Accessibility in the News—5/19/17.
Whether its an election’s website accessibility, the mortgage industry’s website accessibility or even segregation due to a disability, it is important to consider the barriers that people with disabilities encounter when interacting with organizations online. Designing for all abilities in both the digital and physical worlds is a task that many governments and businesses have struggled with. But many individuals and organizations push forward with innovations, new policies, and awareness activities that shine light on changes that can benefit and esteem people with disabilities.
That’s the case with both Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) and AccessU, each held earlier this week. The organizers and participants in these events provide opportunities to talk, think, and learn about digital access and inclusion for people with disabilities. Read on for many stories covering making world accessible to everyone, sharing in the vision of the future that GAAD and AccessU aim to achieve.
In addition to the news items featured here, check out the Resources section also available on this page and in every issue. It is rich with the most recent accessibility pages, blogs, product announcements, and more, many related to GAAD 2017. Our AccessU backchannel also provides insights and information from that event.
AITN Quote of the Week
“Compassion is language the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”
— Mark Twain
National News (U.S.)
Uber partners with U.S. city for first time to offer rides to seniors, disabled
5/11 | Source: LA Business Journal | Transit/Transportation, Mobility, Aging | California
Uber is launching a pilot program to provide city-supplemented rides to seniors and disabled residents in Laguna Beach, California beginning in June. The program, which received approval from the Laguna Beach City Council, marks Uber’s first partnership with a city in the U.S., according to Jarryd Davis, manager of marketing and regulatory partnership for Uber West Coast, reported the Orange County Register. Uber will work with the city to supplement transportation needs for those 55 and older and the disabled who have been using the city’s mainline bus service, which is being cut or reduced in some areas. Nearly half of Laguna Beach’s residents are 55 and older, according to the newspaper…
Disabled MTA riders stranded by lack of access
5/11 | Source: AM Network | Transit/Transportation, Mobility | New York
Signal problems and subway delays like those this week get plenty of publicity when commuters are left stranded on the platform without a train. But for subway riders who use wheelchairs, every commute brings an additional guessing game, one that doesn’t get as much attention. Is their station’s elevator working? If they’re able to board a train, will the elevator at their destination work? If not, a passenger could be stuck on the platform until someone comes to help. And what about when a disabled New Yorker, or a parent with a stroller, has to go somewhere nowhere near an accessible stop?
It’s no secret that accessibility in the NYC subway system is abysmal, with just 248 elevators covering 117 stops, less than a quarter of the 472 stations system wide. At any given time, as many as 20 elevators are out of service…
15 Incredible Solutions from the TOM Accessibility Hackathon
5/12 | Source: Makezine | Innovation, Awareness, Awards/Recognition | New York
The Tikkun Olam Makers gathered on April 21-22 at the Brooklyn Navy Yards for an accessibility Makeathon. The results speak for themselves. Rachel is a need-knower who uses a scooter for mobility in Manhattan. The challenge she presented her to team was to create a portable, light-weight ramp to achieve greater accessibility in urban environments…
MS student McCarthy enhances campus accessibility through new web app
5/12 | Source: University of Illinois | Digital Accessibility, Awards/Recognition, Innovation, Mobile Apps | Illinois
The University of Illinois has long been a leader in accessibility for persons with disabilities. This tradition continues with a new web app called “Access Illinois” created by MS student Mark McCarthy and his team members Matt Arensdorf (undergraduate student, computer science) and Emily Chen (PhD student, computational linguistics). The app earned the team first place in HackCulture, a humanities-focused hackathon held at the University Library from April 8-23.
While the University provides accessibility maps, these maps require additional steps for successful use when a person is operating with one hand, such as when using wheelchair or cane. Access Illinois integrates existing accessibility maps with Google Maps, allowing individuals to discover walking directions to a destination and the locations of accessible entrances, classrooms, and restrooms…
Why Campaigns Should Be Engaging Disabled Voters
5/12 | Source: Campaigns & Elections | Voting/Elections, Government, Discrimination
Candidates who want to build a sustainable path to elected office should be courting the disability voting bloc. Before explaining how to do that, I’ll tell you why.
There are 59 million Americans with disabilities and nearly 36 million of them are eligible to vote. Along with their families and care providers, this voting bloc makes up one quarter of all voters and touches one half of all voting households. Disability voter activism has been growing and it’s finally getting noticed. Think-tanks like Pew Research studied the voting trends of disabled voters for the first time in 2016 while news agencies made disability connections to current events after then-candidate Donald Trump mocked a disabled reporter at one of his rallies…
Detroit’s First QLine rider enjoys wheelchair accessibility, hopes for longer route
5/12 | Source: MLive | Mobility, Inclusion, Innovation, Accessible Design | Michigan
The QLine streetcar system officially launched Friday with free rides for the public, picking up hundreds of riders for the first trips up and down Woodward Avenue. Detroiter Tanya Marshall, who utilizes an electric scooter to get around, was the first to board the initial public streetcar ride.
The streetcars were built with on-level boarding from the sidewalk, which is “very important for a person with a disability to get around with their wheelchair or scooter,” Marshall said. “This is a big thing for us to have another way to get around,” she said. “I hope it does well and expands to the suburbs. I was looking forward to it. I’m excited.”..
