Check Out The New Assistive Tech!

Christopher Bugaj, MA CCC‐SLP, has a new book! The New Assistive Tech: Make Learning Awesome for All! 

Published by ISTE, the book is geared for educators interested in the effective use of assistive technology in the classroom. ISTE promotes it as “a catalyst for breaking down walls between special education and general education, and will help all educators realize they have tech knowledge (and can build upon that knowledge) that can be used to support students with disabilities.”

Bugaj is a founding member the Assistive Technology Team for Loudoun County Public Schools and is well-known as a popular presenter on AT themes at numerous venues both live and online, nationally and internationally.

He is also hilarious.

Check out The New Assistive Tech if you are interested in:

  • how an educational team can request assistance to determine technology needs;
  • how to conduct and document assessments to help an educational team make informed decisions about technology needs;
  • a proactive approach to professional development for individuals and for those who train others on the use of technology;
  • creating an action plan for developing a culture of inclusion;
  • how Buguj covers this while interweaving stories, songs, and other exciting features to make learning fun.

Here’s the link to Bugaj’s new book on Amazon (there’s a Kindle version too!)

Cover of the New Assistive Tech.  By Christopher Bugaj. Uses chartoon graphics and shows a young girl wearing a headset, head tipped back with a speech bubble: Make Learning Awesome for All!

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The Worcester AT Regional Center is OPEN!

Want to learn more about assistive technology available for your students with disabilities? Looking for an exciting field trip for your entire class?

Schedule a tour of the new ATRC in Worcester operated by Easter Seals! This is a great way for students to learn about the increasingly high-tech world of disability technology.

Students and staff in front of smart board

Worcester Transition to Adulthood Program students on a field trip to the new center

Interact with the VGo robot

Smiling teenage boy with VGo robot and staff smiling in the background.

Worcester students talk with Desi Forte at the ATRC in Boston via VGo

Draw on the giant smartboard!

A teenage girl draws on the smartboard using a stylus.

Play with switch-adapted toys!

A teenage girl looking at a counter of switch adapted toys along a wall with a monitor hanging overhead.

Explore technology for the workplace!

A woman looking at materials and devices in the corner of a room

Hang out with ATRC Coordinator Robert Bilotta and meet his guide dog, Kilroy!

A man in a wheelchair at a workstation smiling with devices around him and a service dog laying in the foreground

Contact Robert Bilotta:

508-751-6495 or
800-244-2756

Email:
ATRCWorcester@eastersealsma.org

Visit:
484 Main Street,
Denholm Building, 6th floor
Worcester, MA, 01608

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Join MassMATCH at Abilities Expo Boston Sept 8-10!

Abilities Expo logo

Check out the MeasureX pressure mapping system and the Lilly Pad wheelchair-accessible scale!

Abilities Expo showcases cutting-edge assistive technology, adaptive sports, daily living aids, inclusive dance, dynamic workshops, local and national exhibitors, and more! This year, MassMATCH is demonstrating the pressure mapping systems and wheelchair-accessible scales now available to borrow from the AT Regional Center in Pittsfield. Stop by booth 727 to check us out!

A woman in a wheelchair tries out a portable scale with the assistance of two women

Lilly Pad portable scale demonstrated at a recent ADA celebration event

When: September 8-10th, 2017. Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Where: The Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, Hall C.

How Much?: Registration is FREE

Learn more: Abilities.com/boston

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Wheelchair User? Learn to Prevent Pressure Injuries!

Pressure Mapping Technology is now available. Learn to borrow and use PMT (it’s free!)

Two pictures show a woman pointing to a pressure map on a screen and a woman in a wheelchair looking at a pressure map on a display. A caption beneath the pointing woman reads "Mary Jo Wagner at a recent training."

Spread the word! Through a grant from the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, MassMATCH is providing trainings on the use of digital pressure mapping technology (PMT) to anyone with an interest or a reason to learn. The trainings are targeting western and central Massachusetts where, until now, pressure mapping has had limited availability. Join us:

September 19th, 2017 from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at UCP-Berkshire, 208 West Street, Pittsfield MA 01201

November 6th, 2017 from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Easter Seals MA, 484 Main Street, Worcester MA 01608

To register for either training please email your interest to info@massmatch.org or call Tanya Bombard at 617-204-3851

Learn about pressure injuries, their stages, causes and risks. Learn how to prevent them, including positioning strategies for sitting and sleeping. Learn how digital pressure mapping can be a helpful tool for understanding the unique needs of individual wheelchair users. If you or someone you know has ever had or is at risk for a pressure injury, this is a must-attend event!

