organizations that provide services for people with autism or people who are deaf or hard of hearing are specifically invited to apply.  Familiarity with currently existing services within New Jersey is a definite plus.  The applicant must be able to communicate well in writing and work well with DRNJ staff in order to meet the goals of the RFP. The applicant must be willing to work with DRNJ staff to disseminate information about the activities under the RFP.

Requirements

The application is limited to six pages, minimum 1.15-spaced. The first five pages should contain the application narrative, as described below. The sixth page should be reserved for the proposed project budget.  The application must be delivered in an accessible, electronic format, such as Microsoft Word.  The application must include:

 

  • Relevant information about the applicant, including contact name, organization name, address, telephone, fax, and e-mail;
  • Description of the applicant or organization and the relevant personnel, experience, expertise, and technical abilities that make it possible to carry out the research activity;
  • Description of the work plan, rationale, and means to accomplish the plan.
  • Details of specific sub-tasks and schedules to accomplish the tasks, and
  • Detailed proposed budget, as described below.

 

Budget

The proposed one-page budget shall be appropriate for meeting the goals of the proposal.  All requests for specific AT devices or equipment should be itemized where possible.

Assurances

The applicant will include assurances of compliance with all federal mandates and requirements applicable to recipients of federal funding and assurances that the applicant has no conflict of interest that bars the applicant from completing the proposal.

Evaluation Criteria

DRNJ staff, in collaboration with the ATAC Advisory Council, will evaluate all applicants based on their expertise, knowledge, familiarity with New Jersey service providers, and ability to complete the activity in the given amount of time.  Criteria include:

 

  • Contribution to expansion of AT network in New Jersey
  • Ability to successfully execute the activity on time
  • Relevant experience in the assistive technology field
  • Expertise and ability of the applicant
  • Quality of services provided
  • Budget
  • Ability to meet deadlines

Application Due Date

The deadline for submitting applications under this RFP is March 1, 2014.  DRNJ prefers e-mail submissions, sent to cedmonds@drnj.org.  DRNJ will accept mail and overnight mail submissions provided that an accessible electronic copy is submitted as well.

Date of Award

The contract for this RFP will be submitted to the winning applicants on or before April 1, 2014, with work to begin immediately.

Date of Completion of Project

The project will end on September 30, 2014.

New Jersey State Plan for FY 2012-2014

State Grant for Assistive Technology Program – RSA-664
New Jersey State Plan for FY 2012-2014 (submitted FY 2014) H224A140030

Section A – Identification and Description of Lead Agency and Implementing Entity; Change in Lead Agency or Implementing Entity

1. Name Given to Statewide AT Program:  Richard West Assistive Technology Advocacy Center (ATAC)

2. Website dedicated to Statewide AT Program:  http://www.drnj.org/atac/

3. Name and Address of Lead Agency

New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development

1 John Fitch Plaza, P.O. Box 398

Trenton, New Jersey 08625-0398

 

4. Name, Title, and Contact Information for Lead Agency Certifying Representative.

Alice Hunnicutt

Executive Director

Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services

New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development

1 John Fitch Plaza, P.O. Box 398

Trenton, New Jersey 08625-0110

(609) 292-7318

alice.hunnicutt@dol.state.nj.us

 

5. Information about Program Director at Lead Agency:

Alice Hunnicutt

Executive Director

Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services

New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development

1 John Fitch Plaza, P.O. Box 398

Trenton, New Jersey 08625-0110

(609) 292-7555

alice.hunnicutt@dol.state.nj.us

Program FTE: 5%

 

6. Information about Program Contact(s) at Lead Agency:

Robert E. Paige

Chief, Program Development

NJ DVRS

1 John Fitch Plaza – 12th Floor

P.O. Box 398

Trenton, NJ 08625-0398

(609) 777-4930

Robert.Paige@dol.state.nj.us

 

7. Telephone at Lead Agency for Public:  866-871-7867

8. E-mail at Lead Agency for Public:  dvradmin@dol.state.nj.us

9. Descriptor of the agency:  General or Combined Vocational Rehabilitation Agency

10. If Other was selected for question 9, identify and describe the agency:

N/A

 

11. Contract with an Implementing Entity?  Yes

12. Name and Address of Implementing Entity:

Richard West Assistive Technology Advocacy Center (ATAC)

Disability Rights New Jersey

210 S. Broad Street, Third Floor

Trenton, New Jersey 08606

(800) 922-7233 (voice)

(609) 633-7106 (TTY)

advocate@drnj.org

 

13. Information about Program Director at the Implementing Entity:

Curtis D. Edmonds

Program Director

Richard West Assistive Technology Advocacy Center (ATAC)

Disability Rights New Jersey

210 S. Broad Street, Third Floor

Trenton, New Jersey 08606

(800) 922-7233 (voice)

(609) 633-7106 (TTY)

cedmonds@drnj.org

 

14. Information about Program Contact(s) at Implementing Entity:

N/A

 

15. Telephone at Implementing Entity for Public:  800-922-7233

16. E-mail at Implementing Entity for Public:  advocate@drnj.org

17. Type of organization:  Protection and Advocacy organization

18. If Other was selected, identify and describe the entity:

N/A

 

19. Describe the mechanisms established to ensure coordination of activities and collaboration between the Implementing Entity and the state:

In 1992, the Governor designated the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services (DVRS) in the New Jersey Department of Labor as the lead agency for the Statewide Assistive Technology Act Project. The Department is now known as the Department of Labor and Workforce Development (DOLWD). DVRS is the designated state agency dedicated to providing vocational rehabilitation services to individuals with physical or mental disabilities as provided under the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended by the Workforce Investment Act of 1998. The goal of DVRS is to prepare and place in employment eligible persons with disabilities who, because of the significance of their disabling conditions, would otherwise be unable to secure and/or maintain employment. An additional goal is to provide and promote comprehensive services for independent living designed to meet the current and future needs of individuals whose disabilities are so significant that they do not presently have potential for employment, but who may benefit from rehabilitation services that will enable them to live and function as independently as possible. DVRS also administers a program of vocational rehabilitation under state legislation for those consumers not yet ready for placement in competitive jobs.

Disability Rights New Jersey (DRNJ) is the implementing agency of the Statewide Assistive Technology Act Program and has titled the effort the Assistive Technology Advocacy Center (ATAC). DRNJ is ideally situated to implement the program in a statewide, comprehensive manner. DRNJ is a private, non-profit organization designated as the protection and advocacy agency for people with disabilities in the State of New Jersey. DRNJ’s mission is to advocate and advance the human, civil and legal rights of persons with disabilities. Its activities are grounded in its belief in the inherent value and worth of all individuals and their right to equality of opportunity and full participation in their communities. DRNJ has functioned as the implementing agency for the Statewide Assistive Technology Project since 1997, when the project was moved from the public to the private sector at the urging of consumers, the ATAC advisory council, and with support from DVRS with the goal of increased consumer-direction. The Richard West Assistive Technology Advocacy Center (ATAC) of DRNJ is an integral part of DRNJ.

DRNJ and DVRS work collaboratively in drafting the budget for ATAC and developing priorities for funding. A DVRS representative also serves on the ATAC advisory board, and DRNJ makes regular reports to DVRS regarding the progress of the project. DVRS and DRNJ also plan to continue collaborative efforts to ensure that VR counselors have access to training and technical assistance on AT products and services through DRNJ

 

20. Is the Lead Agency named new or different Lead Agency?  No

21. Explain why the Lead Agency previously designated by your state should not serve as the Lead Agency:

N/A

 

22. Explain why the Lead Agency newly designated by your state should not serve as the Lead Agency:

N/A

 

23. Is the Implementing Entity named in this State Plan a new or different Implementing Entity from the one designated by the Governor in your previous State Plan?  No

If you answered no or not applicable to question 23, you may skip ahead to the next page. Otherwise, you must answer the following questions.

24. Explain why the Implementing Entity previously designated by your state should not serve as the Implementing Entity:

N/A

 

25. Explain why the Implementing Entity newly designated by your state should serve as the Implementing Entity:

N/A

 

Section B – Advisory Council, Budget Allocations, and Identification of Activities Conducted

1. In accordance with section 4(c)(2) of the AT Act of 1998, as amended our state has a consumer-majority advisory council that provides consumer-responsive, consumer-driven advice to the state for planning of, implementation of, and evaluation of the activities carried out through the grant, including setting measurable goals. This advisory council is geographically representative of the State and reflects the diversity of the State with respect to race, ethnicity, types of disabilities across the age span, and users of types of services that an individual with a disability may receive.  Yes

2. The advisory council includes a representative of the designated State agency, as defined in section 7 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. 705)  Yes

3. The advisory council includes a representative of the State agency for individuals who are blind (within the meaning of section 101 of that Act (29 U.S.C. 721));  Yes

4. The advisory council includes a representative of a State center for independent living described in part C of title VII of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. 796f et seq.);  Yes

5. The advisory council includes a representative of the State workforce investment board established under section 111 of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (29 U.S.C. 2821);  Yes

6. The advisory council includes a representative of the State educational agency, as defined in section 9101 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965  Yes

7. The advisory council includes other representatives

 

Richard Olsen, Ph.D.

Joseph Amoroso, Director, New Jersey Department of Human Services, Division of Disability Services

Traci Burton, Deaf and Hard of Hearing Specialist, New Jersey Department of Human Services, Division of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

 

8. The advisory council includes the following number of individuals with disabilities that use assistive technology or their family members or guardians  8

9. If the Statewide AT Program does not have the composition and representation required under section 4(c)(2)(B), explain.

 

N/A

 

10. Proposed Budget Allocations

State Financing Activities   Not performed due to comparability

Device Reutilization Activities  $80,001-$90,000

Device Loan Activity Proposed   $40,001-$50,000

Device Demonstration Activity   $40,001-$50,000

State Leadership Activities   more than $100,000

11. For every activity for which you selected “claiming comparability” in item 10, describe the comparable activity.

 

Support for state financing activities is provided by PNC Bank’s Self-Reliant Loan and Grant Program. The Self-Reliant Loan and Grant Program is offered by PNC Bank in conjunction with New Jersey Citizen Action. PNC is a major regional bank with several hundred branches, including approximately 100 branches throughout New Jersey. New Jersey Citizen Action is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that encourages the active involvement of New Jersey residents with public and private institutions. PNC Bank is undertaking this program to meet its responsibilities under the Community Reinvestment Act, which requires banks to invest their own funds in various community-based financing projects. The loans are being offered across New Jersey and are targeted to people with disabilities of all ages who have a low or moderate income.

Participation in the Self-Reliant Loan and Grant Program is determined by income. PNC Bank caps the income for participants at 80% of the median income in the county where the applicant lives. This income cap is set by the Federal Deposit Insurance Company, the federal agency that oversees compliance with the Community Investment Act. Although prospective borrowers may not be eligible for this specific program due to their incomes, they are still eligible for personal loans at the market interest rate.

The loans can be used for any type of accessibility or assistive technology device, including, but not limited to, ramps, service animal maintenance, scooters, and computers with adaptive software. The loan amounts are from $1,000 to $5,000, the interest rate is 3.5% lower than the current pricing for unsecured loans, there is no application fee, and repayment terms are competitive. Additionally, the first 100 individuals who secure loans through this program will receive the first $1,000 as a grant that does not have to be repaid. Approval is based on a credit score of 620 or higher. PNC recently announced a three-year extension of this program.

In order to ensure that financing is provided in the most comprehensive way, ATAC will continue to review alternative means of financing for persons who exceed the income guidelines for this program, both through PNC Bank, as well as other financing programs, including Bank of America’s Access Loan program, which does not have income restrictions.

 

12. Describe your planned procedures for tracking expenditures for State-level and State Leadership activities.

 

ATAC maintains a detailed budget setting forth the allocation of grant money to both state-level and state leadership activities. ATAC allocates a significant portion of funds earmarked for state-level activities to subcontractors that primarily carry out state-level activities with ATAC funds, thereby ensuring that the 60/40 split is maintained.

 

13. State Financing Activities Performed

Financial loan program   No

Access to telework loan fund   No

Cooperative buying program   No

Financing for home modifications program  No

Telecommunications distribution program   No

Last resort program   No

Other program   No

Other Activities Performed

How many device exchange programs do you support?   1

How many device reassignment programs do you support?   1

How many device loan programs do you support?   2

How many device demonstration programs do you support?   3

14. What is the baseline year for the measurable goals for this state plan?  2011

Section D – Device Reutilization Activities – Device Exchange

 General device exchange

 

 

ATAC of DRNJ operates the Back-In-Action Equipment Exchange Program in partnership with Goodwill Home Medical Equipment (GHME), a division of Goodwill Industries of Southern New Jersey & Philadelphia, located in Ewing, New Jersey. ATAC handles promotion and hosting for the program, while GHME manages the day-to-day operations of the site.

Back-In-Action is a matching database program, designed to match those individuals selling or donating a device with those in need of such a device. The Back-In-Action program is available statewide through the 800 telephone number, on the DRNJ website at www.drnj.org, and through the print catalogue that is currently updated twice a year. This program provides a significant alternative to individuals who might otherwise not be able to obtain assistive technology devices, as they are offered used, at no, or low cost.

Information about the Back-In-Action program is provided through ATAC’s public awareness activities, specifically through information and referral, outreach and education, and dissemination of the catalog in print and on the website. Consumers interested in either listing or obtaining a device may contact ATAC by telephone, through e-mail, and through a form provided in the catalog, where the item is listed for up to six months, or longer if desired.

 

 

 

N/A

 

 

 2005

 

5. Who conducts this activity? Check all that apply.

  Yes

  Yes

 

6. The Statewide AT Program provides and/or receives the following support (choose all that apply).

  Yes

  No

  No

  No

  No

  No

  No

  Yes

  No

 

7. Table of financial or in-kind support provided or received

 

If you conduct this activity by providing financial or in-kind support to other entities, identify the kinds of entities you support in column (a) of the following table.
If you receive financial or in-kind support from the state to conduct this activity, identify the state entities that provide this support in column (b) of the following table.
If you receive financial or in-kind support from private entities, identify the private entities that provide this support in column (c) of the following table.
If you coordinate and collaborate with other entities in conducting this activity, identify those entities in column (d) of the following table.

 

Organization or Activity a. You provide support b. Receive support from the state c. Receive support from these private entities d. Collaborate with
AgrAbility Program No No No No
Alliance for Technology Access Center No No No Yes
Bank or other financial institution No No No No
Community Living agency No No No Yes
Easter Seals No No No No
Education-related agency No No No Yes
Employment-related agency No No No Yes
Health, allied health, and rehabilitation-related agency No No No Yes
Independent Living Center No No No Yes
Institution of Higher Education No No No Yes
Non-categorical disability organization No No No Yes
Organization that primarily serves individuals who are blind or visually impaired No No No Yes
Organization that primarily serves individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing No No No Yes
Organization that primarily serves individuals with developmental disabilities No No No Yes
Organization that primarily serves individuals with physical disabilities No No No Yes
Organization focused specifically on providing AT Yes No No Yes
Protection and Advocacy Organization No No No Yes
Technology agency No No No Yes
UCP No No No Yes
Other No No No Yes

 

 One central location

 

 

10. This activity is available (choose all that apply)

:  Yes

:  Yes

:  Yes

:  Yes

:  Yes

 

 http://backinaction.drnj.org/

 

 the transaction is direct consumer-to-consumer

 

 Nothing

 

 

Information about the Back-In-Action program is provided through ATAC’s public awareness activities, specifically through information and referral, outreach and education, and dissemination of the catalogue in print and on the website. Consumers interested in either listing or obtaining a device may contact ATAC by telephone, through e-mail, and through a form provided in the catalogue, where the item is listed for up to six months, or longer if desired. ATAC uses an outside contractor to manage the Back-In-Action database and to collect survey information from users.

ATAC participates in the AgoraNet online assistive technology exchange, which provides an enhanced website that allows individual web users to view the inventory of items at any time. To view contact information and /or post their own items, individuals are able to log onto the website by creating an account, including username, password, contact information, etc. Automatic status e-mails are sent to individuals posting items in order to keep the inventory current. For those who do not have Internet access, Back-In-Action can still be accessed by contacting ATAC.

ATAC operates Back In Action through a contract with Goodwill Home Medical Equipment (GHME), a division of Goodwill Industries of Southern New Jersey & Philadelphia. GHME offers a practical solution by recirculating quality gently used DME to people in the community, by utilizing effective reuse and recycling strategies.

ATAC’s subcontract with GHME contains the following specific goal and objectives related to the Back In Action program:

Goal III Back In Action

Objective 3.1 Facilitate ongoing activities of Back in Action program through approving all new postings, manually posting information as requested, following up with sellers as necessary, and following up with buyers to collect survey data.

Objective 3.2 Conduct monthly reporting by following up with buyers and sellers to complete needed data and preparing monthly reports to ATAC.

Objective 3.3 Explore ways to promote the visibility and use of the Back in Action website, using GHME website and outreach connections.

Objective 3.4 Maintain a listing of at least 20 items per month on Back In Action website that are available through GHME.

 

 

Section D – Device Reutilization Activities – Device Reassignment

 reassigns general AT

 

 2007

 

3. Who conducts this activity? Check all that apply.

  No

  Yes

 

4. The Statewide AT Program provides and/or receives the following support (choose all that apply).

  Yes

  No

  No

  No

  No

  No

  No

  Yes

  No

 

5. Table of financial or in-kind support provided or received

 

If you conduct this activity by providing financial or in-kind support to other entities, identify the kinds of entities you support in column (a) of the following table.
If you receive financial or in-kind support from the state to conduct this activity, identify the state entities that provide this support in column (b) of the following table.
If you receive financial or in-kind support from private entities, identify the private entities that provide this support in column (c) of the following table.
If you coordinate and collaborate with other entities in conducting this activity, identify those entities in column (d) of the following table.

 

Organization or Activity a. You provide support b. Receive support from the state c. Receive support from these private entities d. Collaborate with
AgrAbility Program No No No No
Alliance for Technology Access Center No No No Yes
Bank or other financial institution No No No No
Community Living agency No No No Yes
Easter Seals No No No No
Education-related agency No No No Yes
Employment-related agency No No No Yes
Health, allied health, and rehabilitation-related agency No No No Yes
Independent Living Center No No No Yes
Institution of Higher Education No No No Yes
Non-categorical disability organization No No No Yes
Organization that primarily serves individuals who are blind or visually impaired No No No Yes
Organization that primarily serves individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing No No No Yes
Organization that primarily serves individuals with developmental disabilities No No No Yes
Organization that primarily serves individuals with physical disabilities No No No Yes
Organization focused specifically on providing AT Yes No No Yes
Protection and Advocacy Organization No No No Yes
Technology agency No No No Yes
UCP No No No Yes
Other No No No Yes

 

 A combination of a central location and regional sites

 

 

8. This activity is available (choose all that apply)

:  Yes

:  Yes

:  Yes

:  Yes

:  Yes

 

 A fee on a variable or sliding scale

 

 A fee on a variable or sliding scale

 

 The consumer picks up the device at a designated site

 

 

Type of device Based on consumer choice and/or request A professional recommendation is required Qualified program staff match it to the consumer Qualified consultants and/or volunteers match it to the consumer The device is provided through a qualified third-party Not applicable – this type of device is not made available
Vision Yes No Yes No No No
Hearing Yes No Yes No No No
Speech Communication No No No No No Yes
Learning, Cognition, and Developmental No No No No No Yes
Mobility, Seating, and Positioning Yes No Yes No No No
Daily Living Yes No Yes No No No
Environmental Adaptations No No No No No Yes
Vehicle Modification and Transportation Yes No Yes No No No
Recreation, Sports, and Leisure Equipment Yes No Yes No No No
Computer and Associated Equipment No No No No No Yes

 

 

 

Consumers are not required to demonstrate a need for a particular device.

 

 

 

The program ensures that items are sized (height & width) correctly for the consumer, and guides consumers to the equipment which will benefit them the most. The program demonstrates use of the AT and provides technical assistance on an ongoing basis.

 

 

 

ATAC operates its repair and refurbishment program through a contract with Goodwill Home Medical Equipment (GHME), a division of Goodwill Industries of Southern New Jersey & Philadelphia, located in Ewing, New Jersey. GHME offers a practical solution by recirculating quality gently used DME to people in the community, by utilizing effective reuse and recycling strategies. Individuals may pick up the items at the Ewing center, and delivery is available for some items.

The following describes how this mission was derived:

* A significant amount of DME is issued to insured patients and used in healthcare settings.

* Once these items are no longer needed or become outdated, there is no system to manage the excess equipment that has accumulated in homes, hospitals, and clinics. Much of it is thrown in the trash.

* There are increasing numbers of individuals who need equipment, have no access to it and can benefit from the abundance of gently used equipment currently being stored or discarded.

* Not having the necessary or proper piece of equipment can easily reduce an individual’s physical level of functioning as well as their emotional well being.

ATAC’s subcontract with GHME contains the following specific objectives:

Goal I Enhanced Access to Assistive Technology in New Jersey

To expand current services to additional individuals with disabilities throughout New Jersey:

Objective 1.1 Provide a minimum of 4200 AT devices to individuals with disabilities through device reutilization

Objective 1.2 Survey recipients of device reutilization services and report survey results to ATAC, consistent with data reporting goals in ATAC’s state plan.

Objective 1.3 Collect data on the county of recipients.

Objective 1.4 Collect data on the age of recipients.

Goal II Outreach and Education

To conduct specific outreach/marketing activities (information packet or visit) in new locations in New Jersey targeting individuals with disabilities, families, caregivers and professionals in order to make them aware of equipment access and affordability.

Objective 2.1 Contact 12 Centers for Independent Living in NJ to introduce GHME and provide resource brochures and flyers with updated information.

Objective 2.2 Contact 20 County Offices for Disability Services to introduce GHME and provide brochures and flyers with updated information.

Objective 2.3 Contact Office of Minority and Multicultural Health to introduce GHME and identify outreach opportunities with listed cultural clubs in NJ

Objective 2.4 Contact and/or visit homecare agencies, clinics and community agencies to introduce GHME and/or maintain updated agency information.

Objective 2.5 Advertise home medical equipment availability via 26 Goodwill Stores in the Southern NJ Region.

 

 

Section E – Device Loan Activity – Device Loan Activity 1 of 2

 General program

 

 

N/A

 

 

 

N/A

 

 

N/A

 

 2007

 

6. Who conducts this activity? Check all that apply.

  No

  Yes

 

7. The Statewide AT Program provides and/or receives the following support (choose all that apply).

  Yes

  No

  No

  No

  No

  No

  No

  Yes

  No

 

8. Table of financial or in-kind support provided or received

 

If you conduct this activity by providing financial or in-kind support to other entities, identify the kinds of entities you support in column (a) of the following table.
If you receive financial or in-kind support from the state to conduct this activity, identify the state entities that provide this support in column (b) of the following table.
If you receive financial or in-kind support from private entities, identify the private entities that provide this support in column (c) of the following table.
If you coordinate and collaborate with other entities in conducting this activity, identify those entities in column (d) of the following table.

 

Organization or Activity a. You provide support b. Receive support from the state c. Receive support from these private entities d. Collaborate with
AgrAbility Program No No No No
Alliance for Technology Access Center No No No Yes
Bank or other financial institution No No No No
Community Living agency No No No Yes
Easter Seals No No No No
Education-related agency No No No Yes
Employment-related agency No No No Yes
Health, allied health, and rehabilitation-related agency No No No Yes
Independent Living Center No No No Yes
Institution of Higher Education No No No Yes
Non-categorical disability organization Yes No No Yes
Organization that primarily serves individuals who are blind or visually impaired No No No Yes
Organization that primarily serves individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing No No No Yes
Organization that primarily serves individuals with developmental disabilities No No No Yes
Organization that primarily serves individuals with physical disabilities No No No Yes
Organization focused specifically on providing AT No No No Yes
Protection and Advocacy Organization No No No Yes
Technology agency No No No Yes
UCP No No No No
Other No No No No

 

 One central location

 

 

11. This activity is available (choose all that apply)

:  Yes

:  Yes

:  Yes

:  Yes

:  Yes

 

 An annual fee or similar regular payment arrangement

 

 An annual fee or similar regular payment arrangement

 

 

Advancing Opportunities provides telephone support through its Technology Lending Center Coordinator to answer questions about devices being loaned. Advancing Opportunities also works to provide training to school district staff who help students with disabilities use devices more effectively.

 

 

15. Devices in the loan pool also are made available for the following (choose all that apply)

:  Yes

:  Yes

:  Yes

:  Yes

 

 The device is shipped via mail or other commercial delivery

 

 

ATAC operates its device loan program through a subcontract with Advancing Opportunities, a statewide organization. Under its subcontract with ATAC, Advancing Opportunities conducts device loan activities and collects, reviews, and analyzes data on devices that are most-requested by individuals with disabilities and evaluates the need for new equipment to serve individuals with a wide range of disabilities in New Jersey. Advancing Opportunities is also purchasing new equipment to expand the scope of devices available for loans.

ATAC’s subcontract with Advancing Opportunities contains the following goal and objectives related to device loan:

Goal I Assistive Technology Device Loan Services

To provide quality device loan services to individuals throughout in New Jersey.

Objective 1.1 Provide a minimum of 120 AT devices to individuals with disabilities through loan program.

Objective 1.2 Survey recipients of device loan services and report survey results to ATAC, consistent with data reporting goals in ATAC’s state plan.

Objective 1.3 Collect data on the county of recipients.

Objective 1.4 Collect data on the age of recipients.

ATAC will continue to monitor the work of its subcontractor, and may elect to seek out additional subcontractors over the course of the next three years.

 

 

Section E – Device Loan Activity – Device Loan Activity 2 of 2

 General program

 

 

N/A

 

 

 

N/A

 

 

N/A

 

 2007

 

6. Who conducts this activity? Check all that apply.

  No

  Yes

 

7. The Statewide AT Program provides and/or receives the following support (choose all that apply).

  Yes

  No

  No

  No

  No

  No

  No

  Yes

  No

 

8. Table of financial or in-kind support provided or received

 

If you conduct this activity by providing financial or in-kind support to other entities, identify the kinds of entities you support in column (a) of the following table.
If you receive financial or in-kind support from the state to conduct this activity, identify the state entities that provide this support in column (b) of the following table.
If you receive financial or in-kind support from private entities, identify the private entities that provide this support in column (c) of the following table.
If you coordinate and collaborate with other entities in conducting this activity, identify those entities in column (d) of the following table.

 

Organization or Activity a. You provide support b. Receive support from the state c. Receive support from these private entities d. Collaborate with
AgrAbility Program No No No No
Alliance for Technology Access Center Yes No No Yes
Bank or other financial institution No No No No
Community Living agency No No No Yes
Easter Seals No No No Yes
Education-related agency No No No Yes
Employment-related agency No No No Yes
Health, allied health, and rehabilitation-related agency No No No Yes
Independent Living Center No No No Yes
Institution of Higher Education No No No Yes
Non-categorical disability organization No No No Yes
Organization that primarily serves individuals who are blind or visually impaired No No No Yes
Organization that primarily serves individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing No No No Yes
Organization that primarily serves individuals with developmental disabilities No No No Yes
Organization that primarily serves individuals with physical disabilities No No No Yes
Organization focused specifically on providing AT No No No Yes
Protection and Advocacy Organization No No No Yes
Technology agency No No No Yes
UCP No No No Yes
Other No No No Yes

 

 A combination of a central location and regional sites

 

 

11. This activity is available (choose all that apply)

:  Yes

:  Yes

:  Yes

:  Yes

:  Yes

 

 An annual fee or similar regular payment arrangement

 

 An annual fee or similar regular payment arrangement

 

 

FRA provides technical assistance and help to families who are borrowing items.

 

 

15. Devices in the loan pool also are made available for the following (choose all that apply)

:  Yes

:  Yes

:  Yes

:  Yes

 

 The consumer picks up the device at a designated site

 

 

ATAC subcontracts with Family Resources Associates of New Jersey, a Monmouth County non-profit, to conduct device loan activities. The activities conducted by FRA focus on educational devices and software to serve children with developmental disabilities.

ATAC’s subcontract with FRA contains the following goal and objectives related to device loans:

Goal I Expanding Access To Assistive Technology Device Loan Services Throughout New Jersey

To provide quality device loan services to individuals in New Jersey.

Objective 1.1 Provide a minimum of 20 AT computer-related devices to individuals with disabilities through loan program.

Objective 1.2 Survey recipients of device loan services and report survey results to ATAC, consistent with data reporting goals in ATAC’s state plan.

Objective 1.3 Collect data on the county of recipients.

Objective 1.4 Collect data on the age of recipients.

ATAC will continue to monitor the work of its subcontractor, and may elect to seek out additional subcontractors over the course of the next three years.

 

 

Section F – Device Demonstration Activity – Device Demonstration Activity 1 of 3

 General program

 

 

N/A

 

 

 

N/A

 

 

N/A

 

 2007

 

6. Who conducts this activity? Check all that apply.

  No

  Yes

 

7. The Statewide AT Program provides and/or receives the following support (choose all that apply).

  Yes

  No

  No

  No

  No

  No

  Yes

  Yes

  No

 

8. Table of financial or in-kind support provided or received

 

If you conduct this activity by providing financial or in-kind support to other entities, identify the kinds of entities you support in column (a) of the following table.
If you receive financial or in-kind support from the state to conduct this activity, identify the state entities that provide this support in column (b) of the following table.
If you receive financial or in-kind support from private entities, identify the private entities that provide this support in column (c) of the following table.
If you coordinate and collaborate with other entities in conducting this activity, identify those entities in column (d) of the following table.

 

Organization or Activity a. You provide support b. Receive support from the state c. Receive support from these private entities d. Collaborate with
AgrAbility Program No No No No
Alliance for Technology Access Center No No No Yes
Bank or other financial institution No No No No
Community Living agency No No No Yes
Easter Seals No No No No
Education-related agency No No No Yes
Employment-related agency No No No Yes
Health, allied health, and rehabilitation-related agency No No No Yes
Independent Living Center No No No Yes
Institution of Higher Education No No No Yes
Non-categorical disability organization Yes No No Yes
Organization that primarily serves individuals who are blind or visually impaired No No No Yes
Organization that primarily serves individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing No No No Yes
Organization that primarily serves individuals with developmental disabilities No No No Yes
Organization that primarily serves individuals with physical disabilities No No No Yes
Organization focused specifically on providing AT No No No Yes
Protection and Advocacy Organization No No No Yes
Technology agency No No No Yes
UCP No No No No
Other No No No No

 

 One central location

 

 

11. This activity is available (choose all that apply)

:  Yes

:  Yes

:  Yes

:  Yes

:  Yes

 

 In-person demonstrations from a fixed location

 In-person demonstrations from mobile units

 

 An annual fee or similar regular payment arrangement

 

 An annual fee or similar regular payment arrangement

 

15. Devices in the demonstration pool also are made available for the following (choose all that apply)

:  Yes

:  Yes

:  Yes

:  Yes

 

 N/A

 

 

ATAC operates its device demonstration program through Advancing Opportunities, a statewide organization.

Under its subcontract with ATAC, Advancing Opportunities conducts device demonstration activities and collects, reviews, and analyzes data on devices that are most-requested by individuals with disabilities and evaluates the need for new equipment to serve individuals with a wide range of disabilities in New Jersey. Advancing Opportunities is also purchasing new equipment to enhance its mobile demonstration center, which will allow Advancing Opportunities to greatly expand its demonstration efforts.

ATAC’s subcontract with Advancing Opportunities contains the following goal and objectives related to device demonstration:

Goal II Assistive Technology Device Demonstration Services

To provide quality device demonstration services to individuals throughout in New Jersey.

Objective 2.1 Provide a minimum of 150 AT device demonstrations to individuals with disabilities and others, including center-based demonstrations, mobile demonstrations, and conference-based demonstrations.

Objective 2.2 Survey recipients of device demonstration services and report survey results to ATAC, consistent with data reporting goals in ATAC’s state plan.

Objective 2.3 Collect data on the county of recipients.

Objective 2.4 Collect data on the age of recipients.

ATAC will continue to monitor the work of these subcontractors, and may elect to seek out additional subcontractors over the course of the next three years.

 

 

Section F – Device Demonstration Activity – Device Demonstration Activity 2 of 3

 Program for targeted consumers

 

 

The mission of Family Resource Associates (FRA) is helping children, adolescents and people of all ages with disabilities to reach their fullest potential. FRA connects individuals to independence through modern therapies and advanced technology. Acknowledging the powerful influence of the family, FRA remains committed to them by offering both support and education. FRA services encompasses expertise, innovation and concern in every aspect of service. Shaped by parental involvement and a caring professional staff FRA serves as a vital, positive influence on the individual and family.

 

 

 

N/A

 

 

N/A

 

 2007

 

6. Who conducts this activity? Check all that apply.

  No

  Yes

 

7. The Statewide AT Program provides and/or receives the following support (choose all that apply).

  Yes

  No

  No

  No

  No

  No

  No

  Yes

  No

 

8. Table of financial or in-kind support provided or received

 

If you conduct this activity by providing financial or in-kind support to other entities, identify the kinds of entities you support in column (a) of the following table.
If you receive financial or in-kind support from the state to conduct this activity, identify the state entities that provide this support in column (b) of the following table.
If you receive financial or in-kind support from private entities, identify the private entities that provide this support in column (c) of the following table.
If you coordinate and collaborate with other entities in conducting this activity, identify those entities in column (d) of the following table.

 

Organization or Activity a. You provide support b. Receive support from the state c. Receive support from these private entities d. Collaborate with
AgrAbility Program No No No No
Alliance for Technology Access Center Yes No No Yes
Bank or other financial institution No No No No
Community Living agency No No No Yes
Easter Seals No No No Yes
Education-related agency No No No Yes
Employment-related agency No No No Yes
Health, allied health, and rehabilitation-related agency No No No Yes
Independent Living Center No No No Yes
Institution of Higher Education No No No Yes
Non-categorical disability organization No No No Yes
Organization that primarily serves individuals who are blind or visually impaired No No No Yes
Organization that primarily serves individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing No No No Yes
Organization that primarily serves individuals with developmental disabilities No No No Yes
Organization that primarily serves individuals with physical disabilities No No No Yes
Organization focused specifically on providing AT No No No Yes
Protection and Advocacy Organization No No No Yes
Technology agency No No No Yes
UCP No No No Yes
Other No No No Yes

 

 One central location

 

 

11. This activity is available (choose all that apply)

:  Yes

:  Yes

:  Yes

:  Yes

:  Yes

 

 In-person demonstrations from a fixed location

 In-person demonstrations that move to multiple sites

 

Nothing

 

 Nothing

 

15. Devices in the demonstration pool also are made available for the following (choose all that apply)

:  Yes

:  Yes

:  Yes

:  Yes

 

 N/A

 

 

ATAC subcontracts with Family Resources Associates of New Jersey, a Monmouth County non-profit, to conduct device demonstration activities. The activities conducted by FRA focus on educational devices and software to serve children with developmental disabilities.

ATAC’s subcontract with FRA includes the following goal and objectives related to device demonstration:

Goal II Assistive Technology Device Demonstration Services

To provide New Jersey residents with disabilities enhanced access to assistive technology by providing device demonstration services.

Objective 2.1 Provide a minimum of 150 AT device demonstrations to individuals with disabilities and others.

Objective 2.2 Survey recipients of device demonstration services and report survey results to ATAC, consistent with data reporting goals in ATAC’s state plan.

Objective 2.3 Collect data on the county of recipients.

Objective 2.4 Collect data on the age of recipients.

 

 

Section F – Device Demonstration Activity – Device Demonstration Activity 3 of 3

 Program for targeted consumers

 

 

Cerebral Palsy of North Jersey (CPNJ) is dedicated to enhancing the lives of people with disabilities and other special needs by supporting personal growth, independence and participation in the community. The organization has steadily grown over the years and today it is a $27 million dollar organization with more than 500 staff members at 14 program sites serving more than 1,400 infants, children and adults with disabilities.

 

 

 

N/A

 

 

N/A

 

 2013

 

6. Who conducts this activity? Check all that apply.

  No

  Yes

 

7. The Statewide AT Program provides and/or receives the following support (choose all that apply).

  Yes

  No

  No

  No

  No

  No

  No

  Yes

  No

 

8. Table of financial or in-kind support provided or received

 

If you conduct this activity by providing financial or in-kind support to other entities, identify the kinds of entities you support in column (a) of the following table.
If you receive financial or in-kind support from the state to conduct this activity, identify the state entities that provide this support in column (b) of the following table.
If you receive financial or in-kind support from private entities, identify the private entities that provide this support in column (c) of the following table.
If you coordinate and collaborate with other entities in conducting this activity, identify those entities in column (d) of the following table.

 

Organization or Activity a. You provide support b. Receive support from the state c. Receive support from these private entities d. Collaborate with
AgrAbility Program No No No No
Alliance for Technology Access Center No No No Yes
Bank or other financial institution No No No No
Community Living agency No No No Yes
Easter Seals No No No No
Education-related agency No No No Yes
Employment-related agency No No No Yes
Health, allied health, and rehabilitation-related agency No No No Yes
Independent Living Center No No No Yes
Institution of Higher Education No No No Yes
Non-categorical disability organization No No No Yes
Organization that primarily serves individuals who are blind or visually impaired No No No Yes
Organization that primarily serves individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing No No No Yes
Organization that primarily serves individuals with developmental disabilities No No No Yes
Organization that primarily serves individuals with physical disabilities Yes No No No
Organization focused specifically on providing AT No No No Yes
Protection and Advocacy Organization No No No Yes
Technology agency No No No Yes
UCP No No No No
Other No No No No

 

 One central location

 

 

11. This activity is available (choose all that apply)

:  Yes

:  Yes

:  Yes

:  Yes

:  Yes

 

 In-person demonstrations from a fixed location

 In-person demonstrations that move to multiple sites

 

 A fee on a variable or sliding scale

 

 A fee on a variable or sliding scale

 

15. Devices in the demonstration pool also are made available for the following (choose all that apply)

:  No

:  Yes

:  Yes

:  Yes

 

 N/A

 

 

ATAC subcontracts with Cerebral Palsy of North Jersey (CPNJ), an Essex County non-profit, to conduct device demonstration activities. The activities conducted by CPNJ focus on educational devices and software to serve children with developmental disabilities, as well as augmentative communication devices.

ATAC’s subcontract with CPNJ includes the following goal and objectives related to device demonstration:

Goal I Assistive Technology Device Demonstration Services

To provide New Jersey residents with disabilities enhanced access to assistive technology by providing device demonstration services.

Objective 1.1 Provide a minimum of 75 AT device demonstrations to individuals with disabilities and others.

Objective 1.2 Survey recipients of device demonstration services and report survey results to ATAC, consistent with data reporting goals in ATAC’s state plan.

Objective 1.3 Collect data on the county of recipients.

 

 

Section G – State Leadership Activities – Training

1. Who conducts this activity? Check all that apply.

  Yes

  Yes

 

2. The Statewide AT Program provides and/or receives the following support (choose all that apply).

  Yes

  No

  No

  Yes

  No

  No

  No

  Yes

  No

 

3. Table of financial or in-kind support provided or received

 

If you conduct this activity by providing financial or in-kind support to other entities, identify the kinds of entities you support in column (a) of the following table.
If you receive financial or in-kind support from the state to conduct this activity, identify the state entities that provide this support in column (b) of the following table.
If you receive financial or in-kind support from private entities, identify the private entities that provide this support in column (c) of the following table.
If you coordinate and collaborate with other entities in conducting this activity, identify those entities in column (d) of the following table.

 

Organization or Activity a. You provide support b. Receive support from the state c. Receive support from these private entities d. Collaborate with
AgrAbility Program No No No No
Alliance for Technology Access Center No No No Yes
Bank or other financial institution No No No No
Community Living agency No No No Yes
Easter Seals No No No No
Education-related agency No No No Yes
Employment-related agency No No No Yes
Health, allied health, and rehabilitation-related agency No No No Yes
Independent Living Center No No No Yes
Institution of Higher Education No No No Yes
Non-categorical disability organization Yes No No Yes
Organization that primarily serves individuals who are blind or visually impaired No No No Yes
Organization that primarily serves individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing No No No Yes
Organization that primarily serves individuals with developmental disabilities No No No Yes
Organization that primarily serves individuals with physical disabilities No No No No
Organization focused specifically on providing AT Yes No No Yes
Protection and Advocacy Organization No No No Yes
Technology agency No No No Yes
UCP No No No Yes
Other No Yes No No

 

 One central location

 

 

6. This activity is available (choose all that apply)

:  Yes

:  No

:  No

:  No

:  Yes

 

 At sites arranged by those receiving the training

 

 Nothing

 

 Nothing

 

 

ATAC has provided extensive training statewide to people with disabilities of all ages, their family members, advocates, professionals from the fields of education, including state and local education agencies, early intervention and higher education programs, hospitals and health care facilities, vocational rehabilitation, independent living, and other state and local agencies and adult service providers, as well as other interested parties throughout its history. ATAC staff have developed specific trainings on Home Modifications, Assistive Technology and the Individualized Educational Program, Web Accessibility, and AT Resources in New Jersey, and has provided training individually as well as in collaboration with other entities. ATAC has also created, and will continue to provide, customized training for organizations upon request. ATAC has created video-based trainings and released them on its website and through other channels, including YouTube.. The AT Act requires that ATAC provide specific focus on transitioning populations, including students transitioning into adult services, and individuals transitioning from institutions into the community.

ATAC also provides support to Advancing Opportunities, a statewide organization that conducts assistive technology training. ATAC’s subcontract with Advancing Opportunities contains the following goal and objectives related to training:

Goal III Training

To assist ATAC in efforts to provide training on assistive technology for New Jersey residents.

Objective 3.1 Host training sessions for a minimum of 100 attendees on assistive technology issues, including one training session focused on transition.

Objective 3.2 Survey training attendees and report survey results to ATAC, consistent with data reporting goals in ATAC’s state plan.

Objective 3.3 Collect data on the county of recipients.

Objective 3.4 Collect data on the age of recipients.

 

 

Section G – State Leadership Activities – Technical Assistance

1. Who conducts this activity? Check all that apply.

  Yes

  Yes

 

2. The Statewide AT Program provides and/or receives the following support (choose all that apply).

  No

  No

  No

  Yes

  No

  No

  No

  Yes

  No

 

3. Table of financial or in-kind support provided or received

 

If you conduct this activity by providing financial or in-kind support to other entities, identify the kinds of entities you support in column (a) of the following table.
If you receive financial or in-kind support from the state to conduct this activity, identify the state entities that provide this support in column (b) of the following table.
If you receive financial or in-kind support from private entities, identify the private entities that provide this support in column (c) of the following table.
If you coordinate and collaborate with other entities in conducting this activity, identify those entities in column (d) of the following table.

