Category Archives: society

Calls for a Technology Bill of Rights for People with Disabilities in the US

The National Council on Disability (NCD) in the United States has made a call to establish a ‘Technology Bill of Rights for People with Disabilities’ as part of a series of recommendations to the US Federal Government for making technology more accessible to people with a sensory, cognitive, or mobility disability.

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Calls for a Technology Bill of Rights for People with Disabilities in the US

Emerging tech aims to improve life for handicapped

Emerging technology is giving new hope for the handicapped, and harnessing brainwaves for the physically disabled and helping the visually impaired with “artificial vision” are just the start.

Many systems showcased at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas are aimed at improving quality of life for people with disabilities.

BrainRobotics, a Massachusetts-based startup, showed its prosthesis that can be controlled by residual muscle strength of an amputee with better efficiency than similar devices, according to developers.

Over time the group wants to use technology from its sister company BrainCo to harness brain waves for improved function. BrainCo already markets a headband which helps identify patterns of brain waves to help improve focus and treat children with learning disabilities.

Curated by (Lifekludger)
Read full article at Source: Emerging tech aims to improve life for handicapped

Why we need to make web accessibility a priority

The world has never been more socially aware than it is today; in recent years the world and our society has taken important steps to becoming a more accepting and inclusive one. However, there is still aspects of day to day life that are living in the past and one of them is the Web. While this may seem disputable due to the fact that new technology puts the Web in the driving seat of development, it has limited accessibility which is making it outdated. The Web has benefitted a large majority but certainly not everyone – and not for a lack of trying.

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Why do we need it?

The guides successfully highlighted the need for websites to improve their design and function in order to become more accessible, preventing the exclusion of people with disabilities. Improving accessibility can be something as basic as decluttering your layout, which may seem simple but the process behind requires a lot of effort; deciding what gets priority and how to relay the same amount of information through a lot less. The result not only helps people with disabilities to navigate your site a lot better but also looks better, helping your business to appeal to a wider audience.

Curated by (Lifekludger)
Read full article at Source: Why we need to make web accessibility a priority – boxChilli Digital Marketing Hampshire

The Section 508 Refresh is Here! 

We’re excited to announce that the U.S. Access Board has published its long-awaited update(link is external) to the federal regulations covering the accessibility of information and communications technology (Section 508) and telecommunications products and services (Section 255).

What are Section 508 and Section 255?

Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 applies to federal government agencies and the technology providers that sell to them. It requires that all information and communications technology (ICT) the federal government develops, procures, maintains, and uses be accessible to people with disabilities. This ensures that (1) Federal employees with disabilities have comparable access to, and use of, information and data relative to other federal workers, and (2) members of the public with disabilities receive comparable access to publicly-available information and services.

Section 508 applies to a wide range of technology products, including computer hardware and software, websites, video/multimedia products, phone systems, and copiers.

Section 255 of the Communications Act applies to telecommunications equipment manufacturers and service providers. It requires that telecommunications equipment and services be accessible to, and usable by, individuals with disabilities.

Why did the Access Board update these rules?

The Access Board updated and reorganized the Section 508 standards and Section 255 guidelines in response to market trends and innovations. Section 508 was last updated in 2000, and technology has evolved significantly since then. For example, in some cases different technological systems are now capable of performing similar tasks.

PEAT and other technology and disability experts anticipate that the updated rules will generate significant benefits for individuals with disabilities, including:

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Read full article at Source: The Section 508 Refresh is Here! | Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology (PEAT)

Meet the Blind Man Who Convinced Google Its Self-Driving Car Is Finally Ready

Steve Mahan’s solo ride showed it’s time to take the car to market.

Now 63 and having lost his sight, Mahan has become one of those capsule-bound explorers. In October 2015, he became the first member of the public to ride in Google’s self-driving pod-like prototype, alone and on public roads. No steering wheel, no pedals, no human on board to step in should something go wrong.

Curated by (Lifekludger)
Read full article at Source: Meet the Blind Man Who Convinced Google Its Self-Driving Car Is Finally Ready

Building Accessibility Culture by David Peter | Model View Culture

 

The world we live in perpetuates many kinds of ableism all the time. Fixing (“changing”) the world doesn’t rest on a single axis, or even three, but we can reduce injustice by making our websites and workplaces accessible for people with disabilities.

Building Accessible Websites and Products

The Internet is often touted as a neutral platform where everyone is equal. But if you want people with disabilities to use your website, people with disabilities must be able to access it. The United Nations, in a study of one-hundred websites, found only three websites met the international standard for accessibility. Out of a hundred, only three. This study is meant to be indicative, not exhaustive — and it indicates the Internet is not as neutral as we like to believe.

For a long time, I loved tech: from when I had my first personal computer, with a blazing fast 56k modem that dialed a noise I couldn’t hear but my mother could. I couldn’t hear the dial, but I didn’t need ears to post on forums, chat on AIM, play video games. But after years, YouTube became mainstream — without captions on thousands of hours of videos. One of my favorite games has voice-acting in all its cutscenes — without accompanying text. Podcasts these days have exploded in popularity — the ones I want most come without transcripts. I wish I were as interested in tech as before, but these small frustrations have built up, over years, as the world has continued ignoring me as part of its audience.

