ATU170 – Audrey Busch, AT and the Legislative Process, Haptic Interfaces from Microsoft, CSUN Call for Papers, Pinterest App from Bridging Apps

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Your weekly dose of information that keeps you up to date on the latest developments in the field of technology designed to assist people with disabilities and special needs.

Show notes:

Audrey Busch | Director of Policy and Advocacy | Association of Assistive Technology Act Programs (ATAP) | http://www.ataporg.org/
CSUN Call for Papers: http://buff.ly/1vQNod5
Beyond Tapping and Sliding – Microsoft Research http://buff.ly/1vQL5XG
Proloquo4Text: http://buff.ly/1lklVzN
Verbally: http://buff.ly/1lklXaH
App: Pinterest www.BridgingApps.org

Links that Audrey shared: Disabilityscoop.com | Disability.gov | Washington Post | Thehill.com |Willcall.com |gotohouse.gov

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——-transcript follows ——
AUDREY BUSCH: Hi, this is Audrey Busch, and I’m the Director of Policy and Advocacy for the Association of Assistive Technology Act Programs, and this is your Assistive Technology Update.
WADE WINGLER: Hi, this is Wade Wingler with the INDATA Project at Easter Seals Crossroads in Indiana with your Assistive Technology Update, a weekly dose of information that keeps you up-to-date on the latest developments in the field of technology, designed to assist people with disabilities and special needs. Welcome to episode number 170 of Assistive Technology Update. It’s scheduled to be released on August 29 of 2014.
Today my guest is Audrey Busch with the Association of Tech Act Projects. We’re going to talk a little politics and legislation with her. Should be interesting.
Also, CSON has announced their call for papers, and Microsoft Asia’s research group has some interesting stuff having to do with haptic interfaces. We’ve got a call on our helpline today and an app, the Pinterest app, from BridgingApps.org.


We hope you’ll check out our website at eastersealstech.com, call our listener line at 317-721-7124, or shoot us a note on Twitter at INDATA Project.
Love the show? We’d love to hear what you’d like to hear more of your head on over to www.eastersealstech.com/feedback. Fill out a two minute survey and let us know what you love or what you like to hear more of.
The CSON conference, or California State University Northridge International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference, is going to be held on March 2-7, 2015 in San Diego. The call for papers is out and the topics that they are looking for, at least the categories, fall under education, employment, entertainment, independent living, law and policy, and transportation. I’ve been to CSON many times. If you’d like to present, go there and fill out their form and propose your presentation for the upcoming conference. I’ll stick a link in the show notes.
Out of Microsoft Asia’s research arm we’ve got an article here called, “Beyond tapping and sliding.” It talks about a researcher who says, “The way we design computers today, it would seem people only use their eyes.” That she goes on to talk about the importance and potential of haptic interfaces. The examples that she talks about is maybe if you are crossing a line with the mouse or your finger on a computer screen, it should vibrate to let you know that. Or if you’re moving folders and files around on the screen, they should feel a little bit heavier than when you’re just moving your mouse around.
So she’s talking about the fact that we underutilize our sense of touch and the possibilities of haptic or vibrating interfaces as we use a computer. I think her main goal for research is to make a more rich experience for people without disabilities, but I think there’s tons of opportunities for people who have cognitive intellectual challenges, people who are blind or visually impaired, lots of people with disabilities could benefit from this. It was brought to our attention by Dan Hubble over at Microsoft and the accessibility group and I’m going to pop a link in the show notes over to the original article where you can read more about her research that’s called beyond tapping and sliding. Check our show notes.
Here’s a call from our listener line.
>> Wade, hello, in my name is Nolan. I’m the director of assistive technology at the Ohio State University in Columbus. I’m calling with a unique question. We have an employee who needs to work very closely with specific group of folks in terms of being able to communicate with them verbally. Very recently, this employee has lost the ability to speak. All other functions are great, but he simply is not able to speak out loud. He can whisper but his vocal cords have become damaged such that he’s no longer able to communicate out loud.
