Accessibility in the News: March 2005Saturday, April 02, 2005
IBM firmly stamped its reputation in the accessibility market by introducing the first assistive technology mouse. For people with mobility-impairments, notably shaky hands, IBM's hardware smooths out jaggy mouse movement, effectively making fine cursor movements accessible. This is in addition to IBM's already bulging pocket of accessibility-related hardware and software.
On the Open Source front, KDE took a step closer to producing a fully accessible desktop experience with their 3.4 release. The variety of assistive technologies include mouse enhancements, speech recognition, screen magnifiers, and text-to-speech conversion.
Legislative wise, the European Union survey into accessible information and communication has returned the result that most participants want accessible audits and tests to be done on products, with an even split between mandatory and voluntary third party testing.
- net imperative: Usability market to surge in 2005
The report, published by Internet marketing firm E-consultancy, puts the UK usability and accessibility market at £90m in 2004 in terms of revenue.
The sector will grow by a further 25% in 2005, to between £108m to £117m, driven by increased awareness of the benefits of improved website usability and accessibility, according to the report.
- A Free Press: Is web site accessibility an important issue for you?
Browsealoud enables you to reach the 17% of the population who have literacy difficulties, dyslexia and where English is not a first language.
It is worth noting that there are over 10 million disabled people in Britain and 600 million disabled people worldwide all of whom have family, friends and professional people who support us!?!
- A Free Press: UK Usability & Accessibility market worth £90m in 2004, to surge beyond £100m in 2005
Ashley Friedlein, CEO of E-consultancy, comments, "Accessibility services have quickly grown to account for at least a fifth of market revenues. Our research shows that spending in this area has risen rapidly on concerns about being prosecuted, with companies obliged to comply with the Disability Discrimination Act."
- Community Newswire: MPs under fire over web access
Members of Parliament across the country have today come under fire after a major online survey discovered only 45% of the politicians' personal websites offered basic levels of accessibility for all users.
- News medical: New computer mouse adapter that enables people who suffer from hand tremors to eliminate excessive cursor movement
One of the company's directors, James Cosgrave, himself a sufferer of a tremor condition which he inherited at birth, said "I'm a pilot and my tremor condition has not limited my ability to fly a plane, but using a PC has proven almost impossible simply because everything revolves around using the mouse to accurately manipulate the tiny cursor on the screen. I have been using a prototype of the mouse adapter for over a year now and it has literally transformed my life." Montrose Secam plans to donate a percentage of sales from the adapter to local tremor foundations to help offer support and advice to sufferers of tremor conditions.
- Computerworld: One site fits all
This doesn't apply to only those who are traditionally considered disabled. With a significant portion of the U.S. population creeping toward Social Security age, a growing number of your employees and customers are likely to have gradually declining vision, hearing and manual dexterity. And many of those aging customers tend to be at a point in their lives when they can afford to make substantial purchases.
- Public Technology: EU Web Accessibility monitoring tool to be built. You can input to its spec...
A tool for monitoring Web Accessibility is to be designed by the European Internet Accessibility Observatory (EIAO). Its aims will be to:
- Provide ranking lists of accessible web sites to fuel competition, leading to improvements and raised awareness.
- Provide more detailed information about accessibility to enable policy makers to design more effective policies and encourage web developers to improve their sites.
Hardware and Software
- Tech Whack: IBM to demonstrate portfolio of accessibility technologies
"IBM's accessibility solutions are designed not only to help companies and organizations meet government requirements for accessibility, but to move businesses beyond compliance. IBM envisions a true societal transformation where accessibility is not only good for individuals, but good for business and for society as a whole," said Frances West, director of IBM's Worldwide Accessibility Center.
- the Mature Market: IBM and accessibility solutions
"Empowering people with disabilities to access to the web and the other information technology must be a rising initiative for all companies and organizations," said Jay Leventhal of American Federation of the Blind. "Web developers need innovative and effective tools to better enable them to build sites which can be accessible to the aging workforce and people with disabilities, a population that cannot be ignored in today's world."
