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Trudeau Liberals Axe Funding for Blind and Vision-Impaired Books

By Brian Hill Associate Producer Global News

Kirsty Duncan rises during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday November 3, 2009.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government has decided it will no longer fund the production of accessible books for blind and vision-impaired Canadians, Global News has learned.

Starting April 1, the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB), which is Canada’s largest producer of accessible and alternate-format books, will no longer receive government funding for converting conventional books into accessible formats. The news comes nine days before the CNIB is set to celebrate its 100th anniversary.

Olympic Bid an Opportunity to Improve Accessibility

Thursday, Mar 08, 2018
By: Paul Clarke

On the eve of the opening ceremonies for the Paralympic Games in South Korea and ongoing discussions at home about hosting the 2026 Winter Olympics, accessibility remains an issue for many in this community.

Just ask Robin Slater, who has been advocating for years to make the community more accessible for people with cognitive, mental and physical disabilities.

“We’re not thinking with disability in mind,” said Slater, who suffered a brain injury in 1984 after a vehicle accident with an elk.

“There has to be an attitudinal switch, so instead of just watching Paralympic athletes we need to think in terms of what disability is like 24/7 and how it impacts people’s lives.”

Technology Innovations: Making the Online World More Accessible

Ross McLaughlin and Sandra Hermiston, CTV Vancouver
Published Wednesday, March 7, 2018

From wheelchair ramps to braille on ATMs, you can see the steps businesses are taking to make the physical world more accessible for people with disabilities. But what about when it comes to using computers or going online?

“Being able to use the computer and have things in an electronic format is really a life changer,” said Shawn Marsolais, executive director of Blind Beginnings who is living with visual impairment.

The average person now spends around five hours a day on their smartphone, but for people with mobility, vision, hearing and cognitive impairments that’s not always possible.

Diversity and Inclusion Give These Firms a Competitive Advantage

Canadas Best Diversity Employers for 2018 lead the way in trying to make the workplace more inclusive through a variety of innovative and compassionate diversity initiatives. DIANE JERMYN
Special to The Globe and Mail
Updated March 7, 2018

Canada’s Best Diversity Employers competition celebrates Canada’s vibrant and increasingly diverse work force. The winners listed here for 2018 have been judged as having an inclusive and respectful work environment that benefits everyone.

But what does being inclusive in the workplace really mean to people? Some might say it’s simply about feeling respected and comfortable in your own skin at work, no matter what your race, where you originally come from or how long you’ve been here. Others might describe inclusion as being able to bring your whole self to work so you can do your best, instead of having to hide who you are.

Pacific Autism Family Network and Miriam Foundation Receive Federal Funding to Help Canadians Impacted by Autism

Ottawa, Ontario, Feb. 27, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE)

The movement to assist Canadians living with autism, intellectual and development disabilities, and their families gained ground today when the government of Canada announced an investment of $20 million over 5 years as part of the 2018-2019 federal budget.

The funding will be used to develop two new initiatives to support the needs of Canadians experiencing autism spectrum disorder and their families. This will include $10.9 million towards the creation of an Autism-Intellectual Disability National Resource and Exchange Network (AIDE) which will provide credible and evidence-based resources for individuals and families living with autism and intellectual disabilities. Led jointly by Pacific Autism Family Network and Miriam Foundation, AIDE is the first of its kind in Canada, and will be available in a curated online library, reducing regional disparities and offering equitable access across the country.

Uber Sued By Disability Rights Groups For Illegal Discrimination Against Wheelchair Users

Berkeley, CA (February 27, 2018)

Today, Disability Rights Advocates (DRA) filed a major class action lawsuit against Uber challenging the popular ride-sharing service’s lack of wheelchair-accessible vehicles. The suit, brought by a coalition of individuals and disability rights groups in the San Francisco Bay Area, is the first legal challenge to Uber’s wheelchair-inaccessibility on its home turf.

The plaintiffs Independent Living Resource Center of San Francisco, Community Resources for Independent Living, and three individuals who use wheelchairs brought this action to end Uber’s discriminatory practices and policies.

