Accessibility in the News—06/09/17.
Innovation for users with disabilities is being recognized around the world, most recently at the ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) Innovation Showcase competition in India. The winner, BrailleMe, is a product for the visually impaired that makes digital information accessible in multiple tactile languages. Innovation has become extremely prominent in this day and age; not only is there innovation in manufacturing, electronic, and medical technologies, but also within assistive technologies. One assistive technology that is becoming more popular in the United States, and also India, is refreshable braille. Another technology useful to people with disabilities is Amazon’s voice recognition software, Alexa, which is also being explored to combat diabetes.
In addition to the news items featured here, be sure to check out the Resources section available in every issue. It is rich with the most recent accessibility pages, blogs, product announcements, and more.
AITN Quote of the Week
“Life is a banquet and most of us are starving to death.”
— Helen Keller
National News (U.S.)
Rachel Wallach: Disrupting Disability
June 1, 2017 | Source: Stanford Graduate School of Business | Mobility, Inclusion, Innovation | California
Why don’t we see people who wear their wheels like people who wear glasses? Why can’t you choose a wheelchair frame like you choose your glasses frames? How is open source design, digital fabrication and distributed manufacture disrupting our assumptions, manufacture and perceptions of wheelchairs and wheelwearers? Join Rachael Wallach, founder of disruptdisability.org and Stanford MBA student to find out. (Video)…
CDBG Program Awards $985K to Local Municipalities
June 2, 2017 | Source: Hudson Valley News Network | Government, Mobility, Accessible Design | New York
Dutchess County Executive Marcus J. Molinaro has announced grant awards totaling $985,000 will be awarded through Dutchess County’s 2017 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program to fund an array of local projects throughout Dutchess County, focusing on accessibility solutions for communities. The County Executive was joined by United States Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18) and several local elected officials, including City of Beacon Mayor Randy Casale, to highlight the importance of the CDBG funding…
Amazon is offering a $125,000 prize for the best use of Alexa to combat diabetes
June 2, 2017 | Source: CNBC | Health/Medical, Innovation, Speech Recognition
Vikram Singh, product manager for a diabetes-software start-up called Glooko, received a somewhat unexpected email from Amazon Web Services last month. The company invited Singh, and several other health developers in the space, to participate in its upcoming Alexa Diabetes Challenge, which comes with a $125,000 grand prize sponsored by drug maker Merck.
The goal is to get developers to build apps that use Amazon’s Alexa voice-recognition software to help people with diabetes manage the disease. “Communicating through voice, rather than just on a screen, has the potential to empower patients to change habits and improve their overall wellbeing,” a blog post reads…
Airbnb Hosts More Likely to Reject the Disabled, a Study Finds
June 2, 2017 | Source: NY Times | Discrimination, Housing, Facilities/Building Access, Travel
When Crystal Marie Garcia decided to try the home-rental service Airbnb for the first time, she had a few questions. Ms. Garcia, who is from El Paso, was planning a May trip with her family to the Chicago area and wanted to know if the places she was considering could accommodate her needs as someone with muscular dystrophy. Unfortunately, she said, her questions appeared to scare off at least two potential hosts. She said she feels that if she had not mentioned her disability, “they would have rented to me, no issue.”…
Smart Home Technology Increasing Accessibility
June 3, 2017 | Source: Real Biz News | Housing, Assistive Technology, Accessible Design, Innovation
Increasing numbers of people are incorporating smart home technology into their everyday life. An article in TechCrunch.com points out that smart home assistants are able to help homeowners control many everyday tasks and that this could be particularly helpful for people with accessibility problems. For people who currently struggle to do simple everyday tasks such as turning on a light or even opening a door, the ability to do so with just voice control offers great potential. Utilizing the latest technologies could make it far easier for people to remain at home unassisted for longer…
Consulting firm finds niche helping web developers overcome obstacles for physically disabled
June 3, 2017 | Source: Star Tribune | Mobility, Web Design, Blindness/Visual Impairment
Surfing the web is an entirely different experience for someone with a physical disability. Something as simple as buying an outfit online or sending messages to co-workers can be challenging on many sites and web applications for someone who can’t see the screen or has trouble moving a mouse.
“It’s pretty rare for me to go to a website and not encounter any accessibility issues,” said Aaron Cannon, a website developer who is legally blind. Last fall, Cannon seized an opportunity to help change how the disabled experience the internet when he and several others started a Minneapolis consulting group that helps companies and their web developers make their sites more accessible…
Are Disability Rights and Animal Rights Connected?
