Accessibility in the News: September 2004Sunday, October 03, 2004
The major stories this month are Athens' preparation for the Paralympic Games, and the US Presidential election. Odeon "accessibility" slated. Jarek Molski and his legal crusade (or is it just money?). ADA still short of applying to websites. DDA section 21 of Part 3 (adjustments to physical premises) comes into force.
According to its mayor, Athens have transformed 3000 year old city into a good example of an accessible city inside of three years - without degrading their famous architectures and buildings. According to wheelchair users, Athens still has a long way to go.
With the US Presidential election less than a month away, the online press has been investigating the accessibility of voting booths. The story seems to have shied away from the Diebold electronic voting systems and focused heavily on getting physical premises accessible in time for November 2. Where premises cannot be made accessible, other already accessible premises are being used instead.
Odeon cinemas have been roundly slated for their mediocre display of accessibility - months after it forced the closure of an accessible interface to its site done by an independent web developer Matthew Somerville. The Odeon may make a nice test case for web accessibility.
On a contraversial note, Jarek Molski is becoming infamous as a paraplegic suing businesses up and down the Californian coast (over 250 lawsuits so far). Roy's Burgers has been forced to close under the cost of the legal suit. Whereas it may have been able to make the $10,000 worth of reparations to its restaurant, but decided not to. This highlights the lesson that accessibility can be very expensive when it has to be forced through a court of law.
ADA took no further steps towards embracing the web. The appeal against the original SouthWest Airlines misruling was dismissed on procedural grounds. On a positive note, SouthWest Airlines have made adjustments to their website to remove the barriers that started this legal suit.
Section 21 of Part III of the UK Disability Discrimination Act goes into force on October 1st. The online media articles have so far been level-headed, speaking out against the scare-mongering of the DDA wanting to close down businesses. The Free2Pee campaign is one of the highlights of the month, with wheelchair users slapping red "Busted" stickers on lavatories that aren't wheelchair accessible or friendly.
- IT Analysis: Spitzer agreement to make web sites accessible
The implication for corporate World has to be that if you want to continue trading in the US over the net you will have to abide by the ADA rules. The Attorney General will probably start by investigating US subsidiaries and making them responsible for their corporate site. Being incorporated outside the US will be no way to hide from this legislation.
- IFA Online: Seeing better websites makes business sense
Huntswood Outsourcing, a regulatory and compliance specialist, is claiming the first RNIB accreditation for producing a financial services website that meets new standards of access.
- GCN: OMB to verify, validate e-gov projects
The contractor will assess all the Quicksilver initiatives to ensure they meet security, privacy, Section 508 accessibility and enterprise architecture standards. The contract also can be expanded to delve deeper into each area, such as how the project meets the accessibility needs of a blind or deaf person.
- Webdesign IQ: Political sites get no votes for Web design
Access for physically impaired users: While both sites failed because key navigational elements require overly precise mouse movements, the Bush site makes it easier for users to select what they need from the key left-hand navigation bar.
- e-Media wire: Public sector fails the website standards they claim to meet!
In fact, the problem is serious: the latest website compliance league table for public bodies from SiteMorse, shows that all but one of the 71 sites tested failed to meet the accessibility AA standards (Although many claim to meet this standard). The exception is the website of the Child Support Agency which, since using SiteMorse, has managed to attain a consistent 100% compliance (for automated tests) and its website is the only one found to be error free.
- Scotsman: Poor web design may cost more than you'd think
I hope Priceline and Ramada are, at the very least, embarrassed. Both these large American travel corporations faced state litigation because their websites were inaccessible to people with visual impairments.
This may not sound much, but it is one of the first times that companies have been "named and shamed" for designing websites that discriminate against people who are disabled. I would be delighted to see more of the same thing happening on this side of the Atlantic.
- Silicon: Odeon accused of breaching website disability laws
Catriona Campbell, founder and chairman of The Usability Company described the Odeon site as "one of the worst sites for accessibility I have ever seen by a British company". She said the site is still difficult to use for blind or visually impaired people and those who can't use a mouse to surf websites, citing "tons of dead ends that are totally in breach of the DDA".
