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CSUN 2018 Heralds The Year of Wearables–Unless It Doesn’t

Shelly Brisbin

When reporting on an event like the annual CSUN Assistive Technology Conference, it’s tempting to try to sum it up with a single narrative. This is my third year covering the trade show portion of CSUN. In addition to asking questions for AccessWorld, I was part of the Blind Bargains podcast team You’ll find links to some of our interviews at the link below.

A couple of years ago, Jamie Pauls wrote that CSUN and other accessibility-focused trade shows inaugurated the year of Braille. This year, a number of the products announced in 2016 are available to purchase, some have even been updated, and a few still aren’t available at all. Most of these items exemplify important improvements in function, price, or both.

The University of Winnipeg Students’ Association Launches The Access Lounge

The University of Winnipeg Students’ Association (UWSA) has launched an accessible study and community building space available for students with disabilities/disabled students to access.

The lounge has accessible study spaces and supports community building within the disabled community.

The center shows the reprioritization of resources to support grassroots disability activism. The center also is home to UWSAccess, a Disability Justice group run for and by students with disabilities.

The Access Lounge is a space on campus dedicated to students who are disabled by barriers. This space is for those students to study, hang out or complete course work.

Location: Mezzanine Level, Bulman Student Centre
Email: accesslounge@theuwsa.ca
Hours: 10 a.m. 4 p.m.

Blind Woman Helps Guide Successful Voting-Rights Lawsuit Against State of Ohio

By: Rick Reitzel
Updated: Apr 12, 2018

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — A lawsuit brought by Disability Rights Ohio has succeeded in requiring Secretary of State Jon Husted’s office into providing accessible voting solutions for the blind.

NBC4 spoke with the woman behind the lawsuit.

Many people take voting for granted as just a simple procedure, but for those with disabilities like Shelbi Hindel, who has been blind since two, accessibility for voting has been a challenge.

“I still want to vote independently and I want to be able to have an option, like others have,” Hindel said.

She has been very mobile, raising two children to adulthood and working jobs for the state and federal governments.

Beyond Title III: Website Accessibility Lawsuits Filed Alleging Inaccessible Online Employment Applications

Seyfarth Synopsis: Plaintiffs who pursued numerous web accessibility actions under Title III of the ADA are now using website accessibility to test the limits of a different area of law employment law California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act.

Over the past few years, we have frequently written about the proliferation of demand letters and lawsuits alleging that a business denied a usually blind or vision-impaired individual access to its goods and services because the business’ website was not accessible, in violation of Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and state laws. One firm that pursued many web accessibility actions under Title III and California’s Unruh Act (including a success in the Bags N’ Baggage case decided in plaintiff’s favor by a California state court) is now going after employers. In recent demand letters and lawsuits, they are alleging that employment websites are not accessible to blind job seekers, in violation of California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), California’s corollary to Title I of the ADA.

Disability Network Sponsoring Accessible Services at Dow Diamond

Midland Daily News
Published April 6, 2018

Disability Network of Mid-Michigan will be the presenting sponsor of accessible services at Dow Diamond for the 2018 baseball season.

This agreement continues a long-standing partnership that has existed between DNMM, the Great Lakes Loons and the Michigan Baseball Foundation since 2006.

With Dow Diamond’s groundbreaking, the Loons, the MBF and DNMM worked to create a world class stadium that was accessible to all fans. DNMM aided the Loons in meeting and exceeding stadium requirements set by the Americans with Disabilities Act and continues to be a key community partner in making Dow Diamond a model of accessibility.

This Marathoner Defies the Odds

Despite doctor’s orders, Toronto-born runner has 10 races to his name William J. Kole The Associated Press

Toronto-born Young, 52, puts on his
running shoes at his current home in Salem, Mass.

Most marathoners take 35,000 steps to reach the finish line. John Young needs 80,000.

The high school math teacher from Toronto, who now lives in Salem, Mass., is part of a rare and spirited breed of athlete: those who’ve overcome the daunting challenges of dwarfism to conquer the 42.2-kilometre distance.

Why Financial Institutions Should Strive to Meet the Needs of Persons With Disabilities(PWD’s)

April 4 2018

There are over 56 million people living with disabilities in the United States, which makes them the biggest minority group in the nation. With the latest technological innovations, one would think that financial accessibility for the disabled would be a resolved matter in this day and age; however, that is not the case.

