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Here's what's happening in accessibility news. We provide these news briefs for your information and convenience, and we don't endorse or recommend any of these publications or products. Check back for updates every weekday.

Most Recent List

New window: Montanans with disabilities gain freedom using assistive technology

February 7, 2023, KPAX News: MonTECH is a nonprofit organization that connects cutting-edge assistive technology and the Montanans who need it. Monday at the Missoula Public Library, MonTECH demonstrated the tech while cooking with Missoula chef Wisam Raheem. MonTECH program director Molly Kimmel said if someone is able to cook for themself, they have freedom. “Our goal is really to connect people with disabilities with assistive technology so they can be as independent as they want to be,” Kimmel said. “We have about 3000 items that are available for free to any Montanan with a disability for a 30-day loan, so they can try it before they buy it.” Assistive technology is an umbrella term for any device that helps give a person with a disability more autonomy.

New window: SKU View: Is your website ADA compliant?

February 7, 2023, Food Business News: “Thousands of companies are being sued each year because their websites are supposedly not compliant,” said David Stein, a partner with Stein & Nieporent LLP. “Once they are sued, it routinely costs them $10,000 or more to resolve the lawsuits. Anyone who operates a website must be cognizant of ADA requirements.” Mr. Stein has served as a resource for small and midsize companies who have been sued. An expensive settlement could crush a cash-strapped startup. Mr. Stein warned, “Ignorance is not a defense nor is ‘substantial compliance’ with the ADA.”

New window: 4 Resources To Make Your Website More Accessible

February 7, 2023, Entrepreneur: If you made a list of goals for your website, I bet three things would be near the top: Get more value out of your customers. Find new customers. Increase your website's conversion rate, whether you want more leads or more sales. Each of these goals requires a functional, easy-to-use website. Yet a staggering 97% of the internet today is inaccessible to people with disabilities — meaning there are accessibility issues that can make it hard for some visitors to navigate a website or engage with its content.

New window: Bealls class action alleges website not accessible to visually impaired, blind users

February 7, 2023, Top Class Actions: Bealls Inc. operates a website that is not accessible to blind and visually-impaired users in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and New York human rights laws, according to a class action lawsuit filed Feb. 2 in New York federal court. Plaintiff Andrew Toro says he is a legally blind person who requires screen-reading software to access website content on his computer. Screen-reading software works only if website content is capable of being rendered into text, the Bealls class action lawsuit says.

New window: Is your digital workplace truly empowering workers with disabilities?

February 6, 2023, HR Executive: Disabled workers are protected under the Americans With Disabilities Act, but legal compliance is just one of many reasons to accommodate and include these employees. For better or for worse, American society largely revolves around work—without which it’s nearly impossible to access affordable healthcare, let alone achieve economic equality. So, for anyone to be truly included in society, they must be able to work. Companies, in turn, have an ethical obligation to make their workplaces as accessible as possible. These efforts pay off for employers as well. Yes, flexible work environments improve company culture and employee productivity—but also, companies that accommodate disabled employees simply build better products.

New window: Assistive technologies help respite charity guests regain independence

February 6, 2023, AT Today: Advanced assistive technologies from manufacturer Pressalit have been installed in Leuchie House, a national respite charity that provides “transformational” care for its guests.

New window: Experiences of disability and neurodiversity in IT

February 6, 2023, The Chartered Institute for IT: This year, BCS is exploring the contribution that disabled and neurodivergent people make to the profession, and what can be done to allow those groups to contribute even more. The issues disabled and neurodivergent people face not only impacts individuals but prevents people from contributing to the profession in ways that benefit the whole of society. Brian Runciman MBCS and Matthew Bellringer MBCS MBPsS want to get you involved in a new project for 2023.

New window: More than 1,000 people in CT with autism are on a waiting list for services. Could a change in the law help break that logjam?

February 6, 2023, Hartford Courant: A bill introduced in the state House of Representatives is short and technical, but it could have major implications for people with autism, more than a thousand of whom are on a waiting list for state services such as housing and personal care. The bill, An Act Concerning a Definition for “Developmental Disability,” would add a definition of the term to the general statutes and change “intellectual disability” to “developmental disability.”

