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Improving Online Accessibility for Students a Major Issue for Schools

By Bridget McCrea
March 27th, 2015

Getting schools onboard with accessible learning is a struggle that Kara Zirkle is all too familiar with. As IT accessibility coordinator at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., she says resistance to changeparticularly in the cultural senseis fairly natural and tends to stand in the way of even the best intentions on the assistive learning front. To overcome this obstacle, she says schools should institute solid policies and procedures that address all federal (i.e., ADA) and state accessibility requirements.

On the K-12 front, she says the board of education, principal, and technology directors should be part of an effective “top-down” approach to accessibility. Without these key players on the team, Zirkle says such initiatives can quickly become fragmented and ineffective.

As ADA Turns 25, Places of Public Accommodation Must Consider Accessible Technology

These two developing areas have implications for almost any entity covered by Title III By Joshua A. Stein
March 25, 2015

July 26, 2015, is the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This event will likely be celebrated with significant developments impacting the scope of coverage of Title III of the ADA.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), charged with regulating Title III, is expected to advance and finalize some regulations affecting most industries, and others focused on movie theaters, cruise lines, and possibly, healthcare facilities. Additionally, advocacy groups and plaintiffsbuoyed by these looming developments and emboldened by the 25th anniversary may continue aggressively pursuing an expansive interpretation of Title III in structured negotiations/”cooperative” agreements and litigation.

Government Reinstates Disabled Worker’ Paper-Shredding Jobs

Chris Cobb Ottawa Citizen, March 23, 2015

In the face of a public and political backlash, the Conservative government has reinstated a program that will allow 50 developmentally disabled Ottawa workers to continue sorting and disposing of waste federal documents.

The new contract between the Public Works and Government Services Canada and the Ottawa-Carleton Association for Persons with Developmental Disabilities (OCAPDD) will last for three years and be renewable.

Pierre Poilievre, minister of employment and social development and regional minister for the National Capital Region, told the Citizen on Sunday that despite the digital age, government still generates plenty of sensitive documents that need disposing of.

Fake ‘Service Dog’ ID Brought to Heel by Proposed B.C. Law

BC and Alberta Guide Dogs says more people are getting fake IDs for untrained dogs to benefit from the perks By Daybreak South, CBC News Posted: Mar 20, 2015

Fake ‘service dog’ IDs prompt new law 2:39

Fake ID is going to the dogs rather too much, as it turns out. But a proposed B.C. law aims to stop people labelling dogs without proper training as service dogs, by creating government issued dog ID and a provincial registry.

“It’ll be a bit like a service dog driving licence if you like,” Bill Thornton, the CEO of BC and Alberta Guide Dogs, an organization that trains service dogs, told Daybreak South’s Chris Walker.

The evils of captcha explained by a blind person

by Stefania Leone
2015.03.19

Whoever forgets their online banking password or any other account with sensitive data must pass the dreaded CAPTCHA test(Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart). This is an image containing letters and numbers that, for security reasons, the user must be able to recognise and type in to continue the authentication procedure.

Apparently it’s a doddle one that, however, can really try one’s patience. Because captcha is particularly difficult to read which of course ensures that only humans, rather than an automated system such as a virus, can decipher the code.

Government of Canada Invests to Improve Workplace Diversity in the Canadian Logistics, Transportation and Supply Chain Sectors

CALGARY, March 18, 2015 /CNW

Joan Crockatt, Member of Parliament for Calgary Centre, on behalf of the Honourable Dr. K. Kellie Leitch, Minister of Labour and Minister of Status of Women, today announced a new grant to improve workplace diversity and inclusion in the logistics, transportation and supply chain industry. Ms. Crockatt made the announcement at the Women in Supply Chain Distinguished Speaker Dinner Series in Calgary.

Under the Workplace Opportunities: Removing Barriers to Equity (WORBE) program, the Van Horne Institute will receive $125,000 for a project that will allow them to identify barriers, solutions and best practices of inclusive workplaces by engaging its academic and industry partners. Findings will enable the creation of a corporate change model for industry and academia, and a video promoting the value of inclusive workplaces.