- ZDNet: Odeon reels out accessibility excuses
The Odeon cinema chain has been accused of breaching the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) despite making improvements to its online film information and booking site.
- Computing: An accessible web is good for all
The guidelines are peppered with the word "reasonable", which means there is no quick and easy way to determine whether or not a web site is operating legally. All you can say with certainty is that site designers who are unaware of the WAI guidelines and make no attempt to conform are vulnerable, at least in the event that a disgruntled disabled person decides to sue.
- Personnel Today: 'IT disabled' set to benefit from improved BBC website
Nearly five million people in the UK are "IT disabled" meaning they cannot access the internet with a standard screen, keyboard and mouse due to a vision or hearing impairment, physical disability, cognitive difficulty or dyslexia.
- Electric News.net: Accessible sites hit more people: report
Almost 60 percent of the sites examined had either no scaling, or inadequate scaling. Over half the sites failed to allow users to resize their fonts, a function that is important for people with poor vision, or dyslexia. Three-quarter of the sites did not have access keys, which would allow users who are unable to control a mouse to use keyboard shortcuts instead.
- CNet: Disabilities Act doesn't cover Web, court says
Still, the three-judge panel noted that a future case could provide a vehicle for exploring the question in greater depth. "In declining to evaluate the merits of this case, we are in no way unmindful that the legal questions raised are significant," wrote Judge Stanley Marcus.
- CNet: Internet fails to shine for 'silver surfers'
About 6,000 Americans turn 65 each day, according to the AARP. And the fact that these people are getting older doesn't mean they're spending any less money. The Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit group estimates that half of all new car sales in the United States are made to individuals older than 50. The older demographic, which is set to grow even faster as the baby boomer generation moves further into retirement, clearly represents a lucrative opportunity for savvy IT marketers.
- AScribe: Online news sites have poor accessibility, study says
The group examined the online publications of 89 U.S. daily newspapers in a random sampling and found an average of 146 accessibility violations on their home pages. The team also found that larger and more sophisticated newspapers were more likely to violate accessibility principles than were smaller newspapers. The papers included in the study ranged in size from a half-million to 1,000 subscribers, as reported in Editor and Publisher Yearbook.
- Cordis: International workshop on accessibility requirements for public procurement in the ICT domain
An international workshop on public procurement policy will be held in Brussels, Belgium, from 19 to 21 October. The workshop will address the harmonisation of e-accessibility requirements to be used in the public procurement of information and communications technology (ICT) products and services and the requirements for policy implementation in this field.
- Whas11: Business owners mulling over a lawsuit
"This is a civil rights case. Congress intended to change the whole country and make all public buildings accessible to those that use wheelchairs," says Driscoll. "And 12 years later, the only enforcement we are seeing is through these private suits."
- Western News: New disabilities law planned
The lack of effectiveness of the current ODA was placed squarely on the shoulders of the former PC government. Bountrogianni says her Liberal government intends to change that. She said she has been working hard in recent months seeking the support of her colleagues for an effective Ontarians with Disabilities Act and intends to introduce new legislation this fall.
- Access activists bemoan lawsuits
But when group members talk about Jarek Molski, he's not considered an ally. Molski has sued local businesses some 50 times under the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act and California state law claiming that exactly such hindrances violate his rights and demanding money for his inconvenience. Mike Ward of San Luis Obispo, a former city fire chief, said Wednesday that Molski has given wheelchair users a "bad rap."
- Fort Wayne.com: Seminar focus on updated disability act
The guidelines "affect every single building that's open to the public irrespective of whether it's in the private sector or public sector," said Carolyn Gray, a Fort Wayne native and partner in Barnes & Thornburg LLP.
"These guidelines are our guarantee that when a building is built or renovated anywhere in the nation, its doors are wide open to our citizens with disabilities," Jan Tuck, vice chairman of the U.S. Access Board, said on the Access Board's Web site.
- Californian Online: Roy's suit one of hundreds
"It comes across like Jarek is the bad guy, and that's not what's going on," said Linda Allen, an educator from Las Palmas who relies on a wheelchair to get around. "What's going on is that we're so desperately frustrated. Yes, there are laws, but there's no way to enforce it or monitor it."