Developer Makes VR Accessible to Physically Disabled with Custom Locomotion Driver
5/12 | Source: Road to VR | Gaming, Inclusion, Mobility, Universal Design
WalkinVR is an upcoming driver for SteamVR designed to assist physical movement in a VR by moving or even resizing the virtual space relative to the user. It is currently in beta testing, with an initial release due at the end of May. Artificial locomotion techniques, such as the widely-adopted teleport, or the traditional ‘left stick’ style of VR movement, are effective at enhancing standard VR movement, but they fail to adequately meet the needs of disabled people. For instance, someone in a wheelchair can comfortably teleport in VR, but may find it difficult to pick up something from the floor or from a high shelf, or to physically turn on the spot…
Lewis County Elections Website Increases Accessibility- Follows Guidelines Set by the Disabilities Rights Washington Group
5/12 | Source: The Chronicle | Voting/Elections, Web Design, Accessible Design | Washington
Just in time for candidate filing week, which begins Monday, the Lewis County elections website now has a new look and layout that makes it easier for voters in the county to access pertinent information, according to the Auditor’s Office. The revamped web page went live in late April. It incorporates recommendations from the Disabilities Rights Washington group to ensure it’s more user-friendly for all members of the public.
“Our goal was to provide a new elections web page that is clean and uncluttered, but most of all user-friendly to all individuals in our community,” Lewis County Auditor Larry Grove said. Chief Deputy Auditor Tom Stanton worked with Josh Heck and Mitch Guthrie from the county’s IT department to rebuild the site from the bottom up…
Chair of the United States Access Board: Who Is Deborah A. Ryan?
5/14 | Source: AllGov | Government, Transportation, Building Design/Architecture
The United States Access Board (USAB) unanimously elected Deborah A. Ryan of Boston as its new chair on March 15, 2017. Ryan, who has served on the Board since 2011, owns an accessibility consulting firm in Boston that she founded in 2002. USAB, also known as the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Access Board, is an independent federal agency that works to assure physical accessibility to buildings, transportation, and other public accommodations for people with disabilities. USAB has 25 members: 12 represent federal departments, and the other 13 are members of the public appointed by the U.S. president, a majority of whom must have a disability…
Designing for All Abilities
5/09 | Source: NY Times | Universal Design, Fashion, Inclusion, Innovation
Shopping for and choosing clothes is challenging enough that an entire industry of stylists, magazine editors and fashion bloggers has been created to help. But imagine if your parameters included more than finding a sweater to complement your eye color, or a backpack to match your sneakers. Imagine if you were unable to use your arms to do anything (let alone get dressed), or used a wheelchair and needed to have easy access to a catheter, or had a spine with a significant convex curve that made pressing up against any flat surface painful, or had muscles that spasm…
Reduce the Risk of a Department of Education Investigation Regarding Website Accessibility
5/16 | Source: Ice Miller | Education, ADA, OCR, Government
The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has opened hundreds of investigations regarding whether websites operated by primary schools, colleges and universities, and even state departments of education comply with the American with Disabilities Act (ADA). For the most part, the complaints forming the basis of the investigations are not being made by current or prospective students but by national disability rights activists. Using online tools, the activists analyze school websites and report deficiencies, such as failure to caption photographs for blind persons and failure to use text and background color combinations for visually-impaired persons, to the OCR.
The OCR has entered into resolution agreements with numerous schools as a result of these investigations. These resolution agreements generally call for the school to develop an ADA policy for its website, fix all errors, conduct periodic audits, and submit to monitoring for compliance with the agreement for a period of time. Schools can reduce the chance an investigation will be opened against them by taking the following steps…
School districts can drive demand for accessible content from publishers
5/16 | Source: Education Drive | Education, Universal Design, Print Accessibility
National attention on the rights of students with disabilities sharpened during the Obama administration, a period that also brought new, online tests with universally available accessibility features. Teachers have also become more sensitive to the possibility that students once labeled “behavior problems” actually have underlying disabilities standing in their way.
Brad Turner, vice president of global literacy for Benetech, parent company of the popular Bookshare initiative, hopes this confluence of factors contributes to putting Bookshare out of business. Its model is based on the rights of people with print disabilities to get access to printed material in alternative formats. If publishers do not produce these alternative formats on titles they own, services like Bookshare can do so without any fear of copyright infringement thanks to the Chafee Amendment…
Virginia Beach-based development firm settles housing accessibility suit
5/16 | Source: Richmond Times- Dispatch | Housing, Accessible Design, Building/Facilities Access | Virginia
The Breeden Co., a Virginia Beach-based development firm, has agreed to a settlement with Housing Opportunities Made Equal of Virginia Inc. and the National Fair Housing Alliance to avoid litigation. Breeden also agreed to promote and ensure accessibility at eight company-owned apartment properties and provide a total of $87,000 to the two fair housing organizations, according to the agreement announced Tuesday.
The organizations began investigating the eight Breeden properties, including two in the Richmond area, in 2014. The two area properties cited in the settlement are Marshall Springs at Gayton West and The Reflection of West Creek, both in western Henrico County. The other properties are in Hampton Roads…
Apple spotlights how accessible tech helps people with disabilities thrive
There’s something undeniably special in the way Meera Phillips looks at you when you speak. It’s as if your words are the only words that will ever matter, whether you’re talking about something silly or something serious. The 15-year-old knows the value of hearing what people say. That’s because she’s used to not being heard.
Meera is nonverbal, living with a rare condition called schizencephaly that impacts her ability to speak. But with the help of her iPad and text-to-speech technology, she can make her thoughts and opinions known — and she sure does. From her love of Katy Perry to her passion for soccer, Meera will let you know exactly what’s on her mind. All it takes is a few taps of her tablet, and with a specialized app stringing letters into words, and words into phrases, her thoughts are played out loud…
The Mortgage Industry’s Next Headache: Website Accessibility Requirements
5/17 | Source: Mortgageorb | Web Design, Digital Accessibility, Housing, ADA
If past behavior is a good predictor of the future, mortgage lenders (as well as mortgage brokers, settlement services providers and real estate brokers, for that matter) should brace themselves: A new regulatory compliance shoe is about to fall, with private litigation leading the way. The focus is website accessibility – a catch-all phrase that means making websites and other digital platforms and files accessible to individuals with disabilities.
