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Federal Court Rules NYC Discriminates Against Blind and Low Vision Pedestrians by Failing to Make Crosswalk Signals Accessible

New York, NY – In a decision that will remake the streetscape of New York City and improve safety and accessibility for all New Yorkers, a federal court ruled today that New York City’s failure to provide accessible pedestrian signals (APS) at 96.6 % of its signalized intersections violates the civil rights of people with disabilities. APS are push-button devices attached to crosswalks that convey visual crossing information in audible and vibro-tactile formats accessible to blind, low vision, and Deafblind pedestrians.

Sony’s New Lip-Reading Technology Could Boost Accessibility – or Invade Privacy

Sony’s Visual Speech Enablement uses cameras and AI to read lips from far distances, no matter the noise. But are its accessibility benefits overshadowed by the potential for privacy violations? By Steven Winkelman
Updated January 13, 2021

Facial-recognition software can identify faces in a crowd, but how about picking up conversations without the help of nearby microphones? Sony’s Visual Speech Enablement does just that, using camera sensors and AI for augmented lip reading in any environment.

Alaska Airlines Clamps Down on Emotional Support Animals on Flights

The airline says it will permit service dogs only, following a move by the U.S. Department of Transportation to reclassify the types of service animals allowed on flights.
Alaska Airlines said it would disallow emotional support animals on its flights starting Jan. 11. By Allyson Waller
Dec. 29, 2020

If you’re flying on Alaska Airlines starting in mid-January, don’t plan on boarding with your support pig or miniature horse.

The airline, acting in the wake of new federal guidelines aimed at reining in a range of at times exotic animals that passengers have brought onto commercial planes as emotional support animals, kept it simple in announcing on Tuesday what it would allow: only qualified service dogs that are able to lie on the floor or be held in one’s lap.

Campaigner’s Research Shows Rail Access Information Is Often ‘Wildly Inaccurate’

By John Pring on 23rd December 2020

Information used by disabled passengers to check if a rail station is accessible is frequently wildly inaccurate, and often leads them to book travel to and from stations they cannot access, according to new research.

The research by disabled campaigner and access expert Doug Paulley shows that the accuracy of accessibility information has worsened in the two years since the problem was highlighted by the regulator, the Office of Rail and Road (ORR).

Paulleys research shows that for more than half of stations (51 per cent) across England, Scotland and Wales, the information used by the National Rail Enquiries (NRE) website on the level of step-free access is different from that held by the operators of those stations.

His Dream: Running Blind and Running Free

By Matthew Futterman
New york Times, Dec. 26, 2020

A blind runner issued a challenge to technologists last year to find a way for him to run safely without a guide. They did.

Thomas Panek dreamed for years of running the way he did before he lost his sight, without fear and without a human or a dog tethered to his wrist as a guide.

That dream took Panek, 50, to the north end of Central Park one frigid morning last month, to test drive something that might one day liberate thousands of other people with severely impaired vision. As a camera crew and a team of technologists made some final adjustments, he stood on the downslope of West Drive. He straddled a painted yellow line and waited for the signal to go.

The FuelService App: Solving Driver’s with Disabilities Major Problem of Getting Gas

Dec 28,2020

The age-old problem, for drivers with disabilities, of having to find assistance to get Full Service at a Self-Serve gas stations has finally been solved.

The Canadian Coalition for Mobility Challenged Drivers, was looking for a solution to this major problem since 2014. Many avenues were traveled on to eliminate this problem. During our search to find a way to ‘fill er up’, we came across a number of different proposals.

Calgary Accessibility Advocate Reminds People to Clear Snow and Ice From Sidewalks

Jordan Kanygin CTV News Calgary Video Journalist
Published Wednesday, December 23, 2020

CALGARY — Anyone who has been outside in Calgary since the snow started falling on Monday evening knows it’s difficult to get around whether it’s vehicles slipping and sliding on roads or people trudging through heavy snow on walkways.

But the massive snowfall is an even bigger roadblock for those who have limited mobility.

“Snow makes it impassable,” says Sean Crump with Universal Access Inc., a company that works on initiatives to make the city more accessible for all Calgarians.

