Industry News

On Tuesday November 19th from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. eSolutions is hosting the first Open Web Accessibility Conference at the Waterloo Museum in Ontario. The objective of the conference is to:

  • Educate participants about what website accessibility is and provide context around why it’s important.
  • Help participants understand what steps they need to take to comply with the AODA.
  • Provide participants with a better understanding of how website accessibility is measured and develop new ideas for future applications and innovations

Visit the Open Web Accessibility Conference website to register.

The FCC’s Accessibility Clearinghouse was created as part of the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010. Its purpose is to be a useful, reliable and reusable resource for people looking for accessibility solutions to provide full access to our nation’s communication revolution. The website provides a wide range of data including accessibility features of mobile phones and contact information for telecommunication service providers and equipment manufacturers. An application programming interface (API) has also been created that allows free and easy access to all of the data available through the Clearinghouse.

As a companion to the Clearinghouse API the FCC has also created a software development kit (SDK) to promote ease of access and use of the API. The SDK was developed in the Python programming language due to its popularity and versatility.  The SDK can be found on the FCC’s GitHub Page.

Ravenshaw University in Cuttack, India has installed a screen reader, JAWS, for students with vision disabilities. JAWS, which has been installed on eight computers kept in the Kanika library, will read text on the computers. In addition, a scanner has been connected which will enable the screen reader to read books placed inside. Read more about the Ravenshaw University Screen Readers.

At the Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute (VJTI) at Matunga four students have created a portable device that will enable people with vision disabilities to navigate without help, offering unprecedented autonomy. The unveiling will occur on Wednesday at a school for people with vision disabilities and will be exhibited at the annual technological festival of the institute, Technovanza, in December.

Raj Samant explains, “The device consists of cameras mounted on spectacles that will send feeds of the terrain to the handheld computing device. It will convert the video files into stereo signals that will be sent to vibrators attached to the body of the blind person. The vibrations will warn users about obstacles in front of them, thus allowing them to navigate (walk) without colliding with the obstacle.”

The Web Accessibility Recognition Scheme is open for application from September 2nd through December 31. The Web Accessibility Recognition Scheme was launched in October of 2012 by the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer and the Equal Opportunities Commission in Hong Kong, to show appreciation to enterprises and organizations whose websites are accessible for all segments of the community, including persons with disabilities. Read more about the Web Accessibility Recognition Scheme opening for application.

On October 16 the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences will host the STEM Career Showcase for Students with Disabilities. Students with disabilities grades 3-12 will interact with college students and professionals with a variety of disabilities who have successful careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. Among the accomplished panelist, Sina Bhram, who is blind, will share how he overcame challenges to become a PhD candidate at North Carolina State University and is now helping others break down barriers similar to the ones he faced. Read more about STEM Career Showcase for Students with Disabilities.

Tom Wlodkowski, an executive at Comcast Corp who is blind, has come up with a talking TV channel guide. With the 2014 release of Comcast’s next-generation X2 platform in 2014, will come the talking channel guide, which will assist people who are blind in finding the shows they want to listen to. The guide was demonstrated this year at a California technology conference and at the cable-TV-industry trade show in Washington. Read more about the talking channel guide.

Today, the US Business Leadership Network® (USBLN®) recognized its 2013 Annual Conference Educational Track Co-Chairs for their leadership in developing the Workplace, Supply Chain and Marketplace programming at their upcoming 16th Annual Conference & Expo entitled, "Lights, Camera, Access: Spotlight on Disability Inclusive Diversity" in Los Angeles, California on September 30-October 3.

