Feed on

The American Institutes on Research (AIR) is now collaborating with FHI360 and PACER to launch a website for the new Center on Technology and Disability (CTD).

Funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, CTD’s website will be launched early this fall. The site will offer online learning opportunities, curated resources, and access to national experts to increase the capacity of families and educators to the latest information on assistive and instructional technologies.

CTD brings together the power of several national centers with a combined total of 50+ years of expertise in AT and IT. Specifically, we are leveraging expertise from FHI 360’s Family Center on Technology & Disability and National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities (NICHCY), PACER’s Simon Technology Center, and American Institutes for Research’s (AIR) National Center on Technology Innovation (NCTI), Center on Implementing Technology in Education (CITEd), and the Center for Technology Implementation’s PowerUp WHAT WORKS..

On CTD’s new website, you’ll be able to find all of these great center resources in one place, including:

  • Online learning modules
  • Ongoing discussion forums
  • A robust library of resources
  • And other engaging activities!

Use this link to sign up to receive information and updates on CTD’s upcoming events!

Practical Guidance on Graphic Design, 508 Compliance, and Dissemination 

Three new guides offer guidance on navigating 508 compliance, using graphic design, and writing effective newsflashes to create engaging products. The graphic design guide covers concepts behind good design and how to use photographs, images, color, tables, figures, and type to create useful publications and digital products. It also touches on how researchers can use data visualization to make complex concepts accessible. The 508 guide offers tips and tools for making materials, including presentations, websites, and multimedia products, accessible. The newsflash guide reviews how to break through clutter with a compelling story, engaging visuals, and electronic tools, including email, video, and social media. The guides were prepared for the Institute of Education Sciences’ Regional Educational Laboratories.

Source: Mathematica

Avoid Redundant Alternative Text

Images and related text are often paired together, such as a product image with the product name immediately below it, or a photograph with a caption. In instances where the text conveys the content of the image, the image should usually be given null or empty alternative text (alt=””). This avoids the redundancy of having a screen reader read the same information twice (once for the image alternative text and once for the caption or adjacent text).

If the image and the adjacent text are links to the same location, combine both the image and the text into one link and give the image null alternative text. This avoids redundancy, results in fewer links for the user to navigate, and results in fewer links for the user to navigate.

Tactile Overlays for the iPad

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

For students with visual disabilities, tactile overlays on an iPad can be helpful when using apps that don’t “slide” across the screen, such “Scene and Heard” or “Book Creator.” By creating an overlay with tactile cues, the student can more easily navigate the screen interact with the app. Below are a few tips for starting out:

Start with an overlay that can be modified, such as

  • see through plastic page protectors
  • overhead projector sheets
  • see through plastic baggies
  • or mylar

Either slide the iPad into the plastic baggie or protector OR attach the projector or mylar using double-sided sticky take along the plastic edge of the iPad.

Place a tactile cue (such as a stick on rhinestone, puffy paint, fabric sticker, etc)  in the top left corner of the overlay in order to help the user orient the top from bottom.

Then, use tacile cues on the overlay that coincide with the app that is being used. For example, if the student needs to press the “next page” button to go from page to page in the book they are reading, place the tactile cue on the overlay where the “next page” icon is. Remember, if you are using a tactile cue that the student will press on/interact with (instead of the cue serving as just a guide), then the cue needs to be conductive between the user’s touch and the idevice screen.

It’s that simple! And if you’d like to see examples of some DIY tactile overlays for the iPad, Pinterest is a great place to find these!Tactile overlay being used with the Toy Story Read-a-loud app. The tactile cue indicates where to press on the screen.

Here’s my attempt at a tactile overlay using the Toy Story Read-a-Loud app that both reads the text and highlights the words. I used a green felt sticker as a tactile cue to help orient the user as to where to press on the screen to turn the page. The sticker itself is not conductive. so the user needs to press next to or above the sticker, not on it. I also used clear stick dots on the overlay along the bottom to help orient the user to the page.

Aids for daily living shelves that hold a variety of low tech devices for independent living

Aids for Daily Living

Blind and low vision table with writing guides, large print activity books, talking calculator and more

Blind & Low Vision Writing Table

Kitchen Aids

Kitchen Aids for daily living

We’ve been adding new technology to the Maryland  TAP AT Library as well as setting up new areas to house more aids for daily living, blind and low vision devices, and recreational items.

And if you’d like to stop in and see what we’ve been adding, sign up for our next AT Library Tour on November 19th!


Well done, science. Well done.

AT News Wrap Up for the week of 9/22 thru 9/26.

The Next Decade of Neurostimulation: Interview with Simon Karger from Cambridge Consultants

TalkBack is an Accessibility Service that helps blind and vision-impaired users interact with their devices.

Coming Soon-SAMHSA’s Suicide Safe app for primary & behavioral health care providers

Annual Career Expo for People with Disabilities in Washington DC on November 21, 2014 from 10:00AM – 3:00PM

O’Malley ‘inclined’ to support use of ballot tool for blind

Schoolboy Josh’s invention helps people to see clearly

New brainwave test may improve diagnosis for autism

Astounding! Finding A Voice — Again — In The Pages Of A Comic Book

So handy! Examples of making irregular/complex data tables accessible

App to aid disabled close to big time

New smartphone app that gives sight to the blind

Paralyzed Marine walks thanks to ReWalk technology



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