Maine State Library finds temporary new quarters down the street

Maine State Library in AugustaAccording to a report in Mainebiz…

“The Maine State Library will be the sole tenant of 242 State St., Augusta which has approximately 25,760 square feet over two floors. The public-facing component will take up almost all of the first floor, save for some private library offices, said Kelsey Goldsmith, director of communications for the state Department of Administrative and Financial Services, which oversees state government real estate. The entrance is off the parking lot, on Manley Street.

“The library and archives, which shares space with the Maine State Museum, has been closed to the public since July, 2020 so the 53-year-old Maine State Cultural Building can undergo extensive asbestos removal and an electrical, cooling and heating overhaul. While it remains closed, the museum is offering  online exhibits and events. The library has had curbside pickup since it closed.”

Among the programs affected by the closure has been the Talking Books program, a service for people with print disabilities. The Talking Book Program is administered by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) and provides free library services for eligible patrons, including digital books via smartphone app, NFB-Newsline newspaper services, and free matter mailings.

Much of the Talking Books Program in Maine has been functioning fully as much of the resources are on-line, however staff have been working from home.

According to Mainebiz:

“In a normal year, the Maine State Library gets about 75,000 in-person visitors; 17,500 patrons used its computers. In partnership with the Portland and Bangor public libraries, it answered more than 59,000 reference questions in 2018. The library also has a Book by Mail service for rural communities, sending out an average 6,500 books a year to people in areas that don’t have access to a library. It’s talking books program for people who are vision or reading-impaired lent 103,800 items.

Once the majority of the library’s collection is moved to the Winthrop site, it will be available to the public through the library’s delivery service. The public can pick up requested materials at 242 State St., or have them delivered to the appropriate library across the state. For instance, if a patron of the Portland Public Library requested a book, library staff would send it to Portland.”

Benefits of Audio Description in Education (BADIE) contest

Pictogram of Audio Description logoThe American Council of the Blind’s Audio Description Project (ACB-ADP) and the Described and Captioned Media Program (DCMP) are cosponsoring an exciting opportunity for young people who are blind and visually impaired: The Benefits of Audio Description in Education (BADIE) contest. Students aged 7 to 21 can participate in one of four categories.

Multimedia experiences are integral to public, private, and special education curriculum. Audio description provides access to all the visual images of the films and videos that young people who are sighted enjoy.

Students can choose a described video from the thousands of titles available through DCMP, libraries, or video streaming services.

Reviews can be submitted in writing, in braille, or via an audio recording. Entries can also be submitted via email or postal mail.

Deadline for entries is Friday, January 22, 2021. Contest winners in each category will be chosen by February 19, 2021, and the grand-prize winner will receive an iPad Mini! Each first-place winner will receive a $100 iTunes gift card. Second-place winners will receive a $50 iTunes gift card, and the third-place winners will receive a $25 iTunes gift card. Each supporting teacher who has a first-place winning student will be awarded a $100 Amazon gift card.

Learn More about the Benefits of Audio Description in Education (BADIE) contest

Technical Assistance Specialists at the AEM Café

From the National Center on Accessible Educational Materials (NC-AEM)

Meet CAST’s team of friendly Technical Assistance Specialists at the AEM Café!

person using smart phone and laptopEvery first Thursday of the month
4:00 – 5:00 pm ET

How are you approaching accessibility in your learning environment? Are you stuck in a rut? Need some new ideas? Struggling with a challenge? Eager to share a new idea or strategy with others?

Every first Thursday of the month from 4:00 – 5:00 pm ET, we’ll focus on a topic, share some little-known resources from the AEM Center, and the rest is up to you. Show up, chat, ask questions, or just listen to the conversation. The AEM Café is open and ready to welcome you!

Use this link to register (once) for the entire AEM Café series…

Reliable Source of Ebooks for Special Education Students

Back to School 2020: Special Education Students Can Learn Anywhere with Bookshare

Bookshare logoThe following comes from Bookshare…

Some schools are offering blended learning where students spend a few days in down-sized classrooms and the other days doing online classes from home. Still other schools are starting with 100% distance learning and then phasing in on-site classes to small cohorts of students in “learning pods.”

No matter what the school environment looks like, the stakes are even higher for students with learning differences. How can teachers provide books in alternate formats so students with reading barriers like dyslexia, blindness, and cerebral palsy can complete assignments, no matter where and how learning is taking place?

Bookshare Makes the New Reality of Education Less Uncertain…read more about Bookshare

To help teachers prepare for a successful back to school, the Bookshare staff has assembled a collection of valuable resources, tips, step-by-step guides, video tutorials, curated reading lists, and webinars. Visit the back-to-school resource page for details…

 

Changes to AEM and NIMAS terms

From the National Center on Accessible Instructional Materials

Recent federal statutory developments have impacted the provision of accessible educational materials, specifically those sourced from NIMAS files. The following changes mean that certain aspects of the AEM Navigator are now outdated:

  1. Definitions of key NIMAS-related terms have been updated.
  2. The NIMAC is now permitted to accept NIMAS files sourced from digital instructional materials.

