Accessibility in the News—03/02/17.
Accessibility professionals have long touted that accessible design often benefits everyone, not just individuals who have disabilities: curb cuts accommodate rolling luggage and baby strollers as easily as wheelchairs; closed captioning meets the needs of the Deaf and anyone in a loud environment; hands-free, voice-activated devices can empower many of us who want a quicker way to access information and applications—in different situation and with different abilities.
Several of this week’s stories incorporate the concept that good visual design is accessible design, and vice versa, including a braille watch that boasts a clean and modern “look and feel,” and a new UK website on polio that stressed visual simplicity and beauty along with functionality and ease of access for its diverse audience base. Yet another article stresses the importance of including color blind population’s needs when considering color combinations and labeling.
Design also implies functionality: Does it work well? From soda machines to e-commerce sites, courts and businesses are asking about what it means to design something accessibly. What is required? What industries must abide by these requirements (banking, retail, and others are being affected not only by laws, but by citizen action)? Several news articles covered evolving or potentially evolving requirements and services from various countries, including the US (be sure to read Hiram Kuykendall’s summary of Section 508 changes), Canada, and New Zealand. And, does accessibility work for business? On the flip side, others asked how they could excel in accessible design, then proceeded to do so.
Finally, accessible design isn’t always mechanical, digital, or tactile. Communities and organizations are intentionally pursuing inclusion both online and off, including a town who learned sign language for a Deaf neighbor, a South African coal exploration and mining company that pursued accessible website design because of evident needs, a university web designer who is passionate about designing accessible sites to support the institution’s community of learners, and an interior design association that incorporated inclusive web principles as part of its overall philosophy of hospitable service and functional design.
Have a favorite article? We’d love to hear your comments on what struck a chord or got you thinking. Just leave a reply at the end of this page.
AITN Quote of the Week
“We, the ones who are challenged, need to be heard. To be seen not as a disability, but as a person who has and will continue to bloom. To be seen not only as a handicap, but as a well intact human being.”
– Robert M. Hensel
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Section 508 and WCAG: What’s Changed for Federal Government Website Accessibility Requirements?
2/22 | Source: Microassist | Government, Section 508, WCAG, Policy/Legislation | United States
On January 18, 2017, the United States Access Board, also known as the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board, updated two acts related to making technology accessible to people with disabilities. The first modification is to the Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility Standards within Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Section 508 stipulates requirements on how federally funded entities develop, procure, maintain, or otherwise use information technology. The second modification is to the Telecommunications Act Accessibility Guidelines within Section 255 of the Communications Act of 1934. This Act broadly applies to telecommunications products and services and to manufacturers of telecommunication equipment. Together, the updates to these Acts constitute updated Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Standards and Guidelines. Updates can be found in the 2 Federal Register, Volume 82, No. 11, Page 5790.
The impetus for the action was a desire to “refresh” the nearly 20-year-old, static accessibility standards within each act, adopting a more modern and internationally recognized standard. It was determined that the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 was best suited to fulfill this requirement. What follows is a summary of the Section 508 references to the WCAG. Section 255 falls under the purview of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which will subsequently publish regulations…
An Entire Town Secretly Learned Sign Language to Surprise Their Deaf Neighbor
2/22 | Source: Imazeit | Community, Deafness, Sign Language, Personal Account | Istanbul
Muaharrem is a young deaf man from Istanbul, and his sister, Ozlem, teamed up with a production crew recently to give him one hell of an amazing day. The Leo Burnett ad firm and Samsung organized the huge stunt for an ad campaign. They spent a month setting up cameras around his neighborhood and teaching his neighbors sign language…
World’s First Braille Smartwatch Lets Blind People Feel Messages on Screen
2/24 | Source: BoredPanda | Innovation, Braille, Tech | South Korea, International
There are over 285 million visually impaired people in the world, and some of these lives are about to get a lot better. South Korean developer Dot has produced the world’s first Braille smartwatch, and its features are just what you’d expect from a 21st century device.
