A new social networking community for AT

The Virginia Society for Technology in Education (http://www.vste.org) has established a new social networking space, utilizing the free tool ning.com. Within this space is also a new community for AT entitled, “AT Rocks in Virginia”. To learn more and become an active participant,
Go to http://vsteonline.ning.com/group/at and start participating!

Promethean’s solutions as assistive technology

Chad Schnell, our local Promethean board rep, shared a video that highlights just one specific instance of using Promethean’s solutions as assistive technology. “It’s an older clip, and since that news cast, Joe has been awarded a scholarship that one of our sales folks put together in his name to make Promethean available for both his home and future grade levels,” says Chad. Take a look!
Download file

Want to tour Richmond using a wheelchair?

James River Park System is taking a step to raise awareness of accessibility with the publication of “Shockoe Slip: From Top to Bottom,” a slim tour book aimed at people in wheelchairs who often are discouraged from seeing historic sites because of physical barriers.
The tour book is the creation of Ralph White, manager of the James River Park System. He got the idea from an aunt who visited Richmond years ago. She used a wheelchair and was frustrated by the obstacles to sightseeing at the city’s many historic locations.
Check out the article published in the Richmond Times Dispatch
http://www.inrich.com/cva/ric/search.PrintView.-content-articles-RTD-2007-07-11-0009.html

AT Recycling Centers in VA

Do you know people, of any age, who would benefit from some sort of assistive technology, yet don’t have the resources to purchase them? I learned recently that there are several places here in Virginia that recycle all types of AT from walkers and wheechairs to AAC devices. There is a process to follow and forms to complete, but what a great option for those that need it! Check them out:
Foundation for Rehabilitation Equipment and Endowment (FREE Roanoke)
2017 S. Jefferson Street
P.O. Box 8873
Roanoke, VA 24014
(540) 777-4929
http://www.free-foundation.org
FREE Lynchburg
2511 Memorial Ave., Ste 106
Lynchburg, VA 24501
434-846-3733
http://www.free-foundation.org
FREE Martinsville/Henry County
22 East Church St., Ste 206
Martinsville, VA 24112
276-632-2004
http://www.freemhc.org
Goodwill of Central Virginia
6301 Midlothian Turnpike
Richmond, VA 23225
804-521-4916
http://www.goodwillcva.org
Equipment Connection
disAbility Resource Center
409 Progress St.
Fredericksburg, VA 22401
(540) 373-2559
http://www.cildrc.org
Recycled Equipment and Devices Donated for Independence (REDDI)
Clinch Independent Living Services
1139C Plaza Dr.
Grundy, VA 24614
276-935-6088
http://www.cils-online.org
PD 6 Equipment Recycling Network
Department of Rehabilitative Services
292 Woodrow Wilson Avenue
Fishersville, VA 229391500
540-332-7706
href=”http://wwrc.virginia.gov/assistivetech.htm”>http://wwrc.virginia.gov/assistivetech.htm

JAVA applications become more accessible

Sun Microsystems’ Accessibility Program has teh slogan, “Driven by the belief that designing to meet the needs of users with disabilities can improve the productivity of ALL users.” What are they doing to back this up? Sun has recently earned the Americans with Disabilities Act Eagle Award in acknowledgment of its advancements in enabling technologies-largely for their work with Enabling Technologies in building accessibility for Java that does the following:

Works with the accessibility architecture(s) built into any platform on which Java programs run
Scales and extends beyond desktop systems to include Java-powered devices such as information kiosks and nomadic systems
Enables and promotes built-in accessibility to minimize the need for external assistive technology
Provides programmatic support for assistive technologies
Enables developer tools to implement and utilize the architecture in a way that promotes “access friendly” design methods

Some of their other activities include:

Developing guidelines on how to build accessible products
Specifying functional requirements for access solutions
Enabling Sun products to meet the requirements of Section 508 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Telecommunications Act
Establishing partnerships with research organizations, corporations, and standards bodies to focus on increasing product accessibility.

Worried about the inaccessiblity of Java applets that populate the educational, work, and social web? Looks like we’ll have help soon.
For more info, click on http://www.sun.com/access/general/overview.html, http://java.sun.com/products/jfc/accessibility/reference/docs/index.html or http://www.zdnetindia.com/index.php?action=article&prodid=13650&chid=70&Ref=Java

Finding Alternative Sources of Funding for Assistive Technology

Click on http://ldonline.org/article/6239 for a good LD Online article about funding sources for AT. Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1997 (IDEA), students with learning disabilities have the right to be provided with appropriate assistive devices to help them succeed in school. This Info Brief provides information to help parents find and obtain alternative sources of funding for classroom- or home-based assistive technology when funds are not available through a child’s school.
For more information, click here: http://www.cited.org/index.aspx?page_id=2&#funding

Finding “Access” in Microsoft Software

Wondering how to access all those accessibility features in Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Office (Word, PowerPoint, Access, Excel), or the new Windows Vista? If you’re someone who needs larger screen access, magnification, speaking aloud of the text, larger mouse pointers, and many more….visit these links below:
http://www.microsoft.com/enable/products/default.aspx
http://www.microsoft.com/enable/at/default.aspx
http://www.microsoft.com/enable/training/default.aspx
http://www.microsoft.com/enable/guides/default.aspx

Telecommuting: How to afford the equipment needed at home

In Virginia, the Assistive Technology Loan Fund Authority (ATLFA) announced the availability of a new credit-financing program for Virginians with disabilities: Telework loans.Telework / Telecommuting means the individual works for pay from home in a job that would otherwise be completed at an office or workplace. The ATLFA will make Telework loans to individuals who require computers and other equipment in order to obtain employment, maintain employment or to establish a self-employment enterprise while working from their home or telework center.

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Free Webinar on Digital Books

EASI will be hosting an upcoming free 2-part Webinar in on Etext Advances
DIGITAL BOOKS & PLAYERS, AN UPDATE
By Robert Lee Beach, Assistive Technology Specialist, Kansas City Kansas Community College. This will be hosted on Thursday November 15 and 29 – 2PM EST.
The presenter will discuss some of the sources of books and provide an update on
what is happening with these. He will review software and hardware players for digital books and
update you all on what is currently available.
For more information, please visit, http//easi.cc/workshop.htm

Upcoming Webinars from EASI

The folks at Equal Access to Software and Information will be hosting an upcoming webinar series on making PowerPoint accessible. PowerPoint ia a frequently used presentation tool and, while providing wonderful graphics and interactive tools for the presenter, many of these same tools present barriers for those who are blind or have low vision. Simply adding sound tracks to each slide may not be enough. To learn more, check out EASI’s New Synchronous Clinics:
http://easi.cc/clinic.htm