Accessibility News International

Accessibility News International will strive to bring you as much information as possible from around the Globe regarding issues of accessibility for the Disability Community.

Seven Reasons why disabled Canadians are Losing CPP Benefits

Michael Prince
Contributed to The Globe and Mail
Published Wednesday, Jul. 16 2014, 9:21 AM EDT

Michael J. Prince is the Lansdowne Professor of Social Policy at the University of Victoria, and has written extensively on disability policy.

There are serious problems at the Social Security Tribunal and the Canada Pension Plan Disability Program, especially for people trying to appeal decisions on their ineligibility for this disability pension benefit.

The purpose of CPP Disability, the country’s largest public disability insurance program, is to replace a portion of the earnings of contributors who cannot work because of a severe and prolonged disability.

Press Release: IBM Names Chief Accessibility Officer

July, 22nd 2014

Armonk, N.Y. – 22 Jul 2014:

IBM (NYSE: IBM) today appointed Frances West as the company’s first Chief Accessibility Officer. In this new role, West will guide IBM accessibility policies and practices. Additionally, she will lead IBM’s collaboration with business, government and academia to advance accessibility standards and policy

Read the full Press Release at http://www-03.ibm.com/press/us/en/pressrelease/44426.wss

How Accessibility is Redefining Personalization

By Frances West

Accessibility that is grounded in a company’s values can bridge individual differences, better connect with customers, enable a diverse pool of talent in the workplace, and improve the standard of living for all members of society.

Survey Suggests Federal Network Complexity is Limiting Data Center Consolidation

Anti-social: Feds wonder why social media companies drag feet on accessibility issues By Greg Otto · Thursday, July 17, 2014 · 5:57 pm

A panel held at the FCC Thursday to discuss how to open up social networks to the disabled was missing a key contingent: the social media companies themselves. (cc-licensed Jason A. Howie | https://flic.kr/p/d41HES)

The Federal Communications Commission hosted a panel of experts Thursday to talk about the challenges and ongoing need to make social media platforms more accessible to those with disabilities. But there was one group of representatives notably absent from the proceedings: the social media companies themselves.

Federal Plan to Help Mentally Ill Female Inmates on Hold

Program to move federal inmates was spawned from inquest into Ashley Smith’s disturbing death By Maureen Brosnahan, CBC News Posted: Jul 18, 2014 7:02 AM ET|

Minister of Public Safety Steven Blaney announced a pilot project to house female mentally ill federal inmates in Brockville, Ont., last year, but the effort has since stalled due to funding disagreements.

A plan by Correctional Service Canada to move female inmates who are mentally ill from prisons across the country into a new, specially equipped unit in Ontario’s Brockville Mental Health Centre is on hold because governments have yet to finalize a funding agreement.

First ADA ATM Accessibility Class Action Lawsuit Is Filed In Atlanta

Originally Posted: March 14 2013
Article by J. Colin Knisely, William D. Barwick and Amy H. Huskins Duane Morris LLP

The first of what is likely to be many Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) ATM accessibility class action lawsuits against Atlanta-area banks was filed in federal district court in Atlanta last week.
The lawsuit was filed by the same Pittsburgh-based law firm, Carlson Lynch, responsible for the filing of over 100 nearly identical ADA ATM class action lawsuits in federal district courts in Pennsylvania and Texas since March 2012.

EOC Sues Toys ‘R’ Us for Disability Discrimination

By U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Originally posted on: Sunday, March 24, 2013

Retailer Refused to Provide Accommodation or Hire Deaf Applicant, Federal Agency Says

Toys “R” Us, Inc., one of the world’s largest retailers of toys and juvenile products, violated federal law when it first refused to provide an interpreter for a deaf applicant and then failed to hire her, the U.S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it announced today.

Doctors Turning Away Patients With Disabilities

By Michelle Diament
Originally posted March 19, 2013

More than two decades after the Americans with Disabilities Act became law, a new survey indicates that more than 20 percent of doctors’ offices remain inaccessible to those with special needs.

The finding comes from a “secret shopper” style poll of 256 randomly selected medical practices in Boston, Dallas, Houston and Portland, Ore.

