Israel to Improve Disability Access at Universities and Colleges
The Planning and Budgeting Committee of the Council for Higher Education decided to allocate the sums to help publicly supported institutions meet an amendment to the law on equal opportunity for persons with disabilities, which was passed in 2005. The equal opportunity law says that all such institutions must be accessible by November 1, 2014. No significant changes have been made until now in institutions of higher learning, and many have buildings that are only partially accessible – or completely inaccessible to persons with disabilities. University campuses generally need the most work, as they tend to have older buildings than the relatively newer colleges.
From http://globalaccessibilitynews.com/2012/10/09/israel-to-improve-disability-access-at-universities-and-colleges/, October 19, 2012
USA: Cinemark Introduces Movie Theatre Accessibility for Customers with Vision Disabilities
Cinemark Holdings, Inc., one of the world’s largest motion picture exhibitors, today announced that it is providing an audio description option for people who are blind or low vision, in all of its first-run theatres. Cinemark is installing audio description systems on a rolling basis across its circuit in conjunction with the chain’s conversion to an all-digital format. Installation is well under way, and all of Cinemark’s theaters in California already have audio description capability. Cinemark will be able to offer audio description at all of its first-run theaters by mid 2013.
From http://globalaccessibilitynews.com/2012/09/28/cinemark-introduces-movie-theatre-accessibility-for-customers-with-vision-disabilities/, October 19, 2012
USA: First Biennial Report on the Accessibility of Communications Technologies Released
Interesting news on the accessibility front this month with the release of the first biennial report to Congress on the Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA). The CVAA, which was passed in October, 2010, is an extension of the Communications Act of 1934 and, in a nutshell, is meant to ensure that communications and media services, content, and equipment are accessible to disabled users. It will require that things like smartphones are accessible, as well as video programming on television and the Internet. Under the CVAA the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau (CGB) of the FCC must report to Congress every two years on how it’s going. This month’s report is the first of those and, while the full implementation of the many facets of the CVAA is still underway (and full compliance of some aspects won’t be mandatory until next year or beyond), the report provides a few interesting nuggets on the current state of accessibility for communications technologies.
From http://ht.ly/ex26z, October 17, 2012
Sign Language Proposed as Official Language in Ecuador
The presentation of the first dictionary of signs for deaf people in Ecuador became a lure so that this language is considered official language, besides Spanish, in recognition of this community of individuals. Ecuadorian Vice President Lenin Moreno, recognized the efforts for the elaboration of this new text and said that this is a language like any other, rich in nuances, emotions and idioms. Moreno said that from this dictionary it will be created a basic summary that public servants should learn in a short period so that they can offer a personalized attention to citizens with this limitation.
From http://ht.ly/ex1mr, October 17, 2012
W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 Approved as ISO/IEC International Standard
Today the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and the Joint Technical Committee JTC 1, Information Technology of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), announced approval of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 as an ISO/IEC International Standard (ISO/IEC 40500:2012). "This important accessibility standard, which is already widely deployed internationally, can now benefit from additional formal recognition from ISO/IEC national bodies," noted Jeff Jaffe, W3C CEO. "Such recognition is expected to increase internationally harmonized uptake of WCAG 2.0 by governments, business, and the broader Web community." "ISO/IEC JTC 1 is very pleased to bring on board this most important of W3C accessibility standards, given the increased interest in accessibility among JTC 1 National Bodies in recent years," said Karen Higginbottom, Chair of ISO/IEC JTC 1. "We also expect that ISO/IEC recognition will encourage greater convergence around WCAG 2.0, further driving development of supporting tools and software."
From http://www.w3.org/2012/07/wcag2pas-pr.html, October 17, 2012
UK: Are Banks Failing People with Disabilities Online?
An extraordinary summer of Paralympic achievement helped shed light on disability sport in the UK, but was it enough to bring awareness to other areas that affect the disabled population? While Lord Coe claimed that "the games had a seismic effect in shifting public attitudes" towards the disabled community, what is actually being done about it? There are more than 10 million people with limiting long term illness, impairment, or disability in Great Britain. Of these, nearly 4 million have never used the internet. The 21st century has become a world dependent on technology, yet while 84% of non-disabled people live in households with internet access, only about 60% of disabled people can say the same. The truth is that even if they do go online, they do not have the same choice or access to all the products and services that everyone else has.
From http://www.guardian.co.uk/media-network/2012/oct/10/banks-failing-technology-access-disabled, October 15, 2012
USA: BREAK Project Creates Free Assistive Devices for People with Disabilities
Ordinarily, it takes years before the work of scientists and engineers make an impact on the lives of everyday people in their community. But for some students of engineering at the University of Kansas, the satisfaction of helping others is happening today. Thanks to a $125,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, Ken Fischer, associate professor of mechanical engineering, is leading his students in a capstone design/build project to provide Kansans living with disabilities custom-designed assistive devices, such as mobility or communication aids, to improve their quality of life.
From http://phys.org/news/2012-10-free-devices-people-disabilities.html, October 15, 2012
USA: Netflix Pledges to Caption all Content by 2014
Netflix will offer closed captions on all TV and movie content by September 2014 as part of a settlement with a deaf Massachusetts viewer who sued the company. The on-demand Internet streaming service agreed to the settlement Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Springfield. Closed captions are currently available on 90% of Netflix's content, as measured by hours watched.
From http://seattletimes.com/html/businesstechnology/2019397206_apusnetflixcaptions.html, October 15, 2012
USA: President Obama Declares October 15 as Blind Americans Equality Day
By joint resolution approved on October 6, 1964 (Public Law 88-628, as amended), the Congress designated October 15 of each year as "White Cane Safety Day" to recognize the contributions of Americans who are blind or have low vision. Today, let us recommit to strengthening our Union and ensuring we remain a Nation where all our people, including those living with disabilities, have every opportunity to achieve their dreams. NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim October 15, 2012, as Blind Americans Equality Day. I call upon public officials, business and community leaders, educators, librarians, and Americans across the country to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies, activities, and programs.
From http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/10/15/presidential-proclamation-blind-americans-equality-day-2012, October 15, 2012
USA: Department of Education Announces New App to Identify U.S. Currency
The U.S. Department of Education announced today the launch of the “IDEAL Currency Identifier,” a free downloadable [Android] application (app) to assist individuals who are blind or visually impaired to denominate U.S. currency on some mobile devices. The IDEAL Currency Identifier was developed by IDEAL Group, [Apps4Android], IQ Engines, and the Wireless Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center (RERC) at the Georgia Institute of Technology through a grant from the Department of Education’s National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), a component of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.
From http://www.apps4android.org/?p=4035, October 12, 2012