The Dot displays information using 4 active dynamic Braille cells, and its users can select the speed at which the characters update. The Dot connects to a smartphone via Bluetooth (just like any other smartwatch) and can receive any text from any app or service (think Messenger, directions from Google Maps, etc.). Users can also send simple messages using its buttons on the side. The Dot also supports Open API, which means that anyone can develop or adapt apps for it…
Websites under Scrutiny for Compliance with Disabilities Act
2/24 | Source: M Live | Digital Accessibility, Education, ADA, Title II, OCR, DOE | Michigan
A Michigan woman’s claim that school district websites all across the state violate provisions in the Americans with Disabilities Act has put local technical directors on alert.
On Feb. 18, 2014, Franklin, Michigan resident Marcie Lipsitt filed an online complaint with the United States Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, alleging that the Michigan Department of Education’s webpage for a one-month public comment period on revisions to special education rules was inaccessible. The complaint was subsequently reviewed by the courts, and school districts across the state are now required to review all web access to make sure pages comply with regulations in the ADA, especially for the vision and hearing impaired.
Jenison and Hudsonville, in response to being notified of complaints, have both entered into a voluntary resolution signifying their intent to comply, and have started the website review process…
Miss last week’s edition? Check it out here:
Girl and Service Dog Get SCOTUS Win; Apps, Facilities, Websites in Accessibility Lawsuit Crosshairs
AITN: Feb 23, 2017
Couple with Asperger’s Syndrome: ‘We’re Even More Extraordinary Together’
2/24 | Source: CNN | Asperger’s, Personal Account | Florida
Like many couples, Nico Morales and Latoya Jolly met online. Nico sent the first message while on vacation in Guatemala with his family in December 2015. Latoya’s handle was pokejolly1993, a throwback to Pokemon and her birth year. Nico liked that they were both “children at heart.” Soon after, the couple went on their first date.
Now, family and friends say, it’s hard to keep them apart.
Morales and Jolly found each other using a lesser-known dating website called AutisticDating.net. Both Morales, 19, and Jolly, 23, have Asperger’s syndrome, a high-functioning form of autism characterized by average, or above average, intelligence and a difficulty socializing and communicating with others. Depending upon the severity of these social deficits, people with Asperger’s and other forms of autism may struggle to develop, maintain and understand relationships, including romantic ones…
Accessible by Design
2/27 | Source: Gazette | Digital Accessibility, UX, Higher Education, Personal Account | Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Taliesin Smith is a designer with a passion for accessibility. From early on in her career, she intuitively got the concept that accessible design is good design. In her role at the Centre for Innovation in Teaching and Learning (CITL), Ms. Smith also takes every opportunity to apply her knowledge and inform others about how to consider accessibility when it comes to web design.
“My interest in accessible design began as I taught myself how to design websites using the CSS standard,” she explained. “CSS allows flexibility for designers to separate presentation from content. This provides opportunities to present content in different ways to meet the diverse needs of learners.” …
Blind Cabinet Minister Promises Canada’s First National Accessibility Legislation Will Have Teeth, Could Be Retroactive
2/27 | Source: The Hill Times | Government, Policy/Legislation, Accessibility, Disability Rights, Advocacy | Ontario, Canada
Sport and Disability Minister Carla Qualtrough, a former Paralympian and human rights lawyer, will be introducing Canada’s first national accessibility legislation next spring which she hopes will be a game-changer for federal employers and people with disabilities.
“It’s been a very personal experience for me,” says Canada’s Minister of Sport and Disability Carla Qualtrough, taking a seat on the couch in her Hill office with her back facing the window so the sun isn’t in her eyes.
