Inside Microsoft’s new Inclusive Tech Lab — from engadget.com by C. Low; with thanks to Nick Floro on Twitter for some of these resources
“An embassy for people with disabilities.”

Increasing our Focus on Inclusive Technology — from mblogs.microsoft.com by Dave Dame

Excerpt:

In recent years, tied to Microsoft’s mission of empowering every person and organization on the planet to achieve more, teams from across Microsoft have launched several products and features to make technology more inclusive and accessible. [On May 10, 2022], as part of the 12th annual Microsoft Ability Summit, we celebrate a new and expanded Inclusive Tech Lab, powerful new software features, and are unveiling Microsoft adaptive accessories designed to give people with disabilities greater access to technology.

Microsoft’s Latest Hardware Is More Accessible and Customizable — from wired.com by Brenda Stolyar
The wireless system—a mouse, a button, and a hub—is designed to increase productivity for those with limited mobility.

Excerpt:

Microsoft if expanding its lineup of accessibility hardware. During its annual Ability Summit—an event dedicated to disability inclusion and accessibility—the company showed attendees some new PC hardware it has developed for users with limited mobility. Available later this year, the wireless system will consist of an adaptive mouse, a programmable button, and a hub to handle the connection to a Windows PC. Users set up the devices to trigger various keystrokes, shortcuts, and sequences. These new input devices can be used with existing accessories, and they can be further customized with 3D-printed add-ons. There are no price details yet.

Along these lines, also see:

  • 14 Equity Considerations for Ed Tech — from campustechnology.com by Reed Dickson
    Is the education technology in your online course equitable and inclusive of all learners? Here are key equity questions to ask when considering the pedagogical experience of an e-learning tool.
 

From DSC:
For the last few years, I’ve been thinking that we need to make learning science-related information more accessible to students, teachers, professors, trainers, and employees — no matter what level they are at.

One idea on how to do this — besides putting posters up in the hallways, libraries, classrooms, conference rooms, cafeterias, etc. — is that we could put a How best to study/learn link in all of the global navigation bars and/or course navigation bars out there in organizations’ course management systems and learning management systems. Learners of all ages could have 24 x 7 x 365, easy, instant access as to how to be more productive as they study and learn about new things.

For example, they could select that link in their CMS/LMS to access information on:

  • Retrieval practice
  • Spacing
  • Interleaving
  • Metacognition
  • Elaboration
  • The Growth Mindset
  • Accessibility-related tools / assistive technologies
  • Links to further resources re: learning science and learning theories

What do you think? If we started this in K12, kept it up in higher ed and vocational programs, and took the idea into the corporate world, valuable information could be relayed and absorbed. This is the kind of information that is highly beneficial these days — as all of us need to be lifelong learners now.

 

Do digital distractions justify law professors’ prohibitions on laptops? — from abajournal.com by Stephanie Francis Ward

Excerpt:

If a professor is uncomfortable with laptops in the classroom, he or she might consider allowing a handful of students to use them, as official note takers, says Robert Dinerstein, a former acting dean of American University Washington College of Law, who directs its Disability Rights Law Clinic. The note-taking group should include students who do and do not have accommodations for laptops so no one is stigmatized, he adds. Dinerstein, a former commissioner on the ABA’s Commission on Disability Rights, now serves as its liason from the ABA’s Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice. Additionally, he co-chairs the section’s disability rights committee.

 

K-12 education in America is like quickly moving trains that stop for no one.

K-12 education in America is like quickly moving trains that stop for no one.

From DSC:
A family member struggles with spelling — big time. This causes her major amounts of anxiety in school.

Another family member had some learning disabilities and reflects back on school with some bad memories.

Another family member struggles with social graces and learns at a much different pace than her peers — the move to her education being (predominantly) done via homeschooling has helped significantly.

A friend of mine has Dyslexia. He recently said that school was hell for him.

Another person I know doesn’t understand his daughter’s learning disabilities — at all. He’s asking a fish to climb the tree and yells at his daughter when she doesn’t produce like the other kids do. Her school is for college-bound learners, and there’s always pressure to maintain the school’s “blue-ribbon” status (i.e., sorry if you don’t fit in…but please board the train anyway, as it’s about to depart).

These people and stories about their educations got me to reflect on all the people who went through the school systems in the United States (over the last few decades) that didn’t work well for them. In fact, not only did the systems not work well for them, they were the sources of a great deal of pain, anxiety, depression, anger, frustration, and embarrassment.  Instead of being a place of wonder or joy, school was a painful, constant struggle to get through.

For those who can keep up or even excel at the pace that the trains travel at, school isn’t that much of a problem. There are likely different levels of engagement involved here, but school is manageable and it doesn’t cause nearly the stress for someone who struggles with it.

