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Improving System for Person With Disabilities Good for All Says US Advocate on Tour of UN Accessibility Centre

21 November 2014

On a tour of the United Nations Accessibility Centre for the audio, visual, and physically impaired today, United States Senator Tom Harkin said that “when you make a system better for a person with a disability it makes it better for people without disabilities.”

In an interview with UN Radio, Mr. Harkin, who is the lead advocate for disability rights in the US Congress, explained why he was so passionate about the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

“Well, it means that we now have a global effort to make things more accessible for everyone for all persons with disabilities in education, in transportation, communication, everything,” Mr. Harkins said.

Is This Venue Accessible?

New Website Tells D.C. Showgoers the Answer
Posted by Colin Dwyer on Nov. 17, 2014 at 12:25 pm

Ask label owner Sean Gray what he looks for in a band, and the answer you’ll get is simple.

“I always tell people that I want to put out bands that I’d want in my record collection,” says Gray (above), the brains behind both the local Accidental Guest Recordings and Fan Death Records. Whatever the band’s sound, whatever its look, whatever its chances of selling, it all takes a backseat to one prevailing idea: “I look for bands that just want to put out records.”

Guide Dogs Creates New Guidance for Police Officers to Help guide dog Owners

Guide dog owners whose dogs have been attacked will get support that is tailored to their needs thanks to new guidelines agreed between Guide Dogs and the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO).

The Service Level Agreement (SLA) recognises the devastating impact that an attack on an assistance dog has on their owner’s life and will ensure that incidents are treated much more seriously than a dog-on-dog attack.

From today, when a guide dog owner reports an attack, police forces in England and Wales have committed to taking steps such as assigning a named officer to their case and recording the victim as vulnerable, so investigations are tailored around their needs. The full impact of the attack on their guide dog will also be taken into account.

U.S. Department of Justice Continues Enforcement of Accessibility Requirements for Websites and Mobile Apps But Its Rulemaking Still Awaits

posted on: Tuesday, November 18, 2014

On Nov. 17, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that it had entered into a settlement agreement with Ahold U.S.A., Inc., and Peapod, LLC, regarding the accessibility of www.peapod.com and its associated mobile application.

This follows on the DOJ having earlier this year entered into a consent decree with H&R Block (which culminated from a lawsuit originally initiated by the National Federation of the Blind) regarding the accessibility of its website, online tax preparation product and mobile application.

Both agreements require that the websites and mobile applications be made compliant with the Level AA Success Criteria of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG 2.0).

KNFB Reader for iOS: Does This App Live up to All the Hype?

Bill Holton

For several years, many people who are blind or visually impaired have been toting two cell phones: their new Apple or Android smartphoneand their old Nokia, which they kept around for just one reason–to use the KNFB Reader software. The KNFB Reader allows users to scan documents, fliers, work handouts, restaurant menus, and other printed materials on the go and with often startling accuracy. Until now, this software was only available for Nokia’s Symbian operating system.

Adoption of One World for Everyone, the Declaration of the Destinations for All World Summit

Montréal, October 27, 2014.

The first Destinations for All World Summit was a huge success. Thirty countries and 300 participants adopted the Declaration One World for Everyone.

The Declaration lists 40 specific measures for implementing -globally and in their respective countries- the World Tourism Organization (WTO) Recommendations on Accessible Tourism. These recommendations are intended for businesses in the tourism, travel and transportation sectors, as well as for local, national and international authorities. The Declaration refers to over 20 contributions of importance for the development and promotion of inclusive tourism and destinations for all that took place primarily over the past decade thanks to international, national and sectoral organizations.

Comcast Introduces Talking TV Guide For Visually Impaired

By Chris Morran
November 12, 2014

Fifteen months ago, we told you that Comcast was developing a talking version of its TV listings for use by visually impaired subscribers. Today, the company announced that it will be introducing the feature to users on its X1 platform.

The speaking guide will be available to all X1 users and will be rolling out over the coming weeks. It reads aloud information including titles, network, date/time, and ratings from Rotten Tomatoes for live TV programming, recorded content and on-demand offerings.

The Blind Are Faking it!

by: Rutherford B. Lyke
Originally Posted the Onion, Sep 18, 1996

Citizens, hear us well. Our great nation is being undermined by a secret society of individuals who carry deadly white truncheons and lead vicious attack animals in public on a daily basis. These mysterious folk also have a secret means of communication, while shocking new evidence seems to indicate that they may even possess senses superior to those of other humans. We’re speaking, of course, of the legions of the so-called blind.

Blind Woman Gisele Mesnage Sues Coles Over Online Shopping Website

Date November 5, 2014
Rachel Browne

Coles is facing a landmark claim following an allegation the supermarket giant’s website does not provide adequately for visually impaired shoppers. Rachel Browne explains.

Gisele Mesnage’s vision impairment has not prevented her from travelling, completing a university degree or writing a play but buying groceries online is a different story.

Ms Mesnage, who has been blind since birth, has launched a landmark claim against Coles with her legal team alleging the supermarket giant has discriminated against her because of her disability.

Teenager Gets Financial Backing to Make Low-Cost Braille Printer

PC World, November 4, 2014

Thirteen-year-old Shubham Banerjee had to borrow money from his parents to create his first low-cost Braille printer, but he won’t need to rely on the kindness of friends and family for more cash any time soon.

