Accessibility in the News: October 2005Tuesday, November 08, 2005
The story of the month is the RNIB's investigation into RyanAir's website. RyanAir are no strangers to disability discrimination complaints, and now their website is under scrutiny. The RNIB are investigating a complaint that a disabled person cannot get tickets online at the same price as non-disabled people - partly because disabled people are required to phone in, and thus online offers are not valid when the tickets are bought over the phone.
Its a common understanding that airlines are exempt from the Disability Discrimination Act (see Part III, section 19, paragraph 5(b).), but the DRC, in their Code of Practice, paragraph 2.17 states:
It is important to remember that it is the provision of the service which is affected by Part III of the Act and not the nature of the service or business or the type of establishment from which it is provided. In many cases a service provider is providing a service by a number of different means. In some cases, however, each of those means of service might be regarded as a service in itself and subject to the Act.
- Managing Information: Prize-winning accessibility paper published by UKOLN
The paper by Brian Kelly of UKOLN (and co-authored by Lawrie Phipps and Caro Howell) reviewed the limitations of the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) approach to Web accessibility, especially when applied to e-learning accessibility.
- US Newswire: Feed Readers: not satisfying the appetites of blind computer users; AFB evaluates one of the hottest trends in internet technology
Overall, AFB found the Bloglines interface intuitive and the site well labelled and screen reader-friendly. Users can create an account without encountering a captcha - those abstract renderings of random characters that ask users to retype the word they see (these images make it impossible for blind computer users to sign up for user accounts because captcha images cannot be read by screen readers). Bloglines also makes it easy to manage account preferences and set up personal blogs without sighted assistance. What's more is the site's feed reader software called the "Notifier" allows users to activate an auditory alarm that indicates when new content has been received.
- 24dash: UKvisas picks up top e-government award
The system was initiated in 2002 and has been rolled out across 27 Embassies worldwide, with two more due to be added before the end of October 2005. According to the Home Office, development of many aspects continues, including work to improve accessibility of the website for the visually impaired.
- ElectricNewsNet: O2 website awarded new trustmark
Segala's trustmark is expected to be adopted by search engines to allow web users to filter for content with specific accessibility criteria, or appropriate for certain age groups. This could aid users in searching for sites accessible to those with special needs, or for protecting certain groups, such as children, from accessing inappropriate web content.
- Silicon Republic: New online service helps sites stick to the rules
In the case of accessibility, if the text on a company's website is small and hard to read and can't be changed by the viewer, it may fall foul of guidelines on access for the visually impaired. With data privacy for example, Irish law holds that a website without a privacy statement could be liable for fines of up to 100k euros per day.
- out-law: RNIB investigates Ryanair's online offering
The charity is not suing the airline for having an inaccessible website - although another charity, AbilityNet, accused it of just that in 2003. Rather, the RNIB is investigating a complaint that blind passengers are not entitled to the same low fares as others when they book online.
- Netimperative: Travel sites failing accessibility guidelines
The results show 50% of travel sites fail the most basic accessibility standards (the WCAG 1.0 Single A accessibility standards). Nomensa said the findings indicate that the online travel market therefore represents an untapped commercial opportunity inn terms of improvements made to accessibility.
- Herald Dispatch: Visually impaired people use Web, too
Today, 7.3 million older Americans report some form of vision impairment even while wearing glasses or contact lenses, according to the National Vision Rehabilitation Association. As Baby Boomers age, this number is expected to increase significantly. Organizations need to start implementing adaptations to technology now --many of which are uncomplicated and not cost prohibitive -- so they can retain these older, computer savvy consumers.
- Creative Match: UK Travel websites fail accessibility guidelines
Taking into account the competitive nature of the UK travel industry, with many online companies undercutting large high street brands, these well-known businesses could gain market share simply by making sure their websites are accessible. Over nine million potential customers (the registered disabled alone) are subject to a poor user experience that may even exclude them from booking online travel.
- Blog Herald: Google under fire for excluding blind bloggers
Google is under fire from blind bloggers due to the implementation of a "captcha" at Blogger on April 12. Google's visual captcha requirement means that blind bloggers can no longer sign up for accounts without sighted assistance.