Ms. Qualtrough, a former Paralympian and human rights lawyer who is blind and light sensitive, is now embarking on an unprecedented journey: drafting Canada’s first national accessibility law which will set federal standards of accessibility for people with disabilities…
Supreme Court Asks Government if a Coke Machine Must Be ADA Compliant
2/27 | Source: Forbes | Lawsuits/Litigation, ADA | Louisiana
Is a soda machine a “place of public accommodation” under the Americans With Disabilities Act? The U.S. Supreme Court wants to know what the Trump administration thinks about this question in the case of a blind man who sued Coca-Cola because he couldn’t buy a cold drink in a bus station.
In an order released today, the court asked the Acting Solicitor General to submit the government’s views on Magee v. Coca-Cola Refreshments, which Coke won at the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. Plaintiff Emmett Magee — represented, among others, by a University of Virginia Law School legal clinic — wants the high court to grant certiorari to resolve what his lawyers say is a split among the federal circuits over whether the ADA applies beyond physical business establishments to websites, vending machines and other venues for consumer sales…
American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) Launches Redesigned and Enhanced Websites
2/27 | Source: Interiors and Sources | Digital Accessibility, Industry: Interior Design | United States
The American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) has unveiled a complete redesign and enhancement of its websites, putting its mission of “Design Impacts Lives” front and center. The responsive national site is now available at www.asid.org. The 47 redesigned chapter sites are listed on the new Chapter Map.
The goal of the websites is to offer valuable information for consumers, ASID members, industry representatives, and the design community at large. The websites, developed by Orases and designed by Think Baseline, are user-centric and offer clear navigation on multiple platforms and devices. The sections include career guidance, chapter and national news, events, and the latest ASID research. Each of the 47 local ASID chapter websites have been updated to allow for uniformity and to eas ily share information across the Society. The enhanced ASID platform will provide an outlet to communicate the impact of design on the human experience and help define the role of interior designers at both the national and local levels…
Website Accessibility: Understanding the ADA for E-commerce
2/28 | Source: Internet Retailer | Digital Accessibility, ADA, Retail/E-Commerce, UX | United States
In this first installment of a two-part series, the importance of website accessibility and the formulation of regulation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as it relates to e-commerce are discussed. In part two, the discussion extends to options for improving website accessibility without compromising the essence of e-commerce design — the customer experience. E-commerce used to be a simple proposition: an extension of brick-and-mortar stores online that offered internet adventurers the opportunity to buy goods and services from the comfort of their computer screen.
As the popularity of e-commerce has grown, at some stage, we started discussing the design of e-commerce websites as customer experiences (UX and DX) — the more rich and immersive, the better. A whole branch of the design ecosystem has grown up pushing “digital possibility” to create customer experiences that capture consumers’ attention, moving them efficiently toward the checkout…
Why Are Disabled-Friendly Websites So Important?
2/28 | Source: African Business Review | Disability Rights, Advocacy, Digital Accessibility | South Africa
As a mining company, why would we require an accessible website? The answer is in fact a simple one: we are aware of the need in our society to care about people with disabilities.
Disability is defined in the Census 2011: Profile of persons with disabilities in South Africa report as “the loss or elimination of opportunities to take part in the life of the community, equitably with others that is encountered by persons having physical, sensory, psychological, developmental, learning, neurological or other impairments, which may be permanent, temporary or episodic in nature, thereby causing activity and participation restriction with the mainstream society.”…
Online Shopping ‘Not as Inclusive as It Should Be,’ New Research Finds
2/28 | Source: Head Star | Digital Accessibility, Retail/E-Commerce, Website Audit, Inclusivity | United Kingdom
The websites of six popular UK retailers would not achieve the basic standard of online content accessibility, according to new research by a usability consultancy.
After a series of ‘mini-accessibility audits,’ accessibility design consultancy User Vision found that some online shoppers with impairments would have difficulty purchasing items from each of the websites examined, due to a number of common barriers…
Number One for Website Accessibility
2/28 | Source: Natural Resource Wales | Digital Accessibility, Government, Accessibility Awards/Recognition | United Kingdom
Our website has undergone many changes since the birth of Natural Resources Wales in 2013. During this time, we have worked hard to maintain and improve website standards for accessibility. Not only do we have a legal requirement to meet Web Accessibility Initiative level 2 (AA) standards, but we also want our website to be user-friendly and accessible – for everyone.
