Global Accessibility Awareness Day


People around the world will be recognizing the Seventh Annual Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) on May 17th. (It generally takes place on the third Thursday in May). Too often, people with disabilities encounter significant barriers when trying to gain information through digital channels. For instance, something as simple as navigating a Webpage menu using a mouse may be impossible for those with limited use of their hands. This day is dedicated to encouraging people to think and talk about accessibility and inclusion, especially as they pertain to technology.  


  
The occasion was inspired by a blog post penned in 2011 by computer programmer Joe Devon. In the piece, he discusses the importance of Web accessibility for different populations, such as older people or those with visual impairments who rely on a screenreader to decipher online content. He encourages Web developers to create sites with closed-captioning and related features to make them as user-friendly as possible. He also challenges technology experts to test their innovations to see how accessible they really are.  


  
Web designers are often at a loss as to how to make their sites more user-friendly. A few minor adaptations can make a huge difference. Using a larger font size (16-point), providing text descriptions of images, and allowing keyboard navigation are just a few ways to promote ease-of-use. Providing accessible documents in PDF or Microsoft Office formats enables those who use screenreaders or Braille translators to accurately review the material. The Job Accommodation Network provides tips for assessing Webpage accessibility and making any necessary modifications.  
  
The federal government's General Service Administration (GSA) recognizes GAAD and has had a tremendous impact on improving electronic accessibility for people of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds. January 2017 saw the passage of the final rule on Section 508of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The rule outlines a revised set of standards for electronic and information technology developed, acquired, used, and maintained by federal agencies. Updates to the Rehabilitation Act ensure that the US government aligns with international accessibility standards.  


  
According to Facebook, more than two dozen virtual and in-person events are scheduled to take place on GAAD. The events give people the opportunity to learn more about assistive technology and how Web design can accommodate it. With its emphasis on technology, GAAD offers the flexibility to create events of all types and sizes, making it possible to reach a larger audience. Tim Berners-Lee, who is credited with inventing the World Wide Web, once said, "The power of the Web is in its universality." The goal of GAAD is to make the Web truly universally-accessible.  



  
At NTI, we support initiatives and innovations that augment the capabilities of people with disabilities, and we understand how assistive technology can level the playing field. Therefore, to help further employ individuals with disabilities, we have set up a GoFundMe page to raise $25,000 to build an accessibility lab.  


  
ALL funds will be used to cover the costs of assistive software such as JAWS, ZoomText, Dragon Speak as well as the computers and hardware accessories that will be needed for testing.  Training is also needed in each one of the adaptive software programs tested.  We would also like to be able to hire a consultant to help with our assessments.   
  
If you would like to help in this elaborate endeavor, visit snip.ly/GlobalAccess.  In-kind donations will be appreciated as well.  



National Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month


According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, more than 5 million cases are diagnosed each year. It's the most common but also the most preventable type of cancer. About 85-90% of cases are associated with exposure to ultraviolet rays. Melanoma, the most serious form of the disease, can spread quickly to other areas of the body. The American Cancer Society predicts that new melanoma diagnoses will total 91,270 this year. Although the risk of developing melanoma increases with age, it's one of the most common cancers among young adults (especially women). Skin cancer is often detected early and is therefore highly-treatable. Doctors usually perform minor surgery to remove malignant moles or growths. Since May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, we're sharing information and resources to help affected individuals and their families advocate for themselves and educate others about a growing epidemic.  


You can get involved in the push to increase skin cancer awareness by learning all you can and sharing this information with your co-workers, friends, and family. This year, public education campaigns are aimed at spreading the message that it's never too early or too late to embrace a sun-safe lifestyle. If you've experienced the disease yourself, you can share your story on social media. Use the hashtag #MySkinCancerJourney so that others can be encouraged and inspired by your journey.  
  
Contrary to popular belief, many people continue working, despite a cancer diagnosis. Employment gives them a sense of normalcy and purpose during a time of difficulties and uncertainty.   If you have skin cancer, receive disability benefits, and would like to go back to work, contact NTI to learn about how we may be able to help. We place people with disabilities in work-from-home positions with various companies through our job-services, some of which are on the Fortune 500 list. We connect our clients to rewarding employment in customer service, quality control, and other areas.  Register today at bit.ly/RegisterSkinCancerAwareness. 

