Accessibility in the News—3/24/17.
The Importance of Accessibility
When dealing with technology day in and day out, it can be easy to lose sight of the forest for the trees: In the end, technology serves people. Individuals. Humanity. Accessible technology is no different, and the importance of accessibility comes from its impact on enhancing independent living, online or off.
This week’s stories are heavily focused on the people factor: The former Marine who can now hop in the pool without removing his prosthetic leg. A new, inclusive exercise app that takes into account the needs of those with cerebral palsy and limited mobility. The level of effort it takes to go from Manhattan to Brooklyn—in a wheelchair—for the fun of finding a famous bagel.
How inclusive and accessible our environments, tools, and technologies are play a huge part in how easily those with disabilities are able to partake in activities many take for granted. As some stories point out, architectural and facility decisions affect how we interact with our workplaces, our government, and our schools. Several articles address the importance of accessibility in our public services agencies and our education systems, from elementary to university levels, as well as how the U.S. is to set educational expectations for children with disabilities.
In many cases, technology has a pivotal role in how accessible both public and industry offerings are to everyone, and in some cases, web accessibility claims are the tool used to increase its implementation in an accessible way.
AITN Quote of the Week
“The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone, regardless of disability, is an essential aspect.”
Swimming with a Brand New Leg
03/14 | Source: The New York Times | Personal Account, Mobility, Sports/Athletics | New York
Dan Lasko, a broad-shouldered former Marine wearing green-trimmed blue swim goggles, emerged from the locker room at Nassau County Aquatic Center, ready to hit the pool with a brand new leg. It was the first time in years that he would be able to stride from the pool deck into the water without having to remove his reliable prosthesis, the one with an Asics sneaker attached, then hopping one-legged on the slippery deck to get in.
Since 2004, when an explosion in Afghanistan shredded the lower part of his left leg, his swimming routine had involved some degree of acrobatics. But now that Mr. Lasko, 34, from Bethlehem, Pa., is the father of two water-loving boys, ages 2 and 6, he has been dreaming of climbing in and out of the pool with them with ease. (Anyone who has ever held a squirmy toddler while hopping into the shallow end of a pool can relate.)
And until now, as a longtime triathlete, he had mostly relied on his arms for the first part of his swim-bike-runs. He couldn’t wait to use a water-friendly prosthesis that would match the power of his intact right leg…
With Project Torino, Microsoft Creates a Physical Programming Language Inclusive of Visually Impaired Children
03/15 | Source: Microsoft | Innovation, Tech, Blindness/Visual Impairment | United Kingdom
These days, most kids get their first introduction to coding through simplified tools that let them drag and drop blocks of commands, creating programs that can do things like navigate mazes or speed through space. A team of Microsoft researchers and designers in the company’s Cambridge, UK, lab is taking that concept one step further. The team has created what they are calling a physical programming language. It’s a way for kids to physically create code by connecting pods together to build programs.
The system, called Project Torino, is designed to make sure that kids who have visual impairments or other challenges can participate in coding classes along with all their classmates. But Cecily Morrison, one of the researchers working on the project, is hoping the system also will be appealing and useful for all learners, regardless of whether they have visual impairments or other challenges…
Google Glass Didn’t Disappear. You Can Find It On The Factory Floor
03/18 | Source: NPR | Innovation, Tech, Autism
Remember Google Glass?
They’re the headsets that look like regular glasses but have a small computer on the side to speak to and access the Internet. If that’s not ringing a bell, it could be because Google Glass fizzled out and was discontinued in the consumer market. But now, it’s getting a second life in the manufacturing industry.
One of the pioneers of this technology is a company based in suburban Atlanta. AGCO has factories all over the world where it makes large tractors, chemical sprayers and other farm equipment. At one of AGCO’s factories, Heather Erickson is putting together a tractor engine before it goes on to the assembly line…
Why I’m Not Just Blind
03/19 | Source: BBC | Personal Account, Blindness/Visual Impairment | International
Lee Kumutat examines why blindness comes to define the identity of people who have little or no sight. And why is sight so highly prized by people who have it. She talks to people in Kingston Jamaica, Accra in Ghana, in Edinburgh Scotland and California in the US. She asks how they navigate a world which seems to see them in two ways. People who are blind it seems must either be inspirational or deserving pity. Or even both.