For those with learning disabilities, I’d like to apologize to you on behalf of all the people who legislated or created rigid, one-size-fits-all school systems that didn’t understand and/or meet your needs. (Why we allow legislators — who aren’t the ones on the front lines — to control so much of what happens in our school systems is beyond me.) I’d like to apologize on behalf of all of the teachers, administrators, and staff who just accept the systems as they are.

Please help us reinvent our school systems. Help us develop the future of education. Help us develop a more personalized, customized approach. For those who are working to provide that, thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

To everyone working within Pre-K through 12th grade, help us offer: More voice. More choice. More control. The status quo has to go. School should not be a constant source of pain and anxiety.

Learners need: More voice. More choice. More control. -- this image was created by Daniel Christian

 

 

What Educators Need to Know About Assistive Tech Tools: Q&A with Texthelp CEO — from thejournal.com by Kristal Kuykendall and Texthelp CEO Martin McKay

Excerpts (emphasis DSC):

THE Journal: What are some examples of the types of assistive technology tools now available for K–12 schools?
McKay: There are a broad range of disabilities, and accordingly, a broad range of learning and access difficulties that assistive technology can help with. Just considering students with dyslexia — since that is the largest group among students who can benefit from assistive tech tools — the main problems they have are around reading comprehension and writing. Assistive technology can provide text-to-speech, talking dictionaries, picture dictionaries, and text simplification tools to help with comprehension.

It’s important that these tools need to work everywhere — not just in their word processor. Assistive technology must work in their learning management systems, and must work in their online assessment environment, so that the student can use the assistive tech tools not only in class, but at home as they work on their homework, and perhaps most importantly on test day when they are using a secure assessment environment.

 

Day in the Life: Blind or Visually Impaired Professionals — from inclusionhub.com by Jeffrey Howard
While blind or visually impaired professionals still encounter inaccessibility and exclusionary hiring practices, some companies are adopting more inclusive protocols including remote work options and other accommodations.

Excerpt:

“It’s the same as someone asking for a second or third monitor,” continues Preston-Watson. “I’m asking for a screen reader. You’re asking for these accommodations. I’m just asking for the tools to do my job. People in different roles need different tools to do their jobs. And that’s the same thing for disabled workers.”

 

Google TalkBack: An Overview of Android’s Free Screen Reader — from boia.org

Excerpt:

TalkBack is Google’s free screen reader for Android devices. The software responds to familiar touch and swipe commands, allowing users to interact with websites and apps. When activated, TalkBack announces where the user’s focus is located, enabling people to control their phones, tablets, and other Android devices without using visual cues. In certain apps, users can input other touch and voice commands.

As part of our series of articles on assistive technologies, we’ll review some of TalkBack’s unique features — and provide tips for using the software to evaluate mobile accessibility.

 

Learning Disorders and Law School: Strategies and Resources — from onlinemasteroflegalstudies.com with thanks to Allegra Balmadier for these resources

Excerpt:

Law schools across the country with all kinds of students and faculty could fairly be described by a single word: rigor. Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree programs are traditionally known for copious amounts of required reading and semester-end exams that count for a student’s whole grade. A legal education is an intensive course of study that would challenge any student.

A student with a learning disorder or disability (LD) may struggle for a particular reason—not for lack of effort but because of the conventional structure of class, assignments and tests. LDs can cause difficulty with processing information, a problem that is exacerbated when universities and colleges fail to offer support.

However, with appropriate strategies, students with LDs can succeed in law school and in the legal profession. Learn more about learning disorders and find resources below.

 

Now we just need a “Likewise TV” for learning-related resources! [Christian]

Likewise TV Brings Curation to Streaming — from lifewire.com by Cesar Aroldo-Cadenas
And it’s available on iOS, Android, and some smart TVs

All your streaming services in one place. One search. One watchlist. Socially powered recommendations.

Entertainment startup Likewise has launched a new recommendations hub that pulls from all the different streaming platforms to give you personalized picks.

Likewise TV is a streaming hub powered by machine learning, people from the Likewise community, and other streaming services. The service aims to do away with mindlessly scrolling through a menu, looking for something to watch, or jumping from one app to another by providing a single location for recommendations.

Note that Likewise TV is purely an aggregator.


Also see:

Likewise TV -- All your streaming services in one place. One search. One watchlist. Socially powered recommendations.

 


From DSC:
Now we need this type of AI-based recommendation engine, aggregator, and service for learning-related resources!

