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Calgary Building Receives $72,000 Toward Accessibility Renovations

by Kayla Bruch
Originally Posted Jan 22, 2019

CALGARY (660 NEWS) Seventy-two thousand dollars will go a long way in renovating a local community space.

Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility, Honourable Carla Qualtrough, said the Evergreen Community SPACES building in Calgary is receiving this money through the Enabling Accessibility Fund.

“The idea of creating initiatives that remove barriers for people with disabilities is really the idea of making our country better and more equal,” said Qualtrough.

She adds Canada can’t succeed as a country unless we give everyone an equal opportunity, and we can’t achieve this if 20 per cent of the population is excluded.

Qualtrough Named Person of the Year by Canadian Council of the Blind

Ian Jacques / Delta Optimist
February 10, 2019

The Canadian Council of the Blind has awarded Delta MP Carla Qualtrough with its CCB Person of the Year.

Qualtrough, the federal minister of public services and procurement and accessibility, received the award at a special presentation Feb. 6 in Ottawa.

“I feel truly honoured to receive this award,” said Qualtrough. “The unwavering engagement of organization such at the Canadian Council of the Blind has been one of the building blocks of my determination to create a Canada where everyone is included and can contribute to society.”

Universities: Stop Evicting Students With Mental Health Issues

The Fulcrum
2019/02/07

The U of A is the most recent among universities making headlines for evicting a student with mental illness.

Last week, while #BellLetsTalk flooded social media, allowing institutions to do the bare minimum in relaying their support for mental health initiatives, another story made CBC headlines — in 2016 a University of Alberta student was kicked out of residence after a suicide attempt.

Year after year headlines emerge detailing another student losing their home, being forcibly removed from their school, regardless of academic standing, owing to the fact that they have a mental health problem.

Opinion: Canada’s Pending Accessibility Law Comes Off As the Liberals Just Fulfilling An Election Promise

Unlike similar legislation in the U.S., the ACA’s scope will be limited to federal agencies and programs Gabrielle Peters · for CBC News · Posted: Feb 07, 2019

We are getting sunny words about equal participation, opportunity and dignity, written around legislation that is too broad to actually achieve it.

Canada is finally on the verge of passing federal disability legislation. So why aren’t I, a disabled woman, celebrating?

Because Bill C-81, the Accessible Canada Act is not the legislation many disabled Canadians asked for or need.

Our Biased Web: Why Don’t We Care About Making The Web Accessible For All?

Kalev Leetaru
AI & Big Data I write about the broad intersection of data and society.

As society has increasingly awoken to the dangers of algorithmic bias in the machine learning and AI systems that underlie an ever-greater portion of our lives, it is notable that for all of the attention and funding being focused on AI bias, there has been in comparison a deafening silence on the topic of accessibility bias.

As the web rushes ever faster towards a multimedia-first existence, why is it that there is comparatively so little conversation about making this content accessible to those with differing physical abilities?

Accessibility: A Source of Future Anxiety and a Significant Consideration for Canadian Consumers today

Seven-in-ten Canadians say universal accessibility should be the goal for newly constructed buildings January 22, 2019

As Canada’s population grows older, millions of Canadians find themselves worrying about decreased mobility, vision and hearing and the impact it may have on their own lives or the lives of loved ones.

A new study from the Angus Reid Institute, conducted in partnership with the Rick Hansen Foundation, finds more than two-thirds of Canadians expressing concern that someone in their lives will face such challenges over the next decade or so.

Currently, approximately three-in-ten say that accessibility is a consideration for them when they’re thinking about which places they will go to and which they will avoid within their communities.

Valuing the Voice of People Living with Disabilities in Manitoba

By Carlos Sosa
Policy Alternatives, Jan. 17, 2019

Recently the Manitoba Government made a decision to reject a core funding application from the Manitoba League of Persons with Disabilities (MLPD) for the 2018-19 fiscal year. It can be very difficult for an organization to function without core funding which diminishes its capacity.