Pressure Mapping Technology for both seating and sleeping is now available for borrowing from the MassMATCH Short-Term Device Loan Program in Pittsfield (and soon in Worcester). These mats may be borrowed for up to 4 weeks at a time for use at home or with a clinician. They come with a comprehensive user guide and supplementary information on the prevention of pressure injuries. MassMATCH is working to refine this information in partnership with individual users who may provide feedback for the benefit of future borrowers.

The trainings are geared for both professionals and individuals with paralysis and are led by Mary Jo Wagner, OTR/L, ATP, of the Department of Developmental Services; and Sarah Bandzak of Blue Chip Medical Products, Inc. Together they have decades of experience with seating and positioning.

This is a unique opportunity intended to help build capacity with this equipment in an underserved region of Massachusetts. All wheelchair users, and particularly persons with paralysis, should have access to this comprehensive information and the equipment they need to stay healthy and active members of their communities. Wagner and Bandzak are also experts in the area of the DME funding process with insurance providers. Register today! Tell your friends and colleagues and get on the e-mailing list for the Weight and Seating Independence Project to learn about future equipment demonstrations. Contact: info@massmatch.org or call Tanya Bombard at 617-204-3851.

Training participants will be awarded a certificate of attendance by the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission.

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Have Paralysis? Learn about Interface Pressure Mapping!

Woman in wheelchair observing digital pressure mapping image on a screen.

Do you or someone you know or work with have paralysis and want to learn more about the prevention of pressure injuries? The MassMATCH Weight and Seating Independence Project is pleased to provide trainings on the use of Interface Pressure Mapping for persons with disabilities, caregivers and other professionals.

Pressure Mapping Technology will soon be available to borrow for free from the MassMATCH AT Device Loan Program. Learn how to make the most of this valuable equipment. The next training is August 2nd 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Stavros Center for Independent Living in Amherst.

Interface pressure mapping is used to show pressure points when someone is sitting or lying down. Too much pressure at one point can lead to skin breakdowns or other injuries. Pressure mapping technology is useful for determining appropriate seating and positioning for users of wheelchairs. These trainings are intended for individuals with disabilities, family members, home care providers, personal care attendants and others working with individuals with paralysis-causing conditions.

The trainings will be conducted by Mary Jo Wagner, OTR/L, ATP, of the Department of Developmental Services; and Ron Resnick and Sarah Bandzak of Blue Chip Medical Products, Inc. To register, please email your interest to info@massmatch.org or call Tanya Bombard at 617-204-3851. Learn more about the Weight and Seating Independence Project and upcoming training opportunities.

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Weight and Seating Independence!

MassMATCH is pleased to announce the availability of wheelchair accessible scales and digital pressure mapping technology (PMT) coming soon to Central and Western Massachusetts! The Weight and Seating Independence Project (WSIP) is making this essential equipment accessible to individuals with disabilities, families, caregivers and other professionals. With funding from the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, MassMATCH is helping individuals with paralysis take control of their own health.

Learn more at this MassMATCH Weight and Seating Independence Project webpage

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Massachusetts Launches ABLE Program

The ABLE National Resource Center, managed by National Disability Institute (NDI), is excited to congratulate the State of Massachusetts on becoming the 21st state to launch an ABLE program. The Massachusetts ABLE program, named The Attainable Savings Plan, will be established and maintained by the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority (MEFA) and managed by Fidelity Investments. The Attainable Plan will be available to individuals with disabilities nationwide.

The MA ABLE program allows qualified individuals with disabilities to save up to $14,000 a year in an ABLE account without jeopardizing their eligibility for federally-funded means-tested benefits, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid. The funds in the account can be used for disability-related expenses that assist the beneficiary in increasing and/or maintaining his or her health, independence or quality of life.

Millions of individuals with disabilities and their families are often relegated to a life of poverty as a result of not being allowed to build even the most modest levels of resources. Individuals receiving supports through Social Security, Medicaid and other publicly-funded programs are often disqualified from those supports if they have more than $2,000 worth of resources or assets. Now, with the launch of ABLE programs nationwide, individuals with disabilities and their families will be able to take a step to better secure their financial futures and to help offset the often significant financial challenges that can accompany living with a disability.

