Our mission is to empower people with disabilities to live their best life! We do this by showcasing adaptive products.

The product categories out at allaccesslife.org

 


Addendum on 11/14/22:

clusiv.io — as mentioned at The Accelerator at WGU Labs Invests in Platform for the Blind or Visually Impaired

Clusiv is an online learning platform for the blind and visually impaired that teaches occupational training, technology skills, and educational courses to empower employment. We help remove barriers to successful employment by teaching the skills you need to be equipped for the modern workforce.


 

In one giant classroom, four teachers manage 135 kids – and love it — from hechingerreport.org by Neal Morton
Schools in Mesa, Arizona, piloted a team teaching model to combat declining enrollment and teacher shortages; now the approach is spreading

Excerpts (emphasis DSC):

Five years ago, faced with high teacher turnover and declining student enrollment, Westwood’s leaders decided to try something different. Working with professors at Arizona State University’s teachers college, they piloted a classroom model known as team teaching. It allows teachers to voluntarily dissolve the walls that separate their classes across physical or grade divides.

Here, more than 130 freshmen at Westwood High School learn in one giant classroom overseen by four teachers. 

Team teaching is taking hold in Mesa, Arizona’s largest school district. Here, more than 130 freshmen at Westwood High School learn in one giant classroom overseen by four teachers. Credit: Matt York/Associated Press

 

By giving teachers more opportunities to collaborate and greater control over how and what they teach, Mesa’s administrators hoped to fill staffing gaps and boost teacher morale and retention. Initial research suggests the gamble could pay off.


Also see:

Educator shortages are a real crisis — especially in special education — from k12dive.com
Administrators are straining under the pressure of finding qualified personnel to meet federal requirements on specialized instruction and related services.

The Council of Administrators of Special Education is keenly aware of the shortage of qualified teachers, specialized instructional support personnel and administrators to fill vacancies in school districts across the country, with shortages particularly acute in special education. We hear daily from administrators citing the impossibility of finding qualified personnel to meet mandates of the federal law requiring specialized instruction and related services for children with disabilities.


 

How can colleges better serve students with autism? — from by Laura Spitalniak
Professor Sarah Howorth says her program at the University of Maine helps bridge the gap between high school and college for students with autism.

Excerpts:

In 2019, Howorth led the pilot for the University of Maine’s Step Up to College, a program meant to model how colleges can effectively support students with autism spectrum disorder.

There are so many myths and misunderstandings out there about what a person with autism is like. Autism is not necessarily associated with cognitive impairment. I have a 16-year-old son who is on the autism spectrum. He is also very intelligent, and he’s definitely college bound. There’s a lot of kids out there like him on the autism spectrum.

Individuals on the spectrum bring a lot to communities, whether that be university campuses, or high schools or businesses. Oftentimes, we focus on the challenges they face, but I think they have many, many more strengths than challenges.

Look at things from a Universal Design for Learning perspective. The things that you offer for students with autism on college campuses, like peer mentors, will help all students.


Also relevant/see:

So what can we do to decrease the exclusion and bullying that leads to trauma? We need to create activities and spaces where autistic people can be their authentic selves and be accepted without having to mask to fit in. We need to eradicate the isolation that is so commonplace by creating supportive communities that are truly safe and inclusive.


 

Why Businesses Struggle with Web Accessibility (And How to Fix It) — from boia.org

Excerpt:

An accessible website means more traffic, better search engine optimization (SEO), reduced exposure to lawsuits, and better brand perception — but despite the benefits, most businesses fail to adopt the principles of accessible design.

In their 2022 report on the state of digital accessibility, WebAIM (Web Accessibility In Mind) found that 96.8% of the internet’s top 1 million homepages had detectable accessibility errors. That number was actually a slight improvement from previous years: WebAIM’s 2021 analysis found that 97.4% of websites had potential barriers for users with disabilities.

For businesses, those numbers should be a wakeup call. But despite growing awareness of digital accessibility, many organizations struggle to make concrete changes.

Below, we’ll explain the key factors that prevent businesses from taking the right approach — and provide some tips for overcoming those challenges.

 

4 Tips for Choosing Accessible WordPress Plugins — from boia.org

Excerpt:

WordPress plugins can change how your website operates — typically, that’s why you want to install them in the first place. If you need to add a form or a video player on your WordPress site, you’ll probably look for a plugin before attempting to code your own solution.

But unfortunately, some plugins can alter your content in unpredictable ways and create accessibility barriers. Needless to say, you’ll want to avoid those issues if possible. Fortunately, WordPress is a fairly accessibility-friendly platform — and by following a few simple tips, you can reach a wider audience.

