Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Preparing for #ISTE19 - Advice from the Veterans

Lisa Nielsen in front of the Amazon Inspire booth at ISTE

If you’re attending the International Society for Technology Education (ISTE) conference, you'll want to be prepared. Here are a few go-to articles and a few takeaways that will help you get the most out of this, or any learning activity, this summer.

Angela Maiers reminds us that what’s more important than what it is you plan “to do” is who you want “to be” at ISTE.  She tells us to be...
·       prepared
·       rememberable
·       tactically serendipitous
·       reflective
·       a sharer
·       a question asker
·       courageous
·       kind
·       a learner
·       patient
·       persistent

What I like the most in her advice is to be rememberable.

She says:
Each time you introduce yourself, you are not just handing them your business card; you are telling them your story. Your introduction is what can make or break a great first impression, so your story needs to be brief, bold, and “rememberable.” Leave them wanting to know more. The key is to stand out for the right reasons; your strengths, your unique talents, and perspectives.

We should all consider our introduction.

For this ISTE, I think mine will be this:
I am working to ensure staff in NYC schools know how to develop content that is inclusive of everyone, including the world’s largest minority group: Those with disabilities, as well as people who speak all languages. Where I work 50% of families speak a language other than English at home.  

What will yours be?

This post has helpful tips such as, attend with intention and work the line after keynotes. My favorite piece of advice is a tip about business cards Select four intentions or goals i.e. 1) Accessibility experts 2) Those who use ISTE standards 3) Twitter chat moderators 4) Podcasters.

Once you’ve selected the four intentions, have each corner represent an intention. Then after you meet the person, fold the appropriate corner. It is possible to have none or all corners folded. This will give you a quick way to visually see and sort your cards. You should also consider writing a quick note on the back with anything that is important to remember or follow up actions.
The article points out that 1967 was the year educational computing was born. It was the year Alan Kay gave birth to the concept of a ‘laptop’ computer for kids, which he sketched on a flight back to the US after working with Jean Piaget, Seymour Papert, and some young students.  In 1967, Kay wasn’t simply thinking of his ‘laptop’ as a new medium of expression, or way of doing things more efficiently. Rather he saw it as a place where young people could create and explore new, powerful ideas. Where they could do things that were simply not previously possible, at levels of complexity never before imaginable. As an instrument whose music is ideas.

The article challenges ISTE attendees to find more examples of what Kay envisioned and focus less on things like monitoring students, using tech to test prep or deliver instruction.

What to expect at ISTE19

Get advice directly from ISTE. Highlights from this article are:
  • Have learning goals
  • Use the right hashtag #ISTE19 and handle @ISTE
  • Dress for comfort (lots of walking) and sometimes cold rooms (bring a sweater)
Your turn
These are some of the tips and pieces of advice I like to keep in mind before attending summer learning events like ISTE. What do you think? Are there ideas that resonate with you? Anything missing?

Sunday, June 9, 2019

A Guide to Sharing Positive Education Stories in Social Media

Haben Girma and Lisa Nielsen
Accessibility Expo 2019
Haben Girma, the first deaf-blind student to graduate Harvard Law spoke at an Accessibility Expo to a New York City Department of Education audience about the importance of sharing positive disability stories and services available. 

At the Expo attendees saw amazing work happening in schools with students. If you did not have the opportunity to attend, you don't have a way to find out about what's happening. That's because schools, districts, government agencies, and those who use their services, often can do a  better job of sharing. They forget about sharing their QR codes and hashtags and websites. They forget to celebrate on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat.

As a result, important stories and services are not widely known. Haben Girma has useful advice for how educators about how they can do a better job of posting positive stories. 

Girma advises the following:


  • Frame the story in a respectful, positive way. 

Post accessibly

  • If you're posting a video, make sure the video has captions. 
  • If you're posting a photo, add an alt text.

You can learn from Girma directly in the video below. You can also find out how she is able to communicate with hearing person communicate. When you visit the video, turn on the captions. You'll see why they are helpful for people with and without disabilities. 

Want to know more? Check out Girma's Brief Guide to Producing Positive Disability Stories.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

#NYCSchoolsTechChat on Our Annual Summit: July 31st

Logo for the #NYCSchoolsTech Summit on July 31, 2019 at LaGuardia HS | 100 Amsterdam Ave | New York, NY 10023

During this month's #NYCSchoolsTechChat we will discuss how what we are going to share and learn at this summer’s #NYCSchoolsTech Summit.

Participants can join us for the chat, then come to our in-person Summit on Wednesday, July 31st.The Summit is free to educators.  You can visit the #NYCSchoolsTech Summit site to register and get more information.

#NYCSchoolTech teacher Eileen Lennon moderates with me (Lisa) throwing in my two cents. 