Working Wisdom: How Workers With Disabilities Give Companies an Edge

TAVIA GRANT
The Globe and Mail
Published Friday, Feb. 27 2015, 7:13 PM EST

It’s tough enough to finish a degree in mathematics only to find the jobs available are temporary work packing boxes at Costco. It’s even harder when you are also trying to hide the fact that you have autism.

Just ask Mackenzie Whitney.

Despite a math degree from the University of Alberta, Mr. Whitney has felt an unspoken stigma from some employers because of his autism. For years he was stuck toiling at marginal jobs with irregular shifts, low pay and little chance of building a career.

U.S. Aims To Speed Up The Internet For The Disabled

Originally published on Sat March 7, 2015

Transcript from video at the link below.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

The Americans with Disabilities Act was passed in 1990. That is a long time ago in computer years. The Department of Justice is expected to release formal regulations this month that for the first time would apply ADA accessibility requirements to the web. From member station WHYY, Todd Bookman reports.

TODD BOOKMAN, BYLINE: If you’re blind, the Web probably has a familiar sound.

(SOUNDBITE OF SCREEN READER)

ANGEL AYALA: We’re on the Department of Justice website under accessibility under Internet accessibility.

Bus Stop Call-Outs on B.C. Transit, or Lack Thereof

Phillip Jang, Times Colonist
March 2, 2015

B.C. Transit drivers in Greater Victoria are supposed to announce the bus stops. It’s mandatory, B.C. Transit says.

It’s also not happening much. A B.C. Transit spokesman said in January that the rollout of the announcement effort, which started last year, is “going well.”

But in my experience, bus stop announcing is rare. I’m not a daily bus rider, but I’m on them a lot — usually Route 6, along with 2, 8, 26, 50 and 70. When I’m on a bus with a driver who announces stops, it’s a little startling. The Canadian Federation of the Blind did an informal survey of its members in the fall of 2014 and found that during a one-week period, 80 per cent of drivers were not calling out stops.

Why Online Ed Accessibility is not a “When We Get to It” Issue

By Bridget McCrea
March 3rd, 2015

As several high-profile lawsuits surface around accessibility of web content, colleges and universities must take the steps necessary to shore up their own approaches to online accessibility of web content.

accessibility-universities-onlineIn the era of online learning, colleges and universities are quickly learning that it’s not enough to provide online contentthe content must be accessible for all. But how can institutions provide online accessibility; and is it a legal requirement?

Cities Unlocked

exploring the world using 3D Soundscapes
John Shelton, – Cities Unlocked Programme, Manager , Guide Dogs UK

Visionary – International Guide Dogs Federation magazine February 2015.

Background

In 2013 Guide Dogs and Microsoft created a film called A Family Day Out to demonstrate technology concepts that could greatly enhance the quality of life for blind and visually impaired people.
Following the launch of the film, Guide Dogs and Microsoft teamed up with Future Cities Catapult to research and pilot some of the concepts; the programme of work is called Cities Unlocked.

U.S. Access Board Releases Proposed Updated Accessibility Requirements for Information and Communication Technology (ICT)

PR Newswire
“508 Refresh” Expected To Accelerate Adoption of AudioEye Products & Services in the Corporate and Government Sectors February 19, 2015

TUCSON, Ariz., Feb. 19, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — AudioEye, Inc. (OTCQB: AEYE) (“AudioEye”) today announced that the U.S. Access Board (the Board) has released for public comment a proposed rule updating accessibility standards for information and communication technology (ICT) in the federal sector covered by Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. The refresh also covers guidelines for telecommunications equipment subject to Section 255 of the Communications Act.

Accessibility Can Change the Way We Think

February 13, 2015
Christopher Lytle MA CDS

People with disabilities have traditionally been excluded from decision-making, holding roles of importance, exercising personal autonomy and obtaining gainful employment.

Although the view prescribed to people with disabilities has shifted over the years, there persists an underlying theme in which the overarching narrative is one of cultural mistrust. The cultural concepts and tools that we absorb and use as a population guide our perception of others, and in the case of a society built upon financial exchanges and labour, there are ideologies that are entrenched about what should comprise an ideal workforce.