- kxan: IBM's web reader for the visually impaired
The reader works with keystrokes without a mouse. Corona says the Web Reader allows him to read up to 350 words per minute.
- SFGate: Helping hand for those with shaky hands IBM to unveil mouse adapter to steady cursor
"If your hand is moving in a generally steady direction, but it is moving up and down or in a circular motion, the filter removes the little jiggles and the steady stuff stays in there," said Levine, who developed the adapter with IBM engineer Michael Schappert.
- TMC.net: ScanSoft launches SpeechPAK TALKS 2.0 for blind and low-vision customers
Designed for Symbian series 60 and 80 mobile phones, the software works with the phone's existing interface to perform a host of functions that make mobile devices completely accessible for individuals who are blind or visually impaired.
- Web Pro News: IBM researchers invent new mouse adapter
The new mouse adapter filters out the shaking movements of the hand - in a similar way to how the image stabilizing systems of some camera lenses work. ... It can also be set to filter out unintended multiple clicking on the mouse caused by a shaking finger.
- eMediawire: More than 50% of MP's websites fail to offer constituents basic levels of accessibility
A study of the personal websites of British Members of Parliament by internet consultants net-progress has revealed that only 45% offered basic levels of accessibility for all users. Whilst this is a higher proportion than found in many other sectors, for a group of people committed to meeting the needs of their constituents - and in an election year - this performance is nonetheless disappointing. Further, it could be argued that 55% of MPs have not taken "reasonable steps" as required by the Disability Discrimination Act 1999. Indeed, Peter Bottomley MP concedes "many of us need to try harder"; Julie Howell, Digital Policy Development Manager at the Royal National Institute of the Blind (RNIB) agrees that "some MPs are missing a trick here".
- LXer: Announcing KDE 3.4
For people with low vision, several high contrast themes including a complete monochrome icon set have been added. Other accessibility applications have been improved. KMouseTool which can click the mouse for people with, for example, carpal tunnel syndrome or tendinitis; KMouth to allow the computer to speak for the speech impaired; and KMagnifier to magnify sections of screen for partially-sighted users. Standard accessibility features including "Sticky Keys", "Slow Keys" and "Bounce Keys" are also available and are now more easily accessed via keyboard gestures. All of these features combine to open the world of computing to a much wider audience and to a section of the population that is often overlooked. The KDE project will continue its close cooperation with the accessibility community to reach even more people in the future.
- ZDNet: KDE 3.4 offers improved accessibility
The text-to-speech technology allows those who want it - the visually impaired, for example - to have text, PDF and browser content read out and will also read out notifications from all KDE applications. Other accessibility applications in KDE have been improved for the 3.4 release, including KMagnifier, which magnifies sections of the screen - useful for the partially sighted - and KMouseTool, which is meant to assist people who find it difficult or painful to click the mouse by interpreting pauses in the mouse's motion as clicks.
- out-law: Accessible, usable products from British Standards
Managing inclusive design is the subject of a new guide from the British Standards Institution (BSI) that aims to help companies improve the design of products to make them accessible to all, including disabled and elderly customers.
- Linux Insider: KDE version 3.4 unveiled
KDE 3.4 includes an advanced KDE text-to-speech Latest News about text-to-speech framework, which integrates into KDE's PDF viewer, editor and Web browser and into its new speaker tool KSayIt. For people with limited vision, several high-contrast themes have been added, including a complete monochrome icon set. Other accessibility applications have been improved as well.
- NZ Herald:
Orr carries a blind-accessible cellphone and a wireless-equipped laptop with programs which read the words on the screen to him. "If I am away from the office I can access my email, the same as anyone else," Orr says.
- Web Services Journal: IBM creating easy access web services
IBM is furthermore trying to accommodate people who have low vision, cognitive or mobility limitations with Easy Web Browsing. It allows users to customize the way Web pages are presented. Users can change the size of the text, increase the line spacing, and convert the text and links to high-contrast colors that are easier to see. Easy Web Browsing to also being used by enterprise to differentiate their own Web sites and make them more accessible to their members, employees and customers.