 

Organization or Activity a. You provide support b. Receive support from the state c. Receive support from these private entities d. Collaborate with
AgrAbility Program No No No No
Alliance for Technology Access Center No No No Yes
Bank or other financial institution No No No No
Community Living agency No No No Yes
Easter Seals No No No No
Education-related agency No No No Yes
Employment-related agency No No No Yes
Health, allied health, and rehabilitation-related agency No No No Yes
Independent Living Center No No No Yes
Institution of Higher Education No No No Yes
Non-categorical disability organization No No No Yes
Organization that primarily serves individuals who are blind or visually impaired No No No Yes
Organization that primarily serves individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing No No No Yes
Organization that primarily serves individuals with developmental disabilities No No No Yes
Organization that primarily serves individuals with physical disabilities No No No Yes
Organization focused specifically on providing AT No No No Yes
Protection and Advocacy Organization No No No Yes
Technology agency No No No Yes
UCP No No No Yes
Other No Yes No Yes

 

 One central location

 

 

6. This activity is available (choose all that apply)

:  Yes

:  Yes

:  Yes

:  Yes

:  Yes

 

 Nothing

 

 

ATAC provides technical assistance to agencies and organizations by request, and will continue to do so over the next three years. ATAC’s technical assistance services have a significant focus on the accessibility of internet sites for people with disabilities, and compliance with Section 508 and W3C accessibility standards. It is difficult to anticipate the types of requests that will be made over the next three years of the state plan. In 2013, ATAC provided detailed technical assistance and training for the Department of Labor and Workforce Development regarding the accessibility of their website.

ATAC provides technical assistance to the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services Community Choice Program through the maintenance of a fund designed to be a payer of last resort for recipients of Medicaid in nursing homes, in order to transition them to the community. ATAC provides continuous technical assistance to counselors around available assistive technologies, provides evaluations for consumers, and facilitates the purchase and construction activities of the fund. It is anticipated that this technical assistance will be provided beyond the availability of the monies.

ATAC also provides technical assistance to the New Jersey Department of Education with regard to their implementation of the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard in New Jersey school districts. ATAC has assisted the Department in developing training curriculum for school district officials in purchasing accessible textbooks that work with assistive technology, and will continue to collaborate with the Department on future initiatives.

 

 

Section G – State Leadership Activities – Public Awareness

1. Who conducts this activity? Check all that apply.

  Yes

  No

 

2. The Statewide AT Program provides and/or receives the following support (choose all that apply).

  No

  No

  No

  Yes

  No

  No

  No

  Yes

  No

 

3. Table of financial or in-kind support provided or received

 

If you conduct this activity by providing financial or in-kind support to other entities, identify the kinds of entities you support in column (a) of the following table.
If you receive financial or in-kind support from the state to conduct this activity, identify the state entities that provide this support in column (b) of the following table.
If you receive financial or in-kind support from private entities, identify the private entities that provide this support in column (c) of the following table.
If you coordinate and collaborate with other entities in conducting this activity, identify those entities in column (d) of the following table.

 

Organization or Activity a. You provide support b. Receive support from the state c. Receive support from these private entities d. Collaborate with
AgrAbility Program No No No No
Alliance for Technology Access Center No No No Yes
Bank or other financial institution No No No No
Community Living agency No No No Yes
Easter Seals No No No No
Education-related agency No No No Yes
Employment-related agency No No No Yes
Health, allied health, and rehabilitation-related agency No No No Yes
Independent Living Center No No No Yes
Institution of Higher Education No No No Yes
Non-categorical disability organization No No No Yes
Organization that primarily serves individuals who are blind or visually impaired No No No Yes
Organization that primarily serves individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing No No No Yes
Organization that primarily serves individuals with developmental disabilities No No No Yes
Organization that primarily serves individuals with physical disabilities No No No Yes
Organization focused specifically on providing AT No No No Yes
Protection and Advocacy Organization No No No Yes
Technology agency No No No Yes
UCP No No No Yes
Other No Yes No Yes

 

 One central location

 

 

6. This activity is available (choose all that apply)

:  Yes

:  Yes

:  Yes

:  Yes

:  Yes

 

 

ATAC provides a fully accessible website with close to 1,000,000 hits this past year. The website has comprehensive information about AT, including brochures and publications, as well as links to additional disability and assistive technology resources, including the national assistive technology site,. ATAC provides its brochures in alternate format upon request. ATAC also provides information through social networking platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn.

ATAC disseminates print brochures, flyers, bulletins, and publications about AT at the rate of 10,000 copies each year, in addition to authoring bulletins on a variety of AT topics distributed through the mail and on the website.

ATAC co-sponsors the Abilities Expo, the largest exhibit of assistive technology devices and services in the northeast region, held annually in Edison. ATAC staffs an exhibit booth providing approximately 5,000 consumers, family members, and professionals annually information regarding ATAC/DRNJ services, information, funding, and advocacy for AT.

Last year, DRNJ authored and published two newsletters and e-mailed them to 1334 subscribers through the Constant Contact e-mail service. DRNJ distributed over 15,000 brochures at a variety of venues. DRNJ produced three videos that showed demonstrations of specific AT devices related to brain injury. All videos were disseminated through YouTube and Facebook.

DRNJ also participated in two public-access television programs, with an estimated 1,000 viewers each.

DRNJ, the Boggs Center (University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities), the New Jersey Council on Developmental Disabilities, the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey’s Office for Multicultural Affairs, and the Center for Hispanic Policy, Research and Development continued its collaboration with a diverse collation of community and advocacy organizations involving persons of color, planning and sponsoring initiatives to promote increased information, knowledge, and awareness of the state’s culturally diverse underserved populations within the service delivery system for people with all types of disabilities. The working group pulls together organizations from the specific ethnic group, along with state agencies and private groups/organizations, to organize and present workshops specific to the identified ethnic/racial group of consumers, family members, and professionals. The workshops include information on disability rights and available services and resources.

DRNJ collaborated with the New Jersey Coalition for the Advancement of Assistive and Rehabilitation Technology (NJCART), a non-profit organization established in 1987 to promote the appropriate applications of technology for individuals with disabilities, assure access to resources and provide continuing education to its members and the community at large. DRNJ works with NJCART to distribute, update, and publicize the CARTWHEEL, a directory of suppliers and vendors of assistive technology devices and services. The ATAC Program Director serves on the Board of Trustees of NJCART.

ATAC has established a network system of providers, including consumer groups, self-advocates, non-profit and public agencies, manufacturers, vendors, therapists, and school districts, and has provided them with a common and centralized connection and a means of communicating with one another through a web portal and annual meeting, all hosted and marketed through ATAC. ATAC continually updates and disseminates information to all members of the AT Network. ATAC serves as the one-stop entry point for the disability community and the public seeking information about AT devices, device demonstration and loan opportunities, and recycling and reutilization of used AT devices. The AT Network is marketed by ATAC through information and referral, outreach, and training and education, including newsletters, advertisements, press releases, public service announcements, and social media.

The initial idea for the AT Network originated with DVRS, the lead agency for ATAC, and its goal of having a single resource for its counselors and clients to access information about AT. The vision was further developed through the collaboration of participants at the annual Assistive Technology Summits, whose participants identified three values as the foundation for New Jersey’s AT Network. These values are the participation of a wide range of network participants; ongoing, consistent and timely communication; and inclusion and diversity in reaching all geographic areas of the state, people with disabilities of all ages, and people of different ethnic and racial backgrounds, as well as emerging disability populations such as veterans and individuals who are newly disabled.

 

 

Section G – State Leadership Activities – Information and Assistance

1. Who conducts this activity? Check all that apply.

  Yes

  No

 

2. The Statewide AT Program provides and/or receives the following support (choose all that apply).

  No

  No

  No

  Yes

  No

  No

  No

  Yes

  No

 

3. Table of financial or in-kind support provided or received

 

If you conduct this activity by providing financial or in-kind support to other entities, identify the kinds of entities you support in column (a) of the following table.
If you receive financial or in-kind support from the state to conduct this activity, identify the state entities that provide this support in column (b) of the following table.
If you receive financial or in-kind support from private entities, identify the private entities that provide this support in column (c) of the following table.
If you coordinate and collaborate with other entities in conducting this activity, identify those entities in column (d) of the following table.

 

Organization or Activity a. You provide support b. Receive support from the state c. Receive support from these private entities d. Collaborate with
AgrAbility Program No No No No
Alliance for Technology Access Center No No No Yes
Bank or other financial institution No No No Yes
Community Living agency No No No Yes
Easter Seals No No No No
Education-related agency No No No Yes
Employment-related agency No No No Yes
Health, allied health, and rehabilitation-related agency No No No Yes
Independent Living Center No No No Yes
Institution of Higher Education No No No Yes
Non-categorical disability organization No No No Yes
Organization that primarily serves individuals who are blind or visually impaired No No No Yes
Organization that primarily serves individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing No No No Yes
Organization that primarily serves individuals with developmental disabilities No No No Yes
Organization that primarily serves individuals with physical disabilities No No No Yes
Organization focused specifically on providing AT No No No Yes
Protection and Advocacy Organization No No No Yes
Technology agency No No No Yes
UCP No No No Yes
Other No Yes No Yes

 

 One central location

 

 

6. This activity is available (choose all that apply)

:  Yes

:  Yes

:  Yes

:  Yes

:  Yes

 

 

ATAC uses a multi-faceted approach, including the AT network, mailings, the website, exhibits, outreach presentations, social networking and trainings to increase awareness about the benefits of assistive technology devices and services, the types of AT devices and services available, funding for AT, and policies related to AT. ATAC continues to provide a statewide 800 telephone number, responding to requests for information and referral about assistive technology. The telephone number may be accessed by individuals with disabilities, family members, service providers, and others who work in the field of assistive technology, or have an interest in assistive technology. This is a free service that provides information on the types and availability of AT, benefits, cost, and appropriateness of AT. Resource information will be mailed to many callers to assist them in making the most appropriate choices to meet their needs.

In its role as the central agency for the AT Network for New Jersey, ATAC has constructed a comprehensive website with links to AT resources, training and education, technical assistance, outreach, and individual legal and non-legal advocacy assistance to support people with disabilities of all ages to access the AT that they need.

 

 

Section H – Assurances, Measurable Goals and Signatures

1. As Certifying Representative of the Lead Agency for the State of New Jersey, I hereby assure the following.  Yes

2. The Lead Agency prepared and submitted this State Plan on behalf of the State of New Jersey.  Yes

3. The Lead Agency submitting this plan is the State agency that is eligible to submit this plan.  Yes

4. The State agency has authority under State law to perform the functions of the State under this program.  Yes

5. The State legally may carry out each provision of this plan.  Yes

6. All provisions of this plan are consistent with State law.  Yes

7. A State officer, specified by title in this certification, has authority under State law to receive, hold, and disburse Federal funds made available under the plan.  Yes

8. The State officer who submits this plan, specified by title in this certification, has authority to submit this plan.  Yes

9. The agency that submits this plan has adopted or otherwise formally approved this plan.  Yes

10. The plan is the basis for State operation and administration of the program.  Yes

11. The Lead Agency will maintain and evaluate the program under this State Plan.  Yes

12. The State will annually collect data related to the required activities implemented by the State under this section in order to prepare the progress reports required under subsection 4(f) of the Act.  Yes

13. The Lead Agency will submit the progress report on behalf of the State.  Yes

14. The State will prepare reports to the Secretary in such form and containing such information as the Secretary may require to carry out the Secretary’s functions under this Act and keep such records and allow access to such records as the Secretary may require to ensure the correctness and verification of information provided to the Secretary.  Yes

15. The Lead Agency will control and administer the funds received through the grant.  Yes

16. The Lead Agency will make programmatic and resource allocation decisions necessary to implement the State Plan.  Yes

17. Funds received through the grant will be expended in accordance with Section 4 of the Act, and will be used to supplement, and not supplant, funds available from other sources for technology-related assistance, including the provision of assistive technology devices and assistive technology services.  Yes

18. The Lead Agency will ensure conformance with Federal and State accounting requirements.  Yes

19. The State will adopt such fiscal control and accounting procedures as may be necessary to ensure proper disbursement of and accounting for the funds received through the grant.  Yes

20. Funds made available through a grant to a State under this Act will not be used for direct payment for an assistive technology device for an individual with a disability.  Yes

21. A public agency or an individual with a disability holds title to any property purchased with funds received under the grant and administers that property.  Yes

22. The physical facility of the Lead Agency and Implementing Entity, if any, meets the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq.) regarding accessibility for individuals with disabilities. Section 4(d)(6)(E)  Yes

23. Activities carried out in the State that are authorized under this Act, and supported by Federal funds received under this Act, will comply with the standards established by the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board under section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (20 U.S.C. 794d). Section 4(d)(6)(G)  Yes

24. The Lead Agency will coordinate the activities of the State Plan among public and private entities, including coordinating efforts related to entering into interagency agreements.  Yes

25. The Lead Agency will coordinate efforts related to the active, timely, and meaningful participation by individuals with disabilities and their family members, guardians, advocates, or authorized representatives, and other appropriate individuals, with respect to activities carried out through the grant.  Yes

26. Describe how your program will conform to section 427 of General Education Provisions Act by describing the steps you propose to take to ensure equitable access to, and participation in, your program for students, teachers, and other program beneficiaries with special needs.

 

ATAC will provide equitable access to all students, teachers, and other program beneficiaries with special needs. ATAC does not discriminate on the basis of gender, race, national origin, color, disability or age. ATAC takes steps to provide outreach to underserved and minority populations, and will continue to do so through the three years of the state plan.

 

 

27. Access Goal Table

Education Employment Community Living IT/Telecomm
a. Long-term Goal 70.00 70.00 70.00 70.00
b. Long-term Goal Status
c. FY 2011 Performance 89.43 100.00 79.41 100.00
d. FY 2012 Short-term goal 70.00 70.00 70.00 70.00
e. FY 2012 Performance 92.74 95.59 82.84
f. FY 2012 Status Met Met Met
g. FY 2013 Short-term goal 70.00 70.00 70.00 70.00
h. FY 2013 Performance 87.46 95.93 80.52 91.67
i. FY 2013 Status Met Met Met Met
j. FY 2014 Short-term goal 70.00 70.00 70.00 70.00
k. FY 2014 Performance
l. FY 2014 Status

 

28. Acquisition Goal Table

Education Employment Community Living
a. Long-term Goal 75.00 75.00 75.00
b. Long-term Goal Status
c. FY 2011 Performance 100.00 100.00 83.67
d. FY 2012 Short-term Goal 75.00 75.00 75.00
e. FY 2012 Performance 94.33 96.30 90.12
f. FY 2012 Status Met Met Met
g. FY 2013 Short-term Goal 75.00 75.00 75.00
h. FY 2013 Performance 98.10 98.44 96.10
i. FY 2013 Status Met Met Met
j. FY 2014 Short-term Goal 75.00 75.00 75.00
k. FY 2014 Performance
l. FY 2014 Status

 

29. Name of Certifying Representative for the Lead Agency Alice Hunnicutt

30. Title of Certifying Representative for the Lead Agency Executive Director

31. Signed? Yes

32. Date Signed 01/27/2014

Tech Connection Announces Free Workshop on Windows 8 Accessibility

Tech Connection of FRA will be presenting, “What’s New in Windows 8 Accessibility on Thursday June 20, 2013. Learn about the new touch feature, which allows users to directly interact with everything on the screen by touch, without using a keyboard or mouse, including managing accessibility options in the Ease of Access Center. Learn about all the built in accessibility features to help make using the computer easier and see how you can personalize the screen for better viewing or use the magnification feature. Participants will discover many additional built in features that can help you use the keyboard easier or not at all!

Date: Thursday, June 20
Time: 10:00am – 12:00pm
Where: TECHConnection at FRA
35 Haddon Avenue – Shrewsbury, NJ 07702

RSVP: Call 732-747-5310 ext. 124 or email: pmoss@frainc.org

Directions:
Garden State Parkway to Exit 109 – “Red Bank”. Follow the exit ramp to Rt. 520 EAST(Newman Springs Road). Take 520 East, 2 miles until the road comes to a “T” at Rt. 35 (there is a Dunkin Donuts on the right). Make a right onto Rt. 35 South and an immediate right (10 yards) onto Haddon Ave.

For more information: www.frainc.org/techconnection/index.html

2013 Abilities Expo New York Presentation

On Friday, May 3, 2013, at 11:45 AM, Curtis Edmonds, Program Director for the Richard West Assistive Technology Advocacy Center (ATAC) will be doing a presentation entitled “Finding and Using Free Apps for iPad and iPhone” at the Abilities Expo in Edison. Individuals who want to view the apps on their phones during the presentation can use the QR code below, which points to this website.

QR Code generator

This is a list of the free iPad and iPhone apps that we are planning to demonstrate at this event. Keep in mind that we may not be able, given time considerations, to demonstrate all apps listed – and, of course, this is only a fraction of the total apps that are available. Wherever possible, we have included links to the iTunes App Store, and the Google Play site for Android apps if the app is available at that location.

Keep in mind that ATAC cannot guarantee the continued availability of apps, or that any given app will remain free. Apps are listed alphabetically. ATAC makes no endorsement of any product or device offered through the iTunes App Store or Google Play. In instances where a given Android app is not available through Google Play, we have attempted to link to a similar free app.

Free Apps for People with Vision Impairments

Name Description Link(s)
BigBrowser This browser has a large-print keyboard and tools to help individuals with low vision navigate the Internet. App Store / Google Play
Braille Touch Allows a means of using the touchscreen to type in Braille. App Store
Chime Provides a chime (or a voice) at regular intervals to help user keep track of time. App Store / Google Play
Chromatic Vision Simulator Simulates how the world looks to people with varying types of color-blindness. App Store / Google Play
Color Blindness Test Provides a simple test for different types of color-blindness. App Store / Google Play
Color ID Free Uses the camera on your iPhone or iPod touch to speak the names of colors in real-time. Useful for people with visual impairments for picking out clothes. App Store / Google Play
EyeNote Scans dollar bills and reports the denomination. App Store
Flesky Keyboard with voice support and word prediction. App Store
iCanSee Free Free full-screen magnifier with slide controls. App Store / Google Play
Is it dark outside? Uses GPS to calculate your location and tell a user who is blind whether it is dark outside or not. App Store / Google Play
oMoby Snap a photo of a product or scan a barcode to access shopping information. oMoby visual search will return a result for any image. Can help individuals with vision impairments identify unfamiliar objects. App Store / Google Play
TalkCalc Calculator with auditory feedback and high color contrast. App Store / Google Play
ViA The ViA app, by the Braille institute, is an accessible list of apps for a variety of different visual disabilities. App Store
VisionSim Uses the iPad camera to simulate how different types of eye disorders can impact a person’s vision. App Store / Google Play
VizWiz VizWiz lets users with visual limitations access remote sighted workers who can help them with visual problems. Users take a picture with their phone, speak a question, and then receive multiple spoken answers. App Store
TapTapSee Allows users who are blind to use the iPad camera to identify devices. Requires VoiceOver. App Store

Free Apps for People with Communications Disabilities

Name Description Link(s)
Able AAC Free picture-based augmentative communication system. App Store / Google Play
Choice Board Creator Allows users to create customized choice boards to allow individuals with autism to select activities and get rewards for completing them. App Store
Skype Supports free video calling, which can help with facial recognition as well as people who use lip-reading or sign language. App Store / Google Play
Small Talk – Aphasia Speech generating program tailored to the needs of adults with aphasia. App Store
Small Talk – Intensive Care Speech generation system for patients in intensive care settings who cannot speak. App Store
Sono Flex Lite Augmentative communication device that translates symbols into complete sentences. App Store / Google Play
Talking Tom Animated cat repeats everything you say. Helpful for individuals with selective mutism. App Store / Google Play
Unshout Text-based communication device that shows your message in large, high-contrast print. App Store
Verbally Free keyboard-based augmentative communication app. App Store

Free Apps for People who use Special Education Services

Name Description Link(s)
Doodle Buddy Free drawing app that encourages fine motor skills. App Store / Google Play
iTriangle Easy-to-use basic music app. App Store
Language Labs: Core Words Assists with language development and vocabulary for learners with developmental delays. App Store
Letter School Lite Allows children to trace basic letters to help with writing. App Store
PCS Memory Memory game uses speech and symbols and reinforces language development. App Store
PlayButton Very large button enables audio playback. App Store
Pocket Pond 2 Allows user to interact with virtual fish in a koi pond. App Store / Google Play
Put it Away Helps reinforce cleaning behaviors. App Store
Puzzle Spelling Words Allows students to move letters around the screen to spell words. App Store
Signed Stories Plays videos of children’s stories, with either American or British Sign Language. App Store
Spelling City Easy-to-navigate spelling tutorial. App Store / Google Play
Too Noisy! Simple sound meter helps monitor classroom sound level. App Store

Free Apps for People with Other Disabilities

Name Description Link(s)
Able Road Provides information about accessibility of a variety of locations for travelers with disabilities. App Store / Google Market
Breathe2Relax A portable stress management tool which helps users practice breathing techniques to reduce stress. App Store / Google Play
DisAbilityConnect Organizes the database of disability organizations from the national Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities (NICHCY). App Store / Google Play
NatureSpace Provides soothing white noise nature sounds. App Store / Google Play
Operation Reach Out Provides information, resources, and videos for individuals with suicidal behaviors. App Store / Google Play
Optimism Mood charting and medication tracking app for people with varied kinds of mental illness. App Store
PTSD Coach Provides a assessment system and information about post-traumatic stress disorder. App Store / Google Play
QR Reader Free scanner for QR codes, which can assist individuals with difficulty typing in URLs. App Store / Google Play
Sleep Pillow Free “white noise” generator can assist in calming and sleep. App Store / Google Play
T2 Mood Tracker Allows users to monitor their mood levels on six scales (anxiety, stress, depression, brain injury, post-traumatic stress, general well-being) as well as custom scales. App Store / Google Play
Where Am I At? Basic, simple location finder for individuals with navigation issues. App Store / Google Play

The Richard West Assistive Technology Advocacy Center of Disability Rights New Jersey Awards Funding For Six New Assistive Technology Projects

The Richard West Assistive Technology Advocacy Center (ATAC) of Disability Rights New Jersey has announced grant awards for projects to expand access to assistive technology services and devices in New Jersey. The focus for this round of grant awards was services for students with disabilities in all areas of education. During this fourth year of short-term funding opportunities, ATAC received more than 15 applications from which the following six grants have been awarded:

Adam Krass Consulting, LLC (AKC): AKC is based in Bergen County and provides assistive technology consulting services throughout New Jersey. AKC will partner with Heightened Independence & Progress, a local center for independent living, and the Region V Council for Special Education of the New Jersey Department of Education. AKC will work with both entities to provide device demonstrations for students in underserved communities in northern New Jersey. AKC will utilize ATAC funding to purchase assistive technology devices and applications that will help support students transitioning from high school to higher education or careers.

AssistiveTek, LLC (AT): AT provides educational assistive technology services to students in northern New Jersey. In this grant, AT is partnering with the Sussex County Educational Services Commission to provide teacher training and classroom demonstrations to provide students with disabilities in a rural county with a range of assistive technologies that can make instruction more engaging and accessible. AT will utilize ATAC funding to purchase tablet computers and applications tailored to the needs of students with disabilities.

Harrison Township School District (HTSD): HTSD, located in Gloucester County, serves approximately 1500 students from preschool through grade 6. HTSD will utilize ATAC funding to purchase adapted sports balls and equipment for football, basketball, soccer and bowling for students with disabilities. HTSD will provide demonstrations of the adapted equipment to physical education teachers and volunteer coaches to help assure that students with disabilities can participate in recreational activities.

The Leaguers, Inc. (TLI): TLI provides educational programs and services to the diverse communities in Essex and Union Counties, including Head Start programs. TLI will provide demonstrations of an augmentative communication application for tablet computers. This application allows children with autism and other communication barriers to participate more effectively in education. TLI will involve teachers, parents and students in efforts to use augmentative communication to meet the goals in the students’ individualized education plans.

Middlesex County College (MCC): MCC operates an Assistive Technology Lab, which provides support services for students with disabilities. MCC will utilize ATAC funding to provide additional assistive technology devices, such as tablet computers, study aids, and magnifiers, to loan to students who need them to support an educational outcome.

The College of New Jersey, Center for Assistive Technology & Inclusive Education Studies (CATIES): CATIES conducts assistive technology evaluations, augmentative communication evaluations, and professional development workshops, and provides information, technical assistance and training to school districts and parents. CATIES will utilize ATAC funding to expand its inventory of assistive technology applications and accessories for tablet computers. CATIES will provide demonstrations of these applications and accessories, which will enable students who have disabilities to use tablet computers to communicate, gain access to the content areas by having books read aloud, improve their writing skills, access the Internet for research, and learn academic skills.

“This is the fourth year we’ve provided this funding for new projects,” said Curtis Edmonds, ATAC program manager. “We’ve been very pleased that we’ve been able to play a role in expanding existing assistive technology programs, and we definitely hope that this year’s recipients continue to provide much-needed services to benefit New Jersey residents with disabilities.”
Disability Rights New Jersey (DRNJ) is the designated protection and advocacy system for people with disabilities in New Jersey. DRNJ is a non-profit corporation whose governing board consists of a majority of persons with disabilities or family members of persons with disabilities. DRNJ provides legal and non-legal advocacy, information and referral, outreach, training and technical assistance to advance the human, civil, and legal rights of persons with disabilities.

The Richard West Assistive Technology Advocacy Center (ATAC) of Disability Rights New Jersey (DRNJ) serves as New Jersey’s federally funded assistive technology project through a sub-contract with New Jersey’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development. Its purpose is to assist individuals in overcoming barriers in the system and making assistive technology more accessible to individuals with disabilities throughout the state.

14th Annual Richard West 5 Mile Wheelchair Race

The 14th Annual Richard West 5 Mile Wheelchair Race will be held on June 15, 2013 on Long Beach Island. This is a race of inclusion and all are welcome to participate with manual wheelchairs, racing chairs, handcycles, or electric chairs. Volunteers are encouraged to walk behind racers in support of accessible recreation.

Race will start at 9:00 AM at Salem Ave. in Harvey Cedars
Race will end on 7th St. in Barnegat Light
Parking is available at Sunset Park, Harvey Cedars (Water Tank) or Barnegat Light State Park

For more information and registration, email: rwest72@comcast.net

Point totals for grand Prix will be posted on the Tri-State Wheelchair Athletic Association website, www.tswaa.com
For information on WheelBlazer Grand Prix, call Angela Smith: 973-530-3657

Delaware Teen Gets a New Voice

Many Americans use assistive technology to allow them to speak with computer-generated voices. These voices have improved in quality in the last few decades, but are still rather robotic sounding and impersonal.

Teenager Haley Shiber speaks in a polished, mature voice. It comes out of a hot pink tablet computer attached to her wheelchair.

This 16-year-old from Smyrna, Del., has cerebral palsy and a comprehensive, degenerative neuromuscular disorder. She uses switches on her wheelchair headrest to tell the speech program on her computer to produce words, jokes, and programmed phrases she can articulate quickly.

“My hobbies are riding my bike, going to see the Phillies, the opera, plays, and 4-H and art,” she said, in one such phrase.

Synthetic voices such as the one Haley uses have become easier on the ear in the past few decades, as the companies creating them strove for easy understandability. But they retain a distinct synthetic quality, one that isolates Haley, according to her mother, Debbie Shiber.

“The roboticness gets in the way of actually developing relationships,” Shiber said. “It’s accepted by us because, you know, that’s just her voice. But it would be wonderful if she had a more natural quality to her voice.”

The problem with synthetic voices is not just that they are, by nature, synthetic sounding. There are a limited number of voices to choose from, which makes it difficult for users of assistive communication devices to find a voice that matches their age and personality. Haley’s voice, for example, sounds a bit too grownup for a 16-year-old wearing neon pink shoelaces and teal-tinged glasses.

Experts say it gets worse: It is not uncommon for two or three people to be talking with assistive technology, all in the same room together, all in the exact same voice.

This is where Tim Bunnell steps in. Bunnell is head of the Speech Research Lab at Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children. His goal is to give people their own voice for the first time.

“What we’re trying to do is develop personal voices for people,” Bunnell said. “So that everyone would have their own unique voice and be able to impose on it an identity that they can identify with.”

Haley Shiber is the first test case for Bunnell’s team. Years ago, before she lost the ability to make any utterances during a critical surgery, Debbie Shiber recorded the sounds her daughter could make.

Recently, Bunnell dusted off those recordings and isolated a pure vowel sound from Haley’s vocalizations. Using software his team developed, he imposed the essence of that pure vowel sound onto a homemade synthetic voice he created using voice samples from a donor child. The resulting voice contained Haley’s voice quality and sounded younger, albeit choppier, than her old voice.

Bunnell recently loaded the new voice onto Haley’s computer when the family visited his Wilmington office.

“As a mother you never forget what your child’s voice sounds like, ” said Shiber, who was moved to tears the first time she heard the new voice. “Hearing the voice quality … it was just very emotional, because we haven’t heard Haley’s voice since 2006.”

Bunnell’s team originally developed the software for voice banking, to allow people with Lou Gehrig’s Disease and similar disorders to quickly create synthetic versions of their own voices for later use.

The technology is currently in beta testing under the name “ModelTalker Speech Synthesis System.” ALS patients and others can record voice samples at home, then send them to the company to be morphed into personalized synthetic voices.

The quality of the resulting voices vary greatly, however, largely because of the amount of data that goes into them. The homemade voices, including the voices for the ALS patients and the one Bunnell created for Haley, are based on about 45 minutes of recorded voice samples. Commercial voices use hours, sometimes dozens of hours, of speech, creating a much smoother voice that is easier to understand.

Before Bunnell gives new voices to any other test patients, he is developing a brand-new approach to create smoother, more professional-sounding personalized voices.

“Rather than record snippets of speech, we will actually have computers modeling how that speech is generated in the vocal tract,” Bunnell said. “So that it is a model, if you will, rather than a copy of the speech.”

Bunnell and a collaborator at Northeastern University will use measurements of vocal tract length, oral cavity width and other data to create this next generation of voices.

For now, the Shibers are glad Haley has a voice to call her own.

“Thank you for my speaking,” she said in her new voice when leaving Bunnell’s office. “You are awesome.”

This was taken from Newsworks.org. For the original article and to see a video of Haley, go to: www.newsworks.org/index.php/homepage-feature/item/52826-delaware-teen-gets-a-new-voice-video?Itemid=1&linktype=hp_featured

Sandy Survivors with Home Accessibility Needs Should Contact FEMA

Survivors with home accessibility needs because of Hurricane Sandy, especially older adults and people with disabilities, are encouraged to stay in touch with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. FEMA may be able to assist if elevators or electricity are not working properly, even if the structure did not sustain damage.

Residents living in buildings with non-working elevators or inaccessible common areas may be eligible for temporary rental assistance or other disaster-related assistance from FEMA. Those experiencing accessibility issues while waiting for an insurance settlement also may be eligible for assistance.

Buildings with unsafe conditions such as electrical problems in common areas, non-working elevators and hard-to-access entrances may present difficulties to residents, especially those with disabilities or health concerns that make it difficult to use the stairs.

FEMA specialists are canvassing neighborhoods impacted by Hurricane Sandy to ensure survivors with physical or mobility needs have equal access and receive equal benefits from FEMA programs. They will work on a case-by-case basis to assist survivors with access and functional needs to ensure they receive the assistance for which they are eligible.

While FEMA will continue outreach efforts, survivors are urged to call the FEMA helpline 800-621-3362 (Voice, 7-1-1/Relay) or TTY 800-462-7585. Call centers are available 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. EST, seven days a week.

ATAC Announces 2013 Request for Proposal (RFP)

Disability Rights New Jersey/Assistive Technology Advocacy Center

Request For Proposal (RFP)

One-Time Grant for Expansion of Assistive Technology Services to People with Disabilities in New Jersey

Introduction and Description

Disability Rights New Jersey (DRNJ) is the federally-funded, independent non-profit designated as New Jersey’s protection and advocacy system for people with disabilities. It provides legal and non-legal advocacy, information and referral, technical assistance and training, outreach and education in support of the human, civil, and legal rights of people with disabilities.

The Assistive Technology Advocacy Center (ATAC) of DRNJ is the designated state program authorized by the Assistive Technology Act of 2004 (AT Act) to provide enhanced access to assistive technology products and services on a comprehensive, statewide basis through a system of device loan, demonstration, equipment reuse, training and technical assistance, and public awareness activities.

The grant(s) are available under the following activities:

  • Device reutilization programs – provide for the exchange, repair, recycling, or other reutilization of assistive technology devices, which may include redistribution through device sales, loans, rentals, or donations.
  • Device loan programs – provide short-term loans of assistive technology devices to individuals, employers, public agencies, or others seeking to meet the needs of targeted individuals and entities.
  • Device demonstration programs – demonstrate a variety of assistive technology devices and assistive technology services (including assisting individuals in making informed choices regarding, and providing experiences with, the devices and services), using personnel who are familiar with such devices and services and their applications.

Background

ATAC is providing one-time funding to enhance the scope of existing assistive technology services available to people with disabilities in New Jersey. The primary focus for this year’s funding is services for people with disabilities in educational settings.

The total amount under this RFP is $60,000. This funding is contingent on availability of funds.

ATAC intends to award grants ranging from approximately $5,000 to a maximum of $10,000.

Scope of Work

The successful applicants will, under these one-time grants, develop and implement a plan for expanding existing assistive technology activities currently operating in New Jersey, in one or more of the three areas of device loan, device demonstration, and device reutilization. Such activities must be consistent with the ATAC state plan, which is available on the ATAC website (http://www.drnj.org/atac/?page_id=4135), or by request.

Examples

Examples of possible education-related activities that ATAC may fund through this RFP include, but are not limited to:

• Expanding services to students with disabilities who are underserved;
• Updating and purchasing state-of-the-art equipment for loan and/or demonstration;
• Expanding services to include specialized populations of students with disabilities.

Qualifications of Applicant

Individuals or organizations in New Jersey with recognized expertise in the field of assistive technology, or those demonstrating an understanding of assistive technology devices and services. Organizations that provide direct educational services are specifically invited to apply. Familiarity with currently existing services within New Jersey is a definite plus. The applicant must be able to communicate well in writing and work well with DRNJ staff in order to meet the goals of the RFP.

Requirements

The application is limited to five pages, minimum 1.15-spaced, plus a one-page budget. The application must be delivered in an accessible, electronic format such as Microsoft Word. The application must include:

  • Relevant information about the applicant, including contact name, organization name, address, telephone, fax, and e-mail;
  • Description of the applicant or organization and the relevant personnel, experience, expertise, and technical abilities that make it possible to carry out the research activity;
  • Description of the work plan, rationale, and means to accomplish the plan.
  • Details of specific sub-tasks and schedules to accomplish the tasks, and
  • Detailed proposed budget, as described below.

Budget

The applicant will include a proposed one-page budget appropriate for meeting the goals of the proposal. All requests for specific AT devices or equipment should be itemized where possible.

Assurances

The applicant will include assurances of compliance with all federal mandates and requirements applicable to recipients of federal funding and assurances that the applicant has no conflict of interest that bars the applicant from completing the proposal.

Evaluation Criteria

DRNJ staff, in collaboration with the ATAC Advisory Council, will evaluate all applicants based on their expertise, knowledge, familiarity with New Jersey service providers, and ability to complete the activity in the given amount of time. Criteria include:

  • Contribution to expansion of AT network in New Jersey
  • Ability to successfully execute the activity on time
  • Relevant experience in the assistive technology field
  • Expertise and ability of the applicant
  • Quality of services provided
  • Budget
  • Ability to meet deadlines

Application Due Date

The deadline for submitting applications under this RFP is March 15, 2013. DRNJ prefers e-mail submissions, sent to cedmonds@drnj.org. DRNJ will accept mail and overnight mail submissions provided that an accessible electronic copy is submitted as well.

Date of Award

The contract for this RFP will be submitted to the winning applicants on or before April 1, 2013, with work to begin immediately.

Date of Completion of Project

The project will end on September 30, 2013.

TECHConnection Announces New Workshop Series

TECHConnection Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Workshop Series

Presented by: Joan Bruno, Ph.D., CCC-SLP*
AAC Specialist at TECHConnection

Course #1 – Proloquo2Go: Navigating the New P2G 2.0
This 3-hour workshop is intended to help participants make an informed decision about purchasing this popular AAC App. Through hands-on training with either the iPad or the iPod Touch, participants will learn about the vocabulary contents of Prololoquo2Go (P2G) 2.0 and master the basic skills needed to customize P2G for a range of language of abilities. Specific topics to be covered include: configuring the P2G settings, creating and linking categories, customizing pages, using photos, as well as procedures for backing up and restoring your custom vocabulary. Advanced language features of the software will be reviewed.

Objectives:
Participants will:
1. be able to determine if P2G is appropriate for their child or student
2. gain competency in programming and backing up P2G
3. be able to customize the device for your child or student

Course # 2 – AAC Apps for Basic Communicators: Getting Started
The advent of the GoTalk Now and Proloquo2Go 2.0 (P2G) Apps offer new AAC
options for communicators with limited expressive language abilities who use AAC to request and to respond. This hands-on workshop presents an overview of a range of considerations involved in assessing a student’s ability to use an App for communication purposes and then provides training specific to these 2 AAC Apps. Participants will learn how to (1) design pages for GoTalk Now, (2) customize the Basic Communication User P2G and (3) create custom pages in the P2G Blank User area. Specific topics to be covered include: configuring the GoTalk Now and P2G settings, creating buttons, folders, customizing pages, using photos, as well as procedures for backing up and restoring your custom vocabulary. NOTE: In each Class with 8 registrants, one lucky participant will receive a free GoTalkNow App Code.

Objectives:
Participants will:
1. Be able to select the most appropriate AAC App for a basic communicator
2. Learn key features and programming strategies for the GoTalk Now App
3. Understand the vocabulary contents of the Basic Communicator User of P2G
4. Customize the P2G Basic User and design a page set for the P2G Blank User

Dates:
March 1, 2013– Course #1 – P2G
March 15, 2013– Course #2 – AAC Apps …
April 5, 2013– Course #1 – P2G
April 19, 2013- Course #2 – AAC Apps …
May 3, 2013– Course #1 – P2G
May 10, 2013 – Course #2 – AAC Apps …
NOTE: Registration is limited to 8 participants

Target Audience:
Speech-Language Pathologists, Special Educators, Parents.

Time:
8:45 Registration
9 am – Noon: Workshop
(This session is offered for 3 NJ Department of Education Professional Development Hours)

Place:
TECHConnection at FRA, 35 Haddon Ave, Shrewsbury, NJ 07732

Cost:
The Workshop is $50 per person

To Register:
Complete Registration Form and fax back to Janine at 732-747-1896, or mail back to TechConnection at 35 Haddon Ave., Shrewsbury, NJ 07702.
For registration questions, call Janine at 732-747-5310, ext. 111.

(Note: Agencies may contract with TECHConnection to host this workshop at their school. Agencies must supply their own iPads for the workshop. Call 732-747-5310 ext 121 for more details and fees).

*Joan Bruno, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, has over 30 years of experience working in the field of AAC and has published and presented nationally and internationally on a variety of topics related to AAC assessment and intervention. Joan is the author of the Gateway© page sets, directs an AAC camp and currently serves as the President of the New Jersey Speech and Hearing Association.

To download the workshop registration and for more information: www.frainc.org/techconnection/workshops.html

The Mobi-Chair: A Wheelchair That Floats

Deschamps, a New Jersey based family owned business, has created the Mobi-Chair, a high quality beach chair that provides people bound to wheelchair an easier way to access and navigate across the beach. The arm rests and wheels are made of floating materials that enable the chair to fully float in water.

The Mobi-Chair can be assembled or disassembled in 5 – 10 minutes without the use of any tools, and can easily fit into the back of the trunk of a vehicle. The aluminum frame and other materials are corrosion free and the fabric used for the chair is non allergenic, UV resistant, and ventilated for quick drying.

The Mobi-Chair is not inexpensive as it will set you back by $2200. There is little information on whether insurance companies would cover costs for the chair or not.

To see the video to see Mobi-Chair in action at: www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=KhBKMTNXEZY

For more information: http://mobi-chair.com/

Selected Online Assistive Technology Vendors

Individuals with disabilities throughout New Jersey use a wide variety of assistive technology (AT) in their homes, schools, workplaces, and in the community. A number of different vendors provide an array of different devices to help people with different types of disabilities work, learn, read, and participate in many different sorts of activities. Many of these vendors provide websites with detailed information about various assistive technology devices.

This bulletin lists several online vendors who provide AT devices, as well as a telephone number to contact each vendor to request catalogues or product information. This list does not include every possible vendor. Disability Rights New Jersey (DRNJ) does not endorse any specific vendor. DRNJ encourages individuals to shop around to find the best device for them at the most reasonable price. Additionally, DRNJ encourages individuals to utilize the National Public Website on Assistive Technology, at http://assistivetech.net/, which provides a more comprehensive listing of vendors.

Vendors of Devices for Assistance with Daily Living

• Able-Net – http://www.ablenetinc.com/ – (800) 322-0956
Offers augmentative communication devices, switches, learning technology, and computer aids.

• Boomer Care Technologies – http://www.boomercaretech.com/ (888) 612-2666 – Provides devices tailored for helping to keep older individuals with disabilities more mobile within their homes.

• Independent Living Aids – http://www.independentliving.com/ – (800) 537-2118 – Provides a large catalogue of devices focused on living independently, including items for people with low vision or blindness.

• Maxi-Aids – http://www.maxiaids.com/ – (800) 522-6294
Provides a variety of items for people with vision, hearing, and mobility impairments, as well as medical aids, household products, and computer accessories.

• Rehab-Mart – http://www.rehabmart.com/ - (800) 827-8283 Focuses on medical supplies and rehabilitation products, including durable medical equipment and furniture.

Vendors of Devices for People with Vision Loss

• Enhanced Vision – http://www.enhancedvision.com/ – (888) 811-3161
Focuses on low vision and magnification products.

• Freedom Scientific – http://www.freedomscientific.com/ – (800) 444-4443
Provides computer text-to-speech software and other devices for individuals who are blind or have other visual impairments.

• GW-Micro – http://www.gwmicro.com/ - (260) 489-3671
Provides reading systems and other products for people with low vision.

