Getting the Goods on Information & Communication Accessibility


By Norm DeLisle

push keys with disability access symbols on them and brailleMichigan Assistive Technology Program belongs to the Association of Assistive Technology Act Programs (ATAP). Though ATAP, we have a wide variety of training videos archived and available for review by you at any time.  The videos are 45 minutes to one hour. There is a registration process to help us prove the usefulness of this online video approach to training.

Here’s what is available:

  • Website Accessibility Testing: Tools and tips to help you create and maintain an accessible website
  • Common Accessibility Barriers: In this session we will take a look at some of the common web accessibility barriers that keep people with disabilities from being able to use web sites and web software.
  • Buying Accessibility: Accessibility in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Procurement and Acquisition
  • The Section 508 Refresh: Move toward harmony that exists at the international level that steer us to create and acquire accessible technology products.
  • Accessible PowerPoint Presentations: For presentation authors, an introductory look at how to make PowerPoint documents more accessible using Word 2010 & 2013.
  • Introduction to IT Accessibility: An overview of accessibility, where people with disabilities and technology meet. A discussion about what accessibility is, why it’s vital, and applicable laws.
  • Document Accessibility in Microsoft Word: For document authors, an introductory look at how to make Word documents more accessible using Word 2010 & 2013.
  • Considerations in Multimedia Accessibility: A high-level look at tools and tips to help make audio and video more accessible. Includes some discussion about captioning techniques, such as re-voicing.

Up your accessibility chops by viewing those videos that will help you the most!

This entry was posted in Accessible Formats, Resources, Universal Design, Web Accessibility on by Norm DeLisle.

Buy the AT you need, sell what you don’t with the ATXchange!


By MATP Staff Member Laura Hall

Two blue stick figures with oppositional arrows between the,


Assistive technology (AT) has become so ingrained in my life that I found myself looking for it at various garage sales this past weekend.  If only I could find that perfect backup powerchair that fit me correctly and had all the supports and functions I needed…

I know the chances are really slim.  An even better place to find used AT equipment for sale or up for donation is the Michigan Assistive Technology Program’s website  Like a Craig’s List especially  disability-related equipment, the ATXchange allows you to search for AT by phrase, keyword, or category.  If you don’t find what you’re looking for, you can also list an item as “wanted”.  Who knows?  Maybe another user of the site has that exact item!

Perhaps your child has outgrown their AT, a family member has passed, or, like all of us, you just have stuff lying around. Listing it on the ATXchange helps that people who actually need assistive technology find it.   Buying a used item (or finding a donated item) may enable someone to have assistive technology they could not otherwise afford.  Providing as much detail in your listing as possible, and including photos typically increases the number of views it receives.  Our article, Using the ATXchange: Buying and Selling Tips also has great information about buying and selling.

Just a few of the many items currently listed for sale include:

  • Pedlar Leg Exerciser
  • 2005 Chevy Express 1500 AWD High Top Wheelchair Van
  • Amtryke AM 12 (child tryke)
  • Leather Electric Lift Chair

Do you have a Beasy Transfer Board, a wheelchair ramp, or an Easy Stand 5000?  Check out these listings for people in search of these items.

Have you had success buying or selling an item on the ATXChange?  Let us know!


Multiple Chemical Sensitivity


By Aimee Sterk, LMSW, MATP Staff

May is Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) awareness month. Multiple Chemical Sensitivity is a disability in which people have multi-system illnesses as a result of contact with or proximity to substances or airborne chemicals (EPA). MCS is a chronic condition. Many people who have MCS lived or worked in areas where they were exposed to pesticides, smoke, fumes, or other pollutants. Substances that affect people with MCS include those listed above and perfumes and scented products, candles, food preservatives, aerosols, personal care products, paint, new carpets, formaldehyde and things that off gas formaldehyde like laminate floors, newspaper ink, cleaning compounds, printing and office products. Symptoms can range from headache and runny nose to fatigue, migraine, breathing difficulties, nausea, skin problems, and pain, to life-threatening reactions like seizures and anaphylaxis (MCS America).

