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IAAP International Association of Accessibility Professionals
  1. 2015 Predictions for Media Accessibility in Canada
  2. Notes on Providing Alt Text for Twitter Images
  3. Freedom Scientific Releases a 90-Day License of JAWS for Windows
  4. Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA): Integrated Accessibility Standards
  5. Reading Without Sight, Thanks to Web Accessibility. Here’s How …
  6. Accessibility Technology Opening New Channels of Online Commerce
  7. Business Online Accessibility Matters Too for People with Disabilities
  8. Accessible eBooks + Technologies = Learning Success!
  9. Rick Hansen Foundation Launches Accessibility Website
  10. Using “aria-describedby” to Provide Helpful Form Hints
  11. WCAG 2.0 Should Not Be Applied to Software and Mobile Apps


1

2015 Predictions for Media Accessibility in Canada


In this blog post, Robert Pearson of Accessible Media writes on predictions for media accessibility in Canada. Canada is working on some major initiatives that will be the focus of media accessibility development in 2015. The initiatives involve two major projects, along with several other smaller initiatives.

One of the initiatives is The Broad Accessibility Fund, which is an independent and impartial body that funds innovative projects. These projects will provide solutions to promote the accessibility of all broadcasting content in Canada, benefiting anyone with a disability or anyone requiring inclusive design. Other initiatives include the need for an accessible set-top box in Canada, as well as making accessibility "the norm" through education and making education free. Finally, the post covers G3ict's work to bring its embedded described video further into the mainstream. 

Read the complete blog post on predictions for media accessibility in Canada
 
2

Notes on Providing Alt Text for Twitter Images

Steve Faulkner blogs about how Twitter images are either seen or not seen. He notes that interesting and useful information can be conveyed through a picture over Twitter. Some people have trouble viewing or interpreting an image if it is not accessible. Graphical content can be converted into text alternatives using the standard HTML methods. Unfortunately, Twitter does not provide a built-in method for this. Converting the image into a textual format can be simple, such as an inspirational quote within a photo of the speaker, simply making sure the text is rewritten or a link to the quote is provided. Providing text alternatives on Twitter for images is a little more work. There are web services that exist to help with structural HTML markup, such as Codepen, to help with graphical content accessibility.

Read the complete blog post on adding alt text to Twitter images

3

Freedom Scientific Releases a 90-Day License of JAWS for Windows

This blog discusses the announcement by Freedom Scientific of a 90-day license of JAWS for Windows Professional. The 90-day license represents a great opportunity for companies that wish to test the accessibility of their webpages or their applications under development. The article notes that agencies can use the 90-day license for testing and to accommodate employees immediately. Plus, it allows end users the option to spread the purchase of a full JAWS license over an extended time period.

Read the complete post about the release of a 90-day JAWS license for Windows
 

4

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA): Integrated Accessibility Standards

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, widely known as AODA, requires organizations to comply with certain accessibility standards. Employers and trade unions are among those entities that must comply with the new standards, which are in the areas of employment, transportation and communications, and delivery of goods and services. The Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation (IASR) is establishing several new deadlines for compliance pursuant to the AODA. The IASR applies to private and nonprofit organizations that provide services, goods and facilities to the public or third-party businesses or organizations that have at least one employee in Ontario, with a few exceptions.

Read the complete article about the AODA’s integrated accessibility standards

5

Reading Without Sight, Thanks to Web Accessibility. Here’s How …

Reading a book is something that many people do not consider to be a challenge. In this blog post, Laura Shumaker discusses an incident that occurred with a friend she had been corresponding with for five years. Laura offered to send her friend, fellow author Beth Finke, a copy of her recent book. “Is it in audio format?” Finke asked. “You probably don't know that I'm blind.” This interaction led to a discussion on the challenges of reading, writing and having a career as a person with low vision.

The blog post also tells other stories, such as Lucy Greco's. Greco, who is blind, faced challenges reading scientific journals when she was studying to become a physical therapist. Greco was forced to rely on others to learn the information. This proved to be so challenging that she changed majors to British literature. This field was replete with audiobooks she could access, but it still took her eight years of full-time study to complete her bachelor's degree. With new technology to aid those with low vision, hopes for a fully accessible learning environment come closer to fruition. 

