Accessibility in the News—May 5, 2017
The need for transportation and related infrastructure accessibility improvements took the spotlight this week, with New York being the prime focus. Recent lawsuits say the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which operates the subway system throughout New York City, is responsible for running the least accessible subway system out of all major U.S. cities. And, at the Smart Cities NYC conference, nonprofit and technology groups addressed the risk of developing high-tech government service delivery mechanisms that exclude people with disabilities. The result? The release of a Smart Cities for All Toolkit that supports local government innovation and expanded services for everyone.
There are transportation wins, too. The historic St. Charles streetcar line in New Orleans will become wheelchair accessible following a federally approved consent decree. All this is in response to a ADA lawsuit filed against the city and the Regional Transit Authority. On the western side of New York state, a vote is pending on approving a new accessible housing development. Las Vegas news features a design couple working toward similar ends; they modify and design homes that are suitable for anyone to live in, focusing on beauty and aesthetics.
Universities have historically been catalysts of societal change, and many of them are developing ways to increase services to and inclusion of fellow students and faculty with disabilities. These accessibility improvements include cultural changes such as department name changes; software development that makes astronomy accessible to the blind; upgrades to digital records systems; and accessibility liaisons that encourage open conversations about what it means to have a disability, including what works well in a college environment and what could work better.
Of course, we’d be remiss in not mentioning our recently awarded Accessibility IT Services contract with the Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR): Most cities and universities are eligible to purchase digital accessibility services off the DIR contract, and we’re glad to continue making those services available to the public sector.
In the private sector, retail, banking, and food service industries are being affected by ADA litigation, whether related to digital or physical access. All those stories, as well as many international ones, are below.
“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You!” — Dr. Seuss
National News (U.S.)
Microassist Awarded State Purchasing Contract for Website Accessibility Services
4/28 | Source: Yahoo Finance | Digital Accessibility, Government, Contracting, Accessible Elearning/Development, Remediation | Texas
Microassist has 25 years of making government websites, applications, online courses, and documents navigable, usable, and perceivable to Texans with disabilities. Today, company executives announced that it has been awarded a Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR) contract for accessibility services, continuing its history of making digital content usable by everyone.
The competitively bid contract, managed by the state’s technology agency, simplifies the purchasing process for government agencies. Through the contract, DIR customers can easily work with Microassist to evaluate, build, or remediate their electronic materials and platforms at DIR-negotiated, taxpayer-friendly rates…
The Lawsuits Over NYC’s Subway Inaccessibility Are Long Overdue
The subway is often cited as the most convenient way to get around New York City, but for Chris Pangilinan, riding the system is like playing a game of Russian roulette. “There are some 20 elevators out every day, and we don’t know which stations they’re going to be at,” says Pangilinan, a transit planner who uses a wheelchair. “That’s impossible to plan your life around.
It was only a matter of time before the Metropolitan Transportation Authority would be hit with another accessibility complaint—this time, in both federal and state court. Earlier this week, the nonprofit Disability Rights Advocate (DRA) filed two lawsuits on behalf of a handful of individuals, including Pangilinan, and a coalition of disabilities-rights organizations that say the MTA is discriminating against people with disabilities by running the least-accessible subway among U.S. major cities…ho
Rochester magnet school investigated for accessibility issues
4/28 | Source: Fosters | K-12, Education, Federal Government, Facilities, OCR | Maine
The federal government may mandate the Rochester School Department take action to remedy potential handicap accessibility issues at one of its elementary schools. The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights began “looking into concerns” about Americans with Disabilities Act compliance at Maple Street Magnet School approximately one year ago, according to Superintendent of Schools Mike Hopkins. The extent of the Office for Civil Rights investigation was unknown Friday. It was also unknown what action Rochester will have to take. The fix could be very costly. At this point, the estimate is $550,000 for an elevator, accessible bathroom, and an accessible entrance, Hopkins said…
Accessible Medical Diagnostic Equipment Update: The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs Will Adopt the Proposed New Standards
4/28 | Source: National Law Review | Accessibility Litigation, Health/Medical, Government
Earlier this month, the U.S. Access Board announced that the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (“VA”) will adopt the new Accessibility Standards for Medical Diagnostic Equipment. As mentioned in our January 31, 2017, blog post, “The U.S. Access-Board Releases Long-Awaited Final Accessible Medical Diagnostic Equipment Standards,” the Access Board released its new Accessibility Standards for Medical Diagnostic Equipment (the “MDE Standards”) at the beginning of the year, with an effective date of February 8, 2017…
OHIO Accessibility Liaisons: Meet Kim Dominguez
4/28 | Source: Compass- Ohio University | Higher Education, STEM, Inclusion | Ohio
Kim Dominguez, a third year student at OHIO studying forensic chemistry, biology and Spanish, is anything but your ordinary college student. Dominguez, an Accessibility Liaison from Elgin, Illinois, seeks to make the Ohio University and Athens communities a better place through involvement in and out of the classroom. Dominguez says her love
for forensics and science started at an early age through participation in extracurricular activities and an internship at her local police department which allowed her to job shadow many law enforcement careers…
Affordable, accessible housing needed in City
4/29 | Source: The Daily News | Housing/Facilities, Government | New York
City Council will make its final vote May 8 on a rezoning question that will either kill a proposed Batavia Square development on East Main or allow it to go forward. The arguments for the project outweigh those presented so far in opposition, and Council members should give this project their stamp of approval.
