Accessibility in the News—May 26, 2017
From airlines and apps to architecture and much more, this week’s news covers notable strides (including the “most accessible meeting ever“) that will ease or have eased many situations for people with disabilities. Some initiatives enable even those with profound disabilities to attend sporting events. Progress stems from greater awareness and inclusive initiatives across various sectors (education, tech, government, theater, gaming) and across U.S.-based and international communities. Global Accessibility Awareness Day, observed the third Thursday in May every year, contributes to those strides in the digital world, with both local and internationally recognized IT-sector participants.
One of the benefits of compiling these news stories is being able to see progress in the mainstreaming of accessibility for people with disabilities in both online and physical environments. However, it also highlights gaps: personal accounts of careless treatment, industries facing accessibility litigation, and the subtle—or not so subtle—messages communicated to people with disabilities based on how accommodations are implemented, whether within a theme park or at a university—or in a home, if they are at all.
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.
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“The only disability in life is a bad attitude.” — Scott Hamilton
National News (U.S.)
Apple holds Stevie Wonder concert on campus in honor of Global Accessibility Awareness Day
5/19 | Source: 9to5Mac | Apple, Digital Accessibility, Awareness, Global Accessibility Awareness Day | California
Apple has been celebrating Global Accessibility Awareness Day all week, highlighting its Accessibility features and sharing the stories of those who use them. To cap off its celebrations, Apple yesterday held a concert at its headquarters with Stevie Wonder. Apple held the concert as part of its annual “Beer Bash” festivities, which in the past have featured artists such as Pharrell Williams and Zane Lowe. A plethora of images have emerged on social media showing the gathering of Apple executives and employees for the concert, which was kept a surprise until the day of.
Stevie Wonder, who has been legally blind since shortly after birth, has praised Apple’s Accessibility features in the past. In 2011, the musician thanked Steve Jobs for Apple’s focus on ensuring that everyone can use its products. “There is nothing that you can do on the iPhone or iPad that I can’t do,” he said…
Cabin Announcement Task Force Mulls Recommendations for Making All Cabin Announcements Accessible
5/19 | Source: Airline Passenger Experience Association | Transit/Travel, Government, Airlines
Last year, the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) created the Cabin Announcement Task Force (CATF) as part of a rule-making activity. Aviation industry veteran and consultant Peter Lemme (known to many as the Satcom Guru) volunteered to lead the working group. The CATF’s mission is to make all forms of passenger announcements universally accessible, including to those who are blind, deaf or hard of hearing. The working group includes advocates for accessibility, the FAA, airplane manufacturers, airline operators and equipment/service suppliers…
Disney World’s new ‘Avatar’ rides aren’t wheelchair accessible, even though movie’s main character uses one
5/19 | Source: NY Daily News | Leisure/Entertainment, Travel, Mobility | Florida
People who use wheelchairs will have a tough time riding a couple of Disney World’s upcoming “Avatar” attractions—which is strange considering the film’s hero used one. A pair of rides within the amusement park’s latest area, The World of Avatar, will require park-goers who use wheelchairs to get out and sit in the actual attraction’s seats if they want to ride, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
Disney officials said the reasoning for this is simple: the rides are too small to accommodate wheelchairs. But the entertainment conglomerate did not offer an explanation for why the attractions were not designed to fit wheelchairs, like many of the other rides in the park, according to the newspaper…
Businesses Face Conflicting State and Federal Accessibility Requirements
5/19 | Source: National Law Review | International Symbol of Access (ISA), Government, Policy/Legislation
Many states and localities have their own distinct accessibility laws and regulations for businesses. Often these are not analogous to the ADA. For instance, businesses operating in New York must use the disability access symbol designated by the state, but the U.S. Access Board (which sets standards of accessibility for federal agencies and drafts the ADA Accessibility Guidelines that the Department of Justice (DOJ) incorporated into its ADA Title III regulations) recently issued guidance that makes it more difficult to argue the state Accessibility Icon is an “equivalent facilitation” under the ADA…
Central Washington University offering Accessibility Studies as first program of its kind in country
5/19 | Source: KIMA TV | Higher Education, Awareness | Washington
Central Washington University (CWU) is offering a program dedicated to increasing awareness for accessibility issues. “I will be the first person to sign up for the course,” said senior Humberto Avila. Avila couldn’t wait to be a part of CWU’s new Accessibility Studies Program.
The Special Education major, who’s been blind since birth, is part of the inspiration behind the program’s development as a former student of the program’s lead professor Naomi Petersen. “In order to make the teaching accessible I realized we needed an accessibility program because everybody needs this in almost profession,” she said…
Middle School Student’s Superlative Award Makes Fun of Her ADHD
5/19 | Source: Yahoo | ADHD, Education, Cognitive, Inclusion, Discrimination | Georgia
Superlative awards are supposed to be a funny way to acknowledge students for their personalities, talents, or other nonacademic achievements. A middle school in Georgia has illustrated how they can also be hurtful, after awarding “Most Likely to ‘Not Pay Attention'” to an eighth-grade girl who has been diagnosed with ADHD.