I was wondering if there is perhaps some sort of AAC alternative that he can use. He’s clearly an adult and he’s literate and very capable in every other way, and so I’m looking for something that’s going to be able to handle the kind of communication that he will be doing. It’s a medical oriented communication.
If you have any thoughts on something that’s rather portable because he will be moving from room to room and talking with people in those rooms for different reasons, so if there’s something out there that’s rather portable and might do the trick I would love to hear about it. I do enjoy the show so much and appreciate all that you do on a weekly basis. It’s become a routine and important part of my week, and I’m grateful to have it. Thanks again and I hope to hear something about a potential solution. Take care.
WADE WINGLER: Hi, Nolan, and thank you so much for your call and thank you so much for being a regular listener of the show. I love it when folks call in with questions. A few things that come to mind when I hear your question. The first thing is because you’re in the state of Ohio, I would suggest that you would at least be aware of if not contact the folks at the AT Act project there in Ohio. If you or any of my listeners are looking for the program in their area, we have a phase that kind of makes it easy to find them. If you go on the web to eastersealstech.com/states, it will give you a list of all the state products that are out there and you can navigate to the one in Ohio or whatever other listeners might be and find a local project.
Secondly, in terms of your particular user, we’re obviously looking for some sort of an augmentative alternative communication system and I know that a lot of those tend to be geared for kids and a lot of those are app based these days. I would suggest look at a full array of options out there, but if you’re looking for something that’s kind of easy and app based and more geared towards an adult, someone who is literate and has more complex communication needs, look at a couple of systems.
There’s one iPad app called verbally that’s interesting and has a free option that you can try out. Then there’s another one called Proloquo for Text. In fact, we interviewed the folks who developed Proloquo for Text not too long ago. So I’m going to pop a link in the show notes to the interview where you can go back and listen to the interview and learn more about what they are offering.
I think one of those options might be good for you. If you need to explore other augmentative medication alternatives, definitely check with the folks in Ohio at the Tech Act Project because they can direct you to more local resources for expertise in that stuff. That’s when thinking about. I appreciate your listening. If others have questions for the show, please give us a call. The number is 317-721-7124. Asked us your question. We’ll do our best to help you.
Each week, one of our partners tells us what’s happening in the ever-changing world of apps, so here’s an app worth mentioning.
>> This is Amy Barry with BridgingApps, and this is an app worth mentioning. Today’s app is called Pinterest. Pinterest is a must have visual and social app used for the discovery and duration of content. There are endless uses for teachers, therapist, parents, caregivers, students, and even older adults.
Filled with beautiful images, inspiring quotes, and links to interesting articles, everyone falls in love with Pinterest. Pins are visual bookmarks that you organize and share the way you want. Once an image is uploaded, or shared on Pinterest, these images become known as pins which the user can place on customized themed boards. You can create boards for any topic imaginable.
Pinning new images is easy with the pin it button, a simple drag and drop browser extension. When you come across an image you like, just click the button and select the corresponding picture. Assign the pin to the board, at accompanying text, and you’re done. Pin with friends and family.
To find other pinners, access the drop-down menu on the upper left side of the navigation bar and filter boards by category. Or you can connect your Pinterest with your Facebook and Twitter and find fellow pinners. For teachers and therapists, Pinterest helps them discover and plan things they want to do in their classroom with students. When a user finds something that looks interesting, they pin it. With Pinterest, teachers can curate content, organize ideas, collaborate with others, and even allow students to pin ideas and sources. Therapists can use Pinterest together treatment ideas.
Pinterest is an excellent resource for speech language and OT resources. Parents and caregivers of special needs students use Pinterest to find resources, activities, treatment options, inspiration, and to connect with other. Many of our older adult friends are using printers to find crafts, recipes, and even for finding interesting articles on aging and health. Grandparents enjoy following their children and grandchildren on Pinterest to see their interests.