The organization (formally known as the Manitoba League of the Physically Handicapped) has existed since 1974 as a consumer-based organization of people living with disabilities. MLPD emerged in the era of the civil rights movement in which people with disabilities were often left out of policy decisions affecting their lives.

Age-Friendly Community Committee aims to increase accessibility

By Evan Jones
January 17, 2019

Many East Lansing residents go through doorways and live in apartments without realizing the barriers common designs present to older members of the community.

Through the Age-Friendly Community Committee, citizens and government leaders are working to improve accessibility and bridge the generational gap.

The City of East Lansing created the committee in 2017 to continue working toward an Age-Friendly Community designation, which the World Health Organization, or WHO, describes in a 76-page guide(opens in new tab/window). While the problem is described by the WHO through a global lens, they aim to inspire communities to improve access for their own aging populations.

Siri on the ReSound Linx Quattro Smart Hearing Aid a First for AI voice Control

Next stop: integrating with Google Assistant.
Jessica Dolcourt
January 9, 2019

“Hey Siri, stream iTunes through my hearing aid.” That’s just one of many things you can do with the ReSound Linx Quattro, the first smart hearing aid to use AI to pair with Apple’s Siri assistant.

Smart hearing aids are part of a burgeoning field of gadgets set to transform the health care industry. For the Linx Quattro, that means drawing people with hearing impairment further into their digital world.

The Linx Quattro uses AI to learn your preferences and settings over time, and to proactively make adjustments to various sound profiles. You’ll be able to ask Siri to change profiles with voice commands (e.g. turn up the volume in my left ear).

UK Faces Accessible Housing Crisis – Only 7% of Homes Deemed Accessible

Controversy rang out in November 2018 when the Home Builders Federation objected to councils across England wanting to increase the number of homes with universal home designed centered around accessibility.

Organizations such as Age UK and the Centre for Ageing Better and Disability Rights UK released reports stating that only 7% of homes classify as accessible, causing a rift in a housing market that so poorly serves those with limited mobility.

While currently trying to fight this injustice, organizations are being met with resistance in their fight for housing options that are suitable for all and meet higher accessibility standards.

Things You Should Know Before Getting A Service Dog

December 31 2018

USA: In the United States there are around 500,000 service dogs that assist people for various reasons, from vision impairments and seizures to diabetes and disabilities. People are dependent on their service dogs and their lives wouldn’t be the same without them, but for people who are about to get a service dog it can be difficult to know what to expect and what you need to do to get the best results.

Tokyo Paralympics Aim to Leave Legacy of Accessibility

Kyodo
Dec 31, 2018

Japan hopes to use the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics as an opportunity to become a more inclusive and accessible society, and in 2018 games organizers made some strides towards making it a reality.

When hosting a major sporting event, people usually talk about what kind of legacies, tangible or intangible, will remain, while the event’s success is often determined by factors such as spectator numbers or cost, as well as the volume and nature of media coverage which is generated.

The Paralympics are no exception, but experts point to one aspect that makes the para-sport spectacle stand out from the rest its potential to bring societal change.

Compass Slapped With Lawsuit Over Website Access for the Blind

Discrimination lawsuit highlights legal risk for brokerages that don’t comply with Americans with Disabilities Act by Teke Wiggin Staff Writer
Dec 28

Compass is being sued for allegedly failing to make its website fully accessible to blind people, raising the specter that real estate brokerages remain exposed to a legal risk about which the National Association of Realtors had previously warned members.

The suit, which is seeking class-action status and was filed on Dec. 12 in a New York district court, accuses Compass of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for “its failure to design, construct, maintain, and operate its website to be fully accessible to and independently usable by Plaintiff and other blind or visually-impaired people.”

Welcome Mat: Study Finds Accessibility Key in Bathroom Reno Designs

Maureen Feighan, The Detroit News
Published Dec. 20, 2018

Aging baby boomers who’d like to stay in their homes as they grow older are making accessibility a big part of their bathroom renovations plans, making them bigger and adding features like grab bars, according to Houzz.com’s new 2018 U.S. Bathroom Trends Study.

