Accessibility Now

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IAAP International Association of Accessibility Professionals
  1. MSU Tackles Improving Online Access for Students with Disabilities
  2. WebAIM: Survey of Web Accessibility Practitioners Results
  3. Google Drive and the Docs Editors: Designed with Everyone in Mind
  4. RecruitAbility Offered by the Australian Public Service Commission 
  5. Improve Access to Music Making for All Pupils with the Skoog
  6. Accessibility Implications of iPhone 6, Apple Watch 
  7. Introducing an Accessible HTML5 Video Player
  8. ICT Courses for People with Disabilities 
  9. Web Accessibility Tutorials on Images and Tables
  10. Using Voice Recognition in RAY Device for People Who are Blind and Vision Impaired
  11. Fight Over Digital Accessibility 
  12. Gartner Says a Typical Family Home Could Contain More Than 500 Smart Devices by 2022


1

MSU Tackles Improving Online Access for Students with Disabilities

The leaders at Montana State University (MSU) are addressing the roadblocks for students who are blind, deaf or have other disabilities. The university is committed to ensuring that class materials and websites are easy to access for all students. A report on accessibility issues at the university calls for the creation of new policies, training of MSU professors, and Internet, communications and technology accessibility. The report’s goal was to build greater awareness of the accessibility issues students with disabilities are facing and provide suggested solutions to help solve some of these obstacles.

Read the complete article about MSU’s efforts to improve online access for students with disabilities

2

WebAIM: Survey of Web Accessibility Practitioners Results

WebAIM conducted a survey of Web accessibility practitioners and received a large number of responses: more than 900 valid results. The results are broken down in order of region, operating system, browsers, Java-script enabled, age, gender, disability reported, education level, organization type, accessible organizations website, primary job title/role, Web accessibility role/assignments, weekly Web accessibility time, Web accessibility experience and salary.

Read the results of the Web Accessibility Practitioners survey

3

Google Drive and the Docs Editors: Designed with Everyone in Mind

Users who are blind and have low vision face challenges with Web content that is designed to be visually led. Google Docs is one such feature that may not be fully realized by those who have a disability because of the complexity of the design and the lack of accessibility features. With these concerns in mind, Google announced accessibility improvements to the widely popular Google Drive and all of its editors, including Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drawings and Forms. 

Google has improved screen reader support in Drive and Docs, including better keyboard accessibility, in addition to being sleeker, faster and easier to navigate. Drive is now easier for screen readers to navigate. A refreshable Braille display support with guides has also been added. Finally, Google will offer phone support for users with Google Drive accessibility concerns.

Read more about the accessibility updates for Google Drive and its editors

4

RecruitAbility Offered by the Australian Public Service Commission 

The Australian Public Service Commission (APS) utilizes RecruitAbility to facilitate the progression of applicants with disabilities. The service was created to offer better support to applicants with disabilities, and it provides APS with special recruitment exercises. The service’s goal is to build the confidence and capability of the job applicant pool and at the same time improve the ability of selection panel members to assess the merits of applicants with disabilities.

Learn more about the Australian Public Service Commission’s RecruitAbility service

5

Improve Access to Music Making for All Pupils with the Skoog

The Skoog is a resilient music-producing cube that responds to users’ touches, twists, prods and squeezes. The Skoog was designed for everyone but is particularly suitable for users with physical and mobility limitations. It has a colorful appearance and squishy texture that hide its sensors, which produce music based on manipulation.

The Skoog’s features allow samples and instruments to be uploaded to the device and assigned to one of the