Using Assistive Technology and AEM to Improve Reading

From EdWeb, this free webinar should be of interest to folks here in Maine…

Turn Struggling Readers Into Leaders Using Assistive Technology

Tuesday, Apr. 16 at 3 p.m. Eastern Time

EducationIn this edWebinar, join Dana Blackaby as members of her student-led “tech crew” demonstrate forms of assistive technology and share personal anecdotes describing how it helps them overcome some of their most daunting academic challenges. These students all have IEPs or 504 plans, but there are times when only the use of assistive technology allows them to overcome barriers.

Sometimes the biggest barrier to effectively utilizing assistive technology in the classroom is the teacher, as many feel they need to be experts themselves before allowing students to utilize it. When students are given the chance to showcase their expertise, however, teachers are often convinced to embrace the technology. Many teachers make students the tech experts in their classrooms. The result is that they regularly demonstrate marked improvements in their reading skills, social behavior, confidence, and public speaking, elevating them to leaders in their classrooms and schools.

This edWebinar will be of interest to elementary through middle school teachers, librarians, and school and district leaders.

Use this link for more information and to register for this webinar…

National AEM Center posts “AEM and the IEP”

National Center on Accessible Educational Materials logo

In March, the National Center on Accessible Educational Materials (NC-AEM) hosted a webinar entitled, “AEM in the IEP: Where Do Accessible Materials and Technologies Fit?” Presented by Joy Zabala and Diana Carl, the 60-minute webinar detailed the seven points in the IEP development process at which AEM might reasonably be considered and documented. Participants were also provided with IEP requirements at each point and questions related to consideration of accessible materials.

This webinar has now been archived and posted, available for your viewing. The presentation slides and handout is also available for download.

New Report Providing a Snapshot of Trends in State K12 Instructional Materials

Updated Digital Instructional Materials Acquisition Policies for States (DMAPS) Online Portal

Student using iPad to readApril 1, 2019 (Washington, D.C.) – SETDA, the principal membership association of the U.S. state and territorial digital learning leaders, today announced the release of a new report, State K12 Instructional Materials Leadership Trends Snapshot and updates to the free, online tool to support the implementation of digital instructional materials, Digital Instructional Materials Acquisition Policies for States (DMAPS). Educators, policy makers and the private sector will benefit from organized and accessible information highlighting trends regarding the acquisition of digital instructional materials, including state guidance, definitions and policies, procurement practices, review processes, funding options, and digital learning resources for all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Guam. New for 2019 is the topic of professional learning, highlighting the opportunities states provide teachers around the selection, creation and implementation of quality, digital instructional materials. This work supports state and district leaders’ understanding of state policies and can impact policy changes related to instructional materials (including non-traditional instructional materials, such as digital content) to best meet the individual needs of all learners.

“The selection and implementation of digital instructional materials is a top priority in K-12 education environments,” shared Candice Dodson, SETDA’s incoming Executive Director. “SETDA’s newest resource for this critical work, State K12 Instructional Materials Leadership Trends Snapshot, summarizes the current state policies and practices of this process utilizing 2019 updates to our powerful Digital Instructional Materials Acquisition Policies for States (DMAPS) online portal. This portal provides opportunities for collaboration between state and district leaders across the country to bring quality resources to digital teaching and learning for all.”

Both the Snapshots report and DMAPS were developed through the expertise and efforts of state leaders responsible for procurement, instructional materials and educational technology and in collaboration with experts in the field.

For a comprehensive overview, access this recent webinar, Navigating the Digital Shift: Leveraging Quality Instructional Materials for Learning

This work was made possible by funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

About SETDA

Founded in 2001, the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) is the principal non-profit membership association representing U.S. state and territorial educational technology leaders. Our mission is to build and increase the capacity of state and national leaders to improve education through technology policy and practice. For more information, please visit: setda.org.

Reaching Accessibility Goals for Higher Education

Accessible Information TechnologyA new article in Inside Higher Ed magazine Helping Institutions Reach Accessibility Goals details the fact that many institutions of higher education fail to have “coherent policies around accessibility. ” And, they note that there has been “…a recent uptick in high-profile lawsuits alleging failure to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act…”

While the reasons for this situation are many, the article suggests “time constraints” make be a factor. Quoting Cynthia Curry from the National Center on Accessible Educational Materials (NC-AEM)“Part of the problem is that people don’t have the time to do something systemic around accessibility within their institutions…” Curry said. “Most institutions, of course, aren’t looking proactively at accessibility. They’re looking at it more as a retrofit, or they’re being reactive if something litigious comes up.”