- Net 4 Now: All Party Parliamentary Internet Group re-launch web site
The All Party Parliamentary Internet Group has re-launched its website following a redesign. The site has been created with accessibility as a priority, achieving the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) 'triple A' standard as defined by the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). This far exceeds the 'single A' minimum standard defined by the Cabinet Office e-Government Unit.
Hardware and software
- ZDNet: IBM debuts software for age-related disabilities
Among the programs, which IBM is giving away online, are mouse-smoothing software that filters out the shaking movements for people with hand tremors and a keyboard program that adjusts for longer- or shorter-than-normal key presses as well as for one-handed typing.
Another tool automatically reformats Web pages to accommodate people with poor eyesight, magnifying text and modifying fonts and layouts. It also offers a text-to-speech feature.
- Noticias: IBM makes computing more accessible to maturing workers
Keyboard Optimizer - helps users adjust their keyboard accessibility settings to suit their typing style. For example, it adjusts settings for one- or two-handed typing, and for long or short key presses, characteristics that could be impacted by a disability. The Keyboard Optimizer is a quick, easy and accurate way to adjust a keyboard to suit a particular user. It allows users to demonstrate how they type, determines what accessibility settings would be best, and sets them.
- Red Herring: IBM software for older users
For developers, IBM is providing a reflexive user interface builder that will help them build applications that feature popular graphical user interfaces that are understandable and less challenging to older workers with disabilities.
- out-law: Tools make IT more accessible to older workers
A recent survey by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) shows that 7 in 10 Americans plan on working past the age of 65. According to the US Census Bureau, about two-thirds of the US population will experience a disability after age 65, increasing the need to make information technology more accessible. According to the World Health Organization, between 750 million and 1 billion of the world's 6 billion people have a speech, vision, mobility, hearing or cognitive disability.
- Publisher Newswire: Magnify OutLoud from Colligo Corporation enables easier reading for seniors
Magnify OutLoud(TM), from Colligo Corporation, overcomes the reticence of computer use by our seniors. The senior user is the fastest growing segment of the computer industry. However, over 25% of our seniors have either low vision problems in seeing the screen or reluctance to use assistive technology software to magnify the screen.
- CCNews: IBM makes computing more accessible to maturing workers
Reflexive User Interface Builder - helps software developers build applications that feature popular graphical user interfaces that are still accessible to people with disabilities and mature workers. Powerful graphics generally pose a particular challenge to users whose eyesight is fading from age or other causes. The tool is of particular interest to software developers that create and sell applications to government agencies and must comply with sophisticated accessibility regulations.
- Planet PDF: Texthhelp ships new literacy support software
Assistive software publisher Texthelp Systems, Inc., announced that it is shipping Read&Write 7.1E Gold, a literacy productivity tool that helps struggling students in grades 3 and up to access curriculum content on a computer and complete reading, writing and research assignments independently.
- Internetnews: When screen readers meet feed readers
AFB analyzed Bloglines, Feedster, NewsGator, FeedDemon and My Yahoo services for finding, subscribing and reading feeds by attempting to use them with a JAWS screen reader, a widely-used internal software speech synthesizer that can output to Braille displays. The screen reading software uses text-to-speech technology to translate words on a Web page to audio. While AFB wasn't impressed with any of them, it found Bloglines and NewsGator to be the most screen reader-friendly.
- The Journal News: Making webcasts accessible to the deaf
"Imagine an agency has 500 hours of Webcasts. Sending that off for stenographic transcription and getting it realigned with the video and so on is something that will cost between, depending on where you go, $500 to $1,000 per finished hour. That is daunting for an agency and even a corporation," she said. The IBM research team started a project called CaptionMeNow to create a tool that would caption a Webcast only when a deaf person asks for it. "When someone who is deaf or hard of hearing comes across that Webcast, and wants it captioned, they click a CaptionMeNow button," she said.
- MacNN: LecShare builds Web, MS Word docs from PowerPoint
LecShare has released LecShare 1.0, a new application that converts Microsoft PowerPoint presentations into web pages that meet Federal disability requirements and into Microsoft Word documents for easy distribution. Made with REALbasic, LecShare allows users to easily enter accessibility information necessary to create web pages that meet Section 508 standards and WAI's Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). LecShare creates standards compliant XHTML and CSS which is compatible with virtually any web browser.