Ninety-six percent of Visually Impaired Adults Watch TV on a Regular Basis, According to Comcast and the American Foundation for the Blind

Ashley Boucher
SFGate, February 17, 2018

The majority of people with visual disabilities watch four or more hours of television per day, which is almost as much as the general public, a new survey by Comcast and the American Foundation for the Blind found.

That’s compared to a Nielsen study from 2016 that found the average person watched about five hours of television per day.

“It’s a myth to think that you can’t enjoy television just because you have a visual disability,” said Tom Wlodkowski, Vice President of Accessibility for Comcast, who was born blind.

Why Do Gyms Make Things So Difficult for Blind People?

When smartphones, TVs and even washing machines are set up for visually impaired people to use, why isn’t exercise equipment? Amar Latif
The Guardian, February 26, 2018

If, like me, you want to keep fit and healthy, your first port of call is usually your local gym or health club. However, if, like me, you are also blind, keeping active can be a minefield of inaccessible technology, awkward conversations and frustrating barriers. And mine is hardly a rare issue:
more than two million people in Britain are living with sight loss, and the RNIB predicts this will double by 2050.

Widespread Economic Benefits To Be Gained From Making Workplaces More Accessible For People With Disabilities

Making work spaces and facilities more accessible would allow people with physical disabilities to participate more fully in the workforce, lifting overall economic activity by $16.8 billion by 2030, according to a new report by The Conference Board of Canada.

Read more at
http://www.aoda.ca/widespread-economic-benefits-to-be-gained-from-making-workplaces-more-accessible-for-people-with-disabilities/

Members of New Advisory Board Want Nova Scotia to Rethink Accessibility

Bruce said advocates have been consulted many times in the past, but the provincial government doesn’t have a good track record of listening.

She hopes it’s different this time around.

Read more at
http://www.aoda.ca/members-of-new-advisory-board-want-nova-scotia-to-rethink-accessibility/

It’s OK To Look At Your Phone At A Broadway Show, If Your Hearing Is Impaired

February 11, 2018·4:55 PM ET
Jeff Lunden

Seventeen Broadway theaters are now using technology that allows deaf and hearing-impaired patrons to see closed captions on their smartphones. Unlike the white smartphone background seen here, the GalaPro app screen is dark.

Jerry Bergman is sitting in the audience at a Broadway matinée performance of The Band’s Visit. Despite the fact that a huge sign above the stage tells the audience in English, Hebrew and Arabic to turn off cellphones, Bergman is keeping his on so he can read closed captions while watching the show.

UK Government Website Offline After Hack Infects Thousands More Worldwide

Thousands of websites globally have been hijacked by code which made computers run cryptocurrency mining software. Sunday 11 February 2018
By Nick Stylianou, Defence & Technology Producer

“The Coinhive script was inserted into a popular third-party accessibility plugin “BrowseAloud” which is used to help blind or partially-sighted people access the web.”

More than 5,000 websites have been hacked to force visitors’ computers to run software that mines a cryptocurrency similar to Bitcoin.

Users loading the websites of the Information Commissioner’s Office, the Student Loans Company, as well as the council websites for Manchester City, Camden, and Croydon – and even the homepage of the United States Courts – had their computers’ processing power hijacked by hackers.

A Delicate Approach to Restoring Control

08-02-2018
by Industry Update

An Australian startup programme is aiming to tackle lifestyle problems caused by fine motor control issues, an ever-pervasive ailment that dramatically impacts quality-of-life.

Their solution is a hand controller designed to help people with dexterity issues perform daily household functions: the i-boll.

The i-boll, roughly the size of a junior soccer ball, links to a smartphone app to connect with other devices and uses the smartphone’s built-in accelerometer to track movement.

The wireless device is operated with two hands and aims to help people living with cerebral palsy, arthritis, those recovering from a stroke and the elderly to operate smart devices and household appliances.

