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For years the WCAG 2.0 Guidelines have help developers create a web experience that is more usable by people with disabilities. UMass Medical School’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center is currently conducting research to determine if simplifying text can further help comprehension for people with cognitive disabilities.

The Shriver Center in conjunction with IBM, UMass Boston, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) is working on this project, which will be the first to create clear steps that can be followed by people to simplify text. Moreover, it will be the first to leverage and develop the cognitive computing and natural-language processing of the supercomputer, IBM Watson, to automatically simplify text.

For more information read the Global Accessibility News Article.

Through a relationship with Quantum Reading, Learning, Vision, OrCam’s assistive technology (AT) device is now available to people who are blind in Australia. OrCam MyEye is the world’s most advance wearable AT solution. It uses a small camera that mounts on the user’s glasses to read printed text in real time into a discrete earpiece. Moreover, it can recognize people’s faces and products in the store. The devices are hand delivered by a trainer who teaches new users how to use the device in their daily life.  

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is collecting comments on the importance of web accessibility for people across the country who have disabilities. They are focusing on state and local government websites that cover things like voting, emergency preparedness, public schools and other government services. Comments are due on October 7, 2016. For information on when and how to file comments see the blog post on the Law Office of Lainey Feingold website.

Websites can be made more accessible by conforming to the WCAG 2.0 Level AA guidelines put forth by the W3C. For more information on how to conform to these guidelines visit the Service section of the Interactive Accessibility website.

Microsoft gave away the upgrade to Windows 10 for a full year. Now most users will pay as much as $199 for a copy of the popular operating system. However, if you’re an assistive technology user, there is good news. You can still get it for free.

People who use assistive technologies such as screen readers like Jaws and NVDA used by people who are blind or have low vision can still get Windows 10 for free. Microsoft has rolled out a new webpage to help their customers use assistive technology navigate the process.

This does not, however, elevate the need for producers of website, software and apps to comply with web accessibility guidelines such as the WCAG 2.0, so that people with disabilities can perform functions and access content and to meet the requirements of the ADA.

For more information on complying with the guidelines visit the Expert Accessibility Service page on the Interactive Accessibility website. 

London Accessibility is announcing that Alistair Duggin will be presenting the first talk at their July 27th meetup at the Angel Building, 407 St. John St, London, England. Duggin’s talk will be on “How do you make a website as big as GOV.UK accessible to the widest possible audience.”

Michiel Bijl will follow Duggin and talk about, “The ARIA Authoring Practices Guide: what is it and how does it help?” 

A French start-up Moodstocks specializes in rapid object recognition using smart phones. Moodstocks is different from other existing object recognition apps because it runs directly on the smartphone and does not rely on outside servers. This more affordable, mainstream and accessible method has caught the interest of Google, who has agreed to purchase the start-up. It is still unclear whether Google will use the tech solely for its customer-facing offerings or also launch its own SDK for developers. It is clear, however, that this could be a great step forward in accessibility. 

The W3C has selected the Web Science Institute and the University of Southampton to host its UK and Ireland Office. The office will be staffed by and Office manager, Susan Davies, Coordination Manager for the WSI and a Senior Advisor, Professor Leslie Carr, Director of the WSI Centre for Doctoral Training. The W3C offices are local points of contact for the W3C and work to bring the W3C and its specifications to an international audience.

Read the W3C press Release

UMass Boston’s engineering students have collected a year’s worth of Wi-Fi signal data to create a map of the campus. Using the IBM Accessible Location-based Service, people with disabilities will be able to download an app on their mobile device and identify their location using the Wi-Fi signals. They can then put in a destination and the app will guide them, turn-by-turn, and give accessible route guidance based on the current physical campus environment.

This technology has great potential for other environments such as airports, hospitals, office buildings and shopping malls. It could benefit many people such as:

  • Firefighters
  • The elderly
  • People with short term memory issues
  • People with vision disabilities

Read Dr. Ping Chen’s article on GAAD. 

The W3C’s WAI Education and Outreach Working Group (EOWG) has made public the first version of Web Accessibility Perspectives, which introduces ten videos that explore the impact of accessibility on people with disabilities and how accessibility benefits everyone. The videos show how accessibility benefits everyone in different situations and inspires viewers to explore web accessibility. The WCAG 2.0 guidelines inform accessible web development.You can read more about the initiative at Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI).

Following the announcement that the regulations for web accessibility proposed by the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) in 2010 under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) will be further delayed, the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) has condemned the delay. While the rule making has been delayed, many companies and organizations are choosing to conform to the WCAG 2.0 Level AA guidelines for Web Accessibility in advance of the final rule making. 

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