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Free Online Course Enabling Improved Digital Accessibility

Published: 21 October 2016

Academics from the Web and Internet Science (WAIS) research group within Electronics and Computer Science are lead educators on a new, free online course that aims to help learners understand how accessible digital technologies can overcome barriers encountered by people with sensory, physical or cognitive impairments.

The Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) in Digital Accessibility: Enabling Participation in the Information Society has recently been launched on the FutureLearn platform and already thousands of students from more than 50 countries have signed up.

New Research Could Help Build Better Hearing AIDS

Originally posted September 29, 2016

Scientists at Binghamton University, State University of New York want to improve sensor technology critical to billions of devices made every year. With a three-year grant from the National Science Foundation, they will start by making a high-performance sensor and applying it to hearing aids.

“This [grant] allows us to explore a new sensing mechanism that can revolutionize capacitive sensing by addressing the severe limitation of limited range of motion. This could lead to devices with better sensitivity and functionality,” said principal investigator Sherry Towfighian, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering within the Thomas J. Watson School of Engineering and Applied Science at Binghamton University.

Disability Rights Group Sues Uber Over Wheelchair Access

Posted: Oct 13, 2016 12:18 PM EDT
Associated Press

CHICAGO (AP) – A Chicago disability rights group sued Uber Thursday over wheelchair accessibility, arguing that the mobile ride-hailing company’s adherence to federal disability laws “ranges from token to non-existent” despite its expanding role in the nation’s transportation system.

The 19-page lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago on behalf of Access Living of Metropolitan Chicago and several individuals, seeks an order requiring that Uber comply with the 1990 Americans With Disabilities Act, or ADA, by making far more wheelchair-accessible vehicles available.

“(Uber’s) position threatens a return to the isolation and segregation that the disability rights movement has fought to overcome,” the filing says.

Wearable Artificial Vision Device Shows Promise in Helping People Who Are Legally Blind ‘Read’

Date:October 17, 2016 Source:American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO)

A unique wearable artificial vision device may help people who are legally blind “read” and recognize faces. It may also help these individuals accomplish everyday tasks with significantly greater ease than using traditional assistive reading devices, suggests a study presented today at AAO 2016, the 120th annual meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Approximately 246 million people worldwide have low vision. This sight loss impairs a person’s ability to do simple daily tasks. Optical and electronic devices such as hand-held magnifiers, tele-microscopic glasses and computer and video magnifiers can help. But, typically these devices are bulky, cumbersome or not readily portable. With recent advancements in wearable electronic devices and optical character recognition technology that converts images to computer-readable text, University of California, Davis researchers hypothesized that these newer technologies could help improve patients’ ability to function in daily life.

Miami University Reaches Justice Department Consent Decree to Improve Technology Access for Students With Disabilities

Under the consent decree, which is pending court approval, the university will make significant improvements to ensure that technologies across all its campuses are accessible to individuals with disabilities, the federal department said in a release.


Blind Man Says Guide Dog Ordered Out of Port Coquitlam Restaurant

Dinakis Mediterranean Grill owner says allegations are false and customer chose to leave By Bal Brach, CBC News Posted: Oct 17, 2016

31-year-old Anthony Janolino is blind and uses his guide dog, Vanda. Janolino says he was asked to leave Vanda outside a restaurant during a birthday celebration on Friday night.

A 31-year-old blind Port Coquitlam man says a family dinner at a local restaurant on Friday turned into a humiliating and degrading experience after he was allegedly asked to leave his guide dog outside the restaurant.

Anthony Janolino said the owner at Dinakis Mediterranean Grill in Port Coquitlam initially told the family the dog must be outside because of safety concerns.

Feds to Clarify Rules for Service Animals on Flights

A United States Department of Transportation committee will meet for the final time Wednesday to clarify rules that allow service animals to fly for free with their owners on commercial flights.

Federal regulations require airlines to allow service animals to accompany their owners with a legitimate disability in the air.

Questions and concerns have popped up when people have successfully flown with what they claim to be emotional-support animals of all shapes and sizes, including turkeys, pigs, kangaroos and miniature horses.

“That’s the question. What is a legitimate service animal?” asked Steve Cosgrove, owner of Southlake travel agency Dynamic Travel.

Half of World’s Children With Disabilities Are Kept Out of School, Says Report

By Zoe Tabary on 17/10/2016 Leave a comment

London: At least half of the worlds 65 million school-aged children with disabilities are kept out of the classroom because little to no money is budgeted for their needs, disability rights groups said in a report on Monday.

