Accessibility in the News—12/06/16
In this issue of Accessibility in the News (AITN), various levels of government, institutions of higher education, and faith-based organizations are pressing forward to make their environments more inclusive for patrons and employees. Texas schools receive sharp admonitions to change their approach in serving students with disabilities. Transportation and travel stories cover a range of conditions that either hamper or help getting from one place to the next. Technology procurement also gets a look.
Close to our Microassist hearts is an informative article on the training aspect of workplace accessibility, with several tips on how to implement workforce and new hire training in an inclusive way. Media also covered upcoming accessibility features in Microsoft products.
New from AITN is a list of accessibility training and resources for those of you wanting to sharpen your accessibility skills. We’ve also included list of accessibility product releases and announcements. If you find these additions useful, please let us know in the comments!
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International Day of Persons with Disabilities is December 3, 2016
Since 1992, the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) has been celebrated annually on 3 December around the world. The theme for this year’s International Day is “Achieving 17 Goals for the Future We Want”…
“Conversations lead to awareness, and awareness breaks down stigma. After all, my illness might be physically invisible, but it should by no means be invisible from society.” —Rachel Thompson
TEA Tells Schools They Must Serve Kids with Disabilities
11/18 | Source: Houston Chronicle | Education, Government | Texas
Facing increasing criticism over its special education enrollment benchmark, the Texas Education Agency this week told schools that they must provide services to all eligible students with disabilities and that they will no longer be penalized for serving too many children.
In a five-page letter, Penny Schwinn, the agency’s deputy commissioner of academics, advised school districts that a federal provision known as “child find” requires them to locate and evaluate all kids who live within their boundaries who might qualify for services such as tutoring, counseling and therapy.
“A school district’s failure to meet the child find requirements is a serious matter,” Schwinn wrote. “Furthermore, the failure to identify a child may entitle the child to compensatory education or tuition reimbursement.”…
How I’ve Learned to Live with an Invisible Illness
11/22 | Source: Mashable | Personal Account | London, England
To anyone else, it was just an ordinary day. But to me, it felt like the end of the world. Or my world, at least. There I sat — 16 years old and full of hope — in the neurologist’s office, waiting to get the results of months of tests and scans. What was this thing inside me that had caused me to lose consciousness at the kitchen table and fall to the floor one night in December — the night I had my first ever seizure?
I have no memory of the events that happened that night, but I later found out that when I opened my eyes in the ambulance I didn’t know my own name, and I didn’t recognise my own mother whose face was anxiously hovering above mine. Months later in the neurologist’s office, I was told unequivocally that I had epilepsy — a neurological condition that causes repeated seizures. And with the utterance of one eight letter word, my whole life changed…
Proposed Manitoba Accessibility Standard for Employment
11/24 | Source: Slaw | Employment, Workplace Accessibility | Manitoba, Canada
The Accessibility Advisory Council’s (AAC) is inviting interested stakeholders to provide their views to its initial proposal for an accessibility standard for employment. Therefore, employment is the second of five accessibility standards being developed under the Accessibility for Manitobans Act (AMA).
The purpose of the employment standards is to remove employment barriers for persons disabled by barriers—including the obligation to provide reasonable accommodation—under the Human Rights Code. This standard will have a timeline for compliance, however, all employers must engage in emergency planning one year after the standard comes into effect.
Specifically, the employment standards have the following timelines:..
Accessibility Lift Means a Lot: Swimmer
11/25 | Source: The Belleville Intelligencer | Sports/Athletics | Ontario, Canada
When Ken Wilman wants to go for a swim at the YMCA in Belleville he has a much easier time of it, thanks to a new accessibility lift. “It means a lot,” said the 66-year-old who gets around in a wheelchair as his lower body is paralyzed.
Wilman visits the YMCA’s pool as much as he can, he said, adding the addition of the new lift will make it much easier on staff when it comes to helping him in and out of the pool. “It helps them, and for me it’s great because I love swimming. It’s the best exercise.”
The motorized lift allows those with mobility issues to transfer from a wheelchair on the pool deck and into the pool with minimal help from YMCA staff…
Smaller Transportation Networking Companies (TNCs) Struggle to Fill Gap in Accessibility after Uber, Lyft Leave
11/27 | Source: KXAN | Transit/Transportation | Texas
Many ridesharing companies are not complying with the TNC ordinance Austin voters approved in May. Transportation Networking Companies operating in Austin are required to be accessible for people with disabilities with specific benchmarks to meet. Some disability advocates are feeling left out after those benchmarks were not met.