Maine CITE’s own resident digital accessibility resource person is John Brandt. Brandt’s own 25-year experience in web development and accessibility suggest that the perceived high cost to make web content accessible is probably the largest single factor in the equation. “Most organizations look at accessibility as expensive because they are approaching it from a mitigation perspective. They often fail to look at the costs associated with NOT having accessible content – lost student admissions, lack of student retention, etc.”

While most web accessibility experts will talk about the importance of “adding accessibility in at the beginning” of a web design process, colleges and universities are often not able to do this since they were among the first organizations to have websites in the 1990s – they have accumulated lots of content.

But even if an institution is committed to improving accessibility, they often don’t know where to start. To that end, the Inside Higher Education article promotes a new set of quality indicators for accessible educational materials developed by NC-AEM designed to “help institutions ensure, at scale, that all students have the same learning opportunities in face-to-face classrooms and digital learning environments.” The article focuses on the NC-AEM’s recently published  “Higher Education Critical Components of the Quality Indicators for the Provision of Accessible Educational Materials & Accessible Technologies” which promote seven quality indicators (QI), each containing specific criteria needed to achieve each QI.

For colleges and universities just starting out with the process, these quality indicators can provide a blueprint and structure of the thinking process that need to be considered. Tom Tobin, one of the people interviewed in the article, encourages “institutions (to) focus accessibility efforts on the potential impact on student access and learning outcomes, rather than merely on ‘legal-compliance arguments.’”

“While the description of the quality indicators alludes to the broad access benefits for all learners when accessible materials, tools and interface are adopted, the actual indicators and critical components are focused squarely on meeting the needs of learners with disabilities — only a part of the access conversation,” Tobin states in the article.

Read “Helping Institutions Reach Accessibility Goals”

Read/view the NC-AEM – “Higher Education Critical Components of the Quality Indicators for the Provision of Accessible Educational Materials & Accessible Technologies”

Getting Started with Accessible Math

The following webinar announcement comes from the National Center on Accessible Educational Materials…

Free Webinar: Getting Started with Accessible Math

Tuesday, January 22, 2019
2:00 – 3:00 pm ET

Presenters: Luis Pérez & Lynn McCormack, AEM Center, Paul Brown, Texthelp, and Steve Clower, Desmos

Math ML 2.0 logo from W3CMathML is a markup language used to display equations and other mathematical expressions on the web and in other formats such as ePub and NIMAS. MathML is important for accessibility because it allows equations to be stored as structured text rather than images. Unlike images, structured text can be enlarged with good resolution for low-vision users who need magnification. Blind learners can use screen readers that support MathML to navigate and review the parts of mathematical expressions in the correct order, which is important for understanding complex mathematical expressions. But writing MathML code is not for the faint of heart! In this webinar, we’ll show you some ways you can write and use MathML code with little to no coding. We will then also demonstrate a number of other math accessibility tools from Texthelp, Desmos and more!

Unable to attend the webinar? A recording will be available on the webinar’s Event Page approximately one week after the webinar.

Use this link for more information and to register for this event…

Accessibility and Inclusion in K-12 Computer Science (CS) Education

The following event is being sponsored by Great Lakes ADA Center:

Accessibility and Inclusion in K-12 Computer Science (CS) Education: Meeting the Needs of Students with Disabilities in the CS for All Movement

High School student working in laboratoryJoin us for the kick off webinar in the 2019 Accessible Technology Webinar Series.

The session is on Thursday, January 17, 2019 at 2:00 pm ET.

Computer science (CS) is increasingly becoming part of the mainstream K-12 instructional experience. As more students are exposed to CS instruction, it is imperative that school districts, curriculum developers, and instructional designers consider the needs of all students, including those with disabilities. In this webinar, we will share national initiatives focused on inclusion and accessibility, including:

  • The CS for All Accessibility Pledge
  • Research and development efforts focused on accessibility in K-12 CS tools and curricula
  • Pedagogical approaches that schools are taking toward ensuring that all students can engage in CS education that is accessible, and meaningfully engaging.

We will also share accessibility and inclusion challenges faced by the CS education community and necessary steps that we must take to continue moving in a positive direction towards more inclusive, accessible CS education experiences.

Our Speakers:

Maya Israel – Associate Professor of Educational Technology, University of Florida
Todd Lash – PhD Student, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Register at the Accessible Technology Series website. This webinar will be live captioned and archived.