Researchers called to schedule an appointment for a fictitious patient, indicating that the individual used a wheelchair and was unable to transfer independently from the chair to an exam table.

App Will Help Blind Users Navigate Minneapolis

Tuesday Jul 15, 2014 | The Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Researchers and students at the University of Minnesota are developing a smartphone app to help blind and visually impaired people navigate streets in Minneapolis.

The Minnesota Daily reports (http://bit.ly/VXAnm9 ) the app will guide visually impaired and blind people safely through intersections. It will provide the description of a crosswalk as the app user approaches it and allow him or her to request walk signals.

Ken Rodgers, who is blind and works as a disability program coordinator for the Minnesota Department of Transportation, said the app will significantly help the blind community in the Twin Cities.

FCC OKs Online Clip Captioning Rules

By DEBORAH D. MCADAMS, TV TECHNOLOGY on July 14, 2014

The new rules apply to clips of the same type of programming posted to the originators websites or mobile apps.

The Federal Communications Commission has approved new rules that will require closed captioning of video clips posted online. The rules are an expansion of those approved in 2012, which were triggered by the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010, intended to ensure equal access to all forms of programming by individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing.
The 2012 rules covered full-length broadcast, cable and satellite TV programming posted online. Clips were punted at the time for further comments.

Advocates for Blind, Deaf Want More From Apple

By Christina Farr
SAN FRANCISCO Thu Jul 10, 2014 12:11am IST

(Reuters) – Advocates for the blind are debating whether to use a carrot or a stick to persuade one of their oldest allies, Apple Inc, to close an emerging digital divide in mobile technology.

As digital life increasingly moves to the world of smartphones and tablets, some disabled people with visual, hearing and other impairments are feeling more left out than ever.

As baby boomers retire and age, the number of people needing help is multiplying. Many disabled advocates believe federal law requires that apps be accessible, but courts have not ruled on the issue. Few disabled want to risk alienating Apple, considered a friend, by fighting it.

National Federation of the Blind Urges Obama Administration to Issue ADA Internet Regulations

Orlando, Florida (PRWEB) July 07, 2014

The National Federation of the Blind (NFB), the nation’s leading advocate for equal access to the Internet for blind people, today announced that it has unanimously adopted a resolution at its national convention urging the Obama administration to issue regulations requiring websites that are public accommodations to be accessible to the blind.

On July 5, approximately twenty-five hundred NFB members assembled in the convention at the Rosen Centre Hotel voted unanimously to adopt the resolution.

High-Tech FingerReader Reads to the Blind in Real Time

Device helps make schools, doctor’s office and restaurants more accessible The Associated Press Posted: Jul 08, 2014 8:46 AM ET|

Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab have designed and developed the FingerReader ring, which enables people with visual disabilities to read text printed on paper or electronic devices.

Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are developing an audio reading device to be worn on the index finger of people whose vision is impaired, giving them affordable and immediate access to printed words.

FDA Allows Marketing of First Wearable, Motorized Device That Helps People With Certain Spinal Cord Injuries to Walk

June 26, 2014

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today allowed marketing of the first motorized device intended to act as an exoskeleton for people with lower body paralysis (paraplegia) due to a spinal cord injury.

ReWalk is a motorized device worn over the legs and part of the upper body that helps an individual sit, stand, and walk with assistance from a trained companion, such as a spouse or home health aide.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention there are about 200,000 people in the United States living with a spinal cord injury, many of whom have complete or partial paraplegia.

New Accessibility Rules Coming to Airline Websites. Are You Ready?

Jun 26.2014

Imagine for a minute that you decide to take a vacation. You’re thinking Hawaii, Tahiti or the Alps. You grab your computer, open a browser, type in your favorite airline and then stop.

Why? Unfortunately for 19 percent of the US population that live with disabilities, this is the consequence when navigating to an inaccessible website for air transportation.

If they can’t access the content, they can’t use the site.

Or, what about having to pay extra to make the booking by phone all because the website was inaccessible?