Light for the World, a charity which supported the research, said stigma and misinformation surrounding disability as well as a lack of data on the numbers of disabled children contributed to the problem.

People dont see them [children with disabilities] as a worthy investment, Nafisa Baboo, adviser for inclusive education at Light for the World, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

U.S. Education Department Awards $4.4 Million to Improve Literacy and Education Outcomes for Students with Disabilities

October 3, 2016

The U.S. Department of Education today announced more than $4.4 million in grants to improve literacy skills, outcomes and results for children with disabilities.

“When we improve literacy skills for children with disabilities, including those with dyslexia, we are not just teaching them how to read, we are opening doors to a lifetime of more positive opportunities, such as improved academic skills, reduction in behavioral incidences, increased school completion, and lifelong learning,” said U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. “These awards will continue to address inclusion, equity and opportunity for all children, including those with disabilities.”

The Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) awarded the following:

‘Don’t Ask What’s Wrong with the Reader, What’s Wrong with the Books?’: Writing for Readers with Dyslexia

Wednesday 5 October 2016 17.28 BST Last modified on Wednesday 5 October 2016 17.29 BST

From tinting their pages yellow to redesigning fonts, publisher Barrington Stoke is leading the way in dyslexia-friendly books. They and their authors including Meg Rosoff and Anthony McGowan explain the practicalities

We routinely think of accessibility for buildings, so why not books? artwork for The Genius Aged Eight and a Quarter by Jeremy Strong and illustrated by Jamie Smith

Settlement Reached With Shoppers Drug Mart in BC Human Rights complaint

For Immediate Release
Blind Advocate Reaches Settlement with Shoppers Drug Mart
October 5, 2016
Vancouver, B.C.

Rob Sleath, on behalf of people who are blind or partially sighted and Access for Sight-Impaired Consumers (ASIC), and Shoppers Drug Mart Inc. have agreed to settle a human rights complaint that will see Shoppers Drug Marts in British Columbia offer prescription medication information in an audio format throughout the province.

“This is definitely a step in the right direction for people who are blind or partially sighted in terms of having independent access to essential prescription information,” said Rob Sleath.
“Since my kidney transplant, I have been on a regimen of many different medications. Having prescription medications with attached audio labels means I can independently, confidently and safely manage my medications without fear of consuming any one of them incorrectly.

Easterseals to Help Communities Provide Accessible Transportation for Older Adults and People With Disabilities

WASHINGTON, Oct. 4, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire

Transportation continues to be a barrier for older adults and people with disabilities in rural communities. In response, Easterseals designed the Accessible Transportation Community Initiative to increase options for independent mobility in several communities nationwide.

The initiative will address the accessible transportation needs of people who rely on public transportation and will begin in selected rural communities in Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota, Washington, Montana and Alaska.

When driving is not a viable option for independent mobility, people tend to shrink their world to their homes, relying on family and friends when travel is necessary. Often routine activities such as going to the grocery store or a doctor’s appointment go neglected due to the absence of readily available transportation solutions.

Many Canadians Blind to Talents and Abilities of Job Seekers With Vision Loss


7 in 10 would choose a sighted candidate over a blind one; CNIB’s EmployAbility Campaign Calls on Employers to See Past Misconceptions

In honour of October’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month, CNIB is launching an EmployAbility campaign, calling on employers to look past misconceptions about hiring people who are blind or partially sighted.

Vision loss can happen to anyone, at any age and when it does, it can have a serious, negative impact on employment potential. At half a million and rapidly growing, Canadians who are blind or partially sighted comprise a significant portion of the nation’s population. Of these, over 100,000 are working age adults. The employment rate among Canadians with vision loss is strikingly low: 38 per cent versus 73 per cent for people without a disability. And approximately half of Canadians who are blind or partially sighted live on a low income of $20,000 a year or less.

Sunny Ways? More Accessibility Legislation Coming

Blog Canadian Labour and Employment Law
Baker & McKenzie
Jonathan D. Cocker.
Canada October 3 2016

True to their October 2015 campaign promise, the federal government has recently commenced a cross-country consultation process with Canadians aimed at developing national accessibility legislation.

Targeting Barriers from Sea to Sea to Sea

These federal sessions are tasked with the laudable goal of targeting barriers impacting Canadians ability to fully participate in daily activities, such as:

  • physical and architectural barriers that impede the ability to move freely in the built environment, use public transportation, access information or use technology;
  • attitudes, beliefs and misconceptions that some people may have about people with disabilities and what they can and cannot do; and

WIPO Marrakesh Treaty Enters Into Force


The World Intellectual Property Organization’s (WIPO) director, Francis Gurry, has welcomed the entry into force of the Marrakesh Treaty.