I realize that we have a long ways to go here — as a friend/former colleague of mine just reminded me that these recommendation engines often miss the mark. I’m just hoping that a recommendation engine like this could ingest our cloud-based learner profiles and our current goals and then present some promising learning-related possibilities for us. Especially if the following graphic is or will be the case in the future:


Learning from the living class room


Also relevant/see:

From DSC:
Some interesting/noteworthy features:

  • “The 32- inch display has Wi-Fi capabilities to supports multiple streaming services, can stream smartphone content, and comes with a removable SlimFit Cam.”
  • The M8 has Wi-Fi connectivity for its native streaming apps so you won’t have to connect to a computer to watch something on Netflix. And its Far Field Voice mic can be used w/ the Always On feature to control devices like Amazon Alexa with your voice, even if the monitor is off.
  • “You can also connect devices to the monitor via the SmartThings Hub, which can be tracked with the official SmartThings app.”

I wonder how what we call the TV (or television) will continue to morph in the future.


Addendum on 3/31/22 from DSC:
Perhaps people will co-create their learning playlists…as is now possible with Spotify’s “Blend” feature:

Today’s Blend update allows you to share your personal Spotify playlists with your entire group chat—up to 10 users. You can manually invite these friends and family members to join you from in the app, then Spotify will create a playlist for you all to listen to using a mixture of everyone’s music preferences. Spotify will also create a special share card that everyone in the group can use to save and share the created playlist in the future.


 

Best Deaf Awareness Lessons & Activities — from techlearning.com by Diana Restifo
The following free deaf history and awareness lessons and activities highlight the accomplishments of deaf people in the arts, education, sports, law, science, and music.

 

How Virtual Reality Can Be More Accessible with WalkinVR — from equalentry.com by Meryl Evans

Excerpt:

In another scenario, you can’t reach up high. Or maybe you can’t hold the virtual reality controllers or press the buttons.

WalkinVR Driver  fills in the gap. It’s a free driver that enhances virtual reality to work with the person’s abilities and preferences. One option is the Xbox Controller Move , which allows you to connect a standard Xbox video game controller to the game.

Also relevant/see:

Which Types of Colleges Have the Most Undergraduates With Disabilities? — from chronicle.com

Excerpt:

Here’s a sector-by-sector look at the percentage of undergraduates who reported a disability to the campus’s office of disability services, or a similar office, in the academic years 2016-17 to 2019-20. Undergraduate students with disabilities are those who reported that they had one or more of the following conditions: a specific learning disability, a visual impairment, a hearing difficulty or deafness, a speech impairment, an orthopedic impairment, or another health impairment. The diversity and related offices provide these students with such services as note-takers and American Sign Language interpreters.

Addendum later on 3/17/22:

Assistive technology personalizes the learning environment — from thetechedvocate.org by Matthew Lynch

Excerpt:

We talk a lot about personalized learning and how it can benefit learners by providing them with more detailed instruction catered to their needs. It helps them overcome learning challenges and achieve their educational goals.

We’ve also discussed assistive technologies – technologies designed to aid students with learning difficulties and other disabilities, understand and retain knowledge to improve their learning outcomes. The two can go hand-in-hand, as assistive technology can help all students receive a more personalized learning experience.

Let’s take a look at some of the ways that AT is used in the classroom and its personalized learning.

 

AI Could Power the Next Generation of Smart Glasses — from lifewire.com by Mayank Sharma. I’d like to thank Mayank for letting me contribute some thoughts to this article.
Making the bigger picture clearer

Key Takeaways

  • Biel Glasses has created a pair of smart glasses to enhance the mobility of users with low vision.
  • Experts believe smart glasses will soon outpace VR headsets in terms of adoption and use.
  • This new generation of smart glasses will infuse AI together with AR to give users a new and better perspective.

 

MUHC uses artificial intelligence to train neurosurgery students — from montreal.ctvnews.ca by Rob Lurie

Excerpt:

“I think above all it just provides an opportunity for junior learners to get some hands-on exposure,” said medical student Ali Fazlollahi.

“Basically, it was inspired by the idea of how do we prevent error in the operating room,” said Neurosurgeon Dr. Rolando De Maestro. Maestro says virtual reality has been a game-changer when it comes to teaching.

 

From DSC:
After checking out the following two links, I created the graphic below:

  1. Readability initiative > Better reading for all. — from Adobe.com
    We’re working with educators, nonprofits, and technologists to help people of all ages and abilities read better by personalizing the reading experience on digital devices.
  2. The Readability Consortium > About page

 


What if one's preferred font style, spacing, leading, etc. could travel with you from site to site? Or perhaps future AR glasses will be able to convert the text that we are looking at for us


Also related/see:

 

Web Accessibility on a Budget: How to Get Started for Free or Little Cost — from boia.org

Excerpt:

How to improve web accessibility for little to no cost:

  • Get a free accessibility assessment.
  • Learn what accessibility updates you can make yourself.
  • Use free assistive technology and accessibility tools.
  • Read content and continue learning from the accessibility community.
  • Publish an accessibility statement.
  • Create a long-term plan to full accessibility compliance.

Also related/see:  The #accessibilityChecker hashtag on Twitter.


 
© 2022 | Daniel Christian