We have also found Pinterest to be an excellent source of mental therapy. Having a bad day? Search for uplifting pictures and articles. Or maybe find a new recipe and bake for yourself or a friend. BridgingApps highly recommends Pinterest to everyone. Happy pinning.
The Pinterest app is free at the iTunes and Google Play stores. This app can be used on iOS and Android devices. For more information on this app and others like it, visit BridgingApps.org
WADE WINGLER: Today on Assistive Technology Update, we’re going to do something just a little bit different. I am not somebody who is often incredibly involved in the political process but I know that what happens at local and state and federal levels in terms of legislation impacts me and my job and the stuff that I do on a daily basis. Because I do assistive technology, there is kind of a tie in there. I am thrilled to be joined on the phone today by Audrey Busch who is the Director of Policy and Advocacy for the Association of Assistive Technology Act Programs. Audrey, are you still there on the phone?
AUDREY BUSCH: I’m still here. Hi, Wade.
WADE WINGLER: Good. Audrey, thank you so much for taking time out of your busy morning to talk with me today. You and I get to talk on a pretty regular basis. I’m on the board of ATAP, the Association of Assistive Technology Act Programs, and you work a lot with that organization so we’re on conference calls and we bump into each other in DC from time to time.
But I wanted to spend, based on a conversation you and I had not too long ago in DC, I wanted to bring that conversation to my audience, because I know that you’re somebody who’s been involved in the political process in federal government for a number of years, and I thought maybe it would be good if you do a couple of things today. First, kind of take us to school on the topic of assistive technology and then maybe give us a little bit of an update in terms of what’s happening in DC right now in terms of the late summer of 2014 as we record this. With all that being said, Audrey, tell me a little bit about yourself and how you get into this job and then we’ll kind of get into the details of the political process.
AUDREY BUSCH: Great. Thanks, Wade, for having me this morning. I basically started coming out to Washington for graduate school and interning on Capitol Hill and then once I graduated from graduate school, I ended up working for a congressperson on the hill where I ended up handling social issues and a variety of education issues as well.
Once I was off the hill, I decided to go become, not a lobbyist per se, but what we say is an advocate. I really work in general for an institute of higher education. Then I moved into a more private firm that focused on education but also worked with a lot of organizations that serve people with disabilities. One of the organizations that the firm worked with was the Association of Assistive Technology Act Programs, which was an organization that I ended up working with the very closely during my time at the firm.
It was a great experience, and from there I’ve really gotten to work with a lot of coalitions and a lot of other disability organizations in Washington to sort of promote assistive technology and certainly educate Congress and staffers about what assistive technology is and the benefits that it brings people with disabilities.
WADE WINGLER: I think that a lot of folks fall into the industry a little bit as I did many years ago then kind of fall in love with it too and decide that there really is a way for them to use their professional career to make an impact. We’re glad that you’re part of the business and are doing what you’re doing.
Now, some of our audience is not in the United States so I know that some of my listeners are going to think that some of these things don’t apply to them. But I really do feel that the political process has some similarity around the world where folks are listening. Could you spend a little time talking with us about the state versus the local versus the federal level. What should folks know about the legislative process and how that impacts people with disabilities? I’m thinking back to school house rock, but maybe you can take us to school on the process.
AUDREY BUSCH: Sure. So I think generally speaking, the way that issues become something that Congress is interested in considering and looking at is through constituents, citizens, all across the country bringing their issues to their staff and their attention through a number of different ways and clearly demonstrating that there is a problem and that there is something that Congress can do to provide a solution. That is through educating your members and being in touch with them and having them be a part of what if you’re doing at the state level, understanding what’s happening.
