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Webinar: The Future Needs Everyone: Promoting Workplace Success for Millennials with Disabilities

January 19, 2017 2:00pm to 3:00pm

This webinar will present the methods and results of an intergenerational dialogue series that brought 104 people together to create powerful joint expectations around workplace diversity, technology and other challenges faced and mastered by top-rated employers.  Participants will hear directly from select dialogue participants about the experience and will also learn about the process and how dialogue can be used to foster inclusion in the workplace.



Tecla Shield

Contributed by Erin Swann, MSE, Assistive Technology Specialist, MDTAP

Back in the day, most phone-based communication happened over landline phones while the user was at home. But more recently, with the popularity of smartphones, most phone-based communication happens via cell phone call, text, email, Facebook, and a variety of other smartphone apps while the user is away from home and on the go.  For people with disabilities, it’s important to have access to a smartphone in order to have the ability to fully participate in current communication methods.

One piece of assistive technology that can help people with physical disabilities access a smartphone is called the Tecla Shied. The Tecla Shield is a small, portable device that allows the user to use switches or a joystick to access a smartphone, tablet, or computer.  The cost of the Tecla Shield (not including switches/joystick or mounting hardware) is $349.

Available to consumers with a variety of disabilities, the Tecla Shield can be a helpful product for many. Carolyn was a circus performer who experienced a trapeze accident resulting in a C4 spinal cord injury. She uses the Tecla Shield to text and email on the go and independently read books and magazines on her iPhone.  You can read more about her story here: Carolyn’s Story

If you think the Tecla Shield would be useful to you or someone you know, you can schedule a visit to our assistive technology loan library to see a demonstration. The Tecla Shield is available for short term loan (up to four weeks) if you would like to trial the device to see if it is something you would like to purchase.  To schedule a demo of the Tecla Shield, contact the Maryland Technology Assistance Program by calling 1-800-832-4827 or emailing mdtap@mdtap.org.

It’s Friday the 13th, and these news articles are scary incredible! Bionic eyes, computers that understand us, and much, much more…AT in the news for the week of 1/9/17 – 1/13/17.

Computers have got much better at translation, voice recognition and speech synthesis, says Lane Greene. But they still don’t understand the meaning of language

Introducing Olli: The World’s Most Accessible, Self-Driving Vehicle

This technology helps guide the blind and visually impaired

A Treatment for Blindness? NHS to Install Bionic Eyes in 10 Patients

Accessibility in Office Lens for iPhone

The RISE Act Introduced in the Senate

On December 9, the Respond, Innovate, Support, and Empower Students with Disabilities (RISE) Act was introduced in the Senate by Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Orin Hatch (R-UT), and Bill Cassidy (R-LA).  The RISE Act amends the Higher Education Act to clarify the documentation an institution of higher education must accept when considering whether an enrolled student has a disability.  Specifically, the RISE Act clarifies that prior documentation used in K-12 education to receive special education or accommodations under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Americans with Disabilities Act, among other types of documentation, would be sufficient to demonstrate that an individual has a disability in the context of higher education.  Typically, students attempting to receive accommodations for a disability must go through a two-step process.  The initial step requires verification of a disability, which then leads to an agreement about what reasonable accommodations the school may be able to provide.  The bill explicitly outlines acceptable forms of documentation that students may provide to institutions as evidence of a disability.  However, reasonable accommodation decisions are still to be made on a case-by-case basis, as is currently done by schools.  The bill authorizes $10 million for the National Center for Information and Technical Support for Postsecondary Students with Disabilities, an existing program within HEOA.  This Center provides young adults with disabilities and their families with the relevant information about disability services needed to know how to access available resources and supports.  This Center is also charged with supporting disability training for college faculty in addition to providing information to students and families.  For more information, visit:  https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/senate-bill/3521/text?q=%7B%22search%22%3A%5B%22RISE+Act%22%5D%7D&r=1.

EnvisionIT: Enhancing Transition through Technology

Margo Vreeburg Izzo, PhD, Program Director of the Transitions Services Department at The Ohio State University (OSU) Nisonger Center

Wednesday, January 25th, 2017 – 4:00pm to 5:00pm EST

In this webinar, Dr. Margo Vreeburg Izzo will present a 21st century online curriculum aligned with standards and designed for grades 8-12. The curriculum teaches English and language arts, information technology literacy, college & career readiness, and financial literacy. EnvisionIT was designed with accessibility and universal design for learning in mind and is highly customized to meet the needs of students, teachers, and other stakeholders.

Do you have an idea for innovative technology that can improve lives of people with disabilities? NIDILRR’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program can help.

This year, NIDILRR’s SBIR program will fund up to ten Phase I feasibility (or proof-of-concept) projects for approximately six months (for up to $100,000 each). After completion of the Phase I stage, most of these businesses can compete for Phase II awards. Phase II awards can last up to 24 months for a total of up to $575,000.

Please visit: http://www.grants.gov/web/grants/view-opportunity.html?oppId=290044, or go to www.Grants.gov and search for “NIDILRR SBIR

NIDILRR’s SBIR program is unique among SBIR programs in that it focuses solely on the development of  knowledge, products and services that benefit the lives of people with disabilities.  The purpose of the broader SBIR program is to: stimulate technological innovation; increase small business participation in federal research and development; foster and encourage participation by minority and disadvantaged persons in technological innovation; and increase private sector commercialization of technology derived from federal research and development.

NIDILRR’s SBIR program holds one annual Phase I and one annual Phase II competition:

  • Phase I – The objective of Phase I is to determine the scientific or technical merit and feasibility of the proposed research or research & development (R/R&D) efforts. The Phase I period concentrates on the R/R&D efforts that prove the scientific or technical feasibility of the approach or concept.  This feasibility is a prerequisite for further support in Phase II. Phase I awards are for periods up to 6 months in amounts as indicated in the Funding Opportunity Announcement.
  • Phase II – The objective of Phase II is to continue the research or R&D effort initiated in Phase I with approaches that have commercialization potential as a result of successful Phase I awards. Phase II awards are for periods up to 2 years in amounts as indicated in the Funding Opportunity Announcement.
  • Applications are due February 7, 2017.
  • Letters of Intent are due: January 13, 2017
  • Date for Informational Pre-Application Meeting: January 4, 2017

For more information please contact:  Brian Bard: email: brian.bard@acl.hhs.gov, phone: 202-795-7298

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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