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Because the teaching methods used in math classes tend to be highly visual, many blind and visually impaired students have trouble grasping math concepts and keeping up with assignments. However, math can be taught using hands-on methods that benefit all students. Jim Franklin, an inclusion elementary special education teacher at Elm Street Elementary School in Rome, Georgia, developed the Slide-Around-Math Manipulative .

The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) recently published an article on how Slide-Around-Math works, and the benefits it poses for students who are blind or visually impaired. Read more online to learn about this new method for teaching math to students of all abilities.

Ever wonder which devices might be helpful for someone with dementia? Or apps that could help a kid communicate about pain levels? Or maybe what movies you can stream with audio description? Answers to all of these and more are covered in this week’s AT News Wrap Up (for 4/20 – 4/24). Check it out!

How to write with your brain

New techniques for eye-gaze tracking could change computer interaction

Assistive Technology for People with Hearing Impairment

From braille to iPad: a new app enables the blind to learn

It Hurts! Pain Management Apps for Children

App opens up smartphone use for people with arm paralysis

Virtual to reality video games to help teach disabled children cognitive skills

Netflix adds descriptive audio tracks for visually impaired, starting with Daredevil

Self-Lacing Shoe Setbacks Taken in Stride

Program Looks To Turn People With Disabilities Into Entrepreneurs

Improving Accessibility of Government Websites

Judge rules that blind passengers can sue Uber for discrimination

Which? reviews assistive technology gadgets for dementia and falls

VisiTalks: A Great Tool For Communication Between Deaf And Hearing People

Parasitic flies inspire potential revolution in hearing aids

Australian twins with muscular dystrophy enable themselves through 3D printing

The Promise Of Invisibles


We have a LOT of new items on Equipment Link. Here are just a few –

Personal Lift – Free

Wheelchair – Free

Hoyer Lift – Free

Padded Crutches with Platform Attachment – priced at $35

ROHO Cushion – priced at $195

Jazzy Reclining Power Chair – priced at $3,999

High Back Reclining Manual Wheelchair – priced at $75 Manual Wheelchair – priced at $50

Up N Go by Easy Walker – $800 or Best Offer

Hospital Bed – Free

Raised Toilet Seat with Elevated Rails – priced at $15

IV Drip Bag Pole – priced at $125

Bariatric Raised Toilet Seat with Legs – priced at $15


And much can be found on the Equipment Link.

ARIA Roles and Native Semantics

ARIA roles enhance or change the semantics and meaning of page elements. Whenever possible, the proper native HTML elements should be used. For example, while role=”button” could be added to a scripted link that is used to submit a form, a native button element would provide this same functionality in less markup and without relying on ARIA.

Additionally, an ARIA role should not be used if it is the same as the default role of the element. For example, role=”button” on a <button> element, role=”grid” on a table, or role=”checkbox” on an <input type=”checkbox”> would be redundant and unnecessary.

Document Scanning, The Missing Link

Contributed by Joel Zimba, Special Projects Coordinator, MDTAP

How many articles have we posted about scanning printed documents using OCR software?  We don’t know either, but you could always try using the “Search” feature on the blog.  Anyway, it is not insignificant.  Often, I write about a new piece of stand alone hardware, or the latest and greatest software to run on your computer or SmartPhone which will have you up in scanning right away.

There’s a piece of that scanning chain missing—the stand.  In the bad ol’ days, we laid a document on a flat bed scanner or fed it into a document feeder and let the software do its job.  This worked fine for unbound pages.  Then we had the cameras which would click a picture of anything laying under it.  This worked great for all kinds of documents.  The Hover Cam and the EyePal are examples of this style of stand.  When it comes to scanning with a mobile device, things get more complicated.

Who needs a stand?  You can always just grab your phone with both hands and do the cannoneer squat.  That’s where the device forms the apex of a triangle, with your two elbows forming the base.  Your document is between your elbows and underneath the device. To put the historical reference in context—remember the little green army men?  We Cold War kids would cultivate our nationalistic aggressiveness by creating elaborate trench warfare scenes in which the binocular holding figures (with elbows forming this particular triangle) would help sight-in the next barrage from the giant foot-long cannons.

This approach works better than you might initially expect.  For a one-off situation, a little practice will yield surprisingly good results.  If you want to scan several pages at a time, this becomes tedious. Hence, the need for a scanning stand for the mobile device.

If you’re the DIY type, many such stands can be made out of cardboard or other similar rigid material.  These stands frequently fold flat and then form into a large box with a hole in the top.  Place camera over hole, height of box determines optimal focal length, and you get the picture—no pun intended.

Then there are all of the mobile document-scanning stands which can be purchased.  Amazon lists at least a dozen, ranging in price from $12 to upward of $70. At MDTAP we currently have the ScanJig.  It is strong, light-weight and about the size of a legal folder, though the folder in question would be holding a couple of hundred pages to achieve the proper thickness.

The top surface of the ScanJig opens upward and to the side, like a book, allowing a mobile device to point at the document which is placed upon the base.  The camera is at an angle to the document, the closer said angle gets to 90 degrees, the larger the field of view.  Convenient slots and pegs are provided which help to position the ScanJig’s top and the mobile device exactly as desired.

I find the ScanJig a bit fiddly to get just right.  I have not spent extensive time testing other models, though many seem to work on the principle of facing directly down over a document and moving a platform up and down to focus properly.  I have recently heard favorable reviews of the Fopydo stand and expect to review it myself in the near future.

A stand is not required, though I highly recommend one.  The time it takes to scan several pages decreases dramatically when both hands are free to shuffle pages. I have scanned both textbooks and novels.  I can’t imagine doing this without a stand.  With one, however, scanning with a mobile device should work every bit as well as the stationairy scanning solutions.


Phorm is a new technology that turns the touchscreen keyboard on your iPad into a tactile experience. It requires no batteries or charging – it’s completely human powered.

“But how?” you ask. Well, when you start to type, tactile “finger guides” appear over each letter, allowing someone to touch type quickly and effectively using the keyboard. And when the user is finished with the keyboard, the buttons go away. Watch a demonstration on YouTube, or visit the Phorm website to see exactly how this technology can improve iPad access for many users.

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