The survey of 1,100 homeowners, released in mid November, found that one-third of Baby Boomers are addressing current aging needs, while nearly a quarter are planning ahead for future needs as they renovate a master bathroom.

The survey also found 47 percent change the bathroom layout and 34 percent remove the bathtub.

More Students Join Class Action by Mental Health Coalition against Stanford University

by Scott Loftesness

Berkeley, CA (July 16, 2018) Three more students have joined a precedent-setting class action brought by Disability Rights Advocates (DRA) against Stanford University for violating the rights of students with mental health disabilities.

The lawsuit alleges that Stanford routinely responds to student mental health crises by barring students from campus and evicting them from on-campus housing, violating disability laws.

DRA, a national nonprofit legal center, today files an Amended Complaint and Class Certification Motion on behalf of this growing coalition to end the university’s discriminatory policies and practices.

Advocates Say Accessible Canada Act is too Weak to Be Effective

The Canadian Press
Updated: December 19, 2018

The cautious optimism that prevailed in Canada’s disabled community when the federal government tabled historic accessibility legislation earlier this year has given way to widespread concern that the law won’t lead to meaningful change.

Major disability organizations, grassroots advocacy groups and disabled individuals said they’ve raised numerous concerns about the power and scope of the Accessible Canada Act, which the Liberal government first introduced in June.

They said the government has largely ignored those concerns as the bill worked its way through debate in the House of Commons and are now calling on the Senate to introduce amendments that they say would make the bill more effective.

Canada Accedes to the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

From: Employment and Social Development Canada
December 3, 2018 Ottawa, Ontario

The Government of Canada is working to create a truly accessible Canada. Today, as part of these efforts, the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility, along with the ministers of Justice, Foreign Affairs and Canadian Heritage, announced that, with the support of all provinces and territories, Canada has acceded to the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Accession to the Optional Protocol means that Canadians will have additional recourse to make a complaint to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, if they believe their rights under the Convention have been violated.

CRTC Mandates Standards for TTY, IP Relay Accessibility Messaging Services

Individuals who are deaf, hard-of-hearing or deafblind will soon have access to faster, better message relay services By Sameer Chhabra
Dec 14, 2018

Canada’s telecommunications watchdog has issued a decision mandating standards for message relay services.

According to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission’s (CRTC) December 14th, 2018 decision, groups that provide text-based message relay services (MRS) like teletypewriter relay (TTY) and internet protocol relay (IP relay) will be required to implement quality of service standards, as well as a standard for call answer time and typing speed.

As per the CRTC’s latest telecom decision, 80 percent of all calls each months will need to be responded to by a live MRS operator within 20 seconds.

International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD), 3 December 2018

Since 1992, the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) has been annually observed on 3 December around the world. The theme for this year’s IDPD is “Empowering persons with disabilities and ensuring inclusiveness and equality”.

This theme focuses on the empowering persons with disabilities for the inclusive, equitable and sustainable development envisaged in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The 2030 Agenda, pledging to “leave no one behind,” is an ambitious plan of action of the international community towards a peaceful and prosperous world, where dignity of an individual person and equality among all is applied as the fundamental principle, cutting across the three pillars of the work of the United Nations: Development, Human Rights and Peace and Security. It is critical to ensure, in this regard, the full and equal participation of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and create enabling environments by, for and with persons with disabilities.

Instagram Improving Accessibility for Users with Visual Impairments

New features include “alternative text” to provide descriptions for pics. by Gordon Gottsegen
November 28, 2018

On Wednesday, Instagram announced new features intended to provide a better experience for people with vision impairments.

Instagram is introducing automatic alternative text, which lets you hear descriptions of pictures when using Instagram with a screen reader. The automatic alternative text uses object recognition tech to generate a list of things that may appear in the photo, helping people know what they’re looking at.

Instagram also lets you create your own alternative text. When posting a photo, you’ll be able to go into the Advanced Settings and add your own alt text, which can be heard when using a screen reader.