Batavia Square is an 80-unit apartment complex proposed by DePaul, a not-for-profit based in Rochester with an outstanding track record in service to people. This is not some out-of-state developer coming in to Batavia only to take advantage of tax incentives and pocket profits. DePaul operates from the perspective of improving the quality of life for people. Further, DePaul’s president, Mark Fuller, is a LeRoyan who understands the needs that exist in Genesee County for affordable, handicapped-accessible housing…
Two local organizations awarded Community Matters More grants
4/30 | Source: Daily Bulldog | Accessibility Awards/Recognition, Nonprofit, Advocacy | Maine
LEAP is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in west-central Maine. Their work focuses on keeping people supported by the organization healthy and well, and teaching skills for independence and self-determination.
Another focus is creating awareness in the community about the challenges associated with being unable to see or hear well, walk, or process information quickly. By focusing on what people can do and providing positive supports based on goals of the individual, people make great strides towards independence and self-fulfillment over time. While LEAP
staffers help people move in this direction, a truly inclusive community is what people of all abilities are looking for. This includes improving physical accessibility for individuals as well as reducing false perceptions and stereotypes of people with disabilities in the minds of community members…
6 elegant accessibility-minded projects from the #PTW17 evoHaX hackathon
5/1 | Source: Technically Philly | High-Tech, Accessibility Innovation, Digital Accessibility | Pennsylvania
A Chrome extension for mindful reading and emotion-rich closed captioning were among the ideas that came from the fourth annual accessibility-minded hackathon during Philly Tech Week 2017 presented by Comcast. For screen readers, those crucial software tools that allow a blind person to surf the web with a speech synthesizer, nothing can be more
challenging than a clunky website. For the most accessible video games, uncluttered game play is ideal.
So it’s no wonder that serious designers and developers who take an interest in accessibility often seem to have a mind for elegant solutions. Consider the projects that came this weekend from evoHaX, the yearly hackathon that was founded by developer and local digital accessibility advocate Ather Sharif. For the fourth year, the weekend project-build event was a featured part of the kickoff weekend of Philly Tech Week presented by Comcast.
Adults with Disabilities Remain Outside the Economic Mainstream
5/1 | Source: Global Accessibility News | Economics, Disability Rights, Banking, Inclusion
The National Disability Institute (NDI) released a new report titled Banking Status and Financial Behaviors of Adults with Disabilities: Findings from the 2015 FDIC National Survey of Unbanked and Underbanked Households. The report finds that, in the 27 years since the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law, ensuring all individuals with disabilities the opportunity to achieve “economic self-sufficiency,” this population still faces numerous financial hurdles and roadblocks to financial inclusion.
Based on data mined from the 2015 FDIC National Survey on Unbanked and Underbanked Households, this insightful report highlights the financial choices and banking habits of adults with disabilities. This is the second report, based on FDIC data, that NDI has released in two years…
ADA Suit Against Steak ‘n Shake Wins Class Approval
5/1 | Source: The Legal Intelligencer | Food Service, Facilities, ADA, Mobility | Pennsylvania
A lawsuit alleging the Steak ‘n Shake restaurant chain violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by not having adequate accessibility for handicapped patrons has been granted class action status. U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert C. Mitchell of the Western District of Pennsylvania granted lead plaintiffs Christopher Mielo and Sarah Heinzl’s motion for class approval April 27 in their case against Steak ‘n Shake Operations Inc.
The class includes “[a]ll persons with qualified mobility disabilities who were or will be denied the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages or accommodations of any Steak ‘n Shake restaurant location in the United States on the basis of a disability because such persons encountered accessibility barriers at Steak’n Shake restaurants where defendant owns, controls and/or operates the parking facilities.”
Charles streetcar line to become wheelchair-accessible, consent decree says
Major changes are coming for the disabled community in New Orleans. The historic St. Charles streetcar line will become wheelchair-accessible. This comes after a consent decree was approved in federal court. A lawsuit was filed against the city and RTA saying the streetcar line was in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
WDSU spoke with Mitchell Miraglia, who was one of the people who filed suit. Getting around has never been easy for Miraglia. As a child, he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. “I wasn’t able to go on field trips. They made me go to the library just because I was disabled, and back then I was on crutches,” Miraglia said…
Students, teachers craft software to make astronomy accessible to the blind
5/1 | Source: UChicago News | Innovation, Higher Education, STEM, Astronomy | Illinois
Today’s astronomers don’t really look at stars or galaxies so much as images produced from data generated by light. If that same data were used to produce 3-D printouts, tactile displays or sound, would it open the study and pursuit of astronomy to the blind and visually impaired? That’s the kind of question the University of Chicago’s Yerkes Observatory and its partners will try to answer with the help of a $2.5 million National Science Foundation grant. Over the next three years, they will develop Afterglow Access—new software that will make astronomy more accessible to the blind and visually impaired…
STARS receiving a facelift
5/1 | Source: Western Courier | Digital Accessibility, Higher Education | Illinois
Over the summer, Western Illinois University is planning to roll out an updated version of the Student/Alumni Records System (STARS) to improve upon existing accessibility and design features. Administrative Information Management Systems Manager Dallas Mowen said that with these improvements he is expecting STARS usage to be more effective.
