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Leaving No One Behind: Achieving Disability-Inclusive Disaster Risk Management

Report from World Bank
Published on 14 Sep 2017
BY CHARLOTTE MCCLAIN-NHLAPO

Natural hazard events can occur in any country, at any time. At present, India, Bangladesh, and Nepal are dealing with the aftermath of some of the worst monsoon flooding in years, which has left more than 1,200 people dead and millions homeless. At the same time, North America and the Caribbean region are responding to some of the strongest hurricanes on record.

At such times of peril, individual and community resilience is at a premium, and we cannot afford to miss opportunities to bolster that resilience wherever possible. This is especially true with respect to certain groups such as persons with disabilities who have historically been disproportionately affected by natural hazards.

Another Court Finds That Accessibility Rules Apply to Retail Websites

Last month we told you that a court in Florida had ordered the Winn-Dixie supermarket chain to make its websites accessible to persons with vision impairments by following the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 standards (WCAG 2.0). This month, another court has weighed in.

In an opinion published on September 6, 2017 (but issued earlier on July 31, 2017), Judge Jack B. Weinstein of the Southern District of New York ruled that a retail website was a place of public accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (as well as under state and local law) and therefore the owner the website had to take the steps necessary to ensure that the blind have full and equal enjoyment of its website provided that taking such steps would not impose an undue burden on Blick or fundamentally alter the website. Andrews v. Blick Art Materials, LLC, 17-CV-767, NYLJ 1202797331595, at *15 (EDNY, Decided July 31, 2017).

U.S. Department of Transportation Announces Accessible Transportation Technologies Research Initiative Application Development Awards

Sept 12, 2017

The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) has awarded six application development research contracts, totaling $6.185 million* for a period of performance through FY 2019, under its Accessible Transportation Technologies Research Initiative (ATTRI) to improve mobility options for all travelers, particularly those with disabilities.

ATTRI is a multimodal departmental effort that has been at the leading edge of identifying and developing transformative transportation applications for all disabilities. “ATTRI’s success depends on working cooperatively with other agencies as well as the private sector,” said Michael F. Trentacoste, Associate Administrator for Research, Development and Technology; Director, Turner Fairbank Highway Research Center. “We recognize the interdisciplinary nature of accessible transportation research and actively seek opportunities to leverage resources, accomplishments, and knowledge advances both within the USDOT and across federal agencies. We can’t do this alone.”

Metro to Launch Abilities-Ride Program to Encourage Accessible Taxi Use as Alternative to MetroAccess in Maryland

Originally posted Sept. 6, 2017

MetroAccess customers will have a new, more flexible option for travel within Maryland with the launch of the Abilities-Ride program on Monday, September 18.

The new program offers an alternative to MetroAccess service by allowing eligible customers to use on-demand taxi services–without sharing a ride–at a discounted rate.

The Abilities-Ride program offers subsidized rides in partnership with Regency Taxi and Silver Cab. Eligible MetroAccess customers can request transportation through these providers for any trip that begins and ends within the MetroAccess service area in Maryland. Riders can request their trip in advance by calling the taxi company directly, or through their respective websites or smartphone apps.

Disabled Accessibility Law Gathering Support

By John Gibb
Tuesday Sept. 12, 2017

Canadian disability advocate David Lepofsky believes there is growing political backing to pass “accessibility” legislation in this country.

“Accessibility legislation can only help, if it’s done right,” Mr Lepofsky said in Dunedin recently.

Read more at
http://www.aoda.ca/disabled-accessibility-law-gathering-support/

UAE Students Invent Photo-to-Braille Translator; To Make Reading Easier for Visually Impaired

Portable reading device developed by students at UAE University in Al Ain can translate written material into Braille Sami Zaatari,
Gulf News, Sept. 8, 2017

Abu Dhabi: An innovative student-led project at the UAE University in Al Ain is hoping to make reading easier for visually impaired people by developing a pocket-sized portable device that can translate reading materials into Braille.

The device, which is still in its prototype stage, has a built-in camera that can be used to take photos of any type of reading material, which is then converted into Braille, allowing a visually impaired person to read at any time they want.