Navigating Website Accessibility Claims
03/20 | Source: New York Law Journal | Digital Accessibility, Lawsuits/Litigation, ADA Title III | United States
Increasingly, companies face threat of legal action based on the claim that their websites and/or mobile applications are inaccessible to disabled users. Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires places of public accommodation, such as hotels, shopping centers, retailers, health care providers, restaurants, and private educational institutions, to maintain facilities accessible to the disabled. Most businesses understand their obligations to make their physical facilities accessible under the ADA.
What many do not realize is that in the Internet age, ADA accessibility involves more than compliance with architectural and structural requirements for physical facilities. Companies must also ensure their websites and mobile applications are accessible to the disabled. In 2016, more than 250 lawsuits were filed against companies, primarily in the retail, hospitality, and financial services industries, alleging that the companies’ websites were inaccessible to disabled users. The exposure in these cases entails not only an injunction, but also defense costs and award of the claimants’ attorney fees. Accordingly, it is important for businesses and defense counsel to understand the need for ADA website accessibility and strategies to mitigate exposure…
APS Hopes to Accommodate Disabled with Website Redesign
03/21 | Source: WBKB11 | Digital Accessibility, ADA, Website Design, K-12, Education | Michigan
Website accessibility for all people is a part of the law, a law that’s gotten a number of schools in hot water lately.
Alpena Public Schools has proposed the redesign of its website to make it accessible to the disabled, in light of a number of schools facing lawsuits for their website’s inaccessibility to disabled users. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), schools are required by law to have a website that is accessible to the disabled…
USDS Urges Agencies to Save Time, Money by Making Websites Accessible
03/21 | Source: MeriTalk | Government, Digital Accessibility | United States
Accessibility must be built into technology from the beginning of the process, and the technology must be tested with input from people with disabilities, according to the United States Digital Service.
USDS released information last week on how to make government websites accessible, which said that accessibility standards, similar to cybersecurity standards, should be built into a system from the beginning of the production process, because it’s more difficult to attach accessibility once the product is finished.
“Many designs are going to be onerous to make accessible after the fact,” said Nick Heiner, software engineer for USDS. “You can save a ton of development time and headaches by baking accessibility in upfront.”…
This Workout App Makes Fitness Accessible for People with Cerebral Palsy
03/21 | Source: Mashable | Sports/Athletics, Innovation, Mobility, Health/Medical, Awareness
A new app is making fitness more accessible and inclusive — and it’s all for a worthy cause.
The video-based app, called CPF Challenge, allows people with a diverse range of motor abilities to participate in specialized workouts. The app is part of a dedicated fundraiser challenge created by the Cerebral Palsy Foundation, a nonprofit supporting people with cerebral palsy through research and innovation.
The goal of the challenge is to “raise your pulse, raise awareness of cerebral palsy and raise dollars for the Cerebral Palsy Foundation.”…
Section 508 Refresh Seeks Digital Access to All
03/21 | Source: GCN | Government, Digital Accessibility, Section 508, WCAG | United States
It is time for government agencies to take heed of accessibility requirements. The Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (also known as the Access Board) delivered a final rule, effective March 21, concerning the contemporary implementation of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which relates to ensuring the availability of accessible IT in the federal workplace. Because technology is constantly evolving, this “refresh” serves to address technological advancements and keep the Rehabilitation Act current.
As content becomes more available across multiple platforms, and technologies such as smartphones expand multi-functional capabilities, the language of Section 508 needs updating as well, replacing earlier, product-specific language with functionality-based requirements. In addition, the Section 508 refresh “seeks to harmonize its requirements with … the Web Accessibility Initiative’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG),” serving to create an Internet-wide standard for accessibility, the Access Board explained…
Note: For a summary of changes, read Hiram Kuykendall’s Digital Accessibility Digest article, Section 508 Refresh: How WCAG Impacts Federal Accessibility Requirements
Two New Tools for Creating More Accessible Projects
03/22 | Source: Opensource | Digital Accessibility, Resources, Open Source, Tech
Accessibility has been an afterthought in development for far too long. The result has been costly retrofitting, the risk of inaccessible solutions, and unhappy users. We are where we are because developers often ignore accessibility in hopes that it will resolve on its own.
