Accessibility in the News—01/13/17.
The recent update by the U.S. Access Board was perhaps the biggest news item this week. It formally aligns its website accessibility standards with other globally recognized standards, including WCAG 2.0., going as far as applying WCAG’s Level A and AA success criteria to websites, electronic documents, and software [Source: U.S. Access Board]. As Lexology reports, many see this as the writing on the wall for non-government websites deemed as online public accommodations and therefore subject to ADA Title III regulations.
Art, music, and high-tech also make beautiful appearances this week. Several visual artists—painters, sculptors, and others—are creating experiential art for the blind and visually impaired. High school students with disabilities have also been able to participate in marching band performances, thanks to a peer mentoring program. And Virtual Reality technology is helping individuals with missing limbs and phantom pain.
At both the K-12 and higher education levels, organizations are working toward more inclusive website practices and physical accommodations. Some still have a considerable way to go in providing education to children with disabilities.
Around the globe, various levels of government are addressing physical and digital access to varying degrees. Sadly, there is still a great deal of discrimination against those with disabilities, to the point of affecting citizenship.
AITN Quote of the Week
My advice to other disabled people would be, concentrate on things your disability doesn’t prevent you doing well, and don’t regret the things it interferes with. Don’t be disabled in spirit as well as physically.
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5 Innovative Ways Art is Becoming More Accessible to the Blind Community
12/29 | Source: Mashable | Art/Culture, Blindness/Visual Impairment
Art is a universal medium of expression, bridging gaps across language, time and culture. But galleries and museums aren’t always accessible to everyone, often excluding blind people and those with low vision from truly experiencing the art world. With about 285 million blind or visually impaired people in the world, that’s a sizable part of the global population being left out.
But innovations — both simple and high-tech — are making the art world even more inclusive. Many blind people and those with low vision have experienced art through audio descriptions of pieces, whether it’s recorded commentary from museums or explanations from friends in real time. But this can prevent them from interpreting pieces of art for themselves.
Luckily advocates have developed new solutions, creating tactile ways for art lovers to substitute touch for sight. Here are just a few ways art is becoming more accessible for blind and low-vision communities around the world…
Disabled Users’ Access to your Website: A New Litigation Threat
12/30 | Source: Lexology | Digital Accessibility, ADA, Litigation, Title III, Business, Compliance | United States
Over the last year, demand letters have been received by a diverse group of Shumaker clients asserting that their websites are not accessible to disabled customers and, therefore, violate Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). Certain members of the Plaintiff’s bar appear to have created a cottage industry which fishes for any and all businesses that have websites offering any kind of “products or services” and proposes negotiating “on an expedited basis” a settlement agreement related to ADA accessibility to the business’ website. The draft settlement agreement requires injunctive relief (and, of course, payment of “reasonable attorney’s fees” and costs), initiation of a needs assessment on the website, monthly third-party testing and monitoring, as well as initiation of new ADA accessibility policies and staff training.
Entering into such a settlement agreement would not, however, protect your business from other disabled claimants or class actions suits brought by other disabled customers (the draft settlement agreement expressly states that the release of claims is only from “Claimant’s claims”) or an enforcement suit brought by the Department of Justice (“DOJ”). There is a provision in the draft agreement that appears to provide indemnification from other ADA claims but in reality it is only a commitment for the claimant’s law firm to “use best efforts” to assist in preventing additional potential website claims from being brought against your company…
One Man’s Quest to Change the Way We Die
1/03 | Source: New York Times | Disability, Personal Account, Health/Medical, Holistic Care | California
First, the back story, because, B.J. Miller has found, the back story is unavoidable when you are missing three limbs. Miller was a sophomore at Princeton when, one Monday night in November 1990, he and two friends went out for drinks and, at around 4 a.m., found themselves ambling toward a convenience store for sandwiches. They decided to climb a commuter train parked at the adjacent rail station, for fun. Miller scaled it first. When he got to the top, electrical current arced out of a piece of equipment into the watch on his wrist. Eleven-thousand volts shot through his left arm and down his legs. When his friends reached him on the roof of the train, smoke was rising from his feet.
Miller remembers none of this. His memories don’t kick in until several days later, when he woke up in the burn unit of St. Barnabas Medical Center, in Livingston, N.J. Thinking he’d resurfaced from a terrible dream, he tried to shamble across his hospital room on the charred crusts of his legs until he used up the slack of his catheter tube and the device tore out of his body. Then, all the pain hit him at once…
Socitm survey: A Third of Council Homepages Fail Accessibility Tests
1/09 | Source: Public Technology | Digital Accessibility, Government, Compliance | UK
Socitm, which represents IT and digital professionals in the public sector, tests councils’ websites through its Better Connected assessment, which includes a set of tests on accessibility. This year, it has chosen to run the accessibility test in two stages, with only those that pass the first stage – which amounts to two-thirds of the 416 councils tested – being eligible for the second assessment in February.
