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Debra Young, an Occupational Therapist, has created an online resource for accessible design called Nest for Life.  Through a series of growing YouTube videos, she shares tips for making your home easier to use and access.

Check out the YouTube video tips for accessible design.

You can also follow Nest for Life on Facebook.

And on Twitter.

Examples of video topics include, Wide Doors and Doorways, This Kitchen Faucet Makes Life Easier, and Turning on Your Lights…like a BOSS!

Check out the videos and share with someone who might benefit!

 

Contact: Lori Markland 

443-769-1057

lmarkland@maryland529.org

 

Maryland ABLE logo

 

MARYLAND ABLE OPENS FOR ENROLLMENT


Baltimore, MD (November 28, 2017) — Marylanders with disabilities now have a new way to save for the future. Maryland 529 is pleased to announce the launch of Maryland ABLE, an innovative and landmark investment program that offers individuals with disabilities the opportunity to save money without jeopardizing access to federal and state means-tested benefits. The Stephen Beck, Jr., Achieving a Better Life Experience Act of 2014 (“ABLE”) is a federal law which allows states to establish and maintain these accounts. The Maryland ABLE Act was signed into law by Governor Larry Hogan on April 12, 2016.

Established in partnership with the State of Oregon and Sumday Administration, LLC, Maryland ABLE is now accepting online enrollment to its diverse financial investment options available through an accessible, easy-to-use website. With access to online account customization, account management, online recordkeeping, and a specialized customer service team, Maryland ABLE anticipates reaching a large number of eligible Marylanders with disabilities. 

“The launch of the Maryland ABLE program is a culmination of a bipartisan effort by citizens, advocates, and lawmakers working together to ensure that Marylanders with disabilities have the ability to save money while maintaining access to important benefits,” said Governor Hogan. “This new program will offer the financial security that so many families and individuals need, and is one more way in which we are changing Maryland for the better.”

“I am thrilled to see Maryland’s ABLE program launch after working for several sessions on the legislation to create this much needed financial tool,” stated Senator Brian Feldman, one of the Maryland ABLE bill sponsors in 2016, “ABLE accounts may assist up to 50,000 disabled Marylanders and their families in setting aside money on a tax-advantaged basis that can be used to support their health, independence and a better quality of life.”

ABLE accounts across the nation allow for up to $14,000 in annual contributions (increasing to $15,000 in 2018), the opportunity to save up to $100,000 before impacting Social Security Income (SSI) cash benefits, the opportunity to grow assets tax free, and the opportunity to withdrawal funds tax free as long as the money is used for qualified disability expenses.

“The ABLE Act will make a positive difference in the lives of thousands of Marylanders with disabilities. It will help provide the resources they need to save for the future and be successful” noted Senator Craig Zucker, sponsor of the 2016 Maryland ABLE bill.

Features of the Maryland ABLE plan include the opportunity to save up to $350,000 over the lifetime of the account, access to an income deduction on Maryland State taxes of up to $2,500 for account contributions per beneficiary, and a minimum initial contribution of $25 to open the account. Once the investment options are chosen, there will be a $35 annual account maintenance fee and additional asset-based fees charged indirectly to the portfolio assets. Maryland ABLE will offer one FDIC-insured cash option and three investment options with distinct investment objectives, allowing Marylanders the freedom to pay for today’s needed disability expenses while saving for the future. In addition, Maryland ABLE will unroll a Prepaid MasterCard option in early 2018.

“Maryland ABLE offers individuals with disabilities the opportunity to save money in a way not possible before. I believe that for many, this will lead to greater personal empowerment and a financial freedom that was previously not attainable,” said Nancy Kopp, Maryland State Treasurer and Chair of the Maryland 529 Board. “I’m delighted to see this culmination of advocacy and hard work result in a program that will positively impact the personal financial goals of so many Marylanders with disabilities.”

Maryland is among a select group of states offering ABLE programs across the United States. For more information on Maryland ABLE and to enroll, visit www.marylandable.org.

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About Maryland ABLE

Maryland ABLE accounts are a new way to help individuals with disabilities save money and pay for qualified disability-related expenses without jeopardizing federal means-tested benefits such as SSI or Medicaid. Maryland ABLE is focused on helping citizens with disabilities achieve greater financial security, build wealth, and contribute to long-term economic stability. 