• Humanware – http://www.humanware.com – (800) 722-3393
Provides communication options for people who are deaf-blind, in addition to products tailored to individuals with other visual impairments.

• Optelec – http://www.optelec.com/en_US/home - (800) 826-4200
Provides desktop and portable magnifiers and other equipment for people with visual impairments.

Vendors of Devices for People with Hearing Loss

• Clarity – http://clarityproducts.com/ - (800) 426-3738
Provides amplified phones and other communication systems for people with hearing loss.

• Deafworks – http://www.deafworks.com/ – (800) 855-2881 / (801) 465-1957 (TTY) Provides alarm clocks, TTY devices, and signal devices.

• Hear More – http://www.hearmore.com/ – (800) 881-4327 / (800) 281-3555 (TTY)
Provides a wide array of products designed for people with hearing impairments, including flashers, headsets, and sensors.

• Ultratec – http://www.ultratec.com/ - (800) 482-2424 (V/TTY)
Provides amplified telephones, Captel-enabled communication devices, as well as signalers and other devices.

Vendor for Accessible Vehicles

• Disabled Dealer – http://www.disableddealer.com/ – (800) 588-5099
Provides listings of accessible and modified vehicles sold by individuals.

Vendors for Devices for Education

• Cambium Learning – http://store.cambiumlearning.com/ – (800) 547-6747
Provides a variety of software for assessment, literacy, and mathematics, including Kurzweil scanning software.

• Don Johnston – http://www.donjohnston.com/ - (800) 588-4548
Provides educational software and products focused on helping students with learning disabilities read and write more effectively.

• Mayer-Johnson – http://www.mayer-johnson.com/ – (800) 588-4548
Provides software for adapting items in the education curriculum for people with various disabilities.

Vendors for Devices for Communication

• Dyna-Vox – http://www.dynavoxtech.com/default.aspx - (800) 588-4548
Provides a variety of augmentative communication devices.

• Prentke Romich - http://www.prentrom.com/ – (800) 262-1990
Provides a variety of augmentative communication devices.

• Tobii – http://www.tobii.com/ – (800) 793-9227
Provides augmentative communication devices and eye-gaze controls.

Resources

• The CARTWHEEL is a comprehensive online database of assistive technology vendors in New Jersey, and is available at the ATAC website at http://www.drnj.org/atac/

• The New Jersey Division of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DDHH) operates the statewide equipment distribution program for individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing and need access to telecommunications and visual alerting home safety equipment. http://www.state.nj.us/humanservices/ddhh/equipment/

• The iCanConnect/NJ program is the New Jersey affiliate for the National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program. This program will ensure that low-income individuals who meet the eligibility requirements and who have combined hearing and vision loss can access telephone, advanced communications and information services. http://njcscd.org/departments/i-can-connect-nj.html

Assistive Technology Gifts for Everyone on Your List

Easter Seals and the INDATA Project have created a list of various assistive technology gifts for the holiday season. Ideas range from Braille Uno to television magnifiers, computer scanners, iPads, and Kindles.

For more information about gift ideas, pricing, and where to buy, see:

Easter Seals Gift Ideas: www.eastersealscrossroads.org/blog/2012/december/

INDATA Holiday Technology Shopping List: www.eastersealstech.com/2012/11/23

Your ReSource Changes Name and Location

In January 2012, Your ReSource merged with Goodwill Industries of Southern New Jersey & Philadelphia (GISNJP). GISNJP is the eighth largest region in the Goodwill Network and has offered Your ReSource the opportunity to expand both in Central Jersey, South Jersey and Philadelphia.

In order to reach even more individuals, caregivers, families and professionals, Your ReSource has moved to 18 Arctic Parkway in Ewing, next to the Goodwill Store on Olden Avenue. The location offers convenient parking, wheelchair accessibility, expanded hours of operation on weekdays and weekends, wider aisles for ease in movement and, of course, an expanded inventory selection.

Please visit the new location to drop off no-longer-needed home medical equipment and unopened medical supplies or to obtain affordable, refurbished wheelchairs, hospital beds, canes, crutches, walkers, bath items, lifts, ramps and thousands of other useful health and rehabilitation items.

For more information email: info@goodwillhomemedical.org
Or visit the new website at: www.goodwillhomemedical.org/

Goodwill Home Medical Equipment
A division of Goodwill Industries of Southern New Jersey & Philadelphia
18 Arctic Parkway
Ewing, NJ 08638
Phone: (609) 396-1513

Advancing Opportunities Offers AT for Employment Certificate Program

When employment support professionals work with people with significant physical disabilities, they often look for work that the person can do without accommodation. This tendency comes from a lack of training and experience in developing and implementing accommodations, including the consideration of assistive technology (AT). With funding from the Kessler Foundation, Advancing Opportunities (which partners with the NJ AT Act program) is working to remove that barrier by offering a new certificate program that targets professionals working in employment.

Earning an AT for Employment Certificate will help employment support professions apply the ethical guidelines put forth by the Association of People Supporting Employment First (APSE).

Advancing Opportunities’ certificate program is designed to train employment support professionals to develop and implement job accommodations and assistive technology supports. An essential component of this training includes loaning assistive technology to participants over a period of 2 months to assist their carrying out trials and applying what they have learned. Students are provided with a kit that includes an iPod Touch pre-loaded with relevant work-oriented apps (and an opportunity to keep the technology for their program).

Helping professionals who are not specialists in AT consider AT is not new. There are many professionals in the K-12 setting, case managers, and vocational rehabilitation counselors, and others who are expected to be able to include AT in a system of supports. While each application is unique, the basic knowledge and skills that are needed for professionals to consider whether or not a consumer can benefit from assistive technology is the same.

With may states proclaiming themselves Employment First states, and with the development of APSE’s Certified Employment Support Professional (CESP), the time is right to support these professionals, and support employment first.

Learn more about this certification program at Advancing Opportunities’ Assistive Technology Center

Emergency Housing Needs & Vacancies in NJ

Supportive Housing Association (SHA) of NJ has added a new resource page to their website in order to serve member organizations, families and individuals affected by the storm. For those with housing needs, you can go to the “Sandy Emergency Housing Needs And Vacancies” page where emergency housing needs and vacancies have been posted in order to match people in need with available housing.

If you have housing to list, please email listings to gail.levinson@shanj.org. Please include a short description, county/community, contact name, phone and email.

For more information from SHA and to access the emergency housing webpage please see: www.shanj.org/resources/sandy-housing-needs

AT for Employers Web Portal Now Available Through RESNA

In 2011, the RESNA Catalyst Project began a new initiative focusing on the use of AT for employment. The initiative includes the development of an AT for Employers Web Portal, which is designed as a gateway for employers to increase their understanding and use of AT in the workplace while accessing resources such as AT Act Program services.

Please take a look at the AT for Employers Web Portal and share this site with others.

If you have Portal comments and suggestions, please email your comments to pgalonsky@resna.org, or call 703-524-6686.

Where Can I Learn About Free Assistive Technology?

The resources below were taken from Access STEM: The Alliance for Students with Disabilities in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.

Assistive technology (AT) makes it possible for people with disabilities to benefit from mainstream technology when the standard modes of access are inaccessible to them. Many products are commercially available and some are free. The resources described below help individuals locate freely available AT.

- Athens Speech and Accessibility Lab Free Assistive Technology Software [1] is an online directory of free, open source, assistive technology (AT) applications. Greece’s University of Athens Speech and Accessibility Laboratory tested each software program included on the list. The list can be browsed by disability type or AT software category.

- Free Assistive Technology Software [2], maintained by the Web Accessibility Center at the Ohio State University, links to a variety of free AT. The list includes a description of the types of AT that may be of use to individuals with different disabilities.

- Free and Open Source Software [3] is a list maintained by JISC TechDis, a leading UK group on technologies for inclusion and accessibility. The list includes AT software that assists with reading, writing, and planning as well as recording, alternative input/interface tools, visualization tools, add-ons for Mozilla Firefox, and tools for mobile devices.

- Free Technology Toolkit for UDL in All Classrooms [4] is a wiki that includes links to a variety of AT including apps, audio books, text to speech tools, graphic organizers, study skills tools, literacy tools, writing tools, research tools, and others.

References

[1] Athens Speech and Accessibility Lab Free Assistive Technology Software
http://access.uoa.gr/fs/eng/pages/home

[2] Free Assistive Technology Software
http://wac.osu.edu/conferences/emrc08/free_at.html

[3] Free and Open Source Software
http://www.jisctechdis.ac.uk/resources/detail/goingdigital/GetFreeSoftware

[4] Free Technology Toolkit for UDL in All Classrooms
http://udltechtoolkit.wikispaces.com/Home

[5] Whom should I contact in my state if I have a question about assistive technology?
http://www.washington.edu/doit/articles

[6] Who offers training on assistive technology and the design of accessible technology?
http://www.washington.edu/doit/articles

Oscar Pistorius: First Double Amputee to Compete in the Olympics

Twenty-four years after a year-old baby had his legs amputated in a South African hospital after being born without fibulae, that same child had grown into one of the world’s fastest 400-meter runners.

“The Blade Runner,” they call Pistorius. “The fastest man with no legs.” The 25-year-old motored toward the finish line of his preliminary heat here, his prosthetics click-click-clicking as he passed a Russian to qualify for Sunday’s semifinals.

“The experience to be here is a dream come true,” said Pistorius, the first amputee to run in an able-bodied Olympic Games. “I’ve worked for six years to try and make the 400 standard, and to come out today is just an unbelievable experience.”

He added, “It’s very difficult to separate the occasion from the race.”

Harder still is separating historical achievement from hot-button controversy. On the best day of his competitive life, Pistorius was not asked how many other children born without limbs he made feel whole again. Instead: Does a man with two ultra-light prosthetics have an unfair competitive advantage over able-bodied competitors?

“The moment in athletic history when engineered limbs outperform biological limbs has already passed,” two scientists told Sports Illustrated in 2009. Their findings were released in the Journal of Applied Physiology. They came out after the Court of Arbitration for Sport overturned a ban by track and field’s international governing body and allowed Pistorius to compete against able-bodied runners in international competition.

Though the research has been equally refuted and supported by scientists, doctors and lawyers on both sides of the issue, the fight won’t go away: Is a double amputee more fortunate than any of us realized?

Johnson, the world record holder in the 400 (and formerly in the 200) and a friend of Pistorius, nonetheless declared, “My position is that because we don’t know for sure whether he gets an advantage from the prosthetics that he wears it is unfair to the able-bodied competitors.”

“If the blades give so much of an advantage, then why aren’t other athletes who have them running as fast as me?” Pistorius asks rhetorically. “People say I must have an advantage because my legs are lighter. But I’ve got less blood running through them and don’t have the tendons in my ankles. People don’t talk about that.

“What I believe in is the fairness of sport,” he added. “It isn’t an advantage. In my heart, I know what’s right and I wouldn’t be running if I had any doubt.’’

Nearly every one of his able-bodied peers supported him when asked after their 400-meter heats Saturday whether they thought Pistorius should run.

It probably helps that Pistorius is not a medal threat. His 45.44 second time in his heat, his second-best time this year, could put him in Lane 1 or 8 of the 400-meter final but is not elite enough to begin threatening livelihoods.

If Pistorius were gold-medal good, the debate would become more inflamed. But at least his competitors fully understood the significance of a man overcoming astonishing odds to run in his own lane at an Olympics.

A baby born without bones in his lower legs is now among the fastest men to run the oval in the world.

When he runs Sunday, stop and take it in as a human being, without having to to dwell on the how and why. For at least one day, let’s start commemorating and stop calibrating.

For the entire article: Oscar Pistorius: Controversy and Celebration

Wheelchair User Ramp Survey

The University of Louisville is seeking participants for an anonymous survey to identify factors that contribute to ramp-related incidents and injuries when entering or exiting a public transit bus using a wheelchair ramp.

To access the survey, click on the following link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/WheelchairRampSurvey

If you are 18 years of age or older, use a wheelchair or scooter as your primary means of mobility, and you have accessed a public transit bus using a wheelchair ramp similar to those shown below during the past three years, we welcome your participation in this survey. Or, if you are a family member or personal assistant for someone who meets these criteria, you may complete this survey.

This survey is part of a research study funded by the National Institute for Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR Grant No. H133G11074). There are no known risks involved with participating in this survey, and the information collected may not benefit you directly. However, the information learned from all survey responses may be helpful to others. If you have any questions or concerns after reading this page, you may contact the researcher via telephone or email (see contact information at bottom of page).

This information will be used strictly for research purposes. This information will be used to describe ramp and/or vehicle features/components that contribute to ramp-related incidents. This information will also be used to develop ramp design guidelines that improve the accessibility, usability and safety of vehicle wheelchair ramps.

All responses are voluntary and anonymous, and you will not be asked to provide any personally identifiable information. You do not have to answer any questions that make you uncomfortable, and you can stop the survey at any point by exiting the survey or closing your web browser window. All responses will be SSL encrypted and stored on a secure server hosted by SurveyMonkey until downloaded to the password-protected research database. In addition to being anonymous, your responses will be protected in accordance with SurveyMonkey’s Privacy Policy.

Individuals from the Department of Mechanical Engineering, the Institutional Review Board (IRB), the Human Subjects Protection Program Office (HSPPO), and other regulatory agencies may inspect these records. In all other respects, however, the data will be held in confidence to the extent permitted by law. Should the data be published, your identity will not be disclosed.

Furthermore, if you have any questions about your rights as a research subject, you may call the Human Subjects Protection Program Office at (502) 852-5188. You can discuss any questions about your rights as a research subject, in private, with a member of the Institutional Review Board (IRB). You may also call this number if you have other questions about the research, and you cannot reach the research staff, or want to talk to someone else. The IRB is an independent committee made up of people from the University community, staff of the institutions, as well as people from the community not connected with these institutions. The IRB has reviewed this research study.

If you have concerns or complaints about the research or research staff and you do not wish to give your name, you may call 1-877-852-1167. This is a 24-hour hot line answered by people who do not work at the University of Louisville.

Family Resource Associates and Family Support Center Offer Workshops for Students and Seniors

In partnership with the Family Support Center of NJ (FSCNJ), Family Resource Associates announces the following upcoming workshops for students and seniors:

Assistive Device Demonstration and Loan Expo:

The goal of this workshop is to experience cool devices and software for individuals with physical or developmental disabilities or reading and writing challenges. Discover tools that will enable users assistance with:
- Taking notes
- Discovering software to eliminate spelling errors
- Increase reading level with devices that read for you
- Learn about Voice-to-text capabilities
- See how the iPad can help you

Five (recycled) computers, along with other door prizes will be given away at this workshop.

DATE: Wednesday, August 15, 2012
TIME: 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM: Overview & presentation
11:30 AM – 2:30 PM: Hands-on trial in computer lab with lending library
PLACE: The Family Support Center of New Jersey, Lions Head Office Park, 35 Beaverson Blvd., Bldg 11, Brick, NJ 08723

This Workshop is also being offered again FOR SENIORS on the following date:

DATE: Tuesday, August 28, 2012
TIME: 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM Overview & presentation
3:00 PM – 4:30 PM: Hands-on trial in computer lab with lending library
PLACE: The Family Support Center of New Jersey, Lions Head Office Park, 35 Beaverson Blvd., Bldg 11, Brick, NJ 08723

Light refreshments will be available
Please RSVP to Janine Bedford Sims at 732-747-5310, ext. 111. Seating is limited.

For more information, you may also visit: http://www.frainc.org/techconnection/workshops.html

ATAC of DRNJ Demonstrates “PTSD Coach” App

Information about the PTSD Coach app:

U.S. Department of Labor Launches the Disability Employment App Challenge

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy has announced its first disability-related application challenge, which is designed to generate innovative tools that will improve employment opportunities and outcomes for people with disabilities.

Nearly 22 years after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act and 39 years after the passage of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, people with disabilities continue to be employed at much lower levels than those without disabilities. The goal of the app challenge is to promote recruitment resources for employers, develop job training and skill-building tools for job seekers, facilitate employment-related transportation options and expand information communication technology accessibility.

Submissions should provide access to important data and resources; attract users with different skill sets and language preferences; be accessible (that is, compatible and interoperable with assistive technology commonly used by individuals with disabilities, such as screen reading and speech recognition software); and consider partnerships that will ensure sustainability of the app. In addition, they should be targeted toward a variety of audiences such as students, teachers, employers, career counselors and workforce professionals, as well as individuals with disabilities working or seeking work at all levels in a variety of salaried and hourly jobs.

Awards with cash prizes — totaling $10,000 — will be given to the top three submissions, including the grand prize Innovation Award, the second prize People’s Choice Award, and the third prize Above and Beyond Accessibility Award. Contestants must register for the contest on the Challenge.gov website by creating an account at http://challenge.gov/users/login. Each registrant will receive a confirmation email and may then enter a submission via the “Post a Submission” tab at http://disability.challenge.gov.

Submissions must be entered between May 23 at 12 a.m. EDT and Aug. 23 at 11:59 p.m. EDT.

For more information, please visit ODEP’s website at: http://www.dol.gov/odep

Announcement and Public Hearings Regarding the Closure of The Center for Independent Living (TCILC)

Due to the unexpected impending closure of TCILC, the Center for Independent Living serving New Jersey’s three southernmost counties, the Federal funding supporting that Center must be re-allocated.  In order to do this, the NJ SPIL must be revised to include a guideline on where monies that become available in such circumstances will be allocated.  Currently, SPIL Section 3.2 (Network Expansion) directs any additional Federal IL funding in the amount of $125,000 or more to establishing a new IL center in either Ocean or Union county, which are considered under-served areas.  At the time the current State Plan was prepared, there was no indication an existing center might close, a situation that could leave an entire area UN-served, not just under-served.  Since the closure of TCILC leaves Cape May, Cumberland and Salem counties without any coverage by a Center for Independent Living, an amendment to the State Plan is needed to allow Federal monies intended for Tri-County to be directed to a new CIL to serve these same three counties. 

The only change in the current SPIL is the addition of the following paragraph to Section 3.2 (Expansion): The above scenarios address receipt of regular Part C or additional Federal funding.  In the event that a Part C center closes – whether because a given center’s board has voluntarily relinquished its Part C grant or because RSA has terminated the grant – the issue may well become one of an area being unserved by any center.  In such a case, a new center would be established to serve the catchment area once covered by the relinquished or terminated CIL, subject to the results of the corresponding new grant competition to be administered by RSA.  Several Public Hearings will be held for commentary from IL consumers and interested parties.  These Hearings are open to residents of all NJ counties.  Two of them will be held in the TCILC service area, to accommodate people most affected by the loss of the CIL.

Wednesday May 30, 2012 1:00 to 2:30 p.m.
Atlantic Cape College Dining Hall
341 Courthouse-South Dennis Road
Cape May Courthouse NJ 08210

Wednesday June 13, 2012 1:00 to 2:30 p.m.
Monmouth County Library Headquarters
125 Symmes Drive Manalapan, NJ 07726

NOTE: A separate announcement will be made for the remaining hearing.

No pre-registration is required but, if you plan to attend, please contact the Statewide Independent Living Council Coordinator at dinodoll@verizon.net OR 732-254-2484.

For the current SPIL, see: www.njsilc.org or visit them on Facebook: www.Facebook.com/NjStatewideIndependentLivingCouncil

Eleven Year-Old Staten Island Resident to Receive Free Accessible Van at Abilities Expo

Eleven-year-old John Hudson Dilgen of Staten Island, New York is one of the thousands from the community of people with disabilities expected to attend Abilities Expo on Friday, May 4-6, 2012 at the New Jersey Convention & Expo Center in Edison, New Jersey. While attendees with disabilities, their families, caregivers, seniors, wounded veterans and healthcare professionals will all enjoy free admission and an impressive line-up of exhibits, workshops, celebrities, events and activities, John and his family will also receive the gift of independence. Thanks to the joint efforts of Ride-Away, the Cub Scouts of America and Man vs. Food host Adam Richman, the Dilgen family will be presented with an accessible van on Saturday, May 5th at 10:00 am outside the convention center.

John was born with Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB), a rare disorder that affects 1 in 50,000 people and causes the skin to blister and tear at even the slightest touch, bump or fall. In particular, John has a collagen 7 deficiency in which the layers of skin actually slide off. When he wakes up each day, his family and caregivers assess the damage that he did to his fragile skin during the night, and clean and bandage the wounds which cover 50% of his body. John uses a wheelchair and blisters also affect is internal organs, hands, feet, mouth, and on difficult days, his eyes.

“We are thrilled to play a part in helping to change John’s life, as well as the lives of everyone who attends Abilities Expo,” said David Korse, president and CEO of Abilities Expo. “The Expo provides people of all ages and disabilities–whether it’s physical, learning, developmental or sensory–access to life-enhancing technologies, education, resources and fun. Most of all, it’s a celebration of what you can do, not what you can’t.”

Attendees at Abilities Expo will experience cutting-edge products and services for people with a wide range of disabilities. They will find mobility products, devices for people with developmental disabilities, medical equipment, home accessories, essential services, low-cost daily living aids, products for people with sensory impairments and much more. The Assistive Technology Pavilion, anchored by the New Jersey Assistive Technology Center AT Showcase, will feature the latest AT products for people of all abilities to experience hands-on.

A series of compelling, informative workshops which address pressing disability issues will be offered free-of-charge to all attendees on Friday, May 4th and Saturday, May 5th. Our popular travel and home modification sessions will take place on both days. Other workshops will focus on employment, PT for kids, social interactions, seating, finding the correct mobility device and that is just for starters.

Abilities Expo does not merely inform, it engages and it entertains. Attendees can learn some hip-hop and ballroom wheelchair dancing moves and play a host of different adaptive sports. And the kids will love the face painting.

On May 4th, be a part of the first annual Voices From The Net event, a free gathering of worldwide disability rights advocates, bloggers, supporters and Expo attendees sharing their experiences and fostering community. This event is brought to you by the founders of DisabledAccessDenied.com, where attendees can pre-register.

Abilities Expo participants can bring their old cell phones, iPhones, iPods or iPads to donate to the Gift a Voice Project, a program that refurbishes or recycles this equipment so that they can be used by people with communication disabilities.

Admission is free and show hours will be Friday 11 am to 5 pm, Saturday 11 am to 5 pm and Sunday 11 am to 4 pm. Complimentary loaner scooters and wheelchair repair will also be available onsite during show hours.

For more information, visit www.abilitiesexpo.com/newyork . Attendees may pre-register online, or register onsite when they arrive.

For this entire article: Eleven Year-Old Staten Island Child to Receive Free Accessible Van

The Assistive Technology Advocacy Center of Disability Rights New Jersey Awards Funding For New Assistive Technology Projects

The Assistive Technology Advocacy Center of Disability Rights New Jersey has announced grant awards for projects to expand access to assistive technology services and devices in New Jersey. During this third year of short-term funding opportunities, ATAC received more than 20 applications from which the following seven grants have been awarded:

Cerebral Palsy of North Jersey (CPNJ): CPNJ is based in Essex County and provides assistive technology services to children and adults in New Jersey. CPNJ will conduct device demonstrations for individuals with disabilities in northern New Jersey and will utilize ATAC funding to purchase mobile touch devices and accessories for demonstration purposes.

The Family Support Center of New Jersey (FSCNJ): The FSCNJ is a statewide, comprehensive family-focused human service organization designed to meet the growing need for programs and services to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their caregivers. FSCNJ conducts a Lifespan training series for students with developmental disabilities and their families, assisting them to make informed choices during their transition years. FSCNJ will expand its workshop content to incorporate specific information on incorporating assistive technology into transition planning.

Newark Public Library (NPL): NPL has extensive services for those who are hearing impaired, deaf, visually impaired, blind, and those who speak English as their second language. NPL has provided an access technology training program for visually impaired patrons on how to use assistive technology devices to perform basic computer skills. Participants will be taught how to use these technologies to perform standard computer tasks such as the basics of typing documents; conducting an Internet search; and performing basic email functions.

New Jersey State Library Talking Book and Braille Center (TBBC): TBBC is the public library for New Jersey’s residents with print disabilities and provides library service throughout the state. TBBC will provide 1,000 flash drives to permit library patrons with visual disabilities to download and store digital books from the National Library Service. TBBC is the only organization to receive a grant from ATAC in each of the three years of the program.

Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital: The Speech and Hearing Department will create a loan library of high- and low-technology assistive communication devices for patients in its intensive and acute care units. Patients in these settings who have temporary problems with communication often experience frustration, insecurity, and anxiety. These devices will allow for uninterrupted communication among patients, medical staff, and family members. The Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Center will purchase low-cost communication devices for loan to clinic patients with ALS to use in the community so that they may continue to communicate with their families and caregivers as the disease progresses. This project includes providing communication boards in Spanish and Chinese.

Family Resource Associates (FRA): The TECHConnection program at FRA in Monmouth County serves an extremely diverse population of people with disabilities, including learning disabilities, hearing and visual impairments, MS, ALS and other conditions resulting from illness, accidents, and aging. FRA provides device demonstration and device loan services. FRA will partner with other organizations to create a satellite center in Ocean County to provide assistive technology services to isolated populations in that county.

“This is the third year we’ve provided this funding for new projects,” said Curtis Edmonds, ATAC program manager. “We’re hopeful that this year’s grantees continue the record of success of the previous grantees, and that these funds will benefit New Jersey residents with disabilities who use assistive technology.”

Disability Rights New Jersey (DRNJ) is the designated protection and advocacy system for people with disabilities in New Jersey. DRNJ is a non-profit corporation whose governing board consists of a majority of persons with disabilities or family members of persons with disabilities. DRNJ provides legal and non-legal advocacy, information and referral, outreach, training and technical assistance to advance the human, civil, and legal rights of persons with disabilities.

The Assistive Technology Advocacy Center (ATAC) of Disability Rights New Jersey (DRNJ) serves as New Jersey’s federally funded assistive technology project through a sub-contract with New Jersey’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development. Its purpose is to assist individuals in overcoming barriers in the system and making assistive technology more accessible to individuals with disabilities throughout the state.

ATAC Public Service Announcement Available On Youtube

Check out this 30 second PSA that explains what ATAC is about.  Feel free to share with your friends!

Bancroft Offers Free Technology Workshops For Caregivers

Bancroft, a non-profit organization in south Jersey, is offering a series of free, hands-on workshops over the next few months to highlight assistive technology.

Mobile devices are giving new opportunities to those with conditions from autism to brain injury. The hands-on seminars at Bancroft’s campus on Kings Highway in Haddonfield are geared toward family members and caregivers of individuals with disabilities, but they’re open to all.

“The people we support here at Bancroft have varying abilities,” says Beth Greer, an assistive technology specialist at the non-profit. “We’ve been able to look at a multitude of different apps to meet the needs of these individuals.”

Participants are asked to bring their own device, if available.

“We’re really fortunate to be living in this time to see the changes that are happening in technology and how they’re benefiting people with disabilities,” Greer says.

Below is the schedule of workshops:
Workshop 1: iPad Basics
February 15, from 12 to 2 pm
February 22, from 6:30 to 8:30 pm
In this session, you will learn the basic features and functions of the iPad, including acquisition and evaluation of apps, navigation, safety and care, settings within the iPad, accessibility features and resources.

Workshop 2: Apps that Support Academics
March 14, from 12 to 2 pm
March 28, from 6:30 to 8:30 pm
In this session, you will gain an understanding of iPad apps that support such curriculum areas as reading, spelling, writing, math, fine motor skills, and productivity. The workshop will cover functional, early-education, elementary and secondary academics, including special apps for people with disabilities.

Workshop 3: Augmentative and Alternative Communication Apps
April 18, from 12 to 2 pm
April 25, from 6:30 to 8:30 pm
Participants will choose an app for augmentative and/or alternative communication, based on features and modify buttons.

Workshop 4: Apps that Support Functional Independence
May 9, from 12 to 2 pm
May 23, from 6:30 to 8:30 pm
Participants will gain an understanding of iPad apps that address increasing functional independence such as task analysis, environmental signs, video modeling for life skills, text to speech, as well as apps that address behavior and productivity.

Workshop 5: Apps that Support Individuals with Brain Injury
June 13, from 12 to 2 pm
June 14, from 6:30 to 8:30 pm
Participants will gain an understanding of apps that address behavior, time management, directionality, task lists, memory supports, video modeling and relaxation.

For the entire article, see: Technology Workshops Help Caregivers

For more information about the workshops, go to www.bancroft.org or call Sherri Reid at (856) 524-7020.

ATAC Announces 2012 Request for Proposal (RFP)

Disability Rights New Jersey/Assistive Technology Advocacy Center

Request For Proposal (RFP)

One-Time Grant for Expansion of Assistive Technology Services to People with Disabilities in New Jersey

Introduction and Description

Disability Rights New Jersey (DRNJ) is the federally-funded, independent non-profit designated as New Jersey’s protection and advocacy system for people with disabilities. It provides legal and non-legal advocacy, information and referral, technical assistance and training, outreach and education in support of the human, civil, and legal rights of people with disabilities.

The Assistive Technology Advocacy Center (ATAC) of DRNJ is the designated state program authorized by the Assistive Technology Act of 2004 (AT Act) to provide enhanced access to assistive technology products and services on a comprehensive, statewide basis through a system of device loan, demonstration, equipment reuse, training and technical assistance, and public awareness activities.

The grant(s) are available under the following activities:

State-Level Activities:

  • Device reutilization programs – provide for the exchange, repair, recycling, or other reutilization of assistive technology devices, which may include redistribution through device sales, loans, rentals, or donations.
  • Device loan programs – provide short-term loans of assistive technology devices to individuals, employers, public agencies, or others seeking to meet the needs of targeted individuals and entities.
  • Device demonstration programs – demonstrate a variety of assistive technology devices and assistive technology services (including assisting individuals in making informed choices regarding, and providing experiences with, the devices and services), using personnel who are familiar with such devices and services and their applications.

State Leadership Activities

  • Training and technical assistance – develop and disseminate training materials, conduct training, and provide technical assistance, for individuals from local settings statewide, including representatives of State and local educational agencies, other State and local agencies, early intervention programs, adult service programs, hospitals and other health care facilities, institutions of higher education, and businesses.
  • Public-awareness activities – conduct public-awareness activities designed to provide information to targeted individuals and entities relating to the availability, benefits, appropriateness, and costs of assistive technology devices and assistive technology services.
  • Coordination and collaboration – coordinate activities among public and private entities that are responsible for policies, procedures, or funding for the provision of assistive technology devices and assistive technology services to individuals with disabilities, service providers, and others to improve access to assistive technology devices and assistive technology services for individuals with disabilities of all ages in the State.

Background

ATAC is providing one-time funding to enhance the scope of existing assistive technology services available to people with disabilities in New Jersey. The total amount under this RFP is $46,000. This funding is contingent on availability of funds.
ATAC intends to award grants ranging in size from a minimum of $5,000 to a maximum of $10,000. In compliance with the provisions of the AT Act, ATAC expects that the majority of funding will be provided to projects that focus on the three state-level activities (device loan, device demonstration, device reutilization) rather than on the three state leadership activities (training, public awareness, and coordination and collaboration).

Scope of Work

The successful applicants will, under these one-time grants, develop and implement a plan for expanding existing assistive technology activities currently operating in New Jersey, in one or more of the six areas of device loan, device demonstration, device reutilization, training, public awareness, and coordination and collaboration. Such activities must be consistent with the ATAC state plan, which is available on the ATAC website, or by request.

Examples

Examples of possible activities that ATAC may fund through this RFP include, but are not limited to:

  • Developing joint enterprises between agencies, organizations, or centers;
  • Expanding services to groups that are underserved;
  • Updating and purchasing state-of-the-art equipment for loan and/or demonstration;
  • Expanding services to include specialized populations, particularly those that are not being served, and;
  • Developing collaborations with organizations that provide services for people with disabilities related to assistive technology training or public awareness.

Qualifications of Applicant

Individuals or organizations in New Jersey with recognized expertise in the field of assistive technology, or those demonstrating an understanding of assistive technology devices and services. Organizations that serve individuals with disabilities, including centers for independent living, are specifically invited to apply. Familiarity with currently existing services within New Jersey is a definite plus. The applicant must be able to communicate well in writing and work well with DRNJ staff in order to meet the goals of the RFP.

Requirements

The application is limited to five pages, single-spaced, plus a one-page budget. The application must be delivered in an accessible, electronic format such as Microsoft Word. The application must include:

  • Relevant information about the applicant, including contact name, organization name, address, telephone, fax, and e-mail;
  • Description of the applicant or organization and the relevant personnel, experience, expertise, and technical abilities that make it possible to carry out the research activity;
  • Description of the work plan, rationale, and means to accomplish the plan.
  • Details of specific sub-tasks and schedules to accomplish the tasks, and
  • Detailed proposed budget, as described below.

Budget

The applicant will include a proposed one-page budget appropriate for meeting the goals of the proposal. All requests for specific AT devices or equipment should be itemized where possible.

Assurances

The applicant will include assurances of compliance with all federal mandates and requirements applicable to recipients of federal funding and assurances that the applicant has no conflict of interest that bars the applicant from completing the proposal.

Evaluation Criteria

DRNJ staff, in collaboration with the ATAC Advisory Council, will evaluate all applicants based on their expertise, knowledge, familiarity with New Jersey service providers, and ability to complete the activity in the given amount of time. Criteria include:

  • Contribution to expansion of AT network in New Jersey
  • Ability to successfully execute the activity on time
  • Relevant experience in the assistive technology field
  • Expertise and ability of the applicant
  • Quality of services provided
  • Budget
  • Ability to meet deadlines

Application Due Date

The deadline for submitting applications under this RFP is April 1, 2012. DRNJ prefers e-mail submissions, sent to cedmonds@drnj.org. DRNJ will accept mail and overnight mail submissions provided that an accessible electronic copy is submitted as well.

Date of Award

The contract for this RFP will be submitted to the winning applicants on or before April 15, 2012, with work to begin immediately.

Date of Completion of Project

The project will end on September 30, 2012.

Association of Blind Citizens Offers Funding for Accessible Software and Equipment

The Association of Blind Citizens (ACB) operates the Assistive Technology Fund (ATF), which pays recipients half the retail price of accessible software or equipment. ABC launched the fund to give individuals who are blind and visually impaired access to technology that can significantly improve employment opportunities, increase independence, and enhance quality of life. Products covered in the ATF program must retail for at least $200 and not cost more than $6,000. Any legally blind US resident may apply for an ATF grant. To be eligible, an applicant’s annual family income cannot exceed $50,000, and cash assets cannot exceed $20,000.

There are two grant periods each year. The deadlines are June 30th and December 31st. Applicants may submit one request per calendar year.

How to Apply for an Assistive Technology Fund Grant
To apply for an ATF grant, see: www.blindcitizens.org/assistive_tech.htm. ATF grantees are required to submit documents verifying income and financial need, such as state and federal tax returns and bank statements.

All applications must be submitted in the body of email (i.e. not as an attachment) and sent to the ATF committee at: atf@blindcitizens.org

For more information on ABC: www.blindcitizens.org

Five Steps to Getting an iPad Covered by Insurance

This is a simplified version of the steps one parent took in getting an iPad covered by private insurance:

1. Check your medical benefits for your “Durable Medical Coverage.” (Mine covered 50%, but since we had already met our out-of-pocket max, they covered at 100%)

2. Phone your insurance company and ask, “Please assign me to a case manager that is experienced with special needs children.”

3. After you are provided a case manager, explain that you need the iPad as an augmentative communication device INCLUDING the Proloquo2go App (or TouchChat, OneVoice, TapToTalk, etc.) Provide comparison costs to a more expensive system such as the Dynavox, and remind them that you are opting for a more cost-effective device. Focus on Proloquo2go (or your chosen Aug Comm app) and that it is being introduced by Speech Therapists and OT’s in public schools for special needs kids, as well as in private therapy. Be sure to ask the case manager for all the necessary approval codes and coverage information so you are aware and comfortable with any out-of-pocket expenses you may incur. They may tell you “NO” at this point. If they do, ask them to email or fax you a letter of denial immediately.

4. Find supporting documentation and case studies to include with your claim. Google articles on “iPads for children with special needs” or “benefits for children with [your child’s specific condition] and iPads,” etc.

5. Copy your most recent speech evaluation and IEP if it indicates anything helpful. And, have every doctor, therapist, school personnel or anyone else write a letter supporting your child’s need for an “Augmentative Communication device such as the iPad with Proloquo2go.”

The more information you can provide, the less likely they will argue against the need. My personal insurance required that I pay for the device and then submit a claim form for reimbursement.

When submitting your Claim for Reimbursement:

1) What you purchased,

2) What is was for

3) How it should be coded and

4) That it should be treated as an IN NETWORK provider.

Include the notes (Name and Dates/Time of phone calls) from your conversation with your case manager.

Supporting Documents from Google, etc.

Letters from Doctors, Speech Therapists, etc.

Receipt of the Device and the AugCom App

For more information about this topic: 5 Tips for Getting iPad Covered by Insurance

New Technology Uses Music Therapy to Improve Communication

Tod Machover, an intriguing futurologist as well as an inventive composer, runs the departments in hyper-instruments (acoustical instruments given electronic features) and opera of the future at MIT’s ultra-high-tech Media Lab. Last week, he was at UC Santa Barbara to speak on “Music, Mind and Health: Diagnosis, Treatment, and Well-being through Active Sound,” one of four lectures he’s given recently at the university’s Sage Center for the Study of the Mind.

Music, Machover said, touches on just about every aspect of cognition. There are theories that music exists to exercise the mind and to help coordinate its separate functions. Music lovers intuitively know what researchers have verified, that music modulates our moods, helps us move, stimulates our language skills, strengthens our memories and can wondrously bring about emotional responses without their bothersome consequences.

The practical applications of music for healing are irresistible. Cutting-edge music therapy can help Parkinson’s patients walk, enables the autistic to rehearse their emotions and provides opportunities for stroke victims to regain speech and motor movement. Music is usually the last thing Alzheimer’s sufferers recognize. It is our final way to communicate with them, and now it seems music can play a significant role in forestalling Alzheimer’s.

But that’s not all. In an inspiring feedback loop, Machover and his MIT students, are applying their musical gadgets to therapy. The process of making remarkable restorative advances is changing how they think about and make music. And that could affect how the rest of us might think about and make music in the not-so-distant future.

It all began with Hyperscore, a program Machover developed to enable children to compose by drawing and painting on a monitor. A sophisticated computer program translates their artwork into a musical score.

Machover’s team took Hyperscore to Tewksbury Hospital outside of Boston, which serves patients with severe physical and mental disabilities, including the homeless. The residents, many of whom were physically unable to communicate or were otherwise uncommunicative, discovered their inner composer. Through Hyperscore they found they could express themselves in a way that bypassed language.

A few patients with hopeless prognoses and no meaningful life had significant enough changes in their pathology that they could actually think about at least partial recovery. Some found a decrease in auditory and visual hallucinations. There were behavior changes in many that allowed for socialization.

Dan Ellsey became the model patient. Born with cerebral palsy and unable to speak, he was forced to communicate with a clumsy headset that pointed to letters to spell out words. He had little control of his body movements. He was in his early 30s, had never been more than five miles from where he was born and seemed doomed to spend a cocooned life in the hospital.

The Media Lab scientists designed a more refined headset for Ellsey that not only inspired him to compose (he turned out to have interesting musical ideas) but even allowed him to perform by controlling tempo, loudness and articulation. He blossomed, and Ellsey, while still a severely affected cerebral palsy patient, has become an active participant in the Hyperscore program, performing, making CDs and teaching other patients. He was a star at the 2008 TED conference.

What this work with music therapy has shown Machover and other researchers is the potential for what he has dubbed “personal” music. This will be a music tailored to an individual’s needs, be it medicinal or simply a matter of taste.

For the entire article: Music Therapy is Making Breakthroughs

Kurzweil Releases Web-Based Literacy Tool

Kurzweil Educational Systems has unveiled Firefly, a new Web-based resource designed to improve student literacy by offering access from anywhere to digital, text-based material.

Firefly works with existing Kurzweil 3000 software by extending its reach in accordance with Universal Design for Learning principles, an educational framework geared toward developing flexible learning environments for individual learners first defined by the Center for Applied Special Technology.
Access to texts is available anywhere along with literacy support tools that include control over pacing, an ability to highlight text, and the ability to work in conjunction with Dragon, Naturally Speaking. Firefly also offers support for English language learners.

Features of Firefly include:
■ Use of the Common Core Standards for English Language Arts
■ Ability for students to interact with text
■ Accessibility for students with a range of disabilities
■ Compatibility with OS X and Windows.

The release joins an existing Kurzweil product line that includes text-to-speech software and other assistive technology to students in Grade 3 through college.

Information about Kurzweil Educational Systems is available at: https://kurzweiledu.com

For the entire press release: Kurzweil Releases Firefly

New Technology Provides Assistance to NYC Travelers with Hearing Impairments

In a busy area like NYC where subway stations are always crowded , navigation for a person with hearing impairment can become quite uneasy. Canceling all the unnecessary noise while asking for directions or seeking more information about oncoming trains can be a daunting task.
Thanks to a device called “hearing loop” being introduced all over the city, hearing only what is important without unnecessary noise is becoming quite possible. The loop is placed close to a room or a window and sends out signals which are caught by a “t-coil” which is already inside many hearing aids and cochrain implants. The t-coil eliminates all the background noise and picks up only what is coming out of a microphone or speaker.

The technology, known as an induction loop, is already common in some European countries. The loops, placed around the perimeter of a room or window, sends out electromagnetic signals that can jump to a receiver called a telechoil or “t-coil,” which is already in most hearing aids or cochlear implants.  When the t-coil is switched on, it picks up only what comes through a microphone or loudspeaker and cancels out the background noise.

The $13.5 million subway hearing loop project is the largest in the country.  Advocates say the technology is so advanced that the sound can actually come across more clearly than what New Yorkers without any hearing loss might normally hear.

For more information: MTA Project Provides Assistance

Regaining Independence Through Eye-Controlled Homes

Sarah was diagnosed with motor neurone disease or MND in 2000, and had become dependent on other people for everything, having lost the use of her hands and the ability to speak as the condition progressed.  Sarah had been using a laptop controlled via a switch on her chin. This was causing Sarah severe neck pain, and she was concerned that she would be unable to communicate in this way for much longer.

Now, thanks to a Tobii PCEye installed by RSLSteeper, which works by converting eye movement to a mouse cursor on screen, Sarah is able to control her computer and communicate with the outside world again.  Sarah has also had a program installed on her PC, which gives her control over the television and media center, as well as switching on and turning off lights, all through eye control. Sarah had been unable to complete these tasks without assistance for many years.

