Category: Accessibility

Summer Recreation

Summer is here! Time to enjoy the warmer weather and have fun.

Here are some programs and places to enjoy this summer.

Accessible Cape Cod 

Wheelchair accessible beaches on Cape Cod.

Accessible Pools & Spray Decks 

Outdoor swimming pool lifts are available at all of the State Parks and Recreation Department’s 20 swimming pools. The pools are free. Contact pool directly for information about other site factors affecting accessibility.

Access Recreation New England

Connecting people with disabilities to accessible recreation opportunities

Broadmoor Wildlife Sanctuary

Offers nine miles of walking trails guiding through a variety of field, woodland, and wetland habitats. A quarter-mile, handicap accessible trail and boardwalk along the bank of Indian Brook in Natick. Universally accessible facilities: Nature Center, Restrooms, All Persons Trail.

Mass Dept of Conservation & Recreational Universal Access Program

Provides outdoor recreation opportunities in Massachusetts State Parks for visitors of all abilities. Accessibility to Massachusetts State Parks is achieved through site improvements, specialized adaptive recreation equipment, and accessible recreation programs.

Piers Park Adaptive Sailing

Provides programs for disabled youth and adults aboard 23-foot sonar sailboats on a no charge basis. Serves those with amputations, paralysis, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, autism, hearing impaired, sight impaired, intellectual disabilities and other disabilities. Successfully integrates youth with disabilities into summer youth sailing programs.

Smile Mass Local Beach Wheelchair Locations

Smile Mass has both fresh and saltwater beach wheelchairs available across the state. Wheelchair users can access beaches and enjoy the water.

Spaulding Adaptive Sports

Offers adaptive sports and recreation activities in Boston, Cape Cod and the North Shore.  Includes wheelchair tennis, hand cycling, adaptive rowing, waterskiing or windsurfing.

Click on the links for more info. You can go to our Recreation Opportunities for People with Disabilities fact sheet to find more choices for people of all ages, abilities and skill levels.


MassHealth Transportation and Other Resources

MassHealth launched 2 new webpages about Transportation for MassHealth Members. We are pleased to be able to share this info.

These pages can help people:

  • Ask medical provider to fill out PT1 form
  • Get  PT1 transportation
  • Schedule rides
  • Check the status of a PT1 form
  • Get questions answered
  • Know who to call
  • What to know before you go

Transportation for MassHealth Members

Get a ride to MassHealth medical appointments 

Learn about how to find transportation services for older adults, people with disabilities, veterans, commuters, and others in your community.

I’m Looking for Transportation

VaxAbilities Disability Friendly Vaccine Sites

The Arc of Massachusetts has an update to share regarding vaccines and boosters from colleagues at the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) and our state’s Developmental Disabilities Network.


This is about disability vaccine-friendly sites and options; please note volunteers are needed, too.


I. Disability-Friendly Vaccine Sites or Mobile Events

  • Disability-friendly vaccine sites or mobile events can be found by going to https://vaxabilities.com/
  • Organized by UMass Medical and Shriver Center in cooperation with our Developmental Disabilities Network (which also includes ICI, MDDC, and DLC). These events are scheduled to take place across the Commonwealth after the anticipated approval of the COVID vaccine for 5-11-year-olds this month.
  • The goal of these events is to support people with sensory and/or other accommodation needs in Massachusetts to have the most positive and comfortable vaccination experience possible.
  • We will accomplish this by bringing in clinicians with sensory training to partner with vaccinating clinicians, physical tools to assist with numbing and distraction, strategies for positioning and distraction, and the assistance of volunteers to help with logistics and engagement. Most events will offer vaccines to both children and adults.

Disability-friendly Vaccine Events

We also want to note that planners are hoping for clinicians and volunteers to sign up for the upcoming “VaxAbilities” disability-friendly vaccine events! Currently, they are looking for:

  1. Sensory-trained clinicians who will partner with vaccine-administrating clinicians to understand and use strategies to support the sensory needs and accommodations children or adults may have through the vaccination process (paid or volunteer)
  2. Pediatricians on-site to answer parent and child questions about the COVID19 vaccine (paid or volunteer)
  3. Volunteers that can help direct visitors, help engage children as they wait for vaccines, hand out distractor items/toys, assist with vaccine station cleaning and collect survey responses, etc.