- KSBY: Disabled access seminar held
Local businesses continue to face lawsuits for alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and now one Central Coast city is taking steps to ensure others won't be targets of Jarek Molski.
On Monday, a two-session seminar was held in Paso Robles to educate residents about disabled accessibility and compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). However, Busi's restaurant is already facing a lawsuit brought on by Molski, the wheelchair-bound man who has sued over 300 California businesses. The problem-- Busi's owners already added a new $50,000 handicap-accessible bathroom facility; Molski claims to have used the old restroom.
- RTE News: Call over access to services for disabled
Ireland lags well behind the rest of the EU and the US when it comes to providing accessible public services for people with disabilities, a national conference on disabilities has been told.
- Washington Times: Disability act rule changes proposed
The proposal seeks to adopt design standards consistent with the revised ADA Accessibility Guidelines published by the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (also known as the Access Board) on July 23, the department said.
The revised guidelines would apply to the design, construction, and alteration of certain private and public facilities.
Real world accessibility
- Daily Californian: City's new taxis easy ride for disabled passengers
The new wheelchair and motorized scooter-accessible vehicles, similar to minivans in design, came as part of the city's promise to help integrate people with disabilities into the community.
- Indianapolis Star: Executive makeover
One of the things Greg Fehribach loves about the extensively remodeled Indiana governor's residence is that the reason for the restructuring is invisible. Accessibility for Fehribach, a wheelchair user, and others who are disabled was the main motivator for the almost five-year, $1.2 million privately funded reimagining of the house at 4750 N. Meridian St.
- This is Bristol: Police station unveiled after refurbishment
The aim of the refurbishment was to give an increased level of accessibility and visibility to the general public.
- Scotsman: New look police station reopens
The new front office will open to the public today and be open 24-hours a day. Bridewell Police Station front office is reducing its hours from 10am to 6pm Monday to Friday. It was temporarily open 24 hours whilst Trinity Road was closed. The refurbishment includes three interview rooms to give an element of privacy to the public when reporting crime. There will be a ramp at the front entrance giving access to disabled members of the community and people with prams, etc, and the actual front office will be bigger with more space for seating and waiting. The front office also contains a Police Internet Kiosk providing live access to the force's website newsroom, wanted gallery and job vacancies.
- Reuters: End of the road for Routemaster bus
Goodwin said the Routemaster was being scrapped because of its 10 to 15 percent higher operational costs and lack of accessibility to disabled passengers. As a replacement, the city has commissioned a greater number of bigger, boxy double deckers with wheelchair access and, more notably, a fleet of so-called "bendy buses" - single-deck articulated buses that can carry up to 140 passengers.
- Kent County Daily Times: Book highlights Rhode Island's handicapped-accessible places
Tourists to Rhode Island rarely ever have a hard time finding informational brochures about places to visit or to see during their stay in this state, but things have never before been so clearly outlined for people with disabilities since several state-wide agencies have partnered up to publish the newest edition of "Accessible Rhode Island."
- ContraCostaTimes: Concord aims to boost accessibility
Concord has become the first city in Contra Costa County to make it easier for people with disabilities to modify their property to include ramps, enlarged driveways or other means of accessing their homes.
- PR Newswire: The Graying of America
Research shows that by the year 2020, 55 million people will be age 65 or older. This "Graying of America," as well as increasing numbers of disabled Americans, is putting pressure on doctors to have safer, more user-friendly office equipment to accommodate their patients.
- Scotsman: Paralympic athletes welcome Athens facelift
The fruits of the programme's labour first came into the spotlight last month, when disabled access to the Acropolis was made available for the first time thanks to a specially constructed open-air elevator which hoists wheelchair users over the monument's 82ft northern wall.
- Boston Globe: Some with disabilities say T still a tough ride
He uses a wheelchair, and recently took the Orange Line to get downtown. When the train stopped and the door opened at Downtown Crossing, he faced what appeared to be a 5-inch drop from the train to the platform, he said. "I took the plunge," he said. "What else could I do? It ripped up the electronics under my chair. I wasn't able to recline or tilt after that."