We recently had news that we’re in the top spot in the SiteMorse Index UK Central Government for accessibility. In this blog, Phil Rookyard, our Digital Designer talks about the importance of making websites accessible for all…
Making New Zealand More Accessible to Disabled People Could Make Average Kiwi $500 a Year Better Off
2/28 | Source: NZ Herald | Accessibility, Disability Rights, Advocacy, Policy/Legislation | New Zealand
Making New Zealand more accessible to people with disabilities could boost average Kiwi incomes by about $500 a year, a new group says. The Access Alliance, a group of nine disability advocacy agencies, says a law requiring accessibility could enable 14,000 more disabled people to work, save taxpayers $270 million in welfare benefits, and boost economic output by at least $2.3 billion, or about $500 a year for every Kiwi.
The alliance wants all political parties to support an “Accessibility for New Zealanders Act” to set access standards for customer service, employment, information and communications, public transport and public spaces. Project manager Dianne Rogers, the Blind Foundation’s policy and advocacy manager, said thousands of people with disabilities wanted to work but could not because of simple obstacles such as touch-screen door access barring blind people, or lack of disabled toilets…
Global Web Standards Consortium Moves to Update Accessibility Guidance
3/1 | Source: Bloomberg | Digital Accessibility, WCAG 2.1, DOJ | United States and International
Under a draft set of updated guidelines, websites and mobile apps would have to meet over two dozen new criteria in order to adequately improve their accessibility to people with disabilities. Comments are being taken through the month’s end.
The global technical organization that develops web standards issued draft WCAG 2.1, its latest working draft of updated web content accessibility guidelines (WCAG), Feb. 28. The guidelines haven’t been updated since 2008. The Department of Justice has endorsed WCAG as the industry standard as it continues to work on regulations on making websites accessible to the visually and hearing-impaired…
Texas Bankers and Nebraska Retailer Fight Back against “Troll-Like” ADA Title III Website Accessibility Litigation
3/1 | Source: JD Supra | Digital Accessibility, Banking/Financial Services, Lawsuits/Litigation, ADA, Title III | Texas and Nebraska
Hundreds, possibly thousands, of banks, retailers, and other businesses have received demand letters from two plaintiffs’-side law firms, acting jointly, on behalf of allegedly blind clients. The letters claim that the businesses’ websites are not accessible to their clients, in violation of the ADA, and offer settlements in lieu of litigation. Previous efforts to fight back had not been particularly successful, but perhaps the tide is turning. Last week, the Texas Bankers’ Association (TBA) and the Independent Bankers Association of Texas (IBAT) announced that their recent offensive action resulted in relief for all their members. And earlier this week, retailer Omaha Steaks filed a Complaint against would-be plaintiffs Access Now, Inc., R. David New, and Erica Walz, asking a Nebraska federal court to grant it preemptive relief against the potential litigation the would-be plaintiffs threatened in a demand letter…
British Polio Fellowship Launch New Website
3/1 | Source: Loughborough Echo | Digital Accessibility, Polio | United Kingdom
“We wanted the new design to be practical and easy for our members to find what they’re looking for, and to have a fresh and modern feel.”
NATIONAL charity The British Polio Fellowship has launched a new and improved website designed to assist Post-Polio Syndrome (PPS) sufferers source the information they need to manage one of the UK’s lesser-known, debilitating neurological conditions.
The site supports some 120,000 people in the UK living with PPS, especially members of The British Polio Fellowship, and can be found at http://britishpolio.org.uk/ …
Banks and Credit Unions Threatened with Legal Nightmare over Website Compliance Issue
3/1 | Source: The Financial Brand | Digital Accessibility, Banking/Financial Services, Lawsuits/Litigation, Compliance, ADA | United States
Lawyers are sharking financial institutions across America, threatening them with expensive lawsuits because their websites don’t comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act. These are not empty threats.
