Accessibility in the News: June 2005Sunday, July 10, 2005
A relatively quiet month this month. Google's Summer of Code has had a nice side effect: the KDE project, for instance has three accessibility-related projects underway.
The electronic voting saga keeps going. Diebold have lost in one particular state because they were offering inaccessible voting machines. They pointed out they don't have to supply accessible versions until 2006. Disappointing state of affairs.
- Post Searchlight: Making a business of disabled accessibility
He came up with the idea of launching and growing a panel to do market research and gather data. With an endorsement from the American Association of People with Disabilities, his goal is to have 50,000 people on the panel. These people will test out sites for ease of accessibility. He also anticipates having "mystery shoppers" to go into businesses and check out accommodation problems, especially for those with service animals, some of whom are restricted from entry in public places.
- Web Pro News: Web Standards in the real world: An interview with Molly Holzschlag
Using CSS-based layouts and semantic documents helps go a long way toward accessible sites. I've anecdotally said about 80% of the way there, but I've had some very reputable accessibility folks say it's more, so long as the authoring process includes markup specific to accessibility. After that, it's about addressing functional and perceptual issues - more on the user experience side. Done right, a standards-based site is written with accessible features in mind, every step of the way.
- e-Gov Monitor: One in ten websites alienate browser users, SciVisum finds
Odeon (www.odeon.co.uk), a major cinema chain has received criticism for months for accessibility issues - even now its' opening 'splash page' seems at first glance to be working fine but click on the 'enter' button and Firefox users are offered a blank page.
- e-Gov Monitor: Belarusian government agencies online (a survey of web sites)
Significant improvement of government agencies accessibility as compared to the 2004 survey data ( 3 and 34 percent respectively ) is explained by two major reasons: 1 ) "softer criteria"; 2 ) growing portion of district websites. Thus it may be stated that the general situation with the accessibility has not changed significantly. On the other hand a smaller portion of websites providing only minimal information ( 45 percent in 2005 and 56 percent in 2004 ) indicates that more websites give specific information accessible only online. And the level of interactive e - services remains the same ( 4 percent ).
- News Target: Audio book rental service adds an online solution for users who want the convenience of download-n-go
Powered by OverDrive, audio titles will be available in the industry standard WMA format for easy playback on your home computer or on hundreds of portable devices, including MP3 players. The OverDrive Audio Book technology contains advanced accessibility features that make it easy for blind and visually impaired listeners to enjoy titles.
Hardware and software
- Digital Divide:
Most community technology centers and programs serve people with disabilities and functional limitations. In an effort to specifically support this important work, the C4T grants program features an initiative called the Access Fund, which aims to increase technological accessibility for people with disabilities.
- Mercury News: Software a sight for sore eyes
The company's [IBM] Web Adaptation Technology software allows Malk and others with vision impairments and disabilities to manipulate Web pages to suit their needs. The software can read aloud what's on the page, magnify text, block distracting screen backgrounds or animation as well as make the keyboard easier to use.
- ZDNet: 'Smart' graphics framework for KDE nears release
Aside from performance improvements, Qt 4 includes improved support for accessibility, networking and threading, according to the Trolltech Web site.
- Pressbox: Macvisionaries - providing innovative solutions for blind Macintosh users
With the release of Mac OS 10.4 Apple have produced the first ever computer that is usable by blind people out of the box, eliminating the need to purchase expensive screen reading software. We at Macvisionaries are very excited about this development, and our aim is to provide help to users switching to Mac OS X in the form of additional software required by the blind, audio tutorials and an online community.
- e-Gov Monitor: Increased demand for accessibility compliance and .NET-based CMS drives growth for Immediacy
Accessibility compliance capability has been built into Immediacy's latest content management software launched last month - CMS 5.1. CMS 5.1 allows site administrators to select an appropriate accessibility level, from A to AAA, and then run automated tests whilst in editing mode prior to publishing web content.
- e-Gov Monitor: The voice of the Web
Thus, there is currently a strong focus on web accessibility. It is mainly aimed at making websites more accessible for screen-readers, which is a necessity for the visually impaired community. However, the needs of other groups, like people with learning disabilities or dyslexia, have not received the same attention despite the large number of adults suffering from difficulties with reading written text. It is estimated that 10 per cent of the UK population have dyslexia and four per cent are considered severely dyslexic. This figure represents over two million adults in the UK.
- Tech Spot: Adobe Acrobat Reader 7.02
Language support has been extended, a new autosave feature guards against losing your work in case of a power failure, and new accessibility features make Reader even easier to use for motor- and vision-impaired users.
- Computer Business Review: Keybowl ships new edition of orbiTouch keyless keyboard
The Alpha Edition provides integrated alphabetic and color-coded rings that are designed to guide the user in moving the twin ergonomically sculpted domes on the orbiTouch to produce character input.
