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News You Can Use

When we find useful information related to assistive technology or disability, we'll post it here.

June 5, 2014: Chairman Wheeler To Award Innovators in Accessibility Technology

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE NEWS MEDIA CONTACT: JUNE 4, 2014 Michael Snyder at (202) 418-0997 E-mail: mailto:Michael.Snyder@fcc.gov FCC CHAIRMAN WHEELER TO HONOR INNOVATORS IN ACCESSIBILITY COMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGY WITH ANNUAL AWARDS Award-Winning Technology to Be Displayed at M-Enabling Summit Washington, D.C. – FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has selected the winners of the third annual Awards for Advancement in Accessibility (Chairman's AAA), which honor technologists who develop innovative communications products for people with disabilities. The Chairman will present the awards at a ceremony on Monday, June 9, 2014 at 5:15 p.m. at the M-Enabling Summit at the Renaissance Arlington Capital View Hotel in Arlington, Va. The award-winning technology will be displayed at a reception immediately following the ceremony. The Chairman’s AAA, a project of the FCC’s Accessibility and Innovation Initiative (A&I Initiative), recognizes outstanding private and public sector ventures in communications technology accessibility and innovation. The Chairman’s AAA is part of the A&I Initiative’s goal to facilitate ongoing exchanges among industry, assistive technology companies, app developers, government representatives and consumers to share best practices and solutions for accessible communications technologies. Winners have been chosen for seven categories: Advanced Communication Services (ACS), Employment Opportunities, Closed Captions, Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, Mobile Web Browsers, Social Media and Video Description. The awards ceremony is free and open to the public. Preregistration is required to attend. To preregister, send an e-mail to ChairmansAAA@fcc.gov and sign up for expo-only access at the M-Enabling summit at www.m-enabling.com/conreg.html. For more information on the M-Enabling Summit, please visit www.m-enabling.com. For more information about the FCC, visit FCC.gov.

Link to source: http://www.fcc.gov/document/chairman-wheeler-award-innovators-accessibility-technology.


May 28, 2014: Meal Preparation Made Easier

By Lesley Nesmith, MA, OTR/L, ATP - A good meal can be a source of energy, a form of self-expression and a time for fellowship. If you have limited use of your hands or arms, meal preparation can be a challenge. You may have difficulty reaching, lifting, gripping or twisting due to upper extremity weakness, mobility limitations, use of one arm, etc. Key tasks for meal preparation are cutting, mixing, opening items and, of course, then actually cooking. Many assistive devices and strategies are available that may help you cook more easily. Cutting. Some of the most common aids are slip-resistant pads to hold cutting boards in place. Other cutting boards are available with suction cups. Cutting boards with “spikes” to secure food are available or can be made. A peeler mounted on a clamp can be attached to a tabletop or cutting board so that foods such as apples or potatoes can be pushed or pulled across the blade with one hand. Power peelers for peeling fruits and vegetables are also available. A knife with a contoured handle set at a right angle to the blade or a rocking knife may make cutting easier for you. Mixing. For mixing, you can use slip-resistant mats or mixing bowls with suction cups to prevent slipping. Setting a bowl on a rubber ring may also work. To mix something on the stove, there are pots with automatic stirring features. There are also devices to hold a pan steady while food is stirred. Opening and Pouring. Openers come in many shapes and sizes and can be used to open bottles, jars, cans, twist caps and box tops. They range from gripper pads, to hand tools, to mounted devices. Both manual and electronic openers are available. To pour liquid from heavy or hot containers, there are tipping platforms designed for kettles, bottles and milk jugs. Cooking. Managing pots and pans is a big part of cooking. Use ergonomic pans, with handles that keep the wrist in a neutral position if you can. Clip-on handles can be used to make a one-handed pot into a two-handed one for easier carrying. Here are few other tips to make meal preparation easier: • Organize your ingredients, supplies and tools before you start cooking, so you have everything you need handy. • Sit down while cooking to save energy. • To avoid lifting heavy pans of hot water, use a wire mesh basket that fits inside the pan to lift out the food, leaving the water in the pan. • To make clean-up easier, soak dishes overnight first. You can find an array of devices and do-it-yourself ideas to support meal preparation at AbleData. Browse through the Food Preparation section of our Housekeeping product category to get a better sense of product options and ideas that might work for you. Or give us a call at 1-800-227-0216 with questions.