The first stage tests only the councils’ homepages against the same set of 14 criteria used in the full test – which also assesses other pages of a council’s site by asking assessors to attempt to carry out particular tasks. The tests check for the degree of access available to people with disabilities – who make up around 15% of the UK population – including those with low-vision, colour-blindness and dyslexia and people who access sites by using just a keyboard or other assistive technologies…
Peterborough MP Hosting Dialogues about Accessibility and Inclusion
1/09 | Source: MyKawartha | Government, Accessibility, Legislation | Canada
Maryam Monsef, Member of Parliament for Peterborough-Kawartha, his hosting a community dialogue to gather input on the accessibility legislation being developed by the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities. The dialogue will also inform a more inclusive approach to the delivery of local services to constituents of Peterborough-Kawartha.
Peterborough’s MP is hosting a community dialogue about accessibility to provide input toward the legislation being developed by the federal government. On Jan. 19 and 20, member of Parliament Maryam Monsef is hosting dialogues at the Evinrude Centre and Mark Street United Church, where participants will be asked to share their thoughts about accessibility and inclusion in Peterborough, as well as issues or barriers that should be addressed through legislation…
WCAG 2.0 AA Is the New Accessibility Standard for Federal Agency Websites
1/10 | Source: Lexology | WCAG, Government, Accessibility Standards, Digital Accessibility, Compliance | United States
The federal government has adopted the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 Levels A and AA as its accessibility standard for federal agency websites, making it very likely that the Department of Justice will also adopt this standard for public accommodations websites in its forthcoming regulations.
Businesses working on making their websites accessible to individuals with disabilities often ask us what technical standard they should be using since the ADA Title III regulations do not yet specify a standard. We believe the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) will likely adopt the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 Levels A and AA (“WCAG 2.0 AA”) as the standard for public accommodations websites for a number of reasons, including the fact that WCAG 2.0 AA is the access standard used in all DOJ settlement agreements and consent decrees about websites and mobile apps…
AccessLearn Update, January 2017
1/11 | Source: W3C | Accessibility Standards, W3C
The Accessible Online Learning (AccessLearn) Community Group co-chairs, Mary and Dave, would like to start the new year with a review of the work our group has conducted to date — and a proposal for next steps.
Since starting in the Spring of 2015, AccessLearn has conducted the following work…
Niles Conducts ADA Self Review
1/11 | Source: Journal & Topics | Local Government, ADA, Compliance | Illinois, United States
Niles village officials are conducting a plan update and self-evaluation of the village’s compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a federal law mandating accommodations be made for those suffering disabilities such as difficulty walking, blindness, deafness or other conditions.
The village’s review is meant to keep the village current with state and federal requirements in the ADA. Niles Public Services Director Mary Anderson is the village’s ADA coordinator heading up the review. She said this review addresses public facilities, roads, sidewalks and other village rights of way, not compliance by private businesses in Niles under ADA. Anderson said the village has been in compliance with the ADA and that these types of reviews are completed regularly…
Fayette Campus Class Does Good Deed for Local Charity
1/12 | Source: PennState | Digital Accessibility, Nonprofit, Higher Education, Accessibility Training | Pennsylvania, United States
Jody Wells of the St. Vincent de Paul Society is always seeking workers for the charity’s second-hand store in downtown Uniontown, but for the past year she had another mission: finding somebody to redesign the organization’s “boring” website that drew few visitors and no new volunteers.
Wells’ prayers were answered one day when she came across an article about Don Wilson’s IST 250 classes at Penn State Fayette, The Eberly Campus. Each semester for the past 15 years, his students have planned, designed, coded, tested, and managed website projects for local community organizations in order to receive real-world, professional learning experience. The only software they use is a simple text editor to build web pages and style sheets from the basic building blocks…
Virtual Reality Could Help People with Phantom Pain
1/12 | Source: The Huffington Post | High-Tech, Disability, Health/Medical | Sweden
Imagining you are somewhere else might help you eliminate phantom pain. Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden have reported promising results in using computer reality technology to treat phantom pain in people with amputated limbs.
The team, led by Max Ortiz Catalan, Ph.D., says that using augmented reality — a form of virtual reality — can significantly reduce the pain that many people experience in lost limbs. Phantom pain occurs when a person loses a limb, causing chronic pain in the remaining portion of the arm or leg…
A Look at K-12 Web Accessibility Resolution Agreements
1/12 | Source: ceilo24 | Education, ADA, IDEA, K-12, Office of Civil Rights, Compliance | United States
There have been numerous K-12 web accessibility resolution agreements as of late, due to an increase in investigations of public schools by the Office of Civil Rights.