Sign up to volunteer.

EasyCOVID-19 Project Now Recruiting!

Please help EasyCOVID-19 simplify COVID-19 info world wide!

The EasyCOVID-19 project is now recruiting people to help us simplify COVID19 terms. Please help us by visiting our EasyCOVID-19 crowdsourcing app. This is the start of our project to simplify the COVID-19 information published by every country’s government websites.

Overall Plan

We will start with the Massachusetts. We will then expand to the other U.S. states. We will then move to the 18 English Speaking countries, then the 21 Spanish speaking countries, then the world! This will help many huge populations, such as people with cognitive disabilities, non-native language speakers, the Deaf, and seniors. When they understand how to be safe and healthy, the whole world will be safe and healthy.

Our project would not be successful without:

Please help us now!

For more info, see our EasyCOVID-19 Website!

Updated COVID-19 Emergency Information

Links to current information about COVID-19 virus. This page is updated with new information.

Use of an AAC, the good and the bad

AAC Board

As a BCBA, I teach people how to use Augmentative & Alternative Communication (AAC) devices. AAC devices help people communicate who have trouble asking for things they want.

The good results:

An AAC device enables people to do more in their home and community. When an AAC device is successful:

  • The whole team works together.
  • The team uses the AAC device to communicate.
  • The AAC device is setup for the person.
  • The AAC device enables the person to get their favorite things.

When everyone works together, an AAC device can enable people to get their favorite things.

The Bad results:

When the wrong program used, or the AAC Device is setup wrong. It often ends up going unused. This happens because:

  • The AAC is too complicated.
  • People don’t use the AAC device.
  • The person’s favorite things are not added to the AAC device.

AAC Devices can help people. Work with an expert when you start working with an AAC device.

Some online resources for selecting AAC programs:

Jane Farrell AAC App List – a list of AAC Apps.

PrAACtical AAC Blog – more AAC resources.

 

 

 

 

 

Speaking with An Augmentative Device

Person using agumentative deviceMy 25 years old son is non-verbal. He uses his phone as his speech output device. He has worked hard to learn the software on his phone.  This software speaks the words that he types into his device.  He has used a variety of other speech output devices in the past.  There are many more options for speech output devices available now.  And, there are places like MassMatch (1 ) which can help each user to find the best choice.

When he was younger, family members and teachers would always be with him and speak for him. These days he still always with someone when he is out in the community.  But, now, he is interested in speaking for himself.  He also has the vocabulary and skills to speak for himself.

So, how does it go?  Well, it depends… Let me describe a common situation that shows how much effort it takes for my son to communicate in public places. Ordering fast food or in a restaurant is something that we all do. For my son, it is a chore. He must get the waiter’s attention. Then, he will order his food.  Most of the time, he needs to repeat his order.  e needs to repeat it more than one time. If the waiter stops and listens, it is easier.  but, most of the time, he needs to repeat his order.

Speaking in public is hard for many people. It is more difficult for someone who uses a speech output device. He shows us that many strangers do not choose to listen.  Our public places, malls, restaurants, outdoor spaces are noisy.  here is music, talking, traffic, and other sounds.  My son cranks up the volume on his phone. On a good day, a stranger will listen to his computer voice.  The pride my son takes in talking with someone is worth the effort. This photo shows my son speaking to us.  You may be in a place where someone is trying to speak with a device.  Please take the time to listen and respond. It only takes a little bit more time and the rewards are great.

(1) MassMatch

Dyslexia and technology, moving the gap.

My name is James Northridge. I’m a researcher in assistive technology. I am from Ireland. I girl using a tabletam based in Boston for a fellowship.

I have dyslexia. I battle with it daily. It is a challenge when working in research. There is a level of expectation. Mainly that everyone should have a certain ability. I use technology to help me overcome these challenges.

I’m going to discuss technology to help with reading and writing. I will give you some Apps that can help with dyslexia.

