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Did you hear the news? MDTAP’s blog, “Where It’s AT,” got nominated for the Baltimore Sun’s Best Health & Wellness Blog of 2014!!! But we need your votes! So, every day between now and November 13th, you can place your vote. Find us listed as Maryland Assistive Technology Blog and vote for us right here – http://contests.baltimoresun.com/promotions/bs-mobbies. And after that, take a couple minutes to catch up on some of this week’s AT news, including a bone conducting headset for the blind, Twitter as a form of establishing memory, accessible voting, and more.

AT in the news for the week of 11/3 thru 11/7

Microsoft’s bone-conducting headset guides the blind with audio cues

SnapType for Occupational Therapy

Mind-Machine Science Will Change Everything

Apple Said To Develop 3D iPhone Display That Doesn’t Need Glasses

EyeComTec Explains how Medical Eye-Tracker may Bring Alternative Computer Vision and Assistive Technology

On Metrorail, a digital lifeline for blind riders

Dancing Dots: Accessible Music Technology for Blind & Low Vision Performers

Man loses episodic memory in traumatic brain injury; Twitter is helping him get it back

Reuse tip of the week for Durable Medical Equipment and Assistive Technology!

Government-backed competition to fund new assistive technologies

Devices for disabled showcased at A*STAR conference

The Center on Technology and Disability Institute Launches Website

Collaborative clinic reviews product design for disabled

ReWalk Motorized Device Helps People with Disabilities to Walk

Technology pioneered by UF researcher provides improved access for disabled

Purdue’s Breaking New Ground Resource Center helps farmers with disabilities continue working

HIMS Inc. to Visit 6 Cities in 3 Weeks to Demonstrate Life-changing Assistive Technology

Accessible Voting for Individuals with Disabilities


As part of an effort to improve caption quality, the FCC released new closed captioning best practices, which will go into effect on January 15, 2015.

VITAC, which worked with the agency to develop recommended practices, has condensed the 150-page document into a one-page reference sheet.

The new rules address realtime and offline captioning and aim to improve the captioning experience for all users.  Quality captions are a team effort, so the regulations are divided into Video Programmer responsibilities and VITAC responsibilities. Highlights of the new responsibilities include:


Video Programmers:

  • Caption prerecorded programs with offline workflow. “Live-to-tape” is no longer acceptable in most cases.
  • Provide relevant prep materials for live shows, i.e. guest names, song lyrics, and show rundowns.
  • Communicate caption issues to captioners in a timely manner.

  • Ensure captions are verbatim, error-free, synched, and include speaker ID’s and sound effects.
  • Verify Captioners are prepared and in position prior to their scheduled assignment.
  • Monitor captions and alert video programmers of technical issues.

Auto-playing Audio

Audio, such as background music, that automatically plays when a user comes to a web page can be very distracting and will interfere with screen reader audio. WCAG 2.0 Level A requires that “a mechanism is provided to stop, pause, mute, or adjust volume for audio that automatically plays on a page for more than 3 seconds”. It is usually better to not automatically play audio, but allow the user to manually play the audio if they choose.

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

Right around this time of year, parents and teachers across the country meet for the first time as they begin to map out their students’ academic paths during parent-teacher conferences. This year, in my house, these meetings were met with mixed emotions. While my older child is excelling in her third grade classes, it was immediately made clear that my kindergartener is not. With struggles that include inability to consistently identify letters and numbers, to anxiety and forgetfulness, I left that meeting ready to do what many parents do – practice, practice, practice with her at home. And research online late at night.

And although we don’t know yet whether she has an identifiable learning disability, it is clear my child is struggling. And I need to help her. And help other parents who are walking a similar path. In my efforts to do so, I found Understood, a website dedicated to providing resources for children with learning and attention issues. It includes a plethora of information including school and learning resources, parent coaching based on the child’s individual needs, Twitter chats with experts on a variety of topics, simulation videos to give parents a sense of what their child might be experiencing, assistive technology recommendations, a parent and expert community to live chat, and WAY more.

As a nice aside, the site also includes a Spanish option and text-to-speech built in for anyone who may need it.

Bet you were scared when you thought we weren’t going to get this week’s AT Update out on time. Enjoy this treat and any others you get today! AT in the news for the week of 10/27 thru 10/31.

Course Focuses On Interior Design For Those On The Spectrum

Computer game could help visually-impaired children live independently

Phone App Checks Photos For Eye Disease

FCC to Host Accessible Wireless Emergency Communications Forum next month promoting accessibility in wireless

‘Ask AbleGamers’ YouTube Series Launches

The Most Helpful iOS 8 Features for the Visually Impaired and Hard of Hearing

When Hearing Aid Users Listen to Music, Less Is More

Google X Developing Wearable Technology That Detects Cancer

Students to Design an Autism-Friendly Kitchen

The new bionics that let us run, climb and dance

Actuate, Braille Works and Venatôre to Deliver Industry’s First Cloud-Based Document Accessibility Service

Make Apps and Sites Accessible to All by Knowbility

Switches explained

Carilion Clinic makes managing healthcare online easier for people with disabilities

UT Arlington School of Social Work receives grant to develop human assistive robot learning network

2 preliminary but promising stem cell treatments for dry AMD have been released to the public

LittleSteps is an early learning that helps facilitate developmental milestone achievement in children 0-3

Photographed memories come to life for the blind thanks to a 3D printer

3D Printing And Prosthetics

Check out AbleGamers Laboratory Starts Monthly Open House for Disabled Players

From Brain To Computer: Helping ‘Locked-In’ Patient Get His Thoughts Out

Corneal Implants Might Make Reading Glasses Obsolete

Contributed by Provi Sharpe, Director of Emergency Management and Reuse Activities, MDTAP

Home Safety for Families with Children who have a Disability

The Disaster Resistant Communities Group, located in Tallahassee, Florida, provides disaster planning and preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation services to local government agencies and departments as well as community and faith based organizations. Their services include Just In Time Disaster Training videos.  This is an on-line video library which provides a single, easy to search source in which individuals, agencies and organizations can access training videos on various topics including home safety and disaster preparedness.

Their video series Just In Time Disaster Training – Home Safety for Families with Children Who Have a Disability, offer:

  • Water Safety for Families with Children with Special Needs
  • Poison Prevention for Families with Children with Special Needs
  • Fall Prevention for Families with Children with Special Needs
  • Burn Prevention for Families with Children with Special Needs
  • Choking Prevention for Families with Children with Special Needs

Numerous videos can also be found on YouTube – just search for videos on safety tips for families with children with special needs.

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