You can prepare for the conversation by thinking about answers to these questions:

Q1 Let’s get newcomers excited. What advice do you have for newbies? What makes the trip worth it? Refresh your memory. See past workshops at tinyurl.com/SummitWorkshops2018  #NYCSchoolsTechChat

Q2 At the #NYCSchoolsTech Summit you get to connect with vendors f2f. Who do you want to talk to? What do you want to learn? #NYCSchoolsTechChat

Q3 What are you most excited about learning at this year’s #NYCSchoolsTech Summit? #NYCSchoolsTechChat

Q4 We want you to submit poster sessions! What are you doing in the classroom that could be a poster session? tinyurl.com/SummitPoster2019 #NYCSchoolsTechChat

Q5 What is something you immediately put into practice after last years #NYCSchoolsTech Summit or hope to learn at this year’s Summit? #NYCSchoolsTechChat  

Q6 Go into those archives and share some photos from last year’s #NYCSchoolsTech Summit. #NYCSchoolsTechChat  

Chat details are below:
Date: Thursday, June 6
Time: 7:00 pm
Topic: #NYCSchoolsTech Summit
Your Host: @eileen_lennon (@NYCSchools)
Co-Host: @InnovativeEdu (@NYCSchools)

Remember to respond using the hashtag #NYCSchoolsTechChat and include the number of the question you are answering in your response i.e. A1 and your answer.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Lessons for Teachers about The World's Largest Minority Group

Student art at the ocean with a girl standing with her hands on the wheelchair with a boy sitting in it. There are birds and a rainbow in the sky. In the rainbow these words are written: Nothing about us without us.
Student art featured at the
NYC DOE Inclusion Expo 
Victor Calise, Commissioner at the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities and Haben Girma, the first deaf-blind person to graduate from Harvard Law, shared several lessons about the world's largest minority group with attendees at the NYC Department of Education's Accessibility Expo. The Expo was held at Brooklyn Law School on May 31st. 

Don't know what the largest minority group is? It is people with disabilities. They make up about one billion people world-wide.

Lesson's about the world's largest minority group

  • Innovation
    • Disability is an opportunity for innovation.
  • Accessible environments
    • People with disabilities are not disabled. The only thing that disables people is their environment. If we make the environment (physical, social, digital) accessible, we enable the person.
  • Special needs
    • When describing people with disabilities, you may want to rethink the term "special needs." We all have special needs.
  • Hold the mic
    • If a microphone is available when you are speaking, use it. Someone may need you to use it so they can hear better. Don't make them ask or stand out.
  • Employment
    • 75% of people with disabilities are jobless. Communities do a bad job of transitioning disabled youth from school to college or career.
      • Communities like New York City are getting better at addressing this need with programs such as NYC: AT WORK and Access VR. These programs help match people to jobs.
  • Overcoming disability
    • Reconsider thinking about how successful people with disabilities "overcame" their disability. Victor Calise said he would never trade in his disability. His disability is not to be overcome. Instead communities must help to remove digital, attitudinal, and physical barriers so those with disabilities can do whatever they want. 
  • Nothing about us, without us
    • Do not create, decide, build, name, make policies about something affecting disabled people without their participation and input. 
  • Don't be grateful

    • Non-disabled people should not feel grateful about not having disabilities. Haben Girma explains that this perpetuates hierarchies of us versus them. This continues the marginalization of people with disabilities.

  • Just ask
    • If you are unsure how to refer to someone's disability, ask them.

Want more?

You can watch an amateur Facebook livestream of each speaker. Unfortunately, captions are not automatic on Facebook, so the videos are not completely accessible. However, I did try to capture the sign language interpreter as I captured the videos, so there is some accessibility available. 

Victor Calise

Watch the 11-minute livestream.

Haben Girma

Part 1: 29 minutes. Haben begins at at 10:00
Part 2: 4 minutes
Part 3:  25 minutes

Monday, May 27, 2019

#AccessibilityFirst Call to Action: @Google @Microsoft @Apple

Accessibility options exist with each of the big three tech companies, Google, Microsoft, Apple. That’s a move in the right direction, but it is not enough. Currently, creating accessible content requires content creators, rather than platform providers, to do the heavy lifting. Each company’s platform design places accessibility in the hands of the content creator as an afterthought.

Call to Action: #AccessibilityFirst

  • Make accessible the default, rather than a technique that content creators must be trained in and work to access.
  • Make accessibility a core functionality, not just a feature.
  • Incorporate accessibility into the design rather than something that is checked afterwards.
  • Ensure accessibility is visible in main menus rather than something you need to leave the document for and click multiple times to access.
  • Integrate accessibility rather than making it an add on.
  • Create default settings that make accessibility automatic rather than something that must be turned on.
  • Show an error message when inaccessible content is being created, just like when you have a misspelling.
People with disabilities are the world's largest minority group. When accessible is not integrated into the design of content creation platforms, that sends a message from these companies that more than 1 billion people around the world (source: World Heath Organization) with disabilities are an afterthought.

These companies were created by young, able-body individuals who themselves are becoming older and less able-bodied. As the leaders of these mega-billion-dollar company’s age, and their users age, it is clear there needs to be a shift to a more inclusive default.

The Challenge

Let’s put out a challenge to the big three, Microsoft, Apple, and Google. Lead the way to making inclusive digital content a core feature, not an optional afterthought.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Why the Internet #Sux: Lessons from @TheBillyGregory on #GAAD at #NYCDiCon19

The Internet #SUX because it was designed in a way that shows only “SOME USERS EXPERIENCE” matters.
Screenshot from Billy Gregory's presentation at NYC Digital Inclusion Conference. The sign says: Some Users Experience. The letters SUX are taking out of each word in fiery yellow. Beneath that are the words: And only their experience matters.
Slide from Billy Gregory's presentation at the Digital Inclusion Conference

This is the message Billy Gregory shared on Global Accessibility Awareness Day (#GAAD).

In his talk he explains exactly what that means and what we can all do to make it better. Find out what he
said by checking out the presentation he delivered at the Digital Inclusion Conference hosted by Mayors Office of People with Disabilities in New York City.