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Blind Transit Riders Deserve Safe Callout System

Ben Williams / Times Colonist
July 4, 2015 12:08 AM

How can a serious problem affecting people with disabilities in Victoria persist for seven years when everyone involved agrees on the obvious solution?

That’s the question that has perplexed Greater Victoria transit operators, their union, the Canadian Federation of the Blind, the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and now the B.C. Supreme Court.

Because everyone agrees that an automated call-out system for bus stops in Greater Victoria is the only safe, effective way to ensure the rights of the blind are respected on our transit system.

Public Servants With Visual Impairments Say Government Failing Them

Federal government could face legal battle over inaccessible, internal websites says Toronto lawyer
By Julie Ireton, CBC News Posted: Jul 02, 2015 5:00 AM ET| Last Updated: Jul 02, 2015 12:37 PM ET

Former federal government electrician Dan Mooney said the computer he was using at his desk job was constantly failing. “It was not unusual to go a month, month and a half without a properly working computer.”

Public servants who are blind or have visual impairments say the federal government is failing them when it comes to making sure they have the proper tools to do their jobs.

DOJ Shifts Position on Web Access

Stating in Court Filings That Public Accommodations Have a Pre-Existing Obligation to Make Websites Accessible Seyfarth Shaw LLP
USA June 29 2015

What a difference five years makes. In September 2010, the Justice Department (DOJ) announced in an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) that it would issue new regulations under Title III of the ADA to address the accessibility of public accommodations websites.

At that time, it made a number of statements that reasonably led public accommodations to conclude that their websites did not necessarily have to be accessible as long as the public accommodation offered an equivalent alternative way to access the goods and services that were provided on the website.

The Life-Changing Impact of Autism Service Dogs

By Elisabeth Geier

A boy walks through the crowded halls of his school tethered to a dog who helps him remain calm in the crowd, find the correct classroom, and get settled in his seat before class starts.

A family enjoys dinner at a busy restaurant with a dog laying patiently at their childs feet.

A young woman sits in a chair with her head in her hands, rocking back and forth; her dog puts his front paws on her lap and applies deep pressure until her body releases tension and she is able to carry on with her day. These are autism assistance dogs in action.

Students Design a Facial Recognition Cane for Blind People

by Edgar Alvarez, @abcdedgar

Facial recognition technology has many use cases, but none nearly as significant as this next one might be.

A group of students at Birmingham City University are developing a smart cane, dubbed XploR, which uses a combination of hardware and software to help the visually impaired easily identify family and friends.

The device is powered by a smartphone’s face recognition features, GPS and Bluetooth, allowing blind people who use it to detect faces up to roughly 33ft away.
If the cane does recognize someone, it then sends a vibrating signal to the person and guides them via an ear piece,
for reference, the images of loved ones can be stored on an SD card.

People with Disabilities Have Lousy Access at State Websites, Including Covered California

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

California law has required state government websites to be accessible by people with disabilities since 2003. According to the California State Auditor, that’s also how long state websites have not followed the law.

A report (pdf) this month from State Auditor Elaine Howle looked at four big agencies and found they all had multiple critical violations that would prevent disabled people from completing critical communications with government.

The worst was Covered California, but Community Colleges, the Department of Human Resources (CalHR) and the Franchise Tax Board were all found to be profoundly deficient.

Deafblind Australian Makes Historic Call with Breakthrough Braille Phone

May 19, 2015, – Australia

Hundreds of thousands of deafblind Australians will now be able to make phone calls easily with a world first trial of a caption-braille phone

Victorian woman Michelle Stevens was born with vision impairment and lost her hearing years ago due to chronic ear infections.

She’s been unable to call people over the telephone using her own voice since.

“It can be really isolating for deaf blind people,” said Michelle.

The 58-year-old has now become the first deafblind Australian to make a telephone call with the assistance of caption-to-Braille technology.

National Survey Demonstrates That People with Disabilities are Striving to Work and Overcoming Barriers


Americans with disabilities are striving to work and overcoming barriers to employment. This is a key finding of the 2015 Kessler Foundation National Employment and Disability Survey, the first nationally representative survey on the workplace experiences of Americans with disabilities, presented by experts today on Capitol Hill.

