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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.

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New window: Solving skills gap in the digital age: How Winc Academy is making tech skills accessible

October 31, 2022, Silicon Canals: At the start of the pandemic, the world not only came to a standstill but also realised that education need not be in person. While online learning was already a thing, the pandemic gave it a boost and welcomed all of us to the world of hybrid learning. If the wave of edtech startups raising millions of dollars aimed to skill students and teenagers, there is also a subset of startups bridging the talent gap with the same model. One such startup is Amsterdam-based Winc Academy, which offers online courses for anyone to learn in-demand digital skills.

New window: Hospitals need to make their websites as accessible as their physical spaces

October 31, 2022, Stat News: It would be anathema for a health care facility in the U.S. to have a main entrance that’s not physically accessible to all people. Yet many of their digital front doors block people with disabilities. They need to change that. More than 30 years after the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law with the aim of removing obstacles to people who are blind, deaf, or have other physical or mental disabilities, the digital landscape continues to erect barriers to access. An investigation by Kaiser Health News in 2021 showed that nearly all of the Covid-19 vaccine registration websites reviewed weren’t accessible to people who are blind, a major violation of disability rights laws in the middle of a public health emergency. Digital accessibility involves designing webpages to be inclusive of people who have visual, motor, auditory, speech, or cognitive disabilities. More than 61 million people in the United States — nearly 1 in 4 Americans — and more than 1 billion people worldwide have one of these disabilities, including 46% of people age 60 and older. With the number of Americans 65 and older projected to nearly double from 52 million in 2018 to 95 million by 2060, federal officials have already identified the accessibility of online health information as an urgent need.

New window: MADA holds introductory workshop on enhancing digital accessibility to World Cup

October 30, 2022, The Peninsula: The Qatar Assistive Technology (Mada) on Sunday held a workshop on enhancing digital accessibility to FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, followed by an exhibition that featured a wide range of innovations approved by the center within its digital access plans. The workshop and the exhibition were intended to introduce the electronic solutions and applications that obtained Mada digital accessibility accreditation and keeps the attendees posted on the most important updated offered by the center in accessing to the tournament by the persons with disabilities and elderly, highlighting Qatar National Vision in the area of digital inclusiveness, national commitments to ensuring the rights of persons with disabilities, empowering and optimizing accessibility to the digital platforms, monitoring the institutions' performance and evaluating their electronic websites, applications and accreditation provisions. The Chief Executive at Mada, Maha Al Mansouri, said she is very proud to have the first more accessible edition of world cup organized by Qatar, praising the synergized efforts of all entities to provide an inclusive and prestigious soccer edition to the world, pointing out that Mada center has been working closely in the national development process in pursuit of supporting the implementation of this vital national project through its strategic orientations that seek to enhance digital accessibility, adding that the center operates to make innovations adaptable to improve the eco-system to be further inclusive for all, in light of the fourth industrial revolution and the digital transformation process.

New window: Digital Government Is No Longer An Option, It Is An Imperative

October 29, 2022, Forbes: A review of the United Nations recently released 2022 E-Government Survey shows progress, surprises, and opportunity for governments across the globe in their shift to the digitization of services. Covid-19 has accelerated the need for governments to become more and more digitally accessible for their citizens as an increasing percentage of people have become more digitally savvy. Meeting your customers (in this case, your citizens) where they are, instead of forcing them to do things your way, is always the wise way to do business. But, moving the enormous bureaucratic icebergs that are governments is complicated, messy, and sometimes near impossible.

New window: Viewpoint: Where accessibility thrives, leaders thrive

October 28, 2022, Philadelphia Business Journal: October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. According to the World Health Organization, over 1 billion people globally live with a disability and “almost everyone is likely to experience some form of disability — temporary or permanent — at some point in life.” Disability not only includes visual, auditory, speech, mobility, flexibility, and body structure related disabilities, but also cognitive disabilities such as dyslexia, ADHD, and autism, and psychological or psychiatric disabilities such as anxiety or depression. Disability is broad and can be uniting — it spans across gender, race, ethnicity and other aspects of identity.

