Product Accessibility

A new textbook for the iPAD that allows children with vision disabilities to experience the stars is the result of a collaboration between astronomers at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScl); the National Braille Press; and the National Federation of the Blind. Development was funded by a Hubble education and public outreach grant. The textbook for the iPad is entitled “Reach for the Stars: Touch, Look, Listen, Learn” and can be downloaded for free from Apple’s iBooks Store.  

An astronomer from STScl, Eleane Sabbi, collaborated with developers to translate colorful imagery from the Hubble Space Telescope into accessible content that could be perceived by all students including those who are blind and have vision disabilities. The hope is that the textbook will demonstrate that anyone can be a scientist.

Read more about “Reach for the Stars: Touch, Look, Listen, Learn

Media Access Australia released a white paper, The accessibility of cloud computing – current and future trends, which outlines the need for commercial and government services to implement accessibility into their cloud based assets.

The author, Dr. Scott Hollier of Media Access, said that the research supported a need to implement accessibility into cloud services by looking at the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) put forth by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C.)

The research in the paper supports organizations improving their accessibility and usability of cloud services as essential criteria to maximize customer engagement and opportunities and to stay current in a competitive market.  

Case number: 2:14-CV-162 was filed against Scribd, Inc. by the National Federation for the Blind (NFB.) and Heidi Viens, a blind parent from Colchester, Vermont. The NFB is the nation’s leading advocate for equal access by the blind to technology and electronic information.

Scribd, Inc. is a website that offers subscription access to more than 50,000 books for 8.99 a month. Currently the service is only accessible to sited subscribers and is delivered through apps as well as the web. Other services allow users to publish their own work and utilize social media features.

The case was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Vermont. It alleges violations of Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act claiming that the website and mobile apps are not accessible to people who are blind.

Read more about the case at the NFB website.

At the National Federation of the Blind National Convention on July 1-6 Vital Source Technologies, an Ingram Content Group’s leading e-textbook solutions, showcased new features to its already comprehensive accessibility support for the VitalSource Bookshelf platform.

Vital Source Technologies works to continually support industry standards for accessibility through conformance testing on all bookshelf platforms.  They test offline on Windows and Macs, online on Windows and Macs using standard browsers (IE, Firefox, Safari), and on mobile devices for iOS and Android. All Bookshelf platforms are evaluated using screen readers such as JAWS and NVDA for Windows, VoiceOver for Mac and IOS, and TalkBack for Android.

Vital Source collaborates with accessibility consultants, the National Federation of the Blind (NFB, American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) to insure the platform is tested in conformance with section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.

In addition to the client updates being released, Vital Source will provide an updated and independently-reviewed Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT) for each of the platforms. The Android, iOS, Browser, Macintosh and Windows VPAT’s are available for download.

Read more on VPAT’s and Accessibility Certification.

“Accessing Social Media” will be a public event hosted by the FCC on Thursday, July 17th, 2014 from 9 am to 4 pm. The event will be held at the FCC Headquarters at 445 12th Street, SW, Washington, DC and facilitate a collaborative, cross-sector exchange of information regarding making social media tools and content accessible for people with disabilities. It will include information on authoring tools, client applications and best practices.

“Accessing Social Media” will be held in the FCC’s Commission Meeting Room and will include panels of industry, consumer and government representatives. The meeting can also be attended via an open captioned webcast. Contact Jamal Mazrui for more information: 202-418-0069

The Fire Phone is Amazon’s first smartphone and it comes with several accessibility features. The phone was unveiled in front of hundreds of customers, executives and reporters Wednesday in Seattle Washington. The phone will be available from AT&T Inc. with a price point of $199.99 for the 32GB version with a two-year contract.

Some of the accessibility features available on the phone are:

Users with vision disabilities

  • Screen Reader, powered by IVONA Text-to-Speech Explore by Touch
  • Adjustable Reading Speed
  • Explore by Touch Tutorial
  • Screen Magnifier
  • High Contrast

Users with hearing disabilities

  • Closed Captioning
  • Hearing Aid Compatibility (HAC)
  • TTY Mode
  • Stereo to Mono Audio

Users with mobility Disabilities

  • Amazon Voice Assist
  • One-Handed Navigation and Shortcuts
  • Low Motion Mode

The Fire Phone will ship July 25, prior to Apples fall release of the iPhone 6. Users can pre-order the phone now on

Game Accessibility Guidelines is a free web-based resource to help game developers create games that are more inclusive of people with disabilities. This year they were unveiled at the M:Enabling conference in Washington DC as the winner of the Chairman’s Award for Advancement in Accessibility, which is the world’s most prominent award for promoting innovation in information technology accessibility for people with disabilities.

Game Accessibility Guidelines hopes to aid developers in creating games with better access and inclusion for people who have disabilities. This would include games on the PC, consoles and mobile devices.

TabAccess from Zyrobotics is the first assistive device of its type to allow easier access to Android and iOS tablet devices. It allows people with challenges moving their hands and arms.

“Unfortunately, most applications for smartphones and tablets are not designed with accessibility in mind, especially for people with motor disabilities,” explains Dr. Ayanna Howard, founder and Chief Technology Officer of Zyrobotics. “Our strategic launch of TabAccess is both a technology game changer and life changer for so many.”

TabAccess provides access through multiple accessible devices such as sip/puff, button switches and grasp switches.

Learn more about mobile accessibility with Kathy Wahlbin’s Mobile Accessibility on the Move Slides.


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