RSLSteeper provides a comprehensive range of assistive technology solutions designed to enable the elderly and severely disabled to live more independently and safely at home.  The company is accredited to ISO 9001 for Environmental Control System design and can offer advice on appropriate devices and systems for each customer. Its dedicated team of specialist engineers can install, maintain and service these systems, and can provide on-site training to users and their carers.

For further information, please visit www.assistive-technology.co.uk

For further information on the eye gaze technology, visit http://www.tobii.com/pceye

E-Readers Helping People with Low Vision

New technology such as smartphones and tablet computers can offer the estimated 21 million people in the United States who have low vision a chance at improved sight, vision experts say. People with low vision have extremely limited sight that interferes with daily activities. Those vision losses can’t be corrected with eyeglasses, contact lenses, medication or surgery. But technological devices can improve the useful vision of low-vision patients by enlarging print and images, said Dr. Robert J. Blumthal, an optometrist working with low-vision patients at The Prairie Eye Center in Springfield, Ill.

“In the past, we used to get these monstrous closed-circuit TV devices. They’re called ‘CCTVs,’ which were a screen and a magnifier, and you’d slide it back and forth and it would make images huge,” Blumthal said.

“Now with the Kindle and the NOOK (electronic readers) and iPad (tablet computer), you can make the prints as big as you want, and they don’t have to scroll side to side anymore. It just scrolls downward. It adjusts for the print in the sentence automatically.”

Macular degeneration can be a cause of low vision. Other causes include congenital, genetic diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa (causes progressive degeneration of the retina, the light-sensing nerve tissue in the back of the eye) and glaucoma (a group of eye diseases that damage the optic nerve, which connects the eye to the brain), Blumthal said.

“That’s what really the bottom line is, is making life easier and better — a better world for them so that things are easier to do,” Blumthal said.

“We can’t restore their vision, but we can make it easier to do things and make life less complicated. If you make it less complicated, you make it less stressful. If you make it less stressful, you have a happy patient, and that’s the bottom line to me.”

For more information: E-Readers Helping People

Eden Autism Services Opens New School and Headquarters in Plainsboro

Eden Autism Services recently unveiled an $8 million, 30,000-square-foot building in Plainsboro Township’s Princeton Forrestal Village for a new school for children and adolescents, aged 3-21, with autism. After six years of planning, and one year of construction, Eden officials cut the ribbon on the new national headquarters Wednesday. Fifty-nine students who formerly went to the school on Route 1 were moved into the building in October. Incorporated in 1975, Eden began as a small school with fewer than 20 children. Since then, an adult services program has been added.

Eden currently serves 100 adults with autism during a day program at the Clayton Center in West Windsor. It also funds 11 group homes and four supervised apartments. Thirteen students are expected to graduate from the school in Plainsboro within the next two years, so there will be an opportunity for additional students to enter the program. The school has capacity for 80 students.

Students who need extra assistance are chosen from local school districts and there’s no cost to parents. Tuition is covered by school districts and allocations from the state’s Division of Developmental Disabilities. Private tuition and fees cover about 85 percent of the cost to operate Eden, the school’s spokeswoman, Aileen Kornblatt, said. The remainder comes from an annual fund supported by parents and members of the community, the company’s capital campaign — called Nurturing Today, Embracing Tomorrow — as well as corporate donations and special events.

The new school also has a commercial kitchen where students learn how to prepare meals. At a model convenience store, in operation every day, the children learn retail skills — stocking shelves, making coffee and selling snacks. Older students learn office skills such as laminating and using copy machines and other equipment, preparing them for employment when they graduate.

There are seven highly specialized classrooms, with about 60 school faculty members, operating on a one-to-one or a two-to-one student-teacher ratio, based on individual needs. Speech therapy is coupled with the latest technology, including iPads. A camera is installed in each classroom so parents can view their children from home if they live too far to visit. The classrooms also feature small “breakout rooms” for more personalized sessions.

In the future, Eden plans to offer additional activities, such as field trips to local farms, where students will learn to ride and care for horses.

For more information about Eden Autism Services, visit www.edenautism.org, or call (609) 987-0099.

To read the entire article: Eden Opens New School

Assistive Technology for People with Limited or No Use of Their Hands

The Accessible Technology Coalition is a project of the Center for Accessible Technology (CforAT) in California. CforAT is one of the oldest AT Centers in the United States, and staff are known for solving complex AT issues and working with people with a wide range of disabilities, including people with multiple disabilities.

The Accessible Technology Coalition has information on assitive technology for individuals with limited or no use of their hands. Below are some examples of AT that can be used to maximize manual capabilities for those who experience difficulty with using their hands.

• For people who have difficulty with grasping, ring pens such as the RinG may help with writing. These slip over a finger and also require less arm movement than regular pens or pencils.

• Some people prefer to type by holding a pencil or similar type of stick in one or both hands. If necessary, devices such as the Handi-Writer can be used to help steady the stick.

• Grips can be added to pencils, eating utensils, crochet hooks, etc. to make them easier to grasp. These can be made inexpensively by wrapping a small piece of foam around the object and anchoring it with duct tape, or by using the foam insert from a hair curler. Commercially available grips range from small pencil grips to larger, round grips such as the Arthwriter.

• The Virtually Indestructible Keyboard requires less pressure than most standard keyboards, and may be easier to activate for people who find pressing keys difficult or painful.

• Windows and Macintosh computers have a variety of utilities already built in that help users who have difficulty with unwanted repeated keys, pressing multiple keys, etc.

• Touchscreen devices often require simultaneous use of more than one digit, e.g. the “pinching” motion of the thumb and index finger used to zoom in or out on the screen. However, some devices such as the iPhone permit flexibility in which digits are used, which benefits people who have one or more missing or non-functional digits.

Mouthstick
Some people use a mouthstick, which is held in place by biting; some models permit the mouthpiece to be shaped to the individual user’s dentition. Simple sticks allow keyboard keys to be pressed, others have rubber or suction cup tips for tasks such as page turning.

Plain mouthsticks will not work with many touch screens that operate by sensing heat from a finger. However, there are several websites that provide information about easy and cheap ways to make styli work with these screens, including this one from MAKE Magazine, and this will work for mouthsticks as well.

Mouse Alternatives
Use of standard mice requires grasping, arm movement, and clicking, any or all of which may be difficult for individuals with physical disabilities. For people who have no use of their hands, infrared and eyegaze systems provide a hands-free option. The ATC article on Alternative Mice lists a range of solutions, some of which facilitate use of the standard mouse and some of which use the keyboard or alternative mice.

Keyboard Alternatives
Substitutes for the standard keyboard include a wide variety of creative hardware designs, as well as on-screen keyboards that can be activated using a mouse or the infrared/eyegaze solutions discussed below.

Speech Recognition
Speech recognition can be used as an alternative to keyboard use, mouse use, or both. The technology has improved significantly in recent years; however, it still does not meet the needs of all users, including those who have speech impairments or who use computers in noisy environments.

Brain-Computer Interface
An emerging input technology that has promise for people with severe disabilities are brain-computer interfaces such as the Intendix. These track brain waves in reaction to on-screen stimuli such as a highlighted letter on a virtual keyboard, and translate them into computer input

For the entire article: ATC Guide for Limited Use of Hands

For more information from ATC: http://atcoalition.org/

The Darrell Gwynn Foundation Wheelchair Donation Program

Unlike many other wheelchair donation programs and related charities, the Darrell Gwynn Foundation specializes in high-tech, customized wheelchairs. While standard manual wheelchairs are valued at approximately $350, the wheelchairs provided by the Darrell Gwynn Foundation are valued anywhere from $6,000 to $40,000 depending on the medical needs of the recipient.  The higher-valued wheelchairs are equipped with tilt and recline systems, seat elevators, drive trains, high-tech seating systems, rugged tires and suspension systems, all designed to dramatically improve each recipient’s quality of life. 

The Darrell Gwynn Foundation donates approximately 35-50 wheelchairs every year to deserving individuals. In order to apply for our program, recipients and their families must demonstrate a medical and financial need for the new wheelchair. The application process is free and our pre-application form can be found below. 

For many recipients, the Darrell Gwynn Foundation is their last resort. They have tried nearly everything to obtain a desperately needed wheelchair for themselves or their child, but without success. They were denied by insurance companies or Medicare and simply do not have the resources available to provide for what their child needs without assistance. The individual is living in a broken or ill-fitting wheelchair and in some cases, they have no wheelchair at all.   

For younger recipients, these wheelchairs enable a child to do things many of us take for granted such as going to school without an aide, keeping up with friends when they start to run, playing in a park with grass, or just being able to move around without having to ask for help. For older recipients, these chairs enable them to become fully engaged with their community, be it going back to work, seeing their families more often, shopping on their own, or taking their dog for a walk. 

Darrell Gwynn’s Wheelchair Donation Program is exclusively for those individuals who do not have the resources to purchase a wheelchair and who have had their claims for a wheelchair denied by a health insurance provider.  The majority of these requests for wheelchairs come from children, teenagers, and adults who are living in constant pain – every day of their life.  The costs of wheelchairs covered by insurance companies often do not cover options such as motors, wheel-assist features, chair tilting, high-tech cushioning, etc.  Many times, insurance will not cover the costs of even a basic chair replacement. 

The Darrell Gwynn Foundation’s Wheelchair Donation Program presents a wheelchair to a deserving individual on average of one to two times a month.  Their goal is to expand our Wheelchair Donation Program to a national scale and provide at least 100 wheelchairs every year by the year 2013.

To learn more, see: Darrell Gwynn Foundation

To apply: Wheelchair Application Checklist

Free Lottery For Wounded Warriors to Attend National Federation of the Blind Convention

The National Association of Blind Veterans, a division of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), today announced a free lottery for wounded warriors who have lost their sight during Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom. The winner will receive a free trip to Dallas, Texas, to attend the national convention of the NFB, which will take place from June 30th to July 5, 2012.

The first prize will include airfare to the convention for the winner and a companion, hotel accommodations, the convention registration fee and a banquet ticket, and the opportunity to meet and spend time with a whole organization of blind veterans. Entry to the contest is available on the National Association of Blind Veterans Web site and there is no charge to enter. Only one entry per person is permitted.

For more information about the contest or the National Association of Blind Veterans, contact Dwight Sayer at (407) 877-8668 or visit www.nabv.org.

The University of Athens Offers Free AT Software

The Universit of Athens has offered free accessible online software about the available solutions of assistive technology.  The included applications are published after they have been installed and tested by the University of Athens’ Speech and Accessibility Laboratory.  For each free AT software, the available application is documented and the following fields of information are filled: application name, developer, version, AT category(ies), related disability(ies), description, operating system(s), installation procedure, settings and hints, download links, and a screenshot.

Also, users have three ways of accessing the software applications:

  • Browse by Disability: lists the related applications based on the chosen disability (Speech, Hearing, Motor, Blindness and Low Vision).
  • Browse by Category: lists the applications by type of AT software category (Voice Recognition, Screen Daisy Reader, Calculator, Mouse Cursor, Click Helper, Virtual Keyboard, Camera Mouse, Alternative Communication, Text To Speech, Screen Magnifier, Braille Translator, Web Browser, Mouse Emulator, Contrast Adjustment, Keyboard Shortcuts, Voice Mail, Clock, Video Call).
  • Show All Applications: simply lists the whole inventory’s applications in an alphabetical order.

To browse this website, see:  Freeware Assistive Technology Software

VA Announces Specially Adapted Housing Grant Amounts for 2012

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Loan Guaranty Service announced that Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) grant amounts will remain unchanged in fiscal year 2012.  Pursuant to the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, VA adopted a private-sector residential home cost-of-construction index, the Turner Building Cost Index (TBCI), to determine whether to increase certain SAH grant amounts each year.  The aggregate amount of assistance available for SAH grants will be $12,756 during fiscal year 2012.

Veterans or servicemembers who have specific service-connected disabilities may be entitled to a grant from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for the purpose of constructing an adapted home or modifying an existing home to meet their adaptive needs.  The goal of the Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) Grant Program is to provide a barrier-free living environment that affords the veterans or servicemembers a level of independent living he or she may not normally enjoy.

For more information on the SAH grant program and eligibility criteria, please
visit: http://www.benefits.va.gov/homeloans/sah.asp.

You may also contact Brian Bixler, Chief, Specially Adapted Housing, at (571) 272-0091 or via e-mail at
brian.bixler@va.gov.

Public and Private Insurance Show Increase in Denials for New Wheelchairs

People who evaluate and fit patients for wheelchairs say many requests for more expensive, motorized chairs with multiple custom features are being denied because insurers and Medicare officials are worried about high costs and fraud. Doctors, physical therapists, and patients must appeal the decision, or else the patients give up and accept lesser chairs.

“It’s gotten to the point where words are not enough to convince the medical directors” of insurers, said assistive technology professional Robert Townsend of Jeff Quip, a Boothwyn company that supplies complex chairs.

Experts said patients who fight – especially those who appeal in person – often can get the chair they need, but during the bureaucratic battle, they must make do with loaner chairs or lie in bed.

People who have battled for chairs say both public programs such as Medicare and private insurers are balking. The delays likely flow from Medicare’s attempts to curtail fraud in the motorized wheelchair market; other insurers follow its lead. Medicare’s response to companies that advertised widely on TV and amped up demand for scooters is a set of rules that Donald Clayback, executive director of the industry group the National Coalition for Assistive Technology and Rehab Technology, calls “onerous” and “overly aggressive.”

Insurers deny that they are stalling or have increased denials for high-end chairs recently, but say they must help prevent fraud and spend money wisely. “It is often a challenge,” said Don Liss, medical director for Independence Blue Cross. He said IBC processes 22.2 million claims a year and had denied 38 claims for complex wheelchairs last year. He called the “flat-out” denial rate “fleetingly small.”

Medicare, which requires patients to have a face-to-face visit with a doctor before submitting a wheelchair claim, will pay only for chairs that patients need to function in their home, and private insurers have followed suit. They won’t pay for more powerful chairs, for example, if someone needs one to go to work or get around a college campus.

Liss said insurance typically does not cover accessories that are not primarily medical in nature, such as interfaces for turning lights on or tray tables. Patients can pay out of pocket for accessories that aren’t covered.

People who fit patients for chairs at area rehabilitation hospitals say they have a particularly hard time getting approvals for seats that go up and down so that patients can access work surfaces of different heights. Seats that tilt to prevent pressure ulcers can also be hard to get. Estimates of denial rates varied widely, but people involved in sending claims said they were up markedly in the last two years.

For the entire article: Insurers Put Brakes on Wheelchair Approvals

Easter Seals New Jersey partners with CareSpeak Communications to Launch Mobile Health Tools

Easter Seals New Jersey has partnered with CareSpeak Communications to bring mobile health tools to individuals with disabilities in New Jersey. The CareSpeak two-way text messaging mHealth platform enables individuals, living in community housing or transitioning into independent living, become more compliant with their medical treatment regimens. It also enables community home managers and nurses to manage and monitor large patient populations.

When it’s time for the individual to take their medications, the system sends them a text message alert with detailed instructions. Using very simple text commands individuals can confirm intake. If the individual doesn’t confirm medication intake within a pre-determined amount of time (e.g. 30 minutes), a follow up escalation text alert is sent to up to two caregivers, in this case the community home managers and/or nurse, alerting them that patient potentially didn’t take the medication. The caregiver message included the patients’ cell phone number allowing for immediate dialing.

Additionally, patients with type 1 and 2 Diabetes can be prompted by the CareSpeak system to measure and report their blood sugar levels (BGL). The reported values are charted on-line and can be taken to the next doctor’s visit. If patients forget to report their BGL, or report BGL values that are out-of-safe range, the CareSpeak mHealth system notifies the caregivers allowing for immediate intervention.

CareSpeak’s system uses everyday technology and existing behavior to help solve this significant problem of compliance. It is easy to use, affordable and accessible anytime, anywhere, making it especially suitable for individuals who do not have smart phones running apps requiring costly data connectivity plans. It doesn’t require learning a new system or purchasing and carrying another device.
The efficacy of the CareSpeak mHealth system was tested with the Mt. Sinai Medical Center’s pediatric liver transplant program, and results were published in the November 2009 issues of Pediatrics, and it was subsequently written about in the New York Times. The study found that as a result of receiving regular text alerts through the CareSpeak system, patients were more likely to have higher adherence rates. The number of rejections dramatically decreased from 12 episodes the previous year to only two during the study.

Read the entire article at: Easter Seals and CareSpeak Communications Partner for New mHealth Tools

American Council of the Blind and Google Conduct Survey of Computer Usage and Assistive Technology Patterns in the Blind Community

The American Council of the Blind (ACB) announced it will be working with Google Inc. to survey individuals who are blind, visually impaired, and deaf-blind to better understand how they use computers and assistive technology to access information.

Respondents will be able to complete the survey by either telephone or Web. Survey data will be used to better understand how blind users interact with the Web, which assistive technologies they find most useful, and how they make decisions about whether to switch or upgrade tools.

At the conclusion of the survey in October, seven gift certificates will be awarded to participants who wish to take part in a random drawing. The first winner will receive a gift certificate from Amazon.com in the amount of $50. The remaining 6 participants will each receive a $25 gift certificate from Amazon.com. Winners will be contacted via e-mail or telephone.

The survey, which will run through mid-September, is available at http://www.acb.org/googlesurvey.

About the American Council of the Blind – The American Council of the Blind is the largest consumer-based organization of blind and visually impaired Americans advocating for the rights of blind Americans. Comprised of more than 70 affiliates across the United States, the organization is dedicated to making it possible for blind and visually impaired Americans to participate fully in all aspects of American society. For more information, visit http://www.acb.org

Read more at: ACB and Google Conduct Study

The Latest Speech Generating Devices

More than 2 million Americans are speech-impaired because of a severe communication disorder. Today, a growing number of these individuals have found their voice through speech generating devices (SGDs)—electronic devices that talk for them. Several recent advances in SGD technology have made the devices even more powerful and accessible.

The simplest SGDs use digital speech—words or sentences that have been prerecorded by a human speaker. Specific messages can be retrieved and played back as needed. Such devices work well for many people. But for some, having to rely on a limited number of set messages is too confining.

That’s where text-to-speech SGDs come in. Users type what they want to say, and the device figures out how to pronounce the message using a complex set of rules for that language. The device then “speaks” the words using synthesized speech—an artificial simulation of the real thing. It doesn’t quite sound human, but it’s close. Today they’re available in a host of languages and some devices are even bilingual.

With SGDs, the machine may be doing the talking. But it’s the user who chooses what is said. Typically, this is done by typing on a keyboard, touching a screen, rolling a trackball, or tilting a joystick. But for users with very limited mobility, there are other options as well.

Eye tracking uses a sophisticated camera system to track the glint in a user’s eye. This allows the system to see where the person is looking on a screen. Then it directs a cursor to that location. After the user’s gaze has stayed on the same location for a set time—typically, somewhere between one-quarter-second and one second—the cursor clicks on that spot. In some systems, a blink can also activate a click. In this way, the user can select letters, words, or symbols to create a message.

Head tracking is similar. But rather than following the gaze of the eyes, a specialized camera tracks the movement of a small, disposable reflective dot that sticks to the user’s forehead or glasses. The user is then able to point and click a cursor with head movements. In essence, the “head dot” works like a wireless mouse.

The latest technology uses brain-computer interface (BCI), where the user wears a cap with electrodes on it. These electrodes are attached to an EEG machine, which tracks electrical activity inside the brain. “The person looks at a screen that’s flashing letters very quickly. When the desired letter flashes, the person’s EEG changes,” says Melanie Fried-Oken, Ph.D., professor and director of the Assistive Technology Program at Oregon Health and Science University. This triggers the SGD to select that letter. Dr. Fried-Oken is one of the researchers studying this new technology. She says it shows great promise for helping those who can’t voluntarily move any part of the body, sometimes even the eyes.

Certain speech-language pathologists (SLPs) are trained to evaluate and recommend SGDs within the field of augmentative and alternative communication. If you think an SGD might be right for you, an SLP can help you sift through the options and find the best match for your needs.

For the entire article, see: The Latest Options in Speech Generating Devices

New Federal Grants Awarded for AT Development

Companies working to create technology to make life easier for people with disabilities are getting a leg up through a series of new federal grants.

The U.S. Department of Education is awarding 16 grants worth $75,000 each to 11 small businesses. Recipients of the grants include companies designing a foot-operated computer mouse, a personal scheduling system and a special Facebook interface specifically for those who have intellectual disability.

“These projects are designed to help people with disabilities maximize their job productivity and economic self-sufficiency,” said Alexa Posny, assistant secretary for special education and rehabilitative services at the Education Department. “This is the first step of research and development in several areas that will enhance independent living and employment for individuals with disabilities.”

The grants are part of a two-step offering. If after six months the projects are still considered worthy, businesses can receive up to an additional $500,000 to continue work for another two years, federal education officials said.

To read the entire article, see: Feds Spur AT Development

The Center for Personal Assistance Services Seeks Consumer Input

The Center for Personal Assistance Services has published a survey to assess the needs of those who use personal assistance services and their experience during disasters or emergency situations.  This survey may be completed online and the Center promises that answers will be kept confidential and no individual information will be used in any reports or publications that may result from this study.

The Center for Personal Assistance Services was created through a grant from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research.  The Center’s main purpose is to analyze and describe trends and the needs of the population of consumers who receive personal assistance services, including those who are employed or seeking employment.

Among the respondents who complete this survey, an additional questionnaire may be sent to gain more in-depth understanding of emergency preparedness plans.  If you choose to complete this questionnaire, which should take approximately 10-15 minutes, you will be entered into the drawing for a $50 gift card.

To participate in the survey, see:  PAS Emergency Preparedness Survey
To learn more about the Center for Personal Assistance Services, please visit their website at: www.pascenter.org/home

New Smartphone Apps Help Troops and Vets with PTSD

A half-dozen apps with names like “T2 MoodTracker,” ‘’PTSD Coach” and “Breathe2Relax” have been developed by the Pentagon and Veterans Affairs Department, but not to diagnose illness or replace psychiatric counseling. Rather, the apps offer at-your-fingertips information about what the military calls “invisible wounds” of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — and techniques for managing the symptoms.

The newest, released in May, was a joint Pentagon-VA effort — PTSD Coach. It helps self-assess symptoms, gives step-by-step instructions in muscle relaxation and breathing, helps users create a phone list of people to call when they need support and helps vets contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline in an emergency.

There’s also an app for health care providers that includes definitions, causes and severity ratings for mild traumatic brain injury — or concussions — suffered by so many troops from roadside bombs and other explosions. Another for doctors treating PTSD is expected in the coming months. Officials hope the apps for troops, vets and their families will encourage more people to get professional help and will be used by others to supplement professional therapy.

In a vast and unprecedented wartime effort that has struggled to keep up with troop needs, the government in recent years has increased mental health screening, hired more psychiatric staff, sent mental health survey teams directly to the battlefields, launched new research and started or bolstered myriad programs from suicide prevention to resilience training to family counseling. They’ve promoted the efforts with booklets, boot camp training, interactive websites, social media, call-in phone lines and more.

Because of the anonymity, there is little feedback on the program that started last summer with MoodTracker. But officials said they plan to find volunteers in the future to help with a study on the program’s effectiveness. For now, what’s known is that MoodTracker was downloaded about 17,000 times since it was introduced. Since PTSD Coach was released in May, it has been downloaded about 11,000 times in 37 countries, including Mexico, Latvia and Japan.

Although the app is particularly tailored to the needs of active-duty troops and veterans, some users may also be PTSD sufferers with no military background. Officials believe it’s likely some are civilians who’ve had other types of trauma, such as from physical or sexual assaults, car accidents or natural disasters.

For the entire article see: Troops, Vets Get Smartphone Help

ReWalk Provides People with a Chance to Walk Again

The ReWalk was invented by an Israeli company, but its U.S. clinical trial has been run by Moss Rehab in Philadelphia. The ReWalk, which looks like a pair of leg braces attached to a small backpack., has a sensor in the pack that measures the tilt of the user’s torso. When the user leans forward with the help of a pair of crutches, a microprocessor sends signals to motors in the hip and knee joints. These motors bend and then extend the user’s legs at each step.

Based on the clinical trial that is still ongoing, the FDA approved the ReWalk for institutional use earlier this year. Moss will be the first place in the U.S. to use the device in therapy, starting at the end of July or beginning of August.

Dr. Alberto Esquenazi is the chief medical officer at Moss Rehab. Esquenazi helped develop the software for ReWalk, and ran the trial. Besides giving people who have been in wheelchairs for an average of 8 years the opportunity to walk again, he said the trial has revealed other health benefits.

A similar device created in Berkley, California is currently in testing. Together, the devices represent the next step in thinking about mobility for people who are paralyzed.

The ReWalk costs about $90,000 for hospitals to buy. Elliott said the next generation of similar devices will need to be cheaper, able to handle more difficult terrain and help people walk less robotically, more naturally. But he sees them as the future of mobility.

For the entire article see: Rewalk Gives Local People A Chance to Walk Again

The National Center on Physical Activity and Disability’s Latest Guide on Adaptive Recreation

The National Center on Physical Activity and Disability’s Lifetime Sports website offers a wealth of information on playing and adapting nearly a dozen sports, from bocce and golf to sled hockey and Tai Chi.  This website offers tutorials on how games are played, videos of players playing with adaptations, and allows users to find equipment suppliers in their area.  Lifetime Sports also features information for children through adults, with guides for parents on supporting youth recreation and promoting active lifestyles for their children.

Also, NCPAD provides a state-by-state and town-by-town program directory of accessible and adaptive recreation and fitness programs.  Find everything from adaptive sailing in Vermont, to deer hunting in Arkansas, and golf in California.  The directory is also a summer camps resource.

NCPAD is a program of the Dept. of Disability and Human Development at the University of Illinois–Chicago and funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

For more information, see:  NCPAD’s Lifetime Spoorts Guide or NCPAD’s Program Directory

Abilities Expo Needs a New Logo

The Logo Challenge
Design a new logo for Abilities Expo, and win up to $1,000.00!

This is the third anniversary of the new ownership of Abilities Expo and it is time to upgrade the former logo, a design representing the traditional sign of people with disabilities.  The intention of a new logo design is that it will represent the diversity of the people with disabilities that Abilities Expo serves from Los Angeles to New York.

The logo must incorporate the name ”Abilities Expo” and may or may not include an additional icon.  The desired impression is that Abilities Expo is the premiere event for all people with disabilities, whether physical, sensory or developmental.  The logo will have to work in both color and black and white.  It should be versatile, conveying the message cleanly, clearly and legibly on something as small as a business card or as large as a freeway billboard.

The Prize
All entries must be received via email or postmarked by midnight on July 15, 2011.  The individual(s) who submits the best logo design will win $1,000 and be featured in the next issue of the Buzz.  First and second runners up will receive $500 and $250, respectively.  Winners will be selected by Abilities Expo staff members David Korse, Lew Shomer, Sarah Laucks, Kevaleen Lara and John Pelico with the approval of the entire Expo team.  These winners will notified via email and/or phone, and be the feature story in the August Buzz.

Specifications
All artwork should be submitted digitally in one of the following formats: jpeg, tiff, gif or eps. Submissions should be high resolution at 300 dpi at a document size of no less than 6” x 6”. Vector files are preferred. Please email your submission to jpelico@sbcglobal.net and include “Abilities Expo Logo” in the subject line.

If you are unable to submit a digital file, please snail mail your entry to:

John Pelico
10945 Westwood Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90230

This contest is open to all of the Abilities Expo community, people with disabilities, their caregivers, advocates, health professionals and those who support the Abilities Expo team.

For more information, check out: The Abilities Buzz: June 2011

Morgan’s Wonderland Opens in Texas as Theme Park for Individuals with Special Needs

Morgan’s Wonderland, a new 25-acre theme park for children and adults with special needs in San Antonio, Texas, grew out of an incident Gordon Hartman witnessed.

His 16-year-old daughter Morgan – for whom the park is named – has a severe cognitive delay. One day some years ago, he observed her watching other children who were playing in a pool. He knew she wanted to join them, but because of the girl’s inability to communicate properly, she couldn’t.

For the former real estate developer, it was a defining moment, inspiring him to create a place where the words ‘couldn’t', ‘shouldn’t’ and ‘can’t’ weren’t part of the vocabulary.

Morgan’s Wonderland features 25 attractions all tailored to suit a wide range of cognitive and physical needs. Admission is free for individuals with special needs and $5 for family members and caregivers. The attractions include: the Sensory Village with its abundance of light, touch and sound. The carousel can lift wheelchairs up and down, and off-road vehicles are fully accessible to wheelchair-users. There’s a music garden, water play area, pirate’s island, an amphitheater and the Wonderland Express.

The park also offers guests special bracelets with microchips so they can keep track of children who may wander off. The radio frequency technology enables users to check on children from screens located all across the park.

For the full article and more on Morgan’s Wonderland, see: Texas Theme Park Opens for People with Special Needs

UC Berkeley Student Uses Assistive Technology To Walk at Graduation

Graduating  UC Berkeley Senior Austin Whitney , a paraplegic since 2007, used a controller switch on a walker to direct the exoskeleton strapped around his legs to move forward at the May Commencement.  

“It was overpowering,” said Whitney, who was the last graduate in the procession. “I’ve stood in the [exoskeleton] machine a lot of times before, but I knew that it would be different up here [on stage], and it truly was.”

Whitney’s extraordinary walk has been in the works since last fall, when he connected with Homayoon Kazerooni and his team of researchers. UC Berkeley engineers have been creating exoskeletons, a type of wearable robotic, to improve the mobility of individuals with paraplegia.

Whitney said that he hopes today’s success will provide hope to other paraplegics that in their lifetime, they will see affordable machines that can help them regain some of their mobility.

For the full article, see: Student Uses Exoskeleton to Walk at Graduation

Video produced by Roxanne Makasdjian, Media Relations

Check Out DRNJ at the Abilities Expo: May 20-22, 2011

Thousands of people with disabilities, their families, caregivers, seniors, wounded veterans and healthcare professionals will attend Abilities Expo on Friday, May 20, through Sunday, May 22, 2011 at the New Jersey Convention & Expo Center. Admission is free and show hours are Friday 11 am to 5 pm, Saturday 10 am to 5 pm and Sunday 11 am to 4 pm.

Abilities Expo has put together an impressive line-up of exhibits, workshops, experts, events and activities to appeal to the full spectrum of people with disabilities, from children to seniors and everyone in between. Free loaner scooters and free wheelchair repair will also be available onsite during show hours.

“It is our privilege to provide this forum for the Community of people with disabilities in the New York Metro area to come together and gain access to life-enhancing technologies, education and resources,” said David Korse, president and CEO of Abilities Expo. “Between the adaptive events, the interactive assistive technology pavilion, the dynamic workshops and the thousands of products and services on display … this is a must-attend event for everyone in the Community.”

Attendees will experience cutting-edge products and services for people with a wide range of disabilities. They will find mobility products, devices for people with developmental disabilities, medical equipment, home accessories, essential services, low-cost daily living aids, products for people with sensory impairments and much more. The Assistive Technology Pavilion will feature the latest AT products for people with wide ranges of physical, sensory and developmental disabilities and is anchored by the New Jersey Assistive Technology Center AT Showcase. The showcase will not only feature an array of breakthrough assistive technologies, it will allow Expo visitors to experience them hands-on.

A series of compelling workshops which address pressing disability issues will be offered free-of-charge to all attendees. Sessions will focus on travel, disability in the workforce, assistive technology, sex and relationships, augmentative and alternative communication, mobility solutions, Medicaid for durable medical equipment, financial planning and that is just for starters. In addition, there will be an exciting seminar which details the groundbreaking clinical trials which are currently testing therapies to restore function in people with spinal cord injuries.

Abilities Expo does not merely inform, it engages and it entertains. Attendees of all abilities can learn some hip hop wheelchair dancing moves, experience martial arts, enjoy canine assistance demos, play adaptive sports and see style transcend disability in the fashion showcase. Children will also have the opportunity to transform into their favorite animals or characters with free facepainting.

Also, Abilities Expo participants can bring their old cell phones, iPhones, iPods or iPads to donate to the Gift a Voice Project, a program that refurbishes or recycles this equipment so that they can be used by people with communication disabilities.

For more information, visit: www.abilitiesexpo.com/newyork.

Your ReSource to Host a Drop-Off for Gently Used DME in Hamilton

On Saturday, June 4th, from 9:00 A.M. – 1:00 P.M., Your ReSource will be hosting a drop-off site for gently used durable medical equipment at the Acme Hamilton Square Shopping Center, 957 Highway 33, Hamilton, NJ.

Your ReSource will clean, refurbish and make the equipment available to those who need it. Plus, it will keep usable equipment out of the trash. Your ReSource will also provide a tax receipt for all donations.

Your ReSource is a 501(c)(3) non profit human service and environmental organization located in Ewing.

For more information, vist: www.yourresourcenj.orgOr call: 609-890-9800

CVS Caremark Charitable Trust Funding Opportunity

The CVS Caremark Charitable Trust seeks to support organizations that are most effective at creating positive and measurable outcomes for children with disabilities and providing healthcare services for underserved populations. Last year, the trust awarded grants to more than seventy organizations for programs focused on autism, technology, life and workforce skills, and access to health care.

For this year’s program, the trust will accept online applications from May 1 to June 15, 2011, for applications targeting children with disabilities; and from July 1 to August 15, 2011, for applications targeting health care services for underserved populations.

Inspired by a belief that children of all abilities should have equal access to educational, social, medical, and therapeutic services in order to live a healthy and happy life, the trust seeks applications from organizations that are providing the following support services and programs for children under the age of 21 and their families: early intervention — therapeutic and support services designed to meet the needs of infants and toddlers who have a developmental delay or disability; parental support and education programs that educate, prepare, and assist parents in the care giving and support of their children; assistive technology programs that provide access to equipment or training on assistive technologies that help children learn, communicate, and thrive; and programs that support the development of social skills and/or independent living skills, including camp programs.

CVS Caremark is most interested in funding proposals where support can help an organization expand or enhance an existing program with proven success, enable organizations to support innovative new approaches that produce positive outcomes for targeted populations, or support one-time capital needs (excluding bricks and mortar).

Applications are invited from nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations in U.S. locations where CVS Caremark has a business presence (all states except Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington, and Wyoming).

One-year grants will range from $10,000 to $50,000. Previous grantees are eligible to apply in the following year if they can demonstrate significant positive outcomes.

For complete program guidelines and the application form, visit the CVS Caremark Charitable Trust website.

Augcomm New Jersey: A Forum on AAC Devices for Parents and Professionals

Augcomm New Jersey: A Forum on Augmentative and Alternative Communication for Parents and Professionals will be held on Monday, September 26, 2011 from 5:30 PM – 8:45 PM in Somerset, NJ.

Learn how parents, teachers, speech therapists and case managers can work together to allow kids with autism and others who cannot communicate verbally to tell us what they want and need. This event will offer a process-oriented overview of the steps necessary to create a person-first strategy for the use of AAC tools.

Speakers and panelists will provide participants with practical advice and perspectives on:
-The effective use of AAC in the provision of a free and appropriate public education
-Evaluating high-tech and low-tech AAC tools based on an individual’s needs
-Selecting vocabulary goals to support appropriate and meaningful communication
-Parent/professional collaboration to enhance a child’s communication ability at home, in school and in the community
-Funding of AAC devices

For more information and to register see: Augcomm NJ

Columbia Offers Free AT Support Program for Families

Columbia University and JCC Manhattan are providing an Assistive Technology Support Program for children with special needs. This support program will consist of a series of free informational sessions, funded through Time Warner Cable. The program will be made available to school-age children (early intervention to college bound) and their families. Sessions will address how assistive technologies can help students address learning, communication, vision, hearing, and physical access needs in the classroom. This program provides information to help parents become informed advocates and consumers.

Sessions will be held on Sundays from May 1 through August 28 at a variety of times throughout the morning and afternoon.

For more information and/or to schedule a free appointment, contact Mark Surabian at ATHelp@me.com or call 917-586-8000. Please be sure to indicate that you are interested in scheduling a consultation at the JCC in Manhattan.

The JCC Manhattan is located at:
334 Amsterdam Avenue at West 76th Street
New York, NY 10023
Multimedia Center (computing center), Lower Level Two Basement

For more information: AT Support Program for Families

ATAC of DRNJ Provides Funding For Nine Innovative Assistive Technology Projects

The Assistive Technology Advocacy Center (ATAC) of Disability Rights New Jersey (DRNJ) recently announced grant awards for short-term projects to expand assistive technology services in New Jersey. ATAC received over twenty applications for this opportunity from which the following nine applicants have been awarded funding for their assistive technology projects:

Adam Krass Consulting, L.L.C. (AKC): AKC is based in Bergen County and provides assistive technology services to children and adults in New Jersey. AKC will conduct training and device demonstrations in centers for independent living (CILs) across New Jersey, introducing staff and members of the CILs to assistive technology devices that support activities of daily living, control the environment, increase mobility and communications, and provide access to computers.

Advancing Opportunities (AO): AO is a non-profit organization in Mercer County that provides assistive technology loan and demonstration services on a statewide basis. AO will partner with three New Jersey CILs to enhance their capacity to perform device demonstrations, resulting in greater availability of assistive technology on a statewide basis.

Anshe Emeth Community Development Corporation (AECDD): AECDD provides health-related and social services to individuals in the Greater Middlesex County community who are not eligible for most free or subsidized services. AECDD provides access to durable medical equipment or other medical services that people with disabilities need to live as fully and independently as possible. Through the grant award, AECDD will expand the number of assistive technology devices available through their loan program.

Gloucester County Special Services School District (GCSSD): GCSSD provides a variety of specialized services to meet new or emerging needs in response to the increasingly diverse student population being educated by today’s schools. GCSSD will provide training to educators, trainers, and parents in assistive technology and will also provide augmentative communication devices for demonstration and loan to other school districts in the county.

New Jersey Institute of Disabilities (NJID): NJID is a non-profit organization in Middlesex County that provides a unique continuum of services for more than 1,000 children and adults with disabilities. NJID will work with the American Red Cross and the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management to provide emergency shelters with communication devices for people with limited speech capacities, as well as training on how to use the devices. This will serve as a model program for other counties seeking to make emergency services more effective for people with disabilities.

New Jersey State Library Talking Book and Braille Center (TBBC): TBBC is the public library for New Jersey’s residents with print disabilities, and provides library service throughout the state. TBBC will partner with the Brain Injury Association of New Jersey to provide portable, handheld digital book players for loan to persons with traumatic brain injuries.

Progressive Center for Independent Living (PCIL): PCIL is based in Mercer and Hunterdon Counties and advocates for the rights of people with disabilities to achieve and maintain independent lifestyles. PCIL will establish a statewide assistive technology training project for state emergency management officials who will in turn train their local emergency responders in the mechanics of evacuation of people who use durable medical equipment, such as wheelchairs and other adaptive devices.

The College of New Jersey (TCNJ): TCNJ operates an Assistive Technology Lending Program and an Alternate Format Production Center available to a network of state and community colleges in New Jersey, and provides training and technical assistance related to use of assistive technology devices. TCNJ will equip and enhance their lending program to provide more New Jersey students with instructional materials in alternate formats.

Your ReSource, Inc. (YR): Your ReSource is a Mercer County non-profit organization that operates an equipment reutilization program to enhance access to affordable home medical equipment. YR will expand their service area in south and central New Jersey through outreach activities.

“This is the second year we’ve provided this funding for new projects,” said Curtis Edmonds, ATAC program manager. “We’re hopeful that this year’s grantees will be as successful as last year’s were, and that these funds will benefit New Jersey residents with disabilities who use assistive technology.”

Disability Rights New Jersey (DRNJ) is the designated protection and advocacy system for people with disabilities in New Jersey. DRNJ is a non-profit corporation whose governing board consists of a majority of persons with disabilities or family members of persons with disabilities. DRNJ provides legal and non-legal advocacy, information and referral, outreach, training and technical assistance to advance the human, civil, and legal rights of persons with disabilities.

The Assistive Technology Advocacy Center (ATAC) of Disability Rights New Jersey (DRNJ) serves as New Jersey’s federally funded assistive technology project through a sub-contract with New Jersey’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development. Its purpose is to assist individuals in overcoming barriers in the system and making assistive technology more accessible to individuals with disabilities throughout the state.

8 Online Employment Resources for Persons with Disabilities

Below are several examples of online employment resources designed to assist people with disabilities in the workforce.

1. Our Ability (http://www.ourability.com)
View and listen to success stories or post a job or resume. Read about and interact with successful people with disabilities in the education and business world.

2. Accessible Technology for All (http://www.accessibletech.org)
AccessibleTech.org is a project of the ADA National Network geared for the business community. The site provides resources on accessible technology and AT.

3. Workrave (http://www.workrave.org)
Free ergonomics software download to prevent Repetive Strain injury while working on your computer.

4. Searchable Online Accommodation Resource (http://askjan.org/soar/index.htm)
The Job Accommodation Network (JAN)’s Web page for exploring various accommodation options for people with disabilities in work and educational settings.

5. Employer’s Practical Guide to Reasonable Accommodations (http://askjan.org/Erguide/One.htm)
Covers Americans with Disabilities Act basics and info on reasonable accommodations for applicants, interviewees, current and former employees, and employees on leave.

6. Workplace Accommodation Examples (http://www.workrerc.org/accommodations.php)
Read case studies about successful workplace accommodations and add your own.

7. Punch-In.org (http://www.punch-in.org)
A new self-directed Employment Assistant that is geared for young adults with disabilities seeking to enter the workforce.

8. Solving the Employment Puzzle for Youth with Disabilities (http://www.pacer.org/tatra/empPuzzle/1.htm)
Customizable, free parent training curriculum that focuses on providing specific
information on various employment systems for persons with disabilities.

(Taken from: http://www.atprogramnews.com/2011/03/8-great-online-employment-resources-for-persons-with-disabilities.html)

Note-Taking Made Easy For Students with Visual Impairments

For many students with visual impairments, and particularly those who are legally blind, it is difficult to switch focus between the notebook and the board. A team of students from the Center for Cognitive Ubiquitous Computing created a device to help low-vision students take notes and watch the lecture at the same time, a feat that has won the top prize in the U.S. finals of the Microsoft Imagine Cup.

Team leader David Hayden, legally blind himself, is the inventor and team captain for the Team Note-Taker at Arizona State University in Tempe. The Team Note-Taker is a portable device about the size of a milk carton with a camera on it. The user of this device can adjust where the camera looks and plug it into a laptop computer, which will display a split-screen interface. On half of the screen, there is a digital notepad for taking handwritten or typed notes, and in the other half is live video of the board. To control where the camera is zoomed in or where it’s pointing, just use the basic controls and tap any point on the image and it’ll center on that or drag and click on any feature in the image.