- El Defensor Chieftain: Resource center helps disabled live independently
The self-help center provides a variety of services including: independent living skills training, peer counseling, information and referral to more than 400 disabled people. The center also provides funding for home and vehicle modifications, adaptive devices and other goods and services for disabled people in 19 counties in New Mexico.
- Xinhuanet: IPC chief: Olympics' momentum will continue with Paralympics
Asked about the effect the 2004 Paralympics have had on improving accessibility in the often congested and densely populated Greek capital, Craven said progress was evident, although it would be absolutely unattainable to expect Athens to become "barrier-free" in only three years "after 3,000 years of usage".
- Shanghai Daily: Athens mayor says city ready to host Paralympic Games
According to Bakoyiannis, the municipality of Athens has invested 18.5 million euros to become more accessible and functional for people with a disability. Among others, she said some 780,000 square meters of roadways have been repaved, whereas 250,000 square meters of sidewalks have been redesigned on the sides of 450 major roads in the densely populated Greek capital.
- South End: Communicating with disabled people requires awareness, sensitivity
Janks also stressed the need to focus upon the individual instead of the disability by using "person-first language." As a mother with a teenage son with cognitive disabilities, she realizes the need for patience and understanding on an individual basis.
- Boston Herald: Guide fits the disabled to a 'T'
The 64-page, full-color guide provides detailed information about every elevator, ramp, escalator, emergency phone and street orientation in all 80 T stations. It's the first comprehensive accessibility guide of any U.S. transit system.
- One World South Asia: Education remains elusive for India's disabled
The survey results show education in India has no place for the disabled. The 119 universities that responded to the survey reported the enrolment of only 1635 disabled students. Universities located in New Delhi like the prestigious Delhi University and premier medical college, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, didn't even care to respond. The survey says only 679 students were admitted to the 96 colleges from across India which participated in it.
- Monterey County: Roy's Drive-In checks out
Patterson, 61, said it would cost about $10,000 to make the necessary repairs to bring the restaurant into compliance. While he might be willing to do that, he said, the prospect of extensive legal fees and damages pushed him to close the business.
- Kentucky AP Wire: Paralympics officials question accessibility
With narrow sidewalks often used as parking spots and almost no wheelchair access ramps, the city that recently hosted the Summer Games has been considered an unfriendly place for the disabled. Criticism prompted the government to budget about $255 million to build ramps, repair sidewalks and improve access. But critics say it was too little, too late.
- Weekly Dig: Busted elevators and bastard bus drivers
Some drivers of the 600 new ADA-compliant low-floor buses refuse to leave their seats, though they are required by law to secure commuters in wheelchairs; others fail to pull close enough to the curb, effectively defeating the point of low-floor buses and presenting even more difficulties for commuters with disabilities.
- Kentucky Post: CEO climbs corporate ladder in a wheelchair
"The work force is going to be dwindling over the next 10 years as baby boomers start retiring and there are not enough people coming up behind them," said Claudia Ernharth, state director of the Kentucky Business Leadership Network. "Employers are realizing they have to look at a new kind of work force." She said to many employers, people with disabilities are invisible as a labor source.
- The Enquirer: Disabled workers can solve shortfall
Employment experts warn that a wave of baby boomer retirements will bring a shortage of workers in the years to come and force many companies to scramble to fill payrolls with productive, experienced employees. The solution to the future employee deficit is here already, and a conference sponsored by the Kentucky Business Leadership Network on Oct. 4 will explore why people with disabilities may be the best way out of any pending shortfall.
- Canada News: Canadian athlete wheels to Acropolis Summit in Athens
Canadian Paralympic athlete Jeff Adams today climbed to the summit of the Acropolis in Athens, Greece, in his wheelchair to highlight the abilities of athletes with a disability. The event was organized by the Government of Canada, in collaboration with the Greek Ministry of Culture.
- Argus Online: Debit machines to be easier, safer for blind
Currently, it is difficult for the blind and visually impaired to access new digital touch-screen debit card machines when paying at store checkouts.