“I feel like it was very derogatory, I feel like it was humiliating, and this was held as an assembly with the school,” the girl’s mother, Nicole Edwards, told Fox 5 News in Washington, D.C. According to Edwards, the original award her daughter won was “most likely to ask a question that has already been answered,” which doesn’t sound much better…
Deaf-blind commission holds ‘the most accessible meeting ever’ at the Capitol. Here’s what it looked like
5/20 | Source: Twin Cities | Government, Open Meetings | Minnesota
The room was quiet, and civil, with one person speaking at a time. But there were conversations going on everywhere. Friday’s meeting of the Commission of Deaf, DeafBlind & Hard of Hearing Minnesotans was described by Beth Fraser, the commission’s government relations director, as “the most accessible meeting you’ve ever seen in the Capitol complex.”…
Digital Inclusion: How the Section 508 Standards Can Impact Your Organization
5/19 | Source: Perkins Coie | Section 508, Lawsuits/Litigation, Digital Accessibility, Businesses
As more everyday activity migrates to digital technologies and the internet, a wave of new lawsuits are testing the boundaries of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the digital world. The rapid proliferation of website accessibility claims under the ADA has sensitized public and private sector organizations to other potential claims associated with their use of the internet and information technologies to communicate with their customers, exhibit their products, effectuate online transactions and offer benefits in the workplace.
Many organizations and institutions seeking to manage risk now pre-screen technologies at the procurement stage to ensure accessibility. Common standards provide useful guidance in this type of risk-management effort. The most comprehensive set of common standards for digital accessibility are those published in January as a final rule by the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board pursuant to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. Increasingly, organizations that are not directly subject to these standards are looking to them as an aid in their compliance and risk management efforts…
Mom who attended every class with quadriplegic son earns honorary MBA alongside him
5/22 | Source: KFOR | Parenting, Mobility, Higher Education | California
A mother helped realize her son’s goal of earning an MBA despite a debilitating accident that left him a quadriplegic. Over the weekend, they both earned degrees. Judy O’Connor attended every class with 29-year-old Marty O’Connor, taking notes for him as he worked toward his masters of business administration degree at Chapman University in Orange, California, according to KTLA.
Shortly after pushing Marty in his wheelchair across the stage, Judy was called out as a “special individual.” The crowd cheered. The announcer became choked up as she read about the decision by the faculty, administration and board of trustees to award the elder O’Connor an honorary degree. “Mrs. Judith O’Connor has attended all the classes with her son Marty,” the announcer said. “She has taken notes and worked with Marty throughout his academic career.”…
Inclusive Design: Making The Web Accessible For All
5/22 | Source: Forbes | Digital Accessibility, UX, Web Design
Inclusive design, as shared by the Inclusive Design Group at the University of Cambridge, is defined as “design of mainstream products and/or services that are accessible to, and usable by, as many people as reasonably possible … without the need for special adaptation or (specialized) design.” The same concept can be extended to the web, which helps us move away from the often touted holy grail of “usability” when designing user experience (UX).
Accessibility is the act of making an app or a website usable for people with disabilities. Usability, on the other hand, is just a measure of how easy it is to use an app or a website. To put it another way, an app with a high accessibility score will automatically score high on usability, but the other way around is not necessarily true…
Miami-Dade County Public Schools Settles Digital Discrimination Lawsuit
5/22 | Source: Digital Journal | Digital Accessibility, Education, Discrimination, Lawsuits/Litigation, Broadcasting, Open Meetings, Deaf/Hearing Impaired, ADA | Florida
For Eddie Sierra, watching Miami-Dade County Public Schools board meetings online was impossible. Sierra is deaf and a resident of Miami-Dade County. He wanted to be able to view and understand the video content on the school board’s website. Since he could not hear the audio portion of the video and they weren’t closed captioned, he could not use them.
In September 2016, Sierra wrote the Miami-Dade County Public Schools requesting that videos be closed captioned so he could watch them. He never received a response to his request. In January 2017, Sierra filed a lawsuit alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act (ADA) of 1973. On May 10, 2017, the parties resolved the issues and entered into a Consent Decree, which will remain in effect until May 2022…
Newport News updating website to comply with accessibility standards
5/22 | Source: Daily Press | Digital Accessibility, Education, ADA, Title II, OCR, DOE | Virginia
Over the next 18 months, nearly 8,000 Newport News Public Schools webpages will change. Videos will have closed captioning for hearing-impaired browsers. Those with low vision will have a high-color contrast option to better see content, and inserted text to describe images will display for blind users. Special coding will be added to help people using screen readers navigate pages.
The changes are a result of a resolution agreement signed in November 2016 between NNPS and the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights, or OCR. A disability advocate in Michigan, Marcie Lipsitt, has filed numerous complaints to OCR about the websites of schools and districts that she says do not meet federal requirements to allow accessibility to students and adults with disabilities. Lipsitt documents her work on a Facebook page called Special Education Wall of Shame…
Susan Hauser and Jenny Lay-Flurrie recognized for commitment to accessibility and inclusion
5/22 | Source: Miltech | Digital Accessibility, Awards/Recognition, Inclusion | Washington
Last week, Microsoft employees were recognized for their commitment to accessibility and inclusion. Their leadership inspires us as we continue our journey to empower people with disabilities to achieve more.
