Product Accessibility

A motorized wheelchair tray called, “RoboDesk” may help people with disabilities more easily handle mobile devices such as an iPad and overcome the limitations of tables and moving from the chair.

RoboDesk and other assistance technologies are being developed by Brad Duerstock, an associate professor of engineering practice in the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering and School of Industrial Engineering, in the Purdue Institute for Accessible Science. Read more about RoboDesk.

Wireless CapTel by Sprint powered by Raketu is now available for all iOS powered devices. Wireless CapTel by Sprint gives real-time word-for-word captions of phone conversations. Now persons with hearing disabilities can read captions of conversations on the phone’s display when the call is connected to the CapTel service. Watch the YouTube Wireless CapTel video here.

In an effort to commit to persons with disabilities and ensure that they are treated equally with dignity and respect, Singapore has ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCPRD). On August 18, 2013 the Convention will come into effect for Singapore marking a significant milestone. Singapore’s Masterplan, which gives Singapore a roadmap for an inclusive society where persons with disabilities are empowered to contribute to society, is credited for making it possible through the 3P (People, Public, Private) collaboration. Read more about Singapore committing to persons with disabilities.

I was interviewing the owner of a large web design firm on my radio show, Seacoast Business Connections and the topic of accessibility came up. As my guest was explaining to me that his firm makes a point of designing with accessibility in mind even if the client is not concerned with it, his twin boys, both of whom were born with cerebral palsy (CP), played in the lobby just on the other side of the studio’s large glass window.

Unemployment for people with disabilities rose slightly last month to 13.6% - up from 12.9%,  Shaun Heasley reported on June 7, 2013 in the online news, Disability Scoop

“The Labor Department began tracking employment among people with disabilities in October 2008. … Data on people with disabilities covers those over the age of 16 who do not live in institutions. The first employment report specific to this population was made available in February 2009. Now, reports are released monthly.” said Heasley.

Improved accessibility in electronic products, websites, documents and mobile applications can help close the unemployment rate gap between people with disabilities and the general population, which is now around 7.6%.   Betsy Beaumon, VP and General Manager of Global Literacy at Benetech shared some success stories on Huffington Post in May.

By improving accessibility, persons with disabilities have a better chance at education, employment and improved quality of life.

Where the ADA does not spell out specifics, legal leveraging is filling the gap on how schools must accommodate making course textbooks and materials accessible.  The recent settlement between the nonprofit group Disability Rights Advocates and UC Berkley sets a precedent which proponents hope other universities will follow.

Rebecca Williford, an attorney for the DRA, said, “Access to print material is an emerging issue.  We’re hopeful that the technology is going to get better and that the agreement with UC Berkeley will help to put students on a more equal playing field.”

The improvements Berkeley agreed to include:

  • providing digital versions of textbooks within 10 days,
  • providing  course readers within 17 days
  • encouraging instructors to identify course materials earlier,
  • providing scanning machines to allow students to self-scan materials.

The school will also implement a library print conversion system to enable students to request a specific book or journal from the library.  This system will make materials available in different formats in about 5 days.

Read more about this story at LA Times - Pact gives disabled UC Berkeley students more access to books.

Interactive Accessibility's accessibility expert, Kathy Wahlbin, will be teaching a class at Colorado State University.  The course is listed as SPECIAL TOPICS IN TECHNOLOGY, ARTS, AND MEDIA: UNIVERSAL DESIGN FOR DIGITAL MEDIA, ATLS 3519-58

To register please go to CU Continuing Education (under ATLAS program).

Spring 2013 Schedule: Jan. 20 – May 3, 2013

Course Description

Many web and media designers believe that the design process begins and ends with information architecture and visual design. Although these elements are important, other factors are equally if not more crucial for the design of successful web sites and other digital media. This course will examine the standards and methods for designing digital material that is not only accessible for persons with disabilities – a particularly important requirement for the web sites of public entities – but also effective and usable for all users and across platforms.

Course Scope

This course will review standards for usability and accessibility, focusing on the concepts of universal design, web standards and accessibility best practices. Resources and texts from media design experts such as Donald A. Norman, Wendy Chisholm, Derek Featherstone and Jeffrey Zeldman will be complemented with online resources and materials. Topics to be covered include (x)html standards, structured coding procedures, semantic web design, user-centered design, and validation tools, among others. There may be occasional live lectures and guest speakers – delivered through web conferencing but taped for later and repeat viewing, as needed by students. Students will complete weekly assignments and follow the overall schedule of the course through the semester.

Instructors

Howard Kramer

Mr. Kramer has been an Access Specialist at CU-Boulder and coordinator for the Accessing Higher Ground Conference for the past 15 years.

Kathy Wahlbin

Ms. Wahlbin is a Web accessibility consultant, founder of Interactive Accessibility and an ADA,  Section 508 and W3C WCAG accessibility expert.

 

For the past few years, Google has been improving the overall accessibility in Google Docs, Sites and Calendar.  Google just released an update describing the enhancements in these products and said that they are committed to moving the state of accessibility forward in their applications.

Some of the enhancements include:

  • Improved focus handling
  • Enhancements to keyboard access and navigation
  • NVDA support for screen reader users
  • Enhanced explore-by-touch capabilities and keybaord/trackpad navigatibility in mobile apps

Resources

 

Pages

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