June 5, 2017 | Source: The New Yorker | Disability Rights, Awareness
In 2004, when she was twenty-three, Sunaura Taylor Googled “arthrogryposis,” the name of a condition she has had since birth. Its Greek roots mean “hooked joints”; the arms and legs of many people who have it are shorter than usual because their joints are permanently flexed. Taylor was curious about whether animals had it, too. In the journal of the Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Centre, she found a report called “Congenital Limb Deformity in a Red Fox.” It described a young fox with arthrogryposis. He had “marked flexure of the carpal and tarsal joints of all four limbs”—that is, hooked legs. He walked on the backs of his paws, which were heavily callused. In a surprised tone, the report noted that he was muscular, even a little fat: his stomach contained “the remains of two rodents and bones from a larger mammal mixed with partially digested apple, suggesting that the limb deformity did not preclude successful hunting and foraging.” All this had been discovered after he had been shot by someone walking in the woods, who noticed that he “had an abnormal gait and appeared sick.”…
Mobility Challenges? Want to Cruise? “Welcome Aboard,” Say Agents
June 5, 2017 | Source: Travel Agent | Travel, Mobility, Accessible Design
The accessible travel/special needs market spends $13.6 billion a year on vacations and travelers with special needs take 32 million vacations a year, according to Special Needs Group (SNG), which rents medical equipment to clients requiring it on a cruise. But while cruising is an easy vacation choice for many Americans eager to head off to tropical isles or bucket list destinations, those with mobility challenges or a family with an autistic child may think a cruise simply wouldn’t be doable. Not so fast, say trade experts who work to assist clients with special needs and suppliers who assist in providing services for these travelers. To them, cruising can be the perfect choice…
Gainesville girl blessed with remodeled room, handicap-accessible van
June 6, 2017 | Source: Gainesville Times | Mobility, Inclusion, Housing, Accessible Design | Georgia
Zyah Goss-Pittman isn’t your average kid. The 7-year-old Gainesville girl has spinal muscular atrophy, a genetic disease that weakens her muscles. But that doesn’t stop her from acting like any other child her age. In fact, the rising second-grader belted out a song from “High School Musical” during a recent interview with her family.
Her mom, Stalena Pittman, said Zyah takes singing lessons once a week. “If she wants to do it, we do it,” she said. “I put her in everything.” Letting her daughter participate in average, everyday activities like most children is important to Pittman. Especially since Zyah’s life has been and is filled with challenges other kids her age don’t experience…
Pinson to make city buildings, programs accessible for physically handicapped
June 6, 2017 | Source: AL.com | Mobility, Facilities/Building Access, ADA, Government | Alabama
The U.S. Attorney’s Office and the city of Pinson have reached an agreement regarding complaints about the city’s accessibility for physically disabled residents. The agreement went into effect Monday and resolves complaints from a Pinson resident, who claimed several city facilities and programs were inaccessible to people with mobility impairments and violates the Americans with Disabilities Act, Acting U.S. Attorney Robert O. Posey said in a press release.
“The City of Pinson cooperated with our office to work out a solution that resolves these alleged ADA violations,” Posey said. “With this agreement, Pinson commits to ensuring that individuals with disabilities will have an equal opportunity to access and participate in their city government’s programs.”…
Facebook Live gets accessible with third-party closed captioning
Over 38 million people in the US are deaf or hard-of-hearing, and Facebook wants them to be able to watch the 1 in 5 of its videos that are broadcast live. So today it’s taking the first step towards making Facebook Live more accessible by allowing publishers to create and stream closed captions for their Live videos either on their own or with the help of a technology vendor like Ai-Media or Telestream
However, Facebook isn’t offering automatic closed captioning through its tech the way it does for free for recorded and uploaded Page videos. That would significantly increase the coverage of captions on Live videos, but could be prohibitively difficult or expensive to offer in at scale in the low-latency real-time nature necessary for Live broadcasts…
Digital Accessibility Checklist: 10 Critical Elements to Evaluate for Website Accessibility
June 7, 2017 | Source: Microassist | Disability Rights, Inclusion, Advocacy | Texas
Inaccessible websites and applications not only reduce your opportunity to reach a growing segment of the population—they put your organization at legal risk. We’ve written this checklist to help you better understand the fundamental categories that make online content easier to navigate, use, and understand by individuals with disabilities, but that are often overlooked when developing online content.
If any of these areas are not implemented, portions of your client and stakeholder communities may be unable to perceive or easily interact with your articles and blogs, forms, transaction platforms, multimedia, menus, and more—essentially discriminating against that population. However, when your organization addresses these areas during website development, not only do you help reduce your exposure to litigation, you make significant strides in creating an environment that individuals with visual, hearing, mobility, and cognitive disabilities can navigate and use…
The Holy Braille Tablet Could Totally Change How Blind People Consume Information
June 7, 2017 | Source: Huffington Post- Video | Blindness/Visual Impairment, Innovation, Accessible Design, Web Design
Developers at the University of Michigan are engineering a refreshable braille display driven by touch…
Top accessibility services to consider at performance venues
June 7, 2017 | Source: KTNV | Inclusion, Arts/Entertainment, Performing Arts
Individuals of all ages look forward to an evening out at a concert or theater production. Some might think they aren’t able to share in this kind of outing, however, if they experience conditions such as failing vision or blindness, hearing loss, declining motor abilities or if they rely on a wheelchair. Fortunately, it’s possible for them to enjoy shows as much as anyone else.