Susan Hauser, corporate vice president, Business and Corporate Responsibility at Microsoft, was recognized this week by the Cerebral Palsy Foundation for her commitment to accessibility and inclusion. The Design for Disability Gala on May 16 was a Moment of Impact, celebrating the foundation’s 60th anniversary, focusing on the translational research and clinical application that can dramatically change lives today while working toward the eventual prevention of cerebral palsy. The foundation is the largest non-governmental funder of cerebral palsy research in the United States…
Full Access Travel: WNYer uses disability to help others
5/23 | Source: WGRZ | Transit/Travel, Mobility | New York
Nick Heilig is Buffalo born and bred. He likes to travel. He likes to go out to eat. He likes to go to sporting events. But Nick has a disability that keeps him in a wheel chair and that makes all those things he likes a little bit harder to do. Nick was born with Spina Bifida. It is a birth defect where the spinal cord fails to develop properly. He is not alone. 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…
Richland County must make all polling places handicapped accessible by June
5/23 | Source: The State | Voting/Elections, Government, Building/Facilities Access, ADA, OCR | South Carolina
Richland County voters who are blind or disabled will find it easier to cast ballots in future elections. About one-third of the polling places used last year were found to not meet federal accessibility standards under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Office of Civil Rights in the chief federal prosecutor’s office determined in a spot check last June.
On Tuesday, that office announced a settlement agreement with Richland County Elections & Voter Registration office which will bring the 49 polling places that failed the study into line with the standards, said Rob Sneed, the state’s coordinator for its Office of Civil Rights…
Computer Technologies Program: Christine Tabony on Having Open Conversations About Accessibility Needs
5/23 | Source: Tech Inclusion | Inclusion, Employment/Workforce, Digital Accessibility | California
Creating inclusive workplaces for everybody requires a willingness to engage in open conversations about the accessibility needs of people with visible or invisible disabilities, according to Christine Tabony, Business Manager at Computer Technologies Program (CTP) in Berkeley. Begun in 1974 as the job training arm of the Center for Independent Living (CIL), CTP has been having those conversations for more than 40 years.
“Often people coming into a new company generally understand what their needs are,” says Christine. “So just talking about their needs the way that you would talk with any new employee about their needs [is really important].” In other words, when somebody is at the point when they are ready to get a job they know what they need to succeed, so hiring managers need to be comfortable simply asking, ‘what are your accessibility needs?’…
California’s Information Technology Leadership Academy Accessibility Toolkit Announced
5/23 | Source: Techwire.net) | Government, Digital Accessibility, Innovation | California
The Information Technology Leadership Academy’s 24th class presented its class project Friday at the California Lottery building. The ITLA is a program under the Government Operations Agency for state information technology professionals to develop leadership skills.
The nine-month program requires candidates who apply to show “enterprisewide thinking, potential for career advancement [and] exude that experience carrying out their own organization’s mission and vision,” said Christie Borchin, the deputy director of the California Department of Technology’s Office of Professional Development. The academy began as the Data Processing Managers Academy in 1993. The next set of courses begins Sept. 25…
Twilio does speech recognition and understanding, the right way
5/24 | Source: Computerworld | Speech Recognition, Telecommunications, Technology, Business
We’ve all had horrendous experiences with voice recognition when calling a support center – I’d like to think that it’s just me with my slightly unusual Kiwi accent, but everyone I talk to has similar stories of getting exasperated at an automated call center that hopelessly gets even the most basic speech recognition exercises wrong. It’s a sad reality of the modern world that organizations try to shoehorn users into solutions that aren’t yet fit for purpose, just to save some costs.
The world of communications has been the focus of Jeff Lawson for the past few years. Lawson is founder and CEO of Twilio, the company that offers a modular communications platform that developers use to power the communication functions of their apps. From tiny startups to huge companies like Uber rely on Twilio to manage all the communication stuff, so that they don’t have to. In a phone conversation prior to Twilio’s annual developer conference, Signal, Lawson told me that ever since the beginnings of Twilio, back when all they did was voice communications, he has hated voice recognition…
How to approach accessibility in progression-driven games
5/24 | Source: Gamasutra | Gaming/Entertainment, Digital Accessibility
Let’s say you’ve made a game whose story, characters, and other gameplay elements are so compelling players want to come back again and again. Congratulations! But what happens when some of your players approach you and say it’s hard to see those story elements because the game’s combat or other central challenge is too difficult, even on the easiest settings?
There are a myriad of reasons why players might feel this way, but among them are the fact that some players have physical or mental disabilities that make game combat a more difficult task. But if you still want those players to enjoy your game world, you should check out a conversation (seen above) we had with game developers Tara Voelker and James Portnow, and Ablegamers COO Steven Spohn, where we examined the physical and technical ways to make single-player games more accessible to a variety of players…
Sensory-friendly performance expands accessibility at The Theatre School
5/25 | Source: DePaul University | Performing Arts, Autism | Illinois
Glittering costumes, catchy songs and colorful characters in the play “Cinderella: The Remix” were made to appeal to kids. But for children on the autism spectrum, sometimes noise and bright lights can be overwhelming. On May 13, 2017, The Theatre School at DePaul held its first sensory-friendly performance, adapted to welcome children on the autism spectrum and others with sensory sensitivities. Theatre manager Leslie Shook and director Coya Paz Brownrigg coordinated with special education faculty Anne Butler and Linsey Sabielny to modify “Cinderella: The Remix,” an urban twist on the classic fairy tale.
“Kids with autism deserve the chance to experience the magic of theatre,” says Butler, an instructional assistant professor in the College of Education. “With a lot of planning and just a few modifications, we were able to give children with sensory sensitivities the opportunity to see a play with their families.”…
Despite its promise, modern technology often fails to help disabled users
5/25 | Source: Tech Republic | Tech, Assistive Technology, Digital Accessibility | Massachusetts
Advances in speech recognition, wearable technology, and mobile apps have offered welcome improvements for many people who are disabled. Yet while new technology is often praised for aiding communication for those who are blind and deaf, innovations can sometimes have unintended effects, hindering communication and access to information for those with disabilities.
