Compass Slapped With Lawsuit Over Website Access for the Blind

Discrimination lawsuit highlights legal risk for brokerages that don’t comply with Americans with Disabilities Act by Teke Wiggin Staff Writer
Dec 28

Compass is being sued for allegedly failing to make its website fully accessible to blind people, raising the specter that real estate brokerages remain exposed to a legal risk about which the National Association of Realtors had previously warned members.

The suit, which is seeking class-action status and was filed on Dec. 12 in a New York district court, accuses Compass of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for “its failure to design, construct, maintain, and operate its website to be fully accessible to and independently usable by Plaintiff and other blind or visually-impaired people.”

Welcome Mat: Study Finds Accessibility Key in Bathroom Reno Designs

Maureen Feighan, The Detroit News
Published Dec. 20, 2018

Aging baby boomers who’d like to stay in their homes as they grow older are making accessibility a big part of their bathroom renovations plans, making them bigger and adding features like grab bars, according to Houzz.com’s new 2018 U.S. Bathroom Trends Study.

The survey of 1,100 homeowners, released in mid November, found that one-third of Baby Boomers are addressing current aging needs, while nearly a quarter are planning ahead for future needs as they renovate a master bathroom.

The survey also found 47 percent change the bathroom layout and 34 percent remove the bathtub.

More Students Join Class Action by Mental Health Coalition against Stanford University

by Scott Loftesness

Berkeley, CA (July 16, 2018) Three more students have joined a precedent-setting class action brought by Disability Rights Advocates (DRA) against Stanford University for violating the rights of students with mental health disabilities.

The lawsuit alleges that Stanford routinely responds to student mental health crises by barring students from campus and evicting them from on-campus housing, violating disability laws.

DRA, a national nonprofit legal center, today files an Amended Complaint and Class Certification Motion on behalf of this growing coalition to end the university’s discriminatory policies and practices.

Advocates Say Accessible Canada Act is too Weak to Be Effective

The Canadian Press
Updated: December 19, 2018

The cautious optimism that prevailed in Canada’s disabled community when the federal government tabled historic accessibility legislation earlier this year has given way to widespread concern that the law won’t lead to meaningful change.

Major disability organizations, grassroots advocacy groups and disabled individuals said they’ve raised numerous concerns about the power and scope of the Accessible Canada Act, which the Liberal government first introduced in June.

They said the government has largely ignored those concerns as the bill worked its way through debate in the House of Commons and are now calling on the Senate to introduce amendments that they say would make the bill more effective.

Canada Accedes to the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

From: Employment and Social Development Canada
December 3, 2018 Ottawa, Ontario

The Government of Canada is working to create a truly accessible Canada. Today, as part of these efforts, the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility, along with the ministers of Justice, Foreign Affairs and Canadian Heritage, announced that, with the support of all provinces and territories, Canada has acceded to the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Accession to the Optional Protocol means that Canadians will have additional recourse to make a complaint to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, if they believe their rights under the Convention have been violated.

CRTC Mandates Standards for TTY, IP Relay Accessibility Messaging Services

Individuals who are deaf, hard-of-hearing or deafblind will soon have access to faster, better message relay services By Sameer Chhabra
Dec 14, 2018

Canada’s telecommunications watchdog has issued a decision mandating standards for message relay services.

According to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission’s (CRTC) December 14th, 2018 decision, groups that provide text-based message relay services (MRS) like teletypewriter relay (TTY) and internet protocol relay (IP relay) will be required to implement quality of service standards, as well as a standard for call answer time and typing speed.

As per the CRTC’s latest telecom decision, 80 percent of all calls each months will need to be responded to by a live MRS operator within 20 seconds.

International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD), 3 December 2018

Since 1992, the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) has been annually observed on 3 December around the world. The theme for this year’s IDPD is “Empowering persons with disabilities and ensuring inclusiveness and equality”.