Intel has invested an undisclosed amount in Banerjee’s company, Braigo Labs, providing the funds needed to develop a new Braille printer called Braigo v2.0. Intel described Banerjee’s printer as being disruptive and a difference-maker.

Banerjee made headlines earlier this year with a homegrown US$349.99 Braille printer made using Lego parts from a Mindstorm robotics development kit. Called Braigo, the printer was less expensive than other Braille printers, which typically go for over $1,000.

Shayne Gets a Kick Out of Football, Despite Everything

By Victor Schwartzman
November 4, 2014

Shayne De Wildt aims to win. “I am a competitive person. When I’m out on the court I feel I need to win. I’m not socializing, that’s how I go into games.”

The “game” in Shayne’s life is power wheelchair soccer (“football” to most of the world, and for the rest of this article.) He is hooked on getting a kick out of playing. But it is more than playing the game–being part of a team is also very important to Shayne. “I like the fact that I am playing in a sport, that I get to travel, that I get to network with people, that I get to be competitive. I love being a part of a team. I think that’s part of the reason why I’ve been doing it so long, the team I’m on. I love the people on the team.”

EEOC Sues The Lash Group for Disability Discrimination


Consulting Company Fired Employee Because of Post-Partum Depression, Federal Agency Charges

BALTIMORE – The Lash Group, a Charlotte, N.C.-based consulting company, refused to provide a reasonable accommodation to an employee with post-partum depression and instead fired her because of her disability in violation of federal law, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it announced today.

According to the EEOC’s suit, Meron Debru worked as a reimbursement case advocate at The Lash Group’s Rockville, Md., facility when she went on maternity leave. She received short-term disability benefits while on maternity leave and advised the disability benefits carrier that she needed additional unpaid leave due to post-partum depression, the EEOC said.

To Siri, With Love

Apple’s personal assistant offers patience and companionship to an autistic boy, helping him learn social cues and enunciation, among other things.

A 13-year-old is autistic, and Siri, Apple’s intelligent personal assistant, is currently his BFF, showing how technology has seemingly changed the interface of childhood imaginary friends. By: JUDITH NEWMAN Special to the Star, Published on Sat Oct 25 2014

Just how bad a mother am I? I wondered, as I watched my 13-year-old son deep in conversation with Siri. Gus has autism, and Siri, Apple’s “intelligent personal assistant” on the iPhone, is currently his BFF.

User-Friendly Electronic ‘Eyecane’ Enhances Navigational Abilities for Blind

Date: October 20, 2014
Source: IOS Press BV

White Canes provide low-tech assistance to the visually impaired, but some blind people object to their use because they are cumbersome, fail to detect elevated obstacles, or require long training periods to master.

Electronic travel aids (ETAs) have the potential to improve navigation for the blind, but early versions had disadvantages that limited widespread adoption.

A new ETA, the “EyeCane,” developed by a team of researchers at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, expands the world of its users, allowing them to better estimate distance, navigate their environment, and avoid obstacles, according to a new study published in Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience.

Greater Victoria Bus Driver Defies Policy on Announcing Stops

Katherine Dedyna / Times Colonist
October 18, 2014

Veteran B.C. Transit driver Joe Hronek expects to be disciplined one of these days for refusing to call out each of the estimated 500 stops on his daily routes as required by the company to serve visually impaired passengers.

The Colwood resident, who has 33 accident-free years out of 34, says the policy is unsafe and constitutes distracted driving, and that more than 100 other drivers share his view.

Tana MacKay, a workers’ advocate with 550-member Unifor Local 333 of Greater Victoria, agrees, saying the safety risk is “outrageous,” and that automated systems are the norm. Driving should be the operators’ only duty, as per WorkSafe B.C.’s own literature, she added.

Communication Technology Opens ‘Doors’ for Everyone, Not Only People With Disabilities

By John D. Kemp and Brandon M. Macsata
The Hill October 13, 2014

Today, most Americans overlook improvements made since the dawn of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) in 1990.

Sidewalk ramps automatic door openers adjustable vanity mirrors and automatic lighting and fixture
controls were all designed to help make the “physical” world more accessible for and useable by all people, including individuals with disabilities. Now, isn’t it time we opened doors to the “virtual” world, and information and communication
technology (“ICT”)?

Australian Public Service Commission launches video on disability

The Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) has released the first video in its Leading the Way series designed to build education and awareness around disability employment in the Australian Public Service (APS).


Accessibility Claims Expected Over Websites

He says business owners should talk to their website developers about updating sites with accessibility options, such as screen readers.

Under the current law, businesses can be sued for accessibility violations without notice. “Many businesses find out about compliance issues by getting sued,” said Mr. Klein.


The Coming Tide of Website Disability Claims Under ADA

For example, retailers’ websites now offer the means to order online for pick-up at the store. Restaurants offer reservations online. Movie theaters’ websites offer ticket reservations or printing for use at the theater. In each of these instances, the case may be made that the website constitutes a public accommodation under the ADA because there is a connection between the good or service complained of and an actual physical space.


Scientist Creates Eye Tracker for £43

Shane Hickey
The Guardian, Sunday 5 October 2014

Device normally costing £20,000 opens up computer use for millions with restricted mobility and could hit shelves in two years

A scientist has created a budget device that can control a computer by tracking eye movement after stumbling on a £9.95 web camera being sold with a games console a huge saving from the £20,000 that a similar apparatus used for medical research would have cost at the time.

German neuroscientist Dr Aldo Faisal was setting up a laboratory at Imperial College in London when he made the chance discovery.