Are Hamburger Menus Bad for Accessibility? — from boia.org

Excerpt:

In web design, a hamburger menu is a button — usually with three horizontal lines — that typically opens a navigation menu.  The icon vaguely resembles a hamburger (or any other sandwich), hence the name.

Like many trends in web design, hamburger menus are controversial: They can cause accessibility issues, depending on their implementation, and they might obscure important navigational information. However, they’re extremely common — and while they pose a few potential issues for users with disabilities, sidebars can be accessible with appropriate markup.


Addendum on 10/18/22:


 

 

Assistive Technology for Kids with Multiple Disabilities — from equalentry.com

Help Kids Learn dot com -- online learning for special education -- uses assistive technologies

 

Lego Owner to Acquire Education-Technology Firm Brainpop — from nytimes.com by Trefor Moss
Kirkbi, the family-run company behind the world’s largest toy maker, plans to establish an education business

Excerpt:

Lego owner Kirkbi A/S is buying U.S. video-learning firm Brainpop for $875 million, according to the companies, as the family behind the world’s largest toy maker expands into the education business.

The Danish company said the purchase of Brainpop, which produces short animations used in schools to help children learn everything from math to music, was part of a plan to build a new business pillar. The deal—through which Kirkbi is acquiring Brainpop’s owner FWD Media Inc.—is expected to close Tuesday, the companies said.

“We are definitely on the path to establishing the Lego idea of learning through play in the formal education space,” said Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, executive chairman of the Lego Brand Group, the Kirkbi entity that oversees the toy brand.

 

What might the ramifications be for text-to-everything? [Christian]

From DSC:

  • We can now type in text to get graphics and artwork.
  • We can now type in text to get videos.
  • There are several tools to give us transcripts of what was said during a presentation.
  • We can search videos for spoken words and/or for words listed within slides within a presentation.

Allie Miller’s posting on LinkedIn (see below) pointed these things out as well — along with several other things.



This raises some ideas/questions for me:

  • What might the ramifications be in our learning ecosystems for these types of functionalities? What affordances are forthcoming? For example, a teacher, professor, or trainer could quickly produce several types of media from the same presentation.
  • What’s said in a videoconference or a webinar can already be captured, translated, and transcribed.
  • Or what’s said in a virtual courtroom, or in a telehealth-based appointment. Or perhaps, what we currently think of as a smart/connected TV will give us these functionalities as well.
  • How might this type of thing impact storytelling?
  • Will this help someone who prefers to soak in information via the spoken word, or via a podcast, or via a video?
  • What does this mean for Augmented Reality (AR), Mixed Reality (MR), and/or Virtual Reality (VR) types of devices?
  • Will this kind of thing be standard in the next version of the Internet (Web3)?
  • Will this help people with special needs — and way beyond accessibility-related needs?
  • Will data be next (instead of typing in text)?

Hmmm….interesting times ahead.

 

Why text-to-speech tools might have a place in your classroom with Dr. Kirsten Kohlmeyer – Easy TeTech Podcast 183 — from classtechtips.com by Monica Burns

Excerpt:

In this episode, Assistive Technology Director, Dr. Kirsten Kohlmeyer, joins to discuss the power of accessibility and text-to-speech tools in classroom environments. You’ll also hear plenty of digital resources to check out for text-to-speech options, audiobooks, and more!

Assistive tools can provide:

  • Text-to-speech
  • Definitions/vocabularies
  • Ability to level the Lexile level of a reading
  • Capability to declutter a website
  • More chances to read to learn something new
  • and more

Speaking of tools, also see:

 

Disabled Americans Reap Remote-Work Reward in Record Employment — from bloomberg.com by Molly Smith
Adults with disabilities have rarely been employed in such high numbers

Excerpt:

Anardi is part of the second-largest minority group in the US — adults with disabilities. The 42.5 million disabled Americans make up 13% of the civilian population, compared with the nearly 19% that is Hispanic and the almost 12% that’s African American, according to 2021 Census data released on Sept. 15. After suffering some of the worst job losses during the initial phase of the pandemic, people with disabilities are now benefiting from the remote-work trend it triggered. Advocates hope they will continue to reap such rewards, even as companies demand that employees return to the office.

 

Inclusive Education For Students With Hearing Impairment — from edtechreview.in by Priyanka Gupta

Excerpt:

The following may be difficult for a student with a hearing impairment:

  • The subjects of spelling, grammar, and vocabulary
  • Making notes while listening to lectures
  • Participate, engage or understand classroom discussions
  • Understand educational videos
  • Present oral reports
 

ADA Accessibility Lawsuit Tracker: Final Numbers for August 2022 — from info.usablenet.com

Also see:

Download our 2022 Mid-Year Report on Digital Accessibility Lawsuits — from info.usablenet.com
Our Digital Accessibility Report highlights the newest trends in digital accessibility lawsuits.