Link to source: http://abledata.com/abledata.cfm?pageid=19327&top=11521&deep=2&trail=22&ksectionid=19327.


May 6, 2014: AbleData Releases "How AT Can Help You in the Workplace"

AbleData has released a new guide to assist employees in understanding how assistive technologies can help them in the workplace and how to obtain them.

Link to source: http://www.abledata.com/abledata_docs/How%20AT%20Can%20Help%20You%20in%20the%20Workplace_PDF.pdf.


March 28, 2014: Technology changing lives for visually impaired people in developing countries

Assistive technology-screen readers and other communication software-can boost the economic and social aspirations of visually impaired people ANN ARBOR, USA: He was planning to be a lawyer because he didn't think visually impaired people like him could do high-tech jobs in India. But after discovering special technology that allows him to use computers, he changed his mind and now wants to be a software engineer.

Link to source: http://www.ciol.com/ciol/news/211856/technology-changing-lives-visually-impaired-people-developing-countries.


March 26, 2014: AbleData Releases "Tips for Choosing Assistive Technology Products for Yourself"

AbleData has released a new guide to assist customers in discovering their funding options for assistive technology and in finding resources to help.

Link to source: http://www.abledata.com/abledata_docs/What%20are%20Your%20Options%20to%20Pay%20for%20Assistive%20Devices.pdf.


March 4, 2014: Researchers explore assistive technology to improve life for children with autism, ADHD

We have tended to associate welfare technology with support for the elderly. Now researchers are looking at whether technology such as digital calendars and smartwatches can also provide support for children with autism and ADHD.

Link to source: http://www.news-medical.net/news/20140304/Researchers-explore-assistive-technology-to-improve-life-for-children-with-autism-ADHD.aspx.


February 24, 2014: CMS Seeks Input on Next Phase of Competitive Bidding Implementation

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) today announced that it will seek public comment as it moves toward nationwide implementation of the Medicare Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics, and Supplies (DMEPOS) Competitive Bidding Program. Currently, competitive bidding is in effect for a national mail order program for diabetic testing supplies and for additional items in 100 areas across the country. By 2016, Medicare must implement competitive bidding or competitive bidding pricing for included items to non-competitive bidding areas.

Link to source: http://www.cms.gov/Newsroom/MediaReleaseDatabase/Fact-sheets/2014-Fact-sheets-items/2014-02-24.html?DLPage=1&DLSort=0&DLSortDir=descending.


February 20, 2014:

The FCC’s Accessibility & Innovation Initiative will hold its next Speaker Series event Tuesday, March 11, 2014 from 9:00 a.m.-11:15 a.m. Dr. Juan E. Gilbert, Chair of the Human-Centered Computing Division at Clemson University will give a presentation on “Innovation in Voting Accessibility.” The speaker series highlights and encourages innovation in accessible communications technologies that will benefit people with disabilities. Following the presentation, from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., Dr. Gilbert and his team will give demonstrations of accessible technologies related voting accessibility in the FCC's Technology Experience Center.

Link to source: http://www.fcc.gov/document/fcc-ai-event-spotlight-innovation-voting-accessibility.


February 20, 2014: Study highlights lack of policies or guidelines regarding wheelchairs and seating provision in Ireland

A study on wheelchair provision, undertaken by the University of Limerick, has highlighted a worrying lack of any national policies or guidelines in support of the 40,000 people who use wheelchairs and seating assistive technology in Ireland. This HRB-funded study in partnership with SeatTech, Enable Ireland as the host organization and the University of Limerick, has worked with key stakeholders to identify system improvements and to develop a strategy for more efficient provision of wheelchair services.

Link to source: http://www.news-medical.net/news/20140220/Study-highlights-lack-of-policies-or-guidelines-regarding-wheelchairs-and-seating-provision-in-Ireland.aspx?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=study-highlights-lack-of-policies-or-guidelines-regarding-wheelchairs-and-seating-provision-in-ireland.


February 18, 2014: Webinar: The Promise of Olmstead Status of Assistive Technology use in planning for the needs of individuals with intellectual disabilities

A recent paper by Bryant, B. R., Soonwha, S., Minwook, O., & Bryant, D. (2012), on a study to identify and rate AT devices that are being used by individuals in group residential settings, found that a majority of respondents do not use AT. Many of the recent Department of Justice's American with Disability Act Olmstead settlement agreements have included AT assessment and services as part of state responsibilities. How are statewide AT programs assisting with AT service provision and planning for individuals with intellectual disabilities? This webinar hosted on 2/26/14 will explore the current status of transition efforts, available resources, and best practices. Presenters include Brian Bryant, PhD, Andy Winnegar, Southwest ADA Center, and Janice Carson, Director of the Idaho Assistive Technology Project.

