Accessibility in the News—12/11/16
In this issue of Accessibility in the News (AITN), government organizations at all levels and around the world, as well as institutions of higher education, continue to advance online accessibility through policy and new websites that are navigable and usable by individuals with disabilities.
Businesses and industry are taking notice. Not only is accessible web design becoming increasingly subject to ADA requirements in the US (See “What the Americans with Disabilities Act Means for Your Website”), but awareness and advocacy campaigns are raising levels of understanding and accessible web design skills.
Offline, bright minds are harnessing high-tech to steady hands affected by Parkinson’s, convert text to Braille, and give the voiceless a new way to speak.
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AITN Quote of the Week
“Everyone has a voice, even people who are speechless have sounds that are unique to them.” —Rupal Patel
Visually Impaired Professor to Light Way Forward on UN Disability Agenda
12/2 | Source: UN News Centre | Advocacy | United Nations, Japan
Of the world’s 7.4 billion people, some 15 per cent – or one billion – are said to have some form of disability. Jun Ishikawa is one of them. An international relations professor at the University of Shizuoka in Japan, he lost his eyesight at the age of 16. Yet, he has become a visionary on the issue of disability in his country, leading the Commission on Policy for Persons with Disabilities, a watchdog for disability policy implementation, since 2012.
Mr. Ishikawa has gone on to become the first Japanese independent expert to be elected to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities…The Committee, consisting of 18 individuals, monitors implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), one of the most widely ratified international human rights instruments…
They Had 15 Hours to Come up with an Idea That’d Improve Lives. They Did It.
12/2 | Source: Up Worthy | Innovation, Higher Ed, Technology, Visual Impairments | Massachusetts (MIT)
They had 15 hours to come up with an idea for a revolutionary device that would make people’s lives better. And they had to beat out hundreds of other teams that had some of the best student hackers in the world.
“Our first idea was a dancing robot that, like, danced with you if you’re lonely in a dance club,” Charlene Xia said with a chuckle. Xia continued: “Then we moved to a braille watch that we saw a concept model of that somebody posted online. It got us thinking, ‘Well, wait a second, is there a thing like a text-to-braille converter? Like it translates and scans images of text on a book and converts it to braille when you move up and down?’ We kept googling and nothing came out.”…
What the Americans with Disabilities Act Means for Your Website
12/4 | Source: Business 2 Community | ADA, Litigation, Digital Accessibility, Business | U.S.
Some of the next major hurdles for web developers in the near future won’t be exclusive to coming up with the next cutting-edge design or transcendent functional experience, but making sure that the digital equivalents of handrails and wheelchair ramps are properly installed. With 1 out of 5 Americans living with a disability along with a significant portion of the population’s web users getting older, businesses will need to assess whether their offerings are adequately within the reach of consumers with accessibility needs. And while having an accessible website could make for a strong business case, adherence to accessibility may soon be the official law of the web…
How a Volunteer ‘Voice Bank’ Helps the Speech Impaired
12/5 | Source: The Washington Post | Innovation, Volunteerism, Speech Impairment | Massachusetts
Ryan. Alex. Siri. These are names of robotic voices that are often programmed on electronic tablets. They also become default identities for people with speech disorders who rely on technology to communicate.
Now some speech scientists are developing customized voices to reflect the broader diversity of the people who use them. To do it, they are tapping into a vast network of volunteers who are donating their voices to share with people who cannot speak…
New City Websites Offer More Convenient, More Accessible, Engaging Experience
12/6 | Source: CambridgeNow | Government, Digital Accessibility | Cambridge, CA
The City of Cambridge launched a new city website today that is more convenient, more accessible, and more engaging than ever. The new website features easy access to online services, up-to-date city news and events, real-time road updates, frequently references bylaws, and searchable parks and facilities information. The City also unveiled its new economic development website, investcambridge.ca.
The newly designed City website offers a new service-oriented navigation, a prominent search bar, lower page count, and rewritten content making information easy to find or search. The website is also accessible on all desktop, tablet and mobile devices. A new city services app allows visitors to visit a virtual Cambridge to report an issue and/or find…
Bellingham Library Website Getting Makeover, Mobile App Will Be Deleted
12/6 | Source: The Bellingham Herald | Government, Digital Accessibility, Section 508 | Washington
Readers who use the Bellingham Public Library’s online services will find a new website soon, one that debuts just as its mobile app is being discontinued at the end of this year.
“They will be easier to find and it will be easier for patrons to understand how useful these free resources are,” Keller said. “We have a wide array of research databases. They’ll be more prominent and easier to find.”
