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This High-Tech Shirt Helps Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Patrons Feel Music

Guests at Chicago’s Lyric Opera can now immerse themselves in performances through the SoundShirt’s vibrations Julia Binswanger
November 22, 2023

Chicago’s Lyric Opera is aiming to make its performances more accessible via the SoundShirt, a garment that vibrates to match the music.

In October, the Lyric became the first opera company to offer the shirts to audience members who are deaf or hard of hearing. The device comes from a London-based wearable tech brand called CuteCircuit. Each shirt costs about $1,900, but interested guests can reserve one for special performances at $20 a ticket, according to Axios’ Carrie Shepherd.

Touchscreen Card Devices May Prevent Blind Customers Paying

Published Nov. 05, 2023
By Drew Hyndman
BBC Access All

Blind customers are being left “frustrated” and “embarrassed” by inaccessible payment devices.

Some shops have buttonless touchscreen card readers, meaning you need sight to tap in your PIN.

They are increasingly popular because they are cheap and the screen can be used to advertise items at checkout.

Technical solutions exist for many machines and businesses could find themselves in court if they do not have them enabled.

Many blind people told the BBC’s Access All podcast they have had to tell their PIN to strangers so they can have it typed in for them, or be forced to leave their unpurchased items behind because they’re unable to pay.

Binghamton Computer Scientists Program Robotic Seeing-Eye Dog to Guide the Visually Impaired

Computer Science faculty and students train robot to respond to tugs on leash By Stephen Folkerts ’24
OCTOBER 27, 2023

Last year, the Computer Science Department at the Thomas J. Watson College of Engineering and Applied Science went trick-or-treating with a quadruped robotic dog. This year, they are using the robot for something that Assistant Professor Shiqi Zhang calls “much more important” than handing out candy, as fun as that can be.

Zhang and PhD students David DeFazio and Eisuke Hirota have been working on a robotic seeing-eye dog to increase accessibility for visually impaired people. They presented a demonstration in which the robot dog led a person around a lab hallway, confidently and carefully responding to directive input.

CRTC Urged to Mandate Better Supports for Deaf Canadians During Phone Service Outages

By Sammy Hudes, The Canadian Press
Posted October 29, 2023

When a major telecommunications outage left more than 12 million users without wireless service in July 2022, the disruption was far more dire for the many Canadians dependent on accessibility apps.

That day, Rogers Communications Inc. customers spent hours unable to use their mobile devices for calling, texting or browsing the web unless they were able to find a Wi-Fi connection.

But for those like Kimberly Wood, who is Deaf, it meant any form of communication was practically impossible.

That included finding out about the outage at all.

Insider Q&A: AbleGamers Founder Mark Barlet on the Importance of Making Gaming Accessible

By Barbara Ortutay, The Associated Press
Posted Oct 23, 2023

Mark Barlet founded AbleGamers in 2004. It’s a nonprofit that works to combat social isolation among people with disabilities using “the power of video games.” Most recently, his organization worked with Sony to help create its new Access controller for the PlayStation, designed to make it easier for people with disabilities to play.

Question: When did you begin consulting for Sony on this controller?

Answer: We’ve had a relationship with Sony for other projects for a while. Sony has been on the forefront on the software side of creating accessible experiences. But about five years ago, they reached out to us and said, we have an idea. Can we talk to you about what this idea is?

Walmart Class Action Alleges Website Not Equally Accessible to Blind, Visually Impaired Consumers

Abraham Jewett | September 7, 2023

Walmart has failed to design its website in a way that would make it fully accessible to and independently usable by individuals who are blind or visually impaired, a new class action lawsuit alleges.

Plaintiff Ali Abdulhadi claims Walmart’s website contains access barriers to screen-reading software used by individuals who are blind or visually impaired to browse internet websites.

Abdulhadi, a legally blind man, argues Walmart is denying full and equal access of its website to individuals who are blind or visually impaired, in what he claims is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Feds Propose Rules For Web Accessibility

by Shaun Heasley | July 26, 2023

The U.S. Department of Justice is proposing first-ever rules to ensure that websites and mobile apps are accessible to people with disabilities.

Officials with the federal agency said this week that they sent a notice of proposed rulemaking under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act to the Federal Register.

The regulations are designed to improve accessibility of web and mobile applications run by state and local governments and other public entities, the Justice Department said.

He Tried to Talk to Bell. Now This Hard-of-Hearing Man is Living with His Mother, His Confidence Gutted

Challenges communicating with Bell led Adam King-Duke to despair about living independently Jessica Singer, CBC News
Posted: Jul 19, 2023

Living alone provided Adam King-Duke with a sense of newfound independence and confidence.

The Newfoundland man, who’s hard of hearing, left his mother’s house several years ago, striking out by himself like any young adult.

But earlier this year, King-Duke says he suddenly lost access to his television and internet services. He tried fixing the problem on his own to no avail, and assumed it could be solved through a simple conversation with his provider, Bell Aliant.

Montreal Stand-Up Making Comedy Inclusive for Those With Hearing Loss

Lauren Fernandez
Published July 16, 2023

Abby Stonehouse may not take herself too seriously but her cause is no joke.

“When I started doing standup comedy I realized the arts is so inaccessible to so many people. With my work with Hear Quebec my passion for accessibility grew,” she said.

The comedian was diagnosed with hearing loss eight years ago. Fast forward to 2019, and Abby was headlining the city’s first hearing-accessible comedy show, with an ASL interpreter and closed captioning.

Hear Quebec, the only non-profit organization serving Montreal’s English-speaking community with hearing loss, teamed up with Abby to help the organization make stand-up comedy and other performances, more inclusive.

Rishi Sunak Alt Text Tweet Criticised for Misusing Accessibility Feature

Published May 19, 2023

Rishi Sunak is in Japan at the G7 summit – but a tweet from his official account has caused a social media storm closer to home By Jordan Kenny
Newsbeat politics reporter

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has been criticised for misusing alt text on social media – weeks after big brands were called out for doing it.

His official Twitter account posted a four-picture photo grid showing cabinet members having a meeting.

The alt text fields – which are supposed to describe what’s in the images for blind users – simply read: “We’re growing the economy”.