In a talk at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard titled Disability, Technology, and Inclusion, Elizabeth Ellcessor, assistant professor in the Media School at Indiana University, Bloomington, and Meryl Alper, faculty associate with the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society, discussed some of the hidden downsides of tech for the disabled…
‘Unacceptable’ Staircase Because It’s Not Handicapped Accessible
5/25 | Source: Heatstreet | Facilities Access, Higher Education, Advocacy, Building Design/Architecture | Virginia
Students at Virginia Tech university staged a “sit out” by blocking a newly built staircase because they say it isn’t accessible to disabled people. The controversial new 20-step staircase was built as a replacement for an old staircase the university closed down due to the construction of a new dorm on campus.
The problem with the stairs, however, is that they don’t have a ramp for disabled people-meaning disabled students have to use a route which takes about three minutes longer. “Stairs Not Accessible, Stairs Not Acceptable,” read one placard at the protest. “They said ‘invent the future!’ but they just rebuilt the past!(?)”
Young Post Falls inventor meets his hero, Ellen DeGeneres, leaves with $25,000
5/25 | Source: The Spokesman | Digital Accessibility, Mobile App, Innovation | Idaho
Alexander Knoll, a 12-year-old inventor and entrepreneur from Post Falls, grew emotional when he met his idol this week. Dressed in a suit and blue tie, the boy with red hair and freckles broke out in tears when he sat down next to Ellen DeGeneres on her show, which was taped Tuesday and aired Thursday afternoon.
“You’re my hero, and just thank you so much for having me on. This is incredible,” said Knoll, a sixth-grader at Coeur d’Alene Charter Academy. DeGeneres invited Knoll on her show to talk about his creation, Ability App, a free app and website that will help people with disabilities navigate public spaces and find safe, reliable services and employment opportunities…
Mosby Building Arts: Beautifully Accessible
5/25 | Source: Ladue News | Housing, Building/Facilities Access, Accessible Design, Architecture, Universal Design | Missouri
Being able to move independently about your home can be a challenge for someone with disabilities. With this in mind, accessible design aims to meet the needs of people with disabilities and make their abodes more functional for their daily lives. At Mosby Building Arts, designers and architects are able to offer accessible design solutions that make it possible for clients to stay in their homes for a lifetime, regardless of what life may bring.
Brian Yount, an AIA-registered architect and Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist (CAPS) with Mosby, won a Chrysalis Award in 2015 for his design of an accessible kitchen. Yount’s client was a man in a wheelchair in Belleville, Illinois, who had bought a condominium in 2002. The home was mostly functional for his needs, but the kitchen wasn’t best suited for him. Yount’s kitchen rework included cabinet lifts that can be lowered or raised at the touch of a button, along with a deep-drawer dishwasher with a single drawer built right into the countertop. The sink’s faucet is motion-sensitive, triggered by hand movements, and all base cabinets have easily accessible pullout trays.
Mick Mulvaney, People Know Disability Is Part Of Social Security
5/25 | Source: Huffington Post | Disability, Government, Social Security
President Donald Trump’s budget chief said repeatedly this week that when people think of Social Security, retirement insurance is the only thing that comes to mind ― not disability insurance. A “welfare program for the long-term disabled,” Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said on Tuesday, “is not what most people would consider to be Social Security.”
Social Security is best known as retirement insurance, but plenty of people are aware that it’s also disability insurance. Forty-three percent of survey respondents said they knew someone who received disability or survivors’ benefits from Social Security, according to a 2010 poll by AARP. (Asked if they knew someone simply “on Social Security,” more than two-thirds said they did.)…
Jack Fact: 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.
Public transport bosses: EU Accessibility Act focuses too much on ticket machines
5/18 Source: Euractiv- Europe | Transit/Transportation, Government, Legislation/Policy | Europe
With the passage of the EU Accessibility Act this month, EURACTIV.com spoke to the public transport bodies of London, Vienna and Paris to see what progressive solutions for disabled passengers are already underway—and what dangers may lurk in the proposed act. EURACTIV interviewed Mike Brown, commissioner at Transport for London (London), Dr Gabriele Domschitz, a board member for mobility at Wiener Linien (Vienna) and Béatrice Jung, group corporate social responsibility director at TransDev, which covers Paris and other French cities…
Printing prosthetics in Taiwan
5/19 | Source: Reuters- Taiwan | Medical/Health, Innovation, 3D Printing | Taiwan
After losing his right forearm in a factory accident, Chang Hsien-Liang tried several artificial limbs but he was never satisfied. The arms he could afford were too basic and the robotic hand he wanted was too expensive. So the 46-year-old engineer from southwest Taiwan set out to design and build his own prosthetic arm using 3D printing technology.
“After getting my own bionic arm, my daily life improved. It became easier to do things like riding a bike and eating a meal,” Chang said in an interview…
Barcelona 1992 celebrates its 25th anniversary
5/19 | Source: Paralympic.org | Sports/Athletics, Paralympics, Awards/Recognition | Barcelona
Barcelona started celebrations for the 25th anniversary of the 1992 Paralympic Games with a special ceremony held at the City Hall on Friday (19 May), where an adapted version of the Games emblem to commemorate the landmark was presented. The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Sir Philip Craven attended the event together with members of IPC Governing Board, three of whom competed at the Games 25 years ago. They were joined by representatives of Spanish and Catalan national and sporting authorities, 12 Spanish Paralympians who took part in the Games and representatives of the ONCE Foundation…
Public-transit accessibility should be a priority in Montreal
5/19 | Source: Montreal Gazette- Canada | Transit/Transportation, Advocacy, Disability Rights, Mobility | Montreal
Much of Montreal’s public transit system is inaccessible. This state of affairs is not acceptable and fixing it should be a priority. One in six commuter rail lines in the Montreal region has fully accessible stations. Only 11 out of 68 métro stations have elevators. Given that 70 per cent of annual trips using the Société de transport de Montreal (STM) system involve the métro, overall, public transit in Montreal is still out of reach for many people.
