December 12th, 2013

Nov. 2013: As reported in the Chronicle of Higher Education:

Legislation introduced on Friday in the U.S. House of Representatives would require colleges either to make instructional technology accessible to disabled students or to provide them with equivalent, alternative resources.
 
Rep. Tom Petri, a Wisconsin Republican and senior member of the House education committee, said his bill would ensure that disabled students were given equal treatment as technology plays a larger and larger role in instruction. The bill is called the Technology, Equality, and Accessibility in College and Higher Education (Teach) Act.
 
The legislation also calls on the government to develop guidelines for electronic instructional materials used in higher education.
The National Federation of the Blind and the Association of American Publishers released a joint statement calling the legislation long overdue.
“Every day, blind college students face devastating setbacks to their education because of inaccessible technology,” Marc Maurer, president of the federation, said in the statement. “The use of e-readers, web content, mobile applications, and learning-management systems by educators is more prevalent than ever, and disabled students are being needlessly left behind.”
December 12th, 2013

According to a press release from the Justice Dept. in late November 2013: 

The Civil Rights Division and U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz announced today that they have moved to intervene in National Federation of the Blind et al v. HRB Digital LLC et al, a private lawsuit alleging disability discrimination by HRB Digital LLC and HRB Tax Group Inc., subsidiaries of H&R Block Inc.  In the memorandum and proffered complaint filed by the United States in support of its motion to intervene, the United States alleges that the H&R Block companies discriminate against individuals with disabilities and that their website, www.hrblock.com , is being operated in violation of Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), notwithstanding well-established and readily available guidelines for delivering web content in an accessible manner.  The motion, attached complaint in intervention and supporting memorandum were filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts’ Boston Division.
 
As alleged in the filings today, H&R Block is one of the largest tax return preparers in the United States.  Its companies offer a wide range of services through www.hrblock.com , including professional and do-it-yourself tax preparation, instructional videos, office location information, interactive live video conference and chat with tax professionals, hybrid online and in-store services and electronic filing.  Their website, however, is not accessible to many individuals with disabilities and prevents some people with disabilities from completing even the most basic activities on the site.
 
Today’s filings further state that many individuals with disabilities, including, among others, people who are blind, deaf or have physical disabilities with an impact on manual dexterity, use computers and the Internet with the help of assistive technologies.  For example, screen reader software makes audible information that is otherwise presented visually on a computer screen; captioning translates video narration and sound into text; and keyboard navigation allows keyboard input rather than a mouse to navigate a website for individuals with visual, hearing or manual dexterity disabilities.  Such technologies have been widely used for some time and there are readily available, well-established, consensus-based guidelines – the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 – for making web content accessible to individuals with disabilities.
 
The complaint in intervention seeks a court order that would ensure that tax services offered through www.hrblock.com are fully and equally accessible to individuals with disabilities.  The department also seeks an award of monetary damages for aggrieved individuals, including the two named plaintiffs and a civil penalty to vindicate the public interest.
October 30th, 2013

The ODE-OEC, through its contract with the Ohio Center for Autism and Low Incidence (OCALI), is pleased to announce a new Assistive Technology Internet Module (ATIM), titled "AT Assessment Tools".  Found at the their site, under the tab "AT Problem Solving Across the Lifespan", this module is a comprehensive review of both free and commercially available AT assessment tools.  Some of these tools offer guidance for every step of the AT assessment process while others focus on specific components of AT such as evaluation of AT supports for reading and writing.  It begins with a video introduction done by Penny Reed. This module concludes with a review of user satisfaction tools and checklists that measure the effectives and perceived usefulness of implemented AT. 

Note: The content is free but you do have to create an account and log in. OCALI will send you an email when new modules are posted. Modules include short videos, text, a pre/post assessment tool.

October 16th, 2013

The Hadley School for the Blind has over 40 archived webinars on topics of interest to visually impaired individuals including cloud computing basics, how to choose a notetaker, iOS access, internet search, Skype, and many more listed below.

 

iFocus 3: Tips on Using the Vision Accessibility Features in iOS

Learning to Put the "You" in YouTube

The New Victor Reader Stream - Smaller, Smarter, Simpler

LinkedIn-New Look, New Features

iFocus: Spring Tips and Training for the iDevice User

Simplifying Internet Searching

iFocus: A New Quarterly Series Focusing on Tips and Training for iDevice Users

Travel Applications on iDevices

iDevices: What’s New?