In addition, Keller said, the new website will offer easier accessibility for people with visual and motor-skill impairments. “We’re aiming to meet standards the federal government has adopted. This is in addition to overall improved access for mobile users,” she said…
National Research Study: Implementation of and Solutions for Closed Captioning in U.S. Institutions of Higher Education
12/6 | Source: 3PlayMedia | Higher Education, ADA, Closed Captioning, Digital Accessibility | U.S.
Between the ADA, Rehabilitation Act, and state laws, almost all higher education institutions in the U.S. are legally required to provide closed captioning for recorded lectures, online courses, class materials, and other video content used for teaching and learning. In fact, 87% of the institutions surveyed reported that closed captioning is being implemented for at least some videos. However, while the need for accessibility is universal, most colleges and universities approach closed captioning in different ways. This study provides answer to these questions: Are institutions meeting legal requirements? What captioning processes are in place and are they centralized? What are the captioning budgets and how are they determined? Who are the people and departments involved in captioning decisions? How is captioning prioritized and is it being done proactively or reactively? What are the barriers?
Download this free 70-page report to get results from the largest IRB-approved study on institutional implementation of closed captioning. The data was collected from 47 higher education institutions in the U.S., including public and private institutions across 4-year, 2-year, and professional schools. This report sheds light on many critical issues surrounding accessibility and the rapidly growing implementation of closed captioning in higher education…
George Washington University Student Senate Passes Resolution Supporting Accessibility Bill
12/6 | Source: The GW Hatchet | Higher Education, Digital Accessibility, Online Learning | Washington, D.C.
The Student Association Senate passed a resolution Monday night in support of a congressional bill to increase accessibility of educational materials for the hearing and visually impaired.
The senate voted unanimously in favor of the resolution, which backs the Access to Instructional Materials of Higher Education Act. If passed by the House Representatives, the act would create a commission to compile a list of voluntary guidelines universities should follow to prevent those with disabilities from being unable to access resources.
The resolution addresses a described “inadequate level” of accessibility for visually and hearing impaired students on GW websites like admissions, Banweb and Blackboard…
The Big Life Fix with Simon Reeve: Parkinson’s Technology
12/7 | Source: BBC | Innovation, Technology | London, England
Meet Emma. Parkinson’s has had a devastating impact on this graphic designer’s ability to draw, but this extraordinary invention could change her life. A woman suffering from Parkinson’s has been thrown a lifeline after a bespoke watch was created to help her draw and write.
Graphics designer Emma Lawton, 33, from London, has been living with the degenerative neurological condition, which is incurable, for four years and was gradually losing her ability to draw because of constant hand tremors. She appears in the latest series of The Big Life Fix with Simon Reeve which follows some of of the UK’s top engineers and designers as they invent life-changing solutions for people in desperate need…
The #NoMouse Challenge to Raise Awareness about Accessible Web Design
12/7 | Source: West | Digital Accessibility, Awareness
According to the World Health Organization, there are more than one billion people in the world who have some sort of disability, including nearly 200 million people who experience considerable difficulties in functioning. People with disabilities use a variety of tools and techniques for using the computer and accessing the Web. However, they’re dependent on people who create digital content (e.g., websites, Word docs, PDFs, video, audio) to create these materials in ways that are accessible.
The methods for creating accessible digital content are well established and in many cases very simple. However, if people who produce digital content are unaware of these methods or choose not to apply them, people with disabilities are shut out, unable to access content and excluded from participating in our digital society.
The #NoMouse Challenge is a global effort to raise awareness about accessible web design. Just follow these three simple steps…
EU Web Accessibility Laws and Policies
12/8 | Source: cielo24 | Government, Digital Accessibility, Policy | European Union
There are 3 main EU web accessibility laws and policies that ensure equal access for individuals with disabilities. These laws work to bring accessibility into the public sector. Before their adoption, only government websites were required to be accessible.
The first of the three EU web accessibility laws and policies we will discuss is the UNCRPD. In 2010 the EU ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). This treaty’s purpose is to: promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity.
Founded on 8 general principals, the UNCROPD makes great strides in improving access and quality of life for individuals with disabilities. These principles include…
Austin ADA Attorney Omar W. Rosales Slammed with Sanctions
12/8 | Source: KXAN | Litigation, ADA | Texas
An Austin attorney, who filed nearly 400 lawsuits against local businesses for violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, has been slapped with more than $176,000 in penalties for his actions and conduct in federal court, according to an order filed on Wednesday.
The sanctioned attorney, Omar Weaver Rosales, wrongfully accused longtime civil rights attorney Jim Harrington of being racist and anti-Semitic, according to court documents. Rosales also fabricated an email and submitted it as evidence, wrote United States Magistrate Judge Mark Lane. Lane said Rosales behaved in “embarrassing and shocking ways” during the litigation.