A wide variety of services and tools are available to accommodate individuals with these conditions, to ensure audiences of all ages and abilities experience live performances. Many venues, including The Smith Center for the Performing Arts in Las Vegas, offer comprehensive accessibility services to people of all ages at no extra charge…
Federal government joins whistleblower suit against LA over housing for the disabled
The United States is joining a whistle-blower lawsuit that alleges the city of Los Angeles illegally reaped hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding by falsely claiming it was providing sufficient housing for people with disabilities, federal prosecutors said Wednesday. Under the law, certain federally funded housing projects must provide a percentage of units that are accessible to people with disabilities. The city had to declare that it was following the law in order to get the grants, but it failed to actually comply with the rules, according to the lawsuit…
Janice Haynes, retiring OHIO Accessibility Liaison, leaves her mark on accessibility
June 7, 2017 | Source: Ohio University | Advocacy, Inclusion, Higher Education, Disability Rights | Ohio
Accessibility Liaison Janice Haynes will retire from OHIO this summer after over twenty years of service to the University. Haynes currently serves as an office coordinator in the Dean of Students Office and Division of Student Affairs. Haynes has also served the University through various positions and involvement on Classified Senate and several other committees, including the Accessibility Liaisons.
The Accessibility Liaisons began in the fall of 2016 with the mission to make Ohio University a more inclusive campus for all. Through meetings, discussions and events, the group has taken steps towards achieving this goal by sharing their personal knowledge of what it means to have a disability or their understanding of how having a disability impacts family members and friends…
Marines drive the country to raise awareness of wounded vets
June 7, 2017 | Source: NBC | Advocacy, Awareness, Nonprofit, Housing
Two Marines are taking a road trip across America–not for fun but to raise awareness of disabled veterans in need of help. J.R. Smith and Kevin Jackson are the founders of the non-profit Guns to Hammers Construction Inc. They’re making it their mission to help disabled veterans get around their house more easily. According to them, 1.1 million American vets need better accessibility at home. That’s why they want to renovate houses and make them ADA accessible without having vets feel financial burden…
3D screw portraits that blind people can see
This is the story of how we made a portrait of George Wurtzel, a blind artist. It was the first portrait ever that he could feel and recognize as himself. The sculpture by Andrew Myers is made of 4,000 hand-painted screws. Warning: you might want to cry (but in a good way!) (Video)…
What happened after I removed from my dating profiles any pictures that showed my disabilities
June 7, 2017 | Source: Philly.com | Mobility, Discrimination, Dating | Pennsylvania
It’s a rare and unwelcome surprise when a man on the cusp of turning 40 finds himself revisiting the feelings of alienation and exclusion that plagued adolescence. Online dating gifted me just that experience recently. It happened because I wanted to hide from the digital dating pool an inescapable reality of my life: my physical disabilities.
I don’t know much about the congenital birth defects that left me, among other things, regrettably short and reliant on crutches to walk. The damage happened before I emerged from the womb and life since has been learning to live with it. It hasn’t been so hard. My amazing parents were fierce about treating me like any child, and taught me to see myself the same way. I’m good at my job, love my city, and have strong, meaningful friendships. Dating, though — that’s been a problem…
Raven’s kiosk will continue
June 8, 2017 | Source: Hanford Sentinel | Lawsuits/Litigation, Discrimination, Government, Facilities Access | California
Hanford Community Development Director Darlene Mata has stated more than once that none of the kiosks meet the legal requirements for disabled accessibility. Hanford City Attorney Ty Mizote said Wednesday that the kiosk occupied by Raven’s and Hot Diggity Dog has “accessibility issues” that put it out of compliance with the disability law. Mizote said the kiosk lease signed by Raven’s in 2015 includes a clause holding the tenant responsible for complying with disability laws.
Mizote said that if a lawsuit were filed over the accessibility issue, both the city and the kiosk tenants would likely be exposed to liability issues. Mizote said there is no immediate plan on the part of the city to address the accessibility issue…
Disability advocates dispute potential paratransit changes
June 8, 2017 | Source: The Sun Community News | Transit/Transportation, Inclusion, Disability Rights | New York
As lawmakers weigh plans to alter paratransit operations in Clinton County, disability advocates met in Plattsburgh last week to express their grievances about the proposed new plan. “Transportation is one of the biggest things that disabled people have to contend with,” said North Country Center for Independence Executive Director Robert Poulin. “We need more accessibility, not less access.”
Clinton County is considering eliminating their paratransit transport bus service and replacing it with an on-demand option that will see buses deviating from their regular routes in order to accommodate disabled passengers. NCCI held an event last Friday at the Clinton County Government Center to raise awareness about the pending changes. At present, the wheelchair-accessible bus fleet provides transport for disabled passengers who cannot utilize the regular bus routes…
The Business Case for Accessibility in Web Design
June 8, 2017 | Source: HOW | Web Design, Inclusion, Disability Rights, Accessible Design
Explore four reasons why greater accessibility in web design for people with disabilites and impairments is the smart and responsible thing to do. Plus, learn how to persuade your boss to invest in accessibility. The moral case for accessibility in web design is fairly black and white—you either think people with disabilities deserve the same access to your site as anyone else, or you don’t. Convincing management of the business case is less cut-and-dry. Fortunately, accessible design comes with ancillary benefits that make persuading your boss to “do the right thing” a little easier. To get you started on winning the argument at your work, here are four focus areas…
All Wheels Up: Trying to Change the Way Passengers in Wheelchairs Fly
June 8, 2017 | Source: Airline Reporter | Mobility, Accessible Design, Travel
I am writing this article on my way to the MDA (Muscular Dystrophy Association) Policy and Advocacy Conference in Washington, D.C. to discuss Accessible Air Travel with other advocates and Southwest Airlines. All Wheels Up has come a long way from our first grassroots efforts in 2011. If I was asked when we started if All Wheels Up would we be invited by the MDA to come join their advocacy efforts for Accessible Airplane Travel, I would have never believed it. Today we are working in informal coalitions with the Muscular Dystrophy Association, Paralyzed Veterans of America, United Spinal Association, and Easter Seals who have all taken on Accessible Travel as a platform in recent years.