“STARS worked fine prior to this, but of course it wasn’t necessarily pretty,” Mowen said. “It wasn’t really working well on the phone, which is what everybody uses now. Back when we created STARS, it wasn’t really designed for that, and we didn’t know that was the kind of functionality it would need. It’s been around for about 20 years now.” When the first iteration of STARS was created, Mowen said that the staff working on it didn’t expect the needs that users would have decades down the line, such as optimization for several different devices.
Office of Disability Resources Name Changed to Office of Accessibility Services
5/1 – Source: The Wesleyan Argus | Digital Accessibility, Higher Education | Connecticut
In an effort to destigmatize disability and to promote greater accessibility to campus resources, the Office of Disability Resources has changed its name to the Office of Accessibility Services. The campus will also embrace a new accessibility sign (known more commonly as a handicap sign) that shows a more active, androgynous figure in a wheelchair.
“The new name, Accessibility Services, better represents the mission of the office,” Deans Lauren Patey and Crystal Hill wrote in a joint email to The Argus. “It is our goal to work to promote and facilitate access through outreach and training, collaborative partnerships, innovative programs, and proactive solutions across the campus. We hope to help to destigmatize the notion of disability and move toward seeing disability as part of diversity, and hope to foster a better understanding of this on campus. We have had the opportunity to work collaboratively this year with Equity and Inclusion, who is responsible for organizing the Campus Wide ADA and Accessibility Compliance Team. This committee is comprised of staff, faculty, and students across various offices on campus who are actively working to address concerns related to access on campus.”…
Metro State’s Center for Accessibility Resources: A Learning Aid
5/2 | Source: The Metropolitan | Higher Education, Section 504, ADA, Assistive Technologies | Minnesota
One of Metropolitan State’s goals is a rich and varied diversity. There is an example of this diverseness that, all too often, gets overlooked. That being students with a disability. Some students have obvious physical impairments. Others have mental challenges that may not be as noticeable, but are challenges nonetheless. Still others might have a combination of both. Whatever challenge life has handed them, all these students want is a fair chance, an equal opportunity to get the most out of their educational experience. A big, and much needed, step toward fulfilling this was the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 — more specifically, Section 504…
Our View: Law gives business owners time to address ADA violations
5/2 | Source: Havasu News | Legislation, Accessibility Litigation/Lawsuits, ADA | Arizona
A new law that gives Arizona businesses more time to correct accessibility issues should be viewed as a great compromise by the business and disability communities. Gov. Doug Ducey signed legislation a few weeks ago to discourage lawyers from using accessibility laws to shake down businesses. Lawsuits alleging violations of the Arizonans with Disabilities Act have helped line the pockets of lawyers in what has become a growth industry for the legal profession.
Indeed, some lawyers have made a business model out of seeking out violations of accessibility laws, filing suit, then agreeing to drop the claims in exchange for a cash settlement. Last year, those suits resulted in thousands in settlement payouts, as business owners attempted to avoid legal fights. Capitol Media Services reported that the situation got so bad that Attorney General Mark Brnovhich got a state judge to consolidate 1,000 of the suits into a single case, and now he’s trying to have them dismissed…
7 Steps to Ensure your Site meets Citizen Expectations
5/2 | Souce: Nextgov | Government, Digital Accessibility, Checklist
Citizens today expect their digital interactions with government to be as straightforward and compelling as those on commercial applications and devices. To meet these new citizen expectations, government agencies need to look at their digital properties and ask themselves some tough questions. Below is a short checklist to ensure your agency is delivering an optimal digital experience for a public audience.
Although your site may look great on a desktop monitor, how does it look on a tablet, or smartphone (both portrait and landscape)? If text is unreadable, or content is misaligned and requires excessive pinching, zooming or panning—your site has not been optimized for mobile devices…
For Michigan State, accessibility begins at procurement
5/2 | Source: Education Dive | Higher Education, Digital Accessibility, Section 504, Government Procurement | Michigan
Michigan State University has clear policies and procedures in place to ensure accessibility is top of mind in the tech procurement process. Campus Technology reports that the university’s requirements, revamped in 2015, state that accountability must be taken into consideration at multiple points: in its procurement terms, during a product’s initial screening, during an accessibility evaluation, when considering alternative access, and in its accountability structures.
Under the aforementioned accountability structures, for example, an EIT Accessibility Acknowledgement is signed to guarantee a commitment to working with the needs of students with disabilities or creating alternative access plans for them on an equal level with students who aren’t disabled…
5 Essential Website Accessibility Tips For Financial Institutions
5/3 | Source: The Financial Brand | Digital Accessibility, Banking/Financial Services, ADA, DOJ, Accessibility Lawsuits/Litigation
“Complex” is the word that best describes the process financial institutions must go through when preparing to conform with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the proposed accessibility guidelines for websites and Internet applications set forth by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).