According to the Canadian Survey on Disability, almost 14 per cent of our population has a disability. Quebec’s aging demographic means that these numbers will likely increase. Not until 2024 will all Montreal bus routes be fully wheelchair accessible. Based on the STM’s own figures, it will take 187 years for elevators to be installed in all métro stations…
Students do their part for local accessibility
5/19 | Source: Bancroft- Canada | Building/Facilities Access, Awareness, Education, Nonprofit | Ontario
The StopGap Foundation is a charitable organization, dedicated to constructing ramps in the interest of increasing accessibility while also raising awareness about the barriers our environment can present to those who need them. John Loder’s class at North Hastings High School got involved with the organization and constructed six, brightly coloured ramps in order to contribute. The goal behind the vibrant greens, blues and reds of the ramps was to draw the attention of the community, and direct them to StopGap’s website, the address for which is printed on the surface of the ramps.
Design Matters: Canberran with a disability can’t find a new home
5/20 | Source: Domain- Australia | Housing, Building/Facilities Access, Accessible Design, Architecture, Universal Design, Aging | Australian Capital Territory
This week Tony talks to a Canberra resident (name withheld by request) who, about 10 years ago, was diagnosed with a progressive, neurological disease. He now has a disability and is permanently dependent on a wheelchair, shower and toilet commode, and the use of a walker for transfer. He lives in the ACT and is 72.
In December last year, we had to abort the sale of our lovely, tri-level home, as after months of searching we could not find a house, town house or apartment that was suitable either to rent or buy in the ACT; with that I mean flat, no steps anywhere, (wheelchair accessible, without major modifications), or with elevator and a shower and toilet, large enough to accommodate a commode over the toilet, and an accessible shower without a step or ridge, and be able to move around. We also looked for parking space large enough to allow for a wheelchair transfer into a car…
Disabled customer attacks Newtown shop over accessibility
5/20 | Source: News North Wales | Building/Facilities Access, Retail, Mobility | United Kingdom
A shop in Newtown has been slated by a customer who says its new queuing system is not accessible to disabled shoppers. Spar on Broad Street saw new queue barriers brought in last week which left a regular customer, who uses a mobility scooter, unable to get through after paying for his shopping. Timothy Hamer, who visits the store almost daily, now says he will have to do his shopping elsewhere unless the new layout is changed. He said: “There was a queue behind me and I couldn’t get out at all. I had to go backwards…
Cabinet said set to approve Western Wall elevator for disabled persons
5/20 | Source: Times of Israel- Israel | Government, Mobility, Travel, Building/Facilities Access, Faith/Religion | Israel
The cabinet will reportedly approve plans next week to build an elevator and an underground passageway from the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem’s Old City to the Western Wall that would allow more accessibility to the holy site. Currently, visitors must descend a series of steep and narrow staircases to access the site, significantly limiting accessibility to those with limited mobility who use the steep road leading to Dung Gate to reach it. The plan would make the Western Wall accessible to persons using wheelchairs, others with disabilities and the elderly, Israel National News reported on Friday…
Government drags its feet on making sites disabled-friendly
5/21 | Source: Times of India | Government, Mobility, Building/Facilities Access | India
Almost a year after accessibility audits of 31 buildings and public spaces were complete, the government is yet to prepare the estimate of funds required to make them accessible. Its lax approach to the matter recently prompted the social welfare department to request that the task of estimation be handed over to a non-governmental agency. Only three of the 31 public buildings and spaces surveyed under the department of empowerment of persons with disabilities’ Accessible India Campaign (Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan) had received ‘satisfactory’ ratings…
Why Hong Kong is so hard to get around if you’re in a wheelchair or blind, and what could be done to make city more accessible
5/21 | Source: South China Morning Post | Transit/Transportation, Mobility, Awareness | Hong Kong
As if navigating the crowded streets of Hong Kong in a wheelchair isn’t frustrating enough, there are far greater obstacles to overcome. To better understand those barriers, I took up the challenge of completing six tasks while in a wheelchair – and soon understood how inacessible Hong Kong is for those, such as the disabled and elderly, who use one to get around compared to Japan, Singapore and many European countries.
Supposedly barrier-free facilities are not designed from a user’s perspective, wheelchair users say – something architects blame on inflexible and outdated government regulations. Outdated and ineffective government regulations, profit-hungry property developers and ill thought out designs make the city far from barrier-free, as we discover on a half-day wheelchair challenge…
Via Rail changes policy on wheelchairs, mobility aids on trains
Via Rail has changed its policy on wheelchairs and other mobility aids to comply with a federal order demanding it make its trains more accessible to those who use the devices. The national rail provider had been fighting an order from the Canadian Transportation Agency to allow more than one mobility device at a time to be tied down on its trains, and unsuccessfully took the case to court, but decided last week to alter its stance.