In 2011, All Wheels Up came about because of one trip my family took to Chicago on an airplane. Simple for most families, but my son uses a wheelchair. What should have been an easy trip quickly became a struggle to get a severely physically disabled child into an airplane seat safely. As other families stared at us, I could only think how much safer it would be if he could just travel in his wheelchair…
ADA, Accessibility, Building & Life Safety Codes/Litigation
June 8, 2017 | Source: GT LAW | ADA, Lawsuits/Litigation, Businesses | Massachusetts
Plaintiff class-action lawyers in Massachusetts have filed recent lawsuits in federal court under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA Title III) against retailers who sell goods through their websites. Out of state lawyers have also filed lawsuits against Massachusetts businesses on the same basis. The majority of these lawsuits do not attempt to certify a class action, but do seek to alter retailers’ practices, recover attorneys’ fees and costs, and potentially influence the Department of Justice to seek class-wide like relief against offending retailers. These lawsuits allege that retailers’ websites do not comply with ADA Title III and certain related regulations (ADA Regulations). The lead plaintiffs in these Massachusetts actions are Access Now, Inc. and certain named members.
Access Now asserts that it is a non-profit organization advocating for disabled individuals, including those who are blind. Access Now and its members have brought similar lawsuits in other states. In addition to Access Now, there are a number of other plaintiff-advocates filing similar lawsuits around the country. Keeping in mind that state lines are no barrier to websites or the lawsuits that are pursuing them, in order to reduce risks, retailers should consider having their websites evaluated in order to assess compliance with ADA Title III and similar disability-rights laws, even if they do not perceive risks from Massachusetts-based advocates…
Armed with new data, the Chicago Housing Authority plans to give ‘supervouchers’ another try
June 9, 2017 | Source: Chicago Reader | Housing, ADA, Discrimination, Building/Facilities Access | Illinois
Rachael Tovar was devastated when she received word last year from the Chicago Housing Authority that the money she received to subsidize her housing would be significantly reduced. It meant that the 59-year-old would have to move out of her apartment at 175 N. Harbor Drive. For the first time in her 15 years of getting around primarily by wheelchair, she had an apartment that was compliant with the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The large rooms and wide doorways of the lakefront high-rise allowed her to move around easily, and the grocery store in the building also assured her independence.
Her two youngest kids were on their way out of the house to live on their own, but having three bedrooms meant she could also have a live-in health aid and space enough for the medical equipment she relies on to manage her worsening spinal stenosis, chronic asthma, and acute arthritis. Tovar’s residency in the Harbor Drive apartment was made possible by a unique Chicago Housing Authority program for Section 8 voucher holders—one that came to a halt in 2014 amid politicized backlash that it was wasting taxpayer dollars to provide luxurious housing for poor people…
Jack Fact — According to the CDC, 1 in 5 Americans has a disability, the most common being physical. But that number also includes cognitive and visual disabilities.
Priests launch study on church accessibility
June 2, 2017 | Source: Anglican Journal- Canada | Faith/Religion, Mobility, Building/Facilities Access | Canada
Canon Dennis Dolloff was put in a wheelchair 38 years ago, after being struck by a drunk driver. But his disability didn’t stop him from wanting to be a priest. When he was ordained six years later, in 1985, he became, at least to his knowledge, the first person in the Anglican church worldwide to have been priested in a wheelchair.
Dolloff says his experiences with the church as a disabled person have been mixed. On the one hand, he encountered skepticism from some quarters when he first expressed interest in being a priest, and people have not always been as accommodating to his condition, he says, as he might have hoped…
Federal funding to better workplace, facilities for the disabled
June 2, 2017 | Source: The Tri-City News- Canada | Government, Businesses, Inclusion | Canada
Groups, businesses and small communities in the Tri-Cities can apply for federal cash to build, renovate or retrofit their workplace and facilities for the disabled. But candidates wanting to money from the Enabling Accessibility Fund (EAF) have to put in their proposals by the July 28 deadline. Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam Liberal MP Ron McKinnon used National AccessAbility Week, May 28 to June 3, to call on organizations and companies to apply. Firms with up to 99 full-time equivalent staff as well as community organizations can get up to $50,000 while for-profit groups, charities and small local governments are also eligible for funding…
Saint John makes progress accommodating people with disabilities, but barriers remain
June 2, 2017 | Source: Globalnews- Canada | Mobility, Transit/Transportation, Inclusion, Building/Facilities Access | Canada
It is Disability Awareness Week in Saint John and while the city says things have improved, some people feel there are still barriers for those with disabilities. Andrew Miller relies on a motorized wheelchair to get around. He said he’s seen what the city has done to help improve accessibility, but more needs to be done. But Miller admits things have improved for the disabled, including some sidewalks and the transit system. Mayor Don Darling has attended many events where he has heard concerns like sidewalks and building accessibility…
Making sure the library is for everyone
June 2, 2017 | Source: Collingwood Enterprise Bulletin- Canada | Education, Inclusion, Building/Facilities Access | Canada
Before the Ontario with Disabilities Act was introduced in 2005, anyone living with challenges was pretty much left out in the cold when it came to accessibility. Twelve years after the act was introduced things are changing and organizations such as the Collingwood Public Library are taking responsibility to make sure that the library is a safe and welcoming place.