Help Struggling Readers Connect with the World of Words and Reading

Our friends and colleagues at edWeb.net and Learning Ally have announced the following free webinar:

The Wonderful World of Words: Help Struggling Readers Connect with the World of Words and Reading

Thursday, Jan. 17 at 2 p.m. Eastern Time 

Learning Ally logoPresented by Terrie Noland, Vice President, Educator Initiatives, Learning Ally

Words flood our world each and every day. We use words to navigate, to communicate and to share knowledge. For struggling readers, words can be a thief: a thief that sneaks in and isolates students from classroom discourse and from the rich, deep knowledge that is contained in the pages of a book.

In this edWebinar, the following information will be shared to help restore the connection between words and struggling readers:

  • Why reading is so hard for struggling readers
  • The importance of word exposure and what it means for lifelong success
  • When to use words at a student’s decoding level and when to use words at their cognitive level
  • How to bring the right words to students that inspire continued learning

This session will benefit K-12 teachers, librarians, and school and district leaders. There will be time to get your questions answered at the end of the presentation.

Use this link for more information and to register for this free event…

 

Described and Captioned Media Program

Blind boy using Braille embosserThe Described and Captioned Media Program (DCMP) provides premium media designed for students with disabilities and leads as a resource for families and teachers, supported by the Department of Education.

DCMP’s mission is to promote and provide equal access to communication and learning through described and captioned educational media.

The ultimate goal of the DCMP is for accessible media to be an integral tool in the teaching and learning process for all stakeholders in the educational community, including students, educators and other school personnel, parents, service providers, businesses, and agencies.

The DCMP supports the U.S. Department of Education Strategic Plan for 2014-2018 by committing to the following goals:

  • Ensuring that students (early learners through Grade 12) who are blind, visually impaired, deaf, hard of hearing, or deaf-blind have the opportunity to achieve the standards of academic excellence.
  • Advocating for equal access to educational media as well as the establishment and maintenance of quality standards for captioning and description by service providers.
  • Providing a collection of free-loan described and captioned educational media.
  • Furnishing information and research about accessible media.
  • Acting as a gateway to Internet resources related to accessibility.
  • Adapting and developing new media and technologies that assist students in obtaining and using available information.

The Described and Captioned Media Program is funded by the U.S. Department of Education and administered by the National Association of the Deaf.

Please visit DCMP for more information…

Resources to Support Adaption of Assistive and Instructional Technology

The Center on Technology and Disabilities (CTD) recently published a newsletter highlighting some of their publications related to education. Among those resources:

Implement Assistive Technology and Instructional Technology

EducationFuture Ready Assistive Technology: Fostering State Supports for Students with Disabilities – This report provides insights into the current state and future of assistive technology as well as resources to support your work.

AT and IT: Where are we headed? – This new infographic outlines the technology landscape, and what it means for state and district leaders, and teachers.

Technology Implementation Strategies that Work! – Watch this video series to learn more about the critical processes necessary to effectively support technology implementation in your district or school.

Understanding Assistive Technology: Policy and Implications for State Leaders – Assistive technology (AT) is an essential part of your overall technology plan. Watch this webinar to learn more about the legal requirements for AT, different types of AT supports, and the role of Universal Design for Learning (UDL).

Contact the CTD Technical Assistance Lead for SEA/LEA support, Kristin Ruedel – KRuedel@air.org.

For more information, visit CTD on the web!

New Choice in Braille Transcription Software

This new product was recently announced by American Printing House for the Blind…

Person reading BrailleBrailleBlaster™ is a braille transcription program developed by the American Printing House for the Blind to help transcribers provide blind students with braille textbooks on the first day of class.

BrailleBlaster takes advantage of the rich markup contained in NIMAS (National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard) files to automate basic formatting and gives you tools to make advanced tasks quicker and easier. Designed primarily for editing textbooks that meet the specifications published by the Braille Authority of North America, the purpose of BrailleBlaster is to help braille producers ensure that every student has their hard-copy braille textbooks on the first day of class.

BrailleBlaster relies on Liblouis, a well-known open-source braille translator, for translating text and mathematics to braille.

Features include:

  • Translate braille accurately in UEB or EBAE
  • Format braille
  • Automate line numbered poetry and prose
  • Split books into volumes
  • Add transcriber notes
  • Describe images
  • Automate braille table of contents, glossaries, preliminary pages and special symbols pages
  • Automate a variety of table styles
  • Translate and edit single line math

The development of BrailleBlaster and modifications to Liblouis are part of the REAL Plan (Resources with Enhanced Accessibility for Learning). The REAL Plan is an ongoing initiative of the American Printing House for the Blind to improve the conversion and delivery of braille and other accessible formats to students who are blind.

Learn more about Braille Blaster…