But solutions should be accessible by all—including the blind, deaf, those with cognitive disabilities and more. This is especially important considering the 1 billion people (including the aging population) with disabilities, the proliferation of new technology, and new industry standards. Further, it’s more than just the right thing to do. It is required by any organization working with the U.S. government, and increasingly, those in the private sector too…
University Puts 20,000 Lectures Behind a Registration Wall in Response to DOJ Pressure on Website ADA Compliance
03/22 | Source: Tech Dirt | Higher Ed, Digital Accessibility, Online Learning, Berkeley, Lawsuits/Litigation | California
Back in 2012, a federal court ruled US websites were “places of public accommodation.” The ruling (overturned on appeal) came in a lawsuit brought against Netflix by the National Association of the Deaf. It seems like an obvious conclusion—more people get their information, news, and entertainment from the web than other sources. But the ruling had plenty of adverse consequences, especially for smaller, less profitable purveyors of online content.
Professor Eric Goldman—who analyzes a ton of internet-related lawsuits—had this to say at the time:
If websites must comply with the ADA, all hell will break loose. Could YouTube be obligated to close-caption videos on the site? (This case seems to leave that door open.) Could every website using Flash have to redesign their sites for browsers that read the screen? I’m not creative enough to think of all the implications, but I can assure you that ADA plaintiffs’ lawyers will have a long checklist of items worth suing over. Big companies may be able to afford the compliance and litigation costs, but the entry costs for new market participants could easily reach prohibitive levels…
Supreme Court Sets Higher Bar for Education of Students with Disabilities
03/22 | Source: The Washington Post | SCOTUS, IDEA, K-12, Education, Disability Rights | United States
The Supreme Court on Wednesday unanimously raised the bar for the educational benefits owed to millions of children with disabilities in one of the most significant special-education cases to reach the high court in decades.
The opinion rejected a lower standard set by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit and used in a subsequent case by President Trump’s nominee to the high court, Neil Gorsuch, during his tenure on the appeals court. The high court’s ruling quickly became the focus of questions Wednesday at Gorsuch’s confirmation hearing.
In its unanimous ruling, the Supreme Court said that a child’s “educational program must be appropriately ambitious in light of his circumstances” and that “every child should have the chance to meet challenging objectives” even if the child is not fully integrated into regular classrooms…
Mythbuster’s Guide to Accessibility: What We’ve Learned About 508 Compliance That All Technologists Can Use
03/22 | Source: Digital Gov | Digital Accessibility, Section 508, Government | United States
As government technology improves and accelerates, the U.S. Digital Service has the opportunity to improve the most critical public-facing services across agencies. The services and products we create need to be accessible to everyone. Too often, we’ve seen others neglect accessibility because of some common misconceptions that make things difficult. In this post, we’ll debunk these myths, so you can easily create universally accessible content.
Myth #1: Government accessibility is harder than it is in the private sector. Reality: Accessibility is the same inside and outside the government.
Government accessibility standards are defined by Section 508, enacted as an amendment to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, to knock down barriers to technology for those with disabilities. (Section 508 talks about all sorts of technology, but in this post, we’ll be focusing exclusively on common consumer tech like websites and apps.)…
Bumpy and Inaccessible Cyber Highways, Especially for Disabled Persons in Nigeria
03/22 | Source: Business Day | Digital Accessibility, Advocacy, Usability, Government, Standards | Nigeria
In Nigeria, consumers of e-services are the affected by the chasm in regulatory provisions and weak legislative structures. As Governments and institutions embrace Information Technology to compete in the global market, citizens who consume e-services must be protected legally, ethically, and socially. This line of reasoning brings to bear the critical discourse concerning the readiness of our information highways as people embrace the cyber world.
In the first place, I would like to take a high-level review of some issues with the physical world, which we ought to guard against in the cyber world. Nigeria is a nation that is plagued with daunting challenges. And successive administrations can only attend to what the Federal Executive Council and the Senate consider as priorities within the tenure of the government. Physical road networks are grossly inadequate, existing ones are decrepit, and in some communities there are no accessible roads…
Eatsa is Being Sued for Not Making Its Automated Self-Serve Kiosks Accessible to Blind Customers
03/23 | Source: Recode | Grocery/Restaurants, Digital Accessibility, Lawsuits/Litigation, Blindness/Visual Impairment | California
Eatsa, a fast-food chain startup known for its nearly human-free, automated self-service technology, is being sued by disability rights advocates for not including accessibility features for the blind in its customer interfaces.