Advances in Technology Can Leave Some Behind

by Kerstin Sjoberg-Witt and Michael L. Stack II
Posted July 2, 2014
From the Editor: This article is reprinted from the spring issue of the Buckeye Bulletin, the newsletter of the National Federation of the Blind of Ohio. Here is how it was introduced by Editor Barbara Pierce:

Imagine you’re sitting down for the first time in a pre-calculus or calculus class. Imagine the fear you feel as you read concept material that is supposed to be written in English but appears to be ancient Greek combined with Egyptian hieroglyphics. As you tell yourself that advanced mathematics is an academic field fraught with mental hurdles and the bane of most high school and college students, you start to feel a little better.

AMI-Audio Special Focuses on the Accessibility of Some of the USA’s Most Famous Monuments

TORONTO, June 25, 2014 /CNW/

Accessible Media Inc. (AMI) announced today that it will air a two-part documentary exploring the accessibility of some of the most recognizable attractions in the capital of the United States.

AMI Goes to Washington captures the spirit of America’s capital and takes listeners on a detailed journey through the city as AMI-audio staffers Paul Daniel and Joe Lamanna explore many of D.C.’s iconic monuments and experience first-hand how accessible they are.

“Washington is one of the most famous cities in the United States and home to some of the nation’s key landmarks,” says John Melville, Vice President of Programming and Production for AMI-tv and AMI-audio. “We wanted to create an experience for our audience and make them feel like they’re on the ground in Washington, while keeping a focus on accessibility.”

Education Dept. Issues New Special Ed Rules

WASHINGTON Jun 24, 2014
By KIMBERLY HEFLING AP Education Writer
Associated Press

The Education Department announced Tuesday that it will begin to look at graduation rates, test scores and other measures of academic performance to help determine if states are meeting the needs of students with disabilities.

The department called the change a “major shift” in the way it assesses special education programs, since such benchmarks weren’t stringently applied to special education students previously. An estimated 6.5 million children and youth have such disabilities, the department said, and have lower graduation rates overall and don’t do as well on average in reading and math as their peers.

B.C. Premier Offers Hope!

By Victor Schwartzman
June 20, 2014

Give that politician a hand!! Two fisted B.C. Premier Christy Clark, fresh off an election victory that punched her to a large majority government, in response gave voters a few fingers when she talked relatively straight recently, Not anyone to palm things off, she spoke as clearly as she ever has about when she will work hard to make life better for people in B.C. who have disabilities.
A recent Globe and Mail article by Ian Bailey quotes Premier Clark about her exciting new plans, starting with when her Government will improve monthly income payments for people with disabilities ($906, plenty to live on if you don’t eat.)

Increasing Opportunities for Children Living With Intellectual Disabilities to Participate in Physical Activity

Posted June 20, 2014

Government of Canada partnering with Special Olympics Canada, the RBC Foundation and the Samuel Family Foundation to expand Active Start and FUNdamentals programs

The Public Health Agency of Canada has partnered with Special Olympics Canada, the RBC Foundation and the Samuel Family Foundation to increase opportunities for children living with intellectual disabilities to participate in physical activity.

Special Olympics Canada currently runs two initiatives, called “Active Start” and “FUNdamentals,” that provide children with an intellectual disability the opportunity to improve physical, social and cognitive abilities, thereby establishing a foundation for being physically active and healthy.
With funding from the Government of Canada, the RBC Foundation and the Samuel Family Foundation, these programs will be expanded, reaching more children across Canada.

Appeal Process for CPP disability Benefits is a ‘David and Goliath’ Battle, Sask. Advocate Says

Federal appeals tribunal has backlog of 7,000 cases
CBC News Posted: Jun 18, 2014 5:30 AM CT Last Updated: Jun 18, 2014 5:30 AM CT

A Saskatchewan woman who helps people apply for benefits under the Canada Pension Plan says the federal government’s appeal process is a “David and Goliath” battle.

‘The CPP, or the federal government, has all of the resources and the person making the application who has the disability has probably minimal.’- Disability claims advocate Allison Schmidt

Allison Schmidt, a Regina-based disability advocate with about 200 clients, is currently working with Suzanne Fincaryk, who has been waiting nearly two years for her appeal to be heard.

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