There are no Web accessibility regulations currently in place that are aimed at financial institutions generally or at the housing and housing finance industries specifically. But you don’t need a crystal ball or 20/20 vision to see them coming. A look at the history of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) will tell you what you need to know…
If You’re in a Wheelchair, Segregation Lives
5/17 | Source: NY Times | Mobility, Discrimination, Disability Rights | New York
Last year, the former chief of the Santa Fe, N.M., police department, Donald Grady II, said something that stuck with me. “There’s a thing that we call freedom of movement,” he said in an interview with The Atlantic, “which is really revered in this country — that we should have the right to move freely without impingement from the police simply because.” He was speaking as both a black man and a police officer about the ways racial discrimination can limit a basic right. But I related to this on more than one level.
As a black woman with incomplete quadriplegia and chronic pain, and as a full-time manual wheelchair user, my own ability to move freely is frequently restricted. Too often, both the lack of accessibility in public spaces and the ingrained ableism of many nondisabled people bars my way…
The promise of new rides for Texans with disabilities
5/17 | Source: TribTalk | Transportation, Inclusion, Accessible Design | Texas
The Coalition of Texans with Disabilities (CTD), a statewide cross-disability organization, is extremely interested in accessible transportation options, including the bullet train project, Transportation Networking Companies (TNCs) with a real accessibility program, and autonomous vehicles, all issues before the 85th Legislature in some form. Opportunities to shift an industry paradigm don’t come often yet can greatly impact the economic environment for people with disabilities…
Georgia aims to make its websites accessible for all
5/17 | Source: Marketplace | Web Design, Digital Accessibility, Section 508 | Georgia
One out of 12 people ages 18 to 64 in the United States identifies themselves as having a disability. Whether it’s a physical or learning disability, it can be difficult for those people trying to access the internet. A 1998 law known as Section 508 requires the federal government to make information technology accessible for everyone on all platforms, but states don’t have the same legal responsibility.
“States at this point are not really required to be accessible or to meet any standard like the federal websites are,” said Nikhil Deshpande, director of GeorgiaGov Interactive, which oversees Georgia’s website and publishing platforms. “But this is something within Georgia we decided we wanted to do.”…
Uber’s Deregulated Business Violates Equality Law
5/17 | Source: Newsweek | Transit/Transportation, Mobility, Discrimination, ADA | Mississippi
Uber has dodged another regulation. Last week, news broke that Uber is getting sued… again, this time by two disabled men in Jackson, Mississippi. The plaintiffs allege that as wheelchair users they are highly independent, but rely on commercial transportation – whether public or private – to get around the city, as neither drives. They take buses. They take taxis. But they can’t take Uber, they claim, because it doesn’t offer Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles (WAVs) to the half million residents of Jackson. This violates both the ADA and California disability law (where Uber is located)…
In AT&T’s accessibility lab, the goal is making technology, products for everyone
5/17 | Source: Dallas News | Deaf/Hearing Impaired, Inclusion, Digital Accessibility
When there’s an emergency, a deaf person’s primary way of calling 911 is still a clunky machine that looks like it should’ve gone the way of the fax machine and typewriter. For Aaron Bangor, the lead accessible technology architect at AT&T, the archaic-looking device — called a teletypewriter or TTY device — symbolizes the hurdles that some face when trying to use even the most basic technology.
Bangor and his team at AT&T will soon offer a simpler, more modern solution: Real-time texts that send a message immediately and without the push of a “send” button. The recipient can see a word as soon as the sender types it. It’s just one of the projects at AT&T’s Corporate Accessibility Technology Office, which designs, develops and reviews projects so they’re accessible for people with disabilities…
Accessibility survey of downtown Iowa City restaurants in the works
5/17 | Source: Little Village Magazine | Accessible Design, Discrimination, Building/Facilities Access | Iowa
Local disability rights activists Harry Olmstead and Jeffrey Ford are teaming up with University of Iowa students, city officials and other community partners to survey downtown Iowa City restaurants for accessibility. The project may eventually expand to include other businesses as well. “This is happening all over the U.S. with people in the disability community,” Olmstead said. “Everything from parks and rec to restaurants to lodging, we’re saying they’re not accessible, and that’s the truth.”
Volunteers and possibly University of Iowa Social Work 101 students will disperse throughout Iowa City in late August armed with knowledge, forms and tape measures. Businesses that are found to be accessible will be given a sticker with a wheelchair graphic so that passersby will know if they’re accessible before they visit. Restaurants that take steps to come into compliance will be able to request an inspection at any time…
For Families With Special Needs, Vouchers Bring Choices, Not Guarantees
5/17 | Source: NPR | Parenting, Autism, Education | Florida
The day Ayden came home from school with bruises, his mother started looking for a new school. Ayden’s a bright 9-year-old with a blond crew cut, glasses and an eager smile showing new teeth coming in. He also has autism, ADHD and a seizure disorder. (We’re not using his last name to protect his privacy.) He loves karate, chapter books and very soft blankets: “I love the fuzziness, I just cocoon myself into my own burrito.”
“He’s so smart but lacks so much socially,” says his mother, Lynn. She says Ayden was suspended repeatedly from his school in St. Lucie County, Fla., starting in first grade, for outbursts like throwing a chair. And during “meltdowns,” he was physically restrained by being held in a bear hug from behind or penned in with gym-style mats for up to 45 minutes…
Disability advocate pushing for school districts’ websites to be ADA compliant
5/17 | Source: Fox News | Advocacy, ADA, Web Design, Education
An initiative to make school districts’ websites accessible to people with disabilities is making its way around the state. Disability advocate Marcie Lipsitt is behind the effort and said she’s working to create national awareness of how inaccessible websites are to people who are blind or deaf.
