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Education Featured Article

July 27, 2009

ATIA Intros Webinar Series

By Vivek Naik, TMCnet Contributor


The Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) reportedly announced that it has introduced the ATIA Webinar Series, which complements ATIA's existing conferences and leadership forums, according to the organization.

The forums has wide acceptance in the educational field of assistive technology, and the new series’ has expanded the group’s primary goals to spread associated knowledge and inculcate the evaluation skills required to assess assistive technology products.
Representatives of the association said ATIA addresses the awareness, improvements and innovations associated with learning, working, and independence for people with potentially restrictive disabilities such as speech disabilities, hearing impairments, visual challenges and physical disadvantages.
"The overarching goal of ATIA is to provide enhanced benefits and opportunities to people with disabilities, and education is the first -- and very key -- step in that process," said David Dikter, executive director of ATIA. "Since our inception 10 years ago, ATIA has continually expanded the number of educational seminars at our annual conferences and leadership forums. With the addition of webinars we can reach a much wider audience and can do so throughout the year."
The association says that Assistive Technology, also known as AT, is defined as any item, piece of equipment, product or system - whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized - that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of persons with disabilities.
The ATIA said that the full listing of the ATIA Webinar Series can be found at its dedicated Web link, which currently includes relevant topics such as, “Augmentative Communication Evaluations:  A Toolkit Approach,” “Overview of Assistive Technology,” and “Selecting Software for Students with Learning Disabilities:  An Instructional Resource.”
Members of the association claim that it in 2009 alone ATIA will offer more than 500 educational opportunities that provide education and communication to: professional practitioners serving those with disabilities such as teachers, occupational therapists, rehabilitation counselors, physicians, and psychologists; individuals with disabilities and their families; assistive technology specialists; educational institutions; and corporations and government agencies.
The educational opportunities will be transmitted and spread via Webinars, conferences and leadership forums, and will cover all possible related areas such as: augmentative and alternative communication; blind, low vision; computer access; Web accessibility; Kindergarten to grade 12 (and higher education technology; and deaf and hard of hearing.
The Digital Accessible Information System Consortium, a group formed by talking book libraries to promote the transition from analog to Digital Talking Books, recently  released an open source accessible multimedia authoring audio tool called Obi 1.0 that facilitates anyone to access free of cost and utilize such that they can conceive, create and publish interactive rich media content for people with visual disabilities such as blindness, dyslexia, restricted tunnel vision and cognitive disabilities.
There exists at least one known technology that converts Voice To Text, which is also known as Speech To Text, that helps people who cannot or do not want to write or type or do not have the time, to convert their spoken expressions to textual output.
This technology is excellent for folks who can speak. What about those who cannot or do not want to speak? There exists a reverse technology known as Text To Speech that provides its entire range of differently sounding English language voices, which are translated from the text user’s type during chat sessions, to enable customers to use speech intonations of their choice.
ATIA recently held a conference where a number of companies exhibited assistive technologies for children and adults such as: Atomic Learning's Assistive Technology Collection for helping Special Education staff, paraprofessionals, parents and others on a daily basis; and, Forbes Rehab Services' ComLink LT, which is an augmentative and alternative communication device for accessing the Internet, Skype (News - Alert) phones and video conferencing with one's eyes.
Another company recently created a rugged hand held device for entertainment zones to give people with visual or hearing impairments the same experience as others by using infrared sensors to pick up signals sent from transmitters placed around the park, which in turn trigger the appropriate captions or audio descriptions and makes the device vibrate for the deaf, letting them know captions are about to start.

Vivek Naik is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Vivek's articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Tim Gray


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