New window: First Circuit Court of Appeals Rules Website Tester Has Standing for ‘Informational Injury’, Deepens Circuit Divide

October 28, 2022, JD Supra: On October 5, 2022, in Laufer v. Acheson Hotels LLC, the U.S Court of Appeals for the First Circuit reversed a lower court’s dismissal of a suit against Acheson Hotels, LLC, which operates an inn on Maine’s southern coast. With this reversal, the First Circuit has addressed a matter of first impression and deepened a circuit split on when, following the Supreme Court’s ruling in TransUnion LLC v. Ramirez, 141 S. Ct. 2190 (2021), a plaintiff can sustain a suit based on an informational injury. In TransUnion, the Supreme Court distilled its precedent on constitutional standing into five words: “No concrete harm, no standing.” In this recent decision, the First Circuit determined the plaintiff had established both.

New window: MobileConnect gives hearing devices a personal touch

October 27, 2022, Iowa State University: Hearing well in a large classroom can be an issue for anyone trying to understand an instructor, but especially difficult for someone who is deaf or hard of hearing. Add in anxiety about asking for help and learning can go from hard to nearly impossible. MobileConnect is assistive listening technology that streams live audio through a Wi-Fi connection to any smartphone in the room. It also is compatible with hearing aids and cochlear implants, something not always possible. Information technology services (ITS) is testing it in three locations this academic year, including two large lecture rooms: Room 101 in the College of Design Room 1001 in Troxel Hall Soults Family Visitor Center in the Memorial Union With accommodations, students have to request the necessary equipment and go up to the teaching station to plug it in. With this you don't have to request anything, said ITS audiovisual technician Spencer Braly. Anyone in our student body can use this without any special requests.

New window: LETTER: Kudos to Fetterman for using assistive technology to communicate

October 27, 2022, The Indiana Gazette: I am very concerned by the way John Fetterman’s use of closed captioning is being portrayed by reporters and TV doctors. I do not know Fetterman but I have heard him speak spontaneously on TV and in person. When a person has difficulty using one modality or sense, the most logical approach is to use another one that works well for them. His use of closed captioning to enhance his abilities to communicate should be no more disturbing than someone using a hearing aid, wearing glasses, using a keyboard to”write,” using a large print book, using curb cuts to get a bicycle or stroller on the sidewalk, using a prosthetic hand, using a monitor to give a speech, using a cane, using books on tape, etc. Using assistive technology does not indicate that a person cannot think clearly, reason or make good decisions. On the contrary, it is sound decision making to want to be sure that the questions asked of Mr. Fetterman are fully understood.

New window: Special lounge for people with autism, disabilities at HIA

October 27, 2022, The Peninsula: Doha: The Ministry of Social Development and Family and Shafallah Center for Persons with Disabilities, in cooperation with Qatar Airways, announced the operation of the “Mazn” lounge at Hamad International Airport for people with autism and disabilities. It provides them sensory integration while they are at the airport with their families. The Ministry said the new lounge was equipped with the latest assistive technology and educational equipment aimed at providing the best travel experience for people with autism and disabilities, including travellers and transients, under the supervision of a specialised and trained team around the clock. The ”Mazn” lounge, which was named after the rainy cloud that irrigates the earth, will help provide an atmosphere of calm and relaxation, to promote, integrate and empower people with disabilities in society and provide them with technological tools and assistive solutions that provide them with an easy and smooth travel experience free of any obstacles through Hamad International Airport.

New window: UserWay Launches Managed Accessibility and Compliance for Enterprises

October 27, 2022, Cision PR Newswire: Gearing up for Web Summit 2022, UserWay, the world leader in digital accessibility, trusted by over 1 million websites, has launched Managed Accessibility, a full-scale solution for enterprises. Managed Accessibility is used to achieve and maintain web accessibility and full legal compliance. In a first for the industry, the solution provides a robust Legal Support Program (LSP). It is also backed by UserWay's million-dollar legal guarantee. As governments expand anti-discrimination laws across the United States and the European Union, companies of all sizes grapple with a growing number of lawsuits and litigation risks. Over 5,000 digital accessibility-related lawsuits were filed in the U.S. in 2021 alone, and among the top 50 websites on the internet, 77% have been found to have moderate to severe accessibility violations. When companies break accessibility laws, the implications are dire for the digital economy, locking out up to 1 billion people with some form of disability. Today, UserWay provides AI-powered accessibility solutions to global organizations, such as Coca-Cola, Disney, Nielsen, and the United Nations. To protect enterprises from every angle with long-term accessibility programs, UserWay's Managed Accessibility combines the company's AI solutions suite with human expert intervention. The solution fully manages corporate digital accessibility efforts, from websites to PDFs and online videos, avoiding the costly effort of hiring and training or repurposing internal teams. In addition to UserWay's AI-powered Pro Accessibility Widget, the new solution includes manual auditing, reviews and testing, site scans, continuous monitoring, and hands-on remediation by UserWay accessibility developers. According to Allon Mason, UserWay CEO, Most organizations don't have dedicated internal digital accessibility teams. UserWay's Managed Accessibility allows such organizations to achieve full ADA compliance much faster than ever, with little effort.

New window: eSSENTIAL Accessibility + Level Access, in Collaboration with G3ict and IAAP, Release Annual State of Digital Accessibility Report

October 27, 2022, Benzinga: eSSENTIAL Accessibility and Level Access, the global leader in digital accessibility solutions, in collaboration with the Global Initiative for Inclusive ICTs (G3ict) and the International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP), announced today the publication of the 2022 State of Digital Accessibility Report (SODAR). The report, representing the fourth year of the survey, asked more than 1,000 professionals in various roles related to digital accessibility, including legal, compliance, product, design, and content creation, to assess their commitment to creating and implementing inclusive technology, which includes websites, mobile apps, and software. For the past three years, the State of Digital Accessibility Report has provided invaluable insight into how organizations are incorporating and investing in digital accessibility, said Tim Springer, CEO, eSSENTIAL Accessibility and Level Access. And I am thrilled because this year's results show accessibility is becoming a mainstream priority. Governance is maturing. Funding is formalizing. And more organizations are incorporating accessibility earlier in their development and creation processes.

New window: Access For All: It’s Not Only The Law; It’s Ethical

October 27, 2022, Forbes: Accessible websites are crucial to a modern business’s success—not only because they provide legal compliance and economic advantages but because web accessibility is critical from an ethical standpoint and is quickly becoming a mainstay for model citizens. The new age of business is emerging with high expectations for businesses and their civil rights approaches. Too often, enterprises use their success to justify the lack of equitable treatment for marginalized groups. According to an annual report by Boston College, a majority (nearly 70%) of executives report success in achieving objectives when ethical corporate citizenship is integrated with their strategy. This is an indicator that many customers are looking to direct their finances to organizations that respect their values.

New window: Blind Student Makes History by Getting MS Degree From NED University

October 27, 2022, ProPakistani: Haleema Sarwar has become the first blind student to graduate from the Nadirshaw Edulji Dinshaw (NED) University of Engineering and Technology (NDUET) in the institute’s 100-year history, the News has reported.

New window: How To Make A PDF Accessible: 10 Common Issues To Watch For

October 27, 2022, Forbes: Many businesses opt to publish documents online as Portable Document Format (PDF) files because they have several advantages: PDFs maintain their visual look, can be read on most browsers and mobile devices and can be password-protected. Unfortunately, many PDFs are not accessible to people with disabilities who rely on assistive technology to read and interact with online content. This violates accessibility standards such as Section 508 and the PDF/Universal Accessibility Standards, putting culpable businesses at risk of legal action.

New window: This researcher builds ‘cool stuff for blind people.’ He’s also trying to help transform society

October 26, 2022, The world is studded with tools to navigate life, but those resources – from the schedule posted at your local bus stop to the cellphone in your pocket – aren’t always accessible for people with disabilities. They may be forced to spend extra time, energy or money to access the same information or experiences as non-disabled people. Inventor Joshua Miele says it doesn’t have to be that way. “The fact that our built environment doesn’t take disability into account and accommodate for it, that’s not because we can’t do it,” said Miele, who has emphasized this idea across his decadeslong career as a technological innovator. Instead, he said, it’s the result of “inherent ableism,” or the many different forms of discrimination that people with disabilities face, “in the way our systems are designed.”

New window: Hallowheels Offers Adaptive Trunk-or-Treat Event

October 26, 2022, ABC 13 News: Hallowheels 2022 is happening now! Children with adaptive needs have gone all out to make their Halloween costumes memorable! There's even an Adaptive Trunk-or-Treat happening October 29. You can vote for your favorite costume as part of this fundraiser for Children's Assistive Technology Service! Emily got to see how this will help those in our area.

New window: FDA Approves Sale of Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids

October 26, 2022, EIN News: A rule recently finalized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) establishes a new category of over-the-counter hearing aids to enhance access to more affordable hearing assistive technology to the almost 30 million American adults experiencing mild to moderate hearing loss. Starting Monday (Oct. 24), consumers may purchase over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids under an FDA rule that allows for the sale of hearing aids to consumers without the need for a prescription or custom fitting. The rule limits OTC sales to air-conduction hearing aids intended for people 18 or older who have perceived mild to moderate hearing impairment. Hearing aids in other categories still require a prescription. Major retail stores have begun selling OTC hearing aids for as low as $300 — in stark contrast to prescription hearing aids, which can range from $2,000 to $7,000. And with few insurance carriers offering coverage, prescription hearing aids are even further out of reach for some patients. Arkansas is among only five states — alongside Connecticut, Illinois, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island — to require that certain health plans offer hearing aid coverage. As of 2010, if a health plan in Arkansas offers hearing aid coverage, it must provide coverage of no less than $1,400 per ear every three years for individuals of all ages.

New window: Workers with disabilities celebrated during October

October 26, 2022, Air Force Material Command: October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. The observance celebrates the contributions made by U.S. workers with disabilities and to educate people about the issues and barriers that workers with disabilities can face. The 2022 theme for the event is “Disability: Part of the Equity Equation.” “For far too long in this country, employers could refuse to hire you if you were disabled,” said President Joe Biden in the proclamation for the 2022 National Disability Employment Awareness Month. “Stores could turn you away. If you used a wheelchair, there was no real way to take a bus or train to work or school. America simply was not built for all Americans.”

New window: SoftwareONE partners with Eye-Able to power digital accessibility and equity in higher education and the modern workplace

October 25, 2022, Street Insider: SoftwareONE, a global provider of end-to-end software and cloud technology solutions, has announced a partnership with German startup Eye-Able, a holistic provider of software-based digital accessibility solutions. The partnership makes SoftwareONE the first and only authorized reseller of Eye-Able's innovative, award-winning inclusion technology in the United States and comes as part of a series of efforts by SoftwareONE to support human rights through technology. Businesses across the nation, especially higher education institutions and healthcare organizations, can now purchase Eye-Able software licenses through SoftwareONE to improve the accessibility of web interfaces and create a more equitable digital learning and working environment. As equity continues to grow in importance in the modern workplace and in learning environments, SoftwareONE and Eye-Able are making it possible to implement impactful digital accessibility solutions that comply with current legal regulations like the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). We're honored to be working with the passionate and innovative team at Eye-Able to bring accessibility software to organizations throughout the United States, said Dieter Schlosser, Chief Executive Officer of SoftwareONE. At SoftwareONE, we're committed to maximizing the potential of technology to make a meaningful difference. As technology and the digital environment continue to be the cornerstone of innovation and growth within society, we look forward to breaking down barriers and making this digital world more inclusive and equitable for all.

New window: LinkedIn Introduces Accessibility-Centric Enhancements Designed To ‘Drive A More Equitable Workforce’

October 25, 2022, Forbes: In recognition of October being National Disability Employment Awareness Month, or NDEAM for short, popular Microsoft-owned professional social network LinkedIn announced a slew of updates and resources for its some 850 million members. The news came in the form of a blog post penned by the company’s vice president of engineering Erran Berger, published on October 20th. “We hope our learnings and product updates further the conversation around building inclusive [and] equitable workplaces everywhere,” he wrote in the lede. Berger begins with the most pertinent information up front, which is that conversations about the disability community and inclusivity are happening at a more rapid rate. Accessibility in the workplace has steadily become “an important conversation globally,” according to Berger. He notes the company has tracked a 33% year-over-year increase in people sharing insights and ideas pertaining to accessibility, as well as job listings with the word “accessibility” in the title have spiked significantly since September 2019—they’ve seen a 171% increase.
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