Assembly Bill 2312 requires that after Jan. 1, any store that is upgrading or installing touch-screen systems must include tactile keypads as part of their system. It also requires businesses that already have touch-screen debit machines in place to install tactile keypads by 2010.
- Globe and Mail: Canadians finish third on medal list
"They just installed elevators at the Acropolis a month ago. This place is 2,500 years old, so that should take the wind out of the sails of those people at home who say buildings can't be retrofitted," Adams said on his cellphone last night as he sat in the middle of the Olympic Stadium, taking in the low-key closing ceremony.
- Portsmouth Herald: Towns improving polling access
In January, sheriffs and officials from the Attorney General's office evaluated each municipal polling place for handicapped accessibility. They found something could be improved at every spot. The problems ranged from simple and inexpensive to fix, such as adding more signs, widening doorways, adding a handrail or moving a parking space - to potholes and broken pavement, which cost much more to repair.
- Rockingham News: Voting moves to the gym
Selectmen recently toured the town's present voting location, at the middle-school cafeteria, to determine how to best meet state polling-facility regulations. Selectman Rick Hartung said the group decided to keep the polls at the school, but move the event from the cafeteria to the gymnasium.
- The Enterprise: Taunton polling places fail to meet state requirements
City Clerk Rose Marie Blackwell, in a letter to Mayor Robert G. Nunes and the City Council, said she received a state report stating that 14 locations are in varying degrees of violation. She said the state requires that any location found to be in violation must be corrected by the Nov. 2 presidential election.
- Boston Globe: Towns rush to comply with access rules for polls
Of 48 communities in the region south of Boston, only polling places in Easton, Foxborough, Norton, and Sharon are in full compliance, according to the survey released Aug. 30 by the Massachusetts Office on Disability. Larger communities with many polling places, such as Braintree, Plymouth, Randolph, and Quincy, had the longest lists of violations.
- Cambridge Cronicle: All but two polling place made accessible
Since January, Muehe's commission has worked closely with elections officials to improve conditions in Cambridge. State officials made their report public only last week. In it, Cambridge performed better than the state average. It had 50 percent of polling places fail inspection (15 of 30) versus a statewide failure rate of 60 percent (893 of 1488).
- Town Online: Town addressing concerns at polling place
The Massachusetts Office on Disability recently ruled that the site's existing ramp for handicapped access did not meet requirements for the federal election set for Nov. 2. Since then the town has received written confirmation that, if a portable ramp currently being constructed by the town's DPW meets specifications, elections can proceed as scheduled.
- Town Online Editorial: Clear a path to the polls for disabled
Many of the violations are easily corrected - for instance, an inadequate number of parking spaces dedicated for the handicapped, a lack of signage directing the disabled to handicapped entrances, and cracked sidewalks. Dover's problem was stated as being a lack the "van-accessible" sign in the designated accessible parking space.
- Amador Ledger Dispatch: Access issues could cause Amador City, Volcano polling places to change
At Volcano Armory Hall, 21349 Consolation Street, Volcano's only polling place, Allen said the steps into the building are four feet high, making it improbable to remedy the accessibility with a wheelchair ramp because the ramp would be too long, according to regulations.
- Town Online: Polling place moved in response to state critique
The survey, conducted in Watertown in February, noted violations in six of Watertown's eight polling places, which according to Town Clerk John Flynn have all been corrected at the other sites.
- Town Online: Not all access when it comes to voting
With the state primaries on Sept 14 approaching, the city is scrambling to find ways to find solutions to accessibility violations. In wards 21 and 22 which make up Allston and Brighton, the violations vary widely.
- WNEP: New voting machines for Lackawanna County
The way many people vote will change in our area. That's because a federal law will outlaw the old pull-lever voting machines. In Lackawanna County, voters have used the machines since the 1930's. There are supporters of the old machines who say they work very well and don't need to be replaced. But a federal law meant to limit the number of voting errors requires new technology. Any county that uses the old machines has to get rid of them by 2006.
