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Accessibility Is Not Optional

As COVID-19 vaccine distribution accelerates across the country, federal and state officials have received simple orders from the Biden Administration: “Protect those most at risk and advance equity.”

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Accessibility news archive

Here's what happened in the accessibility world from April 18–24, 2021

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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.

Workers with disabilities hit hard

April 24, 2021, Concord Monitor: The pandemic continues to eat away at the workforce, with unemployment reaching 4% in December — up from 2.6% the previous year. But a segment of the workforce — those with disabilities — is being hit even harder. Workers with disabilities experienced an unemployment rate of 11% during the fourth quarter of 2020.

Ending the isolation of hearing loss

April 23, 2021, The Seattle Times: Imagine if the isolation and social distancing endured during the Covid-19 pandemic never ended. Imagine you had to always worry about going to the grocery store or doctor’s office; that communicating with people was exhausting; and that every day, it felt easier to just stay home. This is a glimpse into what life is like for many people with hearing loss.

“Inclusive Making” course focuses on disabled users in technology maker spaces

April 23, 2021, The Daily Northwestern: When McCormick Prof. Marcelo Worsley started teaching “Inclusive Making” in 2017, he wanted to increase technology access to the disability community. LRN SCI 309 educates students on the historical exclusivity of creative design spaces and challenges them to construct final projects that facilitate greater access. Worsley said his past interactions with maker communities that excluded people with disabilities inspired him to create the course.

Five ways to improve web image and video accessibility for all

April 23, 2021, ITProPortal: We live and work in an increasingly visual economy that relies on images and video to communicate complex information fast. From the humble emoticon to 4K Ultra HD video, brands and their customers are using visual imagery to attract, share, build communities, form relationships, persuade, sell and entertain.

Youth with cognitive disabilities have potential to pursue a career in STEM, shows study

April 22, 2021, News-Medical.Net: A new Portland State study challenges the idea that youth with cognitive disabilities are unable or lack potential to pursue a career in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Coronavirus is not a 'get-out-of-jail card' for ADA compliance, EEOC commish says

April 22, 2021, HR Dive: The coronavirus pandemic does not absolve employers of their Americans with Disabilities Act responsibilities, a U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission official told attendees at an April 8 American Bar Association conference.

Making Geology Accessible for Blind Students

April 22, 2021, Inside Higher Ed: When Sydney Clark, who is blind, enrolled in a geosciences class at the University of Kentucky in 2017, her professor realized the course was stacked with accessibility barriers.

The Current State of ADA Digital Enforcement

April 22, 2021, ABA Banking Journal: Over the past few years, a new risk and compliance concern has arisen in the banking industry: digital accessibility. Digital accessibility is the usability of digital systems—typically websites and mobile apps—for people with disabilities. Examples can include someone who is blind and uses screen reading software or someone with Parkinson’s who uses voice control software instead of a mouse or touchpad.

What Being Vaccinated Means To Me As A Disabled Person

April 22, 2021, The Davidsonian: I haven’t been to a grocery store in over a year. And for some reason, now that I’ve received my second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, going to one is something I’m looking forward to most. Currently, I’m making a list of all the things I’ve missed out on that I want to do once I reach full immunity. After not going anywhere for over a year, activities so simple and even mundane seem so exciting to me now. A trip to Harris Teeter? The much-loved grocery store I’ve never gotten to go to because of the pandemic? But of course!

Feds amplify funding for accessibility upgrades

April 21, 2021, REMI Network: A $100-million injection to Canada’s Enabling Accessibility Fund will significantly amplify funding to support universal navigability of the built environment. The newly released federal government promises an extra $50 million in each of the next two fiscal years, to be added to the annual budget of $20.65 million allocated in the 2017-18 budget.

Guidance for manufacturing and procuring crutches for elderly and disabled people

April 21, 2021, AT Today: Following the publication of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) important global assistive technology guide, AT Today has broken down the key information about the functional and performance requirements for crutches.

Dear Netflix, Adapt These Books with Disabled People in Lead Roles

April 21, 2021, Book Riot: Disability is a normal part of the human experience. But you’d never know it from watching Netflix. The Netflix inclusion report is out, and to no one’s surprise, the disability representation statistics are dismal. The report found that “Overall, 2.1% of all speaking characters were shown with a disability.” Only 2% despite the fact that, according to the U.S. Census, 27.2% of people in the United States have a disability. Only 5.3% of film or series leads were shown as having any form of disability. This lack of representation is why millions of us who identify as disabled do not see anyone like us on screen.

What is ableism?

April 21, 2021, Today: Ableism is premised on the belief that people with disabilities fundamentally need “fixing,” when they are no less valuable than nondisabled people.

Congress can help Americans living with disabilities by passing the ABLE Age Adjustment Act

April 20, 2021, The Hill: The coronavirus pandemic has underscored the importance of financial stability, especially amongst the disability community, where unemployment reached a 7-year high in 2020. For the estimated 8 million eligible Americans, ABLE accounts have provided an opportunity for financial stability during a tumultuous time. Now, Congress has the chance to expand this lifechanging program to help millions of additional Americans with disabilities save – and the opportunity is more urgent than ever.

Blind and nonverbal, local contestant in Miss Amazing pageant uses music to express her feelings

April 20, 2021, WTKR: COVID-19 has forced changes to events including the Miss Amazing contest, a program for girls and women with disabilities.

Rule change sought for parents of disabled kids

April 20, 2021, East Valley Tribune: Two Valley mothers have started a push to permanently extend a pandemic-era rule that lets Arizona parents become paid direct care workers for their own children with disabilities. The Arizona Department of Economic Security Division of Developmental Disabilities put the temporary policy in place April 8, 2020, a release on their website said.

My Kids Will Probably Be Disabled — And I’m OK with That

April 19, 2021, Healthline: Though I was the first person to be officially diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome in my family, you can track the lineage through photos, through body horror stories around campfires.

Companies Can Be Sued for Poor Website Accessibility

April 19, 2021, Building Indiana: Did you know that your company can be sued for having poor accessibility on your website? Much like the rules that govern accessibility in public facilities, the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) also contains rules that pertain to public websites. Over the last few years, lawsuits for website ADA violations have been on the rise and carry the potential to bankrupt companies.

Oscars filmmakers hail disability progress

April 19, 2021, Global Times–CN: This time round, the Oscars will feature a best picture contender about a drummer with hearing loss, a nominated documentary exploring a hippie camp for disabled youths, and a nod for the first film ever to star a deafblind actor.

Disabled people ‘ignored’ in ‘inaccessible’ of lockdown easing

April 18, 2021, The London Economic: People with disabilities have described “significant problems” navigating the streets after cafes and restaurants reopened for outdoor customers. New measures came into force in England last Monday as part of the easing of lockdown, meaning hospitality venues can now serve customers outdoors.

Designers encourage amplifying marginalized voices for greater accessibility

April 18, 2021, The Stanford Daily: Design trailblazers encouraged students to bring marginalized voices into the design process at the “Designing for Inclusion” conference hosted by Stanford Womxn in Design (SWID) on Friday and Saturday.