Although regulations and beefed-up codes have made most public buildings at least open for some people with challenges, Jenn Murley, accessibility coordinator at the Collingwood Public Library, wants to go the extra step. She and two patrons and community volunteers, executed their own accessibility audit of the library, earlier this week…
City celebrates 14th AccessAbility day with accolades
June 2, 2017 | Source: Ottawa Community News- Canada | Employment/Workforce, Disability Rights, Facilities Access | Canada
The François Dupuis Recreation Centre in Orléans has been inducted into the Rick Hansen Foundation Accessible Cities Award Circle of Excellence. Ottawa received the honour during the 14th AccessAbility Day at city hall June 1. The day aims to eliminate barriers for people with disabilities entering the workforce.
The recognition for the recreation centre is high praise, as the foundation’s mission is to remove barriers for all users, including those with mobility, vision, and hearing disabilities. Steve Kanellakos, the city manager, said the city has made several efforts over the past few years to remove physical barriers in all city facilities…
We’ll Live to 100 – How Can We Afford It?
June 3, 2017 | Source: World Economic Forum- Switzerland | Aging, Health/Medical, Workforce | Canada
The challenges we face to provide our ageing societies with a financially secure retirement are well-known. In most countries around the world, standards of living and healthcare advancements are allowing people to live longer. This should be celebrated, but we should also consider the implications for the financial systems that have been designed to meet our retirement needs, which in many countries are already under severe strain.
This report has been produced as part of the Forum’s Retirement Investment Systems Reform project that has brought together pension experts to assess opportunities for reforms that can be adopted to improve the likelihood of our retirement systems adequately and sustainably supporting future generations. The issues and findings discussed are the result of numerous interviews, discussions and workshops…
Disabled wedding guests aren’t second-class citizens
June 4, 2017 | Source: Arutz Sheva- Israel | Discrimination, Inclusion, Disability Rights, Universal Design | Israel
The Tzohar Rabbinical Organization has launched an initiative to call attention to the lack of accessibility at Jewish weddings for the handicapped and disabled. The initiative aims to make couples planning their wedding more aware of details which will ensure disabled guests aren’t treated as “second class citizens.”
“On the day when the couple are filled with joy and they open their hearts to invite relatives and friends to celebrate with them, we encourage them to be sensitive to the guests’ accessibility issues, so that everyone can participate in the happy occasion,” Tzohar Founder and Ethics Department Head Rabbi Yuval Cherlow said…
Handy guide for disabled
June 4, 2017 | Source: Worcester Observer- England | Higher Education, Accessible Parking, Facilities/Building Access, Inclusion | England
THE UNIVERSITY of Worcester has teamed up with a leading disability service to produce a guide which informs students and visitors of the accessibility of its facilities. DisabledGo, which works across all sectors to inform disabled people of what is provided for them at particular venues, has created access guides for the university, which provides information on the location of accessible parking spaces, physical building access, lighting levels and provision of induction loops. The university’s student services and facilities team were rewarded with a plaque of accreditation by DisabledGo, reflecting the work they have done to outline accessibility on campus…
‘We should be way ahead of where we are’: advocate for disabled
June 4, 2017 | Source: YorkRegion.com- Canada | Advocacy, Mobility, Discrimination | Canada
Steve Foglia sat discouraged in his wheelchair outside a Newmarket coffee shop for half an hour one day this week. A car was parked legally in the handicapped spot, but the design of the parking lot meant the vehicle was blocking the cut-out in the curb that would have allowed him to navigate his wheelchair up to the sidewalk.
Even when the car moved, Foglia had to wait until someone held the door open for him because there was no automatic opener. While the curb cut-out is built to code, it’s an Ontario standard that doesn’t work practically for people with disabilities, he said…
Councils respond over concerns from Leonard Cheshire Disability about polling station issues
June 5, 2017 | Source: Dorset Echo- England | Voting/Elections, Building/Facilities Access, Government, Discrimination | England
COUNCIL chiefs in Dorset have responded after disability campaigners urged authorities to ensure polling stations are fully accessible ahead of the general election. Neil Heslop, Leonard Cheshire Disability’s CEO has written to all council chief executives in England to highlight how many disabled voters were left feeling like second-class citizens because of the experiences they had at the 2015 election. He wants to make sure this isn’t repeated on June 8.
