Product Accessibility

A report on accessibility standard for medical diagnostic equipment has been released by the Access Board’s Medical Diagnostic Equipment (MDE.) The report contains detailed recommendations on the finalization of standards previously issued for public comment. Upon finalization by the board, the new standards will cover:

  • Access to examination tables and chairs
  • Weight scales
  • X-ray machines
  • Mammography equipment
  • Other diagnostic equipment

Read more on the accessibility standards for medical equipment.

An Israeli startup called Project Ray has developed the first smartphone specifically designed for users who are blind and visually impaired. Smartphones can overwhelm many visually impaired users. Typical touch screens don’t provide enough tactile clues to assist a user who is blind making it difficult for them to navigate menus.

Project Ray offers an interface that is very simple yet still robust. It is designed to make sense for people who are visually impaired. The screen displays five to twelve icons and allows users to simply move their finger to a specific direction to open apps.

More can be read at the Project Ray website.

Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines Working Group (AUWG) is inviting developers of authoring tools who would be interested in sharing their experience implementing the Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines (ATAG) 2.0 and commenting on a Working Draft of the Note Implementing ATAG 2.0.

The ATAG defines how authoring tools should help developers looking to produce web content that conforms to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. It also defines how to produce authoring tools that are accessible, so that people with disabilities can use them effectively.

Authoring tools include:

  • Content Management Systems (CMA)
  • Learning Management Systems (LMS)
  • HTML editors
  • Blogs
  • Wikis
  • Social media
  • Development environments

Developers interested in participating can contact AUWG by December 7th, 2013

The United State Department of Transportation released regulations that govern the accessibility for people with disabilities for airline websites and kiosks on November 5, 2013. Lainey Feingold from the Law Offices of Lainey Feingold reacted to it in a blog post on their website stating that, “While there are positive aspects of the new regulations, the government missed an enormous opportunity to advance and protect the rights of air travelers with disabilities.” Read more of Lainey Feingold's blog on the New DOT Web and Kiosk Regulations.

By the end of this week a new app that helps people with hearing disabilities book cabs more easily and enhance their communication with drivers will be released on Windows phones. It took 12 months for Dubai Taxi Corporation, Microsoft and the Community Development Authority (CDA) to develop this free tool. Users will now have the ability to order taxis, track their trip, calculate their fair and talk to the drivers using pre-programmed voice commands.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded $2.4 million in funding to three projects for robots that work cooperatively with people. The robots can adapt to changes in the environment to improve the capabilities of the user and enhance medical procedures. This is the second year NIH has participated in the National Robotics Initiative (NRI), a commitment among multiple federal agencies to support the development of a new generation of robots that work cooperatively with humans, known as co-robots. Read more about Robotic Assistive Technology.

On September 12, as part of its Accessibility and Innovation Initiative speaker series the FCC will present live demonstrations of new and compelling technologies designed to enhance accessibility. Among the demonstrations will be:

  • How a smartphone can scan printed material into electronic text
  • How a web-browsing assistant can extract news articles for later reading
  • How cloud computing can enhance accessibility for all

Dr. Yevgen Borodin who is a renowned professor and entrepreneur known for his research in computation methods and non-visual interfaces for improving web accessibility, will discuss “Improving Accessibility for the General Public.” Read additional detail on Dr. Borodin’s presentation and the live demonstration of accessibility enhancing technologies.

The FCC’s Accessibility Clearinghouse was created as part of the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010. Its purpose is to be a useful, reliable and reusable resource for people looking for accessibility solutions to provide full access to our nation’s communication revolution. The website provides a wide range of data including accessibility features of mobile phones and contact information for telecommunication service providers and equipment manufacturers. An application programming interface (API) has also been created that allows free and easy access to all of the data available through the Clearinghouse.

As a companion to the Clearinghouse API the FCC has also created a software development kit (SDK) to promote ease of access and use of the API. The SDK was developed in the Python programming language due to its popularity and versatility.  The SDK can be found on the FCC’s GitHub Page.

Tom Wlodkowski, an executive at Comcast Corp who is blind, has come up with a talking TV channel guide. With the 2014 release of Comcast’s next-generation X2 platform in 2014, will come the talking channel guide, which will assist people who are blind in finding the shows they want to listen to. The guide was demonstrated this year at a California technology conference and at the cable-TV-industry trade show in Washington. Read more about the talking channel guide.


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