Accessibility in the News: May 2004Wednesday, June 02, 2004
The key story is this month is the US Supreme Court's ruling that disabled people's rights to legal and judicial access are protected in Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ruling in Tennessee v Lane upholds the scope of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act to include courthouses; a suprising turn of events considering previous judicial positions of limiting ADA.
Software and Hardware
- CMSwire: Typo3 3.6.0 focuses on standards compliance in latest release
An important new feature is the compliance of XHTML standards for all standard content elements, enabling adherence to accessibility requirements.
- BusinessWire: ICEsoft announces Java browser support for ADA/Section 508
ICEbrowser rendered applications configured to support accessibility in the rendering panel can now be navigated with keyboard commands using commercial text reader software that can also verbalize content to impaired users. ICEbrowser's Swing-based HTML rendering component supports the Accessible Hypertext interface, which is part of the Java Accessibility package. Through this API, applications have a standard mechanism for accessing the content of the rendered page through attributes and spatial location.
- Planet PDF: Deque Systems announces beta of new content standards management solution
The Deque Undoc and Ramp product lines are designed to encourage process workflow to streamline efforts at managing content for accessibility. "We've long been the technology leader in remediation to meet Section 508 and W3C Accessibility Guidelines," says Cheryl Holmes, Deque's Vice President of Sales and Marketing. "Making training materials accessible under Section 508 is now a straightforward, manageable process using Deque Ramp and Deque Undoc product families."
- TMCnet: Latest version Of NetOp Remote Control certified 508 Compliant, making NetOp accessible to people with disabilities
After months of evaluations and adjustments, Criterion Section 508 Solutions has certified NetOp's latest version of Remote Control for Windows operating systems to be 508 Compliant under the strict standards set forth by the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
- ONLamp: Repetitive software injury
It seemed that my problems with RSI were not life, music or career threatening, and I was advised about some possibilities to make things a little better. This included soft massage of the part of my hand that was problematic and some special hand exercises. Another suggestion was to take a series of so called micropauses when working. This means taking a 10 or 15 second break every 5 or 10 minutes. A micropause then allows your hand to relax and stop a build up of tension that can result in a repetitive strain injury.
- TMCnet: U.S. Social Security Administration awards $20.9 million blanket purchase agreement for Kofax Information Capture Technology
According to Murphy, a primary factor in Kofax winning this business was the fact that the company's flexible Ascent platform was customized to make it the most Section 508-compliant solution currently available (as tested by SSA) in the information capture market. Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, requires that federal agencies' Electronic and Information Technology (EIT) be accessible by people with disabilities.
- InfoWorld: Making Windows easier to see
XP's Accessibility options are robust enough not only to positively impact a user, but to give a technician a pause during setup. We thought about incorporating certain accessibility features into various desktop images, but found that user preferences were so diverse that this really doesn't help. Instead, we found it easier simply to isolate our vision-impaired users and spend 20 minutes or so with each one. The positive feedback we got was tremendous.
- Yahoo: Thomson NETg's improved assistive technology capabilities provide consistent, convenient learning experience
Thomson NETg was first-to-market with integrating assistive technologies directly into its courseware, allowing learners with mobility, hearing or visual impairments to access e-Learning more easily.
- webProNews: A wasted opportunity for the web accessibility cause
Another failed aspect of the report was the DRC's inability to separate website accessibility issues with usability ones. Many of the problems disabled users came across could also be faced by non-disabled web users - we all struggle to navigate unusable websites on a daily basis.
- Digital Media Europe: Web accessibility and the UK law: Debunking myths
The law about accessible websites came into force on 1 October, 1999, and the Code of Practice for this section of the Act was published on 27 May, 2002. This means that the majority of websites are already in breach of the law.
- Richmond and Twickenham Times: Views sought on disability website
By logging on to DisabledGo, people will be able to establish whether buildings have wheelchair access, shops offer home delivery, a cinema a hearing loop, a hotel provides adapted rooms, whether a restaurant welcomes assistance dogs and offers menus in large print or Braille and much more.
- PublicTechnology: Go straight to prison: take a virtual tour on new prison service website
The Advice and Support section has been designed to answer many of the questions that friends or relatives of prisoners may have about life inside prison as well as practical advice on keeping in touch with prisoners. The site has been designed to meet accessibility guidelines laid down by the Government to ensure that people with disabilities are able to access it.