There are around 1.2 million disabled people of all ages in the south west. Leonard Cheshire found that almost a quarter (24 per cent) of disabled people found it difficult to vote in person at polling stations in 2015. This included wheelchair users facing stairs and no disabled parking. In some cases large print ballot papers weren’t available or voting booths were too narrow, with shelves out of reach…
Manitoba Accessibility Awareness Week kicks off June 4
June 5, 2017 | Source: MetroNews Canada | Awareness, Inclusion, Businesses, Transportation | Canada
An important event, Manitoba Accessibility Awareness Week (MAAW), kicked off Sunday, though you might not have heard about it from the provincial government due to a media blackout. Patrick Falconer, who works with Barrier-Free Manitoba, called it “very unfortunate” timing to have MAAW happening during the Point Douglas by election and its consequent media blackout period. Unfortunately, the event was already scheduled for June 4-10 nearly a year earlier.
The Accessibility for Manitobans Act became law in 2013 and accessibility standards in five areas—customer service, employment, information and communications, built environment and transportation—will be phased in over the next decade…
Building codes lacking to ensure accessibility: RAIC advocates
June 5, 2017 | Source: Daily Commercial News- Canada | Building Design/Architecture, Discrimination, Accessible Design | Canada
Ontario accessibility regulations and building code standards represent the bare minimum that architects should follow in building for accessibility, said two advocates for the concept of universal design who spoke at the recent Royal Architectural Institute of Canada conference held in Ottawa.
The last round of national building code consultations codified in 2016 was billed as the accessibility round but it fell way short, said architect Susan Ruptash of Quadrangle Architects, who with colleague Lorene Casiez offered a presentation billed as The Past, Present and Future of Accessible Architecture on May 26…
Province Releases Employment Strategy for People with Disabilities
Ontario is taking action to break down employment barriers for people with disabilities by launching a new strategy to connect more people with disabilities to rewarding jobs and more employers to new talent to help grow their businesses. Tracy MacCharles, Minister Responsible for Accessibility, along with Deb Matthews, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development, and Dr. Helena Jaczek, Minister of Community and Social Services, were in Toronto today to make the announcement.
Access Talent: Ontario’s Employment Strategy for People with Disabilities will help increase employment for people with disabilities and connect businesses to talent by:…
Access Awareness Day in Sidney not only about mobility
June 5, 2017 | Source: Peninsula News Review- Canada | Awareness, Disability Rights, Universal Design | Canada
A file of motorized scooters waited patiently to get into Sidney’s SHOAL Centre on Saturday, June 3 after parading through the streets of town. Each year the first Saturday of June marks Access Awareness Day in the community. “It’s a way of helping community members draw on services they might not always be aware of,” said Brian Losie, one of the people who spearheaded the initiative five years ago. “We’re trying to broaden it to a year ‘round thing.”
The day began at 10 a.m. with a scooter rodeo led by Second World War veteran Norman Reid. The parade ended at the SHOAL Centre, where the Accessibility Fair later took place until 2 p.m.. Informational displays regarding hearing loss, vision impairment and mobility issues were set up in the auditorium and representatives from a number of different accessibility organizations were in attendance to answer accessibility-specific questions…
Accessing Accessibility Under the Building Code, the AODA and the OHRC
June 5, 2017 | Source: Building- Canada | Building/Facilities Access, Government, Businesses | Canada
It is a given that during the life-cycle of a lease, commercial landlords and tenants can expect at least one of the parties to undertake some type of renovation. They will consult their lease terms to evaluate their rights, but they must also navigate through the tangled web of the Building Code Act, 1992 (“Building Code”). In light of recent amendments to the Building Code, landlords and tenants should be aware of whether a particular renovation they are considering could trigger new accessibility requirements.
Although the Building Code has included barrier-free design provisions since 1975, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (the “AODA”) was the driving force behind the recent accessibility requirements in the Building Code (a regulation under the Building Code Act, 1992). These new provisions were drafted to consolidate all accessibility requirements for buildings in one code. The new accessibility requirements in the Building Code came into force on January 1, 2015 with the goal of achieving accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities by 2025. The effect of the AODA cannot be understated as it not only affects the Building Code but also impacts the delivery to the public of goods, services, facilities, accommodation, employment, structures and premises…
Existing transport is failing disabled people, but new tech may help
June 6, 2017 | Source: The Guardian- UK | Transportation, Travel, Technology, Inclusion | United Kingdom
Of the 11.6 million people with disabilities in the UK, a fifth report having difficulty accessing transport. Many avoid travelling altogether, leading to isolation and depression. Making all transport accessible to everyone may seem a challenge but there are two beacons of hope: technology and people.
Door-to-door transport services, for example, are a lifeline for many but are often costly and clunky, with journeys sometimes difficult to book and vehicles late or cancelled. A recent report (pdf) from the London Assembly highlights the failures. The aim would be a service where people make one phone call to arrange a journey and it seems bizarre that this is such a difficult thing to do. Things are very different in the world of tech startups, so perhaps, rather than trying to change existing systems, we should look to them…
Putting the focus on accessibility
June 6, 2017 | Source: Daily Herald Tribune- Canada | Mobility, Building/Facilities Access, Government | Canada
Four city managers went about their Tuesday in wheelchairs, part of Spinal Cord Injury Alberta’s event, Chair Leaders Enabling Access. The idea is to help “policy writers and decision makers” see the value of having buildings that are accessible to disabled people, said Mieke de Groot, Regional Program Co-ordinator with Spinal Cord Injury Alberta, which is located at the Eastlink Centre and has about 40 people in Grande Prairie who have used its services.