If you are a tech company committed to diversity, what does your diversity mean? Is it only for people who work for your company, or does it include who uses your website? If your website is for creative people, what kind of creatives does the website enable? Are they mostly white, middle-class people? The culture of the community your website fosters is just as important as the internal company culture. Heck, some users might even become your employees!

Our development teams must learn how to make websites more accessible. In my experience, people seem to generally agree that accessibility is important, but no one takes the plunge. That ends up being just lip-service, and is the same thing as not valuing accessibility.

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Read full article at Source: Building Accessibility Culture by David Peter | Model View Culture

Accessibility advocates tweet their barriers | Toronto Star

Disability advocates are hoping social-media campaigns will publicly shame organizations into taking action on accessibility.

Tim Rose made headlines this month when he posted on Facebook about his harrowing back-and-forth with Air Canada, who refused to let him take a direct flight from Toronto to Cleveland because they said his wheelchair was too big to fit in the plane.

Rose started tweeting with the hashtag #wheelchairsarentluggage, in response to an Air Canada employee comparing his wheelchair to an oversized bag.

The hashtag has racked up hundreds of tags, including some by David Lepofsky, the chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) Alliance.

Lepofsky started his own campaign a few months ago called #AODAfail. It asks Ontarians to point out narrow wheelchair ramps (or non-existent ones), uneven sidewalks and signs low in colour contrast — anything that creates obstacles for people with disabilities.

Lepofsky, who is blind, said he relies on traffic sounds to navigate the city as a pedestrian. He’s comfortable walking with a cane on the street, but wayfinding in some newer buildings is another story.

Navigating the wide, curved atrium at the Women’s College Hospital is like wading through the Atlantic Ocean, he said.

Before entering the atrium, there’s the matter of getting through the front doors. The hospital’s front entrance has poles on either side of the doors with sensors, so that when a guest waves a hand in front of the sensor, the door opens — dissimilar to most hospital doors, which open automatically.

The washrooms nearest the front entrance of the hospital have signs written in Braille, but Lepofsky points out the Braille only indicates room numbers — not whether the washrooms are meant for men, women or families.

“It’s hard to be that bad. It’s one thing not getting better, but it’s another thing making (accessibility) substantially worse,” Lepofsky said.

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Read full article at Source: Accessibility advocates tweet their barriers | Toronto Star

The inaccessible web: how we got into this mess

Compared to other public spaces, the internet provides us with choices for how we consume and interact. We can use various devices, browsers and operating systems; we can change the size and colour of text; we can navigate with a mouse, keyboard, finger or mouthpiece; or we can use a screen reader to convert words to sounds.

Whatever your needs or preferences, there’s almost certainly a way to access the web.

Theoretically.In reality, the web is a mess.

These accessibility options tend to be forgotten or stripped away, even though accessible websites and apps can absolutely still be beautiful, innovative and user-friendly.

This is more than an inconvenience. This is a human rights issue. Disabled people need these options in order to access the web.

Here are my thoughts on how we got into this mess, and what we can do.

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Read full article at Source: The inaccessible web: how we got into this mess

NY Slant – Uber and Accessibility

Amid Uber’s rapid unregulated expansion, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and nine other urban mayors have wisely chosen to develop a global rulebook to confront economic and social challenges of the sharing economy. This new coalition has a prime opportunity to finally end Uber’s discrimination against wheelchair users in New York and across the world.

Uber is an example of how the sharing economy has not yet evolved to adequately serve the disability community. While the $60 billion company has just begun to offer accessible vehicles in London, wheelchair users in hundreds of other cities are denied service every day. Twenty-six years after the Americans with Disabilities Act became federal law, Uber’s policies are a sad throwback to a time when those civil rights were simply ignored.

Uber has operated in New York City since 2011 and now has more than 30,000 vehicles on the road, but none are wheelchair-accessible. Even as the city’s taxi industry continues to advance toward 50 percent accessibility by 2020, city officials have not held Uber and other ridesharing apps to the same moral standard. And when the company tried – and failed – to expand statewide, it refused to include accessibility in its so-called commitment to upstate residents.

Uber has avoided discussions of an accessibility mandate at all costs – including more than $1 million spent on lobbying New York officials over the past year and a half. Part of the problem is UberWAV, which, the company claims, is a fair substitute for making its own cars accessible. In reality, it is an offensive response that treats the disability community with the same “separate but equal” attitude that once plagued America’s attitude toward race.

Instead of providing wheelchair users with accessible Uber cars, UberWAV merely attempts to connect them with accessible yellow or green taxis – the same taxis the company is trying to put out of business. The only real benefit of UberWAV is for Uber itself, which rakes in higher corporate profits by leaving the full cost of accessibility to the taxi industry.

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Read full article at Source: NY Slant