The Note-Taker simultaneously records the video and the audio on the computer. As a result, this records the time taken for every keystroke or pen stroke. Most importantly, it allows the storage of the notes written on the notepad and the audio and video files to be all together.

A video of the Note-Taker can be viewed at: Science Friday

For the full article or to listen to the story on NPR: Note-Taking Made Easy

National Park Service Adds Assistive Technology System

Softeq Development Corporation announces the completion of the Durateq® Assistive Technology System offering assistive listening and audio description at the New River Gorge National River (U.S. National Park Service) Canyon Rim Visitor Center in Lansing, West Virginia. The New River Gorge team wanted to make their visitor center experience accessible to all guests and partnered with Design & Integration, Inc. and Softeq for their solution.

Originally developed for the Walt Disney World theme park, the Durateq Assistive Technology Version (ATV) handheld devices with its ALiCE (Assistive Listening and Captioning Engine) software makes the visitor center experience accessible to anyone requiring audio or visual assistance. The system provides audio description (AD) for visitors who are blind or have low vision, and assistive listening (ALS) for visitors with hearing loss. The audio content is triggered automatically, synchronized with the videos in the visitor center’s theatre, and even provides some navigational assistance.

The Durateq ATV is the most advanced assistive handheld solution available today that helps public venues meet Title II and Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements.

Softeq Development Corporation is headquartered in Houston, TX. Softeq specializes in software services, system integration, product development, and assistive technology for Fortune 500 companies worldwide. For more information, visit www.softeq.com.

For the entire article:  National Park Service Adds AT

Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic Becomes Learning Ally

Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic (RFB&D), a 63-year old nonprofit organization serving over 300,000 individuals across the U.S. with learning differences and reading disabilities, announced that it has officially changed its name to Learning Ally.

The new name is accompanied by a tagline – “Making reading accessible for all” – and was selected after months of research and focus groups were conducted with hundreds of RFB&D student members, parents, volunteers, education professionals and other stakeholders.

“Changing the name of a long-established national institution such as RFB&D is not something we entered into lightly,” says Andrew Friedman, Learning Ally’s President and CEO. “Our members themselves were the key driver of this transformation. For one thing, our mix of users today includes individuals with diverse learning differences that are outside the scope of our former name.

In 2010, RFB&D embraced the latest mainstream technology, making its content accessible for users at home or in school. And in February 2011, a new application was released enabling its entire library of downloadable audiobooks to be played on Apple iOS devices including the iPhone, iPad, and iPad Touch. All of this is good news for the widening base of students, parents, teachers and schools that Learning Ally serves.

Founded in 1948 as Recording for the Blind, Learning Ally serves more than 300,000 K-12, college and graduate students, as well as veterans and lifelong learners – all of whom cannot read standard print due to blindness, visual impairment, dyslexia, or other learning disabilities. Learning Ally’s collection of more than 65,000 digitally recorded textbooks and literature titles – delivered through internet downloads and various assistive technology devices – is the largest of its kind in the world. More than 6,000 volunteers across the U.S. help to record and process the educational materials, which students rely on to achieve academic and professional success. Learning Ally, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, is funded by grants from the U.S. Department of Education, state and local education programs, and the generous contributions of individuals, foundations and corporations.

For more information, call (866) 732-3585 or visit: www.LearningAlly.org.

National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program Connects Low-Income Individuals With Communications Services

On April 6, 2011, the FCC issued an order to set up the first ever National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program (NDBEDP) to enable low-income individuals who are deaf-blind to access 21st century communications services. Established as a pilot program, the NDBEDP will help ensure that deaf-blind individuals have access to the Internet, and advanced communications, including interexchange services and advanced telecommunications and information services. The Order is the first of several we are expecting this year to implement the provisions of the 21st Century Communications & Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (“21st CVAA”).

Funded with $10 million allocated from the Interstate Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) Fund each year, the FCC said that the best approach is to establish a two-year pilot program with the option of extending this for a third year. The FCC will assess the program then to see what is most efficient and effective for administering the NDBEDP on a permanent basis. Under the NDBEDP pilot program, the Commission will certify and provide funding to one entity in each state to distribute equipment to low-income individuals who are deaf-blind. Here are some of the NDBEDP details:

  • Of the $10 million, up to $500,000 is set aside for national outreach efforts.
  • Each state will initially receive a minimum initial funding allocation of $50,000, with the balance of the available funds allocated in proportion to each state’s population.
  • Certified programs must submit documentation to support claims for reimbursement for NDBEDP equipment and related services, up to each state’s funding allocation.
  • Certified programs must submit reports on their activities and expenses every six months, disclose potential conflicts of interest, and conduct annual independent audits.
  • To be certified, entities must apply for certification to receive funding support under the NDBEDP pilot program within 60 days of the effective date of the rules. The Commission will certify only one entity for each state.
  • Consumer eligibility is limited to individuals who are deaf-blind as defined in the Helen Keller National Center Act.
  • Because of the unusually high medical and disability-related costs incurred by people who are deaf-blind, the low-income eligibility threshold is set at 400% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
  • Equipment for distribution includes specialized and off-the-shelf equipment, separately or in combination, as long as it meets the needs of the deaf-blind individual and makes communications services covered under the CVAA accessible.
  • Costs of the equipment distributed, warranties, maintenance, repairs, and refurbishing will also be covered, if reasonable.
  • Also covered are related services, if reasonable, such as state and local outreach efforts, individual assessments of a deaf-blind person’s communications equipment needs, equipment installation, and individualized training of consumers on how to use the equipment.

For the entire article, see:  www.coataccess.org/node/9986 or go to the FCC website at: www.fcc.gov/cgb/dro/headlines.html

University of Buffalo Researchers Develop “The Talker” for Vets with TBI

Researchers at the University at Buffalo (UB) and Applied Sciences Group (ASG), a high-tech firm, hope that an improved version of The Talker can help disabled veterans reconnect to the world. In 2003, one of the first projects at UB’s Center for Socially Relevant Computing was the development of The Talker, a program that “speaks” for people who no longer can.

For veterans suffering serious physical or cognitive wounds, assistive technology makes it easier for them to remember appointments, keep in touch with loved ones and use their computers. Veterans hospitals are starting to turn to assistive technology — everything from iPads to Livescribe smart pens — to try to give their disabled patients more control over their lives.

UB researchers and their partners at began testing this Talker and related equipment in March at a veterans hospital in Tampa, Florida. David Jauch was its first user. The brain stem stroke he suffered at 24 robbed him of his speech and left him with only limited use of his left arm. To communicate, he pointed to words on a sheet of paper. With the Talker program, Jauch holds a stylus in his left hand and carefully taps letters on a touch-sensitive screen on a laptop computer to spell his words. A voice reads each letter out loud and, at the end, speaks the sentence for Jauch.

A second UB team worked with ASG to develop an enhanced version of the Talker to assist veterans who can’t speak and who can’t use their hands. This Talker also is being tested in Tampa. If the testing goes well, all of this technology could be introduced to a wider pool of users.

For the entire article: Through Technology, Disabled Vets Reconnect

“Wreckers and Jabberers:” a Documentary About Autism and Augmentative Communication Devices

Tracy Thresher and Larry Bissonnette share their stories about life with Autism and how they communicate with Augmentative Communication Devices in the documentary, Wretches and Jabberers.  This film is about spreading the message that people of all abilities have ideas to share, thoughts to discuss and the desire to participate fully in life.  Tracy and Larry are on a mission to change people’s attitudes about disability, intelligence and communication.

For the trailer to the film, see: Wreckers & Jabberers
For more information, visit the website for the film here and read an article about the film here.

April is Autism Awareness month.  For more information, see: National Autism Society

FamilyConnect Launches Social Networking Feature

FamilyConnect, a resource website designed for parents of children with visual impairments, has launched a new social networking feature called Family Friends.  FamilyConnect is designed to help parents of children with visual impairments reach out to other parents for advice and support and to share ideas, solutions, and parenting tips.  The new Family Friends feature allows members to create their own personal profile, upload a photo, share news, and become friends with other parents. 

If you are already a registered user of FamilyConnect, here’s how to get started:

As more FamilyConnect users opt into the service, you will see friend suggestions in the upper right-hand area of the page. Your friend recommendations will be based on the state where you live, as well as your child’s age and eye conditions.

For the full article see: Family Connect Launches Social Networking

To access the FamilyConnect website:  www.familyconnect.org

Federal Complaint Accuses NYU and Northwestern of Discriminating Against Students With Visual Impairments

A complaint filed Tuesday with the federal government accuses New York University and Northwestern University of discriminating against blind students by adopting Google e-mail and other programs that aren’t fully compatible with technology that translates written words into speech.

The National Federation of the Blind has requested a Justice Department investigation into the schools’ use of Gmail and other Google programs, saying that requiring students to use them violates the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Baltimore-based group is also asking other colleges not to adopt the software until it’s accessible to all students and faculty.

The federation said that some Google products are partially accessible to blind users, but are difficult to use without assistance from a person who can see the screen. With Gmail, for example, the process of creating an account is the biggest problem, with other glitches in navigating while relying on screen readers, said Chris Danielsen, a spokesman for the blind federation. The group said there are also problems with Google Calendar, Google Groups and other programs.

Northwestern and NYU recently adopted the free suite of Google Apps for Education for campus e-mail and other classroom services used by students to collaborate on assignments. The blind federation says that a significant number of U.S. colleges are outsourcing their e-mail to Google. In such cases, Google often provides hosting services for campus e-mail. Schools are covered by the federal law protecting rights of the disabled, while Google may not have the same obligations with products it creates.

Last June, the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education issued a letter to college presidents requiring schools that use Kindles and other e-book readers in the classroom to make sure the gadgets have accommodations for blind and vision-impaired students. The federal government examined the campus e-reader technology after a blind student sued Arizona State University over use of the Kindle and was joined by the National Federation of the Blind and the American Council of the Blind. Amazon.com Inc. announced changes last year to the Kindle to make it more accessible for blind and vision-impaired users.

For the entire article: NYU and Northwestern Discriminate Against Students
For the Google Apps Demonstration: www.nfb.org/nfb/googleaccessibilityvideos.asp

Virginia Transition Forum Showcases AT for Students with Disabilities

Adam Amick has a Bluetooth-enabled microphone to help with his hearing loss and an iPad that can store many of his heavy textbooks so he doesn’t have to carry them around. Amick is a 19-year-old sophomore at Virginia Wesleyan College who has cerebral palsy. On Tuesday, he attended an adaptive technology fair at the Norfolk Waterside Marriott as part of the Virginia Transition Forum.

The forum, put on by the state rehabilitation services and education departments, is designed to help students with disabilities prepare for life beyond high school. More than 1,000 people across the state registered for the event.

The technology fair showed off low- and high-tech devices, including the iPad, iPad2 and iPod Touch. “Smartpens” record audio while a student takes notes. A click of the pen on the page takes the note-taker back to the accompanying audio. That’s helpful for kids who may have a hard time taking notes. ECO2 and ECOpoint track a person’s eye movements and type the corresponding word or picture they focus on.

The fair also included the NewWell Fund, which provides low-interest loans to help residents with disabilities pay for assistive technology.

The main goal of the forum, he said, is “trying to come up with a way for disabled people to be mainstreamed into society. We want to be treated like everybody else. We’re trying to make society better at accepting disabled people.”

 For the full article, see: New Tech Gadgets Aid Students

ATAC Announces 2011 Request for Proposal

Disability Rights New Jersey/Assistive Technology Advocacy Center

Request For Proposal (RFP)

One-Time Grant for Expansion of Assistive Technology Services to People with Disabilities in New Jersey 

Introduction and Description

 

Disability Rights New Jersey (DRNJ) is the federally-funded, independent non-profit designated as New Jersey’s protection and advocacy system for people with disabilities.  It provides legal and non-legal advocacy, information and referral, technical assistance and training, outreach and education in support of the human, civil, and legal rights of people with disabilities. 

The Assistive Technology Advocacy Center (ATAC) of DRNJ is the designated state program authorized by the Assistive Technology Act of 2004 (AT Act) to  provide enhanced access to assistive technology products and services on a comprehensive, statewide basis through a system of device loan, demonstration, equipment reuse, training and technical assistance, and public awareness activities. 

The grant(s) are available under the following activities:

State-Level Activities:

 

  • Device reutilization programs – provide for the exchange, repair, recycling, or other reutilization of assistive technology devices, which may include redistribution through device sales, loans, rentals, or donations.\

 

  • Device loan programs – provide short-term loans of assistive technology devices to individuals, employers, public agencies, or others seeking to meet the needs of targeted individuals and entities.

 

  • Device demonstration programs – demonstrate a variety of assistive technology devices and assistive technology services (including assisting individuals in making informed choices regarding, and providing experiences with, the devices and  services), using personnel who are familiar with such devices and services and their applications.

 


State Leadership Activities

  • Training and technical assistance – develop and disseminate training materials, conduct training, and provide technical assistance, for individuals from local settings statewide, including representatives of State and local educational agencies, other State and local agencies, early intervention programs, adult service programs, hospitals and other health care facilities, institutions of higher education, and businesses.

 

  • Public-awareness activities – conduct public-awareness activities designed to provide information to targeted individuals and entities relating to the availability, benefits, appropriateness, and costs of assistive technology devices and assistive technology services.

 

  • Coordination and collaboration – coordinate activities among public and private entities that are responsible for policies, procedures, or funding for the provision of assistive technology devices and assistive technology services to individuals with disabilities, service providers, and others to improve access to assistive technology devices and assistive technology services for individuals with disabilities of all ages in the State.

 

Background

ATAC is providing one-time funding to enhance the scope of existing assistive technology services available to people with disabilities in New Jersey. 

The total amount under this RFP is $155,000.  This funding is contingent on availability of funds. 

ATAC intends to award grants ranging in size from a minimum of $5,000 to a maximum of $20,000. 

In compliance with the provisions of the AT Act, ATAC expects that the majority of funding will be provided to projects that focus on the three state-level activities (device loan, device demonstration, device reutilization) rather than on the three state leadership activities (training, public awareness, and coordination and collaboration).

Scope of Work

The successful applicants will, under these one-time grants, develop and implement a plan for expanding existing assistive technology activities currently operating in New Jersey, in one or more of the six areas of device loan, device demonstration, device reutilization, training, public awareness, and coordination and collaboration.  Such activities must be consistent with the ATAC state plan, which is available on the ATAC website, or by request.   

Examples

Examples of possible activities that ATAC may fund through this RFP include, but are not limited to:

  • Developing joint enterprises between agencies, organizations, or centers;
  • Expanding services to groups that are underserved;
  • Updating and purchasing state-of-the-art equipment for loan and/or demonstration;
  • Expanding services to include specialized populations, particularly those that are not being served, and;
  • Developing collaborations with centers for independent living related to assistive technology training or public awareness.

Qualifications of Applicant

Individuals or organizations in New Jersey with recognized expertise in the field of assistive technology, or those demonstrating an understanding of assistive technology devices and services.  Organizations that serve individuals with disabilities, including centers for independent living, are specifically invited to apply.  Familiarity with currently existing services within New Jersey is a definite plus.  The applicant must be able to communicate well in writing and work well with DRNJ staff in order to meet the goals of the RFP.

Requirements

The application is limited to five pages, single-spaced, plus a one-page budget.  The application must be delivered in an accessible, electronic format such as Microsoft Word.  The application must include:

  • Relevant information about the applicant, including contact name, organization name, address, telephone, fax, and e-mail;
  • Description of the applicant or organization and the relevant personnel, experience, expertise, and technical abilities that make it possible to carry out the research activity;
  • Description of the work plan, rationale, and means to accomplish the plan.
  • Details of specific sub-tasks and schedules to accomplish the tasks, and
  • Detailed proposed budget, as described below.

 

Budget

The applicant will include a proposed one-page budget appropriate for meeting the goals of the proposal.  All requests for specific AT devices or equipment should be itemized where possible. 

Assurances

The applicant will include assurances of compliance with all federal mandates and requirements applicable to recipients of federal funding and assurances that the applicant has no conflict of interest that bars the applicant from completing the proposal.

Evaluation Criteria

DRNJ staff, in collaboration with the ATAC Advisory Council, will evaluate all applicants based on their expertise, knowledge, familiarity with New Jersey service providers, and ability to complete the activity in the given amount of time.  Criteria include:

  • Contribution to expansion of AT network in New Jersey
  • Ability to successfully execute the activity on time
  • Relevant experience in the assistive technology field
  • Expertise and ability of the applicant
  • Quality of services provided
  • Budget
  • Ability to meet deadlines

Application Due Date

The deadline for submitting applications under this RFP is April 1, 2011.  DRNJ prefers e-mail submissions, sent to cedmonds@drnj.org.  DRNJ will accept mail and overnight mail submissions provided that an accessible electronic copy is submitted as well.

Date of Award

The contract for this RFP will be submitted to the winning applicants on or before April 15, 2011, with work to begin immediately. 

Date of Completion of Project

The project will end on September 30, 2011.

National Record-A-Thon to Raise Awareness for Accessible Audiobooks

Record-A-Thon is an annual fundraising and awareness campaign running from February 28th to March 5th that will take place in Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic (RFB&D) studios across the United States.  Thousands of volunteers, including authors and celebrities, will lend their voices to a unique initiative making books accessible for students, veterans and other individuals with disabilities.  Record-A-Thon runs concurrent with the National Education Association’s “Read Across America” campaign.

At each of RFB&D’s 19 recording studios throughout the country, volunteer readers will help transform printed textbooks into easy-to-navigate audiobooks – enabling hundreds of thousands of people with visual and learning disabilities to access the content of these books to help them achieve educational success.

RFB&D launched the Record-A-Thon in New York City last week with the help of Barbara Walters, Joy Behar, and Sherri Shepherd, co-hosts of ABC’s “The View,” who recorded texts to add to the world’s largest library of accessible audiobooks. RFB&D has a studio in Princeton, where local volunteers and celebrities are invited to participate in this week’s events.

The national Record-A-Thon campaign is sponsored by PLEXTALK, a manufacturer of assistive technology devices for people with print disabilities like blindness and dyslexia.

For the full article: www.prweb.com/releases/prweb2011/2/prweb8167211.htm

For participating RFB&D studios: www.rfbd.org/Locations/393/

Two New Mobile Devices To Use Video Relay Services

Two new products will allow people who are hard of hearing or deaf to have the same mobile options as their hearing counterparts. On Monday January 31, 2011, at a news conference conducted in American Sign Language at Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf, technology company Sorenson Communications announced ntouch PC and ntouch Mobile. They turn laptops and cellphones into videophones with the same Video Relay Service technology now used by deaf individuals to place calls.

Sorenson is the largest provider of Video Relay Service, which allows deaf individuals to place calls using a videophone device called the VP-200. The VP-200 sits on top of a television set, and an interpreter appears on the TV screen to speak English to the hearing party, then relays their answers through sign language to the deaf individual.

With ntouch PC, a computer or laptop can be turned into a videophone. The software is free and works with any Internet or wi-fi connection. Ntouch Mobile is compatible with the HTC EVO phone on the Sprint network. It turns the cellphone into a videophone with features such as SignMail and e911. It even lets users set special vibration and flash patterns for different callers with the myRumble feature, essentially the equivalent of the ringtones hearing people use to identify callers.

The Americans with Disabilities Act mandates that individuals who are deaf or hard-of-hearing have access to products that are functionally equivalent to what the hearing community enjoys. Because it is a federal mandate, Sorenson is reimbursed by the Federal Communications Commission, allowing the company to provide services free of charge for deaf individuals.

For the entire article see: Devices Allow Mobility for Deaf Users

Video: Intro To Text-To-Speech

Livestrong.com Features AT for Fitness

Livestrong.com offers some examples of assistive technology for fitness and specialized equipment to meet the needs of individuals with disabilities such as arthritis, multiple sclerosis, stroke, or spinal cord injuries.  Below are the recommendations for adapted fitness equipment.

AT for Aerobic Fitness
For aerobic fitness, adapted stationary bikes offer motor-assisted pedaling for individuals with neurological impairments. If you prefer a treadmill, you can attach handrails to assist with balance. There are also products similar to a mini-trampoline that provide partial support of your body weight through a sling seat and back strap.

AT for Resistance Training
Individuals with disabilities can often participate in upper-body exercises using standard weights and resistance machines. If you have difficulty grasping, you can get an exercise glove or a holding mitt that uses a hook-and-loop strap to help you hold the weight or bar. Specific machines exist for people with spinal cord injury and wheelchair users to improve upper body strength. For lower-body resistance training, there are resistance band systems, equipment for aquatic exercise, and products that provide functional electrical stimulation.

Other AT Devices
If you use a wheelchair, you may be interested in participating in wheelchair sports, such as basketball, tennis or cycling. A variety of sport-specific chairs are available. You can also get wheelchair gloves to assist with grasp and to reduce wear-and-tear on your skin. For water exercise, AT is available in the form of aquatic lifts to help you in and out of the pool, special flotation devices and even water wheelchairs.

Read more at:  www.livestrong.com/article/338968-assistive-technology-for-fitness/#ixzz1A0Nmx4Hl

Researchers Look to Make Kinect a Useful ASL Tool

Researchers at Georgia Tech are working to move Kinect to integrate “hand shape features” rather than just gestural movements, so that they can expand the vocabulary and create a useful ASL tool. The focus of their development is the CopyCat software, which is to teach deaf children how to communicate with ASL.

Originally achieved by pairing Kinect hardware with a set of knitted gloves that contained accelerometers, the researchers have now managed to ditch the gloves and focus directly on movements. By measuring the distances and changes between various body parts, the group has managed to achieve results of no lower than 98.8% accuracy based on tests of increasing difficulty.

This is only the first of many possible medical, academic and accessibility uses of the gaming device. The required hand shape features may need a higher resolution image than is currently provided, but it is rumored that Microsoft would only have to push out a firmware update for this to be possible.

For the entire article: ASL Is Making Its Way to Kinect

“Tools of the Trade” Blogger Offers Insight Into Augmentative Communication

“Tools of the Trade,” an online blog written by Advancing Opportunities’ Assistive Technology Department, offers an ongoing web-based, discussion of assistive technology topics. Jeanette Van Houten recently wrote, “My Personal Experience Living Life Silently,” which chronicles her own experiences in struggling to communicate when a short-term illness impairs her ability to speak. This blog entry offers insight into the world of many individuals with disabilities that affect their abilities to communicate verbally. Ms. Van Houten also provides an account of her experience in using forms of alternative communication and the impact of technology on communication.

For the entire blog entry: “My Personal Experience Living Life Silently”

For more information on Advancing Opportunities: www.assistivetechnologycenter.org/

ATAC Featured in NJ Foundation for Aging Publication

An article written by ATAC Program Director, Curtis Edmonds, was recently featured in Renaissance, the magazine for the New Jersey Foundation for Aging. This article is entitled, “Assistive Technology Helps,” and appears on page 20 of Volume 17, Issue 3 of the NJ Foundation for Aging’s publication. “Assistive Technology Helps” offers readers examples of low-tech AT, as well as helpful resources for locating AT.

For the PDF version of Vol. 17 Issue 3 of Renaissance, see: http://www.njfoundationforaging.org/Ren_NOVDEC2010web.pdf

YouTube Tutorial on Accessible Features of Windows 7

The Assistive Technology Advocacy Center and Jamie Arasz Prioli, RESNA ATP, present a brief tutorial demonstrating the onscreen keyboard feature built within the Windows7 operating system. This video takes the viewer step by step through the process of accessing the tool and customizing the keyboard to include features, such as text prediction and settings for scanning and hovering over the keys.

To view the video and learn more about the Windows7 onscreen keyboard, go to: Accessibility in Windows7

National Alliance for Caregiving Announces Survey on Technology and its Impact on Family Caregivers

The National Alliance for Caregiving is conducting a survey on technology and its impact on family caregivers.

The objectives of this survey include:
• Understanding the frequency of both Internet and device technology being used by caregivers;
• Understanding the impact of technology on both the caregiver and the care recipient; and
• Determining the unmet technological needs of the caregiver

If you are a family caregiver or know of one, please visit: www.caregiving.org

The National Alliance for Caregiving is a non-profit coalition of national organizations focusing on issues of family caregiving. The Alliance was created to conduct research, do policy analysis, develop national programs, increase public awareness of family caregiving issues, work to strengthen state and local caregiving coalitions, and represent the US caregiving community internationally. Recognizing that family caregivers provide important societal and financial contributions toward maintaining the well-being of those they care for, the Alliance’s mission is to be the objective national resource on family caregiving with the goal of improving the quality of life for families and care recipients.

Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic’s Entire Audio Collection Now Accessible on Mac and Windows

Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic (RFB&D), the nation’s largest provider of educational audio textbooks, announced that its entire collection is now accessible on Mac as well as Windows operating systems through the introduction of RFB&D ReadHear.

Through funding provided by the U.S. Department of Education, RFB&D will license the player to individual members for free (one copy per member, renewable after one year.) A new dual-platform software player enables users to access the entire library of RFB&D DAISY-formatted content on both Mac and Windows systems. The new technology will also support RFB&D’s developing generation of content containing digital text and audio.

A brief video product demonstration of the new RFB&D ReadHear solution is posted at: www.rfbd.org/readhear. The page is a one-stop info hub for Mac OS and Windows users, featuring technical specifications, “How To” and “Quick Start” documents; and an FAQ.

About Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic

Founded in 1948, RFB&D serves more than 270,000 K-12, college and graduate students, as well as veterans and lifelong learners – all of whom cannot read standard print due to blindness, visual impairment, dyslexia, or other disability. RFB&D’s collection of more than 63,000 digitally recorded textbooks and literature titles – delivered through internet downloads, various assistive technology devices, and CD – is the largest of its kind in the world. RFB&D, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, is funded by grants from the U.S. Department of Education, state and local education programs, and the generous contributions of individuals, foundations and corporations. For more information, call (866) 732-3585 or visit www.rfbd.org .

For the full article: Audio Books Now Available to MAC Users

MetLife’s Aging In Place Workbook Offers Free Guidance on Home Modifications and AT

More people are choosing to “age in place,” and remain in their homes, often creating issues related to maintaining mobility, promoting home safety and creating an environment to meet care needs are becoming increasingly important to both caregivers and care recipients. To address these issues, many people plan to modify their homes, employ assistive technology and identify family and community resources to help them age in place.

To assist individuals and their families who wish to remain in their homes as they age, the MetLife Mature Market Institute has introduced the “MetLife Aging in Place Workbook: Your Home As a Care Setting,” a free, step-by-step guide to help assess care needs, determine whether home modification and/or assistive devices are needed, identify potential care resources and understand the associated costs. It also provides a listing of organizations and government agencies that may serve as additional resources.

The workbook is a companion piece to the “MetLife Report on Aging in Place 2.0: Rethinking Solutions to the Home Care Challenge” released earlier this year. That report estimates that substantial, but basic, design and structural modifications can cost $9,000–$12,000 or more per one-story residence, depending on the type of home and its locality. The guide features cost approximations for common modifications, which vary in different parts of the country. For instance, it estimates that ramps can cost between $1,600 and $3,200 for a length of 16 feet. Two grab bars are generally $250 including installation. A typical stair glide can cost up to $12,000. And, it can cost from $800 to $1,200 to adjust a door opening.

The “MetLife Aging in Place Workbook” provides individuals with a model to assess whether their home can serve as a care setting. It poses a series of questions whose answers will help families decide if changes to the home are required to meet care needs. The guide addresses the need for equipment like walkers, shower seats, grab rails, medication reminder systems and Personal Emergency Response Systems (PERS). It also focuses on developing a care plan that includes family caregivers as well as paid care services based on identified needs. It looks at costs in each of these important areas and identifies potential funding sources.

The “MetLife Aging in Place Workbook: Your Home As a Care Setting,” and the the “MetLife Report on Aging in Place 2.0: Rethinking Solutions to the Home Care Challenge” can be downloaded from: www.MatureMarketInstitute.com

These guides may also be ordered by writing to:
MetLife Mature Market Institute
57 Greens Farms Road
Westport, CT 06880

For the entire press release, please visit: MetLife Releases Free Guide

Massachusetts Program Uses Adapted Vehicle for Driver Evaluation and Training

The Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC) unveiled a state-of-the-art motor vehicle equipped with adaptive evaluation and training devices that will help promote independence and employment for people with disabilities. As part of American Reinvestment and Recovery Act’s (ARRA) Vocational Rehabilitation Grant to the MRC, the Commission received $155,000 in federal funding for the van.

The MRC’s Driver Evaluation and Training Program will use the van to determine the type of adaptive driving equipment needed by individuals with significant disabilities so that they can operate a vehicle safely. Individuals evaluated using technology in the new MRC van will also receive training on how to operate the vehicle and its adaptive equipment and technology. Previously, Massachusetts consumers had to travel out of state for driving evaluations or purchase a vehicle independently and wait for it to be modified before taking driving lessons. The state’s new vehicle will help consumers who need adaptive equipment determine their unique needs in order to live and work as independently as possible.

“After receiving my learner’s permit over a year ago, I have been anxiously waiting for the chance to get my license,” said Andrew Ivanov, an MRC client. “I’m overjoyed that there is a vehicle within Massachusetts that can give me the ability to drive and get my license. I would like to thank everyone involved for giving me the opportunity to start driving — I hope that after I get my license, I will have become a more independent and outgoing member of society.”

About the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC)
The Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission assists individuals with disabilities to live and work independently. The MRC is responsible for Vocational Rehabilitation Services, Community Services, and eligibility determination for the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) federal benefits programs for Massachusetts citizens with disabilities. The MRC serves people with all types of disabilities except those who are blind, who are served through the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind. To learn more about MRC, please visit: www.mass.gov/mrc.

For the entire press release, see: MRC Unveils State-Of-The Art Vehicle

Assistive Technology Helps Troops Gain Independence

Assistive technology helps service members, like Walter Reed Army Medical Center wounded warrior Staff Sgt. Drew McComber, return to “normal” daily living.  “It seems like small things you take for granted,” explained McComber, who counts on assistive devices such as a battery-operated magnifier to read text and a personal data assistant (PDA) to keep track of daily appointments at the hospital.

Occupational therapists with the Warrior Transition Brigade’s Occupational Therapy Work Education Program at Walter Reed, assess barriers service members may have and partner with assistive technology specialists to select appropriate accomodations to meet the desired goals. Together, they train Warriors in Transition (WIT) at Walter Reed in how to use the selected tools. The Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program (CAP), a Department of Defense program, provides service members with the devices that are theirs to keep.

The technology ranges from special keyboards with interchangeable overlays, to software that enlarges text up to 32 times the size of regular font. CAP also provides equipment such as a smartpen that records everything the user hears, writes and draws. With CAP, service members receive special joy sticks, touch pads and a series of switches, mounting devices and other accommodations to increase access for individuals who have dexterity disabilities, blind/low vision, deaf, hard of hearing, or have cognitive or communication disabilities.

 “Our role is to get the Warriors in Transition involved in internships and educational opportunities while they’re healing here at Walter Reed,” explained Sara Meisinger, chief of the WTB’s Occupational Therapy Work Education Program.  Meisinger explained a detailed assessment of needs and training is crucial for the complex patient population at Walter Reed, who face multiple challenges such as memory loss, decreased vision and dexterity limitations as a result of traumatic brain injury, post traumatic stress disorder and amputations.

McComber said assistive technology, “helped [him] get back and feel less like a patient, and more like a regular person.”

For the entire article, see: AT Helps Troops

Temple University’s Institute on Disabilities to Offer Course on Web-based, Low-Cost Assistive Technology

On November 22, 2010, Temple University’s Institute on Disabilities will host a mini course/lecture on web-based tools that are free or low cost. This course will focus on AT tools that can be used to support the three basic constructs of Universal Design for Learning–engagement, representation and expression.

Participants will learn about:
- Flexible, interactive tools such as Glogster, TarHeel Reader, Flickr, and VoiceThread
- Integrating multimedia resources, including those from Discovery Education, into a variety of online tools for student use
- How to use these tools to support students with a wide range of needs and abilities

Presenting this course will be Beth Poss, a Speech/Language Pathologist who specializes in Assistive and Instructional Technology and Chris Bugaj, a founding member of the assistive technology team at Loudoun County Public Schools in Virginia and an adjunct professor at George Mason University.

The course will be offered on:
Monday, November 22, 2010
Time: 9 a.m. to noon (8:30 a.m. registration)
Location: Temple University Main Campus
1755 N. 13th Street
Student Center, Room 200A
Philadelphia, PA 19122

Registration Deadline is November 18, 2010.

Registration for this event is FREE, but registration is required in advance.
Register online or call 215-204-1356 (voice/TTY).

For more information contact:
215-204-1356 (voice/TTY)
iod@temple.edu
http://disabilities.temple.edu/

Gerontechnology- Assistive Technology for Aging Populations

The University of Indianapolis Center for Aging & Community has published an article on, “gerontechnology” (also referred to as “gerotechnology” or assistive technology for the aging). The following provides several resources and examples of devices that may also ease the burden on caregivers of aging adults.

According to the National Alliance of Caregivers and AARP (2009), 67% of caregivers are women and 33% are men. In the U.S., nearly 50 million individuals provide care for adult family members or friends. This is where gerontechnology comes to the rescue.

From simple tools, such as a handheld magnifier, to more complex systems, like the Essence VG for higher-level communication needs, gerontechnology can help caregivers bring a better quality of life to the older adults they care for.

Below are a few examples of how gerontechnology can help caregivers and aging adults. (This is not an endorsement, rather a few examples of numerous products on the market.)

Personal Emergency Response Systems:
Mobile Alert, LifeFone, Amber Select

Fall Detection:
Lifeline with Auto Alert, Wellcore’s MPERS device

Lifting/Transferring:
The Swivel Patent Transfer, Lateral Patient Transfer Device, EZ Go Patient Transfer Slide , Other Patient Lift systems

Hearing:
Relay Indiana and Captel, Sound Bytes, Harris Communications

Vision:
LS&S, Enhanced Vision, Indpendent Living Aids

Communication:
Tobii AT, Dynavox, PRC, ZYGO

Other Gerontechnology Resources:
Fact Sheet: Highlights from the Assistive Technologies for Functional Improvement Technology Review

NPR: various articles on Aging and Technology

Center for Aging Services Technologies

Abledata

For this entire article see: Center for Aging & Community

Using the iPad as a ‘Therapeutic Tool’ for Persons With Disabilities

Since its debut in April 2010, the iPad has become a popular therapeutic tool for people with disabilities of all kinds, though no one keeps track of how many are used this way, and studies are just getting under way to test its effectiveness, which varies widely depending on diagnosis.

A speech pathologist at Walter Reed Army Medical Center uses text-to-speech applications to give patients a voice. Christopher Bulger, a 16-year-old in Chicago who injured his spine in a car accident, used an iPad to surf the Internet during the early stages of his rehabilitation, when his hands were clenched into fists. “It was nice because you progressed from the knuckle to the finger to using more than one knuckle on the screen,” he said.

Parents of autistic children are using applications to teach them basic skills, like brushing teeth and communicating better.

For a mainstream technological device like the iPad to have been instantly embraced by the disabled is unusual. It is far more common for items designed for disabled people to be adapted for general use, like closed-captioning on televisions in gyms or GPS devices in cars that announce directions. Also, most mainstream devices do not come with built-ins like the iPad’s closed-captioning, magnification and audible readout functions — which were intended to keep it simple for all users, but also help disabled people.

The iPad is also, generally speaking, less expensive than computers and other gadgets specifically designed to help disabled people speak, read or write. While insurers usually do not cover the cost of mobile devices like the iPad because they are not medical equipment, in some cases they will pay for the applications that run on them.

Glenda Watson Hyatt, a blogger from British Columbia and woman with cerebral palsy, said that when she was having trouble chatting with friends at a bar recently, she pulled out her iPad to help communicate and felt normal. “People were drawn to it because it was a ‘recognized’ or ‘known’ piece of technology,” she wrote in a blog post reviewing the device.

For Owen Cain, whose disease is physical, not mental, the iPad has limitations, too. Moving his finger all the way across the keypad remains a challenge, and makes writing difficult. He has been experimenting with a variety of applications — Proloquo2Go, which allows him to touch an icon that prompts the device to speak things like, “I need to go to the bathroom”; Math Magic, which helps him practice arithmetic; and Animal Match, a memory game.

When Owen was about 8 weeks old, his mother noticed his right arm drooping. It led to a crushing diagnosis: the motor-neuron disease known as spinal muscular atrophy Type 1. A 2003 New York Times article about spinal muscular atrophy said his parents had been told Owen would be “paralyzed for his life, which doctors predicted would last no more than about two years.”

Owen will turn 8 on Nov. 11. While his condition is not expected to worsen, he is extremely sensitive to infection and once nearly died of pneumonia; three specialized therapists and a nurse help keep him alive.

Though he cannot speak, his parents have taught him to read, write and do math. He has an impish sense of humor and a love of “Star Wars.” “He’s a normal child trapped in a not normal body,” said his father, Hamilton Cain, 45, a book editor.

Since he received the iPad, Owen has been trying to read books, and playing around with apps like Air Guitar. And, one day, he typed out on the keypad, “I want to be Han Solo for Halloween.”

For the full article from the NY Times, see: iPad Opens World

FRA To Be Designated Charity for Jersey Shore Restaurant Week Kick-Off

Family Resource Associates (FRA) of Shrewsbury has been named as the designated charity for the 2010-Kick-Off Party, “Top Jersey Shore Chefs, Great Wines Under $25.” This event is set to mark the beginning of the Jersey Shore Restaurant Week to be held from November 5-14, 2010.
Description:  A Celebration of Food and Affordable Wine
Top Jersey Shore chefs prepare signature dishes and pair them with wines from the top wine regions of the world.Cost: $35 in advance (until November 4, 2010); $45 at the door
Location: Spring Lake Manor
Rt. 71, Spring Lake Heights
Time: 6-10 pm
   

For more information, see: http://jerseyshorerestaurantweek.com/

In Remembrance of Ron Costanzo

The staff at Disability Rights New Jersey and the Assistive Technology Advocacy Center (ATAC) would like to express their condolences for the family and friends of Ron Costanzo, a former member of the ATAC Advisory. Ron died unexpectedly on Thursday, September 30, 2010 in a car accident that claimed the lives of three people. Ron had worked as consultant for Allies Inc. in Hamilton and also served as a member of the Governor’s Council on Disabilities. We remember Ron for his passion for helping others, his humor, and his contributions to the ATAC Advisory.

New Video for YourResource

New “Assistive Technology in the Kitchen” Video from ATAC

Check out our new video on AT in the kitchen:

“The Case Against AT” – Web Video Challenges Educators and Resistance to AT

Don Johnston, software developer and advocate for children with special needs, released a video “The Case Against Assistive Technology.” The video addresses the history of resistance to assistive technology in schools and compels school leaders to consider AT accommodations not just for students with disabilities in a resource room, but to seamlessly integrate technology accommodations in everyday classrooms to benefit students who need more structured learning supports.

Ben Johnston, (the founder’s son) developed the four-minute video as a presentation resource to help practitioners build a case for ‘why’ assistive technology tools should be used throughout the learning day. Only a few percent of students with disabilities ever get to use technology beyond a simple word processor. This video comes at a time when administrators are looking for new ways to create 21st century digital learning environments.

“It’s hard to imagine not using technology every day in the real world,” said Ben Johnston, for the family-owned special education company now celebrating 30 years. “Being tech-savvy in business is considered a strength, yet in some schools assistive technologies are perceived as tools that give an unfair advantage to students. It’s disheartening when non-verbal students struggle to communicate despite the advances in augmentative devices. For students with dysgraphia, a writing disorder, a simple word prediction writing tool can make all the difference to demonstrate what they know. I hope my video plays at least a minor role to help people think differently about the uses and benefits of these tools.”

The Johnston family encourages educators, parents and AT advocates to share the video with colleagues and to consider alternative instruction methods to increase student achievement. Viewers can write a video review online and join a blog discussion to share public opinion. In the coming weeks, guest bloggers and national AT experts will also write responses to “The Case Against Assistive Technology.”

For the video, see: The Case Against AT

For the entire article, see: Video Challenges Educators

To join in on the AT blog discussion, see: Don’s Blog

“The Illustrated Guide to Assistive Technology and Devices” by Suzanne Robitaille is Ranked Bestseller

“The Illustrated Guide to Assistive Technology and Devices” by Suzanne Robitaille is a self-help tool for people with disabilities that enables readers to live more independently and enhance the quality of their lives. Amazon.com has recently rated this publication as the bestselling book on assistive technology.

The Guide is organized according to disability and easily explains the best type of device for a multiple situations, home, work, on the road, or at school.

Suzanne Robitaille, the founder and editor of Abledbody.com, is a writer, blogger and disability advocate who has real experience with disability. She lost her hearing at age four and grew up profoundly deaf. Through her company, abledbody, she also provides editorial and communications services, with a specialty in workplace disability issues. Abledbody was recently certified as a disability-owned business enterprise by the U.S. Business Leadership Network.

The Illustrated Guide to Assistive Technology and Devices is available in quality trade paperback for a list price of $19.95. It is published by Demos Health, distributed by Publishers Group West and is also available through Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, and all major bookstores and outlets.

For the entire press release see: The Illustrated Guide to AT Reaches #1

American Foundation for the Blind Announces the Helen Project for Web Accessibility

The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) has launched a free, fully accessible, website rating application called the Helen Toolbar, which will enable users to provide feedback on the accessibility of websites. AFB hopes to promote the collective voice of the online community by giving a voice to those who have experienced both success and failure in accessing websites. The Helen Toolbar allows users to rate both web pages and entire domain sites based upon ease and accessibility.

To become a part of The Helen Project, click here to register.

To download the toolbar or for more information, see: Helen Toolbar Application

New Processes May Change How Prosthetics Are Designed

The New York Times recently reported on a new manufacturing process called 3-D printing that may revolutionize how customized prosthetics are made – resulting, as the article claims, in artificial limbs that are dishwasher-safe.

Scott Summit, a co-founder of Bespoke, and his partner, an orthopedic surgeon, are set to open a studio this fall where they will sell the limb coverings and experiment with printing entire customized limbs that could cost a tenth of comparable artificial limbs made using traditional methods. And they will be dishwasher-safe, too.

“I wanted to create a leg that had a level of humanity,” Mr. Summit said. “It’s unfortunate that people have had a product that’s such a major part of their lives that was so underdesigned.”