Boone Blocker has been fighting for accessible options in Austin for more than a decade. Most of the time he takes the bus. Before Proposition One, he used UberAccess to have drivers pick him up when buses weren’t running. He says he usually waits less than twenty minutes…
When Accessibility Becomes a Question of “Why Bother?”
11/28 | Source: Multiple Sclerosis News Today | Personal Account, Travel | United States
My first encounter with “Why bother?” was in 2011. My whole family had met in Maui to celebrate my daughter Amber’s wedding. It also was my first travel since my 2010 primary progressive multiple sclerosis diagnosis, and my first trip with a wheelchair.
I didn’t realize when you fly with a wheelchair that you get preferential treatment. I was taken unexpectedly from the lobby, wheeled straight to the door of the airplane and seated first. The airline also moved us closer to the front of the plane for an easier entrance and exit. I felt like a VIP!…
University of Iowa Earns No. 1 Ranking in University Website Accessibility
11/28 | Source: IowaNow | Higher Education, Digital Accessibility | Iowa
The University of Iowa ranks first in the nation in an assessment of how accessible its websites are to people with disabilities.
UI topped the list of 140 American universities, according to rankings presented at an Educause conference poster session by Jon Gunderson of the Division of Disability Resources and Education Services at the University of Illinois–Champaign/Urbana.
Gunderson uses a tool called the Functional Accessibility Evaluator (FAE) 2.0 to measure compliance with W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, which make sites accessible to people with vision and hearing impairment, learning and speech disabilities, and cognitive and mobility limitations…
Broadcasting Accessibility Fund Approves Second Round Project Grants
11/29 | Source: Broadcaster | Television/Radio Broadcasting | Ontario, Canada
The Broadcasting Accessibility Fund today announced that it will award $667,000 in grants to six new and innovative projects designed to advance accessibility to broadcasting content for Canadians with disabilities. These six new projects represent the completion of the Fund’s second round of grants. A total of $1.4M over two rounds of funding has been committed to addressing significant gaps in broadcasting accessibility.
“Today marks another important milestone in the Fund’s work,” said Board of Directors Chair Allister Byrne. “These six outstanding initiatives fully meet our mandate and objectives, and continue to represent the types of projects we’ll be looking for in future calls for funding applications. All are characterized by partnerships, transparency and broad dissemination of results, which are key elements of the Fund’s grant program.”..
How Science is Rewiring the Dyslexic Brain
11/29 | Source: nprEd | Dyslexia, Education, Children | Wash. D.C., United States
Our ancient ancestors were able to speak long before they were able to read or write. That history is etched in our brains. The human brain naturally picks up spoken language. Not so for reading.
“You can think of the reading brain as moonlighting,” says Guinevere Eden, director of Georgetown University’s Center for the Study of Learning. “Your brain will essentially take other brain areas — that were designed to do something else — and use [them] toward reading.”
Learning to read requires co-opting parts of the brain and training them to recognize letters, clump those letters together into small units, relate those units to sounds and, eventually, blend those sounds together into a word…
Tzohar Leads Effort to Make Synagogues More Accessible
12/1 | Source: The Times of Israel | Disability, Faith | Israel
In honor of International Person with Disability Day, the Zionist Orthodox organization promotes Accessibility Shabbat. Tzohar, the organization of Zionist Orthodox rabbis, will mark the International Day of Persons with Disabilities this Saturday by making accessibility for the disabled easier to attend synagogue on the Sabbath.
The weekend initiative, known as Accessibility Shabbat, will focus this year on addressing the needs of the visually impaired by calling on congregations to review the physical plans, tools and materials of their synagogues in order to make them more accessible and stimulate conversation about how to facilitate better accessibility…
3 Things Every Website Needs for a Better SEO Ranking
12/2 | Source: e27 | Digital Accessibility, User Experience, Web Design
We’ve focused a lot of on accessibility recently, working to make more of the websites we develop inclusive for all users. Many of the fundamentals that are implemented when a site is accessible are cross-beneficial for SEO.
For example, accessibility requires ALT (alternative) text on all images, which appears in a blank box where the image would normally be to tell viewers the content of that image. That text will get crawled and is more likely to be displayed in search results. Proper use of header tags (H1 for main headers, H2 for sub-headers, etc.) not only helps users with screen readers understand the importance of content, it also helps search engines prioritize the order of the content by boosting SEO for the header tags…
Access is Everything
12/2 | Source: BLink | Digital Accessibility, Web Design, Advocacy | India
Have you ever struggled to find information or complete a transaction with your bank or grocery provider? Of course, if you are unable to do it on the app, then you complete the transaction online through their website. But what if you can’t use the app or the website and there is no person you can call and talk to who can fix your problem? This is not so far-fetched a scenario for millions of persons living with disabilities for whom emerging technological developments are becoming an impediment to accessing information, rather than the assistive solution they are intended to be.