The survey of 3,013 people with disabilities, aged 18 to 64, was commissioned by Kessler Foundation and conducted by the University of New Hampshire.

Consumer Movement of the Blind Targets Canadian Government and Regulated Organizations Over Consumer Access

Kelowna, BC – June 1, 2015 – Far too often, blind, deaf-blind and partially sighted Canadians ask for documents in accessible formats and these requests remain inaccessible, unheard or unmet. The Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians (AEBC) is spearheading a national awareness campaign leading up to Canada Day called ‘I Am Your Customer’ that will highlight the need for accessibility solutions for blind, deaf-blind and partially sighted Canadians so that we may participate fully as informed customers in the marketplace throughout Canada.

Targeting Canadian government and regulated organizations, The AEBC is asking all blind, deaf-blind, and partially sighted Canadians to reach out to government departments, banks, telecom companies, credit card companies from June 23, 2015 through June 30, 2015 and ask for documents in accessible formats of their choice.

Another DOJ Action Over Allegedly Inaccessible Websites and Other Technologies

Seyfarth Shaw LLP
Minh N. Vu .
USA May 21 2015

For today’s Global Accessibility Awareness Day, we have yet another Department Justice enforcement action to report relating to the allegedly inaccessible websites and other technologies. This time, DOJ is trying to intervene in an existing lawsuit, Dudley v. Miami University, filed by a former Miami University student who is blind.

Although the lawsuit is brought under Title II of the ADA which applies to state and local government entities and not public accommodations, the obligations under the Title II and III are very similar. Thus, the DOJ’s position in this lawsuit provides useful insight into how it would treat private universities and other public accommodations covered by Title III of the ADA.

Alert: Websites as Places of Public Accommodation: DOJ Settlement May Extend Accessibility Requirements to Virtual Space

by: Nancy Anderson, Michael Goldstein, Nadia Mozaffar, Paul Thompson Cooley LLP

Recent headlines around a high-profile settlement between the US Department of Justice and edX, Inc., one of the largest and earliest distributors of MOOCs, have once again highlighted the importance of understanding the rules for making online courses and services accessible to those with various types and levels of disabilities.

While much of the media coverage of the edX settlement has focused on the fact that the government sued so high-profileand respectedan online provider, to date there has been little recognition that the enforcement action may signal an effort to extend the ADA’s accessibility requirements not only to a broader range of non-institutional entities providing web-based instruction, but also to those that provide other education-related services.

Province Must Spend More to Show Manitobans With Disabilities Where the Heart is: At Home

Winnipegosis writer Alex Lytwyn says province won’t provide adequate home care funding

By Alex Lytwyn, for CBC News
Posted: May 24, 2015

Care homes are great for those who are too old to take care of themselves properly, or for those who don’t have the mental capacity to live on their own. But in order for my life to reach its full potential, Winnipegosis resident Alex Lytwyn says he can’t live in a home.

Most housing available to low-income earners or those with disabilities is located in neighbourhoods that aren’t safe.

And it makes no sense. Why put those who can’t defend themselves in danger?

Human Rights Protection: How far have we come?

By John Rae
WORKING POLICY, News, views and research from the Centre for Research on Work Disability Policy (CRWDP), SPRING 2015, volume 2, issue 1

John Rae has been a board member of many human and disability rights organizations over his long career as an advocate for people with disabilities, including Co-chair of the Coalition on Human Rights for the Handicapped, which secured the first human rights coverage for persons with disabilities in Ontario. John is a Past President of the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians (AEBC) and today serves as 2nd Vice Chair of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD), and as a Board member of Injured Workers Consultants (IWC), ARCH Disability Law Centre and the Association of Community Legal Clinics of Ontario (ACLCO).

Students Create 3D Printed Tactile Map of Campus for Visually Impaired

by Bridget Butler Millsaps ยท May 10, 2015

While 3D printing has most definitely blasted open a new world for designers and hobbyists, specific areas like cartography have received a real boon in progress. Because a map is all about being able to place yourself somewhere and visualize everything in a particular spot, it can be frustrating doing so only in 2Drequiring your mind to add the imaginary 3D element.

