AIM to AEM

The Maine Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM) Program is now the Maine Accessible Educational Materials (AEM) Program.

Accessible Educational Materials logoAlthough the Program’s mission is essentially the same, we have broadened our work to include a wider view. In the initial stages of the program, we focused on AIM, specifically the “specialized formats (Braille, large print, digital audio and electronic text)” identified in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA04). Over the years, the Program has expanded to provide training and technical assistance on materials and communications used in schools including accessible digital documents and web sites. We have also expanded to provide assistance to colleges and universities and those offering services to people with disabilities in the workplace.

In summer of 2017, the Maine Department of Education revised section 3D (Considerations – Including Special Factors) of the official Individualized Education Program (IEP) form replacing AIM with AEM. While not changing IEP Teams’ obligations to consider Assistive Technology and AEM when developing the IEP, the terminology on the form is now consistent with this broadened view.

As we move forward, the Maine AEM Program will continue to provide training and technical assistance on issues related to the selection, acquisition and use of specialized formatted educational materials.

 

AEM Webinar for Pre-Service Teachers

National Center on Accessible Educational Materials logo

From the National Center on Accessible Educational Materials…

Pre-service Teachers: Are You Ready for Accessible Educational Materials?

Friday, September 29, 2017 
1:00 PM to 2:00 PM EDT

Whether you’re preparing to be a general or special educator, the students of your future will need accessible educational materials (AEM), a provision of IDEA 2004. In this webinar, you’ll learn what accessibility means, who needs AEM, and how AEM is provided to learners. Most importantly, we’ll share strategies for how you can start preparing now to be AEM ready for your first class of learners. Tweet us your burning questions ahead of the webinar by tagging us @AEM_Center and using the hashtag #PreService

Presenters

Cynthia Curry
Richard Jackson

Use this link for more information and to register…

 

Cynthia Curry Named New Co-Director of Nation Center

Cynthia CurryThe National Center on Accessible Educational Materials (AEM Center) has selected Maine’s own, Cynthia Curry as the new co-director. In their announcement that noted that Cynthia, their formerly Director of Technical Assistance, would be joining fellow-Mainer, Skip Stahl as the other co-director.

Joy Zabala, who has been serving in this capacity since the AEM Center started (as the National Center on Accessible Instructional Materials) in 2008, has reduced her time and remains closely connected to the AEM Center while providing her incomparable expertise to additional CAST projects.

In the recent AEM Center newsletter, Cynthia notes, “I’m deeply grateful to Joy for everything she has taught me over many years, but especially the past several months. While no one could replace her, it’s a privilege to succeed Joy in this position. And, not to worry, she’s continuing to be a high profile AEM force! You’ll see her in upcoming AEM Center conference presentations and webinars, and she remains ‘a fingertip away!'”

Congratulations, Cynthia!

 

Revised Transition Guide published

From the U.S. Department of Education…

Seal of the US Dept of EducationThe Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS), of the U.S. Department of Education (Department), is pleased to publish, A Transition Guide to Postsecondary Education and Employment for Students and Youth with Disabilities.

OSERS’ mission is to improve early childhood, educational, and employment outcomes and raise expectations for all individuals with disabilities, their families, their communities, and the nation. To assist students and youth with disabilities to achieve their post-school and career goals, Congress enacted two key statutes that address the provision of transition services: the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Rehabilitation Act), as amended by Title IV of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). The IDEA is administered by the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), and Titles I, III, and VI, section 509, and
chapter 2 of Title VII of the Rehabilitation Act are administered by the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA). OSEP and RSA, both components of OSERS, provide oversight and guidance regarding the administration and provision of transition services by State educational agencies (SEAs), local educational agencies (LEAs), and State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agencies.

Both the IDEA and the Rehabilitation Act make clear that transition services require a coordinated set of activities for a student with a disability within an outcome-oriented process. This process promotes movement from school to post-school activities, such as postsecondary education, and includes vocational training, and competitive integrated employment. Active student involvement, family engagement, and cooperative implementation of transition activities, as well as coordination and collaboration between the VR agency, the SEA, and the LEAs are essential to the creation of a process that results in no undue delay or disruption in service delivery. The student’s transition from school to postschool activities is a shared responsibility.

OSERS presents this transition guide to advance our efforts in ensuring that all students and youth with disabilities are equipped with the skills and knowledge to be engaged in the 21st Century workforce.

