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Hey everyone,

Today I wanted to discuss a simple way to potentially improve an individual’s ability to participate in online learning, day programs, or any type of activity that has now become virtual. This first came up when consulting with one of our clients, whom reached out on behalf of one of her students. She stated that her student was having an issue participating with online schooling due to the size of their iPad being too small. We were considering the option of purchasing a larger laptop or desktop, but this can be an expensive fix … and that’s when the idea came to me of using an HDMI cord to plug in their iPad to the TV so that they could project what their iPad was showing to the TV. Apple products do not typically come with an HDMI port so for this specific instance I suggested a lightning cord to HDMI adapter (I will explain more below).

HDMI cable

Pictured to the left: This is your basic HDMI cord that most TV’s have a port (or slot) for. This can plug into a number of things like cable boxes, Firesticks, Roku’s, or Laptops, CPUs, and iPads! Most PC’s will have this jack already built into the side, like a USB port would be. However, most Apple products do not have this port built into it so I will show the available adapters to make this possible.

Thunderbolt port

The new MacBook Pro laptops are built with the HDMI port so this would not apply to those newer models. The older Mac’s don’t have this but they do have a “thunderbolt” port which can be used with a thunderbolt to HDMI adapter (pictured to the right). With this you would still need the HDMI cord to connect the TV to the adapter, and then plug the adapter thunderbolt end into the laptop. Once you set the source on your TV to the correct setting (HDMI 1 or HDMI 2) then you should see whatever is appearing on your laptop.

Lightning cord

For iPhones and iPads that only have the charging port (which use a lightning cord) would follow a process with an adapter just like the one above but this time you would use a lightning cord to HDMI adapter (pictured left).

With the use of the HDMI cord and these different adapters, this will allow you to project whatever is on these screens to a larger television so that you can see loved ones, school lessons, professors, or whatever it is you would like to see on a larger screen! If you have any questions regarding this post or if you are unsure of how to go about doing this don’t hesitate to reach out to me at james.whitney1@maryland.gov !

Skoog 2.0

Contributed by James Whitney, OT, AT Clinician, MDTAP

Hey everyone! I wanted to introduce one of our latest AT devices: The Skoog! A musical switch device. As a musician myself I think this device is amazing for enabling individuals of all shapes, sizes, and abilities to be able to create music by hitting the buttons on the Skoog cube. This device works with iTunes, Spotify, GarageBand, and iOS devices. Once you have the app downloaded and you calibrate your Skoog buttons you are ready to produce music! Each button on the Skoog cube will create a different sound which can be personalized to make your Skoog sound the way YOU want it to! This device is suitable for (including but not limited to): children in their early years, individuals with autism, physical disabilities, cerebral palsy, sensory impairments, learning disabilities, down syndrome, and more. If you would like to learn more about the Skoog and different ways to enable an individual to express themselves musically do not hesitate to reach out to our program to find out more! You can email me at Jwhitney@mdtap.org to find out more information and to trail this device for up to 30 days.

Skoog 2.0 in use

Smart Cooking!

We are excited to announce our recently acquired smart-technology cooking devices! The Hestan Cue is a “smart” cooking system, meaning that its component parts (an induction burner, pan, and app) use Bluetooth technology to communicate with one another. Coupled with embedded sensors, this technology can read and regulate the temperature of your burner in real time, every step of the recipe, to give you steak with a perfect sear and juicy center, or perfectly tender glazed beets. All the while, the app guides you through culinary techniques (and pro tips) with video instruction.

The pan has built-in intelligence that can “feel the heat.” There is Bluetooth technology in the handle that sends temperature readings to the Cue app. The app and the cookware can communicate with each other to make micro-adjustments throughout the cooking process.

Cooking and eating are often top priorities for individuals to feel independent and with the use of these smart cooking devices this could make this, at times, difficult task much more accessible and realistic for users of many abilities / disabilities.

Hestan Cue "Smart" cooking pan

Contact me at jwhitney@mdtap.org to find out more about our new smart cooking devices and see if this is a good fit for you, loved one, or a client of yours!


The National Federation of the Blind’s Inclusive Publishing Conference is a one-day online event focused on digital publication accessibility. Join us as we work together for an accessible future in digital content.

Register today for the Inclusive Publishing Conference.

Date and Location

Thursday, October 1, 2020
12:00 noon to 6:40 p.m. ET

Who Should Attend

  • Educators
  • Students
  • Publishers
  • Everyone interested in what goes into creating accessible digital content


Don’t miss presentations like “Accessible-by-Design E-books and Audio Books Best Practices for Inclusive Publishing” and “Best Practices for Ensuring Accessible Content in Your University Course,” among many others. 

More Information

Register today and visit the Inclusive Publishing Conference webpage for more details coming soon regarding the agenda, featured speakers, and more.

By:  Stephen Polacek

I’ve played video games for most of my life.  I’ve never really thought about accessibility in games until I met a blind coworker who played as well.  He told me about this shooter made specifically for blind people that only used sound cues.  It made me more aware of how those with disabilities can enjoy hobbies that most people would consider impossible to make accessible. 

You can find nearly type of disabled gamer on YouTube or Twitch.tv.  Many of those with physical disabilities have special controllers or use a keyboard with special scripting to function as a controller that’s easier for them to use.  Those with visual impairments or total blindness play with enhanced audio setups to more easily distinguish directional sound and then just challenge themselves to make it as far possible, sometimes with sighted assistance. 

close up of Adaptive gaming kit box.

Developers have started incorporating some changes and features as well.  I’ve noticed more and more recent releases try to incorporate color blindness features or additional UI features to deliver information visually, in the case of deaf or hard-of-hearing users.  While many of these features are rudimentary and you’ll likely see complaints about how useful they are, such as the colorblind features in Overwatch, it’s still an improvement that accessibility is starting to become a part of the development process.

This lead me to an organization called The AbleGamers Charity (ablegamers.org).  This organization is a non-profit dedicated to helping disabled individuals get into the hobby of gaming, with either custom controllers or assistive technology and scripting.  It’s really cool to see my hobby and my new profession meshing in this manner.  If you’re at interested in video games but were unsure how you could play with your disability, I’d definitely recommend looking into them or other communities, like the Visually Impaired Gaming sub-Reddit, and seeing how you can overcome this hurdle. 

For those interested in hosting an adapted gaming night, please take a look at this link from us: http://mdod.maryland.gov/mdtap/Documents/Accessible%20gaming%20Guidebook.pdf

Blue background white letters "IAAP"IAAP just announced a new resource for its members.  This Accessible Built Environments Initiative is an extension of the work of the Global Alliance on Accessible Technologies and Environments (GAATES).  This helps bring in resources for those looking into accessibility into public spaces and/or workspaces.  This is being led by a taskforce created to expand IAAP’s availability to its members and launch a new certification program for built environment accessibility.  The pilot version of this exam will be available this month.

Here’s a quick explanation for those interested.  Built environments refer to a human-made space.  Buildings, cities, and public spaces all fall in this category.  Recently, the science of it includes effects on mental and physical health.  While architectural accessibility has been an important factor for decades, the improvements in technology mean this built environment accessibility has no factors to consider.  With smartphones, ride services, and even things such as the rentable scooters or bikes in cities, how are these new options made accessible and or how will the environment need to change to accommodate new methods of accessibility?  GPS and mapping tools are become so precise, they can be used to trigger apps on your phone that inform you of local food choices or recommended spots. 

There’s obviously a lot to consider in this arena but if you’re looking into a new area of accessibility, this will be a good place to start. 

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