The OCR has been investigating K-12 web accessibility in relation to the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Both of these federal ensure that students with disabilities have equal access to a public school education and are accommodated whenever feasible. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) further clarifies the responsibility that public schools have to children with disabilities…
Here’s What People with Disabilities Want You to Know
1/12 | Source: The Huffington Post | Personal Account, Disability
SoulPancake, a feel-good website dedicated to sharing inspirational stories, created a video that shines a light on what it means to live with a disability. Spoiler alert: You’re just like everyone else.
“Society doesn’t correlate disability and being attractive,” one woman says in the video. “We are beautiful people. Everyone’s beautiful in their own way.”…
The Optimizer’s Guide to Web Accessibility
1/12 | Source: ConversionXL | Digital Accessibility, Web Development
What if you found out you are, at best, only optimizing your site for 81% of the people who might possibly visit it?
Whether you’ve spent years perfecting your site’s usability or are just getting started, you’d want to know about that other 19%, right? That 19% represents millions and millions of people with disabilities who can’t access or engage with sites in the traditional way.
That’s where web accessibility comes in, opening you up to conversion opportunities you didn’t even know you were missing out on…
School Band Members with Disabilities Shine Thanks to US Peer Mentoring Program
1/13 | Source: Nine News | Education, Disability | California, United States
Five participants in a special peer mentoring have been given their chance to shine as part of an annual marching band performance. The five students were participants in United Sound, a program dedicated to promoting the involvement of school students with intellectual or developmental disabilities in school bands and orchestras.
Video of the five students playing in a marching band at the 2017 Rose Parade in Pasadena, California was shared to the Love What Matters Facebook page yesterday.
The students attended the march as part of a national ensemble with 250 other musicians from all corners of the US, and were assisted by eight peer mentors…
Wintry Weather Presents Different Challenges for UNC Students with Disabilities
1/13 | Source: Daily Tarheel | Mobility, Higher Education | North Carolina, United States
For junior Chris Corsi, snowfall means extra effort. “There have been times when I stayed in Koury and Ram Village, where I was snowed in my dorm, and it was a nightmare getting out and getting around,” Corsi said.
Corsi, who has used a wheelchair since his junior year of high school, said that while he didn’t have much trouble getting around during this most recent snowfall, he has had trouble in the past and isn’t satisfied with UNC’s efforts…
South Africa Government Failing Disabled Children—Human Rights Watch Report
1/13 | Source: News 24 | Education, Discrimination, Human Rights | South Africa
South Africa’s government is failing to provide education for children with disabilities, according to a Human Rights Watch report. “The South African government has failed to guarantee the right to education for many children and young adults with disabilities, affecting an estimated half a million children,” the organisation said in its World Report 2017, which was released in Washington on Thursday.
It is an annual review of human rights issues around the globe. Contrary to the government’s international and domestic obligations, many disabled children still do not have equal access to primary or secondary education and face multiple forms of discrimination and barriers when trying to get into schools, Human Rights Watch said…
Shenzhen Closes Door on Blind Migrants
1/13 | Source: The News Lens | Discrimination, Blindness/Visual Impairment | Shenzhen, China
Xiao Guangting became a qualified masseur, found a job, married the woman he loved, and became the father of a son, all during his nearly two decades in Shenzhen, southern China. But the 39-year-old still can’t call the city home. His application to become an official resident was rejected by city authorities again and again because of his disability: Xiao is blind.
Believing that they have the right to be treated equally, Xiao and others have sued several departments of the municipal government over the last four years, only to be rejected each time by the courts. Refusing to give up, Xiao recently took his case to the provincial high court. “I hope my actions can bring change,” he told Sixth Tone…
Accessibility Training and Information
- CSUN 2017 Conference– San Diego, CA
Date: February 27 to March 4, 2017
- IA Summit 2017 Vancouver, British Columbia
March 22 to 26, 2017
- Do No Harm: People First Design for Humane Products
Wednesday, March 22, 2017
- US Accessibility Laws: What You Need to Know to Protect Your Business
Section 508 Refresh – Understanding the New Requirements
Date: Thursday, March 23, 2017
- Accessible Design for an Aging Population
Date: Thursday, April 20, 2017
- Accessibility Legislation in Europe – Standards, Laws and How to Interpret Them
Date: Thursday, May 18, 2017
- Towne Bank
- Equality Human Rights Commission
- Kelly Services
- McGraw Hill Education
- Bar Association of Erie County
- Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP
Accessibility Product Releases and Announcements
- Solodev Web Experience Software Solution Helps K-12 School Districts Build Scalable and Secure Websites
- House of Commons Hansard– Rail: Accessibility
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.
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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, accessibility audit services and accessibility remediation services across various formats.
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