“Under section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), websites have to be pretty accessible to individuals who are blind and have low vision issues and are deaf and hard of hearing and have fine motor impairments and dyslexia,” she explained. Lipsitt said she started her push in 2014 and routinely takes her complaints to the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights. Those complaints are against school districts, colleges, state departments and libraries…
Google Wants Android O To Make Users of Accessibility Services More Productive
5/17 | Source: Digital Trends | Digital Accessibility, Innovation, Mobile Accessibility
Enhancements to these services will help extend the benefits of Android apps to those with accessibility needs. The Android accessibility services team took the stage at Google’s I/O developer conference Wednesday to discuss a number of changes coming in Android O that aim to make the platform much more user-friendly for everyone.
Increasing productivity for accessibility services users was job one in preparing for Android O, according to Victor Tsaran, technical program manager on the Accessibility development team. To that end, the upcoming version of the mobile operating system delivers several critical improvements to TalkBack, an Android accessibility service that reads screen content to users who are visually impaired…
Tim Cook calls accessibility a ‘core value of Apple’ as he sits down for trio of interviews in honor of GAAD
In honor of Global Accessibility Awareness Day, Tim Cook invited a trio of YouTubers to Apple’s campus. For instance, YouTuber Rikki Poynter sat down with Cook to discuss Accessibility and Apple’s role in that area. For those unfamiliar, Poynter is a 25-year-old deaf YouTuber who started out with a focus on beauty products but has since switched to advocacy for closed captioning, signing, and the deaf culture.
In her sit-down with Tim Cook, Poynter discusses the Apple products she uses, why Apple cares about accessibility, and more. Additionally, Tim Cook sat down with blind YouTuber James Rath, and Accessible Hollywood…
‘Glacial Progress’ on Digital Accessibility
5/18 | Source: Inside Higher Ed | Higher Education, Digital Accessibility, Discrimination
Data from 700,000 classes show digital course materials have gotten only slightly more accessible to students with disabilities over the last five years. Much of the debate about accessibility issues in higher education in recent years has focused on audio and video — take, for example, the high-profile lawsuits against prestigious institutions such as Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of California, Berkeley.
But new data from Blackboard show that the most common types of course content that students use on a daily basis — images, PDFs, presentations and other documents — continue to be riddled with accessibility issues. And while colleges have made some slight improvements over the last five years, the issues are widespread…
How Technology Is Closing The Financial Accessibility Gap
5/18 | Source: Forbes | Technology, Banking, Housing
While technology has made great strides in democratizing access to information and transportation, the financial services industry, including mortgages, has been somewhat slow to evolve and reach historically underserved populations, including low-income, underbanked and disabled individuals. According to data from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), 27% of U.S. households were unbanked or underbanked in 2015, a fact which is at least partially attributable to lack of access to financial services.
To address the homeownership divide, we’re seeing an increasing number of lenders take steps to boost accessibility. For instance, Bank of America and Citi Mortgage are funding the Wealth Building Home Loan, which will help low- and moderate-income homebuyers secure a new 15-year mortgage with no down payment. Similarly, Luther Burbank Savings is offering three new community lending programs to make home ownership more accessible in California. Along with these lender-led changes, the continued rise of financial technology companies, or fintechs, is helping to further close the gap in financial accessibility, to the benefit of businesses and consumers alike…
Jack Fact — There are 1.3 million legally blind people in the U.S., and the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 285 million people worldwide are visually impaired — 39 million of them are blind, and the remaining 246 million have low vision. The American Foundation for the Blind estimates that fewer than 10 percent of blind people can understand braille, mostly due to a chronic teacher shortage in this area.
How the Digital India Movement Is Paving the Way for Inclusion of the Visually Impaired
5/11 | Source: The Better India- India | Inclusion, Blindness/Visual Impairment, Government | India
Digital Literacy, Digital Divide, Digital Inclusion. These terms are increasingly becoming a part of our conversational vocabulary, thanks to Prime Minister Modi’s flagship campaign, Digital India. Unlike the myriad schemes announced by previous ruling governments, Digital India is a powerful idea. It’s a transformative campaign, especially so from a blind citizen’s perspective.
Disability is created by barriers that exist in processes and structures. Digital India has the potential to break these barriers. According to the World Health Organization, people with disabilities are the world’s largest and fastest growing minority group. So, governments across the globe have to consciously start devising schemes and policies that address the needs of persons with disabilities…
Here are 13 of the most wheelchair and stroller-friendly places in Qatar
5/11 | Source: DOHA News- Qatar | Mobility, Inclusion, Building/Facilities Access | Qatar
Though people with disabilities in Qatar have long struggled to access many venues across the country, the situation has been improving in recent years. This week, more than a dozen local hotels, malls, parks and cultural locations received awards for meeting the needs of visitors with mobility issues. These included the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA), Al Khor Park, the Mall of Qatar and a number of luxury hotels. Trophies were handed out on Wednesday at the conclusion of the first Accessible Qatar conference…
Evacuation planning – diverse workforce requires accessibility for all
5/11 | Source: Facilities Management Journal- UK | Health/Medical, Workforce, Businesses | United Kingdom
At this year’s Health & Safety Event at the NEC in Birmingham, Evac+Chair International found that 68 per cent of surveyed visitors were aware of who is responsible for evacuating a building in an emergency. Almost 70 per cent of people questioned knew that the Regulatory Reform (fire safety) Order (RRO) states the ‘Responsible Person’ – usually the business owner – should ensure employees are evacuated safely out of a building. Surveying visitors about diversity and inclusion in their workplaces, Evac+Chair also found that over 60 per cent of people believe their place of employment did consider the modern, diverse workforce when evacuation planning…
100 venues available at Accessible Qatar app
5/12 | Source: The Peninsula- Qatar | Web Design, Inclusion, Web App, Disability Rights | Qatar
Close to 100 venues across Qatar are now available at the Accessible Qatar app and website which provide people with disabilities information on how accessible a venue is. Launched last year by Sasol, Accessible Qatar enables the disabled community to view public and tourist locations and outlets, know whether they are accessible and in what way.