Hundreds of lawsuits have been filed alleging that individuals with disabilities are being denied access to a business’s goods and services because of allegedly inaccessible websites. Website accessibility lawsuits have become big business for a number of plaintiffs’ law firms.
And your financial institution could be next. Don’t be surprised if a demand letter from an attorney representing someone who is blind or physically impaired shows up on your doorstep tomorrow…
Prioritising Your Company’s Web Accessibility
3/2 | Source: IT Web Business | Digital Accessibility, UX | South Africa
Sacrificing 10% of your business could make it fail, which is what you might be doing by ignoring Web accessibility issues existing in your company’s online presence, says EOH MC Solutions. Disabled people total 10% of the global population and their distribution is nearly 80% within developing countries – of which South Africa is one.
The Internet has been a tremendous enabler for disabled people, empowering them via e-commerce and service accessibility to achieve greater independence and dignity. Unfortunately, this online freedom is only as good as the user experience (UX) design and with brands lured into adding elaborate graphic elements and animation by digital design trends, there’s a risk of reduced Web accessibility…
Springing Forward for the Public Interest: The FCC’s March Agenda
3/2 | Source: Medium | FCC, Video Relay Services, Deafness, ASL Government, Policy/Legislation | United States
The FCC will help Americans with disabilities have better access to communications services. Video Relay Services are a vital real-time communications tool for deaf and hard-of-hearing Americans. For 15 years, VRS has enabled deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals to call friends, family members, and others using American Sign Language (ASL) and a videophone, and to have their calls interpreted from signs to voice and vice versa…
Run Color Blindness Tests on your websites
3/2 | Source: GHacks | Digital Accessibility, Color Blindness
Color blindness affects a large percentage of the population. Studies have shown that up to 8% of males and 0.5% of females of Northern European heritage are affected by red-green color blindness for instance. The ability to distinguish between colors gets worse with age as well.
As a webmaster, you may want to make sure that your site is accessible to visitors with color blindness, or difficulties distinguishing certain color patterns. This gives those users a better experience on your site, and may prevent part of them from insta-closing the site when they run into accessibility issues…
Fort Smith, Van Buren history facilities strive for accessibility, availability
3/2 | Source: Paris Express | Museum, Culture, Accessibility | Arkansas
Connecting the past to the present, the Fort Smith Museum of History makes history come to life for visitors, said Leisa Gramlich, executive director of the museum.
The Fort Smith Museum of History and the Drennen-Scott Historic Site in Van Buren share the vision for accessibility and diversity with Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville. The Fort Smith Museum of History’s strategic plan for 2016 included both accessibility and diversity. The goal was set to get to know and reach out to the different communities in Fort Smith, Gramlich said, and their plans to meet that goal have been “very successful.”…
- Curated Tweets from CSUN 2017 Assistive Technology Conference
- The Accessibility Switchboard
- Web Accessibility in a National Sample: So, how are we doing?
- diSCIpling Recovery
- Alexa 100 Accessibility Updates
- What we found when we tested tools on the world’s least-accessible webpage
- U.S. Department of Education
- US Department of Veteran Affairs Section 508
- Colombia Bank
- Texas Capital Bank
- Capital One
Accessibility Products and Announcements
- Assistive Technologies for Visual Impairment Market is Expected to Boost Up Over the Period of 2017 – 2022
- Free 3D-printed prosthetics for kids
- App helps blind people ‘see’
- Fashion Is For Everyone
- The Connected Glasses Guiding the Visually Impaired
- BrailleSense Polaris – Virtual Braille Tablet for the Blind
- Expanded Microsoft Accessibility website launches; KNFB Reader available for Windows 10
- Austin City Leaders Pave the Way for Self-Driving Cars
Microassist 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.
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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.