Country Singers Craig Campbell & Chad Bearden Tackle the Pan-Mass Challenge


Last night, Country Artists Craig Campbell and Chad Bearden successfully joined forces to support Kelly Bernard's Pan-Mass Challenge Charity Event at Loretta's Last Call in Boston.  The night was filled with entertainment and excitement as Craig and Chad lit up the venue to raise money for the event.  



The Pan-Mass Challenge (PMC) is an annual bike-a-thon to raise money for cancer research and treatment at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute during National Cancer Control Month.  The PMC event brings together thousands of cyclists, volunteers, donors and sponsors to raise money for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. 



Kelly Bernard is one of those cyclists who rides and supports the Pan-Mass Challenge.  10 years ago, Kelly herself was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.  With the help of the doctors and nurses at the Dana Farber Institute and The Jimmy Fund Clinic using the latest in innovative treatment techniques she is now leukemia-free.  Not only is she a leukemia survivor, but has gone on to become an Pediatric Oncology Nurse at the Boston Children's Hospital; on the same floor in which she was once treated.  At the event, her fellow nurses came to support her cause. 



In the Pan-Mass Challenge, Kelly will ride 168 miles across Massachusetts for her second time.  If you would like to support her efforts and help her find a search for the cure, visit and contribute to her Pan-Mass Challenge page here http://profile.pmc.org/kb0367  

NTI has helped many individuals who have come back from cancer find work through our job services.  If you are on SSI or SSDI, and would like to learn more, visit NTI at bit.ly/Pan-MassChallenge.

The Luck of the Irish in Your Job Search

Happy St. Patrick's Day! If you are on SSI or SSDI, getting a job takes a little more than just luck; it takes guidance and hard work.  That's where NTI comes into play.  NTI helps individuals with disabilities back into the workplace through their job services.  NTI offers guidance through our eMentors, Training, and liaison services connecting Fortune 500 companies with individuals with disabilities and disabled Veterans.  Change your luck, find that four-leafed clover, and register for NTI's services at goo.gl/igNLCB.  


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Image Description for Visually Impaired 
green and black plaid background with a large shamrock in the center of the design.    

Paralympian Evan Strong (Snowboarding)

Some people born into this world are given names that reflect an aspect of their character and define them. Such is the case with Paralympian Evan Strong, who, faced with life-altering circumstances was not only his own strength, but was also the strength his family depended on to get him through. An avid and talented skateboarder as a youth, Strong had his first sponsor at age 13, and was well on his way to a career as a professional skateboarder when just days before his 18th birthday he was in a head-on collision with a drunk driver. His left leg required amputation below the knee, but Strong, true to his name, never let that change his view of himself as a dedicated athlete. 

Although he still skateboards, following his accident Strong began snowboarding, and has come to dominate the sport. He has won every title in the sport of para-snowboarding. He also mountain bikes, rock climbs, surfs, and slack lines (similar to tight rope walking). In 2014 para-snowboarding was added to the Paralympics Games in large part due to the efforts of Strong’s campaigning for the sport. Strong, not surprisingly, brought home the gold for Team USA in para-snowboarding in 2014 and just missed a medal in Pyeongchang! 

Sometimes strength comes from the help of others. NTI has been helping individuals with disabilities and disabled Veterans through their job services for over 25 years. If you know of someone on SSI or SSDI that would like to come back into the workplace, have them register for our free services on our website here goo.gl/dsXU9M.  Maybe we can make a difference in their lives too?  


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Image Description for Sight Impaired:  
Portrait of Evan Strong holding a snowboard with a pink/purple overlay. The background has wave like elements in 4 different shades of purple. In the top right is the logo for the winter Paralympics. 


Curling Paralympian Steve Emt

The small decisions we each make daily don’t often add up to life changing events, but for Paralympian Steve Emt, two seemingly small decisions altered his life. The first was his decision to drive after a night of drinking with friends which led to an accident, leaving him paralyzed. And the second was to go for some Pie in the Sky!

Paralympic Curling Coach Tony Colacchio spotted Emt on his way to Pie in the Sky, a Bakery & Cafe, in Falmouth, MA and introduced himself.  Coach Colacchio felt that he could make Emt a Paralympian in curling. Emt, a basketball athlete at UConn, who was unfamiliar with the sport at the time. However, Emt loved it from his first time on the ice. As a math teacher, Emt said curling is "everything I love about math, everything I love in life all in one sport. There are angles and math and geometry and physics involved. There's ice melting. There are concentric circles." 