Track Chair representation for the USBLN® 16th Annual Conference & Expo includes Workplace track Co-Chairs; Michael Johnson, Director, Diversity & Inclusion, McKesson Corporation; and Robert (Bob) J. Vetere, Senior Workplace Accommodation Specialist, Global Corporate Responsibility, Northrop Grumman Corporation; Supply Chain track Co-Chairs; Anthony (Tony) Billinger, Director, Supplier Diversity, OfficeMax; and Darlene Fuller, Senior Director, Supplier Diversity, Sodexo and Marketplace track Co-Chairs; Jenny Lay-Flurrie, Senior Director, Accessibility, Customer Partner Advocacy (CPA), Microsoft; and Rhea C. Norwood, MHCS, MarketPlace Director of Diversity Inclusion, Lowe's Companies Inc.

"We're so fortunate to have such strong Track Chairs. The USBLN® is focused on being the trusted advisor for business on disability inclusion and deeply values the important contributions of each of the conference Track Chairs," shared Jill Houghton, Executive Director, USBLN®.

Michael Johnson is employed by Fortune 14 Company McKesson Corporation as Director of Diversity and Inclusion. In his Diversity & Inclusion role, Michael works closely with Human Resources, McKesson business units, and Corporate Communications to bring diversity and inclusion thought leadership to business strategy. His strategic objectives are to develop and implement Diversity Talent Sourcing and retention strategy, Employee Resource Groups strategy and Marketplace partnerships, business and diversity opportunities, and search externally for leading trends, innovation and thought. Michael is also the former inaugural Chair of the McKesson African American Employee Resource Group, ASPIRE.

Robert (Bob) J. Vetere recently celebrated his 35th anniversary with Northrop Grumman. In his current position, Mr. Vetere will assist in providing a harmonized approach to the reasonable accommodation process across the Enterprise. Prior to accepting this position, he served as EEO/Diversity specialist for Northrop Grumman's Electronic Systems Sector. During his career with Northrop Grumman, Mr. Vetere created the Victory Over Impairment & Challenge Enterprise Employee Resource Group (VOICE) at Northrop and has a passion for serving both his community and corporation.

Anthony (Tony) Billinger is the Director of Supplier Diversity at OfficeMax and is responsible for creating and implementing the enterprise-wide strategy for supplier diversity. Anthony joined OfficeMax in June 2009 after previously serving as the architect of the supplier diversity initiative at Snap-on Tools, headquartered in Kenosha, Wisconsin and has lead supplier diversity initiatives for the past 17 years. He currently serves on the executive board of the Chicago Minority Supplier Development Council.

Darlene Fuller works within Sodexo's Supply Management Department leading their supplier diversity efforts. Ms. Fuller is a long term employee of the company, beginning her career in operations for their Health Care division of Saga She has held positions in Distribution and both national and regional purchasing for Marriott then Sodexo.

Jenny Lay-Flurrie is Senior Director of Accessibility Customer Experience within Customer Partner Advocacy, Microsoft, working for Rich Kaplan, Vice President. Previously, Jenny spent five years leading the Advertising Support and Services (AdSS) organization responsible for the service and support of Microsoft Search Online Advertising Products (Bing/AdCenter). She has also led the EMEA consumer support team for Customer Service and Support (CSS), based in London.

Rhea C. Norwood has a passion for developing people and organizations. For more than 15 years, companies have relied on Rhea to provide innovative solutions for meeting their human capital needs. A specialist in talent acquisition, learning and development, employee relations and diversity and inclusion, she has performed an integral role in helping companies save millions of dollars while building high-performance teams. Currently MarketPlace Director of Diversity Inclusion for Lowe's Companies, Rhea continues her focus on collaborating with suppliers, customers, employees and the community-at-large to drive innovative solutions for the enterprise.

For more information and to register for the USBLN® 16th Annual Conference & Expo.

Pennsylvania’s wounded service members and veterans will enjoy kayaking, biking, fishing and other outdoor activities thanks to a special event hosted by the Pennsylvania Parks & Forest Foundation and Gifford Pinchot State Park.  Service Members and their families can try accessible forms of recreation, improve their skills and enjoy the outdoors for free at Pinchot Outdoors Day – The Outdoors is for everyone on September 7, at Gifford Pinchot State Park in the Conewago Day Use area from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm.

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