The ADA currently covers governmental engagements with respect to websites, but the regulations have yet to be formalized for the public sector. Regulators, meanwhile, are still waiting for the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to issue a definitive statement regarding public sector guidelines. Despite the lack of clarity, lawsuits have been filed against company’s over their websites, including many in the financial industry…
Google Reveals Research Study For Accessibility Features
5/3 | Source: Android Headlines | High Tech, Digital Accessibility, Android, Google
Google is opening up user studies once again, this time with a focus on what the company calls “Switch Access.” According to the sign-up page, Switch Access is a set of features intended to help the “dexterity impaired” to operate a smartphone. To that end, Switch Access users interact with their device without the use of the touchscreen, including the on-screen keyboard. The study’s researchers are looking for participants with devices running Android 5.0 or better to help test those features. The company made the new study known through Reddit, via the verified user profile “GoogleUserResearch,” on May 1 and the research will run from May 8 through May 12…
Designing Cities That Connect for Everyone
5/3 | Source: Next City | Government, Innovation, Digital Inclusion, IoT, Transit/Transportation, Emergency Services
As more municipal agencies embrace the “smart city” concept — from data-gathering sensors and internet connectivity that monitors day-to-day operations — concerns are growing about whether tech-driven places will be designed for everyone. According to nonprofits G3ict and World Enabled, people with disabilities are being excluded as cities move toward high-tech access to government services and support. The two partnered to survey 250 experts around the world and have today released the Smart Cities for All Toolkit, which they hope will help guide city halls and the private sector to more inclusive connected cities.
“We believe strongly that the most effective and sustainable solutions to these digital inclusion challenges will come when civil society, including disabled persons organizations, are at the table with governments and industry together, as partners,” James Thurston, G3ict vice president for global strategy and development, said via email. G3ict, or the Global Initiative for Inclusive Information and Communication Technologies, was started in 2006 by the United Nations Global Alliance for ICT and Development…
Boosting smart city inclusion, Microsoft and partners launch accessibility toolkit
5/3 Source: State Scoop | Government, Innovation, IoT, Inclusion, Procurement | New York
While sensor-enabled and connected cities will drive government forward, private and public sectors agree that making technology and services accessible to those with disabilities is essential. Cities continue to make strides toward more connected digital services and smart technologies, but could be leaving a large percentage of residents behind, technology leaders attending the Smart Cities NYC conference said on Wednesday.
Companies building smart city technology, and governments implementing it, need to keep the members of their communities who have a disability in mind, said Toni Townes-Whitley, Microsoft’s corporate vice president for worldwide public sector and industry…
Each Kohl’s store lay out a little different, defeating disability access class action, judge says
5/4 | Source: Cook County Record | Building/Facilities Access, ADA, Accessibility Litigation/Lawsuits, Retail | Illinois
A disability rights class action brought against Kohl’s more than two and a half years ago is on the shelf after a federal judge in Chicago denied class certification, saying, because Kohl’s store layouts vary from store to store, plaintiffs would have too difficult of a time proving the retailer had in place a nationwide policy diminishing access to people using wheelchairs.
In an opinion issued May 2, U.S. District Judge Ronald A. Guzman denied the motion for class certification in a complaint that originated in October 2014 when the Equal Rights Center and six individual plaintiffs sued Kohl’s Corporation, alleging the retailer violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and the New York Human Rights Law by designing stores in ways that “prevent individuals with disabilities from navigating their stores with the same ease and dignity as customers without disabilities,” according to the original complaint…
Show and Tell Helps Workshop Participants Learn about ADA Accessible Design Standards
5/4 | Source: University of Arkansas | Higher Education, Inclusion, Innovation, Awareness, ADA, Accessible Design | Arkansas
Mark Derry did not just tell workshop participants about accessible design for people with disabilities; he took them to a parking area, a picnic area and a restroom and put them to work so they could see for themselves the issues involved.
The University of Arkansas Partners for Inclusive Communities hosted the three-day workshop last month in Little Rock. Partners brought in Derry from Eastlake, Derry and Associates, a West Virginia-based consulting agency, to educate 40 participants representing 17 organizations across the state about the 2010 Americans with Disabilities Act Standards for Accessible Design…
Four tools to ensure ‘smart cities’ don’t leave behind people with disabilities
5/4 | Source: Citiscope | Government, Innovation, IoT, Inclusion, Procurement | New York
The global rush to roll out mobile apps, e-government services and other “smart” city tools is leaving behind people with disabilities. That’s the conclusion of a pair of experts in accessible technologies presenting at this week’s Smart Cities NYC conference in New York. They’ve also launched a “Smart Cities for All” toolkit to help city leaders apply a more inclusive approach to urban technology.
Victor Pineda, president of the NGO World Enabled, and James Thurston, vice president of the nonprofit G3ict, say it’s time for cities to get serious about digital inclusion. Over the past year, they surveyed 250 leaders from the public and private sectors, advocacy organizations, civil society and academia, from the Global North and South…
Minor Modifications—Local couple designs and adapts homes to suit the needs of all
5/4 | Source: Vegas Seven | Housing, Building/Facilities Access, Accessible Design, Architecture, Universal Design | Nevada
“We specialize in a field that not many people specialize in—and that’s universal design.” Julie Picconi is in the business of remodeling and reconstructing homes to make sure they’re suitable for anyone to live in. “Whether you’re young, you’re old, you have children, you’re a millennial with grandparents, you have Alzheimer’s or any type of ailment, the home will accommodate yourself along with friends and family who visit. There are no limitations.”