Harvard, MIT Sued Over Lack of Closed Captioning Online

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. Feb 12, 2015
Associated Press

Advocates for the deaf sued Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on Thursday, saying the universities failed to provide closed captioning for online courses, podcasts and other educational programs.

The National Association for the Deaf filed class action lawsuits in federal court, saying Harvard and MIT discriminated against the hearing impaired and violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The association said much of Harvard’s and MIT’s online content was not captioned, was inaccurately captioned or was unintelligibly captioned, making it inaccessible. Advocates for the deaf say they’re not seeking a financial windfall but rather permanent injunctions against the universities mandating that all their online materials include closed captioning, interpretive text displayed onscreen.

Canada Post Cutbacks Will Impact the Disabled

Canadians deserve better. Our postal service helps connect us. And these cuts will unfairly impact the most vulnerableincluding seniors and people with disabilities.

Sign the Petition at the link below.

Read more at
http://petition.ndp.ca/stop-the-cuts-to-our-postal-service

Canadian Paralympic Committee Receives $30,000 Grant from Milos Raonic Foundation in Support of Parasport

OTTAWA Feb. 10, 2015 – The Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC) is honoured and grateful to announce it is a recipient of a $30,000 grant from the Milos Raonic Foundation, to help more children with disabilities become involved in sports.

The funds will be directed towards the creation of an innovative CPC parasport digital online resource. The resource will help Canadian parents, professionals from health, education, sport and recreation access activity and lesson plans and providers based on location, age, disability type and sport preferences, to enhance the integration of children with a disability into existing sports programming.

The Milos Raonic Foundation harnesses resources in support of disadvantaged children and was established in 2012 by the Canadian tennis star.

More Missing Money at CNIB Lottery Kiosks

Charlotte Macfarlane still trying to get $4,000 owed in wages from charity By Susan Allen, Yvonne Colbert, CBC News
Posted: Feb 05, 2015

Charlotte Macfarlane says she didn’t take any money from CNIB. (CBC)

Another former lottery booth operator working for the CNIB says the charity held her responsible for missing funds, though she says she wasn’t at fault.

Related Story

The CNIB – an organization that helps visually impaired Canadians – is suing four booth operators in the Maritimes. They’re in Truro, Halifax, Bathurst and Summerside.

Should Websites Be Required to Provide Better Access to the Disabled?

By Todd Bookman

It’s either 1983 or 1984, and Austin Seraphin begs his mom to take him to the electronics store to check out an Apple IIe computer.

“She said they were so surprised, they were so shocked. And I said, ‘Yeah, they must have been shocked that a blind person especially a blind kid wanted to use a computer.’ And she said, ‘No, they were shocked to have customers,'” he says with a laugh.

The Apple IIe was a big deal in the mainstreaming of computers, but it was a really big deal for seven-year-old Seraphin. The machine was one of the first home units to have a slot for a sound card, allowing special software to read aloud whatever was on the screen.

Scientists Target Smartphone Technology to Improve Hearing Devices

Team of Jonsson, BBS Professors Receives $522,000, 2-Year Grant from National Institutes of Health for Project Feb. 6, 2015

Dr. Issa Panahi, associate professor of electrical engineering in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering, is part of a UT Dallas research team looking to tap into the power of smartphones to boost the quality of hearing assistive devices.

Many scientists agree: The smartphone offers many applications and has become one of the most sophisticated technologies out there.

With the support of a $522,000, two-year grant from the National Institutes of Health, a UT Dallas team wants to harness the power of smartphones to help improve the quality of life of people who wear hearing assistive devices (HAD), including hearing aids, cochlear implants and personal sound amplifiers.

New Alliance Offers Voice to Disabled

The website of People with Disability Australia.
Canberra [AAP]

People with disabilities will be represented in government policy-making by five advocacy groups, under new funding arrangements.

Dozens of community service groups, including ten peak disability organisations, learnt just before Christmas they would no longer receive federal government contracts from June 30, 2015.

Assistant social services minister Mitch Fifield on Friday announced a new cross-disability alliance had won a competitive tender for two years of funding to advise government on policy.

The alliance of People with Disability Australia, Children with Disability Australia, First Peoples Disability Network Australia, National Ethnic Disability Alliance and Women with Disability Australia covers the whole gamut of disabilities.