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According to the charity Leonard Cheshire, over 1,000 railway stations in Britain––more than 40% of the total in existence––are inaccessible to people with disabilities. In addition to this shameful figure, even determining whether the station is accessible or not is hard, which makes planning traveling extremely frustrating for those with disabilities.

The lack of accessibility is also humiliating. One passenger, Dr. Hannah Barham-Brown, felt “worthless” when the assistance she had booked in anticipation of the station’s inaccessibility failed to arrive, effectively leaving her abandoned at the station without recourse.

Despite this, there is hope for improvement. A Department for Transport spokesman shared that “We are determined to make sure that our railways are accessible to everyone, which is why we have already invested to deliver accessible routes and step-free access at nearly 2,000 stations around the country.” Those improvements cannot come soon enough for the 11 million Britons living with a disability

Breda beat out 51 other cities other cities for this coveted award, such as Évreux, France, (which chose to focus on supporting invisible disabilities) and Gydnia, Poland, which was lauded for its efforts towards including people with intellectual disabilities. The Access City Award is an initiative of the EU’s Disability Strategy 2010-2020, the goal of which is a more inclusive Europe.

Breda’s public parks and stores are all accessible to those with disabilities, and accessible public transportation ensures everyone can get where they need to go. By promoting the award and Breda’s superlative efforts, the European Commission and the European Disability Forum hope to inspire cities across Europe to ramp up their accessibility efforts across the board.  

Results released from a recent study conducted by the journal Pediatrics revealed that autism could potentially affect 2.5% of children in the United States. This is significantly higher than the 1.7% estimated by the CDC using 2014 data. Thomas Frazier, chief science officer of the advocacy organization Autism Speaks attributes the discrepancy to "... methods that are a bit more liberal and inclusive than the CDC's methods…[but] they [CDC’s numbers] are likely a bit conservative."

Furthermore, the study in Pediatrics was based off of parent survey data, which, unlike the CDC report, is not validated by health and education records. Other discrepancies may be attributed to the ages of the children included in the report, their geographic location, and even the years the study was conducted. While the prevalence of autism has been rising for years, it will remain difficult to pinpoint an exact number of children affected, in part because autism is so difficult to diagnose. 

Men used to explain their interest in Playboy magazine by citing the great literary content––not the images of scantily clad women. A legally blindman, Donald Nixon, recently took that argument to the next level by filing a lawsuit against the iconic publication alleging that neither Playboy.com nor Playboyshop.com were compatible with his screenreader. It turns out Mr. Nixon actually does want to read it for the articles, and according to the ADA, he argues, he should have every right to. 

It’s illegal for taxi drivers to choose whom to transport, but that doesn’t stop them from avoiding picking up people with disabilities. Some cities offer subsidized trips for those with disabilities, but they require advance booking and take longer than a direct trip because of multiple passengers. Even ride-sharing services have had their share of growing pains, with lack of wheelchair accessible vehicles markedly increasing wait times.

In an effort to combat these concerns, Uber has rolled out a pilot partnership with MV Transportation called UberWAV that promises to make it easier (and as cost-efficient as UberX) for people with disabilities to hail an Uber. MV Transportation will provide the wheelchair accessible vehicles and Uber will connect drivers with passengers. The pilot program will be rolled out in Washington, DC, New York City, Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago, and Toronto.

“It is very costly, but we recognize this is a thing where we can demonstrably transform the way that people have historically thought about transportation, a population of people for whom there have been huge barriers,” said Malcom Glenn, Uber’s head of global policy, accessibility and underserved communities.

Seeing Eye has been training guide dogs for almost 100 years. (Fun trivia: they patented the term “seeing-eye dog.”) The four months of intense training they employ with the dogs concludes with an trip to New York City as the penultimate test to prove the dog can safely guide a blind person. A trainer and the dog’s new master accompany the dog through busy streets and public transportation as the trainer assesses how well the dog navigates the various challenges. “There’s no more intense place than New York City to train the dogs — it’s the craziest environment they’ve ever been in,” said Brian O’Neal, a Seeing Eye trainer.

Seeing Eye is not the only guide dog training school that uses New York City as the ultimate obstacle course; Guiding Eyes For the Blind and the Guide Dog Foundation also use the frenetic city as a training ground.   Marion Gwizdala, president of the National Association of Guide Dog Users, applauds these efforts, noting that even if the dogs aren’t going to be living in a city urban training prepares them for crowded public areas like malls and carnivals.

Seeing Eye has been training guide dogs for almost 100 years. (Fun trivia: they patented the term “seeing-eye dog.”) The four months of intense training they employ with the dogs concludes with an trip to New York City as the penultimate test to prove the dog can safely guide a blind person. A trainer and the dog’s new master accompany the dog through busy streets and public transportation as the trainer assesses how well the dog navigates the various challenges. “There’s no more intense place than New York City to train the dogs — it’s the craziest environment they’ve ever been in,” said Brian O’Neal, a Seeing Eye trainer.

Seeing Eye is not the only guide dog training school that uses New York City as the ultimate obstacle course; Guiding Eyes For the Blind and the Guide Dog Foundation also use the frenetic city as a training ground.   Marion Gwizdala, president of the National Association of Guide Dog Users, applauds these efforts, noting that even if the dogs aren’t going to be living in a city urban training prepares them for crowded public areas like malls and carnivals.

While the accessibility of voting locations still leaves a lot to be desired (an estimated 60% of polling places have impediments for people in wheelchairs according to a 2017 government study), sometimes problems persist even when the buildings and the voting mechanisms themselves are accessible. Lack of training for the people manning the polling places means even the technology for text magnification, height adjustments, or audio features exists, the people who need these features are unable to take advantage of it. The director of Paraquad, a disability services and support organization in St Louis notes that “There is a lot of hesitation and sometimes confusion from poll workers on what they can do.” Other polling stations are using assistive technology that’s over 20 years old. Privacy concerns arise when voters are unable to enter a building and must cast their vote outside - often by telling the pollsters who they’d like to vote for. While there have been definite upgrades inaccessible voting practices in the decades since the ADA was passed, there is still room for much improvement. 

Unless their eyes are closed and covered with soap, most sighted people rarely mistake the shampoo bottle for the conditioner or vice versa. Unfortunately, this is an everyday annoyance for visually impaired people, as shampoo and conditioner bottles generally lack differentiating physical characteristics.

Recently, however, P&G’s obsession with their customers led them into inclusive design territory: they decided to add vertical lines on the bottom of Herbal Essences’ shampoo bottles and circles to the bottom of the conditioner bottles to eliminate confusion for their visually impaired customers.

While medicinal product packaging must have Braille in Europe, no such regulation exists in the United States. Advocates and people with disabilities hope P&G’s initiative will spark a chang in mindset among other consumer packaged goods companies.

After years of dedicated service to WordPress’ accessibility team, team lead Rian Rietveld has announced her resignation. Citing political complications and multiple accessibility-related problems with Gutenberg (WordPress’ new editor), as her reason for leaving, Rian wished her successor, Matthew MacPherson, the best moving forward.

Considering that WordPress is one of the most popular content management systems in the world (currently powering 30% of the websites on the internet), its efforts towards accessibility are not only crucial for people with disabilities, but to set an example for the rest of the internet. For years there was no dedicated accessibility developer from Automattic (WordPress’ parent organization), but with the addition of Matt to the team there’s hope that the issues plaguing Gutenberg will be resolved. 

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