Picconi founded One Eleven Ltd. with her boyfriend Eddie Leverett Jr. a little more than a year ago. The pair are experts in not only adding features that help sick, handicapped or elderly people, but also doing it in a manner that retains the beauty and aesthetics of the home or small business…
Avoiding Common Legal Issues at Coding Schools (and Other Edtech Companies): Accessibility and the Americans with Disabilities Act
5/4 | Source: Lexology | Digital Accessibility, Elearning, Higher Education, ADA, DOJ, WCAG 2.0
Given recent high-profile lawsuits and investigations by the federal Department of Justice (DOJ) and an increasing number of private lawsuits, understanding your obligations under the ADA is critically important to avoiding costly lawsuits, as well as significant reputational damage. The ADA broadly prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in offering educational programs. Purely online, non-traditional educational providers (captured under Title III of the ADA as “places of education”) and all types of on-the-ground or hybrid schools cannot exclude qualified individuals who claim a disability from any program or activity or deny such individuals the benefits of any program or activity.
More significantly, they must provide such individuals with “auxiliary aids and services” as are reasonable to allow the students to benefit from the educational program. As a general principle, students with disabilities must be able to obtain the educational opportunities and benefits of a program or activity in a timely, equally effective and equally integrated manner. In addition to the federal requirements, many states have state-level disability discrimination and accommodation laws that many be an additional source of liability…
How to Make Maps and Graphs Colorblind People Can Actually Read
5/4 | Source: Big Think | Universal Design, Graphic Design, Maps/Cartography, Color Blindness, Digital Accessibility
Good design is design that can serve all users, regardless of their differences. It is sometimes difficult, however, for designers to remember or imagine that some physical, mental, or environmental conditions may prevent individuals from using a product the way it was intended.
Think about maps, for example. Cartographers rely on colors and symbols as ways to relay information efficiently. However, people who have color-vision deficiencies may not be able to discern between the colors outlining separate geographical areas, which will render the map useless to them. But it’s not just maps, many everyday objects can prove difficult for color-blind people, from traffic lights to pairing the same color socks…
Jack Fact: According to a European Parliament study, there are around 80 million disabled persons in the EU, a figure that is expected to rise to 120 million by 2020.
Digital push must be disability-inclusive
4/3 | Source: The Hindu | Digital Accessibility, Awareness, Inclusion, Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act | India
As India catapults towards a digital economy, making ICT accessible to the disabled is a must. Around 8-10% of India’s population lives with disabilities, with an equal number constituting the aged. Information and Communication technologies (ICT) have the potential to significantly impact the lives of these groups, facilitating access of services available to them and allowing them to handle a wide range of activities independently, enhancing their social, cultural, political and economic participation. Making ICT accessible no longer remains an option but has become a necessity.
Accessibility Legislation- Nova Scotia’s government is moving forward with its promise to help make Nova Scotia a more accessible and inclusive place to live and work
4/24 | Source: Accessibility Legislation | Government, Legislation/Policy | Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia’s proposed Accessibility Legislation is going through the steps it takes for a bill to become a law. On November 2, 2016, Bill 59 (Accessibility Act) was introduced in the Legislature. It passed Second Reading on November 3rd, and was sent to the Law Amendments Committee for public debate on November 7th. It remains with the Law Amendments Committee, which heard additional presentations on the bill on March 2 and 3, 2017. We will be updating this website on a regular basis as we get information about the outcomes of the Law Amendments Committee’s hearings. The legislation is about access and fairness. The recommendations in the Access and Fairness for All Nova Scotians report encourage accessibility as a means of ensuring that all Nova Scotians have the ability to participate fully in their communities…
Disabled groups’ dismay at Parliament vote on accessibility
4/28 | Source: EURACTIV | Government, Legislation/Policy, EU Accessibility Act | European Union
Disability groups have expressed dismay at this week’s vote in the European Parliament on the proposed EU Accessibility Act, saying it risks making the act “meaningless for millions of people.” On Tuesday (25 April) the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee (IMCO) voted on the act, which is intended to improve accessibility requirements for products and services for disabled people and PRMs (people with reduced mobility). The report as passed by IMCO was immediately lambasted by the European Disability Forum (EDF) – an umbrella group representing 100 associations and some 80 million disabled people across the EU…
Disability campaigners protest over access at London rail stations
4/28 | Source: Evening Standard | Transit/Transportation, Mobility, Aging | United Kingdom
Disability campaigners have protested at rail stations around London over the lack of access for disabled and older passengers. Campaign group Transport for All said eight stations across London were “inaccessible”, adding that funding for an Access for All scheme had been deferred. The group called on political parties to restore the funding to make the rail network more accessible…
Making Science Accessible to India’s Visually Impaired Students, One Innovation at a Time
4/29 | Source: The Better India | STEM, Education, Inclusion, Disability Rights, Blindness/Visual Impairments, Personal Account | India
Extending the boundaries of science beyond traditional modes of teaching that rely heavily on sight will go a long way to ensuring the dream of inclusive education is realized meaningfully. Fourteen-year-old Kartik Sawhney dreamt of pursuing an education in the sciences. He worked harder than his peers and spent extra hours on his lessons. His natural aptitude for science was matched by his dedication for perfection.
