Accessibility in the News —9/24/16
This issue of Accessibility in the News (AITN), we have accessibility developments in education (from video magnifiers for grade schoolers to university online courses), politics (viewpoints and constituent profiles), tech (app accessibility lawsuits and innovations for creating signatures), government (awards and perspective), and other activity from around the globe (Australia, Oman, India, and various locations in the U.S.)—including setting the stage for plans for the web from the W3C.
To receive Accessibility in the News (AITN) via email, and stay up-to-date on similar accessibility developments, send a subscription request to email@example.com.
Australian Public Service to adopt ICT accessibility standard
9/19 | Source: Government Technology Review
The Australian Public Service plans to require ICT vendors to ensure their products and services are accessible to employees with disabilities, under new standards expected to be in place by the end of the year. Standards Australia has agreed to create a new Australian standard on ICT accessibility by directly adopting the current European accessibility standard.
In a blog post, Australian government CTO John Sheridan said that once adopted, the new standard can be used when determining technical specifications for the procurement of accessible ICT products and services…
UTHealth video magnifiers help children succeed in school
9/19 | Source: Media Relations
Bhavani Iyer, O.D., a low vision expert at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth), loves helping her young patients make the most of their limited vision. With the help of a nonprofit organization called Sight Savers America, Iyer arranged for four of her grade school patients to get high-tech magnification devices free of charge. The devices are not covered by insurance and cost around $2,500 each.
“Our emphasis is to help children succeed in school and in life by providing tools to help them achieve their goals,” she said.
Worldwide, approximately 135 million people have low vision, which means their sight problems cannot be corrected with eyeglasses, surgery or medication. Their challenge is to make the most of their residual vision…
Georgia’s Web Accessibility Initiative Receives National IT Award
9/20 | Source: Georgia Technology Authority
A GTA-led initiative to ensure the accessibility of state websites to people with a range of disabilities has been honored with a first place award from the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO).
The award was presented September 19 at NASCIO’s national conference to Nikhil Deshpande, director of GTA’s GeorgiaGov Interactive team, which manages the state’s web portal, www.georgia.gov, and enterprise web platform. The platform currently supports 78 state websites. Collaborating with GTA on the Accessible Platform Initiative were the state’s ADA Coordinator’s Office and the AMAC Accessibility Solutions and Research Center at Georgia Tech. The initiative placed first in the category of Digital Government: Government to Citizen in NASCIO’s State IT Recognition Awards…
Department of Justice alleges campus in violation of Americans with Disabilities Act
9/20 | Source: The Daily Californian
The campus responded last week to the U.S. Department of Justice’s allegations that UC Berkeley violates Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act because of the inaccessibility of some of campus’s public online educational content.
In an Aug. 30 letter, the DOJ alleges that the campus’s Youtube Channel, iTunesU platform and Massive Open Online Courses lack accessible design and calls for UC Berkeley to take steps toward accommodation. The DOJ declined to comment on the allegations, but in its letter, the department detailed specific violations of Title II, including an alleged lack of accurate closed captioning in videos for those who are deaf or hard of hearing.
“The Department found that of the 543 videos it could identify on the YouTube channel, 75 had manually generated closed captions,” the letter stated. “Of the remainder, many had automatic captioning generated by YouTube’s speech recognition technology.”…
University May Remove Online Content to Avoid Disability Law
9/20 | Source: Inside Higher ED
The University of California, Berkeley, has announced that it may eliminate free online content rather than comply with a U.S. Justice Department order that it make the content accessible to those with disabilities.
The content in question is all free and is for the general public to use. “The department’s findings do not implicate the accessibility of educational opportunities provided to our enrolled students,” said a statement on the situation by Cathy Koshland, vice chancellor for undergraduate education.
Disability rights group sues ride-hailing apps Get Me, Fare
9/20 | Source: Statesman
A state disability rights group has sued the ride-hailing apps Get Me and Fare in federal court, arguing that because the apps only partially offer text-to-speech software they are unusable for blind individuals and therefore in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
For example, Austin resident and accessibility consultant Jeanine Lineback, who is blind, was able to set up an account but was not able to request a ride, the lawsuit says.
The National Federation of the Blind Texas is suing on behalf of Lineback and four other Austinites, arguing they are entitled to damages as well as an injunction against the apps, according to the lawsuit filed Tuesday. The injunction would require that the apps’ companies make these apps accessible to people who are blind…
Simplifying Content for People with Cognitive Disabilities.
