Editor’s note: This December 16, 2016 edition of Accessibility in the News was originally published following US Department of Justice activity related to the Gil v. Winn-Dixie case. The case is back in the headlines following the decision of an appeal filed on behalf of Winn-Dixie. For the latest news around the case, and other news on legal activity around the Americans with Disabilities Act, visit our Accessibility in the News, Legal Edition archives.
Accessibility in the News—12/16/16
In this issue, end-of-year competitions resulted in a host of recognitions for digital and facility accessibility. Accessibility awards went to universities for dramatically revamped websites, teams who built accessible websites for nonprofits, design firms who married beauty with function for more fully accessible hotel architecture, and more. Individuals who continue to impact disabilities and rightful accommodations within their spheres of influence also received both formal recognitions and much deserved media coverage for their work.
On business and legal fronts, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) is consistently applying the principle of public accommodations to websites. Their Statement of Interest to grocery chain Winn Dixie is crystal clear (see, “A Cautionary Tale…”):
…the United States respectfully submits this Statement of Interest to clarify public accommodations’ longstanding obligation to ensure that individuals with disabilities are not excluded, denied services, or treated differently than other individuals because of the absence of auxiliary aids and services, such as accessible electronic technology….
The argument that Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act applies only to physical locations doesn’t fly, and more than one article this week cautions organizations (again) against ignoring the need for web accessibility lest they be held in violation.
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AITN Quote of the Week
“The mandate is therefore clear: whether connected to a physical place or not, websites must be ADA accessible, and the best way thus far to accomplish that is to follow the WCAG 2.0 guidelines.” —Meredith Mays Espino
Inclusion Gains Traction Outside The Classroom
12/7 | Source: disabilityscoop | Education, STEM, Cognitive | Washington D.C., United States
Kendall Foster was the King’s High School robotics teams’ biggest fan. She loved coming to practices to see her sister, Delaney, when Delaney was a student at the private Shoreline school. Kendall’s friends were interested in robots and the robotics team, too. So Delaney started researching what might be available for her sister, who has autism.
She didn’t find any robotics teams that were open to students with cognitive disabilities, and she didn’t even find anything related to STEM — science, technology, engineering and math.
“There wasn’t anything here,” said Delaney, who is now 18 and a freshman at George Washington University….
Better Accessibility is Good for Consumers and Businesses
12/12 | Source: EurActiv | Digital Accessibility, Business, Workforce, Government, Policy | Europe
The common standards brought in by the Accessibility Act will benefit businesses and consumers, bringing regulatory certainty and making sure no-one is left behind, writes Marianne Thyssen. Marianne Thyssen is the European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Mobility.
This Commission has placed accessibility where it belongs, at the centre of our efforts to shape an inclusive future. While the contributors to Euractiv’s special report series have voiced different views on the best way to make accessibility a reality for all, they all agree on the necessity to make it happen. We need to act now and we need to act together. Accessibility is not an option. It is a right and a necessary investment in our future…
Lyft and CareLinx Partner to Transform Accessibility of Transportation for the Elderly with CareRides
12/12 | Source: Marker Wired | Transit/Transportation, Mobility, Rideshare, Aging | United States
CareLinx Inc., a leading nationwide online caregiver marketplace, specifically focused on helping the elderly and people with disabilities and chronic conditions, today announced a partnership with the fastest growing on-demand transportation service in the U.S., to offer CareRides, convenient, reliable, door-through-door transportation to increase freedom and mobility for millions of individuals who need extra support across the U.S. This partnership makes Lyft’s ride-sharing service available through CareLinx’s mobile application, enabling their elderly customers to easily order a car to get to doctor’s appointments, run errands, and visit friends and family with the assistance of a professional caregiver…
CNN Hero of the Year Winner: ‘God Chose Me to Help’
12/13 | Source: CNN | Advocacy, Nonprofit, Awards and Recognition | Columbia
Jeison Aristizábal wasn’t born destined for success. Hailing from one of the poorest areas of Cali, Colombia, and waging a constant battle with cerebral palsy, the world seemed dead set against him.
“When I was a young boy, a doctor told my mom that I would amount to nothing,” said Aristizábal, 33.
