How Disability Simulations Promote Damaging Stereotypes

by Toby Olson

Participants in disability simulations experience their adopted disabilities as a series of discoveries of things they can’t do. They can leave the exercise imagining an unbroken string of those discoveries stretching out for a lifetime. Those of us who have had a disability all our lives haven’t experienced our disabilities that way.

While Some Provinces Will Get Text-911 Service in New Year, Others Will Wait Until 2015

By Douglas Quan, Postmedia News December 27, 2013

Text-based 911 service will become available for deaf Canadians in some parts of the country in 2014. Other parts of Canada, however, may have to wait until 2015.

Canadians in some parts of the country will likely be able to access 911 emergency services using text messaging starting next year, but others may have to wait until well into 2015. Advocates say the delays are “unacceptable” and a matter of life and death.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission imposed a deadline of Jan. 24, 2014 for all telephone and wireless companies to upgrade their networks to support “T911” service and officials say companies are on track to meet that deadline.

Voting Problems Widespread For Those With Disabilities

By Shaun Heasley
November 4, 2013

More than a decade after Congress took steps to ensure equal access for people with disabilities at the polls, a new report finds that legal, physical and attitudinal barriers remain.

During the 2012 election cycle, 1 in 5 voters with disabilities said they were kept from casting their ballot on their own and more than half said they encountered hurdles — including rude or condescending attitudes from election workers — while inside their polling place.

The findings are based on the experiences of nearly 900 people with disabilities who were queried by the National Council on Disability, an independent federal agency charged with advising Congress and the president on disability issues.

Safeway Announces Website Accessibility and Usability Enhancements to its On-line Grocery Delivery Website Benefiting Shoppers with Visual Impairments

Customers Applaud Safeway’s Commitment
Pleasanton, California (December 13, 2013)

Safeway (NYSE:SWY) today announced a comprehensive initiative to make its online grocery shopping website more accessible and usable for Safeway shoppers with visual impairments. The site enhancements are the result of collaboration between Safeway and several visually impaired customers.

Safeway has adopted the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) version 2.0 level AA as its accessibility standard and has already made significant enhancements to its online shopping website to meet this standard and will continue to do so over the next year.

The customers praised Safeway’s announcement.

DOJ Joins Suit Against H&R Block, Saying Website Violates ADA

Wednesday, 11 Dec 2013 12:33 PM

By Andrea Billups

The Justice Department has announced that it will intervene in a private lawsuit filed against national tax preparation firm H&R Block, saying its website does not allow sufficient access for people with disabilities.

The department’s motion, filed Nov. 25 against Block subsidiaries HRB Digital and HRB Tax Group, says the company violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, which the Justice Department has ruled applies to websites.

The Justice Department, in making its motion to intervene in the case, says the website “prevents some people with disabilities from completing even the most basic activities on the site.”

Ensuring Equal Justice for All

John McCamus, National Post | 11/12/13 | Last Updated: 10/12/13 1:30 PM ET

Too many Canadians with mental health challenges are falling through the cracks in our court system..

Those of us who have ever gone through a divorce, struggled with employment issues, or had problems with a landlord, know full well the stress that any of these matters can bring.

Now imagine having to deal with a mental illness on top of everything else.

For a lot of Ontarians with mental health issues, legal problems don’t exist in isolation. Too often there are multiple legal needs that cut across the entire justice system.

New Online Bingo Game launched for the Blind

11th December 2013
by Wayne Howe

Recently I came across the news of a new online bingo game that had been created for blind and partially sighted people. This intrigued me somewhat as it had never crossed my mind how blind people even accessed the internet, never mind played online games.


Disabled Still Face Work Barriers

Yaldaz Sadakova | December 9, 2013

While Canada has made great strides in equal opportunity employment, companies might still be inadvertently discriminating against disabled individuals.

Many firms continue to engage in practices that shut out individuals with disabilities, often right from the application process, according to experts. And, observers note, disabled people’s marginalization in the labour market is compounded by the fact that Canada’s public system for disability benefits is essentially a confusing patchwork of programs.

“If we think about labour force productivity, it’s contingent upon being able to access work,” said Emile Tompa, a labour and health economist at the Institute for Work & Health, speaking at a recent webinar on disability.

Rules Only Work if Enforced

Passing laws removing barriers great in policy, but needs to be put into practice too
By Harry Wolbert ,For the Winnipeg Sun
Posted: Thursday, December 05, 2013

What good is a law or government policy if it’s not enforced? In my opinion, it’s worthless and doesn’t benefit anyone. This brings to mind Ontario.

Ontario, which passed the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act in 2005, is often held up as a model for others to follow. Eight years later, we are learning that Ontario isn’t paradise for people with disabilities. It’s not even close to being barrier-free.

UMass Boston and IBM Advance Technology Accessibility Research

Office of Communications | December 03, 2013

UMass Boston students will develop the necessary skills to become a massive force of inclusion.

The University of Massachusetts Boston (UMass Boston) and IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced a new research initiative to advance accessible technology solutions for people with disabilities, the growing elderly population, those with low literacy and novice technology users.

As part of IBM’s Academic Initiative, IBM will provide access to technology and industry expertise to students, professors and researchers at UMass Boston’s newly formed School for Global Inclusion and Social Development.

European Consortium To Create Wearable Technology For The Blind

Partners Combine Cutting-Edge Technology with End User Design Requirements

A consortium of European companies, comprised of research institutions and technology companies, today announced it will work together to create a standalone, wearable assistive device for the visually impaired. The consortium, including Dräger & Lienert and TU Dresden out of Germany, Elitac and TNO in the Netherlands and Ghent University and SoftKinetic® in Belgium, have labeled the FP7 project Range-IT. The goal of the Range-IT system is to create a wearable device that will extend mobility and improve employment opportunities and daily interactions for blind persons.