Link to source: http://www.adaconferences.org/RESNA/.


February 12, 2014: Participate in Home Modification Practitioner Survey

The NIDRR-funded Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Universal Design and the Built Environment (RERC UD) is conducting an online survey of individuals working as home modification practitioners to yield a comprehensive picture of successful home modification practices. Practitioners may include therapists, architects, contractors, service coordinators or consumers. Participants will receive a $25 Target gift card as compensation. For questions, contact Danise Levine at 716/829-5903.

Link to source: http://surveymonkey.com/s/homemods.


February 11, 2014: Webinar: Affordable, Cutting Edge Mobile Technologies to Improve Executive Function and Learning

Therapists, teachers, parents and others who work with students who have executive functioning and learning challenges are welcome to attend a free 90 minute webinar on 2/13/14 from 4:30-6:00 PM EST with practical and affordable ideas for using touch tablets , smartphones and computers to improve attention, organization, executive functioning and learning. Join Joan Lipman Green, a speech-language pathologist who specializes in empowering families as well as professionals with the knowledge of technology tools and strategies to speed up progress toward goals and enhance academic success. In this webinar she will highlight her top picks of apps and interactive web sites as well as built- in accessibility options of mainstream devices to help you zero in on the technologies that may be most appropriate for your students.

Link to source: https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/707764738.


February 3, 2014: Announcing workshop on research initiatives on IP-based relay technologies

The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) Consumer and Governmental Affairs issued a Public Notice announcing a workshop on research initiatives on IP-based relay technologies. The workshop will be held at the FCC’s headquarters, located at 445 12th Street, SW, Washington, DC 20554 on Tuesday, February 18, 2014 from 9:30 to 12:30. The FCC and the National Institute on Aging will host the workshop, which is the first in a series of workshops to gather and incorporate stakeholder input on the types of research that are needed to improve the functional equivalency and efficiency of TRS.

Link to source: http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-14-117A1.txt.


January 28, 2014: FCC Grants One-Year Waiver of Accessibility Rules for Basic E-Readers

FCC rules implementing the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (CVAA) require equipment used for advanced communications services (ACS) to be accessible to individuals with disabilities. The FCC may waive these ACS accessibility requirements for devices that are capable of accessing ACS, but are designed primarily for purposes other than using ACS. On January 28, 2014, the FCC’s Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau granted a one-year waiver of its ACS accessibility rules for “basic e-readers” that are designed primarily for the purpose of reading text-based digital works, such as books, and that meet specific requirements.

Link to source: http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-14-95A1.txt.


January 24, 2014: Nominations for the 2014 Henry Viscardi Achievement Awards are now being accepted.

Nominations for the 2014 Henry Viscardi Achievement Awards are now being accepted. The Henry Viscardi Achievement Awards were established to honor the legacy and vision of The Viscardi Center’s founder, Dr. Henry Viscardi, Jr., who himself wore prosthetic legs. As one of the world’s leading advocates for people with disabilities, he served as a disability advisor to eight presidents, from Franklin D. Roosevelt to Jimmy Carter. These international awards, first bestowed in March 2013, recognize contemporary exemplary members of the global disability community who through their actions have and/or are shaping attitudes, raising awareness, and improving the quality of life of people with disabilities. Submit your nomination by February 28, 2014 at 5:00 p.m. EST.

Link to source: http://support.viscardicenter.org/site/Survey?ACTION_REQUIRED=URI_ACTION_USER_REQUESTS&SURVEY_ID=1605.


January 22, 2014: Participate in Survey of Cognitive Disability and Technology

The NIDRR-funded Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center for Cognitive Rehabilitation (RERC-ACT) and its partner Beneficial Designs are conducting a survey to gather stakeholder feedback on what makes technology difficult or easy for people with cognitive disabilities to use. People with expertise in cognitive disabilities, including caretaking or research, may take the survey online. Individuals with cognitive disabilities are invited to schedule a structured telephone interview about their technology use and opinions by contacting Seanna Kringen at 831/685-4798 or seanna@beneficialdesigns.com.