After completing his Class X, he was denied a seat in the science stream. A childhood dream shattered, Kartik was dejected and disillusioned. However, he did not give up hope and continued to fight the system. NGOs came forward to support him, and campaigns were launched to his cause. It was challenging indeed to convince the authorities that a blind student who feels inclined towards science should be encouraged and supported rather than steered towards disciplines like the arts. With little basis for depriving him of a science education, CBSE finally had to concede…
‘Temporary’ U-turn on parking charges
4/20 | Source: Farnham Herald| Government, Transit/Transportation | United Kingdom
An outcry over the introduction of parking fees for the disabled in Waverley has resulted in the borough council suspending enforcement action – but only “temporarily”. The U-turn followed a 90 signature-strong protest petition claiming Waverley had not made its ticket machines safely accessible to wheelchair users or those with walking frames. New charges for Blue Badge holders were put in place in the borough’s car parks on Monday, April 3, removing the three-hours free parking provision previously enjoyed by disabled drivers and passengers. Under the changes, some Blue Badge holders can still apply to the council for a free Waverley Disabled Parking Permit if receiving certain benefits…
Sydney advocate happy with the passing of the accessibility act
4/29 | Source: Cape Breton Post | Government, Policy/Legislation, Advocacy, Disability Rights, Digital Accessibility, Building/Facilities Access, Infrastructure| Nova Scotia
Marcie Shwery-Stanley has been waiting for this moment for over 36 years. The longtime Cape Breton advocate for those with disabilities was happy with the passing of Bill 59, the accessibility act, on Thursday. The passage of Bill 59 will begin the process of removing barriers for persons with disabilities in Nova Scotia.
“I’ve been an advocate for 36 years and it was a very emotional time,” said Shwery-Stanley. “There are people who have spent hours and days and months advocating and now we have this act, which is going to be so important and impact everybody.” “It’s amazing we all worked together, government, the disability community, everyone worked together to make this happen and it’s a major step forward,” she said. “I think it’s a historic day for Nova Scotians.” …
Govt’s ‘Digital India’ push fails to help disabled
4/30 | Source: The Asian Age | Digital Accessibility, Government, Blindness/Visual Impairment, Deafness/Hearing Impairment | India
Even as Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi’s pitch for “digital India” grows louder, top government websites lack accessibility for persons with disabilities. The government had in 2009 formulated a national policy for electronic accessibility; however, the websites could never become “user friendly” for all, irrespective of their ability. Javed Abidi, director of the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP), says for “Sugamya Bharat” to become a reality, there is a need to focus not just on accessibility of the built environment for people with physical disabilities but also on information accessibility for persons with visual and hearing disabilities…
Disability federation to begin suing over lack of accessibility
4/30 | Source: Citifmonline | Disability Act, Journalism/Media | Ghana
Ghana Federation of Disability Organizations (FDA), has hinted that, effective this year, 2017, it will begin suing state and private institutions which fall foul of the Disability Act requiring that all public places be made accessible to persons with disability. This is according to the Head of Communications and Media Officer of the Federation, Mr. Adam Abdul Wahab. Mr. Wahab was speaking at a one-day workshop on disability reporting organised by the Ghana Federation of Disability Organizations in Bolgatanga…
Federal court dismisses VIA Rail appeal on couples with mobility scooters traveling together
4/30 | Source: CBC News | Transit/Transportation | Toronto
The Federal Court has dismissed an appeal by VIA Rail of a decision that would make it possible for a Toronto couple who rely on wheelchairs and scooters to travel together on a single train. In March, CBC Toronto reported that VIA Rail was appealing a decision by the Canadian Transport Agency calling on it to revise its policies to either allow for the storage of two mobility devices in a single tie-down area or provide two tie-down areas on each train by May 15, 2017. The alternative involves providing evidence that neither option would be possible without “undue hardship.”…
‘You’d have loved our holiday home, mum’: Moira achieves milestone in accessible tourism in honour of mother
5/1 | Source: Sunday Post | Building/Facilities Access, Travel/Tourism, Personal Account | United Kingdom
In fact, Moira Henderson admits it’s been such a journey that you “couldn’t make it up”. But seeing the legacy to her mother eventually take shape brings a tear to her eye. The Rings in Cupar –hailed a milestone in accessible tourism – is a holiday home with a difference. It’s tailored to disabled and infirm guests, with widened corridors for wheelchairs, hi-tech hoists, rising and falling kitchen units and colour co-ordination to help the visually impaired. Former nurse Moira cared for her mother Margaret in her final months, weeks, days and minutes. She was confined to a wheelchair after suffering a stroke. Margaret tried her best not to let it affect her, but it had a huge impact on her independence…
Products and services to be made more accessible for persons with disabilities in EU
5/1 | Source: Global Accessibility News | Digital Accessibility, Communications, Policy/Legislation | European Union
Key products and services, like phones, e-book readers, operating systems and payment terminals, will have to be made more accessible to people with disabilities, under draft EU rules amended in committee on Tuesday. The Internal Market Committee amended and approved the rules, which would apply only to products and services placed on the EU market after the directive takes effect, by 20 votes in favour, none against and 17 abstentions.