I think that, generally speaking, once a bill actually gets legs in Congress, it goes then to the committee level where then all numbers on a committee basically have to consider that bill and then pass it out of committee to then go to the floor of the House or Senate and then it will be passed there. Then it would have to be passed in the other chamber, so if it was passed in the Senate than it has to be passed in the house. If it was passed in the House then it would have to be passed in the Senate. After that, both chambers come together and they sort of hammer out any differences, if there were any, and they pass the final bill and then it goes to the president who then signs it and enrolls it into law.
While all of that sounds really quick and simple and seamless, it’s actually quite complicated and involves a lot of different levers that need to be pushed in the process in order to move from step one which would be assembling some type of piece of legislation that addresses the issue to than getting that bill introduced in Congress and then even considered on the committee of its jurisdiction.
So let’s say it was a bill that pertained to people with disabilities. Let’s say it’s the Assistive Technology Act before it was actually enrolled into law. That jurisdiction of the AT Act is under the education and workforce committee in the House and the health, education, and labor and pensions committee in the Senate. So that would be the committee that would have to then choose to consider that bill to even get it to a stage where it could be considered by the entire Senate for a vote. Then is still has to go through the other chamber for consideration. And then it still would have to then be signed by the president.
It’s a very long and lengthy and, frankly, tedious process that takes a lot of political will of the end of the Senators and House of Representatives members to actually use political capital to really push things through. As you can see in Washington, everyone talks about this stagnant state that Capitol Hill and Washington is in because no one really is willing to take a stand on difficult issues, etc., to really push things through.
Really what you see is that it’s very difficult to get legislation passed that isn’t bipartisan and has bicameral support, which usually means the bill, if it does have bipartisan and bicameral support, it either took many years to get to that point or is pretty much a vanilla bill where there really wasn’t anything that was politically hot or politically sensitive so to speak.
So it is definitely a process, and I think that’s the biggest thing and most important aspect of all of it is having educated staff members who then staff their member, their congressperson, about a particular issue. Members of Congress have to know so many different things and they can’t be an expert in them all, so the staff members are much relied upon by members of Congress.
Therefore a relationship and a true focus on educating those staffers about particular issues that pertain to people with disabilities is very important because they’re going to be the one educating their bosses about how to vote about what legislation need to be brought before Congress to help people with disabilities. So education really undergirds everything that we do in Washington for sure.
So I think that applies most likely to while I focus mostly on federal issues and federal politics, I think that that some lesson applies to both the local, state, and federal level. Legislative members also need to understand what issues people are facing in their daily lives, how they interact with the federal government, how federal dollars or state dollars are being used and how they kind of play out in everyday society.
Those are the kinds of things you want to educate those members on, because they need to understand the importance of either an existing law or the need for proposing a new bill in Congress or your state legislature. They need to understand why they should really step up and take the effort that’s necessary. As I talked about how difficult it is to actually push something forward.
Here at the federal level, we also talk a lot about the grassroots and the grass tops. What that really means is mobilizing people from across the nation to get behind an issue. That’s also where people like yourself can really become involved when they see any type of issue that they are interested in, it’s really calling in and weighing with their member of Congress, with the state representative, or their State Senator, or their governor, and really playing an active role in letting them hear your voice. I always say that everyone’s voice is really important even though you feel like you’re just one in a sea of millions. You are, but it takes a collection of voices to really make a difference. That’s why each one really matters.
WADE WINGLER: Audrey, that’s one of the things that I learned as I’ve seen laws move through this process with your help kind of observing this process. If somebody learns about — first of all, how can people learn about what’s happening on the hill, and if they want to get involved, what are their action items? How can they do that?
AUDREY BUSCH: I will say there’s so much information coming out of Washington at one time that it can be difficult, but I think that there are avenues to become educated. It’s good to stay, specifically for federal purposes, it’s good to stay abreast of what’s actually happening. So I would say that websites like disability.gov, thedisabilityscoop.com also provide good snippets about what’s happening across a lot of different agencies and any news coming out of Washington that specifically relates to people with disabilities. It’s good to stay up to date.
