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FEMA Text Message Program

Contributed by Provi Sharpe, Director of Emergency Management and Reuse Projects

It is vital to stay informed during an emergency – whether that emergency is bad or severe weather or some other sort of disaster,  you can get the information you need to help you be prepared and stay safe with text message alerts available from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) via their Text Message Program.

The FEMA Text Message Program can be used in two ways: to receive regular safety tips for specific disaster types, or to search for open shelters and open disaster recovery centers.

All FEMA text messages are sent from their dedicated number, which is 43362 (4FEMA).  This text message program is not a substitute for 9-1-1. During an emergency, call your local fire/EMS/police or 9-1-1 for assistance. For a list of all the disaster specific keywords you can sign up to receive bi-monthly safety tips for, follow this link.

You can also use the FEMA text message program to receive a link for the FEMA smartphone app for your specific mobile device. FEMA will reply with a link back to your phone’s specific app store.  For Apple devices: text APPLE to 43362 (4FEMA); for Android devices: text ANDROID to 43362 (4FEMA); for Blackberry devices: text BLACKBERRY to 43362 (4FEMA)

Avoid Form Auto-focusing

Users should typically have control over the position of their cursor. Avoid using JavaScript or the HTML5 autofocus attribute to automatically place focus into a form control unless the entire purpose of that application is for user interaction in that field (such as the Search text box at google.com). Automatically setting focus within the page can cause confusion for keyboard users who immediately interact with internal page content rather than the page’s initial content (typically the site name/logo and navigation).

BeMyEyes App, 1/27/15

Sighted Assistance From BeMyEyes

Contributed by Joel Zimba, Special Projects Coordinator

I just used BeMyEyes for the first time.  It is a straight forward utility app which connects a sighted volunteer with a blind user.  Through use of the back camera of an iPhone and the microphone, the sighted volunteer can give spoken guidance in solving a given task.

From initial startup, I was talking to someone in under 4 minutes.  Simply select whether you want to be a sighted assistant or a blind user and then sign up for the service and you are off and running.  Once you click the button to speak with the next person in the queue, the clock is ticking.  After about two minutes I had someone on the line who helped me calibrate my touch screen thermostat.

The hardest part about using BeMyEyes app is  aiming the camera with one hand while manipulating objects with the other.  With practice, I’m sure work-arounds can be found.   Of course,  getting everything in focus and the lighting just right can also be tricky.  There was a bit of initial fumbling, but eventually, we were in business.

BeMyEyes already has around ten thousand volunteers and the number is growing. This means the wait time will stay low and no single volunteer will be bombarded with requests.  Best of all, BeMyEyes is free, and we hope it stays that way.

The simplicity of this tool is made possible through the over-abundance of processing power available in mobile devices. Tossing around 2-way audio and a video feed would have been difficult just a couple of years ago.

It’s worth noting that I conducted my experiments using WIFI, and this could quickly devour your data plan, so be mindful of how you choose to connect when using this app.


“Loosely Speaking: An Anthology of Life with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome,” (EDS) is a collection of art, poetry, prose, and other such works, by people with EDS and their caregivers.  The goal is to share realistic, authentic experiences, to understand the hobble through life, and to give hope.  The idea is to bring the humanity into the medical lives of those with EDS.

Volume 2 of Loosely Speaking is now accepting submissions of writing, art, photography, or any other medium can be pressed into a book!

Examples of submissions for Volume 2:

-Your experience as a patient/provider/caregiver/friend/etc.

-Successes after confusing battles

-Times to let go and cope

-Frustrations with health care systems and successful workarounds

-How it feels to watch someone you care about going through life with EDS

-How it feels to be able to help (or not)

-Self-care as a provider/caregiver

-What EDS has helped you learn about your own life

-Something beautiful or bittersweet that has come of your experience with EDS


Submission Guidelines can be found here: https://sites.google.com/site/looselywriting/

Volume 1: http://blur.by/15kkhqq

Entries: LS.Submissions@gmail.com


A smart scarf that reads emotions, an ibrailler app (to start brailling on the iPad), prosthetics with a sense of touch, and much more. The future of human-centered technology is big and bright! Get a glimpse of some of it right here – AT in the news for the week of 1/19 thru 1/23

A Blind Woman Gains New Freedom, Click By Click By Click

Students AT designers! RESNA’s annual design competition is open for registration; cash prizes and more!

Maps That You Can Hear and Touch

How accessible is the Internet?

Microsoft shows off smart scarf prototype for people with disabilities

Autism Tracking Device Proposal Gets Renewed Push

Aren’t there more important things to worry about than the words we use? An essay on ableist language.

Google adds screen reader support to Docs, Sheets and Slides apps

Knowbility’s Community Heroes of Accessibility Nominations Announced

New ibrailler app turns iPad touchscreen into braillewriter

Want to invent the next big thing? Think like a kid.

New technology allows disabled children to make music using their EYES

12 Israeli Technologies Changing the Lives of the Disabled in 2015

Japanese robot a tireless aid in dementia care

Sightless get written word from new phone app

Making the Grade: Reading becomes a joy for special-needs students

New prosthetics create a genuine sense of touch to function

At 90, She’s Designing Tech For Aging Boomers


The Equipment Link website got a new lift! It’s now easier than ever to search and post equipment. And just in case you’d like us to do the work for you, here’s a short list of some of the newest AT listed –

Mobility, Seating, Positioning:

  • Geri Chair – Priced at $250
  • Hoyer Lift – Available for Donation

If you have questions about any of the items listed, or would like more information on how to acquire an item that’s on the site, contact us at 1-800-832-4827 or mdtap@mdtap.org.

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MDTAP | 2301 Argonne Drive, Room T17 Baltimore, Maryland 21218| Voice: 410-554-9230 Toll Free ⁄ Voice 1-800-832-4827|Email: mdtap@mdtap.org