Read the complete blog post about the accessibility issues around reading without sight

6

Accessibility Technology Opening New Channels of Online Commerce

According to this IBM Research blog post, navigation, confusing content, ineffective design or a lack of accessibility are a few of the reasons users navigate away from a website. It is said that 15 seconds is all an organization has to hold someone’s attention on a website. If the online experience is customized to individual needs, preferences and abilities, organizations can ensure they are reaching the largest base of the population, including those with disabilities, aging consumers and multicultural communities. When looking to optimize website usability, enhance interactions and improve sales opportunities, ensuring a website is giving all users a positive experience is part of the battle.

IBM has integrated accessibility functionality into IBM Tealeaf Customer Experience. According to IBM, Tealeaf gives "organizations insights and answers required to verify whether a website is delivering a positive and pleasant experience for all visitors." It features two accessibility overlays -- color contrast and accessibility -- to help companies conform to accessibility standards and enhance user experience. 
 
Read the complete blog post about accessibility technology opening new channels of online commerce

7

Business Online Accessibility Matters Too for People with Disabilities

In this Ability Chicago Info Blog post, Jack Greiner discusses being aware of the needs of customers with disabilities. With the rise of online businesses and stores, it is easy to see why someone would choose to own a shop virtually. The Internet has revolutionized the way the world does business on both a local and global level. Here are just a few benefits of an online business: global accessibility 24/7, improved client service, cost savings (minimized resources), increased professionalism and easily accessible information. The ways businesses utilize the Internet are numerous; however, even a virtual business must be aware of the needs of their customers with disabilities. Greiner highlights a recent allegation against online grocer Peapod.com. Peapod, an Internet grocer based in Chicago, has allegedly violated ADA guidelines for accessibility for customers who are blind, have hearing impairments or conditions affecting manual dexterity.

Read the complete blog post about accessibility issues with online businesses

8

Accessible eBooks + Technologies = Learning Success!

Skip Johnson, principal of El Crystal Elementary in San Bruno, California, noticed that below average reading scores were increasing among students using e-readers. He created a new reading program in response. Pairing iPads and print books has helped to successfully boost reading comprehension scores among non-proficient readers. With e-readers quickly rivaling print as the dominant method for reading, other applications are being seen. Use of an e-reader device has been shown to increase the comprehension and reading time of students with dyslexia. The combination of traditional print along with a reading device could potentially open up the world of books to those who would have had difficulty learning.

Read the complete blog post about accessible e-books.  

9

Rick Hansen Foundation Launches Accessibility Website

The Rick Hansen Foundation has come out with a website designed to help individuals with disabilities. Based out of Vancouver, the Foundation has named the site Planat. Reviews from the perspective of mobility, hearing and vision impairments are listed on the site. Ambassadors are able to do on-site accessibility assessments across all of British Columbia. “We do reviews of venues and places that you visit with your friends and family, but from the perspective of mobility, hearing and vision impairments,” said Marco Pasqua, marketing and community manager for Planat.  “The BC government gave us $125,000 to hire six assessors – who have disabilities themselves – to go across the province and rate more than 300 venues,” said Pasqua. A cell phone app is set to launch in 2015 to make the information available to mobile users. The site is meant to help those with accessibility concerns as well as organizations and companies to see all issues.

Read the complete blog post about the Rick Hansen Foundation’s new accessibility website

10

Using “aria-describedby” to Provide Helpful Form Hints

This Paciello Group article expands on the use of a screen reader when a form field has a label. Screen readers will announce a form field with a label automatically when focus moves to the field. If additional information is available to help people complete the task, it’s also a good idea to associate it with the field in question. This article provides sample code and an explanation of the “aria-describedby” attribute. The “aria-describedby” attribute is used to provide an accessible description for an object in the user interface. It associates the field with the additional information to provide the field's accessible description.

Read the complete blog post about the “aria-describedby” attribute

11

WCAG 2.0 Should Not Be Applied to Software and Mobile Apps

Ken Nakata, director of HiSoftware’s Accessibility Consulting Practice and former attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice (and IAAP Board of Directors member), writes a compelling blog about his growing concerns about applying the W3C WCAG 2.0 standards to non-web software and mobile apps. He is concerned that trying to make W3C be a one-size-fits-all solution can cause confusion, hurt the disability movement and undermine accessibility. He also notes that attorneys working in this area need to be very clear about the differences between concepts like “web-based applications” and “mobile apps” in their settlement agreements. He provides suggestions for when to use W3C WCAG 2.0 and when to use the accessibility APIs, which are a much more natural fit for achieving software accessibility. The blog notes that this approach was used with the new European accessibility standards, EN 301-549.
 
Read the complete blog post about WCAG 2.0’s application with software and mobile apps

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