The federal class action lawsuit, which was filed in New York today with the American Council of the Blind as a leading plaintiff, alleges that the tech-centered restaurant chain’s inaccessible kiosk and automated serving technology is a violation of civil rights law.
Eatsa is a small chain based in San Francisco with only seven locations and a limited menu of mostly quinoa bowls. But the company has made headlines over the past year for its pioneering use of touchscreens and automated pickup technology that all but eliminate the need to interact with a person…
Huntsville’s Work-in-Progress Accessibility Plan Breaks Down Barriers
03/23 | Source: MuskokaRegion | ODA, OADA, Government, Business | Ontario, Canada
In 2001, each municipality in the province was mandated by the Ontarians with Disabilities Act (ODA) 2001 to prepare an annual Accessibility Plan, in which barriers preventing people with disabilities from participating in community life must be identified and removed. It was up to the town to decide how and when, given budget restraints. This act did not apply to the business community.
In 2005, each municipality and business in the province was mandated by the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) to prepare a five-year Accessibility Plan to do exactly what ODA had previously mandated. The new and improved act now included time limits for the removal of those barriers.
The AODA laid out a comprehensive road map to make Ontario accessible to all people through the development, implementation and enforcement of new, mandatory accessibility standards for some of the most important aspects of people’s lives…
Residents ‘Shocked’ Bowmanville’s New ServiceOntario Location Not Accessible
03/23 | Source: Durham Region | Building/Facilities Accessibility, Government | Ontario, Canada
When Jan Holland dropped by Bowmanville’s new ServiceOntario location on a recent Saturday morning, she thought the biggest hassle would be waiting in a long line to renew her health card. The local senior says she was “shocked” to discover the new centre is not accessible.
In addition to a lack of power doors, there is a step at the entrance, which was very difficult for Holland — who uses a walker — to navigate.
“I needed someone to help me get inside,” she says. “It was pretty surprising to see that at a government building. I can tell you, I wasn’t very impressed.”…
Bosses Told to Reassess Accessibility in the Workplace
03/23 | Source: FM World | Workplace, Building/Facilities Accessibility | United Kingdom
A lack of height-adjustable desks was the most common obstacle someone with disabilities would encounter coming into work at their office today.
The survey by CMD Ltd, a British manufacturer of products involving ergonomics, and the Shaw Trust, a national charity that works with employers, social services and the disabled to help people with disabilities find employment, quizzed 515 people aged 18-64 about their difficulties of working in an office.
Both men and women agreed on there being a lack of height adjustable desks…
How a Blind Man Plays Mainstream Video Games and the Future of Accessibility in Games
03/23 | Source: CBC News | Gaming, Tech, Blindness/Visual Impairment, Entertainment | Toronto
Nintendo’s Switch console came out earlier this month and now the party game 1-2 Switch is gaining a lot of attention for being accessible to blind and visually impaired gamers. “Being able to play that with my friends and not have a disability hinder my playthrough, it was amazing,” said Steve Saylor, a blind gamer from Toronto.
He said the 1-2 Switch contains unique features that make it possible for him to play. “The text was really big on screen. I can sort of stand back and read it without any problems. And for them to describe things in audio on how to play certain games is really great,” he said…
This Man’s Epic Quest for a Rainbow Bagel Makes a Crucial Point about Accessibility
03/23 | Source: Mashable | Transit/Transportation, Mobility | New York
If you’re in New York City, you could get your hands on a coveted rainbow bagel pretty easily. Only a MetroCard fare and a few subway stops are between you and the copious amounts of dyed dough. But if you have a mobility-related disability, public transportation — and navigating a city overall — isn’t exactly bagel quest-friendly.
To mark Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month this March, the popular YouTuber, who lives with cerebral palsy, collaborated with the Cerebral Palsy Foundation to release a hilarious and illuminating video on the lack of accessibility in cities…
- The Evergreen State College
- St Mary’s University
- The University of Cincinnati
- U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
- The US Department of Justice
Accessibility Products & Announcements
- Alton Towers no 1 for Accessibility- in Toilets
- Apple lines up acquisition of Workflow app developer
- Global Elderly and Disabled Assistive Devices Market to Reach US$19.6 bn by 2019
- EIT Accessibility Program Contest Winner to be Announced March 22
- Benefits of Using EphpSolutions 508 Compliance Remediation Services
Additional Accessibility Information
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