Because chemicals, especially chemical fragrances, are so common in everyday life, people with MCS are at severe risk of not being able to access housing, employment, or meeting basic needs like shopping or participating in the community.  Many people with MCS are unemployed and some cannot leave their homes. Others’ homes are making them sick but locating housing that is free of toxic chemicals is very complicated. Additionally, a person may find that initially a home worked for them, only to develop reactivity to chemicals in that environment later.

The MCS Friends is an organization we at MDRC have partnered with in the past, looking at options for addressing housing issues. Their website has a variety of resources and ways of connecting to peer support groups. They also have a Facebook page.

I found some basic tips on accommodations and assistive technology (AT) options for the home and the workplace on the MCS America website and the Job Accommodation Network website:

  • Adopt a fragrance free policy in your home and workplace
  • Masks and respirators may work as AT for people with MCS to get out into the community
  • Live and work in places with working windows
  • Use good quality ventilation systems with HEPA filters and well-maintained ducts
  • Test the indoor air quality for dust, mold, mildew, and volatile organic compounds
  • Check the National Air Filtration Association for a local referral for air purification systems that are building-wide or at individual work stations
  • Notify people of plans to apply pesticides, paint, shampoo the carpet, or wax the floor so they may make alternative work arrangements
  • Use non-toxic materials and cleaning products
  • Use e-mail and telephone to communicate with people who choose to use fragrances
  • Build with non-toxic, chemical-free products
  • Consider organic clothing, bedding, cleaning products, and food

Do you or someone you know have MCS? What AT or accommodations are most helpful to you?


Pain and Anxiety Relief With Mindfulness and AT


By MATP Staff Member Laura Hall

Drawing of a man and a dog with thought bubbles. The man's bubbled is cluttered while the dog's has only trees. Caption reads

There is often an inside joke among people that have Cerebral Palsy (CP) related to how often we get told by those in the medical profession to “just relax”.  It’s funny, because, with CP of the spastic type, it is very difficult, if not impossible to get you muscles to relax especially if you’re trying or anticipating something painful.  Personally, being cold, anxious, tired, excited, or even having a thought can make every muscle in my body tighten.  There is a definite mind body connection when it comes to CP.  This is why, when learning about techniques to help with anxiety, insomnia, and shame resilience, I’ve had a hard time understanding exactly how to be mindful.  Mindfulness involves intentionally focusing your attention on the present moment, feeling relaxed, and accepting all of your thoughts, feelings and sensations without judgement.  How do I stay in the present, remain relaxed, and accept my thoughts?   That’s like the doctor telling me to relax before they poke me with a needle!

Yet, I decided to give mindfulness another try when my doctor recommended it as we were discussing the pain in my neck and shoulders from spasticity (I tend to pull my shoulders to my ears, especially at night).   After researching apps, books, cd’s and websites (there are many to choose from) I decided to try an app called HeadSpace (also a website), aimed at beginners, that takes you through a 10 minute mindfulness exercise for 10 days.  These exercises are free, but you can also get additional content with a paid subscription.  The app is easy to use and provides funny animation tutorials before the exercise.  The exercises themselves are easy to understand, and make a point to discourage efforting to make yourself relax.  That’s when it hit me – I was trying too hard to make myself relax instead of letting it happen naturally.

Index finger tracing the hand.Mindfulness is still not easy for me, it involves practice.  I can say that I am starting to get it, feel more relaxed, and even fell asleep one night during an exercise!  I’ve had to modify things a bit to help me stay in the present moment.  For example, I trace my fingers as I breathe in and out as a sensory reminder.  Other people have used tapping or hugging themselves as a way to enhance their mindfulness.  Assistive technology like weighted blankets, adult coloring books or objects like a smooth rock, candle, soft fabric, beads, or a bracelet work for other people.  My colleague, Aimee, has blogged extensively on alternatives to medication for depression, anxiety, PTSD, and relaxation. Check out:

Mindfulness doesn’t require you to sit with your legs crossed, burn incense, or say “ohm”.  You don’t even necessarily have to have your eyes closed. It just requires intention and practice and there is really no wrong way to do it.

What relaxation or pain relief techniques do you use?