This theme focuses on the empowering persons with disabilities for the inclusive, equitable and sustainable development envisaged in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The 2030 Agenda, pledging to “leave no one behind,” is an ambitious plan of action of the international community towards a peaceful and prosperous world, where dignity of an individual person and equality among all is applied as the fundamental principle, cutting across the three pillars of the work of the United Nations: Development, Human Rights and Peace and Security. It is critical to ensure, in this regard, the full and equal participation of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and create enabling environments by, for and with persons with disabilities.

Instagram Improving Accessibility for Users with Visual Impairments

New features include “alternative text” to provide descriptions for pics. by Gordon Gottsegen
November 28, 2018

On Wednesday, Instagram announced new features intended to provide a better experience for people with vision impairments.

Instagram is introducing automatic alternative text, which lets you hear descriptions of pictures when using Instagram with a screen reader. The automatic alternative text uses object recognition tech to generate a list of things that may appear in the photo, helping people know what they’re looking at.

Instagram also lets you create your own alternative text. When posting a photo, you’ll be able to go into the Advanced Settings and add your own alt text, which can be heard when using a screen reader.

Activision Ignites Rage Over Spyro’s Accessibility Failure

By Henry St Leger
November 20, 2018

Subtitles go poof

The arrival of Spyro Reignited Trilogy should be an occasion of joy for players, either those coming to the beloved PlayStation platformer for the first time or those seeing one of their childhood gaming icons lovingly remastered in a modern engine.

The trilogy revisits the first three Spyro games developed by Insomniac Games from 1998 to 2000, all of which were made for the PS1. When the trilogy launched last week, however, there was a notable omission: subtitles.

While Activision incorporates subtitles in the general gameplay of the remastered game as you run around, chase sheep, breathe fire, save the world, and so on animated cut-scenes don’t have them.

Uber enlists outside help to improve wheelchair-accessible rides

It’s aiming to keep wait times down to 15 minutes or less
Mallory Locklear, @mallorylocklear
November 20, 2018

Uber has found itself in hot water multiple times over its lack of wheelchair-accessible vehicles (WAVs), and now it’s teaming up with another company in order to better serve passengers with disabilities. It’s partnering with MV Transportation, a company that provides paratransit services across the US and Canada, and is bringing MV Transportation’s WAV fleet to eight cities.

The Internet Is An Unwelcoming Place to the Disabled

There’s already a blueprint for a more accessible internet. If only designers would learn it.
By Anne Quito•November 15, 2018

The internet can be a hostile space for 15% of the world’s population who experience some form of disability.

Try navigating a website as someone who is visually impaired: Turn on voice command on your computer (Command ? + F5 if you’re on a Mac, enable Navigator if you’re on a PC) and go to Amazon’s Kindle store. You’ll quickly find out that those who rely on voice commands can’t skip around and are doomed to listen to every notation about every page element before getting to the one piece of information they need.

Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against Medi-Cal

Date Filed: 10/22/2018

On October 18, 2018, Disability Rights Advocates(DRA) and a coalition of blind advocates filed a class action lawsuit in Federal Court against the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) and its county agents for failing to provide Medi-Cal notices in accessible formats, such as Braille.

The plaintiffs are the California Council of the Blind and three individuals; co-counsel is the Disability Rights and Education Fund and Disability Rights California. Read the complaint at the link below.

A Wake Up Call on the Urgent Need to Remove Barriers

OTTAWA, ONTARIO, CANADA: Canada has received a wake-up call in recent months about the urgent need to remove physical barriers in the built environment and improve accessibility for people of all abilities.

In June 2018, the federal government tabled the Accessible Canada Act, a means to ensure equality, inclusion, and full participation in society for all Canadians. This historic event was welcomed by disability groups and advocates across the country, as Canada currently has no set national standard for measuring accessibility and implementing change.

How to Work on Work

by Paul Edwards

I have been involved at the state level of ACB since 1977 and have worked as a rehab teacher and a rehab counselor with the Division of Blind Services in Florida.

Before I retired I worked for 27 years as Director of Services to Students with Disabilities at one of the campuses of the largest community college in the country. This means that I was around when Section 504 was passed and then finally implemented. It seemed like a huge step forward to us then despite its limited coverage.