Learn more about Maryland ABLE at marylandable.org

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Contributed by Erin Swann, MSE, ATP

With Black Friday quickly approaching, now is typically the best time of year to purchase an Amazon Echo product.  Other than the Amazon Echo, other Amazon Echo product options include the Echo Dot, Echo Plus, Echo Show, and Echo Spot.

You have probably heard about or seen commercials for the voice-controlled device called the Amazon Echo. But have you thought about ways this device could help someone with a disability?

Memory:

  • Using the Find My Phone function, the Echo can cause your phone to ring letting you know where it is located.
  • The Echo can have reminders programmed to let you know when to take your medicine or when to take a stretch break at work.
  • A timer can be set to let you know when your food is ready to come out of the oven or when it’s time to change your laundry from the washer to the dryer.

Cognitive:

  • The echo can tell you the day, time, and weather.
  • Words can be spelled and defined.

Physical:

  • With the use of external devices, the Amazon Echo can be used to turn on lights and fans or control door locks, the thermostat, or the TV.
  • Audiobooks can be read to you so you don’t have to turn the pages.
  • You can add items to your shopping list or to do list by voice as well as place orders through Amazon.
  • You can call, text, or email friends or family in case of an emergency using a voice command.

And that’s just the beginning.  New functions are being added to the Amazon Echo all the time.  If you would like to see a demonstration and learn more about the Amazon Echo, contact the Maryland Technology Assistance Program by calling 1-800-832-4827 or emailing mdtap@mdtap.org to schedule an appointment.

 

Contributed by Erin Swann, MSE, ATP

The BJOY Ring is a device that would allow a wheelchair joystick to be used to control mouse movement on a computer screen. In addition to controlling a computer, the BJOY Ring could also be used to control tablets or smartphones that allow for cursor input.

Mouse clicking could be achieved by activating external switches that are plugged into the BJOY Ring. Additionally, clicking could be done using dwell clicking software, which performs a click when the mouse rests in one location for a specified amount of time.

The BJOY Ring comes in a wired or wireless version. Each BJOY Ring transmitter can be paired with up to four receivers allowing the control of four different devices. The user could switch between controlling different devices and driving the wheelchair independently by performing patterned movements on the joystick.

The BJOY Ring device could be a great computer access solution for someone who is already proficient at operating their wheelchair joystick.  With the use of an onscreen keyboard, the user could access all keyboard and mouse operations on their computer using the BJOY Ring.

Send us a message at mdtap@mdtap.org if you’d like to give the BJOY Ring a try!

 

Contributed by Paul Burden from Our Voice

 

Amazon Echo Voice Assistant

The Amazon Echo, sometimes called Alexa, is the most popular personal voice assistant on the market, by far.  The Echo enjoys more than 80% market share in the voice assistant arena.  The Echo has fundamentally changed the way we use technology and can be especially beneficial for seniors, the blind and low vision community and people with neurological issues.   

 

Voice Instead of Keyboard

With the Echo, there’s no complicated software to learn and update; no keyboard, users simply speak. Using voice only, users can:

  • Have their favorite music played
  • Get the latest headlines and weather
  • Listen to their favorite radio stations and podcasts
  • Have books read to them
  • Do their shopping
  • Manage their calendars
  • Contact family and friends in case of an emergency
  • Query the Internet for information
  • Make and receive phone calls
  • And much more

 

While the Echo is very easy to use, it can be difficult to set up and configure. That’s where Our Voice comes in, a company comprised of Amazon Echo experts. Our Voice, a partner of Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind, installs, customizes and trains people so they get the maximum benefit out of the Amazon Echo. If you would like to learn more about Our Voice, you can call toll free 844-Voice 13 (844-864-2313) or go to:  www.ourvoice.net

 

Contributed by James Giraldo

In light of October being bullying prevention month, The Beacon web analysts have created a resource to educate families about the importance and impact of cyber bullying. The guide points out the warning signs, how to report and prevent it in the future.

You can see it here: Stop Cyber Bullying Guide

Check it out!  And share with those who could benefit.

 

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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