Previously, trains featured only one tie-down area for someone travelling in a wheelchair or mobility scooter, and other passengers using such devices were forced to dismantle the aids and store them in the luggage compartment, risking damage to the equipment…
Disability rights activists rap NITI action plan
5/22 | Source: New India Express| Government, Legislation/Policy, Advocacy, Disability Rights, Digital Accessibility | India
The draft three-year action plan prepared by NITI Aayog, the government think-tank, has ignored the provision of digital accessibility to persons with disability, rights activists say. Last month, the NITI Aayog released the agenda plan for three years (2017-2020), outlining the vision and strategy to accelerate the country’s development. A section of that draft concerns the welfare of persons with disability. This plan becomes important as it, along with 7- and 15-year plans, will replace the current five-year plans of the Central government. The 12th five-year plan will end this year.
The draft plan has, however, been met with scepticism, as several activists have said it does not mention any financial commitments, fails to ensure digital accessibility, besides being silent about the implementation of Rights of Persons with Disability Act 2016. Speaking to Express, Ankit Rajiv Jindal, Director of Diversity and Equal Opportunities Centre, said the document failed to look into the issue of digital accessibility. “Ironically this document itself has not been made accessible. I had to rely on another person to dictate it,” Jindal, who is visually impaired, said…
Rick Hansen donating Man in Motion glove on 30th anniversary
5/22 | Source: CTV News | Awareness, Health/Medical | Canada
Rick Hansen is donating a glove used during his historic Man in Motion tour to the Canadian Museum of History, in hopes of re-igniting conversation around accessibility and spinal cord research. Hansen is poised to mark 30 years since he completed his incredible journey to raise money for spinal cord research and accessibility issues, which took him to 34 countries from 1985-1987. He raised $26 million for research at the time. But Hansen says more still needs to be done to build a more inclusive world.
“It ignited the conversation,” Hansen said of his historic journey, in an interview with CTV National News anchor Sandie Rinaldo. Hansen acknowledged there’s been progress on the issue, but he admits to being frustrated with a lack of results at times…
Arts North West and Accessible Arts NSW launch Enabling Community Creativity
5/22 | Source: Naomi Valley Independent | Arts/Entertainment | Australia
Gunnedah was chosen as a launching pad for a new resource that will assist regional communities in delivering arts and disability projects and events. The launch was held at the Bicentennial Creative Arts Centre on Monday morning, with clients of Gunnedah Sunnyfield Disability Services joining the fun, creating art and enjoying morning tea.
Enabling Community Creativity: A Regional Disability Resource Manual is the result of a partnership between Arts North West and Accessible Arts NSW, and aims to help organisations and individuals create an arts and disability community within their town…
Finding affordable, accessible apartment ‘impossible,’ says Halifax couple
5/23 | Source: CBC News | Housing, Building/Facilities Access, Awareness, Aging, Mobility | Halifax
A Halifax couple struggling to find an apartment that fits their budget and also accommodates wheelchairs say accessible housing should be an election issue. Tom and Donna White both use wheelchairs and say their two-month search for a suitable apartment has turned up nothing they can manage as pensioners.
“Trying to find an apartment that’s affordable, that’s accessible, is impossible. Especially on the peninsula,” said Tom White…
Is your web site accessible? Five steps to start now
5/23 | Source: Marketing Tech | Digital Accessibility, Color Blindness, Blindness/Visual Impairment, Cognitive, GAAD | United Kingdom
When it comes to accessibility and web design, you’d think it would be a matter of hand in glove. After all, in the UK there are 2.7 million colour-blind people and 70% of the UK population wearing glasses. On top of this, 1 in 30 suffer with sight loss, and 10% of the UK population has dyslexia (4% with severe cases).
Unfortunately, however, this romantic notion of inclusivity just doesn’t reflect reality as a shocking amount of websites today aren’t built with their accessibility in mind. It’s because of this that events such as the Global Accessibility Awareness Day are so important in highlighting an otherwise ignored agenda…
Employers must improve accessibility for stroke survivors as workforce ages
Employers must learn how to adequately support staff who have suffered strokes in response to changing workforce demographics. That is the advice of HR and diversity consultancy, the Clear Company, during National Stroke Survival Month. Research from Kings College London has found that number of strokes in UK is predicted to rise by 44% in the next 20 years as a result of the ageing population. Survival rates are subsequently expected to increase by a third thanks to medical advancements.
According to the Stroke Association, there are currently more than 100,000 strokes in the UK each year; that is around one stroke every five minutes. What’s more, stroke is a leading cause of disability in the UK, with almost two thirds of stroke survivors leaving hospital disabled…
Raising the profile of the online accessibility guide for St Albans
5/23 | Source: Vibe 107.6 | Travel, Businesses, Facilities/Building Access| United Kingdom
St Albans has made it to the top ten of UK cities visited on a national online accessibility guide aimed at helping people with disabilities plan trips.
Local businesses are now being invited to a briefing on Thursday 8th June to help them understand the benefits of being listed on the DisabledGo website. The online guide is used by people with health conditions or impairments and their carers, family and friends to check the accessibility of places. By using the guide people can find out, for example, whether there are accessible parking bays, hearing loops, ramps, tactile lift buttons and places to sit…
London Gatwick Airport invests in enhanced accessibility facilities for passengers
5/23 | Source: Airport Technology | Innovation, Transit/Transportation, Travel, Mobility, Cognitive | United Kingdom
London Gatwick Airport has acquired a new passenger lifting facility, Eagle Hoist 4, to help transfer wheelchair-bound passengers onto commercial aircraft safely. Over the next 12 months, the airport is also set to invest in two specialist hoist-assisted toilet facilities, each of which would feature a height-adjustable, adult-sized changing bench for people with learning and physical disabilities.