Emt performed solidly in the Paralympics against Great Britain as NTI watched with baited breath with every strategic move throughout the events in PyeongChang!  Curling coverage continues through Saturday on the Olympic Channel as USA takes on Slovakia tonight. 

Just like Tony Colacchio coached Emt toward the Paralympics, NTI can coach your job journey. If you are on SSI or SSDI and looking to get back into the workplace, NTI can help through their job services.  Register today at goo.gl/Yxcpp6 and reach the top of your podium. 

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Image Descriptions for Visually Impaired: 
Photograph of Steve Emt playing Curling with a light green/light yellow overlay. The background has wave like elements in 4 different shades of green. In the top left is the logo for the winter Paralympics. 



Stephen Hawking - (January 8, 1942 – March 14, 2018)

As a non-profit focused on the strengths of individuals with disabilities, NTI is sad to note the passing of Stephen Hawking. Hawking leaves the world mourning the loss of this brilliant theoretical physicist. He gave the world so much! Although limited in body from the age of 21 by ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease), his mind probed the very edges of our human ability to comprehend the world we inhabit. "I try to lead as normal a life as possible, and not think about my condition, or regret the things it prevents me from doing, which are not that many," he wrote. His extraordinarily “normal” life enriched the lives of countless millions of people around the world, and he deserves a place of honor in the annals of history! 


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Description of Image for Visually Impaired: 
A black and white image of a young Stephen Hawking smiling. The background is a picture of space.  Text to the left of him reads "STEPHEN HAWKING 1942-2018"  



3X Paralympian and 2X Gold Medalist Josh Pauls

Paralympian Josh Pauls was born without tibia bones, the larger of the two bones that make up the lower leg and supports most of a person’s weight. Because of that, he had both of his legs amputated when he was only 10 months old. He first tried sled hockey when he was 9, but he didn’t like it because it wasn’t like the ice hockey he saw able-bodied teams playing. But when he tried is again less than a year later, this time without the extra weight of his prothetics, he felt the freedom of sliding on the ice and fell in love with sled hockey! 

  


Pauls won gold in the 2010 and 2014 sled hockey Paralympics and is hoping to lead Team USA to yet another gold as team captain at the 2018 Paralympics in Pyeongchang this week. He hopes his years of experience in sled hockey will someday enable him to coach ice hockey at an advanced level, even though, as he likes to joke, he never had to learn to skate. Pauls is an advocate for inclusion in hockey and enjoys playing on sled teams against able-bodied teams! NTI wishes him and all of Team USA best of luck! 

  

Sometimes, skill is more necessary than luck, but also having the right guidance is key. At NTI, we help individuals with disabilities and disabled Veterans get back into the workplace through our job services.  If you are on SSI or SSDI and interested in being a part of the workforce once again register for NTI at goo.gl/6T4xsF  Maybe we can help?  

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Image Description for Sight Impaired:   

Photograph of Josh Pauls playing hockey with a dark green/blue overlay. The background has wave like elements in 4 different shades of blue. In the top left is the logo for the winter Paralympics.  

A Paralympic Preview - Meghan Lino (Curling)

Meghan Lino was born with spina bifida, a congenital disorder affecting the brain and spinal cord. She began using a wheelchair in the first grade when walking became increasingly difficult. But Lino credits her family with always pushing her “to do things that may not have been easy to do.” Her family has always supported her while respecting her independence, and they will be watching as Lino competes in her second Paralympic Games for Team USA in wheelchair curling in Pyeongchang this week. She began curling in 2009 in Cape Cod and quickly became serious about competing on a team. She attended the last Paralympic Winter Games in 2014 in Sochi. 
  
Wheelchair curling was first included in the Paralympics in 2006, and is one of the few sports to include a mixed team with male and female competitors. Wheelchair curling differs from traditional curling in that there is no sweeping, a term used to describe actions to affect the direction of the stone once it has been released. NTI wishes Lino and the rest of her team best of luck as they compete against 11 other countries for the first-ever medal for Team USA in wheelchair curling! 
  
You can be on the podium too!  Over the years, NTI has helped quite a few individuals with Spina Bifida get back into the workplace through our job services. If you know of someone on SSI or SSDI who is looking to get back into the workplace, feel free to have them register at goo.gl/bphZh6. 
  
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Image Description for Sight Impaired:   
Photograph of Meghan Lino in her wheelchair playing Curling with a yellow/orange overlay. The background has wave like elements in 4 different shades of orange. In the top left is the logo for the winter Paralympics.  
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