Industry News

Tracy Gray and Alise Brann are the authors of a new book, published by Brooks Publishing, on emerging trends in autism services.

Grey, leader of the Center for Technology Implementation at AIR, explains, “The convergence of mainstream technology and assistive technology is a critical milestone in promoting accessibility and independence for users with disabilities. We have been tracking trends in educational technology and assistive technology for the past decade and they indicate a shift toward portable, networked, customizable, and multitasking tech solutions with touch interfaces that mirror consumer technology.”

Read more on the book “Technology Tools for Students with Autism”

The United State Department of Transportation released regulations that govern the accessibility for people with disabilities for airline websites and kiosks on November 5, 2013. Lainey Feingold from the Law Offices of Lainey Feingold reacted to it in a blog post on their website stating that, “While there are positive aspects of the new regulations, the government missed an enormous opportunity to advance and protect the rights of air travelers with disabilities.” Read more of Lainey Feingold's blog on the New DOT Web and Kiosk Regulations.

By the end of this week a new app that helps people with hearing disabilities book cabs more easily and enhance their communication with drivers will be released on Windows phones. It took 12 months for Dubai Taxi Corporation, Microsoft and the Community Development Authority (CDA) to develop this free tool. Users will now have the ability to order taxis, track their trip, calculate their fair and talk to the drivers using pre-programmed voice commands.

This Thursday, October 24, in Berkeley, CA Frances West, director of IBMs Human Ability & Accessibility Center, will be speaking at the 15th Annual Disability Policy Summit and Ever Widening Circle at the World Institute on Disability. 

The Policy Summit will focus on improving accessibility within corporate technology policy and their online services and systems. It will feature roundtable discussions between consumers with disabilities who use access technology and industry representatives who develop that technology.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded $2.4 million in funding to three projects for robots that work cooperatively with people. The robots can adapt to changes in the environment to improve the capabilities of the user and enhance medical procedures. This is the second year NIH has participated in the National Robotics Initiative (NRI), a commitment among multiple federal agencies to support the development of a new generation of robots that work cooperatively with humans, known as co-robots. Read more about Robotic Assistive Technology.

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) has published a document on Contacting Organization about Inaccessible Websites. The document gives three steps to report websites with accessibility issues:

  1. Identify key contacts
  2. Describe the problem
  3. Follow up as needed

The document stresses that website owners have many priorities for changes and improvements on their site and the more they hear about accessibility from users, the more likely it will become a priority. It further emphasizes considering what approach will get the best results stating that, “The tone of your emails, phone calls, and other communications will impact how people react and respond.” It suggests that assuming that the organization doesn’t know about the accessibility barriers on their website is the best first approach.

A free one day mini-conference on web accessibility will be held on October 26th from 11am to 5pm at the Mozilla London Spaces. The theme of the conference is “Creativity, Innovation and the Future” It will also look at the wider disability population. The Web Accessibility conference, which also goes by a11yLDN on social media, is aimed at end-users, web designers and developers focusing on web accessibility and user experience. It will also be appropriate for editors and authors, accessibility specialists, universities and companies, charities and more. 

Up until now, the Internet has been a visual and auditory tool. People with sight peer through their monitors into the digital landscape we know as the World Wide Web while people without vision have the content read to them through their screen readers.  Now at a school for the blind in Japan you can touch the Internet… even hold it in your hand.

The new tool for putting the Internet in your hands is called Hands On Search. Part 3D printer and Part computer this futuristic bit of assistive technology was developed by Yahoo in collaboration with the Japanese creative agency Hakuhodo Kettle. It can literally build just about anything requested.

Students at the Special Needs School for the Visually Impaired can say something into Hands On Search and the machine will search Yahoo for an image matching the request then print a miniaturized version. If an image can’t be found, Hands on Search will make an online request for more information.

Yahoo Japan has no plans for commercial production of the machine but will like donate this one to an organization who will utilize it, like the School for the Visually Impaired.

May 19-20 of 2014 the Hawaii Convention Center in Honolulu hosts the 30th Annual Pacific Rim Conference on Disability and Diversity. The conference has been widely recognized for 27 years as one of the most “diverse gatherings” in the world. The theme will be: “Learn from Yesterday. Live for Today. Envision Tomorrow.” Registration is now open.

Nurfland is a new game offered for free by Project Austismus on both the iPad and Android. The game is the first in a series that teaches children 4-8 how to distinguish between various human emotions. As autistic children have played, data has been collected that, along with feedback from parents and teachers, has delivered new insights into their condition. Read more about how Nurfland helps students with autism.


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