Accessibility in the News—08/31/16
In this issue of Accessibility in the News (AITN), several stories cover innovations and issues related to the blind or the visually impaired, from round-trip job interview rides from Uber, accessible website designs and Google, and the impact of Facebook’s new audio autoplay feature. One inventor is making advances in mobile accessibility, too, with a new braille smartphone that works with Android. Rounding out the list is a focus on better understanding and anticipating the needs of an aging population, as well as the adoption of accessibility standards.
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Accessibility: a concept for tomorrow – or today’s challenge?
9/9 | Source USA Today
Steve Tyler, the RNIB;s (Royal National Institute of Blind People) head of solutions, strategy and planning says we need to change attitudes on accessibility.
There are around two million blind and partially sighted people in the UK and this is set to increase with an ageing population. As we get older we can experience disability of various kinds, from mobility issues to sensory. In one sense, this label of disability is entirely misleading – it’s simply what happens to you as you get older and therefore the things that make it easier to do the things you want to do alter…
Blind man Uber-ing: One man’s quest to get visually impaired a tech job
8/15 | Source The Denver Post
A blind man’s mission to help others find tech jobs attracts Uber, which is offering free rides to job interviews. Mike Hess has developed some sort of super power to speed read e-mails using his fingers and ears.
“Many blind and vision-impaired people can listen to e-mails at 300 words per minute,” said Hess, who’s been blind since birth. “It literally sounds like The Chipmunks. Or a teenage girl.”
His inner senses and wry sense of humor help him achieve things that we with sight would consider near impossible. His latest? Convincing Uber, the ride-sharing service, to offer blind or visually impaired job seekers a free round-trip ride to job interviews in the Denver area…
Designing A User-Friendly Website For The Blind
8/21 | Source Search Engine Journal
Google has made it clear that web content should be created for the user and not for the sole purpose of ranking in SERP’s. Why not take it one step further than most and design a website that even the blind can utilize? In the United States, approximately 20 percent experience some form of disability and 10 percent of cases are considered severe. This equates to three out of every 10 families being affected by disability. You might be asking yourself why take the time to make your website accessible to the blind?The reasons are simple:…
Australian government adopts accessibility standard for websites
8/23 | Source Out-Law.com
The new standard, ‘accessibility requirements suitable for public procurement of ICT products and services’, will now form part of the technical specifications used by all government departments when procuring ICT products and services, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said…
People for Research boost tech equality with ‘Make the Web Accessible’ campaign
8/24 | Source Tech Spark
The ‘Make the Web Accessible’ campaign encourages companies to carry out more tech user testing on disabled people.
Tech and innovation are moving faster than ever before and People for Research – Bristol-based experts in user recruitment for the user experience (UX) and market research sectors – is encouraging companies across the UK to think outside the box when it comes to user testing…
100 Government websites to be differently-abled friendly soon
8/24 | Source The Indian Express
“What is Digital India? We are seeking to bridge the divide between Digital Haves and Digital Have-nots,” said Ravi Shankar Prasad. Work is on to make 100 government websites differently-abled friendly and 16 such websites are ready, Union Minister for Electronics & Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad said on Wednesday. Optical fibre measuring 1.39 lakh kms to connect village panchayats with internet has been laid since last two years as against 398 km from 2011-14 during the UPA…
Beach wheelchair is latest gain in accessibility
8/24 | Source ptleader.com
A beach wheelchair at Fort Worden is the latest improvement gained since Jefferson County established an active cross-disability Accessible Communities Advisory Committee, (ACAC), in accordance with the Accessible Communities Act and the Governor’s Committee on Disability Issues and Employment.
Toby Olsen, executive secretary of the Governor’s Committee on Disability and Employment in Olympia, originally had the idea that the committees be given access to $100 of every $450 ticket that is given out to people in Washington state who park in accessible parking spots without a permit….
A day in an ‘aging suit’ shows airport accessibility challenges
8/24 | Source USA Today
I’m old enough to occasionally be addressed as “ma’am,” but young and healthy enough to have no trouble running, if need be, to a far-off gate at an airport and lifting my own carry-on into an overhead bin. But after walking — no, shuffling — through Seattle-Tacoma International Airport strapped into an odd-looking “age simulation” suit that had me feeling isolated, in the way, and unsure of my footing, I realize my plan to still be traveling the world independently at age 90 — and beyond — may be in jeopardy.
