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Web Accessibility Laws Set To Enter New Era As DOJ Gears Up For Spring Rulemaking

Gus Alexiou
I write about accessibility, inclusion and social justice.
Mar 24, 2023

This May the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division will kickstart a rulemaking procedure some 13 years in the making aimed at codifying technical standards to assist public entities in complying with obligations to make their websites accessible to individuals with disabilities.

The original rulemaking process began under the Obama administration back in 2010 but was then abandoned before being withdrawn in 2017. Within this legal vacuum, akin to not having building codes for accessibility in the physical world – inaccessible online public services and inconsistent judicial rulings on how the Americans with Disabilities Act should be applied to the internet have led to confusion and exclusion alike.

How the Oscars Embraced Accessibility and Inclusion With ASL Interpreters and More

By Jay Ruderman

One year after the landmark success for Best Picture winner “CODA” at the Academy Awards, the 2023 Oscars presented the latest opportunity for Hollywood to show the world where it stands on inclusion and diversity.

On Oscars night, through a combination of memorable moments and inclusive components of the ceremony, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences demonstrated its growing commitment to embracing inclusion and accessibility for all.

Disabilities and Edtech: How the Pandemic Sparked a Revolution

Students provided digital textbooks can use Kurzweil 3000, a disability solutions software, to download files and convert them to .mp3 audio files. Google and Microsoft provide similar services. By Alcino Donadel
March 2, 2023

When students and faculty were forced to migrate online during the pandemic, that included disabled students with learning impairments. Since then, students and faculty-and therefore, curricula-have changed the way they look at learning in higher education.

“I think the pandemic accelerated the trend that was there, and the trend that’s there is more and more training going online,” said Tim Springer from Level Access, an accessibility compliance service. “Even on-campus student experiences now are a mix of virtual learning and in-classroom experience.”

Senator Markey Calls on Elon Musk to Reinstate Twitter’s Accessibility Team

Amanda Silberling
Mon, 27 February 2023

After several rounds of layoffs, Twitter’s staff is down from about 7,500 employees to less than 2,000 — and one of the numerous cuts across the company eliminated the platform’s entire accessibility team last year.

In an open letter to Elon Musk, Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) called on the new Twitter owner to bring the accessibility team back.

“Not surprisingly, since you shut down Twitter’s Accessibility Team, disabled users have reported increased difficulty and frustration using Twitter,” Markey wrote.

CRTC Directs Wireless Providers to Engage With Disabled Canadians to Address Service Issues

Providers must file annual reports detailing these consultations – the first report is due June 1st
By Nida Zafar @nida_zafar
FEB 24, 2023

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has directed wireless service providers to address various concerns, and barriers Canadians with disabilities face through “regular consultations.”

Barriers include accessible plans, how they offer data, and how providers verify Canadians’ eligibility to access these plans. Providers are also responsible for filing reports, starting June 1st, detailing the outcomes of the consultations.

“The purpose is to assess whether accessible plans are offered and promoted in a way that fully meets their needs and if not, what changes are required to ensure barrier-free access to these plans,” the Commission’s analysis states.

From Blind Gamers to a Brand-New Superhero: How People With Disabilities are Effecting Change in Their Hobbies

For those with disabilities, hobbies can also be a lifeline to community Luke Wiliams, CBC Radio
Posted: Feb 20, 2023

For people with disabilities, hobbies aren’t just fun and games, says Chloe Atkins, a University of Toronto political scientist.

People with disabilities can get very isolated, says Atkins, who is the lead researcher for a project on employment and disability.

“It’s really important that these types of activities exist so that this is an avenue back to a social life. These are a way to share this knowledge and to actually demonstrate how flexible and adaptive you can be.”

Colour Blind Guests to the Van Gogh Museum to Experience Art in Colour with EnChroma Glasses

February 14, 2023

Today EnChroma announced that colour blind visitors to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam will be able to enjoy the colourful masterpieces of Vincent van Gogh in fuller colour. As part of the Van Gogh Museum’s mission to promote accessibility, EnChroma glasses for red-green colour blindness will be available for guests who suffer from Colour Vision Deficiency (CVD, or “colour blindness”) to borrow while touring the museum.

“As Vincent wrote in 1885, ‘Colour expresses something in itself. One can’t do without it; one must make use of it.’ We are very pleased that more visitors are able to experience the vibrant colours of the art of Van Gogh with the help of these glasses”

Disability Accessibility Should Not Be An Afterthought In 2023

Forbes EQ
HistoriconsBrand Contributor
Feb 14, 2023
Written by Rose Perry PhD, Co-Founder, Historicons

If you went online after the 2023 Super Bowl, chances are that you encountered the viral praise of the deaf American Sign Language (ASL) performer who made it possible for the deaf community to enjoy the halftime performance. (If not, check out the wonderful performance at the link below.) Audiences and news outlets alike applauded the stellar performance, which marked the first time a deaf woman performed at a Super Bowl halftime show. This was a groundbreaking moment for disability accessibility.

Or was it?

TransLink Testing App-Based Accessibility Tool for Individuals with Sight Loss

Kenneth Chan
Jan 9 2023

Metro Vancouver’s public transit authority is looking to further improve the accessibility and usability of the network for people with sight loss.

TransLink is set to test the new use of NaviLens, a smartphone app-based tool, for providing passengers with navigational audio and sensory cues to identify their bus stop and the exact point of pick-up. As well, the app provides real-time bus arrival times and service alerts and identifies relevant facilities at a location, such as elevators.

NaviLens is a proven accessibility tool used on other public transit systems in various capacities, such as in New York City, Liverpool, and Madrid.

Bell Faces Human Rights Complaint Over Allegations of Inaccessibility for Blind Customers

By Nicole Thompson The Canadian Press
Posted December 26, 2022

Bell Communications Inc. is facing a human rights complaint over allegations that it’s failing to provide full service to its blind customers.

The company’s set-top boxes don’t include the screen-reading technology that enables blind people to navigate through menus, use applications or discern what channel they’re on, Toronto lawyer David Lepofsky alleges in submissions to the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

In the initial submission filed in mid-2021, Lepofsky, who is blind, said he’s not able to access the television services he pays for on his TV without the help of a sighted person.