For Job Seekers With Disabilities, Soft Skills Don’t Impress in Early Interviews

Research also finds discussing salary early in the interview process hurts all candidates Rutgers University
Science Daily,September 10, 2020

The findings, published in the International Journal of Conflict Management, contrast this with the results for candidates without disabilities who were positively evaluated when they highlighted either hard or soft skills during initial job interviews.

“Job interviews are challenging for everyone, but particularly so for people with disabilities who have always had difficulties presenting themselves favorably to gain employment,” said Rutgers Business School professor Mason Ameri.

“People with disabilities encounter an implicit bias that they will not be as productive as their non-disabled peers,” said Ameri, who co-authored the study. “Knowing how to navigate the conversation with potential employers is critical for leveling the playing field.”

More Access Needed to Accessibility Services: Ramps, Home Care, Health Coverage Can Pose Challenges

by Trevor Wright
December 21, 2020

Some Nunavummiut living with disabilities say that more that can be done with regards to access to services.

Yugh Ahuja, 19, who has a rare genetic disease called Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), has faced numerous accessibility challenges in Iqaluit, where he lives. DMD causes the muscles in the body to become increasingly weak over time before they eventually cease function, leading to mobility problems such as those Ahuja experiences every day.

Ahuja faces many challenges if he has to go somewhere alone: some handicap door buttons not working, navigating elevators, being able to access ATM machines and dealing with inadequate ramps that are sometimes put in just to fulfill the requirement.

Netflix’s ‘Crip Camp’ is One of the Most Important Films About Disability I’ve Ever Seen

This documentary proves we can tell human stories about disabled people and our lives. And through those stories, we can show both how far we’ve come and where we must go next. Originally Posted April 4, 2020
By Sara Luterman

I don’t remember the first time I met Judy Heumann, but I’ve only ever known her as an omnipresent elder statesman of the disability rights movement. A former President Bill Clinton and President Barack Obama appointee, the word that best describes Heumann, if I had to pick one, would be “dignified.”

If you want to marvel at human ingenuity, perseverance and triumph while you’re in quarantine, “Crip Camp” has you covered.

‘For many persons with disabilities ‘ social isolation is status quo,’ says support worker Carlos Sosa

Carlos Sosa
CBC News, Dec. 19, 2020

For many Manitobans, this holiday season will be very different from previous years.

In order to protect public health, it has been recommended that we restrict our contacts and gatherings to within households.

Over this last year as a society, we have all had to alter our lifestyles to lead a more isolated way of life due to the COVID’19 pandemic. Our entertainment options have been narrowed and restrictions have been placed on where we can gather.

This has left Manitobans feeling isolated and struggling with mental health issues.

This Bill Would Make It Harder for People With Disabilities to Access the Internet | Opinion

Posted Dec 15, 2020
By Lydia Smeltz

As the COVID-19 pandemic has forced work, school and social life online, the web has taken on heightened importance. However, many of the online platforms we now depend on to work, take online classes, buy groceries and communicate with loved ones are difficult or impossible to use for millions of Americans who have disabilities.

And even as these Americans a quarter of the U.S. population struggle to engage in online life, Congress is considering a bill that would make web accessibility, the ability to fully utilize and engage with all aspect of a website, worse.

Accessible Tourism Identified as ‘Game Changer’ for Destinations

3 Dec 20

Ensuring accessibility for tourists with specific access requirements can be a ‘game changer’ for destinations around the world as they look to bounce back from the impacts of the pandemic.

A new set of Inclusive Recovery Guides from the World Tourism Organization, produced in partnership with the European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT), the ONCE Foundation of Spain and Travability from Australia, makes clear the importance of placing inclusivity at the centre of recovery plans and provides key recommendations for achieving this.

Cyberpunk Adds Epilepsy Warning After Reviewer Warns of Seizures

Published December 11, 2020

The developer of Cyberpunk 2077 is adding warnings to the game, after reviewers and charities complained it caused epileptic seizures.

It thanked one reviewer who said it had triggered “one major seizure” and left them “close” to another several times.

“Regarding a more permanent solution, [the] dev team is currently exploring that and will be implementing it as soon as possible,” it tweeted.

The game is released on Thursday, after months of repeated delays.

What is the problem?

