Professor Rhonda McEwen of the Institute of Communication, Culture and Information Technology at the University of Toronto Mississauga has found that mobile touch technology has the potential to considerably enhance how students with autism learn, communicate, engage with others and succeed at school. After studying thirty-six children with autism at a Toronto public school, Professor McEwen found that the use of off-the-shelf hand-held touch devices for learning led to statistically significant improvements in children’s communication skill, social skill, attention span and motivation. Read more about how mobile tech may enhance how students with autism learn.
The Therapeutic Research Foundation (TRF) and the National Science Foundation-sponsored Quality of Life Technology Center (QOLT) have collaborated to establish a comprehensive visual assist system for people who are blind and low vision.
In contrast to the rapidly changing smartphone, iPad and laptop computer market, current technology for people who are blind is still clumsy and archaic. The TRF proprietary project, however, will create a system for enhancing the ability of people who are low-vision and blind to navigate and interact with their surroundings. The system will work by constructing a virtual 3-D environment for an Immersive Navigational Informatics System that builds and communicates a description of the virtual environment for users and allows for further electronic interaction to occur via voice and speech-recognition software. Read more about the visual assist system for people with vision disabilities.
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), an international community that develops open standards, such as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG 2.0), to ensure long-term growth of the web, launched a Web and Mobile Interest Group. The new group is chartered to accelerate the development of Web technology so that it becomes a compelling platform for mobile applications and cross platform development. Read more about the new web and mobile interest group from W3C.
An interim settlement agreement between the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and private plaintiffs and the state of Texas, will enable Texans with intellectual and other developmental disabilities live in community settings rather than nursing facilities.
The litigation alleges that Texas has not complied with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Supreme Court’s decision in Olmstead v. L.C. and other federal statutes in ways leading to the needless institutionalization of people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities in nursing facilities. More on Texas settling the disabilities lawsuit.
An app that gives daily assistive technology tips and weekly reviews on technology apps is being offered by The University of Iowa College of Education’s Iowa Center for Assistive Technology. (ICATER) The app is available for free on iTunes
On August 23 the Knoxville Civic Coliseum will host the second annual Accessibility Symposium. The symposium will be an interactive state-of-the-art show focusing on mobility, aging in place, and smart design. It will run from 9 am to 4 pm and be open to the public with a target audience of people with disabilities, seniors, and people who know and work with these individuals as well as people who design, renovate or inspect buildings. More details on the Accessibility Symposium at the Knoxville Civic Coliseum.
A motorized wheelchair tray called, “RoboDesk” may help people with disabilities more easily handle mobile devices such as an iPad and overcome the limitations of tables and moving from the chair.
RoboDesk and other assistance technologies are being developed by Brad Duerstock, an associate professor of engineering practice in the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering and School of Industrial Engineering, in the Purdue Institute for Accessible Science. Read more about RoboDesk.
Among the four million Australians with disabilities many cannot access apps, websites or digital television content that is available to the rest of the nation. Minister Assisting for the Digital Economy, Senator Kate Lundy, says that a re-elected Labor government would support new laws that ensure more disabled people can access websites and digital content.
ACCAN CEO Teresa Corbin spoke at the Australian Communication Consumer Action Network’s M-Enabling Conference on Wednesday and called for new laws mandating minimum accessibility standards for websites, digital content and television. She referred to the 21st Century Communication and Video Accessibility Act in the US, which will ensure most television programming in the US is available on network catch-up services, and on commercial video-on-demand services such as iTunes, will have captions by March 2014. Read more about support for digital accessibility in Australia.
Twenty-three years after the Americans with Disabilities Act passed, Governor of Delaware, Jack Markell, recently released A Better Bottom Line: Employing Individuals with Disabilities. In a recent blog post, Governor Markell explains that, “only 20 percent of the 54 million Americans living with a disability are employed or seeking employment, compared to almost 70 percent of people without disabilities.” That is why he released A Better Bottom Line: Employing Individuals with Disabilities as a blueprint for governors, which is not about feel-good social policy but about employing individuals with disabilities because it is good business.
Texthelp Inc., an award-winning literacy software solutions provider, has released Read&Write for Google. Read&Write for Google, which works within Google Drive in Chrome on PCs, Macs and Chromebooks, allows students with learning disabilities to access and interact with the same documents as their peers and teachers. To accomplish this, the software offers support tools for Google document, PDFs and ePubs which include:
- Read aloud with dual color highlighting
- Talking Dictionary, Picture Dictionary, Translator, and Fact Finder
- Study Skills Highlighters and Collect Highlights
- Vocabulary List Builder
- Annotations (PDFs and ePubs)
- Navigational tools (ePubs)