9/21 | Source: Age & Ability
IBM has announced the IBM AbilityLab™ Content Clarifier, which is designed to help simplify, summarize, and enhance content in order to increase comprehension for people with cognitive disabilities, the aging population, or those learning English as a second language.
Content Clarifier, an Application Programming Interface (API) built using IBM Watson services and the IBM Bluemix cloud development platform, works by leveraging natural language processing and cognitive computing to analyze and condense content into a simplified form so people have an easier time consuming and comprehending the most important concepts. It replaces complex words with easier to understand alternatives, reorders or rephrases sentences, and provides additional context about pertinent concepts, such as phonetic pronunciations, images, maps, or links to web references. It is designed to be integrated into any mobile, web-based, or desktop application to allow users to increase the understanding of content more efficiently…
How Did Disabilities Become a Partisan Issue?
9/21 | Source: The Atlantic
On Wednesday, Hillary Clinton is giving a speech focused in part on Americans with disabilities, and the need to help all of them. It’s a rather warm-and-fuzzy topic for such an acrimonious campaign, but the story of how speaking up for the disabled came to represent a polarized issue is a microcosm of how even once-universally supported positions have become partisan fodder.
Clinton’s speech Wednesday is part of a push for positive stories by her campaign, as a way of countering a string of negative stories as well as her high unfavorables. Her campaign previewed the speech in Orlando, saying the Democratic nominee would “make the case for building an inclusive economy that welcomes people with disabilities, values their work, rewards them fairly, and treats them with respect.” She’s also touting her own plans to help people with disabilities, including banning subminimum wages and working with businesses to encourage and incentivize hiring of people with disabilities.
Hillary Clinton Outlines Vision of More Job Opportunities for People With Disabilities
9/21 | Source: The New York Times
Of all the attacks that Hillary Clinton and her fellow Democrats have tried against Donald J. Trump since he captured the Republican presidential nomination, one has stood out for its emotional force and persuasive power: No one, it seems, can abide Mr. Trump’s mockery last year of a reporter’s physical disability.
And as Mrs. Clinton strains to make a more affirmative case for her own candidacy, after a summer focused largely on hammering Mr. Trump, her campaign believes that a focus on an often-overlooked constituency — voters with disabilities — can accomplish both goals at once.
On Wednesday, without mentioning the Trump episode, Mrs. Clinton discussed her vision for an “inclusive economy” with expanded job opportunities for what she called “a group of Americans who are, too often, invisible, overlooked and undervalued — who have so much to offer, but are given far too few chances to prove it…
Event Service Professionals Association (ESPA) Releases Accessibility Checklist
9/22 | Source: Successful Meetings
If you are in a wheelchair, or know someone who is, you have discovered that even many “accessible” venues have barriers ranging from a one-step level change that most people do not even notice, to a ramp without requisite flat platforms, to a fully accessible restroom at the end of a hallway far too narrow to navigate. And that is just one of the most obvious types of disabilities that may be included among your attendees.
Others may require you to know things like how far away the nearest all-night pharmacy is, or whether someone in the convention center has an emergency Epi-Pen and how fast it can be retrieved in an emergency…
A political profile of disabled Americans
9/22 | Source: Pew Research Center
Election watchers and pollsters focus on any number of subgroups, from white born-again women to first-generation Latinos to men without college degrees. But one group that’s not often singled out in surveys is Americans with disabilities, even though they are as engaged with the election as the general public. The potential of the disabled as a voting bloc has also attracted attention in this year’s campaign.
To be sure, there are many kinds of disabilities, and not all Americans with disabilities are alike. Here, we look at whether and how Americans who self-identify as having a disability differ from those who do not in terms of the 2016 election…
Web Accessibility: Why It Matters and What Governments Can Do About It (Industry Perspective)
9/23 | Source: Government Technology
More and more government services are going online, but if the website isn’t accessible to people with disabilities, then millions of Americans are being excluded from vital civic services.
Unplug your mouse. Now, try to log into your website and use your keyboard to navigate — try to fill in a form or download a document. How did that go? If you were on one of thousands of state, county or city government websites that are not accessible, it was probably quite a challenge.
For reasons of practicality and efficiency, more and more government services are going online. But if the website is not accessible to people with disabilities — the country’s largest minority population — then millions of Americans are being excluded from vital civic services.