I am an accessibility advocate, whose main aim in life over the past eight years has been to promote access to the internet — as well as content and technologies — for persons with disabilities. The world over, it has been proven time and again that technology has the power to increase independence and reduce isolation for the disabled. Whether it’s screen readers for the blind, hearing aids for the deaf, speech synthesisers for those unable to speak or memory aids for those with cognitive impairments, technology enables people with disabilities to communicate and participate in society…
Training Employees with Disabilities: Creating an Inclusive Workplace
12/2 | Source: Training Industry | Employment, Training, Inclusivity, Workplace Accessibility | United States
Since 1992, the United Nations has observed the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3. This year’s theme is “Achieving 17 Goals for the Future We Want,” based on the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which emphasize holistic, inclusive development. Of specific interest to training professionals are Goals 4 (“ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”) and 8 (“promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all”). While training organizations may not have a direct impact on international development and UN initiatives, they do play a crucial role in accessible workforce development. Inclusive training is an important part of this work.
Almost one in five Americans has a disability, and 41 percent of them are employed. This number is increasing as companies become more aware of the value people with disabilities can contribute and as acceptance grows for people with disabilities in the workplace. In fact, as Dr. Debby McNichols wrote for Training Industry Magazine this year, “people [with disabilities] who have spent their lives adapting to challenges in their environment can bring productivity, ingenuity and problem-solving skills to the workplace.”…
Students with Disabilities Meet Challenges with Online Courses, Accessibility Improvements
12/2 | Source: Rutgers | Higher Education, Digital Accessibility, Online Learning | New Jersey
Darkness came suddenly for Laura Etori. The rising Rutgers sophomore’s once strong eyesight faded to black three and a half years ago – the result of a rare condition known as idiopathic intracranial hypertension. “It was a total surprise and not something you ever expect to happen,” said Etori, an international student from Kenya majoring in math and finance with a minor in computer science. “My major concern was whether blindness would keep me from pursuing my education. I had never learned Braille since I had my sight for most of my life.”
Fortunately for Etori, mobile and computer accessibility allowed her to continue her education at Rutgers. Through the use of Job Access with Speech (JAWS), a screen reader program, she can listen to the text of her assignments and stay at the front of her class. That is, as long as the text has been made available.
“It is very frustrating when you come to a page that has not been made accessible,” Etori says “It really makes you more disabled than you are because you can’t just do the classwork like everyone else. You have to ask for help. I want to handle things on my own because it makes me much more confident for when I have a job someday.”…
Website Makes Disabled People’s Travel Plans a Reality
12/2 | Source: The Times of India | Travel | India
When planning a holiday, most don’t bother to find out if the hotel entrance has a ramp at a gradient of 1:12 or below or the height of the restaurant table or whether the height of the bed mattress is between 43cm and 48cm. But that’s the kind of information that is being collated and studied for an untapped segment of Indian tourists—travelers with disabilities.
Though there are over 18 crore people with disabilities in India alone, but the tourism sector is oblivious to the potential this segment holds. That was until UMOJA (Swahili word for inclusive), India’s first and largest online travel platform for accessible travel, came into the picture. Launched six months ago, it caters to a travel segment that includes wheelchair users, visually impaired, hearing impaired, paraplegics, quadriplegics among others and an ever-burgeoning geriatric population (the US census estimates that 49% of its population over the age of 65 have some form of disability).
Document to Ensure Disabled-Friendly Facilities Launched
12/2 | Source: Graphic | Government, Architectural Accessibility | Ghana
A document which provides specifications on how buildings and public facilities should be designed to make them accessible to all, especially persons living with disability (PWDs), has been launched in Accra. The document, dubbed: the Ghana Accessibility Standards (GAS), was facilitated by the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection and developed by the National Council on Persons with Disability, the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) and the Disabled People’s Organisation (DPO).
The standards are to serve as guidelines for institutions and individuals involved in the design, implementation, supervision and decision making on projects. At the launch, the Deputy Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Mrs Della Sowah, said Ghana had shown its commitment to protect the rights of all persons, including PWDs.
She said the passage of the Persons with Disability Act 2006 (Act 715) in 2006 and the ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability both attested to the country’s commitment to promote and protect the rights of PWDs…
Businesses Forget Disability and Accessibility When Buying IT
12/2 | Source: Computer Weekly | High Tech, Digital Accessibility, Procurement, Business
Both customer and supply side IT organisations need to consider the needs of disabled people when embarking on new procurements, according to a recent study. A study conducted by the Business Disability Forum (BDF) has found that the majority of enterprise IT buyers and many suppliers are not doing enough to account for the needs of disabled people when making purchasing decisions.
