Benefits of Accessibility

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The Interactive Accessibility Podcast (IAP) is an entertaining approach to accessibility. We enjoy sharing our discussions on accessibility and how it relates to technology, real-life issues, information, businesses, and people with disabilities. In this episode: Flying Cars.

Did you know there are only about 10,000 guide dogs in the United States? With only 0.003% of the population using a guide dog, it is understandable that people do not know how to react to a service animal. Whether it is an adult or a curious toddler, I’m often the focus of attention everywhere I go.  Many times, the public seems to forget all manners and yell out “Dog! Dog!” or “Puppy!

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The 32st Annual International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference, known to people in the industry as the 2017 CSUN Conference, is being held at the Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel in San Diego, CA from February 27 to March 3. CSUN, through the International Conference on Assistive Technology for Persons with Disabilities, provides an inclusive setting and hosts many groups including:

The company that brought Video Relay Service (VRS) communication to people who are deaf, Sorenson Communications, has now introduced the first American Sign Language (ASL) Phone Tree called the Sorenson Bridge.

The Sorenson Bridge will strengthen the way people with hearing disabilities communicate when using a VRS. The Sorenson Bridge replaces the time-consuming process of navigating audio phone trees using sign language interpreters with video menus shown in ASL. The ASL video menus make it much faster and easier for people whose native language is ASL to select the option they want.

Read more on the Sorenson Bridge

CAPTCHA, googles system for detecting whether or not a user is human, has in the past been a challenge for people with disabilities. However, it may “vanish” completely. That is not to say that it is going to go away, just become invisible. According to a recent CNET Article, Google is working on a new system that would be undetectable by the user called Invisible ReCAPTCHA. Last year CAPTCHA became easier for all users when No CAPTCHA appeared with its simple check box next to “I’m not a robot,” eliminating the need for solving a puzzle or typing a word from a difficult to discern image of text.  Invisible ReCAPTCHA would eliminate human interaction altogether.

If you are interested in Invisible ReCAPTCHA visit the Google ReCAPTCHA website.

Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, played a video that focused on the accessibility features of Apple’s products. Paulson, a woman with cerebral palsy, starred in the video. But that was just the beginning; using Switch Control to interact with her computer, Paulson edited the entire video, too.

Cook also announced a redesigned accessibility website featuring accessibility needs and how Apple’s devices address these needs. It also includes a section for inclusive education. 

For years the WCAG 2.0 Guidelines have help developers create a web experience that is more usable by people with disabilities. UMass Medical School’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center is currently conducting research to determine if simplifying text can further help comprehension for people with cognitive disabilities.

The Shriver Center in conjunction with IBM, UMass Boston, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) is working on this project, which will be the first to create clear steps that can be followed by people to simplify text. Moreover, it will be the first to leverage and develop the cognitive computing and natural-language processing of the supercomputer, IBM Watson, to automatically simplify text.

For more information read the Global Accessibility News Article.

A French start-up Moodstocks specializes in rapid object recognition using smart phones. Moodstocks is different from other existing object recognition apps because it runs directly on the smartphone and does not rely on outside servers. This more affordable, mainstream and accessible method has caught the interest of Google, who has agreed to purchase the start-up. It is still unclear whether Google will use the tech solely for its customer-facing offerings or also launch its own SDK for developers. It is clear, however, that this could be a great step forward in accessibility. 

The W3C’s WAI Education and Outreach Working Group (EOWG) has made public the first version of Web Accessibility Perspectives, which introduces ten videos that explore the impact of accessibility on people with disabilities and how accessibility benefits everyone. The videos show how accessibility benefits everyone in different situations and inspires viewers to explore web accessibility. The WCAG 2.0 guidelines inform accessible web development.You can read more about the initiative at Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI).

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