“Normally, people resort to the court system to resolve grievances and discover truth,” Lane said in the order. “In these six cases, however, Rosales has used this system to create strife and perpetuate lies. He has defamed the opposing counsel with false and abusive statements.”…
Controversial 60 Minutes Segment on “Drive-By” ADA Lawsuits Highlights Negative Aspect of the Law
12/9 | Source: Seyfarth Shaw | Litigation, ADA, Title III, Media Portrayal | US
60 Minutes aired a segment about ADA Title III “drive-by” lawsuits on Sunday, December 4, which focused on a few of the ways in which the law has been misused by some plaintiffs and their attorneys to make money. Some disability rights advocates have called the piece a “hit job” on the ADA and “propaganda” for the future Trump Administration’s perceived anti-civil rights agenda. Others say that by highlighting only the “bad apples,” the story “mischaracterized the ADA as an instrument of opportunism” instead of the force that has opened doors for millions of Americans. These are all fair points, but the 60 Minutes piece does highlight the need for targeted changes which would mitigate the abusive litigation and restore confidence in a very important law…
Cal State Long Beach Takes First Place in National Accessible Web Design Competition
12/11 | Source: Daily49er | Higher Education, Awareness, Digital Accessibility | California, Texas
Cal State Long Beach proved the strength of its computer science program by taking first and third place at Knowbility’s OpenAir 2016, a web design competition where teams all over the world participated.
OpenAir 2016 had 30 teams competing over the last 13 weeks to create or improve websites for nonprofit organizations in order to make them more accessible to users with handicaps. Teams from the University of Michigan, University of Central Florida and Manchester Metropolitan University competed against three CSULB teams. Winners were announced Thursday on OpenAir’s live stream site…
Accessible Japan: Information About Traveling in Japan With a Disability
12/11 | Source: GlobalVoices | Government, Travel, Tourism | Japan
With inbound tourism to Japan rising by 30 percent annually from 2011 to 2015, the Japanese government has set an ambitious target of attracting 40 million overseas visitors by 2020 when the Olympic Games will be held in Tokyo, and 60 million by 2030.
Part of the surge in tourism in recent years is thanks to the easing of visa restrictions on visitors from the People’s Republic of China, which represents the single largest source of tourist visitors to Japan. Visitors from other parts of the world have also been attracted to Japan thanks to savvy marketing campaigns aimed at demystifying travel in a country that, thanks to limited information in English and other languages, can be hard to decode…
Uber’s New Autonomous Fleets Could Change How People With Disabilities Travel
12/11 | Source: Futurism | Transit/Transportation, ADA, Mobility | US
The Americans with Disabilities Act promotes accessibility to the 31 million people with mobility-related disabilities. Based on the Act, Uber’s new autonomous fleet would be required to incorporate accessibility into their vehicles, benefiting both people with disabilities and the elderly.
Uber’s current structure allows the ride-sharing company to be exempt from Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) strictures, which promote accessibility to the 31 million people with mobility-related disabilities. Arguments have been made that the company is simply a platform promoting ride-sharing and not a transportation service, therefore not making the company subject to the law. However, with the coming of its own autonomous fleet, that legal ground is about to get a lot more shaky.
Uber is not alone in its skirting of ADA requirements, basically the entire taxi industry takes advantage of what Bryan Casey, an independent researcher and student at Stanford Law School, calls “a ‘gaping loophole’ large enough for taxi companies to drive entire fleets through.”…
Gaps Between Disabled and General Population Expanding in Israel
12/11 Source: The Jerusalem Post
There was a decline in the rate of employment among the disabled in 2015, as people with disabilities earn less and “feel poorer,” according to a new study released by the Commission for Equal Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the Justice Ministry. The study, conducted by the Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute and based on data from the Central Bureau of Statistics, was released to mark International Day of Persons with Disabilities, observed annually on December 3. According to the report there are 1.41 million people with disabilities living in Israel today, accounting for some 17% of the population.
Of these, some 17% are children under the age of 17, 50% (some 704,000) are working age adults and some 33% are over 65. The study found that in 2015 there was a 4% increase in the unemployment of disabled persons; with only 51% of working aged people with disabilities employed, compared with 55% in 2014…
Accessibility Training & Information
- Microsoft highlights new accessibility capabilities built into Office 365
- Social4all: Collaborative platform for improving Web accessibility
- Section 508 Refresh
Accessibility Product Releases & Announcements
- Microsoft expands its accessibility efforts on Windows 10
- iCare Home Health Website’s Audio Feature Now Here to Serve Its Print Disabled and Visually Impaired Clients More Effectively
- Sasol & IFP announce Accessible Qatar partnership with Project Qatar 2017
- Online Platform Resolves ADA Compliance Issues For Online Students
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.
Image source: Pixabay