The treaty entered into force today, September 30, three months after it received the necessary 20 ratifications from WIPO member states.

It aims to help blind and visually impaired people access works, by requiring nations to adopt legal provisions that permit the reproduction and distribution of published works in accessible formats, including Braille, by introducing limitations and exceptions to copyright law.

In July, WIPR reported that Canada ratified the agreement, making it the 20th nation to join the treaty and allowing the treaty to come into force.

Launch Today of New National Video Relay Service Empowers Canada’s Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community

GATINEAU, QC, Sept. 28, 2016

A new service is launching today in Canada to empower the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community with tools to communicate better and provide them with greater independence.

SRV Canada VRS enables Deaf and Hard of Hearing people who use American Sign Language (ASL) and Langue des signes québécoise (LSQ) to conduct calls via video relay service (VRS) with hearing people through a professional ASL or LSQ interpreter. It simulates, as closely as possible, a conversation between two hearing people.

SRV Canada VRS works as follows:

  • VRS calls are placed using a high-speed Internet connection through a computer, tablet or smartphone.

New Obi™ Robotic Dining Device a Breakthrough for People Living with Physical Challenges

Spouses, parents and others also enjoy the charming robot
PR Newswire, BLOOMFIELD HILLS, MICH.July 12, 2016

The simple act of eating a meal will become more dignified and enjoyable for many people with physical challenges with the launch of Obi, a revolutionary robotic dining device.

Obi blends cutting-edge robotics, elegant design, intuitive controls and a friendly personality to give individuals who are fed by others the ability to take control of their meals at home and in public.

We believe dining is one of lifes greatest pleasures that absolutely everyone should enjoy, said Jon Dekar, DES?Ns co-founder. What our device stands for is equally as important as what it does. It represents our belief that living with physical challenges can be fulfilling and inspiring. Technology, and specifically robotics, combined with modern design, should facilitate that.

USBLN Technology HUB to Connect Certified Disability-Owned Businesses to Corporate Buyers

Tool Will Help Promote Job Creation and Competitive Contracts September 13, 2016

The US Business Leadership Network (USBLN) is launching its new Disability Supplier Diversity Program (DSDP) technology tool, which will provide certified disability-owned and service-disabled veteran disability-owned businesses the opportunity to promote their cost-competitive businesses to corporate buyers and decision makers.

The USBLNs certification process is a critical tool to assist disability-owned business enterprises (DOBEs) and service-disabled veteran disability-owned business enterprises (SDV-DOBEs) access to supply chain contracting opportunities. The new USBLN Certification and Sourcing HUB will allow the organization to certify more DOBEs and SDV-DOBEs by improving the efficiency of the overall certification and administrative processes. This expanded pool of disability suppliers will bring increased innovation and competitiveness to the marketplace, promote job creation and provide people with disabilities greater self-employment and economic opportunities.

Uber Canada and Canadian Hearing Society Partner to Promote Accessibility

Jessica Vomiero
September 24, 2016

Uber Canada and the Canadian Hearing Society (CHS) announced a partnership Friday that promotes employment access for the deaf and hard of hearing.

This partnership was announced during the Canadian Hearing Society’s International Week of the Deaf event “Creating an Accessible World.” The partnership will bring about several initiatives including promoting driver-partner opportunities at Uber for those who are hard of hearing and developing new features that improve communication between driver and client.

Furthermore, CHS and Uber will be introducing a “First ride for free” program, which gives deaf and hard of hearing customers a discount on their first ride as well as launching a promotion between September 26th and 29th that will donate $1 from every uberWAV and uberASSIST ride taken in Canada to CHS.

Barrier-Free Canada Update

Please Use and Widely Circulate Two New Helpful Resources We Here Give You, Helpful for Anyone Taking Part in the Government of Canada’s Current Public Consultation on the Promised Canadians with Disabilities Act Our Short Leaflet and Our Longer, More Detailed Tip Sheet

Barrier-Free Canada/Canada Sans Barrière
http://www.barrierfreecanada.org info@barrierfreecanada.org
A Non-Partisan Campaign for a Barrier-Free Canada for All Persons with Disabilities

September 23, 2016

The Federal Government is asking the public to give it input on what should be included in the promised Canadians with Disabilities Act, a new federal disability accessibility law. Are you thinking of taking part in that public consultation and giving the Government feedback? You can do so by attending one of the Federal Government’s public forums taking place across Canada, or by filling out the Government’s online questionnaire, or taking part in other activities and events that will be coming up over the next months.