 

 

A New Initiative to Tackle Education’s Big Problems — from the74millioin.org by Andrew J. Rotherham
Rotherham: For all the rhetoric around ‘reimagining’ and ‘reinventing’ schooling, there’s precious little to show for it. There’s another way

Excerpt:

Instead, experts operate in silos to find solutions, reform and pandemic fatigue abound, and dysfunctional reactionary politics define various debates.

Beta by Bellwether, [which launched on 8/31/22], is a new initiative bringing viewpoint- and background-diverse experts together to tackle big problems and develop blueprints, strategies and tools that can help communities address structural educational problems. We’re building on our 12 years of work at Bellwether bridging policy and practice with a perspective that should be mundane but in this climate seems radical: the belief that the best ideas often lie between different perspectives and are strengthened through serious debate. No faction owns solutions, good ideas or virtue.

Bellwether Beta -- A New Initiative to Tackle Education’s Big Problems

Bellwether.org 

From DSC:
This is something to keep on your K-12 learning ecosystems radar.

Bellwether dot org -- something to keep on your K-12 learning ecosystems radar


Also see:

National Microschooling Center launches, proving ‘modern one-room schoolhouse’ is no flash-in-the-pandemic phenomenon — from reimaginedonline.org by Tom Jackson

Excerpt:

Writing for the Manhattan Institute, researcher Michael McShane lays out the framework and the appeal of microschools:

Neither homeschooling nor traditional schooling, [microschools] exist in a hard-to-classify space between formal and informal learning environments. They rose in popularity during the pandemic as families sought alternative educational options that could meet social-distancing recommendations.

But what they offer in terms of personalization, community building, schedules, calendars, and the delivery of instruction will have appeal long after Covid recedes.

Long-time education choice advocate Don Soifer concurs.

“For whatever reason, families are just rethinking the public education system,” he says. “The research is telling us now that microschooling serves 2-1/2 to 3-1/2 million learners as their primary form of education.”


Also see:


Learning Pods Are Here, Are You In? — from schoolchoiceweek.com by National School Choice Week Team

Excerpt:

If you’ve stumbled into an education conversation or joined a parent discussion group recently, you’ve surely heard of pods or micro-schools. As families grapple with a changing education environment, some hope to find the flexibility, safety, and community they desire in small, local learning arrangements called learning pods. Whether you have your heart set on joining a pod or just want to better understand education choices for your child, we’ve broken down all types of pandemic pods here.

 

The 21-day challenge for disability equity -- offered by the United Way of South Central Michigan

To view previous content, click HERE.
Also see the following resources from this challenge.

Below are some local and general resources related to disability justice and advocacy that may be helpful. There is a Disability Network or Center for Independent Living serving all of the counties in the state of Michigan. You can find the office that covers your area by going to https://dnmichigan.org/

If you have questions about the information in this 21 Day Challenge, please contact Disability Network Southwest Michigan.


Michigan Resources


  • Find your local Disability Network or Center for Independent Living: https://dnmichigan.org/ 
  • Disability Rights Michigan is the independent, private, nonprofit, nonpartisan protection and advocacy organization authorized by Federal and State law to advocate and protect the legal rights of people with disabilities in Michigan: https://www.drmich.org/ 
  • Michigan Disability Rights Coalition cultivates disability pride and strengthens the disability movement by recognizing disability as a natural and beautiful part of human diversity while collaborating to dismantle all forms of oppression: https://mymdrc.org/
  • Self-Advocates of Michigan is an advocacy organization comprised of people with developmental disabilities and intellectual disabilities, working together to make a difference: https://selfadvocatesofmichigan.wordpress.com
  • The Arc promotes and protects the human rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and actively supports full inclusion and participation in the community. https://arcmi.org/.