- University of Wisconsin: Library students help agencies make web sites more accessible
This semester, the class' list of clients has included the state Department of Health and Family Services Food Safety and Recreational Licensing, Elderly Resources, and Adoption and Foster Care offices; the departments of Transportation and Natural Resources; the UW-Madison Memorial Library preservation department, Geography Library and Primate Center Library; Social Science Microcomputing Lab; the Lindberg Elementary School Library; Aura Vintage Clothing on State St. and the Monona Public Library, for which Nicole Fromm, a SLIS graduate student, is completing a project.
- DMEurope: How disabled users access the internet
Some of users don't have access to a mouse when browsing the internet. Try putting yourself in their position by navigating your website using only tab, shift-tab, and the return key.
- ElectricNews.net: E-gov Web sites fail accessibility test
"Some of the owners have been in touch and have been surprised that they're not doing as well as they thought," said Michael Byrne, CEO of EAIS, speaking to ElectricNews.Net. "They stated in their tender documents that they wanted their site to be accessible and have been told by the Web developers that the site was accessible."
- Xinhuanet: Sound portal launched in HK to help aged on-line
He said all government websites comply with international standards on web accessibility to facilitate navigation by the visually impaired. Wong said bridging the digital divide is a major component of the Digital 21 Strategy, and the government has been working closely with the trade, academia and social service community in carrying out measures to bridge the divide.
- Daily Star: More than just internet access, disabled need accessible internet
"It has become a truism to say that the rapid pace of development in information and communications technologies has significant social and economic implications for countries and for the participation of people with disabilities in social life and development on the basis of equality," said Clinton Rapley, an expert on disability issues in the United States.
- PublicTechnology: Government website errors limit access to public services and information
Websites offering information and services for the jobless and people on benefits are among the worst in e-Government a new report reveals. Research has shown that those most likely to use public services are also the least likely to use, or be comfortable using, the Internet.
- eMediaWire: New web standards incubator will act as catalyst for worldwide adoption of professional standards.
One of GAWDS' immediate goals is to address and debunk myths that lead some Web designers to shrug off standards. Guild members websites will demonstrate the inherent good sense of Web standards and give encouragement and support to designers who adopt standards in their work. There are also longer-term plans to offer accreditation programs that give members a competitive edge through association with and profiling on the GAWDS site.
- vnunet: An accessible web is good for all
A better idea is to forget the tools and instead have designers read and understand the WAI guidelines themselves. It turns out that most of the guidelines chime nicely with the things that web designers should do anyway. After all, requirements for accessibility, such as clear language and easy navigation, are simple common sense.
- TechCentral: An unreadable Internet
According to the International Dyslexia Association (IDA), dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurological in origin. It is characterised by difficulties with accurate or fluent word recognition - in some cases both - and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. Dyslexia affects males and females in equal number, and people from different ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds as well. As it is not a disease, there is no cure for dyslexia. However, with proper diagnosis, appropriate instruction, hard work and support from family, teachers, and friends, individuals who are dyslexic can succeed in school and later as working adults, according to IDA.
- Scoop: EFF - Stand up for accountable elections
And while new voting technology promises fully accessible, private voting for Americans with disabilities and non-English speakers, machines that cannot verifiably record and tally votes break that promise. This is not an acceptable foundation for our democracy.
- Daily Journal: Accessibility analysis
Hornback was one of 300 volunteers in 48 counties surveying voting places Tuesday as part of a state initiative called Count Us IN. The initiative is a project of the Governor's Planning Council for People With Disabilities and is an effort to get Indiana in line with new federal legislation mandating greater accessibility at polling places.
- Register: E-voting promises US election tragicomedy
And they provide better accessibility for handicapped voters, reducing their dependence on poll workers, and give a much clearer indication of voter intent. It's either yes, no, or nothing; there are no hanging chads, pregnant chads, or stray marks and crossing out of previous choices. A DRE machine may reflect a voter's choice inaccurately, certainly. One may well vote for the wrong candidate, but one will do so clearly. Election officials love this.