Experience Descriptive Audio at the Theater with a New iOS App MovieReading

By Alena Roberts
Tuesday, 19-Nov-2013

Many theaters around the country are starting to offer the visually impaired the option of listening to the descriptive audio track while they’re watching a film. Sadly though, this technology is not available everywhere, and sometimes it doesn’t work. The team at Solo-DX wants to make the experience better by having the blind film-goer use a smart phone app to listen to the descriptive audio track instead.

Students Design Website for Deaf People

Published 12 November 2013

Two students have designed a new website to enable deaf people to find trusted traders who can communicate with them.

Contacting the likes of plumbers, flower arrangers and decorators, is difficult enough for deaf or hard of hearing people, but this is made harder when trades people come to their home and cannot communicate with them.

DeafCOG (Deaf Cultural Outreach Group) is a social enterprise that creates resources to support the lives of deaf people who use British Sign Language (BSL). One of its projects aims to create a trader-search website, where deaf and hearing people alike can find traders who can communicate with deaf people, from using clear English to signing in BSL.

Tax Tips for the Deaf

Updated for Tax Year: 2013

One in five Americans has a severe hearing loss, yet may not be aware of the special tax deductions and credits allowed by the Internal Revenue Service. Knowing about these deductions and credits can help you know which receipts and paperwork to save so you can claim them on your taxes.

Medical deductions

If you itemize your deductions on your taxes and your medical expenses total more than 10 percent of your adjusted gross income, you might get a tax deduction. These expenses include mileage to and from doctor and diagnostic appointments, prescriptions, eyeglasses and insurance premiums. Deaf individuals and those with hearing loss have special expenses they can deduct to reach that 10 percent threshold.

Justice Department Seeks to Intervene in Lawsuit Alleging H&R Block’s Tax Preparation Website Is Inaccessible to Individuals with Disabilities

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Civil Rights Division and U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz announced today that they have moved to intervene in National Federation of the Blind et al v. HRB Digital LLC et al, a private lawsuit alleging disability discrimination by HRB Digital LLC and HRB Tax Group Inc., subsidiaries of H&R Block Inc.

In the memorandum and proffered complaint filed by the United States in support of its motion to intervene, the United States alleges that the H&R Block companies discriminate against individuals with disabilities and that their website, , is being operated in violation of Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), notwithstanding well-established and readily available guidelines for delivering web content in an accessible manner.

Angry Note Left on Wheelchair Accessible Van attracting attention

Angry Note Left on Wheelchair Accessible Van attracting attention

Published Friday, November 22, 2013 6:45PM CST
Last Updated Friday, November 22, 2013 6:46PM CST

It’s a story that began with mean notes left on the windshield of a wheelchair lift van, but now, one woman’s story is prompting people in Saskatoon to take a second look at accessibility issues.

CTV News was with Desirée Parisien as she shared some of the notes.

“You are parked like a complete jackass,” one note read. “You are in two spots, one of which is for pregnant ladies. Stupidity is not a handicap. Use your wheelchair sticker for a better cause. Don’t use it for an excuse.”

10 Tips to Enable People With Disabilities to Get Jobs

Posted: 11/15/2013 9:09 pm

Fully 70 percent of working-age people with disabilities in America are not working. This leads to poverty, powerlessness and prison. So how can we, who care about people with disabilities, change that?

Back in the old days, people with disabilities didn’t have access to quality education. Now, thankfully, with better access to education and technology some of the smartest and most productive people on earth are people with disabilities. Think of Stephen Hawkins. Fifty years ago he wouldn’t have been able to communicate. Today he is unlocking the secrets of the universe.

iPads Help Late-Speaking Children With Autism Develop Language

by Joan Brasher
Posted on Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2013 — 11:44 AM

The iPad you use to check email, watch episodes of Mad Men and play Words with Friends may hold the key to enabling children with autism spectrum disorders to express themselves through speech.

New research indicates that children with autism who are minimally verbal can learn to speak later than previously thought, and iPads are playing an increasing role in making that happen, according to Ann Kaiser, a researcher at Vanderbilt Peabody College of education and human development.

Blind job Seekers Face Hurdles in Pursuit of Work

CAMBRIDGE, MASS. — The Associated Press
Published Monday, Nov. 04 2013, 7:00 PM EST

Back in the late 1980s, when Maura Mazzocca was a human resources administrator with a Boston-area firm, a blind man showed up to apply for a job. Today, she remembers the encounter ruefully.

“What I kept thinking about was, ‘How can this man work in a manufacturing company?’” Ms. Mazzocca recalled, saying she looked past his abilities and saw only his disability.

“I wish now I’d given him a chance.”

That reflectiveness is heartfelt. Ms. Mazzocca lost her own eyesight in 1994 through complications related to diabetes. Now as a job seeker herself, she knows first-hand the many hurdles the blind must overcome in pursuit of full-time work.

Court Says New York Neglected Disabled in Emergencies

Ruth Fremson/The New York Times
Published: November 7, 2013

After Hurricane Sandy, Judith Rodriguez who is blind and unable to walk, could not leave her 10th-floor Brooklyn apartment.

New York City has violated the rights of about 900,000 of its residents with disabilities by failing to accommodate for their needs during emergencies, a federal judge ruled on Thursday.

In Manhattan, supplies had to be hoisted into an apartment in the days after the storm.

The ruling arose from a lawsuit filed in 2011 after Tropical Storm Irene, but came into sharper focus after Hurricane Sandy, when many New Yorkers with disabilities were stranded for days. The judge, Jesse M. Furman of Federal District Court in Manhattan, found that the city, through “benign neglect,” was in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act.