Feds Prod Universities to Address Website Accessibility

Universities are under legal pressure to make their websites fully accessible to people with disabilities, but is “fully” even possible? By Lindsay McKenzie
November 6, 2018

Hundreds of colleges and universities across the country are currently under investigation by the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights for failing to make their websites accessible to people with disabilities.

Universities that receive federal financial aid are required by law to make reasonable accommodations to ensure their web content is accessible to everyone, including, but not limited to, people who are blind, deaf or have limited mobility.

Passengers Taken Off Flight Due to Guide Dogs Allege Discrimination

by Adrian Ghobrial and News Staff
Posted Nov 2, 2018 2018 at 7:56 am EST

Two visually-impaired Toronto women will have their complaint investigated by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal more than three years after they were removed from a flight at Pearson airport because of their service dogs.

Friends Amal Haddad and Nayla Farah and Farahs daughter had booked a round trip to Stockholm on Jet Airways, departing July 1, 2015, with a stopover in Brussels on the way over.

Farah, who has been travelling the world with a seeing-eye dog for years, said she and Haddad made sure they had all their papers in order before arriving at the airport.

Blind Marylanders Sue Walmart, Saying Self-Serve Checkouts Violate ADA

by Sarah Meehan
Contact Reporter
The Baltimore Sun
October 29, 2018

Three blind Maryland residents and the National Federation of the Blind are suing Walmart, alleging that the company violates the Americans with Disabilities Act because its self-checkout kiosks are not fully accessible to blind customers.

The lawsuit, filed Thursday in U.S. District Court, also claims that an employee at the Walmart in Owings Mills allegedly attempted to take money from one of the plaintiffs while she was checking out at the store.

The suit claims that a staff member at the Owings Mills store on Reisterstown Road was assisting Cynthia Morales with a purchase at a self-checkout kiosk in July 2017 when the employee selected an option for cash back from her debit card and took $40 without her knowledge.

It’s Been Revealed That Canadians Diagnosed With Mental Health Issues Are Put On A List That Is Shared With The FBI And US Border Patrol

October 30, 2018

In the past five years, Canada has made tremendous strides in the fight to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health. The #BellLetsTalk campaign has been at the forefront, considering the campaign routinely grabs the world’s attention using a single hashtag to raise money for mental health initiatives.

READ ALSO: Ontario Universities Are Tracking Their Students Who Went To These High Schools Because Of This Insane Secret List(opens in new tab/window)

While the stigma may not be as prevalent as it was a decade ago, what has recently been discovered when it comes to Canadians with mental illnesses trying to cross the border is the harsh reality that the stigma is still very much alive.

WPCampus is Pursuing an Independent Accessibility Audit of Gutenberg

Editors Note: As a member of the Accessibility Team that tested Gutenberg I can tell you at the time I tested it, it was garbage and totally inaccessible to me and my screen reader, if your company has any employees who use assistive devices, do not upgrade until they fix it .

?Sarah Gooding October 25, 2018

WPCampus is looking to hire a company to perform an accessibility audit of the Gutenberg editor. The organization is a community of more than 800 web professionals, educators, and others who work with WordPress in higher education. WPCampus director Rachel Cherry published a request for proposals detailing the organization’s specific concerns:

Sydney Woman With Disabilities Said She Was Carried on Air Canada Jet

Sharon Montgomery-Dupe (sharon.montgomery@cbpost.com)
Published: Oct 18 at 10:22 p.m.

A Sydney woman said she recently took the jet as a start to an exciting vacation but because they had no proper means of boarding a passenger with disabilities she was carried aboard, which was humiliating and dangerous.

Air travel is under federal jurisdiction

SYDNEY, N.S. It was a dream vacation that began with a nightmare.

Marcie Shwery-Stanley recently boarded an Air Canada jet by being carried up a steep set of stairs by three men.

“I was not only frightened to death, it was very demeaning,” said the Sydney woman who needs a wheelchair to get around. “It was a terrible experience and I’m looking into making a formal complaint.