“It’s the first app and website of its kind in the region which provides the disabled community with instant and reliable information about the accessibility of public and private venues across Qatar. With the support of trained accessibility auditors, Accessible Qatar has audited around 100 venues across Qatar including venues in retail, hospitality, tourism and public parks,” Phinda Vilakazi (pictured), President of GTL Ventures of Sasol, said recently at the inaugural Accessible Qatar conference…
Deadline looms for Via to respond to order to change wheelchair policy
5/14 | Source: CBC News- Canada | Mobility, Transportation, Advocacy, Discrimination | Canada
A deadline is looming for Via Rail to change its policies and allow more than one person travelling in a wheelchair at a time on its trains, or prove that doing so would be far too difficult. The Canadian Transportation Agency has ruled that the national passenger rail provider must revise an existing policy by Monday that says only one wheelchair or mobility scooter can be safely tied down on its trains, while any additional ones must be dismantled and stored in the baggage area.
A Toronto-based couple who both use mobility scooters sought the change, contending Via’s existing policies risk damaging valuable equipment and discriminate against people with physical disabilities. The Canadian Transportation Agency backed the couple in a ruling earlier this year, giving Via until May 15 to either amend the policy or make a case for why doing so would cause the company undue hardship…
Specialized clinic provides care for pregnant women with disabilities
5/14 | Source: Global News- Canada | Parenting, Health/Medical, Mobility | Canada
At just one day old, baby Abbas is already a symbol of hope. He’s the first baby born with the help of North America’s first clinic designed to provide specialized pregnancy care to women with a variety of physical disabilities. It opened this week. With this newest addition to her family, Dalia Abd Almajed is now a proud mother of two — but there was a time she worried if she could have a healthy pregnancy at all.
Just four years ago in 2013, Abd Almajed was rushed to hospital after suddenly losing mobility in both legs. She stopped breathing and was unconscious for three days. When she awoke, doctors diagnosed her with transverse myelitis, a rare disease affecting her spinal cord…
Two-thirds of councils pass web accessibility test
More than two-thirds of councils have passed stage two of the accessibility test created by the Better Connected service of public sector IT association Socitm, but the number has declined slightly from last year. It said that in a recent survey covering a mix of counties, districts, metropolitan authorities and unitaries throughout the UK, 134 of 195 passed the test for their sites to be used by people with disabilities. This amounted to 69%, but the figure for last year was 77%.
“These results should not be read as deterioration because a different, and arguably more difficult, set of tasks were tested this year,” Soctim said…
Disabled People Deserve More From Our National Game
5/15 | Source: Huffington Post- UK | Sports/Entertainment, Discrimination, Disability Rights | United Kingdom
Sport has the power to unite us all. Despite creed, colour, political belief or background, in football grounds we’re all the same. We’re all fans, united by our passion for our club. At least this is how it should be, but for some people, for too long, football has been an exclusive ‘club’ that remains closed. We’ve seen high profile fights to tackle racism in football and more recently to kick homophobia out of the terraces. But for disabled people, efforts to make our national game accessible and welcoming have fallen short.
New Scope research with our partner, Virgin Media, shows that nearly 40% of disabled fans have experienced negative attitudes from other fans. Staggeringly, a third (29%) say they’ve been the victim of verbal abuse in stadiums because of their impairment. That is just not good enough…
India has designed a revolutionary new set of accessible school books, but printers come up short
5/16 | Source: Scroll.in- India | Education, Inclusion, Print Accessibility, Innovation | India
The design and samples for the National Council for Educational Research and Training’s first lot of accessible textbooks are ready, but it may be a while before they reach classrooms across India. The council’s Department of Education of Groups with Special Needs has launched a hunt for printers that can mass produce these books.
Released in April, and with accessibility features for both abled and disabled children, the series of 40 books for Classes 1 and 2, represent a unique effort to make classroom learning inclusive. But the only printer their developers could find to produce the five sample sets was a family-run enterprise based in Delhi’s Kirti Nagar…
How PM Modi’s Digital India Dream Can Empower These 12 Million Indians
5/16 | Source: Youth Ki Awaaz- India | Blindness/Visual Impairment, Inclusion, Digital Accessibility, Government | India
Digital India is a transformative idea that needs to be exploited beyond its present scope to bring persons with blindness and visual impairment into the mainstream. Terms like digital literacy, digital divide and digital inclusion are increasingly becoming a part of our vocabulary, thanks to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s flagship campaign, Digital India.