Now Aristizábal has been named the 2016 CNN Hero of the Year for his work providing educational and medical support for youth living with disabilities in Colombia…
University of Iowa Tops Website Accessibility List
12/13 | Source: The Daily Iowan | Digital Accessibility, Higher Education, Awards and Recognition | Iowa, United States
Seven years ago, the University of Iowa ranked No. 155 of 160 in website accessibility for persons with disabilities. Since then, it has steered its way to the top, ranking first in a recent list. Jon Gunderson, a coordinator in the Division of Disability Resources and Education Services at the University of Illinois-Champaign/Urbana, compiled the list.
The UI’s poor performance in 2009 sparked then-President Sally Mason to jump into action. The efforts apparently have paid off…
Banks Targeted over Alleged Website ADA Violations
12/14 | Source: Paybefore | Digital Accessibility, Litigation, Banking, ADA | United States
A number of financial institutions could be running into legal trouble over alleged access barriers to their websites for consumers with disabilities. In a wave of legal demand letters that began earlier this year, attorneys have demanded those banks make changes to their web pages and pay fees due to violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires provisions be made to ensure the disabled have “full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages or accommodation of any place of public accommodation.” Banks’ public Websites are considered places of public accommodation, and thus must comply with ADA regulations.
Banks faced a similar spate of legal challenges over the past several years related to ATM accessibility. However, there are no firm regulations or standards in place addressing website accessibility compliance in the ADA rules, according to attorneys for the firm of Vorys Sater Seymour and Pease LLP, which recently released a client alert regarding the legal challenges. And while clarity may be on the way, it likely won’t arrive any time soon. The Department of Justice, which is charged with enforcing the ADA, is in the process of establishing firm guidelines for website access, but has been working on its rulemaking since 2010, and has postponed issuance several times since then. The DOJ’s latest projection is that the earliest website-specific rules will be in place is 2018…
Austin-Based Consulting Firm Takes Second in International Web Accessibility Competition
12/14 | Source: Yahoo Finance | Digital Accessibility, Nonprofits, Awards and Recognition | International
Technology consulting firm Microassist recently proved its chops in a specialized web development contest. That contest is the Open Accessibility Internet Rally, or OpenAIR, which focuses on creating sites accessible to individuals with disabilities. Microassist’s three-person team placed second out of 30 teams from around the world.
Hosted by Austin nonprofit Knowbility, OpenAIR kicked off in October and concluded with an awards ceremony last week. The annual event brings together web developers, designers, project managers and others in an interactive, weeks-long training event and friendly high-tech competition to develop professional websites for participating nonprofits. Sites are judged based on their ability to be perceived and usable by everyone, including those with vision, hearing, mobility or cognitive impairments…
OpenAIR Winners Leverage IBM Accessibility Tools
12/14 | Source: age&ability | Digital Accessibility, Nonprofits, Innovation | International
The annual Knowbility OpenAIR web accessibility challenge announced the winners of its 19th annual competition, which pairs teams of web developers and designers with registered nonprofits to create or improve their website and make it more accessible to people with disabilities.
As part of this year’s competition, IBM made its accessibility testing tools available to help participants create accessible websites and content and manage conformance to industry standards. The tools included IBM AbilityLab™ Dynamic Assessment Plugin (DAP), Digital Content Checker and Automated Accessibility Tester.
DAP was also used by the judges to test the accessibility of the contestants’ websites that were created for more than a dozen local and international nonprofits. DAP is a browser extension that integrates automated accessibility testing with standard browser development tools. It was designed to allow developers to quickly identify accessibility issues and evaluate potential fixes, including those related to Accessible Rich Internet Applications (ARIA) implementations…
A Conversation with Lainey Feingold about Her New Book, Structured Negotiation: A Winning Alternative to Lawsuits
12/14 | Source: AFB AccessWorld | Digital Accessibility, Litigation, Settlements | United States
If you’ve ever used a talking ATM, or entered your debit card PIN into a tactile point of sale terminal, you may not know it, but you owe a debt of gratitude to Lainey Feingold. Blind National League Baseball fans who are blind and enjoy following their home team stats online, traders with visual impairments who buy and sell securities using E*Trade or Charles Schwab, and anyone who has received a talking prescription label from Walmart have also had their quality of independent life enhanced by her work.
