The Texthelp Team

Texthelp & Friends @ ATIA 2020

It’s hard to believe that another 12 months have gone by and we’re once more on the cusp of the annual ATIA conference. With a whole host of sessions to sink your teeth into (including one of our very own), we’ve put together this handy itinerary featuring some unmissable highlights to check out at this year’s gathering of Assistive Tech’s best and brightest.

ATIA 2020 recommended sessions blog banner

As an organization that continually puts the strengths, challenges, abilities and needs of the user at the heart of everything we do here at Texthelp, we have much to look forward to in what ATIA offers attendees and delegates. As always, there’s a lot to discover, and we’re looking forward to mingling, exploring, and of course, helping attendees to learn more about our own solutions that can support people throughout their education, into the world of work, and beyond.

So, without further ado, read on to see the standout sessions we wholeheartedly recommend, and be sure to stop by booth #504 to meet our Texthelpers and have a chat about how our technology can help you achieve what it is you’ve journeyed to the conference for this year. We can’t wait to meet you all!

Texthelp Session

Thursday, January 30 

4:30 - 5:30 pm: Standards-Based Approach to Improve Spoken Text in Assistive Technologies
Peter Ramsdell, Paul Grudnitski & Mark Hakkinen

Accurate, consistent pronunciation and presentation of content spoken by text to speech synthesis (TTS) is an essential requirement in education and other domains. While mainstream consumer Voice-based assistants allow application developers to leverage standards such as Speech Synthesis Markup Language to enhance the quality of TTS, assistive technologies and common formats such as HTML do not offer a similar capability. Over the past few years, assessment vendors have been seeking a standards-based solution, leading to the formation of the W3C Pronunciation Task Force. With participation from a range of stakeholders, the task force is developing a solution that can be adopted by content authors and supported by assistive technologies. This session will describe the challenges in spoken presentation, user requirements and scenarios, and the current state of the standardization effort. The presenters will engage the audience via demonstrations and seek feedback to be shared with the standardization task force.

Friends of Texthelp Sessions

Thursday, January 30

8:00 - 9:00 am: Set Sail for Employment: Accommodations in Apprenticeship and Internships
Teresa Goddard

Accommodating individuals with various impairments through the use of assistive technologies can be beneficial for those participating in apprenticeships and internships in a variety of settings including administrative and professional services, manufacturing, construction, and healthcare. For those with limitations that impact their ability to perform certain essential functions of a job, examining accommodation options can ensure that they successfully transition to active members of the workforce as well as enhancing productivity and increasing workplace safety. Educators, service providers, employers, and others can offer support to individuals by becoming familiar with what types of accommodations are effective for those considering apprenticeships and internships as well as the resources available to support a successful transition to employment. This session will examine common workplace situations and accommodation solutions related to individuals with various disabilities working various positions by providing real life accommodation examples and assistive technology options as well as other resources.

2:20 - 3:20 pm: Diversity, Inclusion & Culture: A Recipe for a Successful Team!
Karen McRitchie

Only 40% of 18 million working-age people with disabilities are employed. Having an inclusive team is beneficial to the employer, the team, and the customers. Employers tend to look at hiring a person with a disability as a challenge rather than seeing the benefits. There are misconceptions about disability which affect the employer’s hiring attitudes and decisions. Fear of the unknown also contributes to this issue, as employers tend to be less informed about accommodations and lack the resources needed to provide them to an employee. When employers are queried about hiring practices for people with disabilities, they tend to have a veneer of acceptance, yet why is the unemployment rate for persons with disabilities so much higher? Diversity, inclusion, and culture are necessary in the workplace to create successful teams that benefit everyone.

2:20 - 3:20 pm: Welcome to the Workforce: Tips and Tools for New Grads
Brittany Lambert  

Determining accommodations for young people with disabilities transitioning from school to work can be a challenge. Differences between IDEA, Section 504, and the ADA further complicate the process. However, understanding these differences along with the new graduate’s need to be a good self-advocate can result in a successful transition. The likelihood of a successful transition also increases if the individual knows their strengths and imitations, as well as the reasonable accommodations, AT options, and other resources available. Effectively orchestrating all of these factors ensure the transition from a new graduate to a new employee who is productive, safe, and able to fulfill workplace standards. Educators, service providers, employers, and others can support to new graduates transitioning into the workforce by becoming familiar with various resources. This session will examine transition related legislation as well as common workplace situations and accommodation solutions related to new graduates with disabilities seeking employment.

4:30 - 5:30 pm: The Role of Technology in Transitioning to Life After K12
Patricia Holzman & Wendy Thompson

The presenters will share their research on the delivery of technology accommodations for students with ASD in postsecondary education and technology as an accommodation for employees with ASD. They will provide an overview of their research and results. Their research findings will describe how technology accommodations are underutilized both in postsecondary education and employment settings for individuals with ASD. They will detail recommendations for future practice.

Friday, January 31

4:30 - 5:30 pm: Assistive Technologies & Digital Accessibility within Diversity & Inclusiveness
Kevin Grogg & Gautam Rao

Ernst & Young (EY), a professional services company with approximately 300,000 people (over 11,000 in IT) launched a Diversity & Inclusiveness (D&I) Initiative in 2019. One workstream concentrates on assistive technologies (AT)/ digital accessibility (DA) and how all EY people can benefit from greater accessibility in these areas. The AT/DA team is working with EY Recruitment personnel to help gage the wording of job descriptions so to not inadvertently screen out individuals with disabilities. The team is also providing online courses from an external vendor to assist members of the Development team (coders) in the design of accessible web applications. Lastly, this team is working with IT leadership to implement a binding Digital Accessibility policy across all of IT. This presentation provides updates on these topics from the leaders of the AT and DA areas.

4:30 - 5:30 pm: On the Road to Workplace Success: Navigating the Path
Brittany Lambert  

Navigating the path to work for individuals with disabilities can be fraught with barriers. Transition requires that individuals know their strengths and be good self-advocates. It is also vital for young people to have a clear understanding of the difference between education laws, and the protections under the employment provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Individuals with disabilities transitioning may want to research and target companies that are disability inclusive including those companies with internships, co-operatives, and opportunities to engage with a mentor. Some of the barriers to a successful transition include employer digital accessibility challenges. Overcoming these will be essential to entering the workforce. This session will examine the transition to work process and the strategies educators, service providers, and mentors can use to prepare young people for a successful transition.

Saturday, February 1

8:00 - 9:00 am: Working it Out - Workplace Accommodations for Full Inclusion
Joshua Anderson

Work gives us all a sense of purpose, but many individuals with disabilities are still unemployed. This training will take a look at some of the technologies that can assist individuals with disabilities to procure and maintain gainful employment. High and low tech accommodations will be explored and real life cases will be examined. Participants in this training will come away with a better understanding of what it really means to work and all of the tasks that they take for granted in their jobs and how to accommodate an individual with different abilities to be just as, or more, successful in the position.


Visit our Workplace page to learn more about how our assistive technology can help everyone reach their full potential at work. And be sure to stop by booth #504 at ATIA to chat with our Texthelpers.

Visit us at ATIA Booth #504


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