Internal Market Committee rapporteur, Morten Løkkegaard (ALDE, DK), said: “Accessibility is a precondition for persons living with disabilities to enjoy equal participation and therefore to play an active role in society. To this end, it is vital to ensure smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. With greater accessibility for people with disabilities, we get a stronger Europe, which is not just a goal for politicians but also for businesses, which the European Accessibility Act will encourage to innovate with more accessible products and services.”…
Uganda: Most Buildings Not Accessible to PWDs – Report
5/1 | Source: All Africa | Facilities/Building Access, Disability Rights | Uganda
Most buildings countrywide do not comply with the standards that promote accessibility to public facilities and services for persons with disabilities (PWDs), a new report has revealed. The report on physical accessibility to selected public and private institutions reveals that PWDs are faced with difficulty in accessing most buildings, both public and private thereby excluding and marginalising them from service delivery.
The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) published the report following an assessment of the buildings which include banks, hospitals, the High Court and Parliament. The report shows that majority of the buildings do not have ramps, designated parking yard and hand rails to ease movement of PWDs…
Councillors take part in accessibility exercise
5/3 | Source: Nelson Live | Government, Awareness | New Zealand
Nelson City councillors experienced first-hand what it’s like to move around the community while affected by sight or hearing loss, shortness of breath and limited mobility. This morning they were joined by members of the Accessibility 4 All Forum and spent an hour in the city experiencing a variety of simulations, before discussing their experiences and talking with forum members about the importance of accessibility.
Councillors used wheelchairs, mobility scooters, crutches, glasses that replicate sight loss, earmuffs and straws (to mimic restricted breathing), while visiting popular places around the city including Queens Gardens, the library and a supermarket, to see for themselves the challenges that each venue provides…
The People Behind The Organization — The MS Society Of Canada
5/3 | Source: Huffington Post | Nonprofit, Multiple Sclerosis | Canada
We were lucky enough to have a conversation with Sylvia Leonard, Interim CEO and president, MS Society of Canada. The MS Society of Canada provides services to people living with multiple sclerosis and their families to enhance their quality of life and funds research to find the cause and cure for this disease. Sylvia talked with us about the importance of having a support system, what she would tell individuals and families struggling with a new MS diagnosis, and the most challenging (and rewarding) parts of her work. – Yael
MS does not define the person living with it. You are first and foremost yourself and MS is an important part of that, but it isn’t the whole picture. The way I like to think about the question of having strong support systems both inside and outside one’s family is that it’s important for anybody to have a balanced and varied network, the importance is simply amplified for somebody living with an episodic illness or disability…
Accessibility fun for all
5/3 | Source: Israel21c | Awareness, Mobility, Personal Account | Israel
Access Israel and the Paralympic Committee host 8th annual Accessibility Awareness Day at Tel Aviv Port to raise awareness of mobility challenges. The wheelchair obstacle course – replete with potholes, uneven surfaces, architectural obstacles and tight corners – was fun. Nati, my guide and helper along the course, even complimented me on my wheelchair maneuvering skills, although we both knew it would be best if I never had to use them again. The wheelchair obstacle course was the most popular of the activities set up by Access Israel and the Paralympic Committee for the eighth annual Accessibility Awareness (Lehargeesh Negeeshut) Day at the Tel Aviv Port…
Government Agencies Making a Mockery of Modi’s Accessibility Promises, Say Rights Activists
5/4 | Source: The Wire | Government, Digital Accessibility, Policy/Legislation | India
An independent audit of the revamped SEBI website revealed it failed the accessibility test on 20 of the 38 parameters tested. The BHIM app, meant to promote digital transactions, didn’t fare much better. The Narendra Modi government’s Accessible India campaign – launched under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (MSJE) to make transport systems and information and communication technology (ICT) systems accessible for everyone – seems to be falling short of its goals. An audit has revealed that two of the campaign’s recently launched initiatives – the revamped website of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and the BHIM (Bharat Interface for Money) app meant to promote digital payments – have both failed to meet the accessibility requirements laid out for them…
Overcoming barriers on the road to accessibility legislation
5/4 | Source: Life in Quebec | Canadian Human Rights Act, Policy/Legislation, Discrimination, Disability Rights | Canada
The Canadian Human Rights Act allows people to challenge discrimination in federal law or policy. Canadians can make a complaint if they have been discriminated against based on any of 12 prohibited grounds, including race, gender, ethnicity or disability. However, Canada has no federal legislation to compel federal agencies to reduce barriers and accommodate people with disabilities. Filing a human rights complaint is the only legal way to demand that a person’s right to access a government service, for example, be upheld. “Fifty per cent of the complaints to the Canadian Human Rights Act are about disability,” says Carla Qualtrough, Canada’s Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities…
Cyberabad has nothing for disabled
5/4 | Source: Telangana Today| Disability Rights, Report, Government, Transit/Transportation, Retail, Infrastructure | India
Behind all the glitz and glamour that typifies Cyberabad, there appear to be stories of neglect towards the deprived, especially persons with disabilities (PWD). An access study of Cyberabad, carried out by the School of Public Policy and Governance of the Tata Institute of Social Science (TISS) here, indicated that despite the enactment of ‘The Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act’, equal opportunities and rights were denied to PWD in the city’s IT hub.