Unlike the myriad schemes announced by the previous governments, Digital India is a powerful idea. It’s a transformative campaign – especially so, from a blind citizen’s perspective. Disability is created by barriers that exist in processes and structures. Digital India has the potential to break these barriers…
Local tech startups invited to showcase their businesses
Heuristext, a Sault Ste. Marie based tech startup and for-profit social enterprise that makes online content easier for anyone to understand, is one of only five companies in Ontario invited to pitch in the Accessibility Tech Pitch Competition that focuses on accessibility and assistive technology, with a chance to win $20,000 to assist with further development of their accessibility solution. Each company will pitch their innovative product or service to the accessibility community and panel of judges, demonstrating how they are making a real difference by putting accessibility-focused innovation in their products. Heuristext is also one of 24 Ontario-based companies present at the Accessibility Innovation Showcase that focuses on improving accessibility, displaying their technology and networking with industry experts, investors, government funders, and the accessibility community…
Lloyds seeks tech accreditation from AbilityNet
5/16 | Source: Finextra- UK | Digital Accessibility, Businesses, Accessible Design, Inclusion | United Kingdom
Lloyds Banking Group is extremely proud to partner with AbilityNet, a UK charity helping disabled adults and children use computers and the internet by adapting and adjusting their technology. As part of our commitment to be the best bank for customers, Lloyds is working with AbilityNet to accredit the Group’s websites and apps. Accreditation from AbilityNet will provide the reassurance for our customers that Lloyds Banking Group websites and apps are correctly designed, developed and edited, to provide a great experience.
As of 2015, over two million people in the UK are living with sight loss. RNIB, 2016By effectively working with practitioner charities and businesses, we are able to influence change across the communities we serve, the financial services industry and internally at Lloyds. Partnerships are key to our ongoing commitment to ensure our services are accessible for all of our customers. Expertise from organisations such as AbilityNet has been a key enabler for Lloyds Banking Group to do this…
The challenges of using technology when you are blind
5/17 | Source: The Sydney Morning Herald | Blindness/Visual Impairment, Technology
As a blind kid, I never imagined technology would one day threaten to block my participation in the world. When I first heard the words “that’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” on the radio, I knew that if technology could send man to the moon, it could also make it possible for me to do the things I wanted to do to fully participate in society. This has been true, but only to some degree.
There are life-changing examples of technology, such as GPS and screen-reading software, that have opened up the world for me and other people who are blind or have low vision, in ways that were never available to previous generations…
Seeing tech through the eyes of the visually impaired
5/17 | Source: Stuff- Australia | Blindness/Visual Impairment, Accessible Design, Digital Accessibility, Technology | Australia
We tend to take the gadgets we have for granted. If we aren’t able to do something, it’s not us, it’s the machine. But for the visually impaired, using a smartphone, amongst other devices, presents a whole other set of challenges. The tech has to come equipped with features that compensate for the loss of vision, since sight is key in operating pretty much every gadget out there. For example, smartphones are essentially slabs of screens.
To find out how the visually impaired can still use mainstream devices like the iPhone, I spoke with David Woodbridge, a technology consultant with Vision Australia and an Apple Accessibility Ambassador. Visually impaired since he was eight-years-old, Woodbridge now works with tech companies and people like him to shed light on accessibility in technology…
Access: beyond ramps and large print
5/17 | Source: Spoke- Belgium | Mobility, Arts/Entertainment, Inclusion | Belgium
This story starts on the stage of the prestigious Stefaniensaal ballroom in Graz, Austria. Thursday 9 June 2016, Gala Ball of the Ecsite Annual Conference. 23:15. Sharon Ament, Chairperson of the Mariano Gago Ecsite Awards Jury, is about to reveal the winners of the Strategic Partnership awards, “recognising extraordinary collaboration between an Ecsite member and an external partner whose work together enabled them to achieve goals neither of them could have reached by themselves alone”. And the winner is… Tekniska Museet, Stockholm, Sweden! For the partnership undertaken with artist Håkan Lidbo on the interactive exhibit “Make Music with Your Whole Body”.
“This project struck a chord with the Jury,” declares Ament. “It is an inspiring example of co-creation for the science engagement community.” The exhibit is part of MegaMind, the museum’s new wing dedicated to creativity, and was co-created with children, taking into account the needs of physically impaired visitors. As Museum Directors Peter Skogh and Project Manager Åsa Lindgren step onto the stage, a video reveals the winning exhibit to the crowds. It’s a big bright green interactive sculpture, inviting multiple players to create different music combinations, using their bodies as a chain to connect sensor areas spread around the piece. The created music is translated into a graphic animation shown on screens placed in the centre of the sculpture, and into a sequence of vibrations that resonate inside visitors’ bodies…
CNE to end free fare for people with disabilities in 2018
5/17 | Source: The Star- Canada | Accessible Design, Building/Facilities Access, Inclusion, Disability Rights | Canada
People with disabilities will not get free entry to the Canadian National Exhibition starting next year, the fair’s board of directors decided Wednesday as it accepted recommendations to improve accessibility. The recommendation was one of six submitted by the CNE Advisory Council on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities, which focused on ways to improve accessibility at the fair.
“Any organization needs time to evolve their culture to become more inclusive so what we’ve recommended to the CNE are a number of steps that will help the culture of the organization evolve to be more inclusive of people with disabilities,” said Bob Stark, who chaired the committee and is a disability advocate and former CEO of ServiceOntario…
The Challenges Of Using Technology When You’re Blind
5/18 | Source: Gizmodo- Australia | Blindness/Visual Impairment, Discrimination, Technology | Australia
There are life-changing examples of technology, such as GPS and screen-reading software, that have opened up the world for me and other people who are blind or have low vision, in ways that were never available to previous generations. Despite these developments, I have spent most of my adult life advocating for technology and information to be made accessible. In 2000, I successfully complained to the Australian Human Rights Commission about the inaccessibility of the Sydney Olympic Games website, and won. I was convinced that shining a spotlight on those who broke the law would change things for the better. To my disappointment, the organisers simply chose to ignore the ruling. As the website was not made accessible, my children and I missed certain events.