Over the past 20 years Feingold and various co-counsels have been instrumental in successfully negotiating over 60 accessibility settlements with companies and communities ranging from Safeway to Target, from Weight Watchers to the City of San Francisco. This is a remarkable feat, in and of itself. What makes it truly amazing, however, is the simple fact that Feingold has managed to accomplish all of this without ever filing a single lawsuit or legal complaint…
A Cautionary Tale: DOJ Intervenes in another Web Accessibility Lawsuit
12/14 | Source: JD Supra Business Advisor | Digital Accessibility, Litigation, DOJ, ADA | Florida, United States
Fighting a website accessibility lawsuit is very tempting to many frustrated businesses, but can be a risky decision. One such risk – Department of Justice intervention in the lawsuit – came to fruition for one such business on Monday in Gil v. Winn Dixie, when the DOJ filed a Statement of Interest in the case pending in the Southern District of Florida.
In the lawsuit, Gil alleged that he attempted to access the goods and services available on the Winn-Dixie website, but was unable to do so using his screen reader technology or any other technology provided on the Winn-Dixie website. Accordingly, he claimed the website is inaccessible in violation of Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act…
Ryder Architecture Named Bespoke Access Awards Winner for Hotel Idea
12/15 | Source: The Architects’ Journal | Accessibility, Architecture, Travel, Awards and Recognition | Leeds, England
Ryder Architecture has won the £20,000 top prize in a contest seeking ideas to improve the quality of hotel experience for disabled people. Working with accessible bathroom manufacturer Motionspot, the Newcastle-based practice was named the winner of the Bespoke Access Awards competition earlier this month.
The duo’s triumphant ‘AllGo’ scheme, featuring a universal approach to hotel room design ensuring all spaces are functional, flexible, accessible and well-designed, received the inaugural Celia Thomas Prize, worth £20,000, at a ceremony in the Palace of Westminster. Backed by the RIBA and Bespoke Hotels, the Bespoke Access Awards sought ‘imaginative, innovative and potentially realisable’ proposals to improve hotel access for disabled people, including those with learning difficulties…
Google Maps Now Shows if a Location is Wheelchair Accessible
12/15 | Source: The Verge | Innovation, Mobile Apps
Google Maps will now list wheelchair accessibility alongside information like traffic and store hours. The new addition makes using the app, favored by nearly 70 percent of iPhone users, easier for people with disabilities, as well as parents with strollers and the elderly…
Website Accessibility for Persons with Disabilities: The Why and How
12/15 | Source: American Bar Association | Digital Accessibility, Business Justification, Accessibility Litigation, Risk | United States
There has been a growing conversation lately regarding website accessibility for people with disabilities. Despite the fact that nearly 20 percent of the population in the United States has a disability—nearly one in five people—website accessibility is rarely a consideration when developers create websites and apps. Adding conditions and parameters to website development costs money, but so does an inaccessible website in terms of resulting litigation and lost customers as clicks and page views are missed, inventory is not purchased, and reservations are not made. Advocacy groups want access, and businesses should want the customers. It is no surprise that litigation over accessibility filed by advocacy groups and individual users is rapidly increasing, and businesses are experiencing growing angst.
People with disabilities affected by website inaccessibility may have varying degrees of auditory, cognitive, neurological, physical, speech, and visual impairments. According to the National Federation for the Blind, there are over 7.3 million people in the United States alone who have varying degrees of blindness. The U.S. Census found over one million deaf people and over eight million who are hard of hearing. Neurological disabilities, including epilepsy, affect nearly one billion people worldwide. Color blindness in various forms affects approximately 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women globally…
Chelsea Hotel, Toronto Wins Accessibility Award
12/15 | Source: Meetings + Incentive Travel | Awards and Recognition, Travel | Toronto, Canada
The Chelsea Hotel, Toronto has been awarded the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario’s Accessible Tourism Award, it was announced last month. Adopted by The Chelsea, the Closing the GAP (Guest Accessibility Package) program provides guests with amenities and information to assist persons with disabilities.
The package helps minimize any potential accessibility barriers due to lack of communication and information. The program was designed by Accessibility Professionals of Ontario (APO), a full-service accessibility consulting firm, and the Chelsea was the first Ontario hotel to implement the program.
