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New Laws Let Americans With Disabilities Vote Online. They’ve Also Resurrected The Debate About Voting Access vs. Election Security.

By Kaleigh Rogers

Since the dawn of the internet, someone has inevitably raised this question every election cycle: Why can’t we vote online? (The question was particularly apt in 2020, when states had to grapple with how to run an election during a pandemic.) And every time, election security experts dutifully answer that there is currently no technological way to guarantee a secure online ballot.

Largest U.S. Blind Advocacy Group Bans Web Accessibility Overlay Giant AccessiBe

Gus Alexiou

The National Federation of the Blind, America’s most powerful civil rights and advocacy group for the visually impaired has launched a scathing attack on web accessibility overlay market leader accessiBe, accusing the company of engaging in “harmful” practices.

Israel-based accessiBe provides a web overlay solution that sits on top of web pages for the purposes of automatically scanning and reformatting them to ensure they are accessible and able to work with assistive solutions such as screen readers and keyboard navigation.

The company’s core proposition is that it can help a site achieve compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for as little as $49 per month through the deployment of an AI-based solution that involves injecting one line of code into a website’s backend.

Save-On-Foods Apologizes to B.C. Man After Accessibility Features Removed From Shopping App

By Anne Drewa
Global News
Posted May 27, 2021

Many people are relying on online shopping during the pandemic. A convenient and safe way to get groceries. For blind and visually impaired consumers it’s even more critical. Consumer Matters reporter Anne Drewa has more on one man’s struggle with a large grocery chain after its shopping app went through a major upgrade to handle the pandemic demand.

“I should be able to expect the same range of services as people who are sighted,” Richard Marion told Global News.

Marion, who is blind, says In January, Save-On-Foods upgraded its grocery shopping app. He says immediately after that upgrade the main screen of the app for the visually impaired became unusable.

What’s Wrong With Quick-Fix Products For Digital Accessibility?

Enterprise Tech

Let’s get straight to the point: There’s no quick fix for making your digital experiences accessible. That’s true even if your approach to accessibility is narrowly focused on being compliant with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and the laws in your region of the world.

Many companies these days are tempted by what are often referred to as “accessibility overlay” products that promise to get a company’s website compliant quickly รข sometimes in as little as 24 hours – without touching the underlying source code. And I understand why: Creating accessible experiences isn’t easy. But there are some important questions to ask yourself first.

KKR Makes $55 Million Investment in eSSENTIAL Accessibility

Leading Digital Accessibility Platform drives Greater Inclusion of People with Disabilities May 26, 2021

TORONTO & NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–KKR today announced a $55 million investment in eSSENTIAL Accessibility (“eA” or the “Company”), the pioneering provider of Accessibility-as-a-Service.

As the digital divide for people with disabilities expands and the number of companies facing Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-related litigation continues to skyrocket, eA’s digital accessibility platform addresses the growing demand for a comprehensive, sustainable solution.

Microsoft Takes Aim At The ‘Disability Divide’

by Shaun Heasley
May 5, 2021

Technology-giant Microsoft is promising big steps in the coming years to make its products and workplace even more accessible and inclusive to people with disabilities.

The company says that in the next five years it will roll out a host of accessibility improvements to products, boost disability hiring efforts and invest in programs to help increase graduation rates among college students with disabilities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields, among other efforts.

Smart Shoes Help the Visually Impaired

Maider GameroAAP
Mon, 17 May 2021

Smart shoes can tell visually impaired people if there are obstacles in their path.

Shoes with sensors embedded in them have been created to alert blind and visually impaired people to obstacles in their path.

Developed by Austria’s Tec-Innovation company in collaboration with the Graz University of Technology, the intelligent shoes can increase the safety of visually impaired and blind people in their everyday life.

The warning system includes an ultra-bright LED and two sensors placed at the front of each shoe.

The sensors detect obstacles and notify the wearer through vibration feedback in the shoe or sound warning signals via a smartphone.

Accessibility Advocates Sign Open Letter Urging People Not To Use AccesiBe and Other Overlay Products

Sarah Gooding, May 13, 2021

AccessiBe and other similar tools are coming under fire after more than 400 accessibility advocates and developers signed an open letter calling on the industry to unite against the use of accessibility overlay products.

These overlay “widgets” are technologies that apply third-party code to the front end in an attempt to automate repairs after sites launch without having accessibility baked in from the design phase.

UK Investigates Whether Apple Discriminates Against Disabled People With iPhone Upgrade Program

Hughes previously shared with 9to5Mac his views on what Apple gets right and wrong in its accessibility features for those unable to use their arms.

In the UK, Apple requires customers to physically visit an Apple Store in order to either enroll in the iPhone Upgrade Program, or to renew it. Hughes first raised the issue with Apple in 2019, and says that the company initially told him nothing could be done.

I am severely disabled with muscular dystrophy, a full-time wheelchair user, housebound a lot of the time, and unable to travel by car or public transport to my nearest Apple Store on Regent Street in central London.

Smartphone App Helps Blind People Stand in Socially Distanced Lines

Shane McGlaun – May 10, 2021

During the pandemic, everyone is expected to stay socially distanced, with at least six feet between them and the person in front of them. For those with normal vision, standing in line while remaining at a safe distance from the person in front of you isn’t a problem. However, for the blind or visually impaired, maintaining an appropriate distance can be a challenge.

A team of IBM researchers have created an AI-driven smartphone application called LineChaser to solve this problem.