the advocacy monitor

Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living


Are You Passionate About Accessibility? Google Wants Your Feedback!

Greetings from the Accessibility Engineering Team here at Google! As part of our efforts to make Google products more accessible, we conduct research sessions with users with all types of disabilities. So far this year, we’ve conducted research sessions with users in the blind / low vision, deaf / hard of hearing and motor and cognitive impairment communities. Take a look at some of our current projects!

Feedback gathered during these sessions is invaluable in making Google products more accessible for everyone.

We conduct studies both in-person as well as remotely via video or phone. Selected participants will receive a thank you gift for their time in the form of a prepaid Visa gift card, or from a selection of brands including AMC, Cheesecake Factory, iTunes, Sephora, Toys ‘R Us and more.

Anyone with a disability / impairment who would like to take part in a study testing our products can sign up online. Once you have signed up you will be notified of upcoming research studies that are a match for your unique user profile. Feel free to forward this email to anyone with a disability who you feel may be interested!

Why not get your friends or family involved? Anyone without a disability who is also interested in taking part in our research can sign up online!

For any questions or concerns regarding our user research program contact:

FAQ for the Alternative Financing Program Discretionary Grant Competition

A Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document (PDF) is now available for the AFP Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA), which closes June 6th.

You can also download a recording and transcript of the AFP FOA conference.

  • Title: Assistive Technology Alternative Financing Program
  • Agency: Administration for Community Living (ACL)
  • Center: Center for Integrated Programs (CIP)
  • Funding Opportunity Number: HHS-2016-ACL-CIP-ATTF-0164

[Read more…]

NCIL Presents… A National Teleconference – RESNA Catalyst Project: Providing Assistive Technology Support and Technical Assistance

NCIL Presents… A National Teleconference:

Wednesday, April 27, 2016; 3:00 – 4:00 p.m. Eastern

Register online.

Join us on April 27th for an introduction to RESNA’s Catalyst Project, including an overview of Statewide Assistive Technology Programs and Alternative Financing Programs. If you are new to Independent Living or assistive technology, this presentation will be a great place to learn how you and your consumers can access, try out, and even pay for assistive technology to live independently in the community.

Registration Fee: This teleconference is free for NCIL Members. There is a $25.00 registration fee for Non-Members, per call-in site. Fee does not apply per participant in group, provided the group uses the same conference line.

Meet Your Presenters

Jason M. Luciano, Ph.D. received his BS in American Sign Language Interpreting and then his MA and PhD in Clinical Psychology from Gallaudet University, the world’s premiere university for the deaf. He did post graduate work at Boston University’s Center for Multicultural Training in Psychology as well as Harvard Medical School. Currently he is a Deputy Director for the RESNA Catalyst Project, the national activity providing technical assistance for the federally funded AT Act programs. Previously he created and managed one of these programs: the Massachusetts Assistive Technology Loan Program AFP and has a long history of non-profit and human service organization creation, support, and management. Throughout these periods Dr. Luciano has also maintained a private clinical practice focusing on people with disabilities and has been published in the fields of disability, communication, and mental health.

Paul Galonsky, MPA is a Project Coordinator with the RESNA Catalyst Project, where he provides Assistive Technology (AT) technical assistance to Statewide and U.S. Territory AT Programs funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Rehabilitation Services Administration under the Assistive Technology Act of 1998, as amended. Paul provides technical assistance related to systemic and state-specific improvements and changes in practice in the activities conducted under the AT Act, increased collaboration among entities funded under the AT Act and other stakeholders, and improved identification and dissemination of AT-related knowledge. Prior to Paul’s current position with RESNA, he was the 2010 Disability Policy Leadership Fellow at the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD), where his contributions included participating with the AUCD Legislative Affairs Department. Paul received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from the University of South Florida and a Master of Public Administration degree from the School of Urban Affairs and Public Policy at the University of Delaware. You can read his published graduate dissertation on Disability Health Policy in Delaware online (PDF).

The event will be available via teleconference and CART (captioned) webcast. You must register by 12:00 Noon Eastern on April 27 to participate in the call.

Please contact Tim Fuchs at with any questions.

Ability Tools Reuse Conference

June 20-21, 2016; Sacramento Convention Center (Sacramento, CA)

The Ability Tools Reuse Conference will take place June 20-21, 2016 in Sacramento, California. This exciting conference will bring together people from around the country interested in the reuse of assistive technology and durable medical equipment.

Not sure if you should attend? If your organization:

  • Distributes used wheelchairs, walkers, hospital beds and other medical equipment to the community;
  • Operates a medical device and equipment Loan Closet or Device Library;
  • Takes in donations of assistive technology / durable medical equipment;
  • Wants to start a reuse program.

Call for Presenters: Do you have expertise in an area of assistive technology or durable medical equipment reuse? Are you interested in sharing your knowledge at the Ability Tools Reuse Conference?

Please consider submitting a brief workshop proposal. Multiple presenters and panel presentations are welcome. CFILC will contact all workshop proposers by Friday, April 22nd. Successful proposers will receive information regarding next steps. Please remember that each presenter needs to register for the conference individually. Workshop proposals are due by Friday, April 8th, 2016.

More information:

ADA Internet Regulations – Please Sign the Petition!

The National Federation of the Blind has launched a petition demanding that the Obama administration issue a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) addressing the obligation of public accommodations to provide websites that are accessible to individuals with disabilities conformant to Title III of the ADA. The release date of the actual rule proposal for revising the Title III regulations of the ADA, originally scheduled for January of 2012, has been extended until sometime in 2018, eight years beyond the issuance of the original Advanced notice of Proposed Rule Making (ANPRM) and at least a year after the end of his administration.