First, as a result of changes to Copyright Law in response to the Marrakesh Treaty Implementation Act, key NIMAS-related terms have been updated. See our recent announcement NIMAS Terms Clarified Post Marrakesh to learn about the new terms “eligible person” and “accessible format.” The definition of “eligible person” has implications for the guidance that the AEM Navigator provides for who can use materials created from NIMAS source files from the NIMAC. We are currently waiting on the Library of Congress for regulations that will update the process currently outlined in the AEM Navigator.

Second, the U.S. Department of Education recently published a Notice of Interpretation in the Federal Register permitting the NIMAC to accept NIMAS files sourced from digital instructional materials. Previously, as reflected throughout the AEM Navigator, the NIMAC was permitted to accept NIMAS files from print instructional materials only. We are currently working with our stakeholders to develop new guidance and technical assistance to support educators with navigating a student’s need for accessible materials, whether those materials start as print or as digital.

We look forward to providing you with a new version of the AEM Navigator. The timeline primarily depends on when the Library of Congress  publishes procedures related to the new term “eligible person.”  While we don’t expect to be able to replace the AEM Navigator Online Tool due to the technology now being outdated, we will certainly build the best experience possible for you and your team.

If you have questions or comments regarding upcoming changes to the AEM Navigator, please contact us at aem@cast.org.

Remote Learning With DCMP Accessible Videos

groups of students and teacher in classroom viewing digital contentThe Described and Captioned Media Program is the nation’s leading source for accessible educational content, providing services for students who are blind, visually impaired, deaf, hard of hearing, or deaf-blind.

Families and school personnel with early learners through Grade 12 students can register for free access to over 6,000 Educational Media titles on-demand and on DVD. The DCMP Learning Center contains a wealth of information related to education, accessibility, deafness, blindness, and other related topics. DCMP provides Media Accessibility Guidelines through their Captioning Key and Description Key, used by media professionals as well as amateurs around the world.

Read: How to Set Up, Use, and DCMP Share Student Accounts

About DCMP

DCMP membership provides unlimited access to thousands of accessible educational videos. We’re fully funded by the U.S. Department of Education, so there are no costs associated with any of our services. Family members, school personnel, and other professionals who work with early learners through Grade 12 students with a hearing or vision loss do qualify for membership.

 

Photo credit: Image licensed through Creative Commons by Hero Images 

Webinar on Accessible Virtual Meeting Platforms

Recording Available of Webinar on Accessible Virtual Meeting Platforms

US Access Board logoThe U.S. Access Board recently (July 21, 2020) conducted a webinar on the accessibility of virtual meeting platforms as part of its Section 508 Best Practices Webinar Series. Presenters from the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Communications Commission reviewed features and considerations for ensuring access to virtual platforms according to the Section 508 Standards. A recording of this free webinar – including handouts – is available on the webinar site. 

The Section 508 Best Practices Webinar Series provides helpful information and best practices for federal agencies in meeting their obligations under Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act which ensures access to information and communication technology in the federal sector. This webinar series is made available by the Accessibility Community of Practice of the CIO Council in partnership with the U.S. Access Board.

 

2020 Guide for Maine Families on AT and AEM Published

EducationThe Maine CITE Assistive Technology Program is pleased to release the revised Guide for Maine Families on Assistive Technology and Accessible Educational Materials. The 2020 Guide provides Maine families who have children with disabilities an easy to use resource describing how to get the assistive technology (AT) devices and services they need. Information about accessible education materials (AEM) and families’ important role in the planning process are also provided.

The 2020 Guide updates general information about AT and AEM. It includes new resources about assistive technology used during “learning at home” activities, as well as AT device demonstration and loan services – AT4Maine.org.

Use this link to download the The 2020 Guide – PDF

Feds provide clarification on definition of print materials

The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS), Department of Education has announced a “Final notice of interpretation” regarding the definition of “print instructional materials’’ in the Individuals with Disability Education Act – IDEA regarding digital instructional materials. In this final interpretation, effective May 26, 2020, OSERS noted the “trend” toward digital materials in classrooms, a far different landscape from 2004 when IDEA was last amended and the National Instructional Materials Access Center (NIMAC) was created. At that time, the vast majority of instructional materials were printed on paper and NIMAC was implemented to allow for the schools to convert printed instructional materials into specialized formats for a student with a print disability in a timely manner.

According to the announcement in the Federal Register Vol. 85, No. 101 of May 26, 2020:

“…the Department interprets the phrase ‘printed textbooks and related printed core  materials’ referred to in the definition of ‘print instructional materials’ in section 674(e)(3)(C) of IDEA (20 U.S.C. 1474(e)(3)(C)) to include digital instructional materials that comply with NIMAS, because that is the primary medium through which many textbooks and core materials are now produced.”

The full announcement in the May 26th Federal Register may be downloaded in PDF on the govinfo.gov website.

Read more about Laws and Policies related to AEM…

Google Teach From Home

In response to the rapidly changing educational landscape, Google has created a new resource for teachers Teach from Home. The new web resource is available in eleven languages and provides teachers with answers to many questions and links to make additional resources found on their Google in Education service. There is a complete section on accessibility that describes how to turn on and use access features in Chrome and on Chromebooks.

The Teach From Home resource is also available to download (in PDF) for teachers who have limited access to the internet.

Google has also created a complementary resources, Learn @ Home a guide for parents and guardians.  Google partnered with learning creators to bring parents and families meaningful resources and activities. These resources are not meant to replace homework assigned by teachers, but meant to complement that work.

Use this link to visit Teach From Home