- Mercury News: Blind voters rip e-machines
Four voters said the audio function did not appear to work at all. Others waited up to half an hour for poll workers to trouble-shoot the devices. Sam Chen, a retired college professor, said he was happy to finally hear an initial message, but then the machine balked. After struggling for an hour, Chen asked a poll worker to cast a ballot on his behalf. "I wish I had voted on my own," he said.
- Boston.com: Touch-screen voting setups on horizon
As of Jan. 1, 2006, the direct recording electronic voting systems, known as DREs, will be required across the country under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The machines make it easier for people who have difficulty using their arms or hands to register choices, even offering the option of using a mouth wand or similar device to enter a vote.
Real world accessibility
- Evening Times: £5bn warning to shops over the disabled
It found out-of-town shopping centres were preferred, for easier disabled parking and better access to shops. The charity said that Scotland's one million disabled people have a spending power of £5bn and businesses could be missing out on a lucrative market.
- Guardian: One hundred things you never knew about Athens 2004
81 International Paralympic Committee officials are pressing the organisers to meet deadlines for improving the city's poor accessibility.
- Gotham Gazette: 12,000 NYC Taxis; Five Are Accessible
April was the cruelest month for disabled New Yorkers. Half the drivers of the Access-a-Ride vans on which so many people with disabilities rely for public transportation went on strike. When medallions for 300 new taxis were auctioned, no one who was willing to deploy a wheelchair-accessible vehicle made a high enough bid to secure a medallion, despite the hope that nine percent of the new cabs would be accessible. And a bill to make all new cabs accessible has yet to have a hearing, despite having attracted 38 sponsors out of the 51 City Council members.
- Barnet Times: London Assembly Elections: Transport tops agenda
Johnson: I think we are only going to have a sensible Tube and rail network if we bring it back into public ownership. Tube privatisation will be a disaster. I am pushing for full accessibility of Tube and rail network for disabled people by 2020.
- BusinessWire: Wizzard wins more accessibility business
A leading ATM manufacturer recently placed a second order with Wizzard for their growing Talking ATM initiative. This ATM manufacturer will add over 750 new Talking ATMs to their network using Wizzard's text-to-speech product offering. Also announced today, a leading accessibility software developer placed its fourth order for Wizzard text-to-speech products to include in their "screen reader" product line bringing the total talking screen readers to 40,000 units for this customer.
- TMCnet: Volunteers with disabilities to construct a home featuring smart home technology for a person who has a disability
Derrick Daniels, the future homeowner, will be the first recipient of an ABILITY House that features smart home technology that creates a barrier-free environment. BellSouth is sponsoring the home and will provide extensive telephone technology and services, including an Ameriphone electronic remote control voice activated speakerphone, talking caller ID, BellSouth deluxe caller ID service, BellSouth directory assistance exemption, BellSouth directory assistance call completion service and BellSouth(R) FastAccess(R) Internet Service.
- Courier-Mail: Paralympic star invents the wheel
"Until the Vulcan, standard wheelchair wheel design hadn't changed for a century," the 32-year-old Victorian who won gold for basketball at the 1996 Atlanta Paralympics, said on the eve of his China trip. "Unlike the conventional wheel - basically, a bike rim bolted to tubing - the Vulcan features an all-in-one ergonomic inner wheel and push rim, allowing far greater control, mobility and safety.
- Arizona Republic: ADOT's system no help to deaf
Our deaf and hard-of-hearing consumers have seen the signs posted on highways, encouraging drivers to call the three-digit number for traffic information. However, no TTY number or Web site has been made public, thus disallowing the deaf population from using the same service that hearing drivers can now use.
- UN News Centre: UN committee drafting treaty to protect persons with disabilities to open session
A United Nations committee negotiating a treaty to protect the rights of 600 million people worldwide with disabilities is set to open its third session next week in New York.
- Sun Herald: Guide for disabled travelers
Travelers with disabilities spent $13.6 billion on 31.7 million trips in the United States in 2002, according to a study conducted by Harris Interactive for national travel industry groups. The study also found that people with disabilities could spend at least $27 billion per year if airlines, lodging and other tourism-related businesses further target disabled travelers' needs.
- mondaq: United States: Making the slope and grade: The Department of Justice's new aggressive posture on accessible design
For example, a prominent Midwest architectural firm told a developer client that certain federal requirements did not apply to the client's newly designed apartment complex. Within a few months, after embarrassing themselves in a meeting before a state agency, the architect's professional liability carrier paid almost $1 million to settle the design deficiencies on a single apartment project. Further, many architects have mistakenly assumed that state law requirements for the set-aside of a certain number of accessible units satisfy federal requirements.