Taking part in the event were Robert Nicolay, the city’s chief manager; Robin Hutchinson, traffic engineering supervisor; Koji Miyaji, director of community growth; and Lara Widdifield, development engineer. Two others joined them: Dylan Bressey, who is running for council, and Brant Radcliffe, a student at the Comp…
Accessibility at the core
June 7, 2017 | Source: The New Indian Express- India | Blindness/Visual Impairment, Innovation, Assistive Technology | India
As times are advancing, we as a community are acquiring more and more knowledge every day. Innumerable books and websites are being published every day. But the visually impaired remain almost untouched. Producing Braille text is expensive and the contemporary technology that converts text into audio is not up to the mark. Aiding devices that covert digitised text into Braille are available in the market, but the price range starts at Rs 2 lakh. In midst of all this, a team of passionate young engineers from IIT-B has come up with BrailleMe for just Rs 20,000.
It is 10 times cheaper than any other refreshable Braille display product in the world. It is Kindle for the visually impaired as it renders any digitised text into Braille. It will make social networking and word processing easy and accessible. It is multilingual, ergonomic, affordable and easily accessible…
Local MP wants answers on upcoming Accessibility Act
June 7, 2017 | Source: CTV News- Canada | Government, Awareness, Disability | Canada
The MP for Windsor-Tecumseh wants answers about the upcoming Accessibility Act for persons living with disabilities. New Democrat Cheryl Hardcastle stood up during Question Period in the House of Commons on Monday and asked about a report released by the federal government last week that summarizes eight months of consultations held with Canadians across the country.
“Public consultations on Canada’s first national law for disabled people identified key issues that need to be addressed immediately” said Hardcastle, the NDP Critic for Persons Living With Disabilities…
Council to push ahead with fully accessible fleet… But some drivers think plans will hit hard-pressed cabbies
June 7, 2017 | Source: The Press & Journal- UK | Transit/Transportation, Mobility, Government | United Kingdom
City council chiefs are set to push ahead with controversial plans to make every Granite City cab wheelchair accessible – despite the UK government saying they don’t have to. Plans were first approved in 1994 to make all the city’s taxis disabled friendly with the local authority long arguing that they were under a legal obligation.
Last year, councillors voted to delay a decision on implementing the scheme while they sought clarity on the law from Westminster. But a new report to the city’s licensing committee provided an update that the UK government “are not implementing any mandatory rules” on the number of disabled taxis…
Hi-tech, Low-cost Gift to the Blind
June 8, 2017 | Source: Moneylife- India | Blindness/Visual Impairment, Accessible Design, Assistive Technology, Innovation | India
When Surabhi Srivastava from Mumbai was judged the winner of the prestigious 2017 ASME Innovation Showcase competition, it was a reconfirmation of her belief that technology should improve the quality of life for the disadvantaged. BrailleMe, the award-winning product developed by her company, Innovision, makes it possible for the visually impaired to access any digital information instantaneously in their own tactile script.
Their product, BrailleMe, is the world’s first ever low-cost digital aid which enables the visually impaired to access digital content and devices in their own script in multiple languages. It is a digital Braille assistant aimed at digital accessibility for the 39 million visually impaired members of the global community…
Political advisors discuss building accessible society
June 9, 2017 | Source: Xinhua- China | Government, Inclusion, Facilities Access | China
Chinese political advisors met on Thursday to discuss how to establish a barrier-free society in China. Yu Zhengsheng, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), the top advisory body, chaired the meeting.
Members of the CPPCC National Committee said accessibility is an important symbol for the progress of socialism. They said while progress has been made in recent years such as the installation of more accessible facilities, there are still many problems including poor maintenance…
Better inclusion at work requires ‘human’ intervention, despite technological advances
June 8, 2017 | Source: CIPD- UK | Inclusion, Employment/Workforce, Assistive Technology | United Kingdom
More human action is needed for greater workplace diversity, despite significant progress made by assistive technology for people living with disabilities, experts told the Assistive Technology Exhibition and Conference this week. Opening the conference, keynote speakers Lord Chris Holmes of Richmond MBE and entrepreneur and activist Molly Watt urged businesses to commit to greater inclusion of disabled people by investing in assistive technology, but stressed that their efforts could not stop there.
“All technology is neutral when it comes to accessibility,” said Holmes. “It can have such a transformative impact, but this won’t happen as a matter of course – it could just exacerbate existing patterns of structures and exclusion. Inclusion will always be about human interaction with technology – humans deciding how to deploy it, and how to structure our society in a way that enables everyone to be a part of it.”…
‘Fixing society’ involves boosting accessibility laws
June 8, 2017 | Source: Winnipeg Free Press- Canada | Government, Disability Rights, Inclusion, Advocacy | Canada
The world would be a different place for people who have disabilities if Toronto lawyer David Lepofsky has his way. Lepofsky said the biggest changes would happen if governments could be convinced to create better laws to guide accessibility.