- Philadelphia Inquirer: Dementia poses challenge when it's time to vote
In an article published tomorrow, a multidisciplinary research team said it saw evidence of two potentially big problems among the four million Americans with Alzheimer's disease: Some are still capable of voting but aren't allowed to. Others who shouldn't be voting still do and are vulnerable to fraud.
- KRT Wire: Dementia poses challenge when it's time to vote
They say people with dementia should be encouraged - and helped - to vote as long as they understand the process. That includes thinking about how people with dementia or other mental problems react to something as confusing as Florida's notorious butterfly ballot. Simpler ballots with larger type and possibly even pictures might make them better voters.
- Taunton Gazette: No time for poll access changes
The city's Americans with Disabilities Act coordinator said there's no way the city will be able to bring all of its polling places into compliance with access regulations by the Nov. 2 presidential election. All but one of the city's 15 polling places failed to meet accessibility regulations for disabled voters, according to a survey by the Massachusetts Office on Disability. Statewide, 60 percent of the state's 1,488 polling places did not measure up, the survey said.
- The Exponent:
Direct-recording electronic machines, known as DRE machines, will be used more than any other election before it. Around 29.4 percent of Americans will be casting their votes electronically on Nov. 2, which is up from 12.2 percent in the controversial 2000 election.
- TownOnline: Goal achieved to make voting places accessible
Town officials can look ahead to the November election knowing that Braintree's dozen polling places will be accessible to everyone, particularly senior and handicapped voters.
- Science Blog: Expert panel calls for crash voter-system research and reform
A panel of top experts on election technology and administration warned Tuesday that the American system of voting is broadly vulnerable to error and abuse, and called for a crash-course of study and reform to make results more reliable and to promote better access by voters, especially those who have historically encountered serious impediments to exercising their right to vote.
- Indianapolis Star: Polling sites fall short for disabled
A May survey found that 95 percent of Johnson County's polling sites are not compliant with a federal law requiring accessibility for disabled voters. The eye-opening data has county officials sweating a 2006 deadline requiring all sites to meet the American with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines under the Help America Vote Act.
- Washington Times: Voting system 'a mess,' panel says
The group recommended a research road map centering on the viability of voting technology, accountability mechanisms, productive election administration and the voters themselves - who must be treated with care.
- Indianapolis Star: Access problems still barrier for disabled voters
Of the 511 polling sites surveyed in November in Marion County, 96 percent had at least one problem, including a lack of handicapped parking, buildings without elevators and doors without accessible handles, according to an advocacy group.
- Post Gazette: Breaking down barriers: Making the voting booth accessible
In Allegheny County, 260 out of 1,307 polling places do not meet state standards for accessibility, which include accessible parking and barrier-free routes from parking area to voting booth. Outside of Allegheny County, approximately 1,000 polling places in Pennsylvania are inaccessible, as are thousands of sites in other states. Only New Hampshire is reported to have 100 percent accessibility.
- News 8 Austin: Disabled voters say e-voting makes for better accessibility
Members of Austin's disabled community expressed their confidence in Travis County's electronic voting system at a press conference Monday. "They rejected the Diebold system and other systems in the country that were having problems. Our county officials knew from the beginning the other systems weren't good for us," Blackburn said. Travis County uses eSlate voting machines.
- Hawk Eye Newspaper: Voting sites must meet guidelines
State guidelines spelling out the width of doors, the size of walkways and the height of handrails at polling locations have some officials jumping to make sure election sites are legal on Election Day. Iowa law states that anyone wishing to cast a ballot should be able to do so.
- Yahoo: Election results could hinge on votes of America's disability community, says NAPAS
Curtis L. Decker, executive director of NAPAS said that in nearly every state there are hundreds of thousands of people with disabilities who may not be able to access the polls due to physical or other barriers. NAPAS and its state agency affiliates across the country are actively advocating on behalf of individuals with disabilities to ensure that all polling places are accessible and voters with disabilities are able to exercise their right to vote.