USA Tech Guide: An Online Directory For Assistive Technology

USA Tech, a program of the United Spinal Association, offers an online state by state directory for all things related to Assistive Technology. The directory covers AT lending and financing, guides and vendors for various types of medical and adaptive equipment, as well as accessible vans. The guide also offers consumer-rated wheelchair, cushion, scooter, and stander reviews. In additon, an accessible travel guide is also availble from USA Tech.

For the complete guide, visit: www.usatechguide.org/techguide.php

AT To Make Reading and Writing Easier for Individuals with Rheumatoid Arthritis

Dr. Elsa M. Orellano, Ph.D., OTR/L, ATP of Puerto Rico’s AT Program (PRATP) compiled the following Assistive Technology resources and strategies to help increase independence and minimize the joint stress and degeneration associated with writing and reading activities for individuals with rheumatoid arthritis.

1. Writing
Angular Surfaces provide arm and forearm support while writing and help to keep a proper head and neck position. Pencil grips made of rubber or plastic provide a stable grip, increase writing coordination and precision, achieve a better pencil grip posture, and decrease the strength needed to manipulate writing tools. Foam, such as air conditioning pipe insulation or Styrofoam spheres, is effective for providing a better grip, and works better than wrapping a pencil with tape. On the market these items are available in different forms, so the student should have the opportunity to experiment with different types of pencil grips.

Carbon Paper allows the student to have a copy of the notes taken by other students in his or her class. This strategy helps compensate for writing difficulties.

Voice Recorders compensate for writing challenges, preventing joint stress on the hands. They can be used to record classes, document information, or task instructions. After class, the student can copy the recorded information without time pressure and with needed breaks to avoid hand pain and fatigue.
Portable Word Processor: Battery-based portable keyboards working as notepads. It has a limited information storage capability. The stored information can be downloaded onto a computer or it can be printed directly to a printer. Light weight and compact, these portable devices can substitute for the use of pencil and paper.

2. Computer Use
Abbreviation Text Expander Software: Type an abbreviation or series of abbreviations and the software expands it to the full word, phrase or sentence. Its constant use improves keyboard efficiency and helps to decrease the joint stress related to the constant use of a keyboard.

Word Prediction Software can be used with any application, but is commonly used with word processors. Type the first letters of a word and the software provides suggestions for your most frequently used words to complete it. The user then selects the desired word by its corresponding number or use of a function key. Word prediction software offers a menu with words already written, instead of words based on the first letters. The programs are useful to those who can type with precision the first letters of a word, can pay attention to two stimuli at the same time, and frequently write long words. Scientific evidence indicates that these programs significantly decrease repetitions while writing at the computer. They also have the potential to decrease joint stress, secondary to excessive repetitions using a keyboard.

Voice Recognition Software help users control some or all of a computer’s functions by voice command alone. Using the voice, the user can dictate documents or execute commands usually performed through the mouse or keyboard. To achieve efficient voice recognition, the user should receive training. Users need to supply a consistent pronunciation and be in a minimum noise location. These programs help to minimize the joint stress caused by the repetitive keyboard use.

Dwell Clicking Software automatically performs mouse click operations without physically putting pressure on the mouse buttons. This is useful for those who can use a mouse, trackball or any mouse alternative but get tired with continuous mouse clicks. This software helps to minimize fatigue caused by a continue use of a keyboard.

Touch pads are a mouse alternative that allow for mouse movements by dragging a fingertip across the pad’s surface. A quick tap is the same as a mouse click or double tap acts as a double click. These actions require minimum arm and finger movements, and eliminate extensive holding of a regular mouse. It also prevents static work of the arm and minimizes joint stress due to excessive use of a standard mouse.

Trackballs are a mouse alternative that allow for mouse movement by rotating a sphere with the fingers or hand. These actions require minimum arm and finger movements, and eliminate extensive holding of a regular mouse. They also prevent static work of the arm and minimize joint stress due to excessive use of a standard mouse.

2. Reading

Book and Document Holders prevent extensive holding of books and minimize muscles, tendons, and joint stress. An angular position of the book facilitates a proper neck and head posture. It also facilitates visual access to the material.

For more information and links to vendors, see: AT Progam News Blog

Proloquo2Go – Apple’s Newest App for Augmentative Communication

Augmentative and alternative communication, or AAC, devices can supplement existing speech or replace speech that is not functional to improve social interaction or school performance. Electronic AAC aids use picture symbols, letters, and/or words and phrases to create messages. Equipped with an AAC device, an individual whose speech is limited suddenly has a way to express himself/herself.

Proloque2Go is just one of a growing number of AAC apps quickly gaining ground in the special-needs community. Before these apps came along, AAC devices could cost upward of $10,000–a cost many insurance companies would not cover. And for that hefty price, you got a heavy, clunky device.

Children aren’t the only ones benefiting from these apps, of course–stroke and accident victims, as well as adults with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease) and other progressive degenerative diseases are also tapping into this growing market.

Part of the reason Proloquo2Go and other similar apps work so well is that they offer Apple’s familiar iOS interface, relatively reasonable pricing, and the ease, portability, and cool factor of an iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad: tap items in a grid or list view to insert them into the Message window, then tap to speak. Tap and hold to access conjugations, plurals, or possessives. Edit standard items, add custom words or sentences, or customize settings such as icon size or background and text colors.

In addition to Proloquo2Go, there are several alternative apps for communication. Adastrasoft’s Expressionist ($9.99) holds 120 “common expressions” and uses a composite image system that’s completely different from traditional AAC style. For example, a photograph of a shopping bag and a receipt are followed by a clip art arrow pointing to a photograph of money. Underneath that is a line art drawing of a person holding out his hands. That represents the common expression of “please refund.”

MyTalk, an app by the company of the same name, costs $39.99. Users can create and edit unlimited message cells and boards with photos and images. You can download a free Lite version (with limited cells)–and explore the online workspace for free for 30 days–so you can give it a try to see if it’s right for your child.

To read more about Proloquo2Go and find out where you can test out the app on a device at one of the 140 resource centers, see: “Tapping This App Gives Special-Needs Users a Voice”

ATIA Announces “Microsoft Windows 7 Was My Idea” Video Contest

Microsoft and the Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) invite users to create a short video presenting their story about how using Windows 7 has made new things possible or simplified everyday tasks.

ATIA encourages applicants to use music, humor, or other formats to share new and innovative ideas.

CONTEST DATES:
ATIA 2010 Chicago Conference Contest is open from August 19, 2010 – October 21, 2010

ATIA 2011 Orlando Conference Contest is open from November 18, 2010 – January 20, 2011

PRIZES:
Prizes will be awarded in the following categories:

ATIA 2010 Chicago Conference Attendees’ Choice Prize

ATIA 2011 Orlando Conference Attendees’ Choice’ Prize

One Grand Prize Winner will be announced at the Orlando 2011 Conference.

CRITERIA:
The (2) Conference Attendees’ Choice Prizes will be awarded to the individual with the highest number of votes received onsite for each conference. The votes will be made via ballots
provided onsite during the conference.

A Grand Prize Winner will be chosen from all contest submissions received over the course of both contests. The Grand prize winner will be chosen by a contest committee, with members selected by Microsoft.

LENGTH:
Videos should be anywhere from 30 seconds to 3 minutes in length.

ELIGIBILITY:
No conference admission purchase necessary to be eligible for Attendees’ Choice and Grand Prizes. All attendees including conference exhibitors and speakers are eligible to vote for best video.

MULTIPLE ENTRIES:
Individuals may enter both contests and enter multiple entries per contest.

VIDEO GUIDELINES:
If the video is of an individual other than you, please obtain permission before posting.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION:
Once you have uploaded your video/s to the ATIA Facebook page please complete a contest Application Form with details of your videos and your contact information.

For more information and to submit an application, go to:
www.atia.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=3893

Sniff-activated Systems Drive Wheelchairs and Improve Communication

A new sniff-sensing controller developed at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel may enable those individuals with severe paralysis to navigate wheelchairs, surf the Net, and communicate in writing via controlled inhalations and exhalations.

This system employs a sensor that fits in a nostril’s opening and measures changes in air pressure. A pressure transducer translates this information into electrical signals, which are transmitted to a computer, and its specialized software, via USB connection. Patients on respirators use a passive version of the device that diverts airflow to their nostrils.

Researchers tested the system on 96 healthy volunteers and 10 quadriplegics, with promising results. Some users, the team says, were able to navigate an electric wheelchair around a complex path or play a computer game with nearly the speed and accuracy of a mouse or joystick.

The scientists were particularly encouraged by tests conducted on three patients with Locked-In-Syndrome, a rare neurological disorder in which cognitive function remains unimpaired, but all voluntary muscles are paralyzed, except for those that control eye movement. Using the sniffing system to control a computer cursor, the Locked-In testers were–after considerable practice–able to communicate with family members. Pressure changes picked up by the sniff-controlled writing software allow the user to choose letters and words.

The standalone sniff controller for a wheelchair was developed at a cost of $358, which is much less than the average eye-tracking setup. Weizmann researchers estimate that if produced at scale, its controller would cost only a fraction of that amount. Sniff detection, however, would not make eye tracking obsolete. In cases where eye movements would work and sniffs wouldn’t, so both technologies could be combined for maximum effect.

For the full article and videos demonstrating how the sniff-activated system works, see:
http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-20011860-1.html

Department of Justice Seeks Public Comment on Proposed ADA Regulations

The Justice Department has announced four new Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) proposals addressing the accessibility of websites, the provision of captioning and video description in movies shown in theaters, accessible equipment and furniture, and the ability of 9-1-1 centers to take text and video calls from individuals with disabilities. The proposals are in the form of advance notices of proposed rulemaking, or ANPRMs, which provide information on these ADA issues and ask questions seeking comments and information from the public. The four ANPRMs were published in the Federal Register on July 26, 2010.

Web Accessibility
State and local governments, businesses, educators, and other organizations covered by the ADA are increasingly using the web to provide information, goods, and services to the public. In the web accessibility ANPRM, the department presents for public comment a series of questions seeking input regarding how the department can develop a workable framework for website access that provides individuals with disabilities access to the critical information, programs, and services provided on the web, while respecting the unique characteristics of the internet and its transformative impact on everyday life.

Next Generation (NG) 9-1-1
9-1-1 centers are moving towards an Internet-enabled network to allow the general public to make a 9-1-1 “call” via voice, text, or video over the Internet and directly communicate with personnel at the centers. The NG 9-1-1 ANPRM seeks information on how the centers may be able to provide direct access to 9-1-1 for individuals with disabilities as they implement new communication technologies.

Captioning and Video Description in Movies Shown in Movie Theaters
Recent technologies have been developed to provide closed captions and video description in movies being shown at movie theaters. Movie studios have begun to produce and distribute movies with captioning and video description. However, these features are not generally made available at movie theaters. In the captioning and video description ANPRM, the department asks for suggestions regarding the kind of accessibility requirements for captioning and video description it should consider as proposed rules for public comments, particularly in light of the industry’s conversion to digital technology.

Equipment and Furniture
Full use of the nation’s built environment can only be fully achieved by the use of accessible equipment. There is now improved availability of many different types of accessible equipment and furniture, ranging from accessible medical exam tables, chairs, scales, and radiological equipment and furniture to “talking” ATMs and interactive kiosks. In the equipment and furniture ANPRM, the department poses questions and seeks comments from the public, covered entities, equipment manufacturers, advocacy and trade groups about the nature of accessibility issues and proposed solutions for making equipment and furniture accessible to persons with disabilities.

The four ANPRMs are available for review at: http://ada.gov/anprm2010.htm

ATAC of DRNJ Launches Social Networking Initiative

The Assistive Technology Advocacy Center (ATAC) of Disability Rights New Jersey recently began efforts to communicate with the interested public through two social networking platforms.

ATAC recently launched a site on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/atacofdrnj) which contains new information and links about assistive technology events and products that are making a difference in New Jersey and elsewhere.  The Facebook site is designed to help anyone find the latest information about AT developments.  If you are a Facebook user, you can “like” the page, or just share information on the site with others.

ATAC also started a group on LinkedIn for assistive technology professionals in New Jersey to share information, request technical assistance, and develop collaborative efforts.  This group is designed for people who work on AT issues in New Jersey, although we welcome other visitors.

Thousands of New Jersey residents with disabilities depend on assistive technology to help make daily tasks easier, to make their workplaces more effective, and to make their transportation options safer.  Millions more use social networking to stay in touch with friends and communicate important information.  ATAC’s goal is to help both communities stay in touch with the latest news and information about AT devices, services and research.

Making Summer Vacation More Accessible

Disaboom’s guide to accessible family vacations can help make summertime more accessible to anyone.  The article covers choosing appropriate vacation destinations, packing (including assistive technology devices) and emergency planning.

Keeping Cool With A Cooling Vest

A website focusing on mitochondiral disease recently published a guide to cooling vests.  Keeping cool in the summertime can be critical to many individuals with disabilities, including people with multiple sclerosis.  One way assistive technology can help is by providing vests filled with water or ice to help keep core temperature down.  The article also includes information about vendors and resources.

Infinitec’s Resource Guide for Adaptive Water Sports and Recreation

Infinitec, in part with the United Cerebral Palsy Association of Greater Chicago and the United Cerebral Palsy Associations, Inc., Washington D.C., has created an online guide to adaptive water sports and recreation. Infinitec’s website offers information on assistive technology products and services for swimming, sailing, scuba diving, fishing, rowing, canoeing, kayaking, and waterskiing. This online resource guide also offers tips on water safety and how to find sites that offer accessible recreation.

For the complete online guide on adaptive water sports and recreation, go to: www.infinitec.org/play/water/adaptivewatersports.htm

Adaptive Creations Creates Power Caster for Hands-Free Fishing

Adaptive Creations announces the Ken’s Power Caster as the world’s first and only fully-automated, push-button controlled fishing machine.

Adaptive Creations is a new company dedicated to producing a line of adaptive equipment that will allow persons with disabilities to be active in fun and challenging pursuits. The company’s initial product is Ken’s Power Caster, an innovation that allows for the hands-free casting and retrieval of a fishing line.

For more information on this item or any new innovation from Adaptive Creations, visit the website:
Adaptive Creations

Or contact:
Adaptive Creations LLC
P.O Box 131
Waltersburg, PA 15488
Phone: 724-438-1336

NJID To Distribute AT Devices for Emergency Preparedness

New Jersey Institute of Disabilities (NJID) announces two upcoming events designed to promote awareness about emergency preparedness for people with disabilities. NJID will be distributing free low-tech communication devices to families, specifically designed for use during emergency situations. NJID will also distribute emergency GO Bags and other useful emergency items.

There is no income qualification for this program. To be eligible for the free communication device, a child (age 8 years and older) and at least one caregiver must attend an informational session. Sessions will be held on:

Wednesday July 28, 2010
The Lakeview School- Roosevelt Park
10 Oak Drive
Edison, NJ
6:30 – 8:30pm

OR

Saturday July 31, 2010
Alianza at the Raritan Bay YMCA
365 New Brunswick Avenue
Perth Amboy, NJ
11:00am – 1:00pm

You must pre-register to attend. Spanish language interpreters will be available at both sessions.

For registration, call:
Marisa Ramos at (732) 442-8393
or email: Marisa.Ramos@cpamc.org

NJID is a non-profit organization that provides a unique continuum of services for more than 1000 children and adults with disabilities. NJID received funding to provide long-term loans of communication devices for people with limited speech capacities from the Assistive Technology Advocacy Center of Disability Rights New Jersey.

For more information, visit NJID’s website: www.cpamc.org/

Your ReSource Named Top 10 Nominee for Green America’s “2010 Green Grants”

The national nonprofit Green America has opened voting for its annual Green Grants awards. Based on hundreds of nominations of projects across the country, Green America staff selected 10 top projects that benefit people and the planet in local communities and is asking people to vote for their favorites. Green America will then award four Green Grants to local projects in the United States that support its mission of creating a socially just and environmentally sustainable economy. Green America will provide one Grand Prize of $2,500 and three First Prizes of $1,000 in late July.

Your ReSource, a local organization in Ewing that reutilizes gently used durable medical equipment (DME), has been selected as one of the ten national finalists. Your ReSource is the ONLY GROUP IN NJ among the ten under final consideration.

Deadline for voting is July 19th.

PLEASE VOTE TODAY.

To vote, go to: www.greenamericatoday.org/greengrants/index_voting.cfm

For more information on Your ReSource:
www.yourresourcenj.org

TECH Connection Announces Free AT Expo for Seniors

TECH Connection of Family Resource Associates announces an upcoming AT expo for seniors. This event is free and will be held on August 30, 2010 from 10AM to 1PM at 35 Haddon Avenue in Shrewsbury. The expo will focus on seniors and the use of computer-related assistive technology. TECH Connection staff will demonstrate devices such as screen readers, screen magnification, or track balls and other alternatives to computer navigation.

This expo will also show how a computer can help seniors find new ways to re-engage with the world, such as connecting with grand-children, playing games to help with memory, finding childhood friends, ordering groceries online, medical research, and finding “how to” videos on You Tube.

The event is free but registration is required.

To register or for more information, call or email:
Joanne Castellano, Director
Phone: 732-747-5310, ext 14
Email: tecconn@aol.com

TECHConnection @ FRA
35 Haddon Avenue
Shrewsbury, NJ 07702
www.techconnection.org

OSERS Announces Funding for Rehabilitation Research and Training Centers

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services (OSERS) has announced new funding for Rehabilitation Research and Training Centers (RRTC) to increase employment outcomes for individuals who are blind or visually impaired. RRTC’s improve the effectiveness of services authorized under the Rehabilitation Act through advanced research, training and technical assistance. These activities benefit rehabilitation service providers, persons with disabilities and their family members.

Application deadline is August 20, 2010.

For more information visit:
www.disability.gov/employment

National Center for Law and Economic Justice Publishes Report on Web Accessibility

The National Center for Law and Economic Justice (NCLEJ) has published the report, “The Closed Digital Door: State Public Benefits Agencies’ Failure to Make Websites Accessible to People with Disabilities and Usable for Everyone.” This report discusses the findings from web accessibility research of state and some local public benefits agency web sites in California, Florida, Michigan, New York, and Texas. The report describes the problems that make it difficult or impossible for people with disabilities to apply for benefits online, request an application, search the website, or contact the agency by email. The research, which was conducted for NCLEJ by students at Northeastern University School of Law, also found that basic information on how to apply for benefits was difficult to find on websites. NCLEJ has called upon the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Food and Nutrition Service at USDA to require the states included in the study to fix the problems identified, to issue guidance to states on web accessibility, to convene an interagency workgroup to develop materials to assist states, and to provide technical assistance to state agencies on the issue.

NCLEJ’s entire report may be found at: The Closed Digital Door

WebAnywhere: A Free Screen Reader On the Go

WebAnywhere is a free, web-based screen reader that requires no special software to be installed. While other screen readers synthesize speech from text locally, WebAnywhere fetches speech from a central server and sends the audio to the user’s computer. WebAnywhere cannot provide access to desktop applications like word processors or spreadsheets. However, users can access simple keyboard commands to navigate to any webpage.

Visit wa.cs.washington.edu to directly access WebAnywhere.

For more information on this service, see: Free Services for Web Accessibility

Free Segways For Veterans with Disabilities

Veterans who are disabled, and served on active duty before or after September 11, 2001, may be able to receive a free Segway that is custom designed for their needs.

In order to qualify for a free Segway, a Veteran must have incurred an illness or injury resulting in permanent disability and difficulty walking as a result of one of the following:

- Armed Conflict
- Hazardous Service
- Conditions Simulating War
- Instrumentality of War
- Combat Operation
- Combat Zone

This program is sponsored by the Disability Rights Advocates for Technology, (DRAFT), which is made up of individuals with disabilities that refuse to be defined by their disability and have a passion for participating in life’s activities. They provide advocacy as well as education services as an advocate for the adoption of Universally Designed Technology Solutions. As part of their mission, they provide Segways for disabled Veterans at no charge.

To date, Segs4Vets has awarded more than 250 Segways to Veterans who were severely injured while serving our nation in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.

Please visit: www.segs4vets.com for more information and an application.

Disney Reveals Audio Technology for Guests with Visual Impairments

On June 27, 2010, Walt Disney World Resort will reveal updates to its handheld Assistive Technology Device (ATD) for Orlando guests with visual impairments. The device offers detailed descriptions for outdoor areas in the theme parks and will be available for Walt Disney World guests for a $25 deposit through Guest Relations.

The handheld device, which uses wireless technology, combines multiple functions – assistive listening, handheld captioning, and audio description – with a portable, easy-to-use platform.

The ADT allows guests to access desired information from an interactive audio menu. For example, guests may use the device to receive additional information on an attraction or get directions thanks to signals picked up from GPS, radio and infrared transmitters located at various points in the parks.
The device currently offers information on more than 50 attractions, and is equipped with audio enhancements for guests with mild to moderate hearing impairments. Handheld captioning is available for specific rides, as well closed captioning for pre-show areas with television displays.

For the full article and samples of Disney’s new audio descriptions, click here: Sample Disney’s New Theme Park Audio

Participants Needed for Survey on Use of Alternative Augmentation Communication Devices

The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) announces a new survey and a chance to earn up to $300. Participants are needed to complete a survey about their use of Alternative Augmentation Communication (AAC) Technologies.

The Center on Knowledge Translation for Technology Transfer (KT4TT), has partnered with the Western New York Independent Living Center. Together they are conducting research on knowledge translation strategies for people with speech and related disabilities. Their current research is seeking the best ways of communicating research knowledge to AAC stakeholders. This includes consumers, clinicians, brokers, policy makers, manufacturers and researchers. In the past, this Center has been able to get over 50 products for people with disabilities into the market place. The Center is seeking input from consumers over the age of 18 who use AAC equipment, and who will participate in our study.

For any consumer who participates in the study he / she will receive $100
for each one of the 3 questionnaires we will ask them to complete.

For each participant an organization is able to offer us, a chance will be
put into a drawing for $1000. This means if your organization can help the
center find one consumer your organization will get one chance at the
drawing. If your organization assists the center in finding 10 consumers you
will get 10 chances in the drawing. They are only seeking 60 participants
so you can see the chance of winning the drawing is greatly enhanced with
more referrals.

To find out more about the study or to participate, contact Douglas Usiak at Tel (716) 204-8606 ext. 205, or email: djusiak@buffalo.edu

**** Be Sure to mention AAPD as the referring agency ***

Department of Labor Calls For Accessible Job Recruiting Websites

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is sending employers an important message on accessible employment for all applicants, including those individuals with disabilities. DOL’s message is the 2010 theme for October’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month. According to April 2010 figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, less than a quarter of the potential labor force of Americans with disabilities are employed (22%), compared with more than two-thirds of the labor force without disabilities (70%).

Federal contractors and subcontractors are required by law to take affirmative action to hire, retain and promote qualified individuals with disabilities. However, many contractors have moved toward using an online system as their primary, if not exclusive, method of accepting applications for employment. While some of these systems might be accessible, others are completely inaccessible or only partially accessible.

The OFCCP [Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs] has indicated they will conduct on-site audits to ensure accessibility. In anticipation of such an audit, federal contractors should provide applicants with instructions on another way to apply if they cannot access the online system.

Private employers covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) must avoid discrimination against people with disabilities throughout the recruitment, application and interview process. That’s why these employers can face a challenge if their sites are inaccessible.

Employers can find a collection of resources on accessibility through Earnworks, a free disability employment consulting service funded by the DOL’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP). One such resource, the Accessible Systems Racing League (ASRL), is an easy-to-use tool that highlights barriers job seekers and employees with disabilities might face when trying to access a company’s career site or other online HR recruiting and hiring tools and systems.

To read the entire article: Making Recruiting Sites Accessible

Assistive Technology in the 21st Century

On March 5, 2010, the U.S. Department of Education released the National Education Technology Plan. This plan outlines recommendations in five areas of education that will redefine instruction. These models focus on the use of state-of-the art technology to individualize instruction, apply ongoing assessments, employ team-teaching methods, create a more relevant infrastructure, and change the way technology is managed.

In New Jersey, Disability Rights New Jersey (DRNJ) was established as the state’s protection and advocacy system. Its nine programs include Protection and Advocacy for Assistive Technology (PAAT) and the Assistive Technology Advocacy Center (ATAC).

New Jersey also offers a program called the Assistive Technology Center through the Assistive Technology Services Department of Advancing Opportunities. “We offer different levels of support,” explains Fred Tchang, the center’s director. He notes their Web site is a good source of information. “You can see all the different equipment of the tech-lending center with pictures and descriptions. There’s a blog there and also a newsletter to help keep up with what’s new.”

In addition to information, the center loans out assistive technology devices are for trial periods. The center also offers AT Demos, which are basically parent-group presentations on particular AT equipment and devices.

The center recently introduced an efficient new program called AT Consult. The new program offers a new option. “It’s basically a form of Web conferencing,” explains Tchang. “We get the basic background information from the school, what they think is relevant. We review the information. Then we set up a Web conference on the Internet, basically have a team meeting with the parents and members of the Child Study Team.” They also provide forms to help measure student performance using the equipment. The center follows up with an e-mail summary and a list of resources.

In a collaborative effort, the New Jersey Department. of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (NJOSEP) and the Statewide Parent Advocacy Network (SPAN) are offering free workshops to parents, family members, child study team members, general and special education teachers and related services personnel. These workshops address issues of assistive technology for students from preschool through twelfth grade. They specifically emphasize the use of technology to support students with disabilities within the general education environment.

For the full article see:
Assistive Technology in the 21st Century

Yanko Designs Develop Touchless Kitchen Tap

In keeping with the theme of adaptive equipment for the kitchen, Yanko Designs has announced its recent development– the touchless kitchen tap. This faucet is made out of a single block of Corian and is controlled by spatial interaction, or gestures. Gesturing to the left or right of the faucet controls the temperature of the water, while the speed of your gestures controls the rate of flow. A gesture can also be made to change the water from a single-stream to a shower output.

For more on the touchless kitchen tap see: www.ubergizmo.com/15/archives/2010/05/concept_spatial_interaction_touchless_kitchen_tap.html

Arizona State University Develops the SPARKy Springy Prosthetic Leg

Researchers at Arizona State University have developed the SPARKy prosthetic leg, a device that uses energy stored in a spring while walking.  The lightweight prosthetic provides a much wider range of motion than traditional prosthetics while reducing fatigue.  It allows users to walk on a wide variety of surfaces, traverse stairs in both directions, and even tackle inclines, thus permitting a return to most normal activities for many people wearing the new leg.

Weighing around four pounds, the spring ankle with regenerative kinetics device  is lighter than most prosthetics.  The new below-the-knee prosthetic takes advantage of the mechanics of the natural gait which consists of two components: stance and swing.  In the stance phase, the foot in planted on the ground and pushes off into the swing phase where it moves to the next ground position.

SPARKy stretches a spring in the position of a healthy Achilles tendon. The spring captures the energy generated as the foot breaks the fall of the leg as it reaches the ground at the start of a stance phase, storing it as the ankle rolls over the foot. That stored energy then propels the foot forward for the next step, greatly increasing the power of that step. Small motors in the foot provide tiny adjustments to the spring to regulate the gait and position the spring for maximum efficiency. Researchers claim that the range of motion and power provided by the spring is roughly equivalent to the normal gait of a person with two natural legs.

Funded in part by a three year grant from the United States Army, the eventual goal of the SPARKy project is to restore enough functionality to amputees to allow them to return to active duty.

Read more about SPARKy in the press release from Arizona State University: http://asunews.asu.edu/20091221_SPARKy

WiiCane To Improve Mobility Training for People with Visual Impairment

Instructors at the Jewish Guild for the Blind on the Upper West Side have found a new use for Wii technology. They are testing out a new device called the “WiiCane” to see if it can help improve orientation and mobiliity training for young children with visual impairments who are learning to walk with a cane.

The training tool is being developed by the New York City-based design team Touch Graphics. It uses Wii motion-tracking technology to help students get the feel for not only walking in a straight line, but practice turns. A computer receives movement data and dings if the student remains on track or moves in the right direction.

“Evidence shows that once learned, those skills are translatable into actual outdoor travel, and that’s huge,” says President Steven Landau of Touch Graphics. “Because then, people crossing the street won’t veer into oncoming traffic and lots of other things in the course of their independent travel, where they need that ability to continue walking in a straight line without a lot of external information.”

The WiiCane is also being developed for adults who are new cane users. It is expected to be available
for commercial use by January 2011.

For the video of the WiiCane, see: http://brooklyn.ny1.com/content/ny1_living/118714/wii-device-teaches-visually-impaired-to-walk-with-canes

Abilities Expo – May 21-23 at the New Jersey Convention & Expo Center in Edison

The Annual Abilities Expo will be held this Friday, May 21, through Sunday, May 23, 2010 at the New Jersey Convention & Exposition Center. Admission is free and show hours will be Friday 11 am to 5 pm, Saturday 10 am to 5 pm and Sunday 11 am to 4 pm.

The Abilities Expo will feature exhibits, workshops, events and activities to appeal to the full spectrum of people with disabilities, from children to seniors and everyone in between.

Attendees expecting cutting-edge products and services for people with all types of disabilities will find mobility products, medical equipment, home accessories, essential services, low-cost daily living aids, products for people with visual impairments and much more. The new Assistive Technology Pavilion will feature 1,400 square feet of the latest AT products for people with wide ranges of physical, sensory and developmental disabilities. This pavilion is anchored by the New Jersey Assistive Technology Center, who is sponsoring an Interactive Demo Lab. This lab will not only feature an array of breakthrough assistive technologies, it will allow Expo visitors to experience them hands-on.

A series of workshops which address pressing disability issues will be offered free-of-charge to all attendees. Sessions will focus on travel, dating, finances, home modifications, and accessible vehicles. Special sessions will also be available for healthcare professionals.

Visitors will have an opportunity to try out the rock climbing wall, as well as an obstacle course designed for wheelchairs. There will be demonstrations on interactive adaptive sports, dance performances and instruction, canine assistance, face painting and an Artist Market showcasing the works of local artists with disabilities.

For more information, schedules and directions, visit: www.abilitiesexpo.com/newyork

CalTech Develops Robot for Testing Visual Prostheses

California Institute of Technology (Caltech) scientists have developed a
remote-controlled robot capable of simulating the experience of a blind
person who has received visual prosthesis implants, such as an artificial
retina. Caltech’s robotic platform, called CYCLOPS, is the first
device to emulate what a person with visual impairments can see with an implant, says Caltech scientist Wolfgang Fink.

An artificial retina uses a miniature camera to capture images, which are processed and sent to the implanted silicon chip’s electrode array. The chip directly stimulates the eye’s functional retinal cells, which send the image information to the vision centers of the brain. CYCLOPS can be equipped with a camera like those used
in retinal prosthesis, which allows researchers to determine what the robot receives as visual input. Researchers can use CYCLOPS to test improvements in retinal implants, or to test a home or workplace to see how it can be made more accessible.

Read the entire article at: CalTech Develops Robot for Visual Prosthesis

For more information on CYCLOPS, go to: Wheeled ‘Cyclops’ Bot Offers Insight Into Blind

Project Daisy To Make a Million Books Available to Individuals with Visual Impairments

A new initiative has pledged to double the number of books available to individuals with visual impairments or learning disabilities, such as dyslexia. From classic 19th century fiction and current novels to technical guides and research materials, the Internet Archive is scanning books into its database and converting them into a format called Daisy. Files are then downloaded to devices that can translate the text and read the books aloud.

Through automated scanning and conversion, Internet Archive technicians can scan more than a thousand books per day. They come from the collections of over 150 libraries.

“Blind people must have access to repositories of digital information if we are to reach our goal of becoming full and equal participants in society,” said Dr Marc Maurer, president of the National Federation of the Blind.

Older books are available from the Internet Archive’s unencrypted Daisy library, while modern books can be accessed by qualified users through their NLS key — an encrypted code provided by the Library of Congress’ National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS).

To access accessible books from the Internet Archive’s unencrypted Daisy library, go to: http://openlibrary.org

To learn more about Daisy and read the entire article, see: Project Makes a Million Books Available

Department of Justice and Princeton University Settle Kindle DX Lawsuit

The Department of Justice and Princeton University have reached a settlement in the civil rights lawsuit, which began with complaints filed by the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) and the American Council of the Blind (ACB), on behalf of the organizations and their members who are current and prospective college students. These complaints alleged that Princeton University violated title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 by using the Kindle DX in a classroom setting.

The terms of the settlement agreement stipulate that Princeton University will not require, purchase, or incorporate in its curriculum the Kindle DX or any other dedicated electronic book reader for use by students in its classes or other coursework unless or until such electronic book reader is fully accessible to individuals with visual impairments.

For the entire Letter of Resolution (D.J. No. 202-48-213) see: www.ada.gov/princeton

New Regulations Will Require Websites to Be ADA Accessible

According to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), new rules requiring that businesses’ websites be ADA-accessible are in the works and could be finalized as soon as September 2010.

“It is and has been the position of the Department of Justice since the late 1990s that Title III of the ADA applies to websites,” Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for the DOJ’s civil rights division, said at a recent conference. “We intend to issue regulations under our Title III authority in this regard to help companies comply with their obligations to provide equal access.”

The department has already scheduled a September 2010 update to its regulations that will largely address brick-and-mortar facilities, but refused to disclose whether that particular rulemaking will include website regulation.

For the full article, see: Thompson’s Newsbriefs- New Rules for Websites

TECH Connection Announces Summer Classes

Summer classes are forming for “Fast ForWord” at the TECH Connection in Shrewsbury, NJ. “Fast ForWord” is a state-of-the-art CD Rom based training program. It is a revolutionary way for building language skills, including a student’s ability to listen, speak and read. Classes will begin June 28 and end August 20, 2010. Classes run for two hours.
For more information contact Arlene Siegwarth at 732-747-5310 ext.16

The LEAP Summer Program held at Family Resource Associates in Shrewsbury, NJ begins June 28th. This summer program is eligible for teens through young adults. The program’s goal is to maintain or increase academic and real life skills through functional activities. Activities include computer sessions, food shopping and preparation, drama to enhance language and speaking skills, gardening, bocce ball, yoga, wii exercise, dance. Sessions run in two week increments up to 8 weeks. We are an approved DDD Self-Directed Day Service program (Real Life Choices). Partial weeks considered for young adults.
For more information or to register call Janine at 732-747-5310 ext.15

All classes will be held at: TECHConnection @ FRA
35 Haddon Avenue
Shrewsbury, NJ 07702
732-747-5310 x14
www.techconnection.org

Free Webinar on AT and Accessibility

On Wednesday May 12th, 2010, the ADA Online Learning Network will offer the free webinar: “Successful Accommodations: Assistive Technology and Accessibility Working Together.” This session will be held online from 2:00-3:00pm.

David Dikter, the Executive Director of the Assistive Technology Industry Association will present this webinar and provide an overview of accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This session will highlight how assistive and accessible technologies work together to create successful working environments for people with disabilities.

For more information or to register for the free webinar: ADA Online Network
or contact ADA Online at: 1-877-232 – 1990 (V/TTY).

MIT To Develop a ‘Wheelchair That Listens’

Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory is working in collaboration with residents of the Boston Home in Dorchester, MA to develop the first voice-activated wheelchair.

David Hatch, 69, a retired GTE Corporation engineer who has been coping with a slowly degenerative form of MS for 44 years, is assisting with MIT’s project. Mr. Hatch currently resides at the Boston Home, a residential and outpatient facility for people with neurological disorders such as MS and Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Hatch and 19 other residents carry laser scanners on their conventional wheelchairs, to give the MIT team a sense of their daily patterns and needs. The new wheelchair has been designed to be tracked so the staff will know the location of each of the Boston Home’s 96 residents. But the residents also want to use the tracking ability to help them find their friends, which can be difficult when everyone’s in a wheelchair.

The current prototype, which is a modified power wheelchair, costs about $10,000, roughly double the price of a wheelchair without such specialized equipment. Researchers expect the costs will fall quickly as more are made, and as laser scanners — the most expensive piece of equipment, at $4,000 — come down in price.

The joint effort also dovetails with the mission of the Boston Home, which has earned a national reputation for its resident-centered care and its technological innovations, from state-of-the art wheelchairs to advanced climate control to a cyber café for residents. Compared to typical nursing home patients, Boston Home residents are younger — 56 on average —and more technologically engaged.

For the entire article on MIT’s project, go to: Wheelchairs That Listen

Microsoft’s Skinput Turns Hands and Arms into Buttons

Chris Harrison, a graduate student at Carnegie Mellon University and a former intern at Microsoft Research, has developed a working prototype of a system called Skinput that essentially turns a person’s hand and forearm into a keyboard and screen.

Using Skinput, a person could tap their thumb and middle finger together to answer a call; touch their forearm to go to the next track on a music player; or flick the center of their palm to select a menu item. When fitted with a pico-projector, the Skinput system could display an image of a digital keyboard on a person’s forearm. So, using Skinput, someone could send text messages by tapping his or her arm in certain places — without pulling the phone out of a pocket or purse.

Skinput users wear an armband that’s lined with 10 sensors. These sensors look like tiny diving boards with dumbbells on one end, and they pick up inaudible sounds that range in frequency from 25 to 78 hertz. When a Skinput user taps a thumb and middle finger together, the impact sends ripples down the skin and through the bones in the person’s arm.

“They sort of start resonating — like guitar strings,” Harrison said. The diving-board receivers read the sound waves to figure out what gesture the person made, and then relay that information to a phone. Skinput can tell whether a person tapped a middle finger or an index finger, because the two moves sound slightly different to the springy receivers.

The system, which has been under development for eight months, won’t be commercially available for two to seven years, said Dan Morris, a Microsoft researcher who is working with Harrison on Skinput. According to Morris, Skinput’s sensors need to get more accurate before Skinput can be put on the market.

In a 13-person trial in Seattle, Washington, Skinput was found to be 96 percent accurate. But that test only used five buttons. The system would have to improve for people to make use of a full keyboard.

For the entire article and a short video, go to: Microsoft’s Skinput Turns Arms into Buttons

Michigan State University’s Artificial Language Lab celebrates 35 years

In December of 1974, Donald Sherman, an Michigan State alumnus and advocate for persons with disabilities, became the first person to order a pizza using an artificial speech device. Sherman has Moebius syndrome, a facial paralysis that keeps him from closing his lips into a “b” or “p.”

On March 24, 2010, over 100 students, volunteers, clients and friends of MSU’s Artificial Language Lab, Sherman included, gathered with their families in an oversized classroom in the Communication Arts and Sciences Building to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the pizza call.

The Language Lab’s clients have a wide range of disabilities, from stroke, cerebral palsy, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) to brain injury from trauma. To customize the technology, Dr. Eulenberg and his staff fit them out with gadgets that pick up head, foot, or even eye movement.

Clients pay through insurance, court awards, or out of pocket. School districts, nonprofits and state agencies have also provided funding. However, Eulenberg and his staff also do pro bono work.

Canton resident Sarah Palk relished the chance to repeat, via computer voice, what doctors told her parents after she was born with cerebral palsy: “Take Sarah home and love her, because she’s never going to do anything but drink from a bottle.”

The prognosis proved a howling mistake. The MSU lab outfitted Palk with a series of computer aids that maximized the muscle control remaining in her left hand, using keyboards at first, then touch screens. She graduated from high school, works as a medical researcher, makes her own doctors’ appointments and chats with friends on the Internet.

For the entire article and more on MSU’s Arificial Language Lab, see: Laughter, Tears, and Pepperoni

Spring ATAC Newsletter

DRNJ

Assistive Technology Advocacy
Center (ATAC) of DRNJ

New Jersey’s designated
Assistive Technology Act Center

April 13, 2010

Featured Story

Your ReSource
Featured on NJN

Your ReSource, a local organization that reutilizes gently used durable medical equipment (DME), was featured on a recent Heathwatch segment on NJN News.

The segment originally aired on Tuesday February 9, 2010 on NJN Nightly News at 6:00 PM, 7:30 PM, and 11:00 PM, and is available at the NJN website at: www.njn.net (Click on NJN News. Then click on Healthwatch) or on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LzJD-R3GhKg&feature=player_embedded.

For more information on Your ReSource, visit the website: http://www.yourresourcenj.org

Focus On: Veterans with Disabilities

Department of
Veterans Affairs To Use Technology To Connect With Veterans

Brandon Friedman, a veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan,
arrived at the Department of Veterans Affairs eight months ago with
a mandate: to reach veterans using new media. Friedman has
helped overhaul the department’s Web site, created a dozen Facebook
pages and launched a Twitter account. The goal, he said, is to
improve communication between veterans and the department.

Friedman, who served in the 101st Airborne, knows how hard life
can be for veterans. “When I got out of the Army, I was done,” he
said. “I didn’t want to deal with anything anymore.”

To read the entire article, visit http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/04/08/AR2010040805128_pf.html.

TRICARE
Announces Update to Technology Program

TRICARE, a Defense Department program that provides health care
services to members of the military and their families, announced a
recent enhancement to the Computer / Electronic Accommodations
Program (CAP). The CAP program provides assistive technology
devices and services to active-duty military personnel who
experience disabilities.

In a recent change, CAP now allows service members to keep their
assistive technologies when they leave active duty. Service members
who get out and return to work for the federal government can
receive the CAP tools they need in their new workplace.

For more information about the Computer/Electronic Accommodations
Program, including how to submit a needs request assessment, go to
http://www.tricare.mil/cap/WSM.
To sign up for the CAP newsletter, visit http://www.tricare.mil/cap/news/Subscribe.cfm.

For the entire article, go to http://www.emilitary.org/article.php?aid=15103.

New Technology
Allows Blind Soldier to See Through Tongue Sensor

Craig Lundberg is the first British soldier to test the BrainPort
system, which consists of a pair of sunglasses fitted with a
motion-sensor video camera that transmits images to the wearer using
an electrode-laden pad on their tongue.

The end of the lead from the camera is shaped like a flat
lollipop and stimulates the tongue in the shape of the image picked
up by the camera. It can even distinguish between different shades
of light, reflecting them with varying strengths of pulse.

The feeling it gives is described as similar to champagne bubbles
on the tongue, which are picked up by the brain and interpreted into
images.

The new device costs around $14,000 and is joint-funded by the
Ministry of Defence and St Dunstan’s, the charity for blind
ex-servicepeople.

After passing an eye test, Lundberg said, “It was the first time
since Iraq that I had been able to do that. The equipment needs a
lot of work, but it has got huge potential. I believe this could be
the next best thing to getting my sight back.”