- tmc net: ES&S AutoMARK receives Federal qualification
The breakthrough ES&S AutoMARK is an optical scan ballot marking system designed to provide privacy and accessibility to voters who are visually impaired, or have a disability or condition that would make it difficult or impossible to mark a ballot in the usual way. In addition, the technology provides language assistance to voters who are more comfortable speaking an alternative language or who have reading difficulties.
- The Hosting News: SALT hosting environment featured as MTI joins Microsoft Speech Partner Program
"By offering hosting for Microsoft Speech Server 2004 R2 and SALT applications, MTI is helping to make speech easier and more affordable for companies of all sizes and helping to drive speech technologies mainstream.," said Teresa Fagan, director of Marketing for Microsoft Speech Server, Microsoft. "With the help of application hosters such as MTI, Microsoft Speech Server can offer mid-market companies even greater accessibility to speech technology solutions previously available only to larger enterprises."
- PDF Zone:
(Note that AcroDialogs are not compliant with US Section 508 federal accessibility regulations - scripts aren't allowed.)
- CMS Wire: Sitellite 4.2 PHP Content Management System released
New template manager provides easier website design control as well as built-in tools for standards compliance testing, including Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) and Section 508 testing.
- dot KDE: KDE Announces the 24 Google Projects
- Nokey: an accessibility application designed to facilitate complete control of a computer using only the movement of the mouse pointer - Leo Spalteholz
- Speech recognition in KHotKeys - Olivier Goffart
- Writing a KDE application not in C(++): onscreen keyboard utility written in the Java programming language and utilizing the KDE/Qt framework - Jack Lauritsen
Legal US and Canada
- ABC News: Court: Ships must provide disabled access
The Supreme Court extended the reach of a landmark federal disabilities law, ruling Monday that foreign cruise lines that dock at U.S. ports must provide better access to handicapped people.
- Sign-on San Diego: Wheelchair-access complaint settled for $1.4 million
A disabled homeowner's complaint that his downtown condominium failed to meet federal accessibility standards has resulted in a record $1.4 million settlement agreed to by the developers of the 221-unit high-rise.
- Newswire: New Accessibility law now in effect
The new law will require government to work with the disability community and the private and public sectors to jointly develop standards to be achieved in stages of five years or less, leading to an accessible Ontario in 20 years. Standards will be set in both the public and private sectors to address the full range of disabilities - including physical, sensory, mental health, developmental and learning.
- Daytona Beach News: Diebold touch screens don't meet disability requirements
The Diebold voting machines being proposed for Volusia County don't meet the requirements of the Help America Vote Act. The shocking part is, they don't have to. It's only 2005 and the law doesn't go into effect until Jan. 1, 2006, so vendors are able to sell, this year, whatever type of voting systems they can get away with selling.
- Orlando Sentinel: Volusia rejects touch screens
Volusia, perhaps because of its history of high-profile voting problems and penchant for close elections, is thought to be the only county in Florida that has trashed a contract for paperless touch screens.
Activists noted the value of paper ballots during the 2000 presidential election, when a glitch deducted 16,022 votes for Al Gore in a precinct where only 219 people voted -- a problem ironed out after counting paper ballots.
- Oneida Dispatch: Verified Voting advocate explains voting machine options
Handicapped voters would use a ballot marking device, or a machine which scans the ballot. The device can provide the same accessibility as DREs, Lipari said. If vision-impaired or blind, the voter can use earphones to listen as the device reads the choices off. The screen also has options to provide text and background contrast. Mobility-impaired voters can use the sip and puff interface in which a breathing control moves the cursor along the screen. Similar features are available on the DRE machines.
Legal UK / Europe
- Irish Health: Disability - govt 'not willing to change'
He pointed to the fact that the Bill states that public buildings should be accessible to people with disabilities, but only if that is practical. It goes on to say that by 2015, most public buildings will have to comply with accessibility regulations, unless this cannot be justified 'on the grounds of cost, having regard to the use to which the building is put'.
- A Free Press: The accessibility of restaurants
"Try to get served in a pub when you cannot catch the barman's eye. Try ordering food in a pub or restaurant that doesn't have Braille menu facilities. No point in having disabled toilets if no one tells you where they are".
Legal - Rest of the world
- Herald Sun: Disabled access war looms
Four founding members of a key State Government advisory group have threatened to resign over delays in ensuring disabled people proper access to the community.
- SABC News: Disability conference to be held in Kimberley
The Office on the Status of People Living with Disabilities in the Northern Cape will hold a five-day Municipal Conference on Disability in Kimberley starting from Sunday. The conference is aimed at creating an accessible service delivery environment for people with disabilities at a municipal level.