Link to source: http://www.beneficialdesigns.com/universal-design-and-standards/development-of-uniform-standards-for-cognitive-technologies/survey.


January 16, 2014: Microsoft to provide free downloads of Window-Eyes to purchasers of Microsoft Office

Today I am pleased to announce that Microsoft and GW Micro are partnering to provide people who are blind or have low vision improved access to Microsoft Office. Starting today, customers who have purchased and installed any version of Microsoft Office 2010 or 2013, including both perpetual and subscription clients, are eligible to download a free copy of Window-Eyes, GW Micro's widely used and highly regarded screen reading software.

Link to source: http://blogs.office.com/b/office-news/archive/2014/01/14/announcing-improved-access-to-office.aspx.


January 15, 2014: Gift of mobility: West Sider helps develop ‘KidWalk’

A West Sider’s penchant for tinkering and passion for developing technology that helps others overcome physical limitations is helping give the gift of mobility to children afflicted with debilitating medical conditions. Rick Escobar, a 1967 Orestimba High graduate, has been involved in developing assistive technology projects for nearly 20 years and today operates his own business, Assistive Technology Designs, from the Jorgensen Road ranch on which he was raised.

Link to source: http://www.westsideconnect.com/2014/01/15/gift-of-mobility-west-sider-helps-develop-kidwalk/.


January 15, 2014: Dubai special needs centre in Qatar tieup

Dubai-based Al Noor Training Centre for Children with Special Needs has signed an three-year partnership agreement with Qatar Assistive Technology Center (Mada) to work together to connect people with disabilities with the world of information and communication technology. This alliance is aimed at promoting the uptake and usage of assistive technologies amongst people with a disability in the Gulf region.

Link to source: http://www.tradearabia.com/news/EDU_249837.html.


January 14, 2014: Accessibility highlights from the Consumer Electronics Show

The annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) was held last week in Las Vegas, revealing a number of interesting new products that are likely to turn up in our stores in the months to come. Here are some of the main themes this year and their accessibility implications.

Link to source: http://m.mediaaccess.org.au/latest_news/general/accessibility-highlights-from-the-consumer-electronics-show.


January 13, 2014: Product Review: Why the iPhone 5s is a terrific accessibility tool

As a freelance tech writer, I’ve focused primarily on accessibility and recently, it’s been a good beat to have. Apple has shown unwavering commitment to implementing and updating the accessibility features found on OS X and iOS, even going so far as to tip its hat to the accessibility community in its iPhone TV ads. The accessibility features found on Apple’s platforms enable users with special needs— myself included—to interact with their devices with as much fluidity and delight as the fully-abled do.

Link to source: http://www.macworld.com/article/2084805/why-the-iphone-5s-is-a-terrific-accessibility-tool.html.


January 3, 2014: Man Builds Custom Wheelchair to Help Woman with Dwarfism

FREEPORT (WIFR) – A Freeport man used his talents to create what could be one of the first wheelchairs for someone with dwarfism. “I could never go anywhere by myself.” It’s been a struggle for Barb Turner to get around her house recently. She was born with Achondroplasia, a form of dwarfism, a condition she says has gotten worse in the last few years, so much so, Barb says she needed a wheelchair. “I’d have to use a wheelchair or my walker, it was kind of hard." Barb spent two years looking for a company to build a custom wheel chair for someone like her. She says she felt like a kid with a new toy when she first got the wheelchair. “I got to know Barb and realized how she’s been living in the condition that she’s had to endure these few years without having something nice to even sit in,” said Brian Crowe, who built Barb’s wheelchair.

Link to source: http://www.wifr.com/news/headlines/Man-Builds-Custom-Wheelchair-to-Help--235487341.html.


January 3, 2014: A Mind-Controlled Exoskeleton Will Kick Off the 2014 World Cup

It won't be a superstar football player who takes the first kick of 2014's Football World Cup in Brazil. Nope, instead, it will be a teenager, paralysed from the waist down, who will use the world's most advanced mind-controlled exoskeleton to get things underway. A small part of a large-scale international collaborative project called Walk Again, the exoskeleton technology in question supports the lower body, using brain activity to trigger movements in the suit. Brain waves are detected using electrodes on the scalp, beamed wirelessly to the exoskeleton, and processed into commands which produce movement.

Link to source: http://gizmodo.com/a-mind-controlled-exoskeleton-will-kick-off-2014s-socc-1493046675.


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