New window: Which cities are the best for disabled travelers? These 3 US destinations rank among the best.

February 6, 2023, USA Today: For travelers with disabilities, trips are made so much easier when accurate information about accessibility is available. With that in mind, The Valuable 500 – a collective of CEOs dedicated to disability inclusion – conducted a survey this past fall asking disabled travelers which destinations they found most accessible globally. It was super important for us to go from anecdotal evidence and what we're hearing day in and day out from the community to actually launching empirical research on this, Rhiannon Parker, Valuable 500's chief innovation officer, told USA TODAY. What the disability community is asking for in that report (is) to just be treated with kindness and dignity and understanding.

New window: Stanford startup TranscribeGlass seeks to bring ease and affordability to assistive technology

February 6, 2023, The Stanford Daily: Meet TranscribeGlass, an affordable AR device that attaches to your glasses and, paired with your transcription software of choice, projects real-time captions in front of your eyes. The device comes from CEO and co-founder Madhav Lavakare, Yale ’25, and co-founder Tom Pritsky M.S. ’23. Both students have close ties to the world of assistive tech and independently pursued the idea before joining forces in 2021. The company recently began manufacturing its first 150 preorders, with hopes to finish shipping them in the next few months. The TranscribeGlass Beta is being sold for $55, with the final version expected to land around $95.

New window: Designing tech for the most vulnerable users leads to better products for all, says researcher

February 5, 2023, CBC Radio: Consumer technology must be designed with the needs of its most vulnerable users in mind, says human rights researcher Afsaneh Rigot. For people living under political instability — protesters, activists, refugees — access to messaging apps and social media is a lifeline. And for the LGBTQ+ community in these contexts, where meeting in person may neither be safe nor possible, these applications play a vital role in forging connections. But these same tools can also be used against them, said Rigot, who works for human rights group Article 19. For nearly a decade, she has been looking at how technology affects vulnerable communities in the Middle East and North Africa. We're seeing a trend throughout the years where policing actors and state actors are using the same technologies and weaponizing these hubs of congregational connection to identify people, Rigot, told Spark host Nora Young.

New window: The Quad: How accessibility accommodations benefit students, what UCLA can improve on

February 4, 2023, Daily Bruin: UCLA has vouched to provide support for students with disabilities in collaboration with faculty, staff and students through the Center of Accessible Education. CAE aims to create an accessible, inclusive and supportive learning environment by offering accommodations ranging from academic assistance to housing arrangements, according to their website. CAE Director Spencer Scruggs said CAE aims to understand the different needs and experiences of faculty and students with disabilities alike. “Our office…seeks to support faculty and the campus community and understanding different needs, and how can we create an enriching educational community that respects disability and also provide those opportunities that students feel like they need,” Scruggs said. For some Bruins, the accessibility and empathy that CAE staff show creates a safe and welcoming space to seek consultation for accommodations.

New window: Twitter is getting rid of its free API tier. That's a nightmare for accessibility activists.

February 3, 2023, Mashable: No surprise here: Elon Musk has once again made Twitter worse. The CEO's latest blow to the platform's functionality removes free access to its API(Opens in a new window), posing an imminent threat for users with disabilities, accessibility advocates, and helpful bots. On Feb. 1, Twitter announced it would be moving all API access to paid tiers based on usage, another revenue grab as the site continues to lose its advertiser-based income streams. APIs, or web application programming interfaces, let programmers and developers utilize existing information from a secondary source to create programs, data visualizations, and more. Free API services are essential for a lot of the online work done by both activists and academics(Opens in a new window), many of whom use free online data sources for research, interactive sites, and organizing projects.