Because this is a “we the people” petition, upon reaching 100,000 signatures, the Obama administration is required to respond. As people with disabilities, we know first-hand that equal access to the internet is paramount for education, to obtain and retain employment, and for everyday tasks such as paying bills, online shopping, booking travel, and the list goes on and on.

Please sign the petition and share it with your networks!

NCIL Applauds Congressional Hearings on Spectrum

NCIL applauds the recent Congressional efforts to address the nation’s pressing spectrum needs. With yesterday’s two hearings, “Removing Barriers to Wireless Broadband Deployment” and “Improving Federal Spectrum Systems” our nation’s leaders took one step closer towards finding a beneficial solution to meet the growing demand for faster, more efficient wireless networks.

These hearings could not have occurred at a better time as recent studies (PDF) indicate that wireless usage is growing off the charts. According to wireless industry group CTIA, the number of active smartphones in the U.S. increased from 50 million in 2009 to over 200 million in 2014. In this same timeframe, average monthly traffic skyrocketed from only 76 MB/month in 2009 to over 1.8 GB/month. With this rapid increase in mobile devices and data consumption, our wireless spectrum is on a one way path to permanent bottleneck. This means unresponsive networks moving at terribly slow speeds.

NCIL believes that in our growing mobile society, the best way to ensure our communities keep pace is to increase the amount of spectrum available.

Just last month, the Wireless RERC’s research team announced their Survey of User Needs (SUN) for Wireless Technologies to measure accessible mobile use. As the only national source of comprehensive information and insight into the wireless technology needs of people with disabilities, SUN data is used by all of the wireless decision makers – wireless industry, regulatory agencies, advocacy organizations and other researchers – to inform much needed policy changes in areas just like this.

Data gathered from this survey will only increase the calls for more spectrum.

Increasing the amount of spectrum available for commercial and unlicensed use will have profound benefits for people with disabilities and the entire Independent Living Movement. More spectrum means faster connectivity with health monitoring, increased availability to accessible smartphones, and rapid growth potential for practical applications like telemedicine. Spectrum has the ability to empower those across the country looking to tap into the burgeoning “Internet of Things” as well. With increased wireless connectivity, those with disabilities will be able to take part in the move to automated household appliances and tech wearables.

People with disabilities across the nation benefit significantly from access to robust wireless networks. NCIL thanks Congress for holding yesterday’s hearings and encourages the reallocation of spectrum for commercial and innovative use so people with disabilities can live, work, and connect like never before.

New Survey of User Needs for Wireless Technology – Please Participate!

The Wireless RERC’s research team is pleased to announce the launch of the 2015 Survey of User Needs (SUN) for Wireless Technologies. The SUN is our cornerstone survey of wireless technology use and usability by people with all types of disabilities. The survey mainly focuses on cellphones, but also includes questions about other types of devices like tablet computers such as an Apple iPad, Amazon Kindle Fire, Microsoft Surface, Samsung Galaxy Tab and other similar devices.

First launched in 2002, the SUN is the only national source of comprehensive information and insight into the wireless technology needs of people with disabilities. SUN data are used by the wireless industry, regulatory agencies, advocacy organizations and other researchers to inform their work. Over the years, more than 6000 people with disabilities have completed the SUN, and more than half have joined our national Consumer Advisory Network (CAN).

Please consider participating in the Survey of User Needs. You can participate on the web, on the phone, or we can send you a paper copy with a postage paid return envelope.

To complete the survey over the phone or to request a paper copy with a stamped return envelope, please contact John Morris at: or 404-367-1348.

AT&T Connect Ability Challenge: Public Voting Ends This Friday

The Connect Ability Challenge looks to spur innovation of new technologies for people with disabilities. You can vote on the apps, wearable tech and other solutions that will help people with physical, social, emotional and cognitive disabilities. We also invite you to engage your members and other interested persons and encourage them to vote.

Public Voting closes on July 10. You can view all the submissions online.

Developers designed solutions for people living sensory, mobility, social/emotional or communicative and cognitive disabilities. During the competition, they had the opportunity to interact with four “Exemplars”, people living with the types of disabilities around which they were creating technology solutions for.

Solutions submitted include a variety of communicative and cognitive, sensory, social and emotional, mobility, and policy and societal technology. Among the 63 submissions, over two thirds are app solutions for iOS, Android, and mobile web. The hardware devices are also mostly hardware and app solutions. Over half of the submissions received are newly created tech solutions, coming from 15 countries across the world, two thirds of which are from developers based in 16 states across the United States.

One Week Left to Submit Ideas to the #ConnectAbility Challenge!

The AT&T NYU Connect Ability Challenge is a three-month global software development competition leveraging mobile and wireless technologies to improve the lives of people living with disabilities.

This new initiative strives to help millions of people with disabilities by matching developer talent and client users with disabilities. Together you can imagine, create and refine new innovations that break down barriers to independence and self-expression.

For these innovations to be readily accessible to people with disabilities, developers are encouraged to leverage familiar, cost-efficient smart phone, wearable and everyday wireless technologies.

Through in-person and virtual programming, the Connect Ability Challenge facilitates participatory development, embraces user-centered design and rewards universal design so new innovations can be adopted immediately and by as many people as possible.

Read more at the Connect Ability Challenge website.

Connect Ability Challenge

AT&T has partnered with NYU and RESNA to design an exciting technology contest called the Connect Ability Challenge. AT&T will be awarding $100k in prizes to individual developers and small business that deliver software or apps to the Challenge review board before June 24, 2015. The prize money will be given in honor of the ADA 25th Anniversary.

Visit the Challenge website. All the rules and guidelines are listed there and AT&T has created videos for four “exemplars.” These are people with disabilities who talk about how they use technology today and how technology could continue to improve their lives.