Hardware and Software
- KDE News: aKademy Interview: Lars Stetten About Unix Accessibility
Another example from the Windows world: There is a software screen magnifier, but when it is installed you will run into problems compiling as soon as you try to write OpenGL applications, which makes debugging difficult. Nobody is searching for errors while running the compiler in a software for screen magnification? And last I want to mention the text-to-speech software that can read out the menu points from your browser, but not the content of a webpage!
- Business Wire: VoiceXML forum announces important initiatives at SpeechTEK 2004
"Speech application accessibility for sensory impaired individuals is a commercial requirement that demands a cooperative solution," said Bruce Pollock, newly appointed Chairman of the VoiceXML Forum. "By joining the Accessibility Committee, Forum members have an opportunity to play a leadership role in a commercially and socially important initiative. We also encourage companies that are not already Forum members but that have in interest in communications accessibility to join the Forum and participate in this direction-setting committee."
- Linux Journal: KDE Summit 2004
Standards for assistive technologies that could be applied throughout all UNIX systems were hot topics, with technologies for speech synthesis and recognition amongst those receiving attention. Given that so far KDE's accessibility work has focused on individual applications such as KMag, a screen magnifier, those working on this section of the KDE project were delighted with the progress made at this event.
- Wireless Week: Cingular, Danger offer products for blind, deaf
The software [TALKS] is compatible with the Nokia 6620 and enables users to hear caller ID; write and hear e-mails, text messages and notes; manage and edit contact data; and receive audible information about battery level, network and signal strength.
The hiptop device (also sold as the T-Mobile USA Sidekick) is already being used by the deaf community to send instant messages, e-mail or SMS, but the company says the hiptop2 will incorporate additional features, including a more powerful vibration motor and support for persistent notifications about messages until the user acknowledges their delivery.
- Hiptop2 device honed for deaf market
"Deaf and hard of hearing consumers are an important and passionate segment of the hiptop community," said Hank Nothhaft, Danger chairman and CEO. "I believe that the interface we've developed, that's so simple to use and blends these disparate applications together, is why we've become so popular in the deaf community and with anyone in high messaging mode."
- Market Wire: activePDF announces the release of activePDF Sayble, an innovative assistive PDF technology tool
By allowing those people with literacy difficulties to access information within PDF files through its unique audio format, activePDF Sayble helps to facilitate compliance with such requirements as Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act and IDEA 97. While PDF is often regarded as inaccessible to many forms of assistive technology, activePDF Sayble (a marriage of activePDF Toolkit and the PDFAloud plug-in) brings dramatic improvements in accessibility, assisting visually impaired users as well as others who have traditionally struggled with reading PDF files.
- Toledo Blade: New system offers captions for deaf, narration for blind
MoPix constitutes two technologies: Rear Window Captioning, co-developed by Rufus Butler Seder, a Boston-based optical artist, and WGBH in Boston, and was installed in mid-August. With that technology, the theater can offer first-run movies that don't appear captioned except to those who request it.
- Linux Electrons: Trolltech's second Qt 4 Technology Preview highlights accessibility
In the second Technology Preview, Qt 4 allows developers to write cross-platform accessible applications that are usable for visually impaired users as well as for those with other disabilities. Screenreaders and other assistive tools will now work seamlessly with Qt applications. This means that system infrastructure allows add-on assistive software to transparently provide specialized input and output capabilities. For example, screen readers allow blind users to navigate through applications, determine the state of controls, and read text via text-to-speech conversion. On-screen keyboards replace physical keyboards, and head-mounted pointers replace mice.
- ZDNet: IBM releases source code of speech software
Olaf Schmidt, a developer on the KDE Accessibility Project, which develops accessibility applications for the Linux desktop, told ZDNet UK that the components that IBM has released are useful for developing Web applications, but will not help with developing desktop applications.
Schmidt also pointed out that people with disabilities who rely on speech-enabled applications need to have IBM's ViaVoice or some other speech recognition system installed to make use of the code donated by IBM.
- Richmond.com: See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil
Accessibility issues are not limited to those who experience visual impairment. About 26% of U.S. computer users have difficulty with dexterity. Typical dexterity impairments are carpal tunnel, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease and cerebral palsy, among many others. Users with these limits may be assisted by speech- (or voice-) recognition systems that allow the user to enter commands and data using their voices rather than other input devices such as a keyboard or mouse.