Accessing the Printed Word with DocuScan Plus

Surfing the Web with SAMNet

Accessing Facebook on Your iPhone

iReading on the iPad and iPhone Using the Bookshare Read2go App

Is the iPhone/iPad the Right Technology for Today’s Veterans and Seniors?

Tuning in with BookPort Plus

A Brailliant Way to Stay Social

Movies and More on the Apex

NLS/BARD: Downloading Done Easy

The Keys to NLS/BARD

Cloud Computing Basics - DropBox and Apple iCloud

Skype Me! Using Skype From Your PC and Mobile Device

Preparing Powerful PowerPoint 2010 Presentations for Blind Users (Part 2)

Preparing Powerful PowerPoint 2010 Presentations for Blind Users (Part 1)

Blindness on the Job

Going Ape for Apps - Hot New Accessible Apps for Your iDevice

Everything i

Horizons for the Blind and the INNOVATIVE directionsforme.org!

Office 2010 Suite for Blind Users

Yahoo! for Web Accessibility

Access to Mathematics & Science for Blind Students

FYI on PDAs: Considerations When Choosing a PDA/Note Taking Device

HumanWare: Reading Solutions for Education and Recreation

Using Apple's iPhone and iTouch

Staying Connected with NFB-Newsline®

Connect and Network with Facebook and LinkedIn Using Access Technology

Office 2007, Windows 7 and Window-Eyes

Accessible GPS Overview and Comparison

Staying Safe Online

The Features of the Victor Reader Stream

Sharing Experiences: High and Low Tech Solutions that Help Make My Day

Surfing the Web with Zoomtext

Features of the PAC Mate Omni Accessible Pocket PC

Mobile Access and Your Adaptive Technology

Bookshare.org, Hadley's Virtual Library

Accessible Technology from HumanWare

Experts in JAWS and MAGic

Digital Accessibility in the Workplace

Online Shopping

October 15th, 2013

The Global Initiative for Inclusive Information and Communications Technology (G3ict) has recognized AT&T and its Corporate Accessibility Technology Office (CATO) as a company that is empowering aging and disabled employees by providing digital accessibility technology in the workplace and marketplace. 

G3ict’s most recent white paper is titled “AT&T’s Corporate Accessibility Technology Office: An Industry Model.” The paper explores the inner workings of CATO, an organization within AT&T charged with ensuring that AT&T’s product and service develop cycles consider the accessibility of persons with disabilities, and highlights how it enables AT&T workers to continue their jobs and thrive, all while pushing the business forward.
“AT&T has implemented an exemplary proactive policy, both internally and externally, that stands tall in the telecommunications industry,” said Axel Leblois, Executive Director at G3ict. “The company is providing remarkable tools and services that give access to users of all abilities to modern technologies.”
Today, more than 57 million Americans live with disabilities* and control $220 billion in annual discretionary spending power.** That significant share of the economy will only increase over time, given the growing aging and disabled veterans populations. Recognizing those trends and furthering its longstanding commitment, AT&T announced its groundbreaking new accessibility initiative in 2012, when the company created CATO.
“The purpose of CATO is to lead AT&T’s efforts in developing products and services that are accessible to persons with disabilities,” said Christopher Rice, AT&T’s Chief Accessibility Officer. “Accessibility has always been one of our core values at AT&T and the creation of CATO furthered our commitment to meet the needs of all the customers we serve. CATO truly is ‘Accessibility Central’ at AT&T. It works with business units throughout the company to evaluate the accessibility implications of new projects and provides counsel on the design and development of products and services across the enterprise.”
The new white paper explores stories like that of Matt Myrick, who not only is a CATO accessibility solutions engineer, but also has cleared personal hearing hurdles via AT&T’s accessibility technology. That same technology has enabled Myrick to develop the next breakthrough products for disabled people.
“I’ve been hard of hearing since birth and grew up intimately aware of the need for technology that could adapt to me, rather than expecting me to adapt to it,” Myrick said. “I have experienced AT&T’s commitment to accessibility first-hand. In less than six months, I’ve already worked on more than 37 different accessibility projects. I know AT&T cares deeply about the disability community and demonstrates this commitment by not only providing equal opportunities for employees like me with disabilities, but also by working to improve the lives of its customers.”


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