The report, entitled Disability-smart approaches to engaging suppliers and partners, said more than half of IT deals between organisations and third-party IT suppliers did not have a disability-smart outcome built into the planning process. By disability-smart, the BDF means embedding the needs of as many people as possible into new technology projects, both internal and customer-facing, said George Selvanera, BDF strategy and external affairs director, and author of the report.
In practice, said the BDF, only a quarter of businesses were reviewing contracts with IT suppliers to ensure they delivered on requirements for inclusion and accessibility, and less than two in five said they had discussions with their suppliers about how they approach disability outside of formal processes…
Minimum Accessibility Laws Not Enough, Says Man in Motion Rick Hansen
12/2 | Source: CTV News | Employment, Workplace Accessibility | Canada
It’s not enough to get people with physical disabilities through the door, they must be able to fully function in the building as employees before Canada has achieved an acceptable level of accessibility, says Man in Motion Rick Hansen.
The Rick Hansen Foundation released a study Friday that showed one in five Canadians – almost nine million people – will live with a disability by 2030. That’s up from about four million Canadians today and highlights the need for a concerted effort to ensure full accessibility in public spaces, he said.
“As a matter of fact, the cost of confining policies and barriers today are not sustainable in a good, economically sound model for a country that wants to be the best country in the world.” Hansen, speaking on CTV’s Your Morning, said it’s “really reassuring” that the report found 92 per cent of Canadians believe accessibility is a human right for people with disabilities…
Accessibility is Not a Blue Wheelchair Logo, It is an Attitude
12/6 | Source: The Sydney Morning Herald | Editorial | Sydney, Australia
I am a loud and proud trouble-making crip. I have hung out with fellow crips, or people with disability, for a long time – they are my people, working, socialising, advocating and occasionally even mobilising our #criparmy when it is called for.
But, being that unabashed person who tends to call people out when things are not accessible to me or my friends, I am often asked to put my money where my mouth is and provide people with an easy solution. (Which, while I totally understand and encourage it, is actually really tough as it puts the burden of fixing the situation on the person who tends to be the most disadvantaged one in the room…) But, putting that aside, this tends to be where we hit a problem: there is no “solution” I can provide.
Sure, I could explain to you about ramps and lifts, about tactile signage, or easy English, closed captioning, or Auslan interpreting and, following that advice, would take you a lot further than where you are now. These are all things that you should do. However, providing people with nice, easy checklists glosses over one fundamental aspect of disability and, indeed, humanity – we are all different…
Microsoft Talks Accessibility Improvements Coming to Windows and Office 365 in 2017
12/2 | Source: Windows Central | Technology, Digital Accessibility
Ahead of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Microsoft has taken to its accessibility blog to highlight some of the ways it’s planning to improve Windows 10 and Office in 2017 for disabled users. Overall, Microsoft has some big plans for improving accessibility features of its products in 2017, including braille support, new text to speech voices, and much more.
Here’s a look at what’s in the pipeline for Windows 10 and Narrator in the Creators Update. As Microsoft notes, some of these improvements are already in Insider builds, but some will be added in the new year:..
Accessibility Training and Information
- Sturctured Negotiation: A Winning Alternative to Lawsuits
- Learn how to make Microsoft Word documents accessible
- Section 508 of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act of 1973
- Accessible Electronic Documents
- Website Accessibility – Understanding the Law, Responding to Demands, & Practical Steps to Reduce Risk for Retail Websites
- Higher Ed Accessibility Lawsuits, Complaints, and Settlements
- The Built-In Accessibility Features of iOS
- The Office of the Texas Secretary of State
- University of Massachusetts Boston
- The Equality and Human Rights Commission
- TD Bank
- American Bank
- Grand Forks Credit Union
- Rapport Credit Union
Accessibility Product Releases and Announcements
- Milestone’s Galexi™ CMS Can Now Power ADA Conforming Sites
- LipNet: lip-reading AI uses machine learning
- Student’s iDentifi app puts object recognition in the hands of the visually impaired
- A deaf musician is creating a universal algorithm to make beautiful, visual music
- CTA Foundation Announces CES Eureka Park Accessibility Contest Winners
- Blue Beanie Day 2016
- 5 cool technologies that are helping people with disabilities
- Immersive Reader and Frame Guide come to Office Lens—offering built-in accessibility
- Office apps get Box integration, improved accessibility and more on Android
- How Alexa Powered Devices Can Help Aging and Disabled Family Members
- D2L Partners With National Federation of the Blind to Help Make Learning Accessible to All
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.
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. Content is available online and as an accessible PDF for printing.