It’s also good to stay up-to-date generally about what’s happening and what the debate is in Washington, whether it’s a spending debate, a tax debate, a health reform debate. The Washington Post newspaper is wonderful, thehill.com, rollcall.com are sort of inside trading news sources for folks in Washington that really follow the stuff closely and every single detail. Just sort of paying attention to the news generally would be helpful as sort of a start.
I also think if you have an ability to join any type of coalition, if you’re affiliated with any state organizations that then belongs to a national association, those associations should be pushing out newsletters. For example, the Association of Assistive Technology Act Programs has a weekly update that I actually draft that really provides members with a concise update of what’s happening and what actually pertains to their particular interests.
So that is one way. There are a couple of new sources that you can check. Some of the other ways to stay included is to check websites like The ITEM Coalition, which is the Independence Through Enhancement of Medicare and Medicaid coalition. That’s a coalition that I know ATAP is a part of. I also think that the American Speech Language and Hearing Association puts up alerts on their website and they also are following issues closely from a variety of angles that pertain to people with disabilities.
So there are a lot of different avenues. There’s really not just one. I think you need to pick the area that you are most interested in or that impacts you the most and seek out the association that represents those needs and then you can actually see if you can get updates from those websites as well. There’s almost an association for everything. Just remember that as you do your search on Google as well.
WADE WINGLER: I also know that the information is changing all the time because the process is moving. We are running a short on time some going to ask a couple of quick questions. If somebody find something that they are interested in and they want to reach out to their legislator or start to get involved, are there some easy websites for that to engage and get involved directly with legislators?
AUDREY BUSCH: Yes. What I would recommend that you do is go to house.gov and you can find your representative, whoever represents you at the federal level and their contact information. It’s very simple because you just call and you can talk to someone in the office and you can weigh in on that particular issue. It’s harder to get email addresses for staff members, but you can certainly cause a congressional office and you can also say that you’d like to email a letter in and you can also provide and see if they can give you some email address we can submit comments on something that’s going on in your area, in your district, or at the federal level that you’d like to weigh in on.
So I think that it’s a very simple process. I think that people probably are a little bit intimidated, but it really is a simple as finding out the number of your representative and making a phone call and finding out how you can submit information on a particular issue. A lot of that is also on your members websites so just go and click and find out who your senator is, find their website, same as representative and usually they will give you a step-by-step plan on how to weigh in on particular issues or to reach out to them.
WADE WINGLER: Excellent. Audrey, I know you’re a wealth of information because you keep your finger on the pulse of the situation. The really good news for our listeners is today isn’t the end of the conversation. You and I have worked out a situation where going to send us some fairly regular updates in terms of what kind of legislation is happening at the federal level so that we can include that in upcoming shows. We hope to get that started to within the next few weeks and people are going to be hearing from you on a regular basis.
Audrey Busch is the director of policy and advocacy for the Association of Assistive Technology Act Programs. Audrey, do you have contact information that you’d like to provide in case folks want to reach out to you directly?
AUDREY BUSCH: Sure. My email address is audrey.busch@ataporg.org. Also, ATAP’s website is ataporg.org. If anyone wanted to review the website which does have some links to information that would likely be of interest.
WADE WINGLER: Excellent. I’ll pop some links in the show notes to other websites that you mentioned today so that folks can get that.
Audrey, thank you so much for spending some time with us today.
AUDREY BUSCH: Great, thank you.
WADE WINGLER: Do you have a question about assistive technology? Do you have a suggestion for someone we should interview on Assistive Technology Update? Call our listener line at 317-721-7124. Looking for show notes from today’s show? Head on over to EasterSealstech.com. Shoot us a note on Twitter @INDATAProject, or check us out on Facebook. That was your Assistance Technology Update. I’m Wade Wingler with the INDATA Project at Easter Seals Crossroads in Indiana.