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This IDEA isn’t the IDEA you’re used to!  But let’s keep the great IDEAs coming!!  

In December, Congress passed the 21st Century Integrated Digital Experience Act (IDEA), which is designed to make federal websites more accessible, user friendly, and secure.  This new law places stronger importance on the existing accessibility standards of Rehabilitation Act Section 508.  It requires federal agencies to modernize their websites and digital services.  There are eight specific criteria including accessibility for people with disabilities.

Within 180 days of the law’s passage, all new and redesigned federal websites must comply with the new criteria, and agencies must submit plans to Congress for how they will accelerate the use of electronic signatures.  IDEA also requires federal chief information officers (CIOs) to coordinate with other executives and ensure that departments plan adequate funding and resources to execute these requirements, including accessibility features. 

Signed into law by the President on December 20, 2018, the provisions include several significant requirements to make federal websites more user friendly, usable, and robust for all users, including a requirement that digital formats of all paper-based forms be available within two years.

Accessibility key on keyboard

These requirements fall in line with the principles of Universal Design.  Under the requirements of IDEA, federal websites must:

  • provide a customized digital experience to individual users
  • maintain a consistent appearance
  • be fully functional and usable on common mobile devices
  • use an industry-standard secure connection
  • contain a search function that allows users to easily search content intended for public use

For more information, visit the Partnership on Employment and Accessible Technology at IDEA.  

The snow has us thinking about ways to stay warm and safe this winter.  These are just a few things to consider for yourself and home as you battle the cold.  

Smart-Touch Gloves:  These are gloves that have conductive threads woven into the fingertips to allow you to wear gloves while still using touchscreen technology.  These gloves have become more common place and can be found at many stores.  

Hands in black gloves holding smart phone.

Smart Touch Gloves

Talking/Programmable Thermostat:  Programmable thermostats allow you to preset controls to keep your home warm and toasty.  For those who are blind or have low-vision, there are talking thermostats (some are programmable as well) that speak the settings, current temperature and warnings like “change your filter”.  

Thermostat with talking bubbles saying "The temperature is 72 degrees" and "Change your filter"

SmartWay thermostat

Ice grips/All-terrain tires:  For those with mobility issues, snow and ice makes getting around more challenging.  Ice grips for the bottom of a cane/crutch or walker make traction much easier to find.  Wheelchair all terrain tires also make getting thru packed snow and snow piles possible.   

Two bottoms of canes with metal ice grips attached.

Cane Ice Grips

For assistance with finding these items or to borrow any of the items in our lending library, contact one of our Assistive Technology Specialists, 1-800-832-4827.  


“Hey Alexa, unlock the door.”  

The Smart Lock or Smart Lock Pro by August is an option for individuals with dexterity issues and or hand tremors that make locking and unlocking a door with a traditional key an ordeal.  (Or even for those of us who try to carry in every grocery bag in one trip…)Large silver lock

These devices by August allows you to easily install this smart lock system to the inside of your door – so the existing outside lock and the internal mechanism remain intact, so you can still use the good old fashioned keys, if you like.  On the inside of the door a smart locking system will now allow the user to lock and unlock the door with the smart phone app or using Voice Control via Siri, Amazon’s Alexa or even Google Home.  The smart lock allows the homeowner to lock and unlock the door remotely.  One of the most practical features is the secure auto-unlock and auto-lock feature that works if you elect that option – based on your proximity to the door it will unlock or lock based on your specific preference.   

To learn more about the smart lock and how it can help, click here.

World Braille Day

It’s World Braille Day!!

Developed by Louis Braille as a Braille isn’t a language. It’s a tactile writing system, that allows users to translate printed language.   And not just English-nearly every widely-spoken language has it’s own Braille system, as does Math, computer science, and music!  Braille is based on a relational method of dots, specifically designed to be identified with the fingertip.  

two hands reading braille on wooden desk

There are so many ways that AT can expand the use of Braille for users. Computers provide additional avenues of literacy for braille users. Software programs and portable electronic braille note takers allow users to save and edit their writing, have it displayed back to them either audibly or tactually and produce a hard copy via a desktop computer-driven braille embosser.  

Our lending library has many braille notetakers and other braille AT solutions.  Contact one of our AT Specialists for a consultation- Online request or call 1-800-832-4827. 

Attention Gamers!

Do you know someone that is a gamer?

If you have a loved one that is mad about gaming, but finds it difficult to play their new favorite video games due to fine or gross motor challenges, then this new device could be the ideal solution.  The Microsoft Xbox adaptive controller is an assistive device, essentially an adaptive gaming controller and a hub that allows the traditional buttons to be reprogrammed/replaced using external devices such as single switches.   It is now possible to connect external assistive devices (sold separately) such as switches, buttons, mounts and joysticks to create a custom experience allowing the end user to play the Xbox like their peers.

Picture of XBOX system and game on screen.

Xbox One S pictured above with the Xbox Adaptive Controller

Xbox Adaptive Controller pictured above connected to a variety of assistive devices that provide user access for those with motor challenges.  Click the link below to see the controller in action.  This fantastic device can be purchased at www.Microsoft.com.   

And if you need some awesome feels, this video shows the power of AT in action!  We couldn’t love it more.  

Watch a video of the Xbox Adaptive Controller in action!


Where’s it AT?  You may have been asking “Where’ve you been?”  After too long a hiatus, our first New Year’s Resolution is to re-start our blog!  We promise this is one resolution we’ll keep!  No promises on the other resolutions though… 

We promise more consistent blog posts on equipment, AT issues, accessibility, and so much more.  If you have topics we should cover, let us know.  We look forward to reconnecting with you!

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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