Download/read a copy of A Transition Guide to Postsecondary Education and Employment for Students and Youth with Disabilities from the OSERS’ website – PDF - requires plugin

Learn about Audio Description

Audio Description logoAudio description, also referred to as a video description, described video, or more precisely called a visual description, is an additional narration track intended primarily for blind and visually impaired consumers of visual media (including television and film, dance, opera, and visual art). It consists of a narrator talking through the presentation, describing what is happening on the screen or stage during the natural pauses in the audio, and sometimes during dialogue if deemed necessary.” – Wikipedia

The addition of this requirement to the Section 508 Refresh will make many folks scramble to meet this accessibility guideline. To help with the conversation, 3 Play Media offered this webinar, Introduction to Audio Description on May 4th and it is now available in archive format – Here is the link to the archive of the webinar, Introduction to Audio Description…

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Image Credit: By Mikael Persson, Syntolkning.nu [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

White House Delays Effective Date of ICT Final Rule

From the US Access Board

U.S. Access Board Amends Effective Date of ICT Final Rule

US Access Board logoThe U.S. Access Board is postponing by one day the effective date of its final rule updating accessibility requirements for information and communication technology (ICT) covered by Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act and Section 255 of the Communications Act which was published on January 18. This action is being taken in response to a White House memorandum that directs federal agencies to delay for 60 days the effective date of recently published rules that, as of the date of the memorandum (January 20), had not yet taken effect. In keeping with this White House memorandum, the Access Board has postponed the effective date of the ICT final rule until March 21. This amounts to a one-day delay in the effective date of the rule relative to its originally-published effective date (March 20), as indicated in a notice the Access Board published in today’s Federal Register.

The postponed effective date does not change the scoping or technical requirements in the updated 508 Standards or 255 Guidelines. Nor does it alter compliance dates of the rule. Compliance with the updated Section 508 Standards is not required until January 18, 2018 or, in the case of ICT procurements, dates to be established by the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council. The compliance date for the Section 255 Guidelines will be set by Federal Communications Commission when it adopts the guidelines.

Further information on the ICT rule is available on the Board’s website.

New Program Offering Digitized Books Free to People with Print Disabilities

American Academy of Ophthalmology, LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, and VisionServe Alliance, Work in Partnership on Important Initiative

electronic books on various devicesNew York, (Feb. 1, 2017) – Reading is a simple pleasure. However, millions of people are denied the joy of reading due to vision loss. Now, Lighthouse Guild and Bookshare®, are collaborating with the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) to provide greater opportunities for students with low vision or print disabilities. They are working in partnership with LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired in San Francisco and the members of VisionServe Alliance, who provide services throughout the United States for individuals who are blind or have low vision. The new program will use an application known as Spotlight Gateway to expand access to print materials specifically designed for people with low vision.

“Reading should not be a privilege,” said Mark G. Ackermann, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Lighthouse Guild. “Books document our history, mark our present and inspire our future. We’re pleased to join in establishing this program to break down barriers and open a world of possibilities to students who are visually impaired.”

Rebecca Alexander, author, psychotherapist, fitness instructor, and extreme athlete who is almost completely blind and deaf due to a rare genetic disorder called Usher syndrome type III said, “I am an avid reader, and I access the extensive Bookshare® library through the Spotlight Gateway app. It has changed my life. I am thrilled this new initiative will allow more people with low vision to expand their horizons and explore new worlds through reading.” Ms. Alexander, author of the book “Not Fade Away: A Memoir of Senses Lost and Found” added, “This is a wonderful program that helps students of all ages with low vision to live as fully and independently as possible.”

Lighthouse Guild is working with the American Academy of Ophthalmology to help ensure that students of all ages with vision loss are made aware of the new program. In order for a student to become a program member, an ophthalmologist must confirm a qualifying vision disability. Once eligibility is confirmed, the ophthalmologist can register the student online through the AAO website.

Since the program requires the use of iPads, Lighthouse Guild in New York City and LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired in San Francisco will distribute a limited number of iPads through participating vision agencies. This will help make the online library available to students who do not have access to iPads. In addition, VisionServe Alliance, which has offices across the country, will provide locations where students can access iPads if they are not in NYC or Northern California.

Bookshare®, a Benetech initiative, is the world’s largest online library for people who are blind, visually impaired, have a physical disability, or a learning disability that interferes with reading, such as dyslexia. “We are proud to partner with Lighthouse Guild to make Bookshare®’s library of over 500,000 books available to individuals unable to read standard print,” said Brad Turner, Benetech’s Vice President of Global Literary. “Organizations like Lighthouse Guild help Bookshare® ensure everyone has equal access to content by expanding our reach into the communities we serve.”

Training and educational sessions will be available at Lighthouse Guild headquarters in New York, LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired in San Francisco, and participating vision agencies. to help patients and their families access, navigate and utilize the library. Detailed videos have also been created and uploaded to YouTube to help participating vision agencies and individuals understand how to access and navigate the expansive library.

Support for the Spotlight Gateway program has been provided in part by a generous grant from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

About Lighthouse Guild

Lighthouse Guild, based in New York, is the leading not-for-profit vision and healthcare organization with a long history of addressing the needs of people who are blind or visually impaired, including those with multiple disabilities or chronic medical conditions. With more than 200 years of experience and service, Lighthouse Guild brings a level of understanding to vision care that is unmatched. By integrating vision and healthcare services and expanding access through its programs and education and awareness, we help people lead productive, dignified and fulfilling lives. For more information, visit Lighthouseguild.org

About American Academy of Ophthalmology

The American Academy of Ophthalmology is the world’s largest association of eye physicians and surgeons. A global community of 32,000 medical doctors, we protect sight and empower lives by setting the standards for ophthalmic education and advocating for our patients and the public. We innovate to advance our profession and to ensure the delivery of the highest-quality eye care. Our EyeSmart® program provides the public with the most trusted information about eye health. For more information, visit aao.org.