Since the turn of the century, not much has changed. In 2016, 37 per cent of complaints to the Australian Human Rights Commission were lodged under the Disability Discrimination Act. It’s no surprise to me that 33 per cent of these complaints related to being unable to access goods, services and facilities…
Civil Court Rejects City’s Challenge to BTS Accessibility Suit
5/18 | Source: Khaosod English- Thailand | Lawsuits/Litigation, Government, Disability Rights | Thailand
The Civil Court said Thursday it has the authority to consider a class-action suit filed against City Hall for failing to make the BTS Skytrain system accessible to people with disabilities. Rejecting a motion filed by the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration that the case did not fall within its purview, the Civil Court said it is the proper legal venue because the suit seeks financial compensation for violating the disabled welfare law and not for action by officials, which would have placed it in the Administrative Court.
“It calls for compensation, not for action,” said Sonthipong Mongkonsawat, the attorney representing the disabled rights group which brought the suit. “We don’t have the channel to seek compensation under the procedure of Administrative Court.”…
Bringing Wheelchair Design Into The Digital Age
5/18 | Source: CO.DESIGN- UK | Mobility, Digital Accessibility, Innovation, 3D Printing | United Kingdom
Human bodies come in all shapes and sizes, especially where disability is involved. But for the most part, wheelchairs are a one-size-fits-all affair. It’s absurd, says British designer Benjamin Hubert, founder of the experience-driven industrial design agency Layer. Shouldn’t the wheelchair a person spends their entire waking day in be at least as tailored to their body as the pants, the shirt, or the shoes they wear?
So Layer designed a wheelchair that is. It’s called the Go: a partially 3-D printed wheelchair that is custom-fit to its owner’s unique proportions. It not only looks cool, it uses some smart design tricks–like one plucked from rugby players–to make pushing yourself around in a wheelchair a little easier…
Digital India must be accessible to people with disabilities
5/18 | Source: Money Life- India | Digital Accessibility, Government, Inclusion | India
The increasing focus on digital governance and the availability of assistive technologies have proven to be both empowering and frustrating for persons with disabilities, who would number around 150 million in India. Government initiatives like Digital India are increasingly delivering basic government functions through information technologies, but many of these are still inaccessible for users with visual or other disabilities.
“Research has revealed that many Indian government websites, Indian government apps, and privately owned apps are completely or partially inaccessible to persons with disabilities, resulting in their exclusion. With app usage growing over 40% every year, Indians with disabilities are at risk of being excluded from society as everyday activities such as managing their finances, keeping in touch with friends, or staying in touch with their government representatives becomes impossible,” says a press release from the Centre for Internet and Society (CIS)…
ACCAN wants more accessibility on free-to-air TV
5/18 | Source: IT Wire- Australia | Leisure/Entertainment, Government, Global Accessibility Awareness Day | Australia
The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network and the Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Alastair McEwin, have jointly called on the federal government to increase access services for people of all abilities across free-to-air television. And, ACCAN is calling for increased captioning across free-to-air multi-channels, like Go and 7Mate, and for the introduction of 14 hours of audio description on ABC and SBS.
The call, on Thursday, coincided with Global Accessibility Awareness Day, and with ACCAN Disability Policy Adviser, Wayne Hawkins saying the government’s recently announced proposal to eliminate television broadcast licence fees, resulting in a $90 million per year windfall for broadcasters, should be contingent on broadcasters providing greater access services for viewers with disability…
How sign language interpreter Holly Maniatty keeps music accessible
5/18 | Source: CBC Radio- Canada | Deaf/Hearing Impaired, Arts/Entertainment, Inclusion, Advocacy | Canada
American Sign Language interpreter Holly Maniatty has a knack for going viral. Video clips of her interpreting the lyrics at a Snoop Dogg concert in New Orleans spread quickly through Facebook last week. But it’s not the first time the interpreter has been in the spotlight. Maniatty also displayed her acumen with interpreting hip-hop lyrics at a 2013 concert alongside legendary hip-hop crew Wu Tang Clan.
However, Maniatty’s commitment goes beyond the quickly fading attention span afforded to viral videos. Maniatty talks with q guest host Ali Hassan about the art and science of “performance interpreting” and gives insight into the experience and accessibility needs of deaf people at concerts and music festivals…
The voice of older persons at EU level
5/18 | Source: Age Platform- Europe | Aging, Inclusion, Disability Rights
The rapid ageing of the population and growing inequalities in Europe make the issue of accessibility a major challenge. In a time where Europe needs to reinforce its common values of democracy and solidarity, this is a key moment to stress the importance of mainstreaming accessibility in European policies so as to make sure nobody is left behind. The Global Accessibility Awareness Day offers a timely opportunity to reaffirm our call for an inclusive and accessible Europe for all.
Over the past years, AGE has actively campaigned by the side of the European Disability Forum (EDF) and the European association representing consumers in standardization (ANEC) for an ambitious Accessibility Act. The Accessibility Act was initially proposed by the European Commission at the end of 2015 with a view to set common binding EU accessibility requirements for certain key products and services…
How inclusive design can change the way we access museums
5/18 | Source: Architectural Digest- India | Inclusion, Arts/Entertainment, Disability Rights, Building Design/Architecture | India
Article 30 of the United Nations Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities—of which India is a signatory—recognises the right of persons with disabilities to take part on an equal basis with others in cultural life, including access to museums and cultural centres. Architect Siddhant Shah highlights his experience as an accessibility consultant in the country.