As reported by the FDIC National Survey of Unbanked and Underbanked Households, “more than 5 million people with disabilities are currently unbanked or underbanked”. However, the good news is, financial institutions are becoming more and more aware of the reality of the situation, and are doing their best to create long-term business relationships with people with disabilities.

Disability Etiquette Is a Must in Society

April 3, 2018
In Columns, Embracing Life on Wheels – a Column By Jessica Grono.

Imagine going to the mall with a wheelchair-accessible van and all handicapped-accessible spaces are taken, but no one has a proper tag to park there. Or you’re in a wheelchair and need to use the bathroom, but others are in the handicapped stall when they have no good excuse to be. With a disability, you usually have to wait because the normal parking stalls are too small for a wheelchair-accessible van and restroom stalls are too small for a wheelchair. Then, people often stare at you like you’re the crazy person for needing the space.

Gyms Must Do More to Accommodate People With Disabilities

Globe and Mail, April 2, 2018.

Advances in modern medicine have led doctors to a better understanding of the benefits of exercise in managing a broad range of chronic conditions, from multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy to post-traumatic stress disorder
(PTSD) and epilepsy. Unfortunately, traditional gyms aren’t designed with this end use in mind. Sure, there’s bound to be an automatic door opener for people with mobility issues, maybe even a wheelchair lift or a ramp, but
that tends to be the extent of the services provided to make fitness accessible to all.

The Government of Canada Launches Funding Opportunity to Improve Participation of Canadians With Disabilities in Their Communities and the Labour Market

Employment and Social Development Canada
Mar 29, 2018

GATINEAU, QC, March 29, 2018 /CNW/ – Today, the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, invited not-for-profit and Indigenous organizations, municipalities and territorial governments to apply for funding for retrofit, renovation or new construction projects of accessible facilities or venues through the 2018 Enabling Accessibility Fund (EAF) call for concepts (CFC) for mid-sized projects.

Through the Enabling Accesibility Fund, the Government of Canada is taking action to ensure Canadians with disabilities have access to services and programs that will help them participate fully in their community and in the labour market.

Practice Guidelines to Support Disabled People Into Work

Press Release: New Zealand Government
March 21, 2018

The Minister for Disability Issues Carmel Sepuloni and Minister of Employment Willie Jackson welcome the launch of the new Employment Support Practice Guidelines: How to support disabled people to get the job they want.

“The development of the Practice Guidelines was a joint effort led by the New Zealand Disability Support Network (NZDSN), bringing together representatives from the disability sector, provider groups and government agencies,” said Carmel Sepuloni.

“The Practice Guidelines are an essential ‘how to’ guide for supporting disabled people into work, based on what’s been shown to work best.

Minister Jackson says for many disabled people employment is a key aspiration.

“Over There.”

Cathy Anne Murtha

As my guide dog and I stood in line at the checkout of the River City Market at CSUS, I asked the cashier what I considered a simple question.

“Where are the napkins please?”

Her response was hurried, but sincere, “over there.”

Emerging from the light rail for the first time, I managed to catch the attention of a passer-by. “Please sir, can you tell me where I might catch bus 63?”

A kind voice offered a pleasant response before disappearing into the cacophony of the early afternoon, “You can catch it, Over there.”

Apple Proposes Accessibility Emoji, Including Service Dog

Apple on Friday proposed a batch of new accessibility characters, including two different service dogs, according to Emojipedia. Angela Moscaritolo
March 23, 2018

New accessibility emoji could be headed to mobile devices next year.

Apple on Friday proposed a batch of at least nine new accessibility characters, according to Emojipedia. The lot includes two different service dogs, a person with a cane, an ear with a hearing aid, a person in an electric wheelchair, a person in a manual wheelchair, a prosthetic arm, and a prosthetic leg. Another newly proposed emoji has with an index finger on the cheek to represent the American Sign Language gesture for “deaf.”

WFD and WASLI Statement on Use of Signing Avatars

Helsinki, Finland / Melbourne, Australia
14 March 2018

This statement from the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) and the World Association of Sign Language Interpreters (WASLI) is concerned with the way in which decisions on where and when to use signing avatars as a form of access to spoken or written content is being managed by public authorities. The difference in linguistic quality between humans and avatars is why WFD and WASLI cautions against the use of signing avatars as a replacement for human signers.

