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Registries of disabled people debated in police reform talks

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Here's what happened in the accessibility world from February 14–20, 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.

'Right thing to do': Ridgefield chips away at ADA compliance to increase accessibility

February 20, 2021, News-Times: The town’s Commission for the Disabled foresees making the town fully compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) a years-long process but the town is chipping away at it year by year.

Deaf man's lawsuit against Westland police alleges Americans with Disabilities Act violation

February 19, 2021, Westland is dealing with another lawsuit alleging poor police conduct. Bernard Culver, a deaf man, was in a 2018 car wreck that he details in a complaint filed last week in U.S. District Court. He is demanding a jury trial and damages because, no matter how many times he pointed at a printed “I Am Deaf or Hard of Hearing” card, police apparently failed to call for a sign language interpreter or other aids and services so he could tell his side of the story, the lawsuit states.

Canada is plunging toward a human rights disaster for disabled people

February 19, 2021, The Washington Post: Roger Foley wants a choice. Foley has cerebellar ataxia, a degenerative neurological condition that significantly limits the mobility of his arms and legs and makes it impossible for him to live independently without caregiver support. But — Foley alleges — his government assigned agency home care workers neglected and abused him. Over a four-day period, they gave him rotten food, denied him access to his medicine and banged his debilitated body into the walls. He had to be immediately admitted to the hospital where he now resides. Though his disease limits his life expectancy, he had hoped to organize a self-directed care team sufficient for him to return home. But the government-contracted nonprofit corporation responsible for his home care argued that his particular disability rendered him ineligible for the funding necessary to do so. The hospital, meanwhile, threatened to forcibly discharge him back home under the care of agency staff that both Foley and his treating physicians knew could not meet his needs. When he refused this option, a hospital staff member offered him two choices: either pay $1,800 a day to remain in the facility or avail himself of what Foley saw as an attack on his life.

Start-ups seek to breathe new life into stagnant wheelchair industry

February 19, 2021, The Washington Post: For years, cars have gotten smarter and seemingly safer as companies loaded them up with sensors, cameras and connectivity. Scooters and bikes soon followed. But what about wheelchairs? Start-ups are vying to enhance the lives of those living with mobility challenges by adding artificial intelligence to wheelchairs. The thought is that computer vision and intelligent braking tools can make the devices safer and easier to operate. A few firms are gaining traction, so wheelchairs of the future may be able to do more than move people from one place to another.

Online Learning Era Neglects Blind Students' Needs

February 19, 2021, Inside Higher Ed: The shift to remote learning has been extremely challenging for blind students, with some still facing unresolved accessibility issues. The National Federation of the Blind and other organizations have warned for months that colleges are failing to provide blind students with the timely accommodations and support to which they are legally entitled.

Virtual Conferences Aren't as Accessible as You Might Think

February 18, 2021, Scientific American: Last spring, national scientific organizations began holding conferences online in response to the coronavirus pandemic and the trend has continued into 2021. For example, the American Physical Society annual meeting was the first major physics conference to be virtual last year, and will still be held in cyberspace this coming April. In hindsight, such changes were inevitable. The uncontrolled spread of COVID-19 in the U.S. made attending large public gatherings far too risky. And who knows when the pandemic will end? When the alternative is postponement, the decision to go remote seems like a far better alternative.

Despite High Risk, Access To COVID-19 Vaccines Uneven For Those With IDD

February 18, 2021, Disability Scoop: People with developmental disabilities are at significantly greater risk of dying from COVID-19, but whether or not individuals have access to vaccines is coming down to which state — or even which county — they live in.

For Disabled People, Inclusive Transportation Is About Much More Than Lifts And Ramps

February 17, 2021, Forbes: Though physical access barriers are important in relation to street and public transport infrastructure, they are merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the multitude of challenges disabled people face in getting around.

Moovit releases real-time crowding, wheelchair accessible feature for its app

February 17, 2021, Mass Transit: Maintaining social distance can help transit riders feel safe and Moovit is incorporating real-time crowding information into its app, which is used by more than 65 transit agencies across the United States, Canada, Australia, Italy and Singapore. The app now displays Available Seats, Standing Room Only or Crowded in the Itinerary, Live Directions, Stations, Line Details and Favorite Lines screens.

Microsoft starts new program to help make more accessible games

February 16, 2021, The Verge: Microsoft is expanding its accessibility efforts with a new program for evaluating Xbox and PC games. Today, its gaming accessibility team announced that developers can send their games to be evaluated for accessibility and tested by players with disabilities. The program was announced alongside updates to the Xbox Accessibility Guidelines that were released in early 2020.

Can an Ohio Museum Become the Most Accessible Institution in the U.S.?

February 16, 2021, ARTnews: In 2018, staffers at the Toledo Museum of Art in Ohio prepared for the arrival of Fireflies on the Water, one of Yayoi Kusama’s famed “Infinity Rooms,” which was en route from the Whitney Museum in New York. The exhibition was guaranteed to be a blockbuster, but one aspect of the piece was arousing concerns for curators at the museum: the ramps and platforms inside the room, which immerse viewers in a kaleidoscopic environment of colored lights and polka dots, were too narrow to meet ADA standards for wheelchair accessibility. The ramps can’t be modified, as the rooms come with detailed instructions from Kusama on assembly and presentation. What was the museum to do?

4 reasons why hiring disabled workers is good for business

February 16, 2021, Fast Company: Everyone has been struck by the pandemic, but the individuals who typically fail to be taken into account in society and business have felt some of the harshest blowback of all. Diverse employees have been facing greater challenges, work-related stress, and fear for their professional futures more than non-diverse workers. A million U.S. workers with disabilities lost their jobs between March and August last year, and by the end of 2020, the unemployment rate for the community reached 12.3%—nearly double the 6.2% national average. We need to be springing into action now to make sure the most vulnerable groups in society aren’t excluded from tomorrow’s workforce.

Proposed regulations under the Accessible Canada Act, a major step towards a barrier-free Canada

February 15, 2021, Yahoo! Finance: The Government of Canada is delivering on its commitment to create a barrier-free Canada with the implementation of the Accessible Canada Act, which will help remove barriers, and increase access and opportunities for persons with disabilities.

4 tech innovations that support people with disabilities working from home

February 15, 2021, World Economic Forum: For the 1.3 billion people across the world who live with some form of disability, remote working can be particularly tough. But technology is helping to overcome the barriers that risk excluding some people from the pandemic-era world of work.

Vermont brewery breaks barriers in the workplace for individuals with disabilities

February 15, 2021, WTEN-TV: A Vermont Brewery is receiving praise, but not for its beer. The Alchemist Brewery in Stowe is breaking barriers in the workplace for individuals with disabilities. The Vermont Governor’s Committee on the Employment of People with Disabilities gave an award on Wednesday to The Alchemist for reflecting the Spirit of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Facebook is rejecting ads for stylish clothing made for people with disabilities

February 14, 2021, The Seattle Times: Earlier this year, Mighty Well, an adaptive clothing company that makes fashionable gear for people with disabilities, did something many newish brands do: It tried to place an ad for one of its most popular products on Facebook.