- IT Director: Accessible PDF documents for the blind
The latest proof of the giant steps made comes in the form of the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) annual report. This year is the first year that the report has been delivered in accessible PDF. The report is 70 pages and therefore Braille versions, or audio book versions, are cumbersome. The benefit of an accessible electronic version became apparent as I watched and listened to blind users reading and navigating around the document. The sheer joy of being able to read from the report and find the relevant sections quickly was obvious.
Legal US and Canada
- Post Gazette: Voters try out computerized voting systems, opinions mixed
Mrs. Mandity was also glad to see a number of blind voters testing the equipment. Handicap accessibility is a coming requirement under federal law, and is something addressed by all the systems. Their reports were not necessarily encouraging, however. "The one with the phone you hold, you're supposed to push five to confirm and I kept pushing six to advance," said Don Nye, of New Sewickley. He said he preferred a machine he had used in Pittsburgh which had a rotary dial like an old telephone.
- ATM Marketplace: Making ATMs accessible: Hesitating on audio guidance is a gamble
Their argument for waiting: The software upgrades and hardware replacements are far too costly to make until the ADA requirements are precise. America's Community Bankers estimates that upgrades will range between $1,000 and $3,000 per ATM - an expense that FIs will have to budget far in advance.
- Newswire: McGuinty government making Ontario more accessible for people with disabilities
These two committees will work to develop new accessibility standards for transportation and customer service. All of these new standards are being developed under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act to address barriers to accessibility that have a major impact on daily living for people with disabilities. Each standard is to be implemented within five years or less, leading to an accessible Ontario in 20 years.
Legal - UK, Europe and worldwide
- Caterer Search: Disabled customers could be worth £5billion
Exclusive research commissioned by Caterer found almost half of all disabled customers were unhappy with the facilities offered by hospitality businesses, with accessibility and parking topping their list of complaints. Dissatisfaction was highest among pub-goers and lowest among restaurant diners - but, perhaps unsurprisingly, 34% said they never visited either.
- The Publican: Disability group prepares court action against Spirit
In one of the first cases to target the pub industry under the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA), Spirit is being threatened with court action over "the lack of an accessible toilet" at the Shirley Inn in Croydon, Surrey.
- Angola Press: South Africa to host SADC confab on disability
The forum intends to develop a common understanding of the role and needs of people with disabilities in building an inclusive information society. It will also identify the specific information and communications technology (ICT) challenges in respect of people with disabilities, with a particular focus on the barriers to socio-economic participation, and develop recommendations and programme of action to implement the WSIS Declaration of Principles and Action Plan with special focus on meeting the needs of people with disabilities.
- Examiner: Government's disability strategy 'in shambles'
"Responsibility for implementation is stretched across seven Government departments with no one department or body coordinating or leading it. It is, effectively, a rudderless ship."
- Onrec: Disability Standard results reveal that disability is still perceived as just a HR priority
Disability Standard results show that disability action plans, policies and budgets appear concentrated in HR and property services departments with much less evidence of action plans and standards being set to ensure the accessibility of products and services
- Children Now: Social Claire - Will we ever accept disability?
In the same week came the shameful case of a deputy mayor who announced that the best way to deal with the cost of caring for disabled children was to guillotine them in order to divert the funding to the NHS. "You can't educate these children," he brayed. Alison Lapper graduated with a first class honours degree. Try telling that to her.
- Examiner: We have a joined-up policy to meet needs of disabled people
The National Disability Authority (NDA) has been requested to prepare a draft code of practice to guide public bodies in meeting their obligations under the Disability Act 2005 to make their public services accessible to persons with disabilities. The accessibility requirements come into effect on December 31.
- The Publican: Pubs still unaware of DDA obligations
More worrying is The Publican's own research. In this year's Market Report only 58 per cent of licensees stated that they had taken action to improve the accessibility of their premises to disabled people. It's not all bad news, however - 23 per cent of licensees said they had made building alterations and 22 per cent claimed they had installed disabled toilets.
- eGov monitor: New partnership looks to accessible technology for all
Delegates heard that much existing and emerging technology is inaccessible to the 82 million adults in Europe who have a hearing loss and the 30 million that have a sight loss. Action to address this exclusion is a crucial part of the European Unions's quest to increase employment and growth.