This statement is to advise on processes with how and when to determine appropriate use of signing avatars.

One Hundred Years Enough for the CNIB

Graeme McCreath
March 18, 2018
Graeme McCreath argues the group encourages custodial treatment of the blind.

Is the CNIB’s centennial this year really something to celebrate?

The Canadian National Institute for the Blind came about directly because of the high profile of gas-blinded heroes of the First World War and survivors of the 1917 Halifax explosion. As a self-preservation policy, the institute eventually turned to influencing government to designate all blind Canadians permanent wards of a charity, but in reality, recipients of little.

Temporary causes reflect contemporary attitudes, but society changes and so should attitudes. Nevertheless, this longstanding enigma, the CNIB, will celebrate its centennial this year, yet elsewhere inclusion has replaced segregation, and obsolete Victorian values have evaporated like the age of steam power.

Disabled Canadians Experience More Assault

Michelle McQuigge
The Toronto Star , Mar. 16, 2018

Canadians with disabilities are about twice as likely to experience violence as their able-bodied peers, with greater instances of victimization taking place at every stage of life, new data from Statistics Canada indicated Thursday.

The numbers, drawn heavily from the agency’s 2014 General Social Survey on victimization, take an in-depth look at the experiences of Canadians over the age of 15 who identify as having a physical, sensory, cognitive or mental health disability and do not live in an institution.

The report, while breaking down data on both genders, offers a particular focus on women, who experience noticeably higher rates of victimization in many areas.

Airbnb strives for inclusiveness with accessibility-approved Rentals

Airbnb just took an important step toward inclusiveness by making it easier to find listings that are accessible for people who use wheelchairs.

If you climb up porch stairs or step into a shower without thinking about it, you may never have noticed that finding disability-friendly listings on Airbnb was a challenge, requiring guests to grill hosts about details on accessible bathrooms and ramps and leaving much to be desired. Airbnb recognized the problem (eventually), and in 2017 it started working with the California Council of the Blind, California Foundation for Independent Living Centers, and National Council on Independent Living to develop new filters that would make it easier for travelers to find homes that fit their needs. It also purchased Accomable, a startup dedicated to disability-friendly travel.

Paralympics: Disabled People Experience Accessibility Issues

By KIM TONG-HYUNG | Associated Press
March 17, 2018

GANGNEUNG, South Korea As the world’s top disabled athletes competed on ice and snow, Erica Mitchell steered through her own obstacle course on Pyeongchang’s narrow and uneven streets.

The 31-year-old from Chicago was one of many people with disabilities who spoke to The Associated Press this week about accessibility problems at the Paralympic Games in South Korea’s rural east, despite what organizers described as a “perfectly” organized event that provided the “highest level” of access.

Bill C-49 Empowers Goliath and Takes Away David’s Sling Shot

March 15, 2018 For Immediate Release

Bill C-49, the Transportation Modernization Act, will make some aspects of Canadas federally regulated transportation system more inaccessible than it already is for people with disabilities.

Travelers with disabilities routinely encounter accessibility barriers, such as damaged or delayed mobility equipment, kiosks without audio output to make them accessible to blind travelers.

If passed without amendment, Bill C-49 while adding new barriers will also make it harder for organizations like the Council of Canadians with Disabilities, a national organization that has been working for more than 40 years in support of an accessible and inclusive transportation system, to take complaints in the public interest to the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA).

U.S. Sues New York City Subway Operator Over Disabled Access

March 13, 2018
By Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The U.S. government on Tuesday sued the agencies that run New York City’s subway, claiming they failed to make a Bronx station accessible to disabled people despite an expensive renovation.

By intervening in a 2016 lawsuit brought by disability rights advocates against the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) and New York City Transit Authority (NYCTA), the U.S. Department of Justice added firepower to a case that could help spur broader changes to the aging subway.

The agencies were accused of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by spending more than $27 million in 2013 and 2014 to renovate the Middletown Road station on the No. 6 line in the Pelham Bay neighborhood, without installing an elevator so disabled people could use it.