“What we’re trying to do is fix society,” Lepofsky said on Thursday. “The world has been designed as if the only people living in it successfully are people without disabilities. The buildings around us, public transit, stores, education systems, are all designed like people said, ‘Let’s design things so people with disabilities can’t use them.’…
‘It’s not like going to the bookstore’: CNIB campaigns for more books in braille
June 8, 2017 | Source: Yahoo News- Canada | Blindness/Visual Impairment, Inclusion, Discrimination, Accessible Design | Canada
Having limited access to books has always been something Darcy MacDougall has had to live with. Born with optic nerve hypoplasia, MacDougall has been blind since birth. That’s why MacDougall decided to lend his name to a national campaign of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind.
“It’s not like going to the bookstore or the library for a sighted person where you have all the choice in the world. There was always a pretty limited selection of what was available,” said MacDougall. “So, I remember times as a teenager where all my friends would be reading an author, and I wouldn’t be able to get any of the books because they were just coming out and hadn’t been put on braille or tape yet.”…
Accessibility Blogs & Information
- The Metropolitan Washington Ear is a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization providing free news and information services for blind, visually-impaired, and physically disabled residents of Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. They strive to substitute hearing for seeing, improving the lives of people with little or no vision by enabling them to be well-informed, fully-productive members of their families, their communities, and the working world. Their services reduce isolation and depression and help people maintain their dignity and independence.
- The Austin Blades is a Sled Hockey team for kids, teens and adults. They provide an on ice skating experience for children and adults with physical disabilities by introducing them to the competitive sport of sled hockey. Their program allow individuals with physical challenges to be a part of a competitive sport team just like able bodied individuals.
- Accomable is a service to help people with mobility difficulties find accessible properties around the world.
- California Accessibility Building Code
- User Research with Bentley University Helps EBSCO Understand the Needs of Visually Impaired Users
- IBM Accessibility Research
- The Paciello Group- Get the most out of #ID24
- June 9th
- Cleveron- Accessibility – what it actually means?
- Inclusive Design 24 – A Free 24-Hour Online Community Event on Accessibility
- LETTER: Accessible housing: why not at Park Royal?
- Accessibility and Drupal Meetup
- Accessible Canada- Creating new national accessibility legislation: What we learned
- W3C Web Accessibility Laws and Policies
- Accessibility of public transport services in Prague
- Accessibility audits are fun!
- Single Page Apps with Accessibility in Mind- Podcast
- Microsoft Office Accessibility Center – Resources for people with disabilities
- University of Maine Student Accessibility Services
- National Gallery of Ireland
- Georgia Southern University Accessibility Tools
- Longview Solutions
- Kinetix Systems Limited
- Office of the Texas Governor- Greg Abbott
- Cardiff City Football Club
- Toronto District School Board Accessibility Standards for Education
- Town of Little Elm, TX
- Baptist Health Madisonville
- Ames Community School District
- Homewood City School Board
- Kansas State University
- Town of Little Elm
- Peoples Bank
Accessibility Announcements & Products
- Accessibility in Live Chat Integration
- Video: Google Details ‘Switch Access’ Accessibility Feature
- Blind Samurai: 100% Blind Accessible mobile action game for Google Play
- Diff increases accessibility for movies in Year of Giving
- Dutchess County grants of $985,000 in federal money to increase accessibility
- June Marks Season of Accessibility for Paper Mill’s ‘Mary Poppins’
- Microsoft- Accessibility Updates in Access
- Windows 10 Insider build 16215 brings several new Accessibility features
- Access Design Guide for Accessibility
- MMF Wheelchair Accessible Payment Terminal Mount is Nominated for Three Prestigious Industry Awards
- There’s a new and improved ‘dark mode’ coming to your iPhone this fall
- Amazon launches a low-cost version of Prime for customers on government assistance
- The long wait for affordable, accessible housing in Hamilton
- The Holy Braille Tablet Could Totally Change How Blind People Consume Information- Video
- Estevan youth returns from leadership event
- Celebrating 30 years – FREE Accessible iOS Reading App for Blind, Low Vision & Dyslexic Readers
- New for Accessibility: ‘Smart Invert Colors’ in iOS 11, macOS onscreen keyboard, text & photo detection for VoiceOver & more
- Spectral Edge launches Ultra HD solution for color-blind viewers at M-Enabling Summit
Accessibility Q&A & Tips
- Web Accessibility Icons
- Accessibility on the help screen- Quicken
- Lanesboro, MN Accessibility
- (Feature Request) – Accessibility Testing support
- Fix missing tooltip and ARIA labels for accessibility
- iOS 11 Tidbits: Customizable Control Center, One-Handed Keyboard, Type to Siri and More
- Change Your Screen To Greyscale To Combat Phone Addiction
- Do you have a Voluntary Product Accessibility Templates (VPATs)?
- Duplicate links for layout text and icon in Panels IPE (accessibility issue)
- IBM Accessibility features
- Visualizations short-term issues
- Freedom Scientific SARA 460418 Scanning & Reading Appliance
- How to Make Your Website Accessible to People Who Use a Screen Magnifier
- Discover table column buttons aren’t keyboard accessible
- Accessible Information Communication Technology- Sensory Characteristics
- Accessible Information Communication Technology- Identify Language
- Accessibility- Make your app more accessible to users with disabilities.
- Make paginated table pagination buttons keyboard-accessible
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, as well as accessibility-related job listings.
Microassist Accessibility Services
Microassist Accessibility Services: Barrier-Free Digital Development describes our offerings 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.