The GAP Program and Accessible Guest Service Training enables the hotel to cater to visitors with disabilities, creating a positive narrative of accessibility in Toronto, and highlighting accessible attractions, restaurants and shopping experiences in Toronto…
How the DOT Will Make Planes More Accessible for People with Disabilities
12/15 | Source: Conde Nast Traveler | Transit/Transportation, Travel, ADA, DOT, Government | United States
We all know airplanes aren’t the best places to stretch or move around with ease. For passengers who use wheelchairs, though, it can be a nightmare. More and more stories have come out recently about the unfair and uncomfortable setup on planes for those with special and medical accessibility needs, and the U.S. Department of Transportation just announced they’re finally doing something about it.
While airlines have complied with the regulations set out by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, previously unconsidered issues like inadequate bathroom size have been brought to light thanks to social media. Now, the DOT’s ACCESS Advisory Committee—which includes airline representatives, flight attendants, and people with disabilities—revealed they plan to make bathrooms on single-aisle aircrafts more accessible for those in wheelchairs or who need extra assistance on board…
How Accessible are Our Universities for Students with Disabilities?
12/15 | Source: The Daily VOX | Higher Education, Government, Policy | South Africa
When we talk about university transformation, race, gender and sexuality usually take centre stage of the discourse. The accessibility of the university environment for students with disabilities is often only thrown in as an afterthought, despite efforts towards intersectionality in most student movements. The Daily Vox looks at the structures that are currently in place and those proposed by the government to make university more accessible for students with disabilities…
How to Make Mexico City a Better Place for the Disabled
12/16 | Source: Americas Quarterly | Disability Rights, Government | Mexico City, Mexico
The senator from Durango looks bemused. It’s the afternoon of Oct. 18, and Yolanda de la Torre, seated and wearing an electric pink suit jacket with navy slacks, is being carried up the switchback stone staircase of Mexico City’s Palacio de Minería. The 250-year-old college building, now run by the national university’s engineering department, has only one elevator. The senator’s wheelchair doesn’t fit.
“Can you imagine?” Katia D’Artigues, a journalist and disabled rights advocate who was at the Palacio that day, told AQ. “Nobody made a big deal about it, though of course they should have.”
Perhaps the scene would have drawn more attention had it not been so commonplace. In much of Mexico’s mammoth capital city, crumbling sidewalks and a lack of elevators, ramps and other trappings of accessibility mean that many of its estimated 500,000 people with disabilities must rely on friends, family or strangers to get around..
Demand for Accessibility Courses
12/16 | Source: The Times of India | Higher Education, Civil Engineering | India
Experts and people with disabilities have called for inclusion of accessibility as a subject in civil engineering and architecture curricula. EKansh, an NGO, has announced a project design competition on the theme: What would you do to make Sarasbaug barrier free?
“There is no mention of accessibility in the syllabus of civil engineering course. Even in the curriculum they haven’t focused on it. Hence, when we teach design to students, there is hardly any mention of accessibility which should be there right from the undergraduate level,” Arti Ghate, assistant professor in civil engineering in a city college, said…
Accessibility Training and Information
- CSUN 2017 Conference
- Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)
- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
- Digital Access Legal Update
- UK Web Accessibility Law
- US Accessibility Laws: What You Need to Know to Protect Your Business
- Ohio Department of Education
- The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE)
- Financial Times
Accessibility Product Releases and Announcements
- Sears’ Heroes at Home Program Brightens Holiday Season for Disabled Vets
- RITE Touch Digital Door Lock with the New ADA-Compliant Accessibility Lever
Additional Accessibility Information
Digital Accessibility Digest
One of our three industry blogs, Microassist’s Digital Accessibility Digest is the “umbrella” for much of our accessibility content. It features commentary, guidance, curated news, and event information. Accessibility in the News is a regular feature of the Digital Accessibility Digest.
Microassist Accessibility Services
Outlining a host of accessibility-related services, Microassist Accessibility Services: Barrier-Free Digital Development, provides background on Microassist expertise and the various offerings available for digital content and platforms. Services cover accessible elearning, website, and application development, audit and remediation services, and accessibility testing across various formats. Content is available online and as an accessible PDF for printing.
Please contact us for any questions you have about our accessibility services and how we might support your organization.