Provided in addition to standard disabled toilets, the new hoist-assisted toilets and changing facilities will help passengers with spinal injuries, muscular dystrophy, motor neurone disease and multiple sclerosis. With an aim to offer improved accessibility to disabled travellers, Gatwick Airport also intends to invest in two new sensory rooms that would provide assistance to passengers with sensory processing difficulties, such as autism, brain injury and dementia…
Nintendo thanks blind fan for his support in a touching note
5/23 | Source: Polygon | Gaming, Blindness/Visual Impairment, Personal Account | Japan
Hibiki Sakai is a Japanese fifth-grader who loves drumming and Rhythm Heaven, Nintendo’s cult beloved series of quirky rhythm games. The Rhythm Heaven games are, in fact, the only ones Hibiki can play with ease – he’s blind, as he told Nintendo in a heartfelt letter his father shared on social media.
“I am blind, but I’ve always wanted to play video games like everyone else,” Hibiki wrote, according to a translation by RocketNews24. “But there aren’t many games I can play at all. The one game I can really play is [Rhythm Heaven]. It’s the only game I can enjoy together with others, and I never lose at it. I’ve gotten perfect scores on all the versions on the Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS, Wii, and 3DS too…
Community leaders take a seat for accessibility
5/24 | Source: paNOW | Mobility, Personal Account, Awareness, Facilities/Building Access | Canada
Most people don’t have a problem with stairs and steps but wheelchair user Blair Morgan considers them his arch nemesis. “That’s my biggest peeve, really,” he said.
Morgan’s motorcycle riding career came to an abrupt end in 2008 following a crash in Montreal that severed his spine. The 41-year-old described the crash as a simple fall that ended with him in a wheelchair. Before the crash, he had been racing for roughly 20 years. He said he understood the risks but he never thought it would happen to him…
Accessibility | Changing Places
5/24 | Source: Watford | Sports/Entertainment, Building/Facilities Access, Inclusion, Mobility, Cognitive | Canada
In the latest aspect of Watford FC’s commitment to accessibility, we are delighted to announce the opening of our Changing Places facility in the south west corner of Vicarage Road Stadium. Over a quarter of a million people need Changing Places toilets to enable them to get out and about and enjoy the day-to-day activities many of us take for granted.
This includes people with profound and multiple learning disabilities, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, as well as older people. The latest addition to the club’s pan-disability portfolio of services and seating areas, the Changing Places facility is designed to provide the space and equipment, enabling those who need them to enjoy matches at the stadium safely and comfortably. Standard accessible toilets do not provide the needed equipment and most are too small to accommodate more than one person…
With Toronto seeing more abuse of disabled parking permits, it may get tougher to get one
5/24 | Source: CBC News | Accessible Parking, Government, Legislation/Policy | Canada
Toronto police are calling on municipal politicians to urge the province to make it tougher to get an accessible parking pass – a move prompted by a 25 per cent spike in tickets for parking permit abuse in 2016. Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders initially spearheaded the call in a letter to the police board in February, suggesting that an independent physician do the assessment for an accessible parking pass instead of having someone go to their own doctor.
It’s a system that would be similar to one used in New York City. There, permit applicants may be contacted for an independent exam if the department of transportation believes there are gaps in the medical documents submitted. The chief has also recommended that future permits include the pass holder’s photo, and that the province crack down on those who don’t return their temporary passes…
Richmond town centre not easily accessible for all
5/25 | Source: Nelson Live | Awareness, Mobility, Blindness/Visual Impairment, Government | New Zealand
A casual stroll down Oxford St turned into a nightmare for Tasman district councillor Stu Bryant last week when his vision suddenly became “impaired” during a workshop aimed at highlighting the accessibility challenges faced by people living with disabilities.
Stu joined mayor Richard Kempthorne, councillors Kit Maling, Anne Turley, David Ogilvie, Dana Wensley and Dean McNamara as well as council staff and representatives from Accessibility 4 All for last Wednesday’s tour of Richmond’s central business district. They used wheelchairs, goggles that impaired vision, crutches, ear muffs and a mobility scooter during the hour-long journey and found out just how “scary” narrow footpaths on Oxford St, sandwich board “clutter” and overhanging trees can be for people with disabilities…
Making community more accessible
5/25 | Source: Brantford Expositor | Awareness, Health/Medical, Cognitive | Canada
Raymond Knight had a couple of questions when told help was available for him after he suffered a stroke at age 49 and had finished a stint in rehab at Brantford General Hospital. What about all the other young people in similar situations? Who would help them?
When he found out there were few resources available to help others his age, he created Pathways, a new program delivered at the Adult Recreation Therapy Centre on Easton Road. “He (Knight) had spent six months in the rehab program at BGH and he had met a lot of people there who had suffered brain injuries – sometimes it was a stroke or because of a vehicle accident,” said Sherry McKinnon, a social worker at ARTC…
Government of Canada improves accessibility for Canadians with disabilities in Cambridge
5/25 | Source: Cambridge Now | Housing, Facilities/Building Access, Government | Canada
Today, Bryan May, Member of Parliament for Cambridge, on behalf of the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, announced improved access for Canadians with disabilities to a new affordable housing project by Housing Cambridge.