With new technology, and especially 3D printing, mapmakers are now able to put geographies and locales into tangible form. While this is extremely helpful and exciting to the general layperson, imagine how incredibly useful such maps are to the visually impaired, truly taking some of the darkness out of traveling on foot.

Apple To Receive AFB’s Helen Keller Achievement Award


Apple has today been named as one of four recipients of the American Foundation For the Blind http://www.afb.org/ 2015 Helen Keller Achievement Award

http://www.afb.org/info/about-us/events-and-awards/helen-keller-achievement-awards/123 , according to a press release
http://www.afb.org/info/about-us/press-room/press-release-archive/afb-announces-2015-helen-keller-achievement-award-honorees-/1245 on the foundation’s website.

Specifically, Apple is being recognized for its implementation of the VoiceOver screen reader on iOS devices:

AFB is recognizing Apple for VoiceOver, a gesture-based screen reader that allows users to hear a description of everything happening on the display, and other features that make iPhone, iPad and other iOS devices accessible to people with vision loss. Apple received an AFB Access Award in 2009 for its trailblazing engineering of accessible products and continues its extraordinary efforts to make their products accessible for everyone.

UK Political Parties Should Put Web Accessability at the Top of Their Digital Agendas

A report by e-accessibility charity AbilityNet finds that none of the major political party websites comply with the minimum legal standard of accessibility Allana Grant in UK Politics
05 May 2015

As the general election campaign enters its final stages, the scramble for last-minute votes has begun.

Today, Conservative leader David Cameron was spotted canvassing for votes in the capital, his coalition partner Nick Clegg set off on a two day whistle stop tour of the UK, going from Land’s End to John O’Groats, whilst Labour leader Ed Miliband’s focus was on winning key seats in the south of England.

You Don’t Look Blind

By Rich Shea
March 30, 2015

Perhaps the biggest misconception about people affected by retinal diseases is that they see nothing at all. While some have, indeed, gone completely blind, most are in the process of losing their vision. And depending on the person, and the disease, this takes years or decades.

In some cases, central vision goes first, in others, peripheral vision. Either way, vision loss is a huge challenge for those going through it, both physically and psychologically.

On the physical end, canes, guide dogs, assistive technology-they can all help. But psychologically, that’s another matter.

PetSmart Accused of Discrimination Against the Blind in New Civil Suit

Plaintiffs Allege ‘Separate but Unequal’ Treatment of Blind Customers Denver, Colorado (April 22, 2015):

PetSmart, Inc., which bills itself as the nation’s largest seller of pet food, pet supplies, and pet services in the United States, is accused of violating the rights of blind customers under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), according to a class action lawsuit (Case No. 1:15-cv-00839) filed yesterday in the United States District Court for the District of Colorado on behalf of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition (CCDC), and six blind individuals who reside in Colorado, Texas, and Massachusetts. The suit alleges violations of Title III of the ADA as well as state laws, because PetSmart requires the entry of debit card PINs on touch-screen keypads, which the blind cannot operate, rather than simple, inexpensive tactile keypads.

Aylmer Runner Gaston Bedard Competes on World Stage

Julie Murray, Aylmer Bulletin.
Wednesday, April 15, 2015.

As a competitive runner, nothing can stop 62 year-old Gaston Bedard-not even complete blindness and deafness. The Boston Marathon, April 20, will be his 16th full marathon since running his first in 1979.

Mr. Bedard will be competing with “Team With a Vision”, a group of blind and sighted athletes who run the Boston Marathon every year to raise funds and awareness for the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

The group’s mission? To prove that with good support, people with disabilities can do anything.

The “Well” in Welfare

by Alex Lytwyn
April 24, 2015

The words “Employment & income Assistance” they sound very nice but the simple fact of the matter is that two of them are not true.

I’m speaking not for all, who are on this provincial program, just from my own experience. Sure, your income is provided to you (even thought, it is well below the poverty level) however, employment and that nice sounding word assistance, I have yet to see.

The following statement has been quoted from the Government of Manitoba website: