Benefits of Accessibility

Monday China Disabled Persons Federation (CDPF) and China Banking Association issued a guideline requiring China’s electronic banking service to provide easier access for people with disabilities.

The guideline focuses on three types of disabilities in order to promote accessibility for the E-Banking services such as phone and online banking:

  • Vision Disabilities – E-Banking will provide a specially designed shortcut menu, ID recognition and easy verification codes.
  • Hearing Disabilities – Offer multiple visual facilities and instant short messaging service.
  • Mobility Impairments – establish a long-distance self-service system allowing accounts that traditionally require a physical presents to be open from home.  

Information on accessibility assessments

Dropbox has improved its accessibility features in its iOS app. It is now fully accessible with VoiceOver. The app was re-evaluated top down. Ease of use was assessed for everything from login to navigation. They also looked a feedback from the AppleVis community to make more improvements.

The new improvements include:

  • More clearly identified content in the welcome tutorial
  • More descriptive thumbnails on the Photos tab
  • Easily enable or disable your passcode lock
  • Passcode field and digits can be selected more easily
  • New button to close out “More Actions” using VoiceOver.

You can download Dropbox from the Apple Store. 

The Geospatial Information Authority of Japan (GSI) is working with experts to fine-tune software that prints inexpensive 3-D map for people who are blind or have low vision. The maps are tactile and able to be traced with the fingers.

The GSI intends to release the raw data for the maps online. When the data is loaded into 3-D printers roads, railways and other features are raised by one millimeter on resin plates.

Read more about the 3-D Maps.

by Mark Miller and Rosemary Musachio

In our June blog post iOS 8 Accessibility Features Delivers in the Details, we gave you a sneak peek at the Accessibility features of iOS8 like improved zoom, greyscale, and a Braille keyboard.  If you’re an iPhone and/or iPad owner prepare to do a little dance and giggle with device in hand, iOS8 has rolled and it’s rockin’ the accessibility features.

Here is the rundown on what you’ll find behind the iOS8 accessibility tab:

Media Access Australia released a white paper, The accessibility of cloud computing – current and future trends, which outlines the need for commercial and government services to implement accessibility into their cloud based assets.

The author, Dr. Scott Hollier of Media Access, said that the research supported a need to implement accessibility into cloud services by looking at the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) put forth by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C.)

The research in the paper supports organizations improving their accessibility and usability of cloud services as essential criteria to maximize customer engagement and opportunities and to stay current in a competitive market.  

A new app developed by computer scientists at the University of Washington called StopInfo integrates with the OneBusAway app to make buses in Seattle more accessible for riders with vision disabilities. StopInfo provides specific information on location, safety features and stop closures for each bus stop in King County. Moreover, it collects and shares information that people who are blind have identified as important when riding the busses. The app utilizes information that riders using the OneBusAway application update and provide about each stop.

With 1 billion people with disabilities worldwide including older persons, novice technology users and people with language, learning literacy or situations challenges, IBM is in a strong position to lead the movement to broaden the definitions of accessibility and inclusion. IBM has been a leader in accessibility since 1914. IBM plans on further transforming accessibility by making everything easier to use.

The core design and usability standards IBM established to account for this new world of cognitive computing, mobile access, social collaboration and enhanced access will accelerate new thinking about accessibility in the era of personalization, mobility and learning systems.

Here are some of the unique ways IBM is working toward this goal of transforming accessibility:

  • IBM Interactive will continue to reinvent client experiences with our services, using our Advanced Social Analytics Platform to create socially inspired and personalized solutions to overcome challenges traditionally associated with differing abilities.
  • IBM’s Bluemix cloud platform as service will provide an ecosystem of accessibility services, from development tools for design and testing to compliance services that will reach across organizations to ensure improved accessibility.
  • IBM will design for accessibility in the apps and solutions it creates.
  • IBM’s ongoing culture of service – contributing our technology and expertise to help overcome societal challenges – will continue to provide the human touch necessary to connect people to innovation. In areas as diverse as education, public health and economic development, IBM’s definition of “accessibility” includes creating opportunities for better lives.
  • IBM Watson and cognitive computing – systems that learn, interact in natural language and adapt to human needs without having to be programmed – will open a new world of possibilities to people with disabilities.

Read about Frances West, IBM’s recently appointed first Chief Accessibility Officer.

Today IBM (NYSE: IBM) appointed Frances West as the company’s first Chief Accessibility Officer.  In this new role, West will guide IBM accessibility policies and practices.  Additionally, she will lead IBM’s collaboration with business, government and academia to advance accessibility standards and policy.

“The success of enterprises and institutions, and their impact on the world, will increasingly be determined by how easily they engage with individuals,” said Ginni Rometty, IBM Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer. “We see a great opportunity to design for accessibility fundamentally from the start and to enhance the abilities of individuals through technology – and we intend to lead.”

In addition to the more than one billion people with disabilities worldwide, there are aging populations and people with language, learning and literacy challenges. As mobile devices become the primary means of engaging consumers, workers and citizens, they can become a transformational platform to broaden accessibility.

“IBM has long embraced accessibility to create an environment where all individuals can do their job and reach their full potential,” said West. “We believe that technology can bridge individual differences, enable a diverse pool of talent in the workplace and improve lives. We are at a crossroads where we can begin to personalize every experience and integrate technology in ways that will be very powerful.”

West will work with IBM teams around the world that are spearheading efforts to deliver accessible and assistive technologies to the market. For example:

  • IBM Interactive works with clients to embed technologies like text-to-speech, voice recognition, real-time translation or location-based preferences to create more personalized experiences and to remove both persistent and situational barriers for their customers.
  • IBM’s Bluemix cloud platform as service will provide an ecosystem of accessibility services, from development tools for design and testing to enterprise-wide compliance services.
  • IBM will design for accessibility in the apps and solutions it creates to unlock the potential of enterprise mobility.
  • IBM Watson will extend the abilities of individuals by tapping knowledge from vast stores of data, using natural language in areas as diverse as financial services and personalized medicine.

“Frances is a respected leader and has been instrumental in supporting inclusive technology policies and accessibility standards,” Axel Leblois, President and Executive Director of G3ict, the Global Initiative for Inclusive Information and Communication Technologies (a United Nations global initiative). “Removing barriers and giving individuals the ability to design their own experience is the right way to create an inclusive environment.”

Frances West joined IBM Research as the leader of the Human Ability & Accessibility Center. She has served on the board of directors of the American Association of People with Disabilities, the Assistive Technology Industry Association and the U.S Business Leadership Network, among others. She currently sits on the board of the World Institute on Disability, is a trustee at the National Braille Press and an advisor to the National Business & Disability Council.

For more than 100 years, IBM has advanced technology access for people of all abilities. Some of its earliest innovations include the first Braille printer, a talking typewriter and the first commercially viable screen reader.

Microsoft has been developing a ‘smart headband’ to aid people who are blind in ‘seeing’ the world around them. The Microsoft device helps those with low vision or who are blind through audio instructions about their surroundings delivered to an ear piece.

The device is still in the early stages of development and remains a research project for now. However, it is being tested by a group of eight people who are blind in the area of Microsoft’s UK headquarters in Reading. Reportedly, testing has occurred around the busy Reading train station, helping the group navigate staircases, escalators platforms and ticket barriers.

This concept video created in 2012 gives and idea of what using the devise may be like.

Dr. Myoung-Woon is leading a research team at the Korea Institute of Science and Technology that has developed a new method of producing touchable objects with detailed lines and curves. The revolutionary new method combines 3D printing with 3D thermal reflow treatment and can be used to produce braille books, braille picture books and teaching materials with far greater flexibility in color, height, and size. Further, it is safe for humans as it does not require a UV coating or harmful chemical treatments.

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