General Resources


  • Americans with Disabilities Act information and technical assistance: www.ada.gov
  • Disability is Natural is a source for new ways of thinking about disability and moving beyond the status quo: www.disabilityisnatural.com
  • Job Accommodation Network is a one-stop web page to get information regarding accommodations at work and advocating for disability rights in the workplace: www.askjan.org
  • Disability Scoop is the nation’s premier source for developmental disability news and information: www.disabilityscoop.com
  • Rooted in Rights tells authentic, accessible stories to challenge stigma and redefine narratives around disability: www.rootedinrights.org
  • Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) serves as a national grassroots disability rights organization for the autistic community, advocating for systems change and ensuring that the voices of autistic people are heard in policy debates and the halls of power: www.autisticadvocacy.org
  • Sins Invalid promotes leadership opportunities for people with disabilities within our communities and within the broader social justice movement: www.sinsinvalid.org
  • The Disability Visibility Project is an online community dedicated to creating, sharing, and amplifying disability media and culture: https://disabilityvisibilityproject.com/
  • The National Association of the Deaf is the nation’s premier civil rights organization of, by and for deaf and hard of hearing individuals in the United States of America: https://www.nad.org/
  • The National Council on Independent Living is the longest-running national cross-disability, grassroots organization run by and for people with disabilities: https://ncil.org
  • National Federation of the Blind is the oldest and largest nationwide organization of blind Americans. The National Federation of the Blind is continuously working toward securing full integration, equality, independence, acceptance, and respect for all blind Americans: https://nfb.org
  • Self Advocates Becoming Empowered (SABE) is the United States’ national self-advocacy organization: https://www.sabeusa.org
  • Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution is a feature-length documentary about the disability rights movement available on Netflix and YouTube: https://youtu.be/OFS8SpwioZ4
[Image description: photo of Mia Mingus on a colorful striped background with her quote, “Understanding disability and ableism is the work of every revolutionary, activist and organizer – of every human being.” Mia Mingus, writer and community organizer for transformative justice and disability justice.]

To view previous content, click HERE.


A somewhat relevant resource:

 

Here Are Some Dos And Don’ts Of Disability Language — from forbes.com by Andrew Pulrang

Excerpt:

Is there a way for anyone to navigate disability language clearly, safely, and respectfully?

Obviously, it’s impossible to satisfy everyone. But that doesn’t mean there are no useful guidelines. Here are a few tips to sort through the competing schools of thought on disability language, and ride the various waves of popularity and revision that disability language goes through.

1. Recognize obviously insulting terms and stop using or tolerating them.
2. Aim to be factual, descriptive, and simple, not condescending, sentimental, or awkward.
3. Respect disabled people’s actual language preferences.

Disability Language Style Guide — from National Center on Disaplity and Journalism (ncdj.org)

Disability and Health Overview  — from cdc.gov

Research Center | ALICE in focus studies:
Financial Hardship Among People With Disabilities

Excerpt:

According to the outdated Federal Poverty Level, 18% of people with disabilities in the U.S. lived in poverty in 2019. Yet United For ALICE data shows that another 34% were also struggling, in households that earned above the FPL but less than what it costs to afford the basics. These households are ALICE: Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed.

Disability & Socioeconomic Status — from the American Psychological Association (apa.org)

Excerpt:

Socioeconomic status (SES) encompasses not just income but also educational attainment, financial security, and subjective perceptions of social status and social class. Socioeconomic status can encompass quality of life attributes as well as the opportunities and privileges afforded to people within society. Poverty, specifically, is not a single factor but rather is characterized by multiple physical and psychosocial stressors. Further, SES is a consistent and reliable predictor of a vast array of outcomes across the life span, including physical and psychological health. Thus, SES is relevant to all realms of behavioral and social science, including research, practice, education and advocacy.

Those with Disabilities Earn 37% Less on Average; Gap is Even Wider in Some States — air.org

Subminimum Wage and Sheltered Workshops — from United Way of South Central Michigan

Congress enacted the Fair Labor Standards Act in 1938 as part of the New Deal; one of the Act’s provisions, Section 14 (c), grants special certificates allowing for the employment of workers with disabilities below the federal minimum wage.

Many employers operating under 14(c) have historically employed people with disabilities in segregated work centers commonly referred to as sheltered workshops. This creates a situation where the employer profits from paying sub-minimum wages to their employees with disabilities. Some states have prohibited the practice of subminimum wages and sheltered workshops altogether; however as of 2020, 46 states and the District of Columbia continue to allow 14(c) certificates. The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights revealed that in 2017 and 2018, the average wage of a person with a disability working under a 14(c) certificate was $3.34 per hour and the average number of hours worked was 16 hours per week, making the average wage just $53.44 per week.

Employment First is a state and national movement to help individuals with disabilities realize their fullest employment potential through the achievement of individual, competitive, and integrated employment outcomes. Employment First in Michigan has established guidelines to help move the state to community-based and integrated employment by using executive orders and passing legislation.

 

It’s Time to Rethink the ‘One Teacher, One Classroom’ Model — from edweek.org by Irene Chen & Stephanie Banchero
How to build a happier and more effective teaching force

Excerpt:

Let’s address this crisis by reenvisioning the traditional school staffing model, which has not changed in generations. We need innovative, differentiated staffing that creatively utilizes educators and plays to their strengths. This means schools must deploy adults to work collaboratively in response to the needs of individual students, rather than asking one teacher to meet the needs of all students in one classroom. This approach can address children’s specific skills gaps, while also diversifying the workforce, retaining the most effective teachers, and extending great teaching.

 
© 2022 | Daniel Christian