Feed on

We were busy in the field last week and didn’t have a chance to post our AT News Wrap Up, so this week you get double the fun. We’ve got tactile books for Halloween, apps for stroke patients, 3D printed braces for kids, and way more. So pull up a seat, grab your coffee, and take a mid-morning break – AT in the news for the weeks of 10/13 thru 10/24.

W3C Working Draft 23 October 2014

Candy Corn: Creating a tactile book for Halloween

Helping Parents Deal With Learning and Attention Issues

Power Wheels Offer Lift For Kids With Special Needs

User-friendly electronic ‘EyeCane’ enhances navigational abilities for persons with blindness

Lyft Community Portraits: Jennison

Think Beyond the Mailroom for Disability Hiring

How tech advances are helping innovators do more for people with disabilities

iPhone 6 and iOS 8: A Look at Accessibility with the Help of iOS Without the Eye

Transplant Helps Paralyzed Man Walk Again

Startup using crowdfunding + 3D printing to make faster, cheaper back braces for kids

UNI Deaf Communication Device Demonstration

How One Boy With Autism Became BFF With Apple’s Siri

BLITAB, the tablet for blind people now is reality

A Better Prosthesis

Smart walkers lead the way for Japanese elder-care robots

UD unveils new harness technology to give disabled real world mobility

Custom-fitting freedom, training for mobility

Closed-Captioning Could Be ‘Coming To a Theater Near You,’ Muse Says

With RogerVoice, Deaf People Can Make Their First Phone Calls

DOL website educates employers, tech industry on accessibility

SightCompass uses Bluetooth beacons to inform visually impaired of their surroundings

Hopkins neuroscientist creates iOS game to help stroke patients

W4A 2015: Improving Accessibility of the Web, Mobiles and Wearables!

Project RAY now provides a complete set of Android applications (apps) for the visually impaired

It’s that time of month again where we feature some of the updated and newest items posted on Equipment Link. To see a complete listing, visit www.equipmentlink.org.

Here is a short list of the latest listings on Equipment Link:

Bathlift, Cover and Transfer Board – $250 or Best Offer, Ellicott City, MD

Electric Scooter – Free, Westminster, MD

Bariatric Transport Wheelchair – $200, Towson, MD

Lift Chair – $600, Cockeysville, MD

Adult Push-Button Aluminum Crutches – $5, Nottingham, MD

Stair Glide – Free, Olney, MD

Queen Size Adjustable Bed and Mattress – Free, Olney, MD

Twin Size Adjustable Bed and Mattress – Free, Olney, MD

Handicap Lift/Elevator – Best Offer, Annapolis, MD

Sensory Characteristics

Avoid relying on sensory characteristics, such as shape, size, or visual location. For example, “Click the green button” will not be useful to screen reader users or some users who are color blind. Instead, use “Click on the green button labeled ‘submit'” or simply “Click the ‘submit’ button”. Similarly, “Use the form on the right” could be changed to something more descriptive such as, “Use the search form on the right.” Other examples include prompts such as “Click the larger button,” “Select a state on the east coast on the map”, “Instructions are included in the sidebar”, etc. Purely auditory cues (“Click ‘Continue’ after you hear the beep”) should also be avoided.

Contributed by Lori Markland, Director of Communications, Outreach, and Development, MDTAP

Voice recognition is everywhere. In our smartphones (do you talk to Siri?) and embedded in nearly every customer support 800-line (seriously, have you ever called about your internet or cable services and answered “yes” “no” questions?). Talking to a computer isn’t something new, and it most especially isn’t new in the field of technology for individuals with disabilities. But recently, at an education conference, someone asked about the differences between the Dragon Dictation App and Dragon Naturally Speaking software. Here’s a quick run down, so you can decide what will work best for you or your students/clients/patients:

Dragon Dictation

  • An app that allows you to send emails, text messages, dictate status updates directly to your Social Networking applications (Facebook and Twitter) or send notes and reminders to yourself using only your voice.
  • Works on smart devices only (i.e. iPhones, iPads, etc., but not on a computer)
  • Has a set voice file, meaning that it will always recognize or NOT recognize certain words. It knows what it knows, nothing more.
  • It’s FREE

Dragon Naturally Speaking

  • A comprehensive software package that runs on the computer and allows someone to dictate documents, emails, and search the web all with voice only.
  • The user requires training to learn the shortcuts and navigation methods built into the software.
  • The software “learns” the users speech nuances and inflections, increasing accuracy the more often it is used.
  • Requires a good noise cancelling headset.
  • Costs about $100 for an individual user license.


Who Might Use Speech Recognition Software?

  • Someone who struggles with writing but has better oral skills
  • Consistent speech volume and enunciation
  • Ability to think, dictate, read and edit
  • Someone who has a good frustration tolerance


As an aside, the Windows 7 operating system includes built-in speech recognition software. This is a free alternative to purchasing software and can be a good introduction to whether or not the software will work for you.


US Labor Department’s Office of Disability Employment Policy announces
launch of Web portal on accessible workplace technology

US Labor Department's Office of Disability Employment Policy announces launch of Web portal on accessible workplace technology

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy announced the launch of http://www.PEATworks.org — a comprehensive Web portal spearheaded by ODEP’s Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology. From educational articles to interactive tools, the website’s content aims to help employers and the technology industry adopt accessible technology as part of everyday business practice so that all workers can benefit.

PEATworks.org will be the central hub of PEAT, a multifaceted initiative to improve the employment, retention and career advancement of people with disabilities through the promotion of accessible technology. PEAT conducts outreach, facilitates collaboration and provides a mix of resources to serve as a catalyst for policy development and innovation related to accessible technology in the workplace.

“PEAT is the only entity of its kind bringing together employers, technology providers, thought leaders and technology users around the topic of accessible technology and employment,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy Kathy Martinez. “Given the critical role that accessible technology plays in the employment of people with disabilities, ODEP is delighted to announce the launch of PEATworks.org, with its rich array of tools and resources.

Features of PEATworks.org include an action guide for employers and informational articles, and it will serve as a platform for collaboration and dialogue around accessible technology in the workplace. Also featured is “TechCheck,” an interactive tool to help employers assess their technology accessibility practices and find resources to help develop them further.

ODEP is announcing the launch of PEATworks.org during National Disability Employment Awareness Month, an annual series of events in October that raise awareness and celebrate the many and varied contributions of America’s workers with disabilities.

PEAT is managed through an ODEP-funded grant to the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America. For more information, visit http://www.PEATworks.org.

2nd Mid-Atlantic Deaf and Hard of Hearing Festival

Saturday, November 15, 2014, 9am-5pm @ the Howard County Fair Grounds, 2210 Fairgrounds Rd, West Friendship, MD 21794

Learn more online!

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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