Transport Boards Must Include People With ‘Experience of Disability’

Updated / Wednesday, 7 Feb 2018 18:31

Last week Iarnród Éireann launched a pilot scheme on DART services to improve accessibility for wheelchair users

Minister for Transport Shane Ross has announced that the boards of public transport bodies must include at least one person with “raw, personal, experience of disability.”

Mr Ross’ spokeswoman said his announcement means that individuals with experiences of disability will be appointed directors of organisations such as the National Transport Authority, Dublin Bus, Bus Éireann, Iarnród Éireann and CIÉ.

In an address to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport, the Independent Alliance minister said that in recent years, access to public transport had been improved but that progress had been unacceptably slow.

Does the Government Make It too Hard for People With Disabilities to Work?

By Monique Scotti National Online Journalist, Politics Global News

The federal Conservatives have tabled a bill in the House of Commons that they say will help get more Canadians with disabilities into the workforce, arguing that right now, it can be more affordable for them to stay out of it.

The private members bill, tabled this afternoon by Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre, is unlikely to pass unless the Conservatives get the Liberals on-side.

I have had some informal conversations with some members of the other parties, and the reaction has been very favourable, Poilievre told reporters outside the House of Commons on Monday afternoon.

Blackboard and ReadSpeaker Partner to Enhance Accessibility of Digital Course Content

ReadSpeakers leading text-to-speech technology integrated into Blackboard Ally, helping instructors worldwide create more accessible content for learners

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 23, 2018 Blackboard and ReadSpeaker are furthering their partnership to help instructors worldwide improve the accessibility of course content for their students.

Currently, ReadSpeaker is Blackboards exclusive text-to-speech provider that is fully integrated within Blackboards learning management systems, supporting Universal Design for Learning (UDL). Now, as part of this extended collaboration, ReadSpeakers text-to-speech technology will also be integrated within Blackboard Ally as an offline audio alternative for course content. This allows students to automatically access an MP3 version of content added by the instructor into the LMS.

The 2018 AEBC/T-Base Scholarship Program is Accepting Applications

Each year, the AEBC offers scholarships to recognize outstanding blind, deafblind, and partially sighted post-secondary students. This year, we are pleased to offer six awards in total.

Read more at
http://www.blindcanadians.ca/programs/scholarship

CNIB Calls for Senate of Canada to Include Strengthened Requirements to Accommodate Canadians With Sight Loss

OTTAWA, Jan. 30, 2018 /CNW

CNIB is calling on the Senate of Canada to make amendments to strengthen requirements to accommodate Canadians with sight loss. As the Senate resumes sitting at the end of January, they will continue their study of Bill C-49, the Transportation Modernization Act. CNIB supports the passage of this important piece of legislation, specifically the creation of an airline Passenger Bill of Rights.

Canadians with sight loss have difficulties travelling in Canada independently, especially when travelling on an airplane. Problems exists in all facets of airline travel: from booking tickets, to navigating airports, and providing sufficient space for passengers with sight loss and their guide dogs.

This Self-Driving Shuttle Puts Accessibility First

Accessible Olli was designed from the ground up to help people with disabilities get where they need to go. by Ben Fox Rubin
January 26, 2018

Jay Rogers stood a few feet from his company’s futuristic-looking shuttle bus, called the Accessible Olli.

The all-electric, partially 3D-printed, autonomous vehicle, sitting in the middle of the bustling Las Vegas Convention Center during the CES tech show, packs features to help people with disabilities and the elderly get around.

There’s a retractable wheelchair ramp, software that can process sign language, and displays inside offering simplified information and reminders for people with cognitive disabilities like memory loss.

Government of Canada Accepting Project Proposals to Support Canadians With Disabilities

GATINEAU, QC, Jan. 23, 2018
CNW

The Honourable Kent Hehr, Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, today announced that the Government of Canada is now accepting project proposals from organizations interested in receiving funding through the Opportunities Fund for Persons with Disabilities.

People with disabilities have much to offer employers, but they remain under-represented in the workforce. Through programs such as the Opportunities Fund, the Government of Canada provides support to help people with disabilities enter the labour market, thereby contributing to the growth of the middle class.