Like the other ABLE programs across the country, the MA ABLE program focuses efforts to ensure minimal costs associated with establishing and maintaining an ABLE account (which can be done online). The MA ABLE program has an annual account fee of $30, charged on a semi-annual basis. Additionally, the program has an annual asset-based fee of 0.15%.

In addition to MA ABLE, there are 20 other states that have launched ABLE programs: Alabama, Alaska, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia. Most of these ABLE programs are open to eligible individuals nationwide. Please visit www.ablenrc.org for details about these programs.

For more information on the MA ABLE program and how to enroll, please visit https://www.fidelity.com/able/attainable/overview.

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LibraryLyna for Creating an Accessible Classroom

LibraryLyna offers 3D print resources for teachers of the blind and visually impaired

Gorgeous 3D print models of math and science concepts are available to download and create for an accessible classroom. The screen reader accessible site provides a library of 3D print designs organized into categories: biology, chemistry, math, and physics.

Print animals, elements, shapes, a multiplications table and more. The site includes help for getting started with 3D printing. There’s also page for requesting custom models to aid your curriculum.

Learn more (links open in a new tab):
The Diagram Center is offering a Webinar on Dec. 3rd: “Building an Accessible Classroom with 3D Printing.”
Visit LibraryLyna
Read more about LibraryLyna at this 3D print.com page

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Charlie Brown Thanksgiving App on Sale (and Accessible!)

Here’s some fun for that road trip to Grandma’s house… or condo. A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving–A Peanuts Interactive Classic for All Ages is on sale for a limited time ($2.99 from $4.99). This is an iOS ebook app that is fully animated and engaging according to the good folks at BridgingApps (a GREAT tool for learning about apps for all abilities). Here’s some of what they have to say:

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving is a fun ebook app with hundreds of touchable animations, illustrations and graphics. This Common Core aligned ebook contains the original dialogue, sound effects and music from the 1973 classic that everyone loves. Follow Charlie Brown and the Peanut Gang as they discover the meaning of Thanksgiving. A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving is a delightfully themed app to be enjoyed by users of all ages and abilities.

Learn more and download from this BridgingApps webpage (opens in a new window).

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MassHealth Disability Re-Application Deadline Extended

According to MassHealth, many people with disabilities have not responded to a recent notice about reapplying for services. As result, MassHealth will be sending a reminder letter to those individuals who have not yet responded. MassHealth reports:

Individuals MUST submit a new application by October 16th, 2015 or they will lose MassHealth benefits.

The reminder notices includes information on the modes by which members can apply for coverage. It is quickest to apply for coverage online at MAhealthconnector.org or by calling MassHealth Customer Service at 1-800-841-2900 and following the prompts for submitting an application. The notice will also instruct the location of their closest MassHealth Enrollment Center.

As a reminder, not all disabled individuals were required to renew their benefits. Members who are in long term nursing facilities, home and community-based waivers, Kalleigh Mulligan, over age 65 will continue to get renewal forms on their annual due date. They are not part of this renewal group and should respond to any requests to renew in the normal way.

Below is the list of disabled individuals who were asked to apply and those who DO NOT need to reapply.

NEED TO REAPPLY:

  • Most children with a disability, including those receiving MassHealth Standard and MassHealth CommonHealth benefits.
  • Adults with a disability receiving MassHealth Standard (whose income is < 133% FPL). (Adults with a disability receiving MassHealth CommonHealth benefits are not subject to annual review at this time )
  • Adults with a disability who were previously eligible for SSI benefits, but are no longer receiving SSI.

DO NOT NEED TO REAPPLY:

  • Individuals who receive cash SSI or TAFDC benefits. MassHealth benefits come automatically with these cash benefits based on eligibility determinations made by those programs. These members will not get any notices from MassHealth as long as they receive these cash benefits.
  • Have Social Security as their sole source of income (this includes SSDI and RSDI). These individuals are eligible for Administrative Review and were sent a notice from MassHealth that their annual review was done automatically. They do not need to take action unless they have a change in circumstances that they need to report (new job, new family member, new health insurance coverage, etc.).
  • Meet MassHealth income criteria (childless adults <133% FPL or families < 150% FPL) and are receiving SNAP (Food Stamp) benefits. These members were sent a notice from MassHealth that their annual review was done automatically. They do not need to take action unless they have a change in circumstances that they need to report (new job, new family member, new health insurance coverage, etc.).
  • Households where members have completed a paper application after October 15, 2014 or an online application after November 15, 2014.
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