- Sourcewire: O2 focuses on accessibility for disabled, mobile and silver surfers
Web accessibility for the disabled, the elderly and mobile workers is high on O2's agenda as it partners with Segala M Test (Segala) to provide a web accessibility accreditation scheme. Segala will now be responsible for validating O2's entire web based supplier products against the WAI 'AA' guidelines by providing a branded logo which acts as a seal of approval for O2. Segala is also providing ongoing advice for the UK's market leader in mobile web products on mobile device accessibility.
Legal US and Canada
- Windows for Devices: Voting machine for disabled runs Windows CE 5.0
The device is "designed to provide privacy and accessibility to voters who are blind, vision-impaired, or have a disability or condition that would make it difficult or impossible to mark a ballot in the usual way," ES&S says. "In addition, the technology provides language assistance to voters who are more comfortable speaking a different language or who need help to better understand written instructions."
- Mondaq: Minimizing ADA liability for public access to businesses
"Sue, settle and move on to the next suit." That is how one federal judge in California described the "modus operandi" of a wheelchair-bound man who had brought no less than 156 ADA lawsuits in just the past year, all with the aid of the same law firm. ... In many cases, a personal injury claim is tacked on, with the individual claiming that he was injured as a result of trying to gain access around some type of architectural barrier. In the case of the infamous repeat plaintiff in California, he claimed to be injured in as many as four different establishments in the same day.
Reaction and guidance to the Jarek Molski effect.
- SFGate: Disabled 'testers' check for access compliance
Q: I recently heard that a person in a wheelchair was going around to check out new apartment buildings. He didn't intend to live at any one of them, but wherever he found that he couldn't get into the building, or reach the thermostat, or get through the doors, he sued the developer for discrimination. This doesn't seem fair. Did I hear correctly?
Legal UK / Europe
- A Free Press: The accessibility of restaurants
For example, most restaurants usually tend to have a step or few to enter into the building. This route is clearly inaccessible to wheelchair users and the installation of a ramp would be considered a "reasonable" modification in terms of cost and the physical appearance of the building.
- SF Gate: Easing the way around Europe by wheelchair
"Rick Steves' Easy Access Europe: A Guide for Travelers with Limited Mobility," by Rick Steves (Avalon Travel Publishing, $19.95, 498 pages). Europe's cobblestoned streets, ancient buildings and narrow passageways, picturesque as they are, have traditionally stymied disabled travelers. In his newest guidebook, Steves asserts that what the Continent lacks in ramps and elevators, it more than makes up for with the right attitude.
- Car pages: Could taxis hold the key to London's Olympic bid?
Vehicles that a million users a day in London take for granted could be the key to London's Olympic bid. All of the Capital's 21,000 licensed London Taxis are wheelchair accessible. It is estimated that in each of the other cities being considered for the Olympics and Paralympics there is little more than a handful of such vehicles.
- Times Online: Blind faith in big handouts
Among those Bills that are expected to squeeze through in time is the Disability Discrimination Bill, which has its second reading in the Commons today. The Bill extends the scope of existing disability discrimination law to apply it to transport, public authorities, landlords and private clubs, and bring sufferers of HIV, cancer and MS within its scope from the moment of diagnosis. By 2020 all trains, buses and coaches will have to be accessible to the disabled, including those with hearing or sight difficulties. Information will need to be provided in Braille for the blind; in written signs for the deaf.
- Europa: public procurement contracts for ICT goods and services should stipulate eAccessibility, say stakeholders
Although there is clear support for some form of product certification or a "labelling" scheme (72%), stakeholders are fairly evenly divided on whether this scheme should be voluntary, mandatory, and/or rely on self-certification with checks. Commission proposals will be set out in a Communication scheduled for September 2005.
- Register: Public IT must be accessible: EC
In its public consultation on the need for accessibility in IT, the EC surveyed 500 public agencies including universities, IT suppliers and user groups. It revealed that 90 per cent said accessibility should be a contractual requirement, 14 per cent said services needed to be fully interoperable, and 88 per cent said that EU institutions should take a lead in proposing these measures.