That is, unless I figure out how to keep my good eyesight, hearing and mobility intact forever (fat chance) and unless airport operators and designers keep the needs of an aging and less-than-able-bodied population in mind. The good news is that, with the Census Bureau predicting that 20% of U.S. residents will be age 65 or older in 2030 (as opposed to just 13% now), airports — and airlines — are paying attention…
Facebook’s autoplaying audio could be a huge issue for users with disabilities
8/25 | Source The Daily Dot
News broke on Tuesday that Facebook is beginning to test autoplaying videos that start with the audio on by default. The internet collectively cringed at the idea, knowing the annoyance such a feature could cause.
But for the visually impaired, autoplaying videos represent more than just an annoyance; it can severely disrupt their internet experience.
According to data gathered by the National Eye Institute (NEI), about 14 million Americans report having a visual impairment. A recent study funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) suggested the number of adults in the U.S. with visual impairments or blindness is expected to double by 2050…
Innovations in accessibility- UD alumnus dedicates life to blindness-assistive technology
8/25 | Source University of Delaware
Deane Blazie’s earliest feat of engineering might also have been his most dangerous. At only 10 years of age, he strung a 300-foot wire between his parent’s house and a neighbor’s across the road, attaching 100-watt lightbulbs on either end. By manually blinking the hot, precariously-wired bulbs on and off, he and his friends could send each other Morse code messages.
For all its dangers, the improvised system was Blazie’s first effort at making communication technologies more accessible. Fortunately for the world, it wasn’t his last…
Productivity and inclusion—Office 365 accessibility update
8/25 | Source Office Blogs
Over the past year, hundreds of engineers from the Office 365 team have been working hard to make progress towards the plans outlined in our 2016 accessibility roadmap. Key enhancements releasing this quarter bring us closer to two goals:
•People with disabilities can communicate, consume and create content on any device.
•Everyone can easily create content that is accessible for all people.
As we make Office 365 accessible by design and make it easy for everyone to create accessible content, we hope that people of all abilities will feel empowered to achieve more with our productivity technologies, have equal access to digital information and have fulfilling interactions with each other…
Blind MP to draft Canada’s first national accessibility law
8/27 | Source icims
Carla Qualtrough, who is legally blind, grew up learning alternative ways of doing almost everything. “When I was growing up, it was called accommodation. But today it’s called innovation,” said Qualtrough, 44, Canada’s federal minister of sport and first-ever minister responsible for people with disabilities.
The human rights lawyer, former Paralympian and world championship swimming medalist is helping Canadians think about disability in a new way as she crafts the country’s first national accessibility legislation…
BlindSquare app will help visually impaired access businesses in Wellington
8/28 | Source Stuff
Wellington’s retailers are embracing the opportunity to make the capital more accessible by installing a navigation system for the visually impaired. It will be the first time international GPS-app, BlindSquare, will be used in New Zealand. The app developed for the blind and visually impaired provides information to guide the person as they travel.A matchbox sized iBeacon device will be located inside the doorway of some businesses in the city…
Web accessibility regulations are overdue
8/29 | Source USA Today
In the 1980s and 1990s, there was a standard view of how we would interact with a personal computer: we were sitting at a desk, with a monitor, a keyboard and a mouse. Today, computing is very different. We still use desktops, but we also have laptops, tablet computers, smart phones, and some of us even have wearable computers such as the Apple Watch. And that “we” includes people with disabilities, who are a part of this rich, flexible world of computing but access it differently…
Long-Term Strategy Needed to Improve Website Usability
8/30 | Source U.S. Government Accountability Office
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB), General Services Administration (GSA), and the Performance Improvement Council (PIC) took several steps to improve the usefulness of Performance.gov, a website intended to serve as the public window to the federal government’s goals and performance. However, their actions do not fully meet selected Digitalgov.gov requirements for federal websites (which are based on relevant statutes, regulations, and executive orders) and do not fully meet provisions of the GPRA Modernization Act of 2010 (GPRAMA):..
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Guide dog image by Honza Groh Wikimedia Commons