New window: Robotics innovation: Leading companies in intelligent assistive devices for the medical devices industry

February 3, 2023, Medical Device Network: The medical devices industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by increased need for homecare, preventative treatments, early diagnosis, reducing patient recovery times and improving outcomes, as well as a growing importance in technologies, such as machine learning, augmented reality, 5G and digitalization. In the last three years alone, there have been over 450,000 patents filed and granted in the medical devices industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Robotics in Medical Devices: Intelligent assistive devices. However, not all innovations are equal and nor do they follow a constant upward trend. Instead, their evolution takes the form of an S-shaped curve that reflects their typical lifecycle from early emergence to accelerating adoption, before finally stabilising and reaching maturity. Identifying where a particular innovation is on this journey, especially those that are in the emerging and accelerating stages, is essential for understanding their current level of adoption and the likely future trajectory and impact they will have.

New window: Presidential candidates talk student fees, accessibility at CUSA debate

February 3, 2023, The Harlatan: The two candidates running for president in the Carleton University Students’ Association (CUSA) general elections debated student fees, accessibility, engagement and diversity on Monday.

New window: DCPCR launches new accessibility handbook and website for PwDs

February 3, 2023, Millenium Post: The Delhi Commission of Protection of Child Rights launched accessibility handbook and website portal on rights and entitlements of person(s) with disabilities on Friday at IIT Delhi. The accessibility handbook is available in English, Hindi and audio form and is a single repository of schemes, financial assistance, concessions and entitlements for children as well as adults with special needs. The handbook is going to cover education, health, social security and protection themes. All the information such as entitlements, timelines, documents, authorities details, grievance redressal process are mentioned in this handbook. This handbook is made because of the partnership between Ashoka University and DCPCR through its child rights fellowship.

New window: Pellissippi State Community College Selects YuJa Panorama for Digital Accessibility to Improve Accessibility Across Five Campuses

February 3, 2023, Business Wire: Pellissippi State Community College has selected YuJa Panorama for Digital Accessibility to replace its former accessibility tool and to help deliver accessible course content across its five campuses in East Tennessee. The institution is part of the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) system, the largest system of higher education in Tennessee with 37 community and technical colleges across the state.

New window: Digital accessibility requires a proactive government

February 2, 2023, FedScoop: Websites are viewed as a critical asset for states because they often provide a first, and sometimes only, means of communication between government agencies and residents seeking services. And online services need to be accessible to all constituents. However, agencies with underperforming websites cannot effectively deliver services to constituents that require enhanced digital accessibility. Though the public sector continues to make strides to make the digital delivery of services and the customer experience more equitable and accessible, a new Scoop News Report report, underwritten by EY, found that less than half of state and local (39%) and federal (43%) respondents saw that digital accessibility is a top priority among agency/leadership. Federal law Section 508 requires federal-government sites to meet specific accessibility requirements, and although many states have laws or standards of their own, as evidenced by the report, there is room for the public sector to take more steps to ensure their websites and online services are accessible to all users.

New window: 3 Ways To Increase Your Sales Videos’ Accessibility

January 31, 2023, Spiceworks: As sales teams incorporate video messaging into their customer touchpoints to drive sales conversions, they are reaching more prospective customers than ever. By putting people in front of prospects, video stands out from more generic email and text messages and fosters engagement. An authentic, personalized video hosted by a member of your sales team is a powerful way to drive interest in your products and get one step closer to closing a deal. Video has enormous potential to create these vital connections. But if you are not creating your video messages with accessibility in mind, you will not be able to connect with everyone you are hoping to reach.

New window: Under-Serving The Disabled Community Is Affecting Your Bottom Line

January 30, 2023, Forbes: With at least 4.9 billion active internet users worldwide as of 2021, digital accessibility is more important than ever. Over 1 billion people around the world are part of the disabled community, and each one of these individuals deserves equitable access to in-person and online spaces. And as the world population ages, the need for accessible websites will only continue to increase. Digital accessibility stands out as one of the most addressable and measurable components of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs, yet it is still one of the least prioritized. The Valuable 500—a global business collective made up of 500 CEOs and their companies, innovating together for disability inclusion—recently released the Valuable Truth 2022 Report, which found that 33% of organizations have not even started exploring inclusive design innovation opportunities. To truly create belonging among customers and employees, businesses must remember to include accessibility in DEI.