[Mdabs] Third Annapolis Issue

nfbmd nfbmd at earthlink.net
Thu Jan 17 16:05:33 UTC 2019


Subject:           Appropriation for the Center of Excellence in Nonvisual
Access (CENA) to Education, Public Information, and Commerce 

To:                   Members of the Maryland General Assembly

From:              Members of the National Federation of the Blind of

Contact:           Sharon Maneki, Director of Legislation and Advocacy

National Federation of the Blind of Maryland

9013 Nelson Way

Columbia, MD 21045

Phone: 410-715-9596

Email: nfbmd at earthlink.net <mailto:nfbmd at earthlink.net> 


Date:                January 24, 2019





The Maryland General Assembly should keep the $250,000 appropriation in the
Governor's Budget for the CENA to Education, Public Information, and


BACKGROUND In 2014, the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) founded the
NFB Center of Excellence in Nonvisual Access (CENA). The CENA is a center of
expertise, best practices, and resources that enables business, government,
and educational institutions to more effectively provide accessible
information and services to blind citizens. The State of Maryland, through
the Maryland Department of Disabilities (MDOD), partners with the CENA to
support a series of projects under the Nonvisual Accessibility Initiative
(NVAI) with an aim to establish Maryland as a leader in nonvisual


New Projects


Accessible Maryland Job Centers

The U.S. Department of Labor's final report, "Evaluating the Accessibility
of American Job Centers for People with Disabilities," states that "almost
two-thirds (63 percent) of American Job Centers (AJCs) were not accessible."
With over 70 percent unemployment of people with disabilities, ensuring
accessibility of these job centers is essential. The NFB will conduct
assessments of Maryland job centers and work to make them fully accessible
to job seekers with disabilities.


A More Accessible Maryland

In addition to the emerging nonvisual access navigation or wayfinding
technologies that offer orientation and information solutions to a variety
of public and commercial venues; there are innovative technologies being
developed and implemented that create more accessible experiences for people
with disabilities to live, work, and play in their communities. The NFB has
been involved in the evaluation and development of a variety of cutting-edge
wayfinding and other environmental information technologies. Through our
Accessible Cities projects, we can enhance MDOD's Access Maryland efforts
and create a more accessible Maryland. 


Inclusive Publishing Conference

The Inclusive Publishing Conference will tie in with the CENA's focus on
access to digital publications, and will have sessions that address
accessible publications in educational arenas as well as for the general


Continuing Initiatives


Enhanced Accessible Academic EBook Program

The HathiTrust is a consortium of institutions offering more than thirteen
million titles digitized from around the world. The resulting accessible
electronic text continues to change the way blind people access information,
especially in academic environments. Electronic text is encoded text that
can be interpreted by a machine, and therefore can be presented to any user
in whatever way they would find most helpful. It can appear as printed
letters on a screen (at any size), be spoken aloud by synthetic
text-to-speech voices, or rendered on a refreshable Braille display. The NFB
will build on the information offered through the HathiTrust Digital
Consortium by assisting in the development and implementation of other
accessible electronic book platforms. 


Accessibility Boutiques and Training Seminars 

The NVAI has contributed to a number of informal accessibility-specific
boutiques and training seminars. The boutiques are several hours long and
are open to the public at no cost to Maryland citizens. The larger training
seminars are more intensive and can take place over several days. The
intended impact is to increase accessibility awareness and the knowledge of
educators, government administrators, businesses, and others about the tools
and training they can use to better provide nonvisual access to their
programs and services. 


Accessibility Switchboard

The Accessibility Switchboard is a dynamic online accessibility portal that
provides up-to-date information to consumers about accessible websites,
emerging technology, and frequently encountered accessibility
problems/solutions; and also provides information specific to government,
corporate, and educational institutions on building accessible websites. The
NFB will continue the development of this resource. 


Accessibility Inclusion Fellowships

The "Final Report of the Study on Accessibility Concepts in Computer
Science, Information Systems and Information Technology Programs in Higher
Education," was submitted to the governor and to the General Assembly in
August 2017. The report recommended that three annual fellowships be awarded
to instructors that include accessibility concepts within at least one
course in their institution. The NFB will administer and coordinate the
second year of the Accessibility Inclusion Fellowship program.



Access to information remains one of the greatest barriers faced by blind
persons. To reduce these barriers the National Federation of the Blind
established the CENA to provide information about best practices and to
develop innovative techniques for achieving nonvisual access. The Maryland
General Assembly should allow this state-of-the-art program to continue by
approving the $250,000 appropriation in the Governor's Budget under the
Maryland Department of Disabilities. 





Sharon Maneki, Director of Legislation and Advocacy

National Federation of the Blind of Maryland



The National Federation of the Blind of Maryland knows that blindness is not
the characteristic that defines you or your future. Every day we raise the
expectations of blind people, because low expectations create obstacles
between blind people and our dreams. You can live the life you want;
blindness is not what holds you back.



-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://nfbnet.org/pipermail/mdabs_nfbnet.org/attachments/20190117/881d3f4e/attachment.html>

More information about the MDABS mailing list