A $50,000 grant has been provided to Housing Cambridge through the Enabling Accessibility Fund (EAF) to improve accessibility for residents and visitors by installing an elevator in their new building at 175 Hespeler Road. Today’s announcement follows a recent $4.2 million government investment in this affordable housing project, announced by MP Bryan May and MPP Kathryn McGarry in March at the ground breaking of this new building…
In Conversation With SexDis On Sexuality, Disability And Accessibility
5/26 | Source: Feminism in India | Awareness, Inclusion, Nonprofit | India
Sexuality and Disability is a non-profit initiative started by the NGO Point of View in order to raise awareness and talk about issues of sexuality within the community of people living with disabilities. They conduct workshops for people with disabilities to explore their sexuality, and work to counter the stigma that people with disabilities are not sexual beings. We chatted with the SexDis team on their work, their successes and their challenges.
Love, sex, romance, intimacy is for everyone, so why should girls and women with disabilities be left behind? With this aim in mind, we launched our website sexualityanddisability.org in 2012. It was pioneering, ground-breaking and the first of its kind. We realised that there was no single resource talking about sexuality and disability, and we wanted to establish that women with disabilities are sexual beings just like anyone else…
For inclusive publishing
5/26 | Source: The Hindu | Education, Digital Accessibility, Print Accessibility | India
The challenge of accessibility in the arena of education is formidable. Expansion of inclusive publishing is a way of overcoming it. The current predominant practice of conversion from print and other digital formats is cumbersome. This strong advocacy on behalf of the adoption of the EPUB3 guidelines marked the proceedings of the third annual meeting of the Accessible Books Consortium (ABC) in Geneva, on May 16-17.
“Born accessible” books was the crux of the argument by the president of the DAISY Forum of India (DFI), Dipendra Manocha, at the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). His audience comprised representatives from authors’ associations, the publishing industry, entities empowered to give effect to copyright exemptions, end-user groups and the Marrakesh Treaty monitoring team at the WIPO. Mr. Manocha’s decades-long hands-on experience with the nitty-gritty of conversion of printed text to Braille, audiobooks, large print and various digitally-accessible formats places him in a unique position among stakeholders…
Accessibility Blogs and Information
- Designing Slack for everyone- A conversation with Slack’s Accessibility Product Manager George Zamfir
- WWDC 2017 Wish List: 4 accessibility features Apple needs to add to iOS and macOS
- US Department of Health and Human Services 2018 Budget Appendix
- Pragmatic Accessibility: A How-To Guide for Teams (Google I/O ’17)- Video
- How to do an Accessibility Audit on Your School Website
- Kenguru Wheelchair Accessible Car- Video
- Full Access Travel
- Capgemini- Accessibility Test Automation in DevOps Environment
- W3C-Web Accessibility Tutorials- Guidance on how to create websites that meet WCAG
- Sarah Lawrence Addresses Sustainability and Accessibility of the Barbara Walters Campus Center
- Web Accessibility Fundamental course on Udacity
- Design Before Code: Thinking About Accessibility from the Ground Up – Part 2
- Documents for Web Fundamental course
- Google’s Usability guidelines for accessibility
- Vox Accessibility Guidelines (checklist by roles)
- Material Design Color Tool
- Contrast Ratio by Lea Verou
- ChromeLens, Chrome extension to develop for the visually impaired
- WAI-ARIA Authoring Practices Guide
- Google’s Lighthouse (automated tool, accessibility section)
- Rob Dodson’s YouTube series “a11y casts”
- University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
- Show Low School District
- Los Angeles Unified School District
- Los Angeles World Airports
- First Financial Northwest Bank
- Williston State College
- Central Pacific Bank
- Enumclaw School District
- Carthage Central School District
- Grayson County Schools District
- Vancouver Public Library
- Cal State East Bay
- Barclays- The 9 ways banking with Barclays is more accessible than people thought
- Omni Hotels & Resorts
Accessibility Announcements and Products
- Windows 10 Fall Creators Update: Here are the accessibility improvements coming later this year
- AMI partners with prominent web organization to further encourage media accessibility and inclusion
- Ontario Honours Outstanding Accessibility Leaders
- Ontario’s 2017 David C. Onley Award Recipients
- Google: Why Android developers should consider accessibility
- We’re hosting a panel on accessibility in progression-driven games
- Android Overlay and Accessibility Features Leave Millions at Risk
- Microsoft refreshes OneNote apps with new design and accessibility features
- Group looks to make Hyogo beach accessible to people in wheelchairs- Japan
- Web accessibility awareness is the key. Insights into two WCAG events
- Awards show businesses how to do accessibility right
- Crowne Plaza Doha-The Business Park receives Accessible Qatar award
- Detroit woman, service dog receive Spirit of Detroit award for accessibility advocacy in the city
- Accessible housing project proposed for St-Lazare
- Council improving access for disabled visitors to Lyme Regis
- Texas Ramp Project brings greater accessibility to HARTH Foundation
- Suffolk Superior Court rules in city’s favor on ADA ramps
- Crawford Technologies Successfully Completes SOC 2 Type II + HITRUST CSF Examination
Accessibility Q&A and Tips
- Things to Consider and Mistakes to Avoid While Designing Handicapped Shower
- Functional Accessibility Evaluator 2.0
- chrome-a11y-experiment- instructions.md
- Storyline 360 accessibility and tab order: Is there a way to change focus? using a trigger?
- Anatomy of an Accessible Auto Suggest
- Modal accessibility – maybe missing aria-modal attribute
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.
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.