There are many famous people that have dyslexia. Examples are Tom Cruise, Richard Branson, and Steven Spielberg. I look at my dyslexia as a super power. It enables me to think differently. It gives me the ability to consider possibilities. It also gets in the way. It makes life hard at times. Like all superpowers I guess!

We are in a time when many people have access to a smartphone or a tablet. I really do believe it’s a great time to have dyslexia. There is so much technology that can help. It’s easy to get.

5 technologies that can make the difference

  1. Voice Dream Reader on the App Store – iTunes – Apple. This is a Text to Speech reader. It is one of the best available.
  2. Claro ScanPen Reader on the App Store – iTunes – Apple. With this app, you take a picture of a page and it reads to you.
  3. Notability on the App Store – iTunes – Apple. Useful for taking notes in class. It records the class. It matches any notes you take in class or images from the board.
  4. SnapType Pro on the App Store – iTunes – Apple. Useful for filling in a form digitally.
  5. Prizmo – Scanning, OCR, and Speech on the App Store – iTunes – Apple. Use this to scan larger documents that you have to read. You can save them to review or read later.

Bonus App: Flat Tomato (Time Management) on the App Store – iTunes – Apple. This is an app that helps you manage your time. It uses the Pomodoro technique.

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC), what is it and where do I start?


My name is James Northridge. I’m a researcher in the disability and assistive technology boy using a tabletfield. I am from Ireland. I am based in Boston for a fellowship.

I am developing a selection tool for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) apps. It will help parents, teachers, and specialists choose the correct App for users.

So, what is this AAC that I’m talking about? Well, it’s any form of communication that enables people to express themselves. We typically think voice is the only method of communication. However, we use many forms of contact each day. Can you think of ones you are using right now? Did you use any facial expressions or hand gestures? Maybe you drew a picture to explain something?

Selecting the correct AAC App is all about what works for the person who will use it. That’s the point at which you must start when looking to choose AAC Apps. This is true whether you are a parent or a professional.

Steps in the process of selecting AAC Apps for Parents

(If you have access to a professional, start there)

  1. What is the goal for the user? For example, is it choice making, requesting, or supporting literacy?
  2. Have access to a list of AAC Apps that you can review.
  3. Work on some feature matching to find out what the user needs.
  4. Reduce the list of AAC Apps to those with the required features.
  5. Try some of the shortlisted Apps, and create a shortlist.
  6. Gain insight from professionals, so ask for input from a teacher or care worker.
  7. Try no more than 3 AAC Apps to see which one works best. Keep some notes on the experience.
  8. Select one App from the shortlist and work with it for a few weeks.
  9. Training the user on how to get the most out of it is important.

These are the starting steps when going about selecting AAC Apps. Everyone is different. Therefore, their needs and wants are different too. This means an App that works for one person may not work for another person.

Some online resources for selecting AAC Apps

Jane Farrell AAC App List – this is a good list of AAC Apps

PrAACtical AAC Blog – this has some great AAC resources

 

Winter Activities

icon of a sit-skier Staying active in the winter is hard. You want to stay warm and cozy inside. But it’s important to stay active year round. Just because it’s cold and snowy outside doesn’t mean you have to stay indoors. There are many fun things to do outside. There are outdoor activities for people of all abilities to enjoy. There is skiing, sit-skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, kick-sledding, and sled hockey.

In western Massachusetts, CHD lists activities like bowling, skiing, sled hockey, and wheelchair basketball.

To find information on outdoor recreation in Massachusetts look at The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation.

For fun sports programs in New England that offer downhill skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and cross country skiing, check out: the Winter Adaptive Sports & Recreation Activities for People with Disabilities

If you want to stay indoors you can enjoy bowling, dancing, basketball, and drama. Other activities available are sensory friendly movies and theatre, and adaptive music programs.

The Carroll Center has a listing of Audio Described Theatre shows and schedules.

SPED Child and Teen lists events in Massachusetts including arts and theatre, music and dance, sports, museums, and movies. They also list sensory-friendly arts, museums, movies, and story times.

Find Sensory friendly movies in the Boston area at Sensory Friendly Films.

Find Sensory friendly movies on the Cape at Chatham Orpheum Theatre.