As architects and designers, we are constantly creating narratives. These narratives are either exclusive (in this context to be read as excluding people out of those spaces) or inclusive (allowing access to all). I would like to illustrate this with an example. Take the flooring of a building: a smooth finish is an impediment for persons with disabilities to navigate, especially for people who are visually impaired or old. Now imagine if the flooring was designed with a different set of materials, using different colours either to highlight or demarcate sections, it would automatically act as a guide for the user…
Advancing accessibility through international standards – “Recommendation 2016 concerning standards on eAccessibility and eInclusion”
5/18 | Source: Association for the Advancement of Assistive Technology in Europe | Digital Accessibility, Inclusion, Assistive Technology
International standards are the basis for our global economy. For this reason, AAATE and Infoterm endorse the Recommendation 2016 and invite all other organisations wanting to promote the mainstreaming of accessibility to join in. If we are serious about mainstreaming accessibility, we need to make sure that eAccessibility and eInclusion are waved into the fabric of standards from the very beginning. The “Recommendation 2016 concerning standards on eAccessibility and eInclusion” provides good guidance on how to achieve that and calls upon all stakeholders in general and standards developing organisations (SDO) in particular to:..
Accessibility Blogs and Information
- Tips on Finding the Right Wheel Chair Accessible Hotel
- Is Your Website ADA Compliant?- Stoll Keenon Ogden PLLC
- The Paciello Group- GAAD 2017: I wish I’d know
- PEAT- Celebrating Global Accessibility Awareness Day
- Dropbox- Celebrating Global Accessibility Awareness Day
- The Perfect Day for New Zoom Accessibility Features
- Google- Adding Sound Effect Information to YouTube Captions
- Microsoft- Empowering a more accessible and inclusive world
- To ARIA! The Cause of, and Solution to, All Our Accessibility Problems
- PEAT Talks Recap: Making Taleo Accessible
- The University of Mississippi- Accessibility and the VPAT
- National Geographic’s- Inside an Inspiring School in India That Prepares Blind Youth for Life
- The Paciello Group- Slides: London Web Standards; Making SVG accessible
- Microsoft- A Graphic Designer Rewrites Her Future with Parkinson’s Disease
- Accessibility support and documentation- Blackboard A11Y Survey results and insights
- GAATES- The Illustrated Technical Guide to the Accessibility Standard for the Design of Public Spaces
- The Importance of Garages in Accessible Housing
- BrailleNet White Paper – “e-Accessibility in a Connected World”
- No mouse challenge issued for Global Accessibility Awareness Day
- Q’Straint to host ‘Emerging Trends in Wheelchair Transportation’ webinar
- For Art’s Sake: let’s make art inclusive!- Podcast
- The road to making a website accessible, part 1
- First Financial Bank
- Hood Museum of Art- Dartmouth
- Tate & Lyle
- Asbury University
- The University of Tennessee, Knoxville
- Sungard- Click2GovCS
- California Commission on Teacher Credentialing
- Ford Motor Company- UK
- Virgin Media
- IBM Maximo Asset Health Insights on Cloud
- Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science (CSMLS)
- The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art- Supporting our diverse community
- Campbell Company of Canada
- Accessibility in Elsevier Health Advance Journals
- Promet Source
- Top Hat
Accessibility Announcements and Products
- Mobility-Advisor.com– Serves as an educational guide on wheelchairs, mobility equipment, disability resources, and recreational outlets that enhance the lives of individuals of all ages who need mobility assistance.
- Mada workshop explores role of e-Accessibility– Strategies and best practices for creating accessible work environments.
- Eyeware.org– Eyeway aims to enable persons with blindness and visual impairment to become personally independent, economically self-reliant and integrate well into the social community.
- Smart accessibility – Design Terminál x Route4U picnic– Discover the game changing innovation of a Hungarian startup for accessible cities.
- GoGoGrandparent– Affordable senior transportation
- Purple Hound launches accessibility star ratings initiative– Accessibility champion, Purple Hound is launching its series of stickers which rate venues on how accessible they are.
- Find website accessibility issues with Koa11y
- Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute, Global Accessibility Awareness Day, Relaunch of YouDescribe
- Antigonish County preparing for new provincial legislation on Accessibility
- OneNote gets an enhanced look across all platforms to improve accessibility
- Microsoft Confirms Windows 10 S Accessibility Tech User Can Upgrade to Windows 10 pro for Free
- Microsoft Boosts OneNote Accessibility, Offers Free Accessibility Training Course for Educators
- Blackboard Ally Helps Make Course Content More Accessible for Students
- ADA Accessibility Modifications Nearing Completion at Municipal Office Building and Bryan Texas Utilities (BTU)
- Assessing Accessibility for Metro Stations of Faridabad, India- LAP LAMBERT Academic Publishing
- Freedom Scientific PAC Mate Omni™ BX and QX 6.2 Update
- Virgin Media has teamed up with disability charity Scope to highlight disability discrimination in football grounds
- Bell Canada- Accessibility devices
- Window-Eyes to JAWS Migration & Breaking: Window-eyes discontinued, in the hands of the VFO Group
- Full inclusion: Edmonton makes headway in improving accessibility to the river valley
- Meet the World’s First Comic Book Superhero with Down Syndrome
- National Seating & Mobility Expands with Columbus and Seattle Acquisitions
- The Sitemorse 1-million-page giveaway
Accessibility Q&A & Tips
- NVDA reading wrong or duplicate content in editor
- Find website accessibility issues with Koa11y
- 10 Accessibility Checkers & Tools For Beginners to Experts
- Progressbar accessibility attributes not read correctly by Narrator
- Accessibility – TalkBack_G6
- Accessibility: Modals
- Maintaining Keyboard Focus
- Make charts screen-reader-accessible
- Remove unnecessary ARIA
- Side nav icons need alt text
- Maintaining Keyboard Focus Part 2 – Accessibility Tip
- aio: heading anchor 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.
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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.
Please contact us for any questions you have about our accessibility services and how we might support your organization.
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