Touch screens, sip-and-puff systems, trackballs, word prediction software and keyboard filters may also improve accessibility for users suffering from dexterity impairment.
- PDF Zone: ActivePDF's Sayble helps serve accessible PDFs
It also helps the company's customers get in line with federal accessibility regulations--by simply dropping them into a watched-folder system, which applies tags that activate the read-aloud features. The software works for both Windows and Mac OS users, and can read documents in 10 different languages with customized pronunciations that document owners can define.
UK Disability Discrimination Act
- Online Recruitment: RNID guidelines for DDA speak louder than words
RNID, the largest charity representing the nine million deaf and hard of hearing people in the UK, is helping businesses 'take reasonable steps' stipulated by the DDA by drawing up 13 cost-efficient criteria which can easily be implemented. RNID is confident that by fully following these guidelines, organisations will meet their obligations under the DDA for deaf and hard of hearing customers and staff.
- ic Teeside: New disability rights for firms
The new law, Part 3 of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, which comes into effect on October 1, requires all business and service providers to make reasonable changes to ensure they are accessible to the 10 million people in Britain who have some form of disability.
- BBC: San Francisco - Golden Gate to disability
San Francisco - when it comes to improving access for disabled people - has had 30 years' headstart on the UK. Not only has American disability rights legislation been on the federal statute books for 12 years, but California's own laws have been in place since the mid 1970s.
- Leisure Opportunities: DDA opens up £5bn market to hoteliers
"There is a UK market out there worth £5 billion. As a wheelchair user myself, who spends on average 150 nights per year in hotels on business, it is a major challenge for me just to find a hotel equipped with even two guest-rooms with disabled facilities. A hotel that caters for the needs of disabled people will win enormous customer loyalty that will lead to repeat business."
- ic Chesire Online: Disabled club's fight for access to all areas
Red 'busting' stickers will be placed on toilet doors in any venue without an accessible toilet. The protest is part of the Free2Pee campaign, a light-hearted but serious attempt at making service providers comply with the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) which gets teeth from next month.
- BBC: Religion gears up for disability law
The Anglican Church is faced with a particular challenge because 13,000 of its buildings are ancient, most of them listed.
- The Publican: Pubs unclear on DDA legislation
The government has refuted the claims. A spokesman said: "In preparing for the DDA, the government realises that what might be affordable or practical for one pub may not be so for another. This is why the act only requires what is reasonable. It needn't cost the earth."
- Belfast Telegraph: Common sense approach needed for disability act
Speculation about the introduction of Part III of the DDA has led to much scare mongering among the business community that the law will 'close us down'. That is certainly not the intention of the law nor should it be the outcome.
Cost will also be a factor. In the words of the law, they will be required to make 'reasonable' adjustments.
- BBC: Shops 'not ready' for disability law
The survey - conducted by NOP - found that:
- Four out of five city centres posed significant problems for disabled shoppers
- Almost a quarter of the 88 high street businesses surveyed were rated as 'poor' or 'very poor'
- A fifth of the disabled shoppers who took part in the research said they would not go back to the high street that they had visited
- Problems getting around added an extra two hours to disabled people's shopping trips
- A third of public toilets were difficult or impossible to access
- News & Star: Access all areas
Judith Holmshaw loves coming to Carlisle and claims it is the most disabled-friendly city in the country.
High street giants like Boots, Marks & Spencer and Debenhams have spent thousands installing automatic doors, low counters and wide aisles in time for the act coming into force on Friday.
- The Publican: Shame on you
While it is understandable that many licensees cannot afford massive refits or even to put disabled toilets into some buildings, licensees simply cannot get away with doing nothing.
- Cambridge News: Access for disabled still poor on eve of new law
The publication Therapy Weekly visited Cambridge city centre with disabled occupational therapist and Cambridge resident Nicole Buijsse. Of 19 shops, restaurants, banks and cafes they went to, mainly in Trinity Street, they found 14 of the 19 were inaccessible to wheelchair users.