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

10-8-14

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).

Read more at
http://www.aoda.ca/australian-public-service-commission-launches-video-on-disability/

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.

Read more at
http://www.aoda.ca/accessibility-claims-expected-over-websites/

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.

Read more at
http://www.aoda.ca/the-coming-tide-of-website-disability-claims-under-ada/

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.

Ministry of Health’s Prescription for Change for Clients With Vision Loss

Media Release

Editors Note: In this era of the AODA It should never have come to this but Congratulations Axel for a victory for the Disabled Community!

Ontario’s Ministry of Health and Long Term Care has agreed to implement a comprehensive plan to ensure timely access to critical pharmaceutical information for customers with vision loss. The plan forms part of a settlement of a human rights application launched by Oakville resident Axel Krueger.

Read more at
http://www.aoda.ca/ministry-of-health%c2%92s-prescription-for-change-for-clients-with-vision-loss/

SourceAmerica: the Source of America’s Discrimination against Workers with Disabilities

by Rose Sloan
Braille Monitor October 2014

On Thursday, August 28, 2014, the National Federation of the Blind conducted an informational protest outside the national office of SourceAmerica in Vienna, Virginia.

SourceAmerica, formerly the National Industries for the Severely Handicapped, or NISH, is responsible for distributing government contracts to nonprofits that employ Americans with disabilities.

Blind and sighted, those who walked with canes, and those who used wheelchairs all joined in at the protest.

The National Federation of the Blind picketed SourceAmerica because SourceAmerica chooses to distribute contracts to nonprofits that hold special wage certificates which allow entities to pay people with disabilities less than the minimum wage. Paying people with disabilities subminimum wages should be illegal, but Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act allows entities to do just that.

Higher Education Websites Unsuitable for Special Needs Students, says Report

23.09.2014

A new study has found that poorly-designed Irish higher education websites could be contributing to significant dropouts among students with particular disabilities because they cannot access certain assignment services.

The study which was undertaken by Siteimprove analysed 20 Irish higher education websites with every site failing to meet 44 basic international standards to allow students with disabilities access the same online materials and tools that those without disabilities can.

Quoting the Institution of Education Sciences, the report says that the number of students with disabilities dropping out of higher education before completing their degrees is nearly double that of the average student.

Aeroplan Partners with eSSENTIAL Accessibility to Offer App for People with Disabilities

eSSENTIAL Accessibility is proud to announce its partnership with Aeroplan, Canada’s premier coalition loyalty program. Through the partnership, Aeroplan now offers a desktop app that empowers people with physical disabilities to access aeroplan.com.

Read more at
http://www.aoda.ca/aeroplan-partners-with-essential-accessibility-to-offer-app-for-people-with-disabilities/

Guide Dog Users Group launches Innovative Mobile App

Tampa, Florida (September 17, 2014):

The National Association of Guide dog Users Inc., a division of the National Federation of the Blind and the nation’s leading service animal advocacy organization, announced today that it has release the NAGDU Guide & Service Dog Advocacy & Information app. This new IOS app provides comprehensive information about the rights and responsibilities of service animal users under state and federal law.

“Every law in the United States concerning service animals can now be in your pocket,” says Marion Gwizdala, NAGDU’s president and a guide dog user himself. “There is no other single source for this type of information.”

New Smartphone App Gives Sight to People With Vision Disabilities

Sep 22, 2014

SAN FRANCISCO: Jonathan Mosen, who has been blind since birth, spent his evening snapping photos of packages in the mail, his son’s school report and labels on bottles in the fridge. In seconds, he was listening to audio of the printed words the camera captured, courtesy of a new app on his Apple Inc iPhone.

I couldn’t believe how accurate it was,” said Mosen, an assistive technology consultant from New Zealand.

The new app that allows people who are blind to listen to an audio read back of printed text is receiving rave reviews after its first day of availability and is being heralded as a life-changer by many people.

Russia’s Treatment of Disabled Kids ‘Deplorable’ : Study

A 93-page report from Human Rights Watch describes the violence, educational deprivation and neglect faced by children with disabilities who are placed in state orphanages. By: Olivia Ward Foreign Affairs Reporter, Published on Mon Sep 15 2014

“The staff used to hit me and drag me by the hair,” says Nastia Y., a 19-year-old woman who spent most of her life in a Russian orphanage. “They gave me pills to calm me down.”

Nastia was one of an estimated 30 per cent of disabled Russian children who are confined to state orphanages, where their futures are often blighted.

Uber Sued for Allegedly Refusing Rides to the Blind and Putting a Dog in the Trunk

By Gail Sullivan, September 10

An advocacy group for the blind is suing the app-based ride-sharing service Uber, alleging the company discriminates against passengers with service dogs.

The federal civil rights suit filed Tuesday by the California chapter of the National Federation of the Blind cites instances in California and elsewhere when blind Uber customers summoned a car only to be refused a ride once the driver saw them with a service dog. In some cases, drivers allegedly abandoned blind travelers in extreme weather and charged cancellation fees after denying them rides, the complaint said.