Hot Topic That Week

'It’s a form of violence': Disabled Californians outraged over vaccine de-prioritization

Like many Californians, 47-year-old Ntombi Peters has watched the state’s plodding vaccine rollout with equal parts anticipation and dread. For months, the...

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Here's what happened in the accessibility world from January 31– February 6, 2021

Be sure to check Accessibility News Briefly for the latest news and updates — and don't forget to subscribe to get weekly recaps right to your inbox. It's the easiest way to stay informed.

As a reminder, we provide these news briefs for your information and convenience, and we don't endorse or recommend any of these publications or products.

What I’ve learned about accessibility while travelling

February 6, 2021, euronews: For many families and individuals, travel - be it abroad or a staycation - follows a very typical routine. From booking and packing to flying, everything is planned and mostly predictable, something which can be taken for granted. However, for my family, and many other families like us, travel can be stressful to plan and execute. Disabilities come in many forms and manifest in many different ways, so it’s difficult to fully encompass all aspects of a single condition when planning travel, particularly for invisible disabilities. Although my mum now travels in a wheelchair, and is visibly disabled, in the years before her mobility worsened, articulating her needs and access requirements presented many challenges.

OK School for the Deaf offers adaptive equipment for Oklahomans with hearing or speech communication needs

February 6, 2021, The Ada News: Telephone and assistive equipment is available for eligible Oklahomans who are deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind and those with speech communication needs through the Oklahoma School for the Deaf’s Equipment Distribution Program.

Old Dominion Violated Disability Law, DOJ Finds

February 5, 2021, Inside Higher Ed: The United States Department of Justice and Old Dominion University settled a disability discrimination complaint brought by a graduate student who was retaliated against for requesting accommodations, according to a press release published by the department Wednesday. The university will pay the student $40,000 in damages, the release said.

Accessibility Review of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

February 5, 2021, DIS: Wondering if a galaxy far, far away is accessible to visitors with disabilities? Worry not: accessible it is. (Guilty! I am a big Yoda fan!) During our last two trips to Disney World, my husband and I visited Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney's Hollywood Studios to check out this new, faraway land. Not only did we enjoy our visits, but we had the opportunity to experience the land with full wheelchair accessibility.

Sixth Circuit Extends Ban of Contractually Shortened Limitations Periods to ADA and ADEA Claims

February 4, 2021, The National Law Review: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, the appellate court responsible for the federal district courts of Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee, recently made clear that claims asserted under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) cannot be subject to contractually shortened limitation periods. In Thompson v. Fresh Products, LLC, No. 20-3060 (January 15, 2021), the Sixth Circuit held that the statute of limitations for claims arising under the ADA and ADEA is a substantive right that cannot be waived by agreement of the parties. This decision was an extension of the Sixth Circuit’s 2019 decision in Logan v. MGM Grand Detroit Casino, which held that the statute of limitations for claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 could not be shortened by agreement of the parties.

The need for accessibility compliance as code

February 4, 2021, GCN: Much of the conversation about government technology compliance is in an either/or context: addressing either accessibility or security requirements. The two tend to be separate in their communities of practice and also in their assessment and implementation.

Meet the MTA’s first ever Chief Accessibility Officer

February 3, 2021, New York Post: The city’s former transportation accessibility czar starts as the MTA’s first ever Chief Accessibility Officer on Thursday after a brief stint in the private sector where he landed in hot water with the city’s Conflicts of Interest Board.

Evinced, a Web Accessibility Startup, Raises $17 Million

February 3, 2021, The Wall Street Journal: Evinced Inc., a startup that aims to help companies make their websites and software accessible to people with disabilities, has raised $17 million in Series A funding.

Call to prioritise disabled people in sport and leisure as new research reveals huge pandemic impact

February 3, 2021, London Post–UK: Activity Alliance is urging decision makers in sport and leisure to prioritise disabled people as they strive to recover from the pandemic. The leading voice for disabled people in sport and activity is seriously concerned about the potential long-term damage on the nation’s least active. The call comes on the day the national charity releases their latest Annual Disability and Activity Survey. The new research shows twice as many disabled people felt that coronavirus greatly reduced their ability to do sport or physical activity compared to non-disabled people.

Travel company says it's not responsible for Peabody man's botched vacation

February 3, 2021, The Salem News: A judge is considering whether an online travel agency should be liable for a botched vacation trip for a Peabody man who uses a wheelchair.

Up to £200k of funding available for assistive tech manufacturers

February 2, 2021, THIIS–UK: The Global Disability Innovation (GDI) Hub is launching the Assistive Technology Impact Fund (ATIF) Global Call, which looks to make assistive technology innovations more readily available in the African market. Assistive technology innovators can apply for up to £200k of funding under the ATIF to drastically improve the lives of disabled people in Africa.

I’m a Disabled Parent. It Took a Pandemic to Let Me Join the P.T.A.

February 2, 2021, The New York Times: In a year of intense isolation, I’ve never felt more connection to my children’s school.

Nike Introduces Completely Hands-Free Sneaker

February 1, 2021, Yahoo! Finance: Ready, set, go — that’s the mantra for Nike’s newest innovation: Its first completely hands-free sneaker. Called Nike Go FlyEase, the shoe features a bi-staple hinge to keep it open — or in the ready position — when waiting to be used. Once the foot is inserted and the wearer steps down, the hinge releases and the shoe snaps shut to fit securely. It also features a flexible tensioner around the outside made from material used on the bottom of shoes for durability.

Doctors share views on patients with disability

February 1, 2021, The Harvard Gazette: More than 80 percent of U.S. physicians reported that people with significant disabilities have worse quality of life than nondisabled people, an attitude that may contribute to health care disparities among people with disability, according to recent research published in the February issue of Health Affairs.

Remote Bar Exams Pose New Learning Disability Challenges

February 1, 2021, Law360: The COVID-19 pandemic has raised new questions for disabled individuals taking standardized tests such as the bar exam, and their advocates.

Early commitment to accessibility for disabled Americans has advocates hopeful for Biden's tenure

February 1, 2021, USA Today: The day President Joe Biden was sworn into office, the nation saw fire captain Andrea Hall, the child of a deaf parent, recite the Pledge of Allegiance — spoken in English and signed.

Twelve Indiana Healthcare Providers Receive Grants to Improve Accessibility for People with Disabilities

February 1, 2021, Kokomo Perspective: MHS, in partnership with the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL), has awarded 12 healthcare providers across Indiana with grants to make their facilities more accessible to people with disabilities. The awardees applied for grants which are part of the health plan's Provider Accessibility Initiative (PAI), with the full list of grantees including...

People with disabilities neglected in Budget: Disability rights NGOs

February 1, 2021, Business Insider–IN: Some disability rights NGOs have expressed disappointment over differently-abled people being allegedly "neglected" in the 2021-22 Budget unveiled on Monday.

NBCUniversal Prioritizes Disability Representation and Pledges to Audition Disabled Actors

January 31, 2021, Harper's BAZAAR: NBCUniversal has committed to auditioning disabled actors for each of the studio's future productions, in an attempt to level the playing field when it comes to disability representation onscreen.