- Salt Lake Tribune: Olympic Notes: Hedrick in good company with Memorial Trophy
An elevator and more gently graded paths will be added to the Acropolis in Athens so the disabled can visit the 2,500-year-old ruins by the Sept. 17-28 Paralympic Games. The Greek capital has long been considered a difficult city for the disabled, but laws passed in recent year have aimed to increase accessibility. . . . Athens is installing more than 1,000 ramps for disabled access, repaving 156 miles of roads, adding 7,000 trees and 600,000 flowers for the Olympics and Paralympics. Ninety percent of the projects are expected to be finished by the end of July.
- CNW Telbec: Ontario Government improving accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities
The Ontario government marked the beginning of National Access Awareness Week today by announcing three new projects that will improve accessibility for people with disabilities.
- Yahoo: NAPAS hails Supreme Court decision in Tennessee v. Lane; ruling to bring down state courthouse barriers
In a 5-4 ruling, in Tennessee v. Lane, the Court held that States were not immune from suit under Title II of the ADA, which requires States to remove architectural and other barriers to accessibility in courthouses. The Court held that access to the judicial process is a constitutional guarantee and that Congress, when it enacted the ADA, had before it an extensive record of discrimination against persons with disabilities and denial of access to courts and other public facilities.
- Court TV: Supreme Court rules disabled man can sue over lack of wheelchair accessibility
Disabled people can sue if states ignore a landmark civil rights law that protects their rights, a divided Supreme Court ruled Monday in the case of a paraplegic man who crawled up the steps of a small-town courthouse because there was no elevator for his wheelchair.
- KnightRidder: Supreme Court upholds key provision in disabilities act
The decision is surprising in part because the high court has limited the ADA's scope since it was passed in 1990. In a key 2001 ruling, the justices exempted states from suit under Title I of the ADA, which prohibits employment discrimination against the disabled. The decision is also a key departure from others in recent cases that have championed the power of states over the federal government. These "federalism" cases have been a hallmark of Rehnquist's tenure as chief justice.
- U.S. Newswire: Supreme Court decision in Lane v. Tennessee an historic ruling, says National Organization on Disability
"This decision reaffirms the Americans with Disabilities Act, and declares that the civil rights our nation promises to citizens should not be superseded by states' rights," said N.O.D. President Alan A. Reich. "This decision endorses rights promised by the ADA since 1990. It supports the integration of Americans with disabilities into American life. This could not come on a more appropriate day than the 50th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision that integrated the public school system."
- Seattle Times: Justices rule states not immune from disabilities act
The justices said Congress was responding to "systematic deprivations of fundamental rights" when it passed the ADA, and its authority to remedy those wrongs overrides states' constitutional protection against lawsuits. The ruling gives teeth to Title II of the ADA, which requires that state and local governments provide access to services for the disabled.
- Daily News Online: Disabled win right to sue over access
The five justices in the majority said Monday that a state's "pattern of unequal treatment" against people with disabilities, like a state's discrimination against blacks, violates the Constitution. Victims of such discrimination may sue the state, the court said. The four dissenting justices said that states have a "sovereign immunity" that shields them against such claims.
- Kansan: Courthouse access questioned
"Courthouses throughout the country will have to take an even closer look at their physical layout to make sure that citizens who have mobility impairment would be able to participate in the legal system, as jurors, participants and observers in a courtroom," said Gordon Criswell, director of human services for the Unified Government.
- State News: Opening doors
A recent Supreme Court decision to guarantee accessibility in government-owned buildings, such as schools and courthouses, provides greater encouragement for MSU to push for more accessibility on campus, officials say.
- Christian Science Monitor: In next round, will disability rights be broadened further?
In terms of the fight for disability rights, the imagery of a man leaving his wheelchair behind in order to exercise his constitutional guarantee of access to the courts was stark and brutally effective. It persuaded Justice Sandra Day O'Connor to join forces with the Supreme Court's liberal wing and carve out a new doctrine permitting disabled individuals to sue state governments for money damages whenever discrimination against the disabled interferes with the fundamental freedom of access to the courts.