W3C Global Web Experts Plan Technical Roadmap for Future of Web
9/23 | Source: Marketwired
More than 550 experts in Web technologies gathered in Lisbon, Portugal this week to address challenges and new opportunities for the future of the Web’s technical roadmap and standardization work. Hosted by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), whose mission is “to lead the Web to its full potential” by standardizing Web technologies, the annual W3C Technical Plenary and Advisory Committee (TPAC) Meeting included nearly 40 sessions of formally chartered groups engaged in standards-related work. Another 40 informal break-out sessions discussed emerging technologies that may benefit from standardization work at W3C.
At the conference, Web Inventor and W3C Director Sir Tim Berners-Lee gave a keynote address in which he thanked and encouraged his fellow Web technologists to sustain his original vision for an open, interoperable and decentralized Web for everyone in the world…
DOJ vs. UC Berkeley: Forcing Online Content to Be Accessible
9/23 | Source: Center for Digital Education
The University of California, Berkeley is the latest school that the U.S. Department of Justice has investigated for a lack of accessibility in online learning content. As enforcement of the Americans with Disability Act continues to increase, higher education institutions have a choice: Comply with the law or face lawsuits.
On Aug. 30, Rebecca B. Bond, the chief of the disability rights section of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, sent a 10-page letter to Chancellor Nicholas B. Dirks and campus counsel representatives that laid out the conclusion of a Title II Americans with Disability Act investigation. The investigation came after the Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center filed a complaint in October 2014 with the U.S. Department of Justice on behalf of the National Association of the Deaf. This complaint said deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals could not access UC Berkeley’s audio and video content that is available to the public online at no cost.
UC Berkeley is figuring out what to do next as the U.S. Department of Justice tells it to make its online audio and video content accessible…
Oman society must give the disabled need jobs, not pity
9/24 | Source: Times of Oman
Disabled or physically challenged people are frustrated after being denied the chance to work and most of them are overlooked when they apply for jobs just because they were born with a disability.
It is about time employers from different sectors address the issue and offer equal opportunities not just for gender equality, but people with a variety of disabilities. The right to work for all is being recognized by the Ministry of Manpower. It had passed a law more than a decade ago to make it mandatory that 2 per cent of the total workforce of any organisation should be reserved for the disabled. Yet, most of such candidates are snubbed when they apply.
While people who fall ill are given a second chance to return to employment, individuals with disability are not given even one chance of proving their worth. The employment gap between candidates with disability and without disability is widening when it comes to landing a job. The frustration starts with the application form when an applicant is required to declare whether they have a disability or not. Employers treat such a declaration as a red herring…
AIISH conducts hackathon to encourage assertive technology
9/24 | Source: The Times of India City
All India Institute of Speech and Hearing (AIISH) is seeking to tap into the talent of engineering students and faculty to help persons with communication disorders. In this regard, the department of electronics of the premier institute, along with IEEE special interest group on communication disability, hosted an assistive technology hackathon on Saturday.
Speaking after inaugurating the meet, Director of the Centre for Assistive Technology and Innovation of the National Institute of Speech and Hearing K G Satheesh Kumar pointed out that assistive technology products are imported and are expensive, making them out of reach for many special persons. With the development of a domestic market for assistive technology products, it is expected that innovation and technology development can lead to better quality of life for persons with disability, he stated…
Microsoft Garage’s Sight Sign project lets people with disabilities sign with their eyes
9/24 | Source: Microsoft Sight Sign
Sight Sign, a Microsoft Garage project, showcases the power of eye gaze input, inking with Windows, and robotics. It allows people with disabilities to do their own signature using their eye gaze. Basically, it is a Windows 10 app that can connect to a robot via USB and users can instruct the robot to reproduce the signature writing. The special thing about this app is that it is “eye gaze” enabled which means once the ink is saved, users can control the robot with their eyes, mouse, keyboard, or other assistive technology.
They used uArm Metal robotic arm which is cheaper, easy to code, easy to transport, and light-weight. As it is a Microsoft Garage project, six people across three different organizations inside Microsoft came together to make this app. Jon Campbell, Ashley Feniello, Jay Beavers, and Chris O’Dowd from Microsoft Research built the eye input and robotic writing. Guy Barker from Windows team built the inking interface and application. Jason Grieves from the Microsoft Accessibility team managed the project…
To receive this “Accessibility in the News” curation via email, please send a subscription request to firstname.lastname@example.org. Each issue, we bring you accessibility news stories curated from around the web. Topics vary, but generally focus on digital accessibility standards and implementation, accessibility compliance and accessibility litigation, and other online access areas.
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.