Congress Wants to Change the Americans with Disabilities Act and Undermine the Civil Rights of People with Disabilities

Tyler Ray & Vania Leveille, Senior Legislative Counsel
ACLU Washington Legislative Office, September 6, 2017

The Americans with Disabilities Act is the most comprehensive and
foundational civil rights law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of disability. Yet, 27 years after it was passed, people with disabilities still face enormous barriers.

People with mobility disabilities routinely
find themselves blocked from the simplest of social interactions. They are unable to go to the corner grocery store to pick up a quart of milk because there is a step at the door. They are unable to go to the local movie theatre with their friends because there is no accessible seating. They might be able to get into the door of the local restaurant, but are stymied
if they have to go to the bathroom while they are there, because it is the size of a postage stamp.

Justice System Failed Mentally Ill Indigenous Inmate, Lawyer Argues

Michael Nehass, a 33-year-old Indigenous inmate who is mentally ill, spent much of his nearly six-year period of incarceration in solitary confinement. Patrick White
September 4, 2017

In 2016, Michael Nehass swallowed razor blades. To his delusional mind, it was a reasonable act built upon solid logic.

Mr. Nehass, a 33-year-old Indigenous inmate, believed that a technological device of some unspecified kind had been implanted in his stomach during his lengthy incarceration. Consuming the blades, he thought, would force hospital surgeons to open up his torso, whereupon they would see the implant and remove it.

Government of Canada Supports Greater Accessibility in Public Consultation Forums for People with Speech and Language Disabilities

GATINEAU, QC, Aug. 31, 2017 /CNW/ – Communications Disabilities Access Canada, a national not-for-profit organization, will make public consultation forums more accessible to Canadians who have speech and language disabilities.

Today, the Honourable Kent Hehr, Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, announced the launch of this initiative, funded through the disability component of the Social Development Partnerships Program.

A more inclusive Canada is one where all Canadians are given equal opportunity to contribute to their communities and share their views on the social and economic issues that affect their lives. This is why the Government of Canada is committed to support innovative accessibility projects that reduce barriers for people with disabilities and improve their participation and integration into all aspects of society.

UN Denounces British Government for Failing to Protect Disabled Peoples’ Rights

May Bulman
August 31, 2017

The Government has been criticised by the United Nations for failing to uphold the rights of disabled people through a string of austerity policies.

An inquiry into the UKs progress in fulfilling its commitments to a major UN convention found ministers have failed people with disabilities through a catalogue of policies in recent years, affecting a range of areas from access to healthcare to equality in education and work.

A rise in disabled pupils not in mainstream education and a “persistent” employment gap facing disabled adults were among a string of accusations outlined in the report, published this week by the UN committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, after it spent two days grilling Government officials in Geneva.

The 2017 Disability Equality Index Names the “Best Places to Work for Disability Inclusion”

68 top-scoring companies pave the way for Corporate America
Washington, D.C. (August 23, 2017)

US Business Leadership Network (USBLN) and American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) are proud to release the 2017 Disability Equality Index (DEI) the third year measured by the Index. 110 companies participated in the 2017 DEI, with results indicating where companies are excelling in their commitment to inclusive environmental, social, and governance policies.

DEI results also indicate areas in which companies must improve and close the policy and practice gaps for disability inclusion. This year a record 68 employers have earned the top rating of 100 signaling to corporate America that becoming inclusive to people with disabilities drives positive results across the business.

Obtaining Accessible Cable Television: A Frustrating Experience

Janet Ingber

At the AccessWorld Tech Summit in March 2017, part of the American Foundation for the Blind’s annual Leadership Conference, I was so excited while listening to a presentation from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) about accessible devices including cable boxes. I figured I could call my cable company when I got home and get an accessible cable box. I was wrong.

FCC Regulations Summary for Accessible Cable Boxes

The FCC conference presenters were Suzy Rosen Singleton, Chief, and Will Schell, Attorney-Advisor, Disability Rights Office, Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau. They focused on access to video description.

How Does the Refreshed Section 508 Rule Affect Your Agency?

By Mark Gross
Aug 21, 2017

A part of The Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 508 requires that government agencies provide individuals with disabilities equal access to their programs, services and activities. Specifically, Section 508 deals with electronic and services, including web page content, PDF documents and audio and video content and specifies requirements to ensure that all web content is accessible to people with disabilities. The latest update to Section 508, known as “the refresh,” went into effect March 21, 2017.

