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The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has said that it doesn’t expect regulations for accessibility for non-government websites until 2018. More than five years ago in 2010 the agency released an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability; Accessibility of Web Information and Services of State and Local Government Entities and Public Accommodations. In summary, the DOJ is considering revising the regulation implementing title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in order to establish requirement for making the goods, services, facilities, privileges, accommodation or advantages offered by public accommodations via the Internet, specifically at sites on the World Wide Web (Web), accessible to individuals with disabilities.

 In a recent Statement of Regulatory Priorities the DOJ stated that, “The Department is including for disability nondiscrimination rulemaking initiative in its Regulatory plan,” among other things, “Accessibility of Web Information and Services of State and Local Governments.” However, it goes on to state that this and other priorities in the rule making agenda, “will be included in the Departments long-term actions for fiscal years 2017 and 2018.” 

Nao, a cartoon like anthropomorphic robot, can read moods, recognized family members and learn people’s music, movies and food preferences. A research team at the University of Delaware has received a grant from the National Institutes of Health to use Nao to explore pediatric rehabilitation based on social interaction between robots and humans.

The project, which is known as GEAR, will be a collaboration between the interdisciplinary team made up of robotic expert Herbert Tanner, mobility researcher Cole Galloway, and computational linguist Jeffrey Heinz and the Johns Hopkins University Center for Imaging Science.

Read more about NAO

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), which is the global standards organization that develops foundational technologies for the WEB, received a Technology & Engineering Emmy®Award on January 8, 2016.  The award was given by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS) for the W3C’s work on making video content Accessible through text captioning and subtitles.

The Emmy®Award recognized W3C’s Timed Text Markup Language (TTML) standard in the category of “Standardization and Pioneering Development of Non-Live Broadband Captioning.”

Read more on the W3C’s Emmy Award.  

A hand-worn device developed at the University of Nevada, Reno by Yantao Shen uses robotic technology to help people with vision disabilities. The robotic device will allow these people to navigate past movable obstacles and assist in pre-locating, pre-sensing and grasping an object.

The new technology combines vision, tactile force, temperature, audio sensors and actuators to help the user pre-sense an object, locate it, feel the shape and size then grasp it.

Read more about the Robotic Aid

SwiftKey, who is known for their predictive smartphone keyboard, launched a new assistive symbol-based communications app called, SwiftKey Symbols. The app can be used to build sentences using pictures.

The app uses SwiftKey’s core contextual language prediction technology (SwiftKey SDK) to suggest symbols that might be used to finish a sentence. The technology also learns from the user and is faster than some of the current solutions. Users of SwiftKey Symbols can create sentences by choosing images from a set of categories or from the prediction slider.

The app is free and available for Android.

We need your help!  Interactive Accessibility is a Boston-based consulting firm that conducts usability studies in-person or remote from your location to learn what can be improved on websites and applications to make them easier to use.  We are currently looking for people who have a visual, hearing, mobility or cognitive disability to participate in these studies.  Most studies take 45 minutes to 1 hour and participants will be paid by Amazon Gift card worth $50-100 for their time.   Sign up to partisipate at SurveyMonkey.

 

A Texas A&M University biomedical engineering researcher, Roozbeh Jafari, is developing a wearable technology that will facilitate communication between people who are deaf and people who don’t know sign language.

Jafari explains, “The smart device combines motion sensors and the measurement of electrical activity generated by muscles to interpret hand gestures.”  The device is still in prototype but can recognized 40 American Sign Language (ASL) signs.

Read more on Jafari’s prototype.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced a delay in the anticipated regulations regarding web accessibility.  The new target date for Title II (state and local governments) is April, 2016.  The date for private sector web regulations is now to be determined and not likely until 2018.

Even without regulations, however, the Americans with Disabilities Act already requires that web and mobile content, features and functions be accessible. The Department of Justice continues to file complaints and get involved in court actions confirming that digital access is required, and that WCAG 2.0 AA is the standard.  Private sector settlements and lawsuits continue to protect the rights of people with disabilities to fully participate in the digital age. The regulations are delayed.  Site and app owners should not delay in making their digital properties accessible.

Read more on the Law Office of Lainey Feingold’s website

A draft redesign of How to Meet WCAG 2.0: A customizable quick reference to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 requirements (success criteria) and techniques was published November 18, 2015. The draft was published by the Education and Outreach Working Group (EOWG) and the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) Working Group (WCAG WG).

This quick reference is intended to replace the current How to Meet WCAG 2.0: A customizable quick reference. Comments on the user interface and the filtering is due by 2 December, preferably via GitHub, or alternatively via e-mail to wai-eo-editors@w3.org.

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