About Bookshare®

Bookshare®, a Benetech initiative, is the world’s largest online library of accessible ebooks for people with print disabilities. Through its extensive collection of educational and popular titles, specialized book formats and reading tools, Bookshare® offers individuals who cannot read standard print materials the same ease of access that people without disabilities enjoy. The Bookshare® library has over 500,000 titles and serves more than 450,000 members. Access to Bookshare® is free for all U.S. students with a qualifying print disability. Bookshare® is an initiative of Benetech, a Palo Alto, CA-based nonprofit that develops and uses technology to create positive social change. For more information, visit bookshare.org.

About LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Founded in 1902, the LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired offers programs in six locations in San Francisco and throughout Northern California, annually serving over 3,000 blind and visually impaired individuals annually. LightHouse is the place where blind people come to learn skills to gain confidence and independence. At the LightHouse, people connect with resources, peers and mentors. Every day we prove that with training in Braille, cane travel, and adaptive technology, blind people can live the lives they want as competent and confident employees, students, and community members.

About VisionServe Alliance

VisionServe Alliance, founded in 1987 and now celebrating its 25th year, provides a forum for top executives of private agencies and organizations specializing in blindness, and represents the interests of such agencies before many organizations, professional, governmental and non-profit groups. VisionServe Alliance is the only organization whose members directly represent every aspect of services to people who are blind or visually impaired, including dog guide schools, adult rehabilitation agencies, private residential schools, early intervention and pre-school programs, career placement/employment and manufacturing, membership organizations, advocacy organizations, low vision clinics, and services to those with multiple disabilities. For more information about VisionServe Alliance, visit the website visionservealliance.org or call 314-961-8235.

About Spotlight Text

Spotlight Text, developed by Focus Reading Technology, Inc, is the first eBook reader specifically for individuals with vision loss. For more information, visit spotlighttext.com

About Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Regeneron (NASDAQ: REGN) is a leading science-based biopharmaceutical company that discovers, invents, develops, manufactures and commercializes medicines for the treatment of serious medical conditions. Regeneron commercializes medicines for eye diseases, high LDL cholesterol and a rare inflammatory condition and has product candidates in development in other areas of high unmet medical need, including rheumatoid arthritis, atopic dermatitis, asthma, pain, cancer and infectious diseases. For additional information about the company, please visitwww.regeneron.com or follow @Regeneron on Twitter

Free Braille For Kids!

The following announcement comes from the National Braille Press...

Blind boy using Braille embosserReadBooks! Because Braille Matters, is a FREE braille literacy program for families sponsored by National Braille Press. The purpose of this program is to encourage families to think about braille literacy at the earliest possible age. It costs nothing, and may start a child on the path to literacy.

National Braille Press is distributing attractive braille book bags to families with blind and visually impaired children, ages birth to seven, across the U.S. and Canada. The distribution process is a collaborative effort with educators and early intervention professionals. ReadBooks! has already distributed 16,000 of these bags to blind children in the United States and Canada.

There are three different levels of bags: red (birth-3); blue (4-5 year olds); green (6-7 year olds), and there are both English and Spanish versions of these bags. The bag contents differ slightly, containing age-appropriate books, tactiles, and toys. They also include two vouchers: one for an additional free print/braille book, and another for a free copy of Just Enough to Know Better – a primer on braille for sighted parents.

Use this link for more information and find out how to participate in the program…

AIM Under 5: AIM for Student Transition

AIM Under 5 - videos about AIMThe latest in our series of “under 5” minute videos regarding all thing AIM has been posted to our YouTube Channel.

Produced and edited by Cynthia Curry, this AIM Under 5 discusses issues related to Transition – the activities associated with the students with IEP’s moving from high school to a post-secondary educational experience.

Check out the new video and share the news with your friends and colleagues!

>>View AIM Under 5: Transition on YouTube

14 Million Digital Books Available To Print Disabled Users

electronic books on various devicesMore than 14 million digital books will soon be made available to blind and print-disabled users, thanks to a new collaboration involving the National Federation of the Blind and the HathiTrust Digital Library, a digital repository hosted at the University of Michigan.

When launched, the program will dramatically increase the availability of books for users who are blind or print-disabled. According to the NFB, currently less than 5 percent of all published works are estimated to be available to the blind, most of which are popular titles.

Over the coming year, NFB and HathiTrust will collaborate to plan and implement these services. User eligibility will be determined by criteria used by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped and similar services authorized under U.S. law.

According to Furlough, HathiTrust currently provides a similar service to qualified print-disabled students at its member schools. The new program will expand this service to allow similarly qualified users not affiliated with HathiTrust schools access to full-text works in the HathiTrust collection.

NFB and HathiTrust, like the federally operated National Library Service, will lawfully and securely make books available to qualified people in the U.S. who have print disabilities.

Read the entire press release to learn more about this announcement…