The study, ‘How Accessible Are our Public Spaces for Persons with Disabilities’, was led by TISS faculty members Ipsita Sapra and Amit Upadhyay and undertaken by students of the institute. The study, according to a note from TISS, covered educational institutions, hospitals, government institutions such as e-Seva and police stations, banks, bus stops, railway stations, malls, markets and leisure spaces…
No online vote silences many Guelph citizens
5/4 | Source: Guelph Mercury News | Digital Accessibility, Voting/Elections, Government, Policy/Legislation | Canada
I find it disappointing that many people still associate accessibility requirements as strictly mobility issues. Online voting does not discourage making polling stations more accessible, but in fact it addresses many other issues that prevent Guelph citizens from being able to vote. Anxiety, autism, depression, and many other invisible disabilities would be accommodated by the online voting method.
During our delegation to city council, I did indeed suggest that removing this option is sending a message that some people’s votes are not wanted. Mr. Josephy and some members of council have voiced their displeasure with this comment, but I stand by it…
Accessibility Blogs, Information, and Tips
- The Texas Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities Calls for Entries for the 2017
NDEAM Poster Art competition- Each year in October, the Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities (GCPD) produces a Texas poster for National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), which is distributed free of charge to businesses all across the State. The art featured on the poster is an original piece created by a Texas artist with a disability. The winning artwork is incorporated into the Texas HireAbility Campaign #TXHireAbility. The artists featured on our Texas posters have become so popular that, in addition to our statewide distribution, we frequently have many requests from other states. In 2016, we distributed more than 2,500 poster.
- Global Accessibility Awareness Day- May 18
- The current state of game accessibility guidelines
- NLS Reference Guide- Video Gaming Accessibility
- Unintentional Ableism Abounds at 5Cs
- Universally accessible parks deserve support
- IMS Global Accessibility Key Principles For Digital eText Materials (EPUB)
- The Next Frontier in ADA Access Litigation – Online (Part II)
- Home Field Advantage
Accessibility and affordability of telecommunications/ICT products for Persons with Disabilities
to ensure digital inclusion and sustainable social and economic development-
Regional initiative – Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro-
- Disability Integration Act in the House
- London Canada
- The National Women’s Studies Association 2017 Presenter Scheduling + Accessibility Request
- Australian Government
- Southwestern Law School
- South Lyon Community Schools
- Canadian Association for Theatre Research
- Australian Renewable Energy Agency
- Kent State University
- NHS- Department of Health- UK
- DAISY Consortium
- Memorial University
- McMaster University
- School District Of The City Of York
- Poplar Public School District
- Houston Grand Opera
- Great Western Bank
- Financial Conduct Authority
Accessibility Improvements, Announcements, and Products
- The Paciello Group Joins VFO
- 3Play Media Launches Audio Description Services
- Making course content accessible- Blackboard Ally
- Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Adds Accessibility, But Nintendo Has Room to Grow
- Denver RTD to enhance wheelchair securement area, access on LRVs
- Sheffield hospital trust launches new online disability access guide
- Accessibility funding announced for West Nova
- Seven awarded for promoting diversity, inclusive excellence
- CB 7 Approves College Point Gym Permit
- Home Field Advantage helps elders age in place
- CTA stations on long path to total ADA accessibility
- MonCo libraries are making technology more accessible
- Study for Mayor’s Committee on Disabilities finds problems
- Oakland gears up to host third annual Ramp Crawl
- Graduation accessibility ushers needed
- Reality Check: Handicap accessibility, improving the streets of Mobile for everyone
- Bathroom Safety & Accessibility
- Province House in P.E.I. gets extra $6 million for accessibility renovations
- Map of wheelchair accessible places in Bath in the works
- Accessibility: Interactive elements
- Accessibility: LocalNav
- Accessibility: Timelion traps focus
- Accessibility: Links
- Good Accessibility for wheelchair user around town and along
- Call of Duty World War II General Discussion- Video Accessibility Options – WWII
- Bootstrap 3 Accessibility
- Accessibility issues in brief
- Accessibility: Apply aria-haspopup to context menus and submenus
- AVT – A WAI-ARIA widget must have an accessible name
- Wheelchair accessibility in Cuba
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. To receive Accessibility in the News first (before it hits our website!), please subscribe below for our email version. As a bonus, the newsletter version also includes information on upcoming training and resources.
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.
Please contact us for any questions you have about our accessibility services and how we might support your organization.
Subscribe to Accessibility in the News
Stay informed! Get your weekly update on digital accessibility standards, private and public sector trends, litigation, events, and more.