USA: Building a Blind-Friendly Internet
He runs his mouse across the pad, and a screen reader rapidly speaks everything that appears on his computer screen – plus graphic tags and other background coding. The computerized voice runs through the information at a speed that’s barely comprehensible to the untrained ear. Experienced screen-reader users, says Babu, an assistant professor in UWM’s School of Information Studies (SOIS), usually run the sound faster. Screen readers are vital tools in helping those who are visually impaired use computers and the Internet, but improvements are needed to make online information easier to access, he says.
From http://www.physorg.com/news/2012-02-blind-friendly-internet.html, February 17, 2012
Braille Under Siege as Blind Turn to Smartphones
Like a lot of smartphone users, Rolando Terrazas, 19, uses his iPhone for email, text messages and finding a decent coffee shop. But Terrazas' phone also sometimes serves as his eyes: When he waves a bill under its camera, for instance, the phone tells him how much it's worth.
From http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2012/02/13/146812288/braille-under-siege-as-blind-turn-to-smartphones, February 17, 2012
USA: Leaders in Assistive Technology to Demo Innovations at Technology & Persons with Disabilities Conference in San Diego
California State University, Northridge (CSUN) announced today sponsored events and assistive technology to be demonstrated at the upcoming 27th Annual International Technology & Persons with Disabilities Conference. CSUN 2012, which will be held in San Diego February 27th-March 3rd, is the world’s largest technology event dedicated to the community of people with disabilities. Sponsored events, demos and give-aways will be hosted by industry leaders including Adobe, Deque Systems, Freedom Scientific, Google, IBM and Microsoft.
“We have an exciting line-up of engaging sessions and exhibits hosted by leaders driving innovation in assistive technology to promote inclusiveness for people with disabilities,” said Sandy Plotin, managing director of CSUN’s Center on Disabilities.
From http://accessibleinsights.info/blog/2012/02/16/official-press-release-for-the-csun-2012-international-at-conference/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter, February 17, 2012
Supreme Court Ruling Gives Canadians with Mental Disabilities Full Equality in Court
The law is finally fair. In a landmark judgment last week, the Supreme Court ruled that Canadians with mental disabilities have the same right to testify in court as everyone else.
From http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorialopinion/article/1131454--supreme-court-ruling-gives-canadians-with-mental-disabilities-full-equality-in-court, February 16, 2012
Windows 8 Adds Help for Visually Impaired, Physically Challenged
Windows 8 beefs up accessibility features that enable those who are blind, nearsighted, hard-of-hearing and who have mobility impairments to navigate PCs. These include touch-screen support for Narrator, the Windows 7 tool that allows users to hear controls that are displayed on the machine and to talk their way through commands rather than using a mouse and keyboard. Some of these accessibility features are spelled out in the Building Windows 8 blog written by Jennifer Norberg, lead product manager for the Windows 8 Human Interaction Platform team.
From http://www.computerworld.com.au/article/415425/windows_8_adds_help_visually_impaired_physically_challenged/, February 16, 2012
USA: Vermont Center for Independent Living Announces the Formation of the Burlington Access Focus Group
A recent compliance review by the U.S. Department of Justice of several Church Street Marketplace restaurants, as well as the publication of new DOJ standards for achieving accessibility, have spurred this group of community partners and citizens into action. The Burlington Access Group is bringing together citizens, city government and local businesses to remove physical barriers experienced by people using wheelchairs, walkers and strollers, and increase access to programs and services for people who are Blind, Deaf, may have developmental disabilities, or compromised immune systems.
From http://globalaccessibilitynews.com/2012/02/15/burlington-accessibility-group-forms-to-improve-access-for-people-with-disabilities/, February 15, 2012
Finland: Research Centre Develops NFC-based Applications for Persons with Visual Impairment
New types of devices may offer hope to the millions of people around the world who are visually impaired, in a bid to make their daily lives easier. The VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has developed new NFC-based applications, which take the form of an innovative, speech-based item identification system and new "talking packaging" for medicine and food. The devices have been tested by a group of people and offer a range of possibilities for both normal-sighted and visually-impaired people.
From http://www.contactlenses.co.uk/contactlensesnews/article61816/new-devices-to-make-life-easier-for-visually-impaired.html, February 15, 2012
New Zealand: Deaf MP Mojo Mathers Delivers Maiden Speech
New Green Party MP Mojo Mathers has given her maiden speech to Parliament. Ms Mathers is New Zealand’s first profoundly deaf MP, and said in her speech that she would “advocate for improved access to information and communication services for deaf, hearing and vision impaired” during her time in Parliament. Earlier this week Speaker Lockwood Smith came under fire after announcing that the note-takers required for Ms Mathers to follow Parliamentary debate would have to come out of her own staff budget.
From http://www.3news.co.nz/Deaf-MP-Mojo-Mathers-delivers-maiden-speech/tabid/1607/articleID/242982/Default.aspx, February 15, 2012
Accessible Media Inc Honoured by Canadian Council of the Blind with Inaugural President's Award
For almost 70 years the Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB) has worked to improve the quality of life for Canadians living with vision loss. It represents the largest group of people who are blind or with low vision in the country. "And it is from this perspective that we recognize and honour AMI's barrier-breaking work over the past 20-plus years to promote greater inclusion and enhance the lives of Canadians who are blind or partially sighted through making all media accessible," says Louise Gillis, President, CCB.
From http://www.newswire.ca/en/story/920533/media-advisory-accessible-media-inc-ami-honoured-by-canadian-council-of-the-blind-with-inaugural-president-s-award-in-recognition-of-ami-s-outstanding, February 14, 2012
USA: Broadway Tones Down for Autistic Audiences
Two more autism-friendly performances of Broadway musicals will be offered this spring and fall following the success last year of the first showing of a Broadway show specially altered for those diagnosed with the disorder. The Theatre Development Fund, a nonprofit organization focused on providing access to live theater, said last week it plans to offer specially designed matinee showings of “Mary Poppins” on April 29 and “The Lion King” on Sept. 30.
From http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/feb/13/broadway-tones-down-for-autistic-audiences/, February 14, 2012