For the full article, go to: British
Soldier Blinded in Iraq Trials New Technology To “See” Using His
Tongue

Assistive
Technology Helps Wounded Warriors

Army Captain Matthew Staton is one of many recipients of
technology-based assistance that has enabled him to embark on a
successful post-military life. Through the Computer/Electronic
Accommodations Program, also known as CAP, free assistive technology
and services to people with disabilities throughout the Defense
Department and other federal agencies. The program provided Staton
with two personal digital assistants, a digital voice recorder,
literacy software and scanner, and even a chair – all free of
charge.

Since its inception in 1990, the program has filled more than
81,000 customer accommodations. In 2004, the program expanded to
target the unique needs of wounded warriors. CAP has local
representatives at more than 56 activities throughout the
country.

Through the program, employees receive assistive technology and
training, needs assessments and technology demonstrations,
installation and integration of technology, and training on
disability management and on creating an accessible environment.

For the full article: www.jacksonnjonline.com/2010/02/01/technology-helps-wounded-warrior-lead-productive-life/

For more information on CAP: www.tricare.mil/CAP/

Focus On: Recreation

Yanko Designs
Develop Braille Rubik’s Cube

Yanko Designs’ Konstantin Datz has developed a Rubik’s Cube for
individuals who are Blind. This Rubik’s cube features embossed
Braille lettering that includes the colors green, blue, red, yellow,
white, and pink. This 3D puzzle must then be solved by manipulating
each face of the cube to match up with the designated colors.

For more information and to see the Rubik’s cube, go to:
www.yankodesign.com/2010/03/17/color-rubik-cube-for-the-blind/

Fans With
Visual Impairments Gain Enhanced Access To MLB.com

As a result of a joint collaboration between MLB Advanced
Media,(MLBAM), the American Council of the Blind, Bay State Council
of the Blind and California Council of the Blind, baseball fans with
visual impairments can now benefit from the implementation of
functional improvements to MLB.com, as well as all 30 individual
club sites.

As part of its initiative, MLB.com launched an accessible media
center for its MLB.com Gameday Audio subscribers, offering features
such as volume control, ability to choose the home or away feed and
access to archived games. Additionally, MLB.com has ensured that
fans with visual impairments can continue to participate in the
annual online voting programs associated with the All-Star Game and
will be providing an accessibility page on its site detailing
information on accessibility, usability tips and customer service
resources.

MLB.com utilized guidelines issued by the Web Accessibility
Initiative (WAI) of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). The web
content accessibility guidelines are of particular benefit to
baseball fans with visual impairments who use a screen reader or
magnification technology on their computers.

For the entire article, go to: http://lflegal.com/2010/02/mlb-press

Dragon Age Wins
AbleGamers’ Accessibility Award

AbleGamers has awarded the PC version of BioWare’s Dragon Age:
Origins its top honor, the 2009 Mainstream Accessibility Award, on
the strength of the game’s many options and accessibility
considerations.

Dragon Age achieved a nearly-perfect accessibility rating of 9.8
on the site, which pointed out its wealth of options covering
uncommon toggles like subtitles of ambient noises, the ability to
play nearly the entire game with the mouse using only one hand, and
the presence of completely remappable controls.

For the full story:
Dragon
Age Wins AbleGamers’ “Accessibility Award”

RJ Cooper
Develops Adapted Switches for Guitar Hero

RJ Cooper and Associates, Inc. specializes in customized software
and hardware products, such as adaptive keyboards, digital cameras,
and game controllers for persons with physical disabilities. RJ
Cooper has recently developed a switch that can be used to enable
persons with significant physical disabilities to play Guitar Hero.
This specialized single switch device is mounted on the cheek and
allows the player to access the guitar controller.

RJ Cooper has adapted this switch so that it may also be directly
plugged into the Guitar Hero drum set to play the bass drum.

RJ Cooper is selling the switch-adapted guitars for Xbox, Wii,
and Playstation 2 for $99.00.

For personal testimonies and more information, visit the website
at: www.rjcooper.com/guitar-hero/index.html

Contact Information:
RJ Cooper & Associates
27601
Forbes Rd. Suite 39
Laguna Niguel, CA 92677
Telelphone:
1-800-RJCooper (800-752-6673)
Fax: 949-582-3169
Email:
info@rjcooper.com
Technical Support: techsupport@rjcooper.com

ATAC of DRNJ Provides Funding For Four Innovative Assistive Technology Projects

The Assistive Technology Advocacy Center (ATAC) of Disability Rights New Jersey (DRNJ) recently announced the availability of funding for short-term projects to expand assistive technology services in New Jersey.  ATAC received over twenty applications for this opportunity, and is announcing today that the following four applicants have been awarded funding for their assistive technology projects:

Cerebral Palsy of North Jersey (CPNJ):  CPNJ is a non-profit organization  that provides specialized programs to meet a wide range of educational, therapeutic and social needs of people with various disabilities.  CPNJ will receive funding from DRNJ to purchase new assistive technology devices for its lending library.  These devices include augmentative communication devices and computer software designed to help individuals with severe disabilities communicate more effectively. 

Children’s Specialized Hospital (CSH):  CSH is a free standing pediatric rehabilitation hospital  that serves children affected by brain injury, spinal cord dysfunction and injury, premature birth, autism, developmental delays, and life-changing illnesses.  CSH will receive funding from DRNJ to obtain various assistive technology devices, including electronic aids to daily living, computer software and communication devices.  These devices will be used for evaluation and demonstration programs as well as occupational and speech therapy purposes.  Additionally, CSH will institute a device loan program to provide assistive technology devices for children who are returning home after a hospital stay.

New Jersey Institute of Disabilities (NJID):  NJID is a non-profit organization that provides a unique continuum of services for more than 1000 children and adults with disabilities.  NJID will receive funding to provide long-term loans of communication devices for people with limited speech capacities.  These communication devices will be specifically programmed with information designed to assist the individual in the event of an emergency.  NJID will also host events designed to promote awareness about emergency preparedness for people with disabilities.

New Jersey State Library Talking Book and Braille Center (TBBC):  TBBC is the public library for New Jersey’s residents with print disabilities, and provides library service throughout the state.  TBBC will receive funding to provide portable, handheld digital book players to loan to persons aged 5-21.  Individuals will be able to download digital talking books from the TBBC website, as well as use the devices to read electronic versions of textbooks.

“We received a lot of great submissions for funding,” said Curtis Edmonds, ATAC program manager.  “We’re very pleased to work with the winning projects, and we’re confident that, together, we can achieve positive outcomes for New Jersey residents with disabilities who use assistive technology.”

Department of Veterans Affairs To Use Technology To Connect With Veterans

Brandon Friedman, a veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, arrived at the Department of Veterans Affairs eight months ago with a mandate: to reach veterans using new media.  Friedman has helped overhaul the department’s Web site, created a dozen Facebook pages and launched a Twitter account. The goal, he said, is to improve communication between veterans and the department.

Friedman, who served in the 101st Airborne, knows how hard life can be for veterans. “When I got out of the Army, I was done,” he said. “I didn’t want to deal with anything anymore.”

To read the entire article, visit http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/04/08/AR2010040805128_pf.html.

TRICARE Announces Update to Technology Program

TRICARE, a Defense Department program that provides health care services to members of the military and their families, announced a recent enhancement to the Computer / Electronic Accommodations Program (CAP).  The CAP program provides assistive technology devices and services to active-duty military personnel who experience disabilities.

In a recent change, CAP now allows service members to keep their assistive technologies when they leave active duty. Service members who get out and return to work for the federal government can receive the CAP tools they need in their new workplace.

For more information about the Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program, including how to submit a needs request assessment, go to http://www.tricare.mil/cap/WSM. To sign up for the CAP newsletter, visit http://www.tricare.mil/cap/news/Subscribe.cfm.

For the entire article, go to http://www.emilitary.org/article.php?aid=15103.

Yanko Designs Develop Braille Rubik’s Cube

Yanko Designs’ Konstantin Datz has developed a Rubik’s Cube for individuals who are Blind. This Rubik’s cube features embossed Braille lettering that includes the colors green, blue, red, yellow, white, and pink. This 3D puzzle must then be solved by manipulating each face of the cube to match up with the designated colors.

For more information and to see the Rubik’s cube, go to:
www.yankodesign.com/2010/03/17/color-rubik-cube-for-the-blind/

Georgia Tech Develops Online Survey on Workplace Accommodations

The Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Workplace Accommodations (Work RERC) at Georgia Tech announces a new survey about workplace accommodations. These accommodations can include technology, physical changes to the workplace, or policy changes that employees have used to help them be more effective in their jobs.

The survey is offered online and should take 30-60 minutes to complete, depending on the number of accommodations used. The survey can be saved and continued at a later time. Individuals who have difficulty using the computer may also schedule an appointment with Georgia Tech staff to complete the survey over the phone. Contact information is listed on the survey website.

If you are interested in taking the survey or finding out more, please visit the link below:
www.surveygizmo.com/s/200473/workplace-features-that-aid-function

TECHConnection Offers Expanded AAC Services for Children and Adults

TECHConnection of Family Resource Associates, Inc. (FRA) has announced a new grant-funded opportunity to expand the scope of their Alternative Augmentative Communication (AAC) Services.

TECHConnection’s AAC Program specializes in the provision of services to children with severe physical impairments with high cognitive-language abilities and to individuals with severe motor speech impairments, as a result of accident, disability or aging and conditions such as ALS, MS, stroke, traumatic brain injury, autism, etc. Specifically those requiring an SGD will qualify for this grant

TECHConnection’s current AAC Services include:
A Comprehensive AAC Evaluation of:
• a client’s physical abilities, symbolic performance, and cognitive-language abilities to ensure appropriate device selection
• consideration of several device options from various AAC manufacturers following guidelines set forth by Medicare & medical insurance companies

A Detailed Report including:
• an AAC device recommendation or when medically appropriate, a device prescription
• a treatment plan outlining requisite goals and objectives

In addition, training & follow-up services are available.

When a Voice-output AAC Device is recommended, TECHConnection can now provide the following services, free of charge:
• assistance in submitting required documentation to insurance and other 3rd party funding sources
• referral to legal assistance with insurance appeals, when indicated
• additional follow up services for training and device programming, etc

Candidates for TECHConnection’s services include individuals with a wide range of AAC needs and abilities.

Staff
Joan Bruno, Ph.D., CCC-SLP serves as the key evaluator for patients served by this grant. Dr. Bruno has over 30 years experience in the field of AAC, with expertise in helping young children gain age-appropriate expressive language abilities and helping all individuals to become more efficient and effective communicators. All evaluators are ASHA Certified and NJ Licensed speech-language pathologists experienced in Best Practices for the utilization of AAC technology.

For further information:
Additional details, an intake packet, and all relevant financial forms can be downloaded from: www.techconnection.org
(Go to TECHConnection -> Augmentative Communication -> and then “Grant for Expanded AAC Services for SGD’s”)

New Jersey Department of Education Clinic & Agency provides speech and assistive technology services for students in public and approved private schools. TECHConnection and its staff are listed under Family Resources Associates, Inc. (FRA). TECHConnection is also approved as a
Self Directed Day Services Provider from DDD.

Disability and Business Technical Assistance Center to Offer Free Webinar on Access Board Updates

The Disability and Business Technical Assistance Center (DBTAC) announces an upcoming webinar entitled, “Section 508 Standards Refresh,” to be held on April 1, 2010 from 2:30 – 4:00pm (ET).

This session will provide an overview of the Access Board’s refresh of accessibility standards and guidelines for information and communication technologies under Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Telecommunications Act. The Board is updating these requirements to address changing technologies and market trends. Board representatives will provide an update on this rulemaking and outline draft revisions to the standards and guidelines. The webinar will provide an opportunity for questions but will not serve as a forum for submitting comments.

This session will also provide an opportunity to earn continuing education credits (CEUs). General attendance is free, but a $25 fee will be charged by DBTAC for processing CEUs.

Presenters:
Tim Creagan, U.S. Access Board
Ronald J. Gardner, U.S. Access Board Member
Neil K. Melick, U.S. Access Board Member

To register, visit www.accessibilityonline.org

Or email direct inquiries to: adaconferences@adagreatlakes.org

Opportunity for Public Comment: Access Board Releases Draft Update of §508 Standards and §255 Guidelines

The U.S. Access Board leads the development, advancement, and implementation of accessibility requirements with rulemaking responsibility under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA), Section 508, and the Telecommunications Act. The Access Board is undertaking an update of its standards for electronic and information technology in the Federal sector covered by Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. As part of this effort, it is also updating guidelines for telecommunications products subject to Section 255 of the Telecommunications Act.

On March 17, 2010, the Access Board released for public comment a draft of the updated standards and guidelines. The draft features a new structure and format that integrates the 508 standards and 255 guidelines into a single document referred to as the “Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Standards and Guidelines.” Requirements have been reorganized according to functionality instead of product type since many devices now feature an array of capabilities and applications. The released draft includes proposed revisions to various performance criteria and technical specifications that are designed to improve accessibility, add clarity to facilitate compliance, address market trends, and promote harmonization with other guidelines and standards.

Access is addressed for various disabilities and the technologies covered by this rulemaking include: telephones and cell phones, computer hardware and software, websites, media players, electronic documents, and PDAs, among others. As part of this rulemaking, the Board proposes to supplement its ADA Accessibility Guidelines, which cover access to facilities, to broaden coverage to include certain types of interactive transaction machines such as point-of-sales machines and self-service kiosks.

Through this release, the Board seeks public comment on both the substance and structure of the document. In addition, the Board seeks information for its use in preparing an impact and cost assessment on the changes. Instructions for submitting comments, which are due by June 21, 2010, are included in the notice. The Board will use the input received on this draft to prepare a proposed rule that will provide another opportunity for comment

For more information on the draft rule and published notice:
www.access-board.gov/508.htm

These documents are also posted on www.regulations.gov which allows visitors to view and submit public comments.

Or contact Tim Creagan at: creagan@access-board.gov

Virtual Senior Center Connects Homebound Seniors to Community

Microsoft and Self Help Communities recently unveiled the Virtual Senior Center in New York City. The goal of this project is to demonstrate how technology can reduce social isolation, increase wellness, and enhance the quality of life for homebound seniors by allowing them to remain connected with their community.

The Virtual Senior Center uses computer, video and Internet technology to create an interactive experience for homebound seniors intended to reduce social isolation and give them better access to community services. This demonstration project links six homebound seniors ranging in age from 67 to 103 to the Benjamin Rosenthal Senior Center in Flushing, Queens. Each of the six seniors’ homes is equipped with a desktop computer running Windows 7 as well as a touch-screen monitor, a small video camera, a microphone and broadband Internet service.

At the Benjamin Rosenthal Senior Center, video cameras and monitors have been strategically placed to enable the homebound seniors to interact with classmates and instructors at the center and to take part in activities such as yoga, painting classes, current events discussions and tai chi. The technology allows seniors at home to see and hear other people in the class and actively participate in two-way discussions and activities.

According to Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, commissioner of the New York City Department for the Aging, “Senior centers are the social hub for many older New Yorkers, and this new model has shown us that technology will help seniors age in place and remain integrated into the community by bringing that same senior center experience into the home.”

For more on this collaboration and the full article: Virtual Senior Center Connects Homebound Seniors

YouTube To Automatically Caption Videos

YouTube has agreed to automatically caption videos on its site, opening up a huge share of its content to people who are hearing-impaired, and a first step in creating a network of videos that could be subtitled between many languages. With the new service, which launched March 4, 2010, any video that meets sound and technical quality standards automatically will be captioned by Google’s speech recognition technology. While YouTube has offered closed-captioned video in the past, the captions generally had to be provided by the video producer, and were a very small share of YouTube’s database.

For now, YouTube can only transcribe videos uploaded in English into text, which can then be translated into text captions in other languages. But given the 20 hours of video content that YouTube uploads each minute, the San Bruno unit of Google said this is the largest effort ever tried on the Internet to harness evolving speech recognition technology to caption video content.

Google’s initiative, piloted in November, began with a handful of partner channels including PBS, Stanford University and National Geographic. It has now expanded to all uploaded English-speaking videos, with more languages to be added later this year.

For the entire article, go to: Google’s Smart Captioning Move

New Technology Allows Blind Soldier to See Through Tongue Sensor

Craig Lundberg is the first British soldier to test the BrainPort system, which consists of a pair of sunglasses fitted with a motion-sensor video camera that transmits images to the wearer using an electrode-laden pad on their tongue.

The end of the lead from the camera is shaped like a flat lollipop and stimulates the tongue in the shape of the image picked up by the camera. It can even distinguish between different shades of light, reflecting them with varying strengths of pulse.

The feeling it gives is described as similar to champagne bubbles on the tongue, which are picked up by the brain and interpreted into images.

The new device costs around $14,000 and is joint-funded by the Ministry of Defence and St Dunstan’s, the charity for blind ex-servicepeople.

After passing an eye test, Lundberg said, “It was the first time since Iraq that I had been able to do that. The equipment needs a lot of work, but it has got huge potential. I believe this could be the next best thing to getting my sight back.”

For the full article, go to: British Soldier Blinded in Iraq Trials New Technology To ‘See’ Using His Tongue

Brian Friedlander to Present on Assistive Technology at Madison Junior School

The Madison Parents and Professionals for Exceptional Children, a support group for parents of children with disabilities, and an affiliate of the United Leadership Council for Exceptional Children, will offer four educational meetings at the Madison Junior School Media Center (160 Main Street in Madison). The meetings begin at 7:00 p.m. and are open to the public.

On February 24, 2010, Brian Friedlander, an assistive technology consultant, will speak about “What’s New in Assistive Technologies for Students with Learning Disabilities.”

The Madison Parents and Professionals for Exceptional Children provides support and advocacy for families, promotes effective communication between home and school and offers programs and information to parents.

For information about The Madison Parents and Professionals for Exceptional Children and the Madison Special Services Department visit: www.madisonpublicschools.org.

Fans With Visual Impairments Gain Enhanced Access To MLB.com

As a result of a joint collaboration between MLB Advanced Media,(MLBAM), the American Council of the Blind, Bay State Council of the Blind and California Council of the Blind, baseball fans with visual impairments can now benefit from the implementation of functional improvements to MLB.com, as well as all 30 individual club sites.

As part of its initiative, MLB.com launched an accessible media center for its MLB.com Gameday Audio subscribers, offering features such as volume control, ability to choose the home or away feed and access to archived games. Additionally, MLB.com has ensured that fans with visual impairments can continue to participate in the annual online voting programs associated with the All-Star Game and will be providing an accessibility page on its site detailing information on accessibility, usability tips and customer service resources.

MLB.com utilized guidelines issued by the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). The web content accessibility guidelines are of particular benefit to baseball fans with visual impairments who use a screen reader or magnification technology on their computers.

For the entire article, go to: http://lflegal.com/2010/02/mlb-press

Assistive Technology Helps Wounded Warriors

Army Captain Matthew Staton is one of many recipients of technology-based assistance that has enabled him to embark on a successful post-military life. Through the Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program, also known as CAP, free assistive technology and services to people with disabilities throughout the Defense Department and other federal agencies. The program provided Staton with two personal digital assistants, a digital voice recorder, literacy software and scanner, and even a chair – all free of charge.

Since its inception in 1990, the program has filled more than 81,000 customer accommodations. In 2004, the program expanded to target the unique needs of wounded warriors. CAP has local representatives at more than 56 activities throughout the country.

Through the program, employees receive assistive technology and training, needs assessments and technology demonstrations, installation and integration of technology, and training on disability management and on creating an accessible environment.

For the full article: www.jacksonnjonline.com/2010/02/01/technology-helps-wounded-warrior-lead-productive-life/

For more information on CAP: www.tricare.mil/CAP/

Your ReSource Featured on NJN

Your ReSource, a local organization that reutilizes gently used durable medical equipment (DME), was featured on a recent Heathwatch segment on NJN News.

The segment originally aired on Tuesday February 9, 2010 on NJN Nightly News at 6:00 PM, 7:30 PM, and 11:00 PM, and is available at the NJN website at: www.njn.net (Click on NJN News. Then click on Healthwatch) or on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LzJD-R3GhKg&feature=player_embedded.

For more information on Your ReSource, visit the website: http://www.yourresourcenj.org

ATAC RFP

Disability Rights New Jersey/Assistive Technology Advocacy Center

Request For Proposal (RFP)

One-Time Grant for Expansion of Assistive Technology Services to People with Disabilities in New Jersey 

Introduction and Description

 

Disability Rights New Jersey (DRNJ) is the federally-funded, independent non-profit designated as New Jersey’s protection and advocacy system for people with disabilities.  It provides legal and non-legal advocacy, information and referral, technical assistance and training, outreach and education in support of the human, civil, and legal rights of people with disabilities. 

 

The Assistive Technology Advocacy Center (ATAC) of DRNJ is the designated state program authorized by the Assistive Technology Act of 2004 (AT Act) to  provide enhanced access to assistive technology products and services on a comprehensive, statewide basis through a system of device loan, demonstration, equipment reuse, training and technical assistance, and public awareness activities. 

 

The grant(s) are available under the following activities:

 

Device reutilization - provides for the exchange, repair, recycling, or other reutilization of assistive technology devices, which may include redistribution through device sales, loans, rentals, or donations.

 

Device loan – provides short-term loans of assistive technology devices to individuals, employers, public agencies, or others.

 

Device demonstration – demonstrates a variety of assistive technology devices and assistive technology services, including assisting individuals in making informed choices regarding and providing experiences with, the devices and services, using personnel who are familiar with such devices and services and their applications.

 

 

Background

ATAC is providing one time funding to enhance the scope of existing assistive technology services available to people with disabilities in New Jersey. 

 

The total amount under this RFP is $53,000, contingent on availability.  ATAC intends to award up to five one-time grants not exceeding $15,000 each.

 

Scope of Work

The successful applicants will, under these one-time grants, develop and implement a plan for expanding existing assistive technology activities currently operating in New Jersey, in one or more of the three areas of device loan, device demonstration, and device reutilization, and consistent with the ATAC state plan, available on the ATAC website, or by request.   

 

Examples

Examples of possible activities that ATAC may fund through this RFP include, but are not limited to:

 

•           Developing joint enterprises between agencies, organizations, or centers;

•           Expanding services to groups that are underserved;

•           Updating and purchasing state-of-the-art equipment for loan and/or demonstration;

•           Expanding services to include specialized populations, particularly those that are not being served;

Qualifications of Applicant

Individuals or organizations in New Jersey with recognized expertise in the field of assistive technology, or those demonstrating an understanding of assistive technology devices and services.  Familiarity with currently existing services within New Jersey is a definite plus.  The applicant must be able to communicate well in writing and work well with DRNJ staff in order to meet the goals of the RFP.

Requirements

The application is limited to five pages, single-spaced, plus a one-page budget.  The application must include:

Relevant information about the applicant, including contact name, organization name, address, telephone, fax, and e-mail;

Description of the applicant or organization and the relevant personnel, experience, expertise, and technical abilities that make it possible to carry out the research activity;

Description of the work plan, rationale, and means to accomplish the plan.

Details of specific sub-tasks and schedules to accomplish the tasks, and

Detailed proposed budget, as described below.

 

Budget

The applicant will include a proposed one-page budget appropriate for meeting the goals of the proposal.  All requests for specific AT devices or equipment should be itemized where possible. 

Assurances

The applicant will include assurances of compliance with all federal mandates and requirements applicable to recipients of federal funding and assurances that the applicant has no conflict of interest that bars the applicant from completing the proposal.

Evaluation Criteria

DRNJ staff, in collaboration with the ATAC Advisory Council, will evaluate all applicants based on their expertise, knowledge, familiarity with New Jersey service providers, and ability to complete the activity in the given amount of time.  Criteria include:

 

Contribution to expansion of AT network in New Jersey

Ability to successfully execute the activity on time

Relevant experience in the assistive technology field

Expertise and ability of the applicant

Quality of services provided

Budget

Ability to meet deadlines

Application Due Date

The deadline for submitting applications under this RFP is March 15, 2010.  DRNJ will accept mail, e-mail, and overnight mail submissions.

Date of Award

The contract for this RFP will be submitted to the winning applicants on or before April1, 2010, with work to begin immediately. 

Date of Completion of Project

The project will end on September 30, 2010.

Cal State Northridge Offers Masters Degree in Assistive Technology

Recognizing the need for trained professionals to address these issues and more that arise from the burgeoning field of assistive technology, Cal State Northridge is launching this semester a new Master of Science in Assistive Technology Studies and Human Services (ATHS), believed to be the first such degree program in the country.

Offered jointly by the Colleges of Health and Human Development (www.csun.edu/hhd/) and Engineering and Computer Science (www.ecs.csun.edu/ecsdean/index.html) and CSUN’s Tseng College of Extended Learning(http://tsengcollege.csun.edu/), the new program is aimed at mid-career professionals interested in understanding and working with all aspects of the new technologies-from conceptualization and design to use and instruction. More than 60 Northridge faculty, including representatives of the university’s nationally acclaimed Center on Disabilities collaborated in the development of the program.

The CSUN master’s program encompasses research and design; law, ethics and policy; counseling education and the dynamics of play. The technological aspects are enhanced by the program’s link to the master’s program in assistive and rehabilitative technology in the College of Engineering and Computer Science. There are a total of 14 students in the program’s first cohort.

For more information about the program, visit: http://tsengcollege.csun.edu/aths/aths.html

Understanding Website Accessibility

Upon encountering websites with accessibility problems, it is important to provide feedback to the organization. The Web Accessibility Initiative (www.w3.org) provides helpful tips on what to do with inaccessible websites. This guide also offers sample emails to direct consumers on how to address inaccessibilty issues and to provide feedback with various operating systems.

The Web Accessibility Initiative further provides a list of the following resources for information on web accessibility:

Accessibility – W3C
www.w3.org/standards/webdesign/accessibility.html

Introduction to Web Accessibility
www.w3.org/WAI/intro/accessibility.php

Developing a Web Accessibility Business Case for Your Organization
www.w3.org/WAI/bcase/Overview.html

How People with Disabilities Use the Web
www.w3.org/WAI/intro/people-use-web.html

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) Overview
www.w3.org/WAI/intro/wcag.php

Dragon Age Wins AbleGamers’ Accessibility Award

AbleGamers has awarded the PC version of BioWare’s Dragon Age: Origins its top honor, the 2009 Mainstream Accessibility Award, on the strength of the game’s many options and accessibility considerations.

Dragon Age achieved a nearly-perfect accessibility rating of 9.8 on the site, which pointed out its wealth of options covering uncommon toggles like subtitles of ambient noises, the ability to play nearly the entire game with the mouse using only one hand, and the presence of completely remappable controls.

For the full story:
Dragon Age Wins AbleGamers’ Accessibility Award

Family Resource Association’s Upcoming Clothing Drive

Family Resource Association, Inc.
and TECHConnection will be having a clothing drive pick up in the Shrewsbury, NJ area on Thursday, January 28, 2010. (Snow date is February 4th.)

Supporters in the general Monmouth County area who wish to donate clothing, accessories, and linens can call the clothing drive at 732-446-4041 or send an email to fraclothingdrive@gmail.com.

Family Resource Associates & TECHConnection
35 Haddon Avenue
Shrewsbury, NJ 07702
732-747-5310
www.frainc.org
www.techconnection.org

National Federation of the Blind Settles Lawsuit Over Kindle Navigation

The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) and the American Council of the Blind (ACB) have settled a lawsuit against Arizona State University over the university’s plan to deploy the Kindle DX among students. The settlement involves no monetary damages, but ASU agreed to use devices that are more accessible to individuals who are blind.

The groups originally filed suit against ASU and the Arizona Board of Regents in June 2009 after ASU began a pilot program to distribute electronic textbooks to students via the Kindle DX. The problem was that the Kindle only supports limited text-to-speech capabilities-users can have the device read books aloud, but the menu system and Kindle Store were not part of this feature. As a result, blind students were unable to navigate the device, or even turn on the text-to-speech feature in the first place, without help from a seeing friend. This, according to the NFB and ACB, was a violation of both the federal Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

ASU went back and forth with the two groups for a year and a half, admitting that the Kindle was not accessible to the blind, but denying that they engaged in any kind of discrimination. ASU said that no blind or visually impaired students were prevented from enrolling in the one class that was participating in the Kindle DX pilot, and said that there were alternate reading options for those students. ASU said it was committed to providing access to all programs to students with disabilities, but also highlighted the fact that the pilot program was to end at the end of the current semester (spring 2010).

The university agreed that it would evaluate e-book readers that were accessible to the blind if it chose to deploy them in the future, which was apparently enough for the two organizations to drop the suit.

Because more and more institutions are considering switching over to e-book readers in the coming years, accessibility will remain a sticking point until the devices become more universally useable. Though Amazon’s e-book reader isn’t the only one on the market, it’s certainly the most prominent at the moment.

For more information:
pacer.psc.uscourts.gov
Case number 2:09-cv-01359-GMS in the District of Arizona (Phoenix)

For the link to the online article: http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2010/01/lawsuit-over-kindle-navigation-by-visually-impaired-settled.ars

RJ Cooper Develops Adapted Switches for Guitar Hero

RJ Cooper and Associates, Inc. specializes in customized software and hardware products, such as adaptive keyboards, digital cameras, and game controllers for persons with physical disabilities. RJ Cooper has recently developed a switch that can be used to enable persons with significant physical disabilities to play Guitar Hero. This specialized single switch device is mounted on the cheek and allows the player to access the guitar controller.

RJ Cooper has adapted this switch so that it may also be directly plugged into the Guitar Hero drum set to play the bass drum.

RJ Cooper is selling the switch-adapted guitars for Xbox, Wii, and Playstation 2 for $99.00.

For personal testimonies and more information, visit the website at: www.rjcooper.com/guitar-hero/index.html

Contact Information:
RJ Cooper & Associates
27601 Forbes Rd. Suite 39
Laguna Niguel, CA 92677
Telelphone: 1-800-RJCooper (800-752-6673)
Fax: 949-582-3169
Email: info@rjcooper.com
Technical Support: techsupport@rjcooper.com

Free Assistive Technology Demonstrations at TECH Expo

The Family Resource Associates at TECH Connection announce free Assistive Technology demonstrations at their upcoming TECH Expo.

TECH Expo will be held:
February 4, 2010
from 6:00 – 8:30 PM
at The Arc of Monmouth
1158 Wayside Road
Tinton Falls, NJ 07712

See many types of Assistive Technology alternatives to help people who struggle with reading, writing, vision concerns or physical limitations or who have developmental or acquired disabilities. Find ways to make using the computer easier for tots to seniors! Have an opportunity to get a hands-on demonstration, ask questions, and explore.

This free time will give you access to technology to broaden your knowledge and offer more independence. Find solutions for the challenges you face in school, at home, or in the workplace

Registration for this event is required.
Please contact:
Joanne Castellano, Director
TECHConnection@ FRA
(732) 747-5310 ext.14
Email: tecconn@aol.com

For more information, contact:
Family Resource Associates & TECHConnection
35 Haddon Avenue
Shrewsbury, NJ 07702
(732) 747-5310
www.frainc.org
www.techconnection.org

Empower Technologies Launches Accessible Comparison Shopping Service

Empower Technologies has launched a new website offering comparison shopping with products from thousands of retailers and manufacturers offering accessible equipment and technology. Empower’s accessible comparison shopping site is the largest of its kind and provides over 25 million general merchandise products categorized and presented through a user interface developed to appropriately interact with Assistive Technology (AT) devices such as screen readers, magnifiers and alternative input devices used by individuals with limited functionality or disabilities in the home, educational or workplace environment.

In 2010, Empower Technologies plans to launch a comprehensive content portal which will deliver information, products and services intended to support the requirements of individuals of all ages with special needs, as well as the communities that assist them.

About Empower Technologies:
Empower Technologies LLC is based in Sarasota, Florida. The company’s mission is to provide a consolidated source for critical information and resources addressing the needs of individuals with special needs and the aging population, as well as families, caregivers and the community that supports them.

For further information please visit EmpowerEveryone.com or contact CEO Michael Dorety at: info@empowereveryone.com.

FEMA Announces Accessible Emergency Preparedness Website

FEMA announces a new website offering information on emergency preparedness for individuals with disabilities called AccessibleEmergencyInfo.com . This website was funded by the Northeast Texas Public Health District to promote the inclusion of persons with disabilities in emergency preparedness and health- related topics. This website offers videos with ASL interpreters advising how to prepare for natural disasters and other emergencies. The videos also feature an audible voice-over and text appearing alongside the interpreter.

In addition to the videos, there is an Emergency Preparedness Guide formatted in Braille, large print, and regular font for download. All of the information is free for public use.

For more information see: Accessible Emergency Information

Readability: A New Online Tool to Eliminate Web Clutter

Readability is a new tool available for free download to any web browser’s toolbar. Readability allows the reader to view only the text and photos from the website by eliminating online ads, links, banners, or anything else that may be considered a distraction.

Once installed, Readability allows the user to select a preferred font style and size. The background automatically reverts to plain white to transform any webpage into looking like a printed book or a Kindle page. Readability can be installed on any Web browser by following the prompts to click and drag the Readability button to the Favorites toolbar. Once installed, Readability can be activated at any time from the main toolbar.

To learn more about Readability and for the free download, go to: Readability: an arc90 laboratory experiment

University of Florida Seeks to Improve Hearing Aid Technology

At the University of Florida, researchers have discovered how to improve the quality of hearing aids by making them more adaptable to meet an individual’s needs. Researchers have designed new implants for hearing aids that can respond to speech sounds instead of tonal beeps. These developments have the capability of making hearing aids more accurate and easily adjustable.

Only about 20% of the estimated 31 million Americans with a form of hearing loss use a hearing aid. With this new technology, audiology clinics will be able to program hearing aids more quickly, resulting in decreased medical costs. This new technology is already patented and being licensed to an Orlando-based company.

For the full article from the University of Florida: Improved Hearing Aid Technology also Benefits Economy

Regional Learning Resource Centers Announce Workshops for Parents

The three regional Learning Resource Centers (LRC) announce several upcoming workshops for parents.

Understanding NIMAS and NIMAC:
Accessing Accessible Print Media for NIMAS Eligible Students

will be held on:

Date: Jan 12, 2010
Time: 5:30-7pm
Location: Learning Resource Center – North Satellite
322 American Rd.
Morris Plains, NJ

Date: Feb 10 2010
Time: 5:30-7pm
Location: Learning Resource Center – Trenton
200 Riverview Plaza
Trenton, NJ

Date: Feb. 4, 2010
Time: 4:30-6pm
Location: Learning Resource Center- South
606 Delsea Drive
Sewell, NJ

Workshop Description:
For a student whose visual or physical disability impacts on their
ability to access print, the use of alternative print media such as
Braille, large print, audio and/or electronic text is an important IEP
consideration. IDEA 2004 created provisions to increase access to
textbooks and related materials in accessible print media for eligible
students through NIMAS [National Instructional Materials Accessibility
Standard] and NIMAC [National instructional Materials Access Center].

This training will provide the following information: texts eligible
for conversion to NIMAS format, student eligibility to receive NIMAS
materials, assistive technology considerations for accessible print
media and procedures to access the NIMAC repository.

Registration is $5 for a single workshop. For registration and more information, visit LRC’s website at: www.state.nj.us/education/lrc

Google Expands Automatic Captioning on YouTube

Google has begun generating automatic text captions for videos on YouTube, making millions of videos more accessible to individuals who are deaf and hearing-impaired.

The speech recognition technology that Google uses to turn speech into text is currently used to transcribe voice mail messages for users of Google Voice service. But Ken Harrenstien, a deaf engineer who helped develop the automatic captioning system, said Google is expanding this technology on a much larger scale.

In addition, Google is offering users its automatic translation system to read the captions in 51 languages, which will expand captioning capabilities beyond English-language speech.

Mr. Harrenstien said a majority of clips on YouTube did not have captions and the new Google technology will generate them automatically. YouTube is initially applying the captioning technology to a few channels, which include universities like Stanford, Yale, Duke, Columbia and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as well as PBS and National Geographic. The company plans to gradually expand the number of channels that work with the automatic captioning technology.

Google also introduced a related service to give anyone who uploads a video to YouTube the option of uploading a text file of the words spoken in the video. Google will turn the text file into captions, automatically matching the spoken words with the files. The technology, which Google calls “auto-timing,” will make it easy for anyone to add captions to their videos.

For the full article, go to: Google to Add Captions, Improving YouTube Videos

Free Fire Safety Video From Oklahoma ABLE Tech

As a part of the Fire Safety Solutions for Oklahomans with Disabilities project, Oklahoma’s ABLE Tech has collaborated with the Fire Protection Publications at Oklahoma State University to offer a free fire safety video for people with disabilities.

This 24 minute video is presented in American Sign Language and with captions. The video can be downloaded from ABLE Tech’s website at: www.ok.gov/abletech

In addition to the video, Oklahoma ABLE Tech has fire safety guides available for free download. Oklahoma ABLE Tech offers fire safety information for people with visual disabilities, mobility disabilities, and for those who are deaf and hard of hearing.

For more information, contact Oklahoma ABLE Tech at:
1-888-885-5588 (V/TDD) or
405-744-9748
Website: http://okabletech.okstate.edu

National Federation of the Blind Partners With Santa

Santa and the National Federation for the Blind will be sending Braille letters out to hundreds of boys and girls this Christmas season. From November 16 through December 20, 2009, parents or teachers can fill out a Braille Letter from Santa form online at: www.nfb.org

Beginning December 1, the Braille letters from Santa will start going out to boys and girls around the country. The Braille letter will also be accompanied by a print copy (for mom and dad to read).

Requests for letters must include the writer’s name, the child’s name, birthday, gender, mailing address, and a telephone number or e-mail address in case Santa’s helpers at the NFB have questions.

For more information on the program, see the official press release:
National Federation of the Blind Partners with Santa to Promote Braille Literacy

“Robo Rehab” for Stroke Patients

Researchers at Northeastern University have developed several portable robotic devices to aid in the rehabilitation process for individuals who have suffered a stroke. Unlike other rehabilitation devices, these may also let patients continue therapy at home.

The Northeastern researchers have developed devices for the knee, wrist, pelvis, and ankle that they say are portable and cheap enough to be rented by small rehabilitation or medical centers, and potentially even individual patients. The team kept the devices small by using a substance called electro-rheological fluid, which becomes stickier when an electric current is applied, thus creating a stronger resistive force in the device. The fluid contains particles that form chains when electricity is applied, turning the liquid into more of a gel in a few milliseconds.

Northeastern’s latest version of an active knee rehabilitation orthotic device, dubbed AKROD, uses a NASA-inspired gear-based system to create a brake on the device. The gear-bearing drive lets the system lift a patient’s leg to correct walking, rather than just apply resistive force. The device is still relatively small and light, due to a compact gearbox design. The device acts as if it has a virtual spring, say the researchers, using careful force to push the patient into the correct position.

The Northeastern team has also tested a rehabilitation device for the hand that’s made of a gripper handle connected to sensors and gears. The device is driven by two actuators with the electro-rheological fluid, which increases or decreases its resistance as the patient uses the handle to navigate through a video game maze. The device exercises not only hand muscles but also forearm muscles, and records the force and position of the patient’s hand. The researchers also created a version that can be used in an MRI to image the brain while a patient is undergoing the hand exercises.

The devices still need to go through clinical trials before they can be made available to the public.

Universities Reject Kindle DX For Not Promoting Accessibility to Blind Students

The University of Wisconsin-Madison and Syracuse University have refused to adopt Amazon’s Kindle DX as a means of distributing electronic textbooks (e-books) to their students.

The Kindle DX features text-to-speech technology that reads textbooks aloud. However, the menus of the device are not accessible to blind users. Both universities have experimented with the Kindle DX to learn whether e-book technology is useful to their students. Since the menus are not accessible, it is virtually impossible for a blind user to purchase books from Amazon’s Kindle store, select a book to read, activate the text-to-speech feature, and use the advanced reading functions.

Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: “The National Federation of the Blind commends the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Syracuse University for rejecting broad deployment of the Kindle DX in its current form because it cannot be used by blind students and therefore denies the blind equal access to electronic textbooks. We do not oppose electronic textbooks; in fact, they hold great promise for blind students if they are accessible. But as long as the interface of the Kindle DX is inaccessible to the blind-denying blind students access to electronic textbooks or the advanced features available to read and annotate them-it is our position that no university should consider this device to be a viable e-book solution for its students.”

Both Syracuse University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison have issued similar statements reflecting the need for technology that can be used by all students, including those who are blind. The University of Wisconsin-Madison has stated that the Kindle would benefit from universal design for accessibility, higher-quality graphics, and improved navigation and note-taking.

For the full press release and more information about the National Federation of the Blind, please visit: www.nfb.org.

New Camera Designed to Assist People With Memory Loss

The SenseCam is a portable camera designed to be worn at chest level to automatically capture images. This camera takes low-resolution photographs with a fisheye lens, at a rate of two photos per minute. Researchers believe this could change treatment modalities for patients with memory loss, in particular those with Alzheimer’s.

“The SenseCam is all about recalling a piece of information someone already has, rather than creating a memory,” said Dr. Emma Berry, a clinical neuropsychologist , who has been working with memory loss patients using the camera.

In the initial trial, a woman with severe amnesia was given the SenseCam to wear for a period of time. The woman repeatedly reviewed episodic images of her daily life taken on the camera with her husband.

Currently, the SenseCam is being tested with a handful of people who have Alzheimer’s disease, with similar results in findings that have yet to be published. Neil Hunt, Chief Executive of the Alzheimer’s Society, said the device could be potentially exciting for Alzheimer’s patients.

The SenseCam was invented in 1999 by Lyndsay Williams, a researcher at Microsoft’s research laboratory. While the battery requires a daily charge, the 1Gb of memory can store up to 30,000 photographs. The SenseCam also has several sensors other than the image sensor embedded, including infra-red, heat, heart rate and pressure to record health monitoring data.

Vicon, developer of motion capture products used in Hollywood, will be mass-producing the device as the Vicon Revue and is expected to cost around $800.

For the full article, see: Life-Logging Camera Brings New Hope

ATA To Offer Online Training on AT for Individuals with TBI

ATA announces an online community event on Tuesday, November 10, 2009 with Heather Bunn, MS, ATP who will be presenting on AT & Training for Individuals with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

Participants will learn successful training strategies for AT use in supporting individuals with TBI. These strategies will be shared and applied to a variety of tasks, environments, ages and abilities.