Three Day Event to Help Calgarians with Disabilities

CALGARY, Alberta, Aug. 17, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE)

Not-for-profit organization creating specialized solutions for disabilities in 72 hour makeathon event

The Tikkun Olam Makers:Calgary run by Kadima Dynamics, is excited to announce their third makeathon event where local engineers and designers, termed ‘Makers’, work with people with a disability, or ‘Need-Knowers’, to create solutions for their everyday challenges.

15 teams of 4-6 individuals each, from communities across Alberta will work together for a continuous 72 hours, with access to fabrication equipment and materials. Participants will be given a budget, monitored, and guided through their projects.

NASA Paves A Way for People Who are Blind to Experience A Total Solar Eclipse

Aug 17, 2017

app screenshot On August 21, 2017, just a few days away, the United States of America will fall under the path of a total solar eclipse. Said to be an unforgettable experience, many people plan to descend upon this path of totality and view complete darkness.

But what about those who will not be able to “see” this event NASA now has a solution. The Eclipse Soundscapes Project by NASA’s Heliophysics Education Consortium will help deliver a multisensory experience of this celestial event.

Doing More For People With Disabilities Is Doing More For Canadians

People with disabilities still make up a disproportionate number of professionals working in jobs that are below their skills level. 08/11/2017

Most of us take for granted the ability to easily perform daily activities or engage in social interactions. We do not wake up each morning with debilitating pain, or require the assistance of a guide dog to leave our homes. For the over 3.8 million Canadians living with a chronic health condition or health-related problem, however, performing what some might consider routine tasks can be a serious challenge.

World’s Blind Population to Triple by 2050 : study

Published: Thu, Aug 03 2017

The number of blind people across the world is set to triple from about 36 million to 115 million by 2050, due to a growing ageing population, says a study in ‘The Lancet’

The researchers estimate that crude prevalence of global blindness declined from 0.75% in 1990 to 0.48% in 2015, while the rate of moderate to severe vision impairment reduced from 3.83% to 2.90%.

London: The number of blind people across the world is set to triple from about 36 million to 115 million by 2050, due to a growing ageing population, a study warned on Thursday.

Federal Disabilities Minister ‘Frustrated’ After Family Denied Residency Over Daughter’s Health Needs

Carla Qualtrough hopes to reverse presumption that people with disabilities burden the system By Cameron MacLean
CBC News, July 28, 2017

An advocate who says it is “unfair” that an American family was denied permanent residency due to the potential costs of their daughter’s health problems has found an ally in Canada’s minister of persons with disabilities.

The family of six moved to Canada from Colorado in 2013 and have built a business in the town of Waterhen, Man. Their work permits expire in November.

When they came to Canada, Jon and Karissa Warkentin didn’t know that their daughter Karalynn, then two, had special needs. She was diagnosed in 2014 with epilepsy and global developmental delay.

Committed to Technology Equality for People with Disabilities

July 26, 2017
Written by: Dr. Ruoyi Zhou

The year 2017 will be remembered as a major milestone in the relationship between technology and equality.

Earlier this year, updates were finally approved to the Section 508 Amendment of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act of 1973 that transformed turn-of-the-century accessibility guidelines for procurement and services of the U.S. federal government to encompass modern challenges and solutions. This new set of requirements provides organizations with a roadmap toward creating inclusive technologies that can benefit all individuals, including people with disabilities.

A Robot to Help Visually Impaired Schoolchildren Find Their Way

03.07.17 – Summer series students works:

Alexandre Foucqueteau has taught Cellulo, a little hand-sized robot, how to help visually impaired children find their bearings and avoid obstacles in the classroom.

For his semester project, Alexandre Foucqueteau came up with a new application for a little multifunctional robot called Cellulo. Created at EPFL two years ago in a collaboration between the Computer-Human Interaction Lab for Learning & Instrution (CHILI) and the Robotic Systems Laboratory (LSRO) with the support of NCCR Robotics, the robot can now help visually impaired children get around their classroom. The child moves the little robot around a map of the room. When the robot bumps virtually into something, such as a table or the teacher’s desk, it can recognize the object. That may sound like a piece of cake, but getting a tablet to interact with the robot and recognize the objects was actually quite complex.