Video games have long been a potential trigger for those who have epileptic seizures and standard warnings have been written in to licence agreements over the years.

Why Disability Advocates are Worried About Changes to Canada’s Medical Assistance in Dying Bill

Jeff Preston wants to know what governments are doing to help people with disabilities live Rebecca Zandbergen , CBC News
Posted: Dec 08, 2020

If Bill C-7 passes, the federal government will give many more Canadians access to medical assisted dying (MAID), particularly those in the disability community.

The legislation removes a requirement that a patient’s natural death be “reasonably foreseeable,” a change that would satisfy a September 2019 Quebec Superior Court ruling that deemed parts of the federal and provincial laws on assisted dying unconstitutional.

Disability Advocates Propose Plan to Fix, Improve Winnipeg Transit

Disability Advocates Propose Plan to Fix, Improve Winnipeg Transit Report identifies 9 steps to ensuring those with disabilities have equal access CBC News, Posted: Dec 03, 2020

Winnipeg Transit is broken for people with disabilities, say advocates who have proposed a nine-step plan to fix it.

A coalition of community groups – which includes the Amalgamated Transit Union and the Independent Living Resource Centre – have a nine-step plan to move forward and improve the city’s bus service.

A report, to be officially handed to city hall administration on Friday, was built on decades of experiences and frustrations faced by those with mobility restrictions and other disabilities “who rely on Winnipeg Transit day-to-day to live their lives like everybody else,” said Patrick Stewart, a consultant for the resource centre.

Advocates Fear AVs Will Leave Disabled Riders Behind

Pete Bigelow

For Carol Tyson, a recent proposal that would advance the commercialization of self-driving vehicles brought familiar pangs of frustration.

Like so many others, Tyson, an advocate for people with disabilities, believes autonomous transportation holds the potential to unlock newfound independence and mobility for millions of Americans. However, blueprints for that future are missing vital components, namely vehicle designs and regulatory frameworks that address considerations for riders with disabilities.

Transportation leaders have a long history of neglecting the needs of people with disabilities, and advocates such as Tyson grew alarmed again in October when the California Public Utilities Commission issued a proposal that would have allowed autonomous vehicle operators to charge fares and offer shared trips: At least at the outset, it did not include disability access requirements.

With the Shift to Online Learning, Students With Disabilities Face New Barriers

They may not have to navigate campus, but online learning has brought new challenges By John Loeppky December 1, 2020

Shae Sackman is a University of Regina student who uses the school’s Centre for Student Accessibility to arrange the accommodations that they require for their studies (Sackman uses the they/them pronouns), including a quiet space for exams and the provision of occasional absences.

The system Sackman navigates has always expected a lot of students with disabilities. For example, to receive accommodations at most Canadian universities, a student has to have a letter from a doctor and go through a lengthy intake process. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the shift to online learning, the availability of disability support-as well as the needs of those with disabilities-has radically changed and, on balance, become even more challenging.

Government of Canada Fighting the Alliance for the Equality of Blind Canadians in Court

OTTAWA, ON (December 2, 2020)

The Government of Canada is fighting a small registered charity and not-for-profit organization in court and refusing to ensure that its websites are accessible to blind, deafblind and partially sighted Canadians.

In 2019, the Alliance for the Equality of Blind Canadians (“AEBC”) brought a human rights complaint against the Government of Canada because its websites are inaccessible to blind, deafblind and partially sighted Canadians. In particular, the complaint alleged that blind, deafblind and partially sighted Canadians were discriminated against in the context of a funding application process created by Employment and Social Development Canada (“ESDC”) specifically for organizations for people with disabilities.

Mohawk College and Inclusive Media and Design Launch Captioning Tool

Marking the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Mohawk College researchers and Inclusive Media and Design are announcing the availability a new captioning tool for accessible media production.

This year, the United Nations is recognizing this day by challenging the global community to immediately respond to the challenges of the global COVID-19 crisis through the open, inclusive and innovative use of digital solutions, tools and resources.

The new software, CapScribe 2, can help educational institutions rise to the United Nations challenge. The newly developed tool will make it easier to add closed captions to videos, removing a key barrier to online accessibility for the millions of Canadians who need to read instead of listen to content online.