Date: Thursday, November 10, 2009
Time: 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM PST
Skill Level: Beginner / Intro
Who Should Attend: Anyone working with people with TBI, trainers, aids, family members, and professionals.
Location (Web): ATA Online Community, www.talkingcommunities.com/communities/923/
Room: Water Cooler

On-line Instructions
To prepare in advance for this webinar, please follow these instructions:

If you are new to ATA Online Community and interested in participating in the virtual learning and sharing community environment, please visit their Step by Step First Time ATA Online Community User Sign Up Guide, www.atnet.org/index.php?page=ataonlinecommunity#userguides.
To participate, please make sure your computer is a Windows Platform with internet access, has speakers to be able to hear while you are in the AOC webinar or preferably a headset as we will be using VOIP (talking over a computer rather than a telephone).
Attendee(s) may join by using the the following link with their User Name and Password: http://www.talkingcommunities.com/communities/923/

For additional information, contact: Rosemarie at rosemariepunzalan@ataccess.org

“Desktop Desk” Aids Students With Disabilities

Rob Mayben, a special education teacher in Sonora, CA, has recently developed an assistive device for his students. Called the “Desktop Desk,” this device is portable, lightweight, and easy to set up.

The Desktop Desk has helped provide opportunities and access for individuals who have orthopedic impairments, fine motor deficits, visual impairments, hyperactivity and focus limits, and more. The Desktop Desk provides a lightweight and portable, easy to clean surface that attaches to most tables. It creates a large, stable, and functional writing surface that adjusts in elevations and angles while providing opportunities for categorization, organization, and independence. The Desktop Desk is an adjustable activity center that can provide disabled individuals the ability to access and actively participate more equally in some of life’s everyday activities.

For additional information, photos, and a short video showing the Desktop Desk being used by Mr. Mayben’s student, visit: www.desktopdesk.com.

NJCART Meeting and Guest Speaker on December 2, 2009

The next NJCART meeting will be held at the ARC of Monmouth in Tinton Falls on December 2, 2009 from 4:30-7:30 pm. The meeting will feature guest speaker, Sarah Logan, who will address AT Considerations in the IEP Process and focus on ways to ensure that students get the equipment and services they need.

Admission for members in good standing is free! Non-members can take advantage of the “Bring a Colleague” discount and­ get half off the $10 admission when they come with a NJCART member.

To reserve your space, email Joanne at TecConn@aol.com.

For directions and more information, visit www.njcart.org.

Hearing Aid Assistance to Individuals with Disabilities and the Elderly

Under a program called, “Hearing Aid Assistance to the Aged and Disabled (HAAAD),” the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) offers hearing aid assistance to individuals with disabilities and the elderly. Individuals who qualify may be eligible for a $100 reimbursement upon purchasing a hearing aid.

If you are currently enrolled in the Pharmaceutical Assistance to the Aged and Disabled Program (PAAD), you must complete a HAAAD application and submit the following documentation:

1. A receipt for the purchase of your hearing aid
2. A written statement from your physician attesting to the medical necessity for obtaining a hearing aid

If you are not currently enrolled in the PAAD program, you must complete a PAAD application as well. This is needed to verify your age or disability status, state residency, and annual income. You may be eligible if you have only limited or partial coverage for insurance. Those individuals receiving Medicaid or full coverage through other insurance or retirement benefits are NOT eligible for HAAAD.

Applications may be obtained by calling the toll-free number:
1-800-792-9745 or visit the website at: www.state.nj.us/health/seniorbenefits/haaaddetail.shtml

California State University to Offer Assistive Technology Applications Certificate Program in Washington, DC

California State University of Northridge announces that the Assistive Technology Applications Certificate Program (ATACP) is coming to Washington, D.C. for a two day FastTrax training from January 18-19, 2010.

This training will focus on the latest advances in assistive technology for persons with disabilities. Participants will earn 10 CEUs from the California State University, Northridge Center on Disabilities and the College of Extended Learning, along with a certificate of completion. The cost for the two day course is $1,795.00.

For more registration and more information about ATACP, please visit their website at: http://www.csun.edu/cod/training/index.php, or call (818) 677-2578.

ATIA Video Contest Winner: “My Assistive Technology Success Story”

The Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) has announced the winner of its annual YouTube Video Contest. The goal of the contest is to raise awareness about the power of assistive technology and how life-changing and enhancing it can be for individuals and their families. The grand prize is an all-expenses paid trip to the ATIA 2009 Chicago Conference (October 28-31, 2009) held at the Renaissance Schaumburg Hotel and Convention Center.

The winning video, “My Assistive Technology (AT) Success Story,” features Pete, a homebound man with disabilities who uses a variety of assistive technology products. In his video, Pete explains how he uses an Environmental Control Unit to regulate nearly every aspect of his living environment. He further demonstrates how he uses voice recognition software to meet his visual disability needs. And Pete shows how his ability to use a computer was revolutionized by combining Dragon with another voice recognition product and a head mouse emulator.

Pete says, “In many ways assistive technology has given me a new lease on life. It has freed me from my physical limitations and given me a sense of independence that I never dreamed possible. It has improved my life immeasurably and I know that it could do so for many others.”

To view all of the winning videos go to: www.atia.org/youtubecontestresults

To read the full article on this, click here: ATIA Video Contest Winner

For more information about ATIA’s educational opportunities and conferences, visit their website at: www.atia.org

E-PALS: An Email Exchange Program for Students with Autism

Students at Appalachian State University (NC) are participating in an online pen pal exchange with students in the Inclusion Program at Highland Park Junior High School (MN). This online program, informally called “e-PALS,” helps students with disabilities communicate with college students. The e-PALS program teaches students how to formally structure their letters and uses a range of assistive technology devices and tools to assist with communication.

Created by Barbara Wollak of Highland Park Junior High (MN) and Dr. David Koppenhaver of Applachian State University (NC), this email exchange program for students with autism and learning disabilities uses email, video email, blogging, and Co:Writer. Co:Writer is a word prediction assistive technology tool which supports writing activity in any word processed document, such as an electronic greeting card or email.

Students at Appalachian University and parents of the students at the Highland Park Inclusion Program also contribute to a blog called “Virtual Authors.” Mrs. Wollak posts a new topic each week related to current events or student interests. The blog provides additional opportunities for authentic reading and writing and question-answer relationships. Students take turns generating questions and creating posts on the blog. This e-learning exchange encourages students learn about the interests and literacy skills of adolescents with disabilities. They discover how using Web 2.0 tools and assistive technologies in real-life interactions helps students learn.

To view the “Virtual Authors” blog, go to: http://www.hpjh.blogspot.com

For more information on E-Pals and to read the full article, visit: Online Pen Program Uses Assistive Technology

For more information on Co:Writer, visit the website at: http://www.donjohnston.com/products/cowriter/index.html

Crisis Camp Philly: A Global Discussion on Disaster Relief, Technology, Collaboration, & Inclusion

The Institute on Disabilities at Temple University presents– Crisis Camp Philly: A Global Discussion on Disaster Relief, Technology, Collaboration, and Inclusion. This event will be offered both live and via the web on October 24th and October 25th from 9:00 A.M.- 4:00 P.M. at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA.

Registration for this event is FREE. For more information or to register, visit the Institute’s project site at: http://www.spargis.org

The event will be both LIVE (at Temple University) and interactive web via the Adobe Connect platform. Participants will have the option to participate in the discussions (live and via the web), attend in person, ask questions of the various presenters, or listen as an audience member.

Crisis Camp Philly is an event aimed at addressing the disaster mitigation needs of all people with a focus on disabilities through global technology, innovation, collaboration, and inclusion.
Empasis will be on the discussion of these issues and possible solutions to those issues by collaboration, innovation and sharing best practices both in technology and other disciplines.

Tentative topics include:
- Wireless & SMS Text Practices with Disaster Reporting

- Accessibility, Relevance to AAC (Augmentative and alternative communication)

- Mobility Issues: Disaster Response and Recovery

- Strategic Community Outreach Practices

- Disability Studies meets Disaster Research and Management: Sharing the same “Sandbox”

- Assistive Technology: High and Low Tech mitigation practices in a diverse international community

- The Power of Open Source Technology and Communities

Crisis Camp is also seeking volunteers to help with writing, logistics, corporate and other sponsors, caption transcribers, ASL interpreters, advisors, session recorders, film and audio, logistics, and web access. If you are interested, please contact George Heake at gheake@temple.edu or call 215-589-9261.

Using the ATAC Bulletin Board

ATAC invites all Advisory members and NJ CART mailing list recipients to participate in the interactive ATAC Bulletin Board. To participate in this online forum, click on ATAC Bulletin Board on the left column of ATAC of DRNJ’s homepage.

Members are welcome to start a new topic or to reply to posts within an existing topic. This is a great way to share the latest assistive technology news and information, provide updates about existing AT programs, as well as highlight any upcoming AT events, exhibits, or conferences.

ATAC of DRNJ appreciates your input regarding this website and the Bulletin Board. If you do not have a log-in name, refer to our Contact link for a form where you may share your thoughts, questions, or concerns.

Hudson Home Health Care Announces Workshop on Wheelchair Positioning and Mobility Devices

The workshop, Sitting Solutions: Principles of Wheelchair Positioning and Mobilility Devices, will be held on October 30, 2009 from 8:30am- 4:30pm at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Englewood. The Crowne Plaza is located at 4001 South Van Brunt Street in Englewood, NJ.

Presenter Jean Minkel, PT, ATP will guide participants through seating assessments and evaluations, as well as provide recommendations and funding of postural systems, pressure management devices, and specialized wheelchairs.

Cost for the session is $119.00 and participants may earn up to 6 hours of CEU credits.

For registration or more information:
Hudson Home Health Care
151 Rockwell Road
Newington, CT 06111
1-800-321-4442 ext. 105

Registration may also be completed online at: http://hudsonhhc.com/newsevents.html

Project Assist Announces 2nd Annual Learning Disability Conference

The Project Assist Annual Fall Conference “Keys to Access: Unlocking the Potential for Students with Disabilities” will be held on Friday, December 4, 2009 at Cumberland County College at 3322 College Drive in Vineland, NJ.

The keynote speaker will be Rick Lavoie, a consultant who has worked with PBS, NPR, and the National Center for Learning Disabilities. Other presentations will include topics such as attention deficit disorders, assistive technology, Tourette Sydrome and hidden disabilities.

The registration fee is $35 and can be completed online at: www.cccnj.edu/projAssist

For more information, contact Project Assist.
Phone: (856) 691-8600 ext. 450
Email: projectassist@cccnj.edu

Special Needs Conference Series: “Take Control: Building Skills for a Successful Tomorrow”

The Special Needs Conference Series is hosting a one day event on October 22, 2009. “Take Control: Building Skills for a Successful Tomorrow” will be held from 8:30 am to 3:15 pm at the Holiday Inn Cherry Hill 2175 West Marlton Pike, (Route 70) Cherry Hill, NJ 08002.

The keynote speaker is Joseph Valenzano Jr., CEO of Exceptional Parent Magazine. Workshops will cover topics including: social skills and communication for special needs children, guardianship and estate planning, and educational entitlement. Workshops will be presented by experts from Interactive Kids, Mary’s Place Pediatric Rehab, DDD/DVR, Hinkle, Fingles & Prior, and Faulkner Financial.
Full workshop descriptions can be found at: www.whoscoming.com/takecontrol

RSVP for this event online at: www.whoscoming.com/takecontrol/BuildingSkills.html

The conference is sponsored by Mary’s Place Pediatric Rehab, Interactive Kids, and Faulkner Financial.

TechMatrix – An Online Product Database for Students

TechMatrix is an online database for finding educational and assistive technology products. TechMatrix is designed to highlight features and products to assist students with special needs. Informational guides offer support in selecting products and learning about assistive technology. Additional features of the website include research articles pertaining to students and the use of assistive technology.

For additional information, check out TechMatrix at: www.techmatrix.org/index.aspx

The Artificial Retina Project Helps to Restore Sight

A new three-year research study called the “Artificial Retina Project,” is being conducted in the United States, Mexico and Europe. This project is studying the effects of surgically implanted electrodes to help individuals with blindness and other visual impairments to detect important visual cues. In addition to the electrodes, participants also have a camera on the bridge of their noses and a video processor strapped to their waists. Participants choose when to use the device by turning their camera on.

With the artificial retina, a sheet of electrodes is implanted in the eye. The person wears glasses with a tiny camera, which captures images that the belt-pack video processor translates into patterns of light and dark, like the “pixelized image we see on a stadium scoreboard,” said Jessy D. Dorn, a research scientist at Second Sight Medical Products, which produces the device, collaborating with the Department of Energy. The video processor directs each electrode to transmit signals representing an object’s contours, brightness and contrast, which pulse along optic neurons into the brain. Other research teams are developing similar devices.

Brian Mech, Second Sight’s vice president for business development, said the company was seeking federal approval to market the 60-electrode version, which would cost up to $100,000 and might be covered by insurance. Also planned are 200- and 1,000-electrode versions; the higher number might provide enough resolution for reading.

Among the 38 participants so far, some have been able to differentiate plates from cups, tell grass from sidewalk, sort white socks from dark, distinguish doors and windows, identify large letters of the alphabet, and see where people are. Linda Morfoot, 65, of Long Beach, Calif., blind for 12 years, says she can now toss a ball into a basketball hoop, follow her nine grandchildren as they run around her living room and “see where the preacher is” in church.

Kathy Blake, 58, of Fountain Valley, Calif., said she mainly wanted to help advance research. But she uses it to sort laundry, notice cars and people, and on the Fourth of July, to “see all the fireworks,” she said.

More than 3.3 million Americans 40 and over, or about one in 28, are blind or have vision so poor that even with glasses, medicine or surgery, everyday tasks are difficult, according to the National Eye Institute, a federal agency. That number is expected to double in the next 30 years. Worldwide, about 160 million people are similarly affected.

For more information on the Artificial Retina Project and the full article, click here: Burst of Technology Helps Blind to See

New Software to Expand Captioning to iPhones and Smartphones

New software is being developed by engineers through the use of Augmented Reality technology to improve access and expand captioning capabilities on a range of digital devices. Google’s smartphones and the iPhone 3GS from Apple use this type of technology to caption, or superimpose digital images in real life. The latest software program called Layar is seeking to enhance captioning and broaden the use of augmented reality technology for mobile phones.

Layar is a software created by programmers in the Netherlands designed to run on Google Android phones. Layar uses the smartphone’s GPS unit and compass to determine the user’s location and what the phone’s camera is aimed at. Layar then compares that information to a database of landmarks, such as the online encyclopedia Wikipedia.

The iPhone has a similar application through Yelp, a local business search service. The hidden iPhone feature, called Monocle, can be installed using the Yelp app and then shaking the phone vigorously. Using the iPhone’s compass, Monocle allows users to view the world through the iPhone’s video camera and identify a variety of local businesses that have been reviewed by Yelp users.

For the full article, click here: Software Puts Captions on the Real World

FRA Announces Upcoming Events: PossAbilities Walk, TECH Expo and 30th Anniversary Celebration

On Saturday October 3, 2009 the Family Resource Associates is hosting a day of activities which include:
PossAbilities Walk
TECH Expo
and FRA’s 30th Anniversary Celebration barbeque picnic lunch.

All events will be held at:
The Atlantic Club
1904 Atlantic Avenue, Manasquan
10:00 am- 4:00 pm

Pre-registration is required for the picnic lunch.

For more information and to register online, visit FRA’s website at: www.frainc.org

Communicating With Your Eyes: Augmentative Communication Options for Persons with ALS

The community event, “Communicating With Your Eyes: Augmentative Communication Options for Persons with ALS” will be held on October 26, 2009 from 6:00-8:30 PM at the Monmouth County Library Community Center. Monmounth County Library is located at: 101 Route 35 in Shrewsbury, NJ. All are encouraged to attend this free event.

Joan Bruno, Ph.D, CCC-SLP will address communication disabilities often developed by individuals diagnosed with ALS, (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) also referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Recent advances in technology now offer a variety of communication options, ranging from eye-gaze computers to small portable typing aides that can provide a voice, access to the internet, and environmental control. Dr. Bruno will describe the components of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) device evaluations, present some guidelines regarding timing to initiate the evaluation process and review the general procedures for funding AAC devices through Medicare.

Participants will have the opportunity to meet with representatives from several major AAC Manufacturers including AMDi, DynaVox, Eye Response Technologies and MyTobii, who will be on-hand to showcase their current AAC device options including eye-gaze technology.

To register for this session, call FRA at: (732) 747-5310.

For additional information, visit FRA’s website at: www.techconnection.org

PLEXTALK and Bookshare Partner to Convert Digital Library to Speech

Benetech’s Bookshare Project, an online accessible library, has announced a new partnership with Shinano Kenshi Corporation, Ltd. This partnership will allow Bookshare members to easily download and read tens of thousands of accessible books, periodicals, educational books, textbooks, general fiction, non-fiction and literature on the new PLEXTALK™ Pocket portable player and recorder. The PLEXTALK Pocket is a DAISY (Digital Accessible Information System) player that can easily convert Bookshare’s digital text files to speech so books and newspapers can be read aloud. The PLEXTALK Pocket offers the latest digital book navigation to Bookshare members.

The Bookshare Project is available as a free service to all students currently enrolled in a primary, secondary or post-secondary school. Those not enrolled in school must pay a $50 annual membership fee to access Bookshare’s online library of digital text, digital Braille and other accessible print materials.

For the press release on Bookshare’s partnership with PLEXTALK, click here: http://www.bookshare.org/assets/press/Plextalk_Release

For more information on Bookshare, check out their website at: www.bookshare.org

WebAnywhere: A Portable Web-Based Screen Reader

Researchers at the University of Washington have developed a web-based screen reader that allows access to websites while browsing from any computer or other device that uses a sound card. The WebAnywhere screen reader does not require the installation of additional software and is currently offered as a free download from the University of Washington. WebAnywhere is designed to work with all browsers and operating systems.

For more information or to try out the latest version of WebAnywhere, go to: http://webanywhere.cs.washington.edu/

Boston College Offers Free “Camera Mouse” Software

Boston College announces their release of the Camera Mouse software. Camera Mouse is a software program that is used in conjunction with a standard USB web cam. The software allows the user to control the mouse pointer on the computer screen through his/her head movements. Camera Mouse can be used on any computer system that uses Windows Vista or Windows XP. This software is now available for free download.

To try out the free Camera Mouse software download or for additional information, click here: www.cameramouse.org

Students Create Smart Cane to Aid Blind and Visually Impaired

An engineering professor and students at Central Michigan University have created a “Smart Cane” to read electronic navigational tags installed between buildings to aid the blind in reaching their destinations more easily.

The Smart Cane uses Radio Frequency Identification technology, similar to what retailers put on products to keep them from being stolen. The cane also contains an ultrasonic sensor that is paired with a miniature navigational system inside a messenger-style bag worn across the shoulder. The students also created a vibrating glove to assist those who are both visually and hearing-impaired.

Click here for the full article: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32276381/ns/technology_and_science-innovation/

Free Demo of New Deaf Blind Communicator at Temple University

HumanWare and the Washington State Office of Deaf and Hard of Hearing (ODHH) have partnered to develop the DeafBlind Communicator (DBC). The DBC provides three types of communication for deafblind users: face-to-face, TTY, and SMS Texting. The main unit of the DBC is the DB BrailleNote which is a BrailleNote mPower with special software installed in it. The companion unit is the DB-Phone which is a special cell phone with a visual display and a keyboard that also has the DBC software installed in it. These two components communicate wirelessly using Bluetooth capabilities.

The DBC can also be connected to a phone line and used as a Braille TTY. This exciting new technology allows its users to communicate independently with bus drivers, waiters, shop clerks, friends and family, simply by activating a face-to-face chat using the DBC!

On Thursday, August 20, 2009, the Deaf Blind Communicator will be demonstrated at Temple University. Demonstration will be conducted by Carroll Stone and Greg Stilson from Humanware from 10:30 am – 12:30 pm at Temple University, Room 405, University Services Building, 1601 North Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19122

The demonstration is free, but attendees must register with Yvette Bolden at bolden@temple.edu, or call 800-204-7428 (voice); 866-268-0579 (TTY) BY AUGUST 10, 2009.

Read more about this device at: http://www.humanware.com/en-usa/products/blindness/deafblind_communicator/_details/id_118/deafblind_communicator.html

Assistive Technology Helps Blind Drivers Navigate Behind the Wheel

A team of students at Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering have designed a vehicle that does not require sight to operate. This retrofitted, four-wheel dune buggy uses laser range finders to scan the environment for obstacles, as well as voice command software and other sensory technologies to give the driver non-visual cues.

For example, a vest worn by the driver vibrates on one side when the driver needs to slow down and shakes when the driver needs to come to a complete stop. The laser range finder, connected to the steering wheel, uses a laser beam to determine the car’s distance from the edge of the road and other objects. As the driver accelerates the car, a voice indicates the number of “clicks” to turn the wheel to maintain a safe distance from obstacles.

Funded in part by the National Foundation for the Blind’s Jernigan Institute, Virginia Tech’s Blind Driver Challenge Team’s design has implications that could extend use of these non-visual cues to the entire population.

For more information and the entire article: “Retrofitted Car Puts Blind Drivers Behind the Wheel”

Temporary Pop-Up Buttons For Touch Screens

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have adapted the touch screen to include hidden latex air bubbles for temporary pop-up buttons. An air pump allows bubbles to appear as physical keys on a touch screen interface, such as an iPhone or GPS system. Currently, Volkswagen is interested in the pop-up button technology, according to the researchers. However, the goal is that this innovation could eventually make its way into Braille-enabled gadgets and perhaps even the iPhone.

For the full article, go to: “Next for Touchscreens: Temporary Pop-up Buttons?”

VisionCare Develops Tiny Telescope Implant

VisionCare Ophthalmic Technologies in Saratoga, California has developed a glass telescope that can be implanted in the eye to assist individuals with severely damaged retinas. This telescope is intended for people with irreversible and advanced forms of macular degeneration in which a blind spot develops in the central vision of both eyes. The device is implanted in one eye to improve visual acuity for reading and facial recognition. The other eye, unaltered, is used for peripheral vision.

The Food and Drug Administration has not yet approved this tiny telescope in the United States, but the device has already been approved for use in Europe. VisionCare expects FDA approval soon and then plans to apply to Medicare to cover the device. Although the cost of this device has not yet been determined, current technology for low-vision problems, like glasses fitted with telescopes or reading machines, are typically not covered by insurance.

Click here for the full article: “Better Vision, With a Telescope Inside the Eye”

New Study Shows “Roadmaps” for Enhancing AT In Workplaces

The Office of Disability Employment Policy of the United States Department of Labor, in partnership with The AT Collaborative – a group of national organizations that address AT issues and provide policy recommendations related to the employment of individuals with disabilities – recenty released a study on assistive technology (AT) in the workplace. This study, titled “Roadmaps II,” considered the issue of AT and employment from the perspective of AT service providers and disability stakeholders who work directly to assist individuals with disabilities.

The AT Collaborative consisted of eight national organizations and four state partners that were selected due to their experience and expertise in AT. The work of the AT Collaborative on AT and employment was coordinated by the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN).

“Roadmaps II” provides an overview of federally funded AT programs and information on the creation of the AT Collaborative; a compilation of some of the barriers impacting the use of AT by individuals with disabilities regarding employment; and recommendations to increase and enhance the employment of individuals with disabilities though AT (including a response to the Business Dialogue Roadmaps). The official launch date of Roadmaps II was April 21, 2009, at the 2009 Annual Conference of AT Act Programs in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The “Roadmaps II” report is available online in two formats:

Morse Code: An Assistive Technology Tool for Gameplay?

Morse code is one of the earliest forms of electronic communication, developed during the nineteenth century to transmit data via telegraph.  Although modern technology has surpassed the telegraph, Morse code still has use today.  Individuals with serious disabilities that keep them from using a keyboard, for example, may use Morse code to operate specially-designed input devices that allow them to use computers – or to play video games.

In this blog article, one gamer describes how he uses Morse code to play first-person shooter and racing games, and how he adapted his own solution for an input device.

Updated Web Accessibility Guidelines Help Developers Make Sites More Accessible

In December 2008, the World Wide Web Consortium announced the publication of the second version of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).   The WCAG is used by website developers to ensure that websites available to the public are accessible to people with disabilities who use assistive technology.  The original standards, published in May 1999, needed to be updated to keep pace with new technologies and applications.

“Because WCAG 2.0 applies to all Web technologies, it can help ensure that the Web stays open to people with disabilities even as we continually introduce new technologies. We incorporated feedback from thousands of comments received during the development of WCAG 2.0 regarding user needs, and technical feasibility,” said Dr. Gregg Vanderheiden, Co-Chair of WCAG Working Group, and Director of the Trace R&D Center at the University of Wisconsin stated in a W3C press release. “WCAG 2.0 represents the outcome of a major collaborative effort, and its final form is widely supported by industry, disability organizations, research and government. This balance is important in order for WCAG 2.0 to serve as a unifying international standard for Web accessibility.”

For more information about the new WCAG, please visit the Web Accessibility Initiative’s homepage.

Baylor Researchers Build Advanced Mechanical Horse For Therapy

Baylor University researchers have built a custom mechanical horse to provide the same benefits as hippotherapy, or therapeutic horse riding, without having to actually get on to a horse. Baylor’s mechanical horse is a stationary device with a moving saddle surface that can move in virtually all directions in a cycling pattern. The mechanical horse also can differ in speed from a slow walking pace to a fast walking pace and is the width of a normal horse.

This customized mechanical horse has been developed to mimic the rhythmic and repetitive movements, which preliminary research has shown simulates the movements of the human pelvis while walking. These movements have been shown to promote many physical benefits like increased circulation, development of balance and improved coordination among many others. Therapeutic riding can help children and adults with various impairments or delays in development, such as spina bifida, cerebral palsy, and autism.

For the full story go to: http://www.baylor.edu/pr/news.php?action=story&story=58672

Free “Abilities Expo” to Feature Four Presentations from DRNJ

Disability Rights New Jersey will present four workshops for people with disabilities from New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania as part of the annual Abilities Expo on April 17-19, 2009, at the New Jersey Convention & Exposition Center in Edison, New Jersey.

On Saturday, April 18, at 10:30 a.m., Jamie Arasz Prioli, a certified assistive technology practioner, will present on, “Simple Home Modifications to Promote Independent Living.” At 3:30 p.m., Curtis Edmonds and Jennifer Halper, both attorneys will discuss, “Navigating the Medicare and Medicaid System.” On Sunday, April 19, at 10:30 a.m., Jamie Arasz Prioli will offer a second presentation of “Simple Home Modifications to Promote Independent Living,” and at 2:30 p.m., DRNJ staff will host a panel discussion on, “Emergency Preparedness For People With Disabilities.”

The Abilities Expo is a consumer show for independent and assisted living products and services that is open to the public. In addition to educational workshops and seminars, the Expo features an extensive exhibit for vendors of a variety of products and services designed to enhance the independence of people with disabilities. DRNJ’s Assistive Technology Advocacy Center (ATAC) will have a booth in the exhibit hall distributing information about assistive technology and how people with disabilities can access assistive technology devices and services in order to participate more fully in their communities, including their work, home, school environments.

“The Abilities Expo is an important way to help get the word out about how assistive technology can help people with disabilities,” said Curtis Edmonds, ATAC program manager. “We’re pleased that DRNJ can be a part of this event and excited about being able to present information on so many different issues.”

For more information about the Abilities Expo, visit the Expo website at: http://www.abilitiesexpo.com/newyork. On-site admission to Abilities Expo is free, but those planning to attend are encouraged to register prior to the event by visiting the Abilities Expo website or by calling DRNJ at (800) 922-7233.

About Disability Rights New Jersey: DRNJ is the designated protection and advocacy system for people with disabilities in New Jersey. DRNJ is a non-profit corporation whose governing board consists of a majority of persons with disabilities or family members of persons with disabilities. DRNJ provides legal and non-legal advocacy, information and referral, outreach, training and technical assistance to advance the human, civil, and legal rights of persons with disabilities.

Amended Annual Report to Congress on the AT Act of 1998 Available Online

 

The Annual Report to Congress on the Assistive Technology Act of 1998, as Amended, for Fiscal Year 2006 is now available at the following link:

http://www.ed.gov/about/reports/annual/rsa/atsg/2006/index.html

The Assistive Technology Act of 1998, as amended by Public Law 108-364 reports on the Fiscal Year 2006 performance of state grants for assistive technology programs, describes the performance of alternative financing programs funded under Title III of the AT Act of 1998, includes a table describing the activities conducted under the state grants for AT program during Fiscal Year 2006, includes a description of the activities each state planned to carry out over the three-year period through Fiscal Year 2008, as of May 2007, lists the state grants for AT programs (referred to as statewide AT programs), and lists the alternative financing programs funded under Title III of the AT Act of 1998.

New iPod Nano Offers Spoken Menus & Adjustable Font Sizes

The new iPod nano (4th generation) features spoken menus to allow users to browse and select songs without viewing the screen. Instead, a synthesized voice speaks the names of menus, songs, and artists.
The iPod nano can also be connected to a Mac or PC with iTunes 8, which now offers a new option to enable these spoken menus on the computer. iTunes 8 has the capability to create spoken descriptions for the contents of the iPod nano using text-to-speech software.

The new iPod nano also features a font size setting which allows viewers a choice of standard or large font sizes. Similarly, both the iPod classic and iPod nano feature high-resolution LCD displays with adjustable brightness settings that make them easy to read even in low-light conditions.

For more information, see the article from Axistive:   Accessibility Features on iPod nano (4th generation)

YouTube Gets Support for Closed Captioning

YouTube now provides users the option of selecting closed captions for online video content. Caption files that have text dialogue can be uploaded during the time of upload or afterwards on the YouTube website. YouTube also offers multiple language support to let viewers swap between different languages of a single video without having to leave playback.

Several content providers have begun including closed captioning in their videos, including CNET, MIT, and the BBC. On YouTube, all videos with closed captioning have it as an option in the lower right-hand corner menu. For more information on the closed captioning on YouTube, go to:  http://news.cnet.com/8301-17939_109-10028095-2.html?tag=mncol;title#comments

New Jersey Protection & Advocacy Becomes Disability Rights New Jersey

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Trenton, NJ- New Jersey Protection and Advocacy, Inc., the state’s designated protection and advocacy agency for persons with disabilities, announces it is changing its name effective October 1, 2008, to DISABILITY RIGHTS NEW JERSEY, while continuing its mission to advocate and advance the human, civil and legal rights of persons with disabilities.

“Our new name reflects our identity as part of the disability rights movement,” according to Acting Executive Director, Joseph B. Young. “It is part of a trend among the protection and advocacy agencies, represented in all 50 states and the U.S. territories, to make our mission readily recognizable by people with disabilities and the general public.”

Congress established the protection and advocacy systems beginning in the 1970s, in response to Geraldo Rivera’s expose of Willowbrook Developmental Center, a public institution for people with developmental disabilities. Rivera found appalling conditions of abuse and neglect, and the public outcry demanded that systems be put in place to protect and advocate for people in our society who are among the most vulnerable.

Over the last 30 years, protection and advocacy systems have grown to encompass more issues of concern to people with disabilities, including discrimination, physical and program accessibility, special education, voter rights, access to healthcare, vocational rehabilitation, and assistive technology. DRNJ currently administers ten programs statewide, offering individual and systems legal and non-legal advocacy, outreach, education and training, and information and referral services.

DRNJ’s staff of 41, its governing board (composed of a majority of persons with disabilities), and its advisory committees reflect a model that ensures people with disabilities, as well as racial, ethnic, and cultural minorities, are visible and important contributors.

When asked the single most important reason for working at DRNJ, the reply is invariably “the sense of satisfaction I receive in helping a person who lives in a society that presents challenges and barriers each day, and breaking down those barriers.”

For additional information about DRNJ, please call:
(800) 922-7233 (in NJ only)
(609) 292-9742
(609) 633-7106 (TTY)
Or visit our website at: http://www.drnj.org

TextAloud – Text to Speech Program Converts Text to Spoken Audio

TextAloud is a Text to Speech (TTS) software program that converts visual text into spoken audio. Designed by NextUp Technologies, TextAloud has a starting price of $29.95 and can be used with eBooks, scanned textbooks and study materials, online newspapers and websites, and e-mails. TextAloud offers a number of features, including a clipboard reader function to copy and paste text, a “read from cursor” option, which allows readers to pick up from where they left off, and the capability to translate text in a number of different languages. TextAloud is also compatible with systems using Windows (R) 98, NT, 2000, XP and Vista and can work with iTunes-compatible portable audio players.

For the latest news release on this product, go to: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2008/09/prweb1338924.htm

For more information about NextUp Technologies and their products, see: http://www.NextUp.com.

Closed-Captioned Media Will Soon Be Available on Airlines

As early as October 2008, closed-captioned media may be available on U.S. commercial airlines. Due to a collaboration between the IMS Company of California and the WGBH Media Access Group of Boston, portable in-flight entertainment devices can now allow passengers to choose whether or not to view captions. IMS has created portable media players capable of storing electronic text, which can then be synchronized to video and displayed on the screen. WGBH is responsible for the closed captioning of most major studio theatrical motion picture releases and is able to convert these captions into format compatible with the IMS in-flight entertainment devices. This collaboration of IMS and WGBH would be the first development to bring closed-captioning to airline passengers, following an announcement from the U.S. Department of Transportation in 2006 requiring all U.S. airlines to provide closed-caption capability on in-flight entertainment.

For the full news release, go to: http://www.airfax.com/airfax/releases/showrelease.asp?id=2256

For more information on WGBH Media Access Group, go to: http://main.wgbh.org/wgbh/access/access.html

For more information on the IMS Company, go to:  http://www.imsco.us.com/

Free Software Program for Individuals with Low Vision

Lighthouse International is now offering free online software for individuals with low vision. LowBrowse, an add-on to Mozilla’s Firefox browser, enables people with moderate or severe low vision to view web pages as the original web author intended, as well as read the text on those pages in a format that is tailored to their own visual needs.
Users can also customize font, text size, color contrast and letter spacing, as well as magnify images or have the text read aloud to them.

To download LowBrowse, visit: http://lowbrowse.lighthouse.org/apache2-default/

For related information about this software and other related technologies for low vision, see the article from the Wall Street Journal:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122091525305212313.html?mod=fpa_editors_picks

NJCART Meeting – Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The next NJCART meeting will be held on Tuesday, October 7, 2008 from 1-4 PM at the Matheny Medical and Educational Center, 65 Highland Ave, Peapack, NJ 07977. The topic of this meeting is Computer Access Technology. Members and non-members are welcome to attend.
For more information, call: (908) 234-0011

Please RSVP by Friday, October 3rd to Adam Krass by email: adam@adamkrassconsulting.com or phone: 201-618-2315.

Sponsored by the Matheny Technology Group, this meeting will focus on technology that provides access to computers. Featured will be a presentation outlining Matheny’s innovative 1-to-1 computing project, where each student receives a laptop computer. The Technology Group will also describe their computer access evaluation process, including some of the “latest and greatest” access technology. A light meal will be served.

Target Settles Suit with The National Federation of the Blind

Target has agreed to pay $6 million in damages to plaintiffs in California who filed suit in 2006 when the website was found to be inaccessible to blind users who were relying upon screen-reading software. Furthermore, Target is required to work with the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) to update its website with enhanced accessiblity by 2009. The NFB has agreed to certify Target’s website through its certification program once all improvements have been made.

For more on this story and the entire article go to:
http://www.cbc.ca/cp/business/080827/b082750A.html

New Improvements in Tongue-Operated Assistive Technology

Georgia Tech researchers are have developed a magnetic, tongue-operated system to resemble a virtual computer inside the user’s mouth. This “Tongue Drive System” could be used in the future to control computers, maneuver wheelchairs, or even manage home appliances. This system relies upon the work of a tiny magnet under the user’s tongue that is tracked by sensors on the sides of the cheeks. The sensory data is then transmitted into a headset that uses software to convert the movement into commands that are useful for manipulating devices, such as wheelchairs.

Similarly, newAbilities Systems Inc. of Palo Alto, CA has already designed a keypad to be placed on the roof of the mouth for tongue-powered control of electronics.

For the entire article on the magnetic Tongue Drive System, go to:
http://www.itexaminer.com/georgia-tech-develops-tongue-operated-assistive-technology.aspx

Online Courses at Walter Reed Use Assistive Technologies

An Information Technology Certification and Training program for veterans with traumatic brain injuries is now being offered online. The training program began in 2006 at Walter Reed and has provided assistive technologies, such as ZoomText Magnification Software, Dragon Speech-Recognition Software and assistive keyboards. Most recently, the program is being offered to veterans as an online course that requires users to participate with the on-site class with their home computers and a web cam. The classes are held on Tuesday and Thursday evenings.

For the entire article go to:

For more information from the Department of Veteran Affairs visit:

Universal Design in Higher Education: From Principles to Practice

Recently released by Harvard Education Press, Universal Design in Higher Education: From Principles to Practice serves as a guide for researchers and practitioners on creating completely accessible college and university programs. Edited by Sheryl E. Burgstahler and Rebecca C. Cory, this book combines the theory of universal design with practical guidelines for higher education institutions on such topics as physical and technological environments, student services, and curriculum and instruction. This book also provides thoughtful reflection on how universal design can be implemented at institutions of higher education.

Title: Univeral Design in Higher Education: From Principles to Practice
Editors: Sheryl E. Burgstahler & Rebecca C. Cory
Publisher: Harvard Education Press
Publish Date: May 2008
ISBN: 13: 978-1-891792-90-8

For more information or to order this title: http://www.hepg.orghep/Book/83

Ablewest’s Fourth Annual Half Day Fishing Trip

Saturday September 13, 2008 will mark the 4th Annual Half Day Fishing Trip for people with disabilities. Those who would like to attend will meet at the 18th St. Dock in Barnegat Light, NJ at 2:00 PM on the day of the trip. The boat is the Carolyn Ann III. The cost will be $25 per person; which will include fishing rods, bait, and ice. Bring your own cooler and there will also be someone to fillet the fish. There is room for 12 wheelchairs, as well as 45 people with other disabilities that are able to walk aboard the boat, along with support people, family, and friends.

YOU NEED TO SEND A CHECK TO RESERVE A PLACE ON THE BOAT

Please provide your contact Info and make the check for $25.00 payable to:
AbleWest Inc

Mail the check to:
AbleWest Inc.
72 Fairway Drive
Tuckerton, NJ 08087

New Special Browser Developed For Children With Autism

The Zac Browser is new assistive software that has been made available as a free tool for anyone to access. Some of the features of the Zac Browser is that it presents a child-friendly, simplified version of the Internet to users with by eliminating flashy advertisements and blocking violent, sexual, and adult-themed content. As an alternative, the Zac Browser emphasizes educational games, music, videos, and visually entertaining images.

To download the Zac Browser go to:
http://www.zacbrowser.com/

For the full story from ABC News visit:
http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/WireStory?id=4988861&page=3

Website Helps New Jersey Residents Exchange Assistive Technology Devices

TRENTON — The Assistive Technology Advocacy Center (ATAC) of Disability Rights New Jersey (DRNJ) recently launched a new website that allows New Jersey residents to acquire, sell or donate used equipment that helps people with disabilities be more independent.

The website, Back In Action (http://backinaction.drnj.org/), provides a way for New Jersey residents to exchange assistive technology devices.  Assistive technology (AT) is any equipment that improves life for people with disabilities, including walkers, wheelchairs, power scooters, text telephones, augmentative communication devices and adaptive computer software.   

Approximately 1.9 million New Jersey residents have some sort of disability.  Many of these individuals with disabilities use AT to help in their daily activities.   Back In Action is a tool to help New Jersey residents with disabilities get the devices they need to fully participate in their communities, including the workplace, school and home environment.

Back In Action puts assistive technology devices that are not currently being used into the hands of someone who can benefit from them. The program is designed to facilitate the exchange of used equipment between individuals.  Individuals who have excess or unused AT devices can use the Back In Action website to list these items for sale or donation.  Individuals with disabilities who need AT devices can search the Back In Action website to find a device that meets their needs.

The Back In Action website lists 11 categories of AT devices such as computers, mobility devices, items to assist with daily living or environmental adaptation, and vehicle modifications. Back In Action users can post free classified ads with a description and/or picture of the item for sale or donation, search for needed items and post want ads and request an e-mail alert when a needed item is listed. The sellers and buyers handle all transactions.

 

Back In Action cannot list medical supplies and equipment such as hearing aids, ventilators, oxygen equipment, and catheters on the website. Back In Action also cannot post items posing hygiene or safety risks, or items from vendors or distributors.

 

The Internet is the easiest way to access Back In Action listings. Residents without Internet access they can visit a local library for assistance accessing Back In Action online.  Those unable to access the Internet or who have specific problems in viewing the Back In Action listings can contact ATAC for assistance or request a free catalog at 1-800-922-7233 (In NJ), 609-292-9742 (Main Number), 609-633-7106 (TTY) or use the NJ Relay 711.

ATAC is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA), through the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services.  ATAC is administered by Disability Rights New Jersey, formerly New Jersey Protection and Advocacy, Inc., New Jersey’s designated protection and advocacy system for people with disabilities.

 

For additional information about Back In Action, please e-mail the program at BackInAction@drnj.org or visit the website http://backinaction.drnj.org/

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Member, National Disability Rights Network (NDRN)

New Jersey's designated protection and advocacy system for people with disabilities


Disability Rights New Jersey
210 S Broad Street, 3rd Floor
Trenton, New Jersey 08608
1.800.922.7233 (in NJ only) • 1.609.292.9742 (Voice)
1.609.777.0187 (Fax) • 1.609.633.7106 (TTY)
Email Us

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DRNJ is an Equal Opportunity Employer and provides services to all persons with disabilities regardless of race, creed, religion, color, national origin, age, marital status, familial status, sex, sexual or affectional orientation, ancestry or disability. Any concerns regarding the agency’s compliance with these non-discrimination efforts may be brought to the attention of the Executive Director.

Viewers are encouraged to download and reproduce content from this website. When doing so, it is requested that you give appropriate credit to DRNJ.

 

New Jersey's designated protection and advocacy system for people with disabilities


Disability Rights New Jersey
210 S Broad Street, 3rd Floor
Trenton, New Jersey 08608
1.800.922.7233 (in NJ only) • 1.609.292.9742 (Voice)
1.609.777.0187 (Fax) • 1.609.633.7106 (TTY)
Email Us

Disclaimer

DRNJ is an Equal Opportunity Employer and provides services to all persons with disabilities regardless of race, creed, religion, color, national origin, age, marital status, familial status, sex, sexual or affectional orientation, ancestry or disability. Any concerns regarding the agency’s compliance with these non-discrimination efforts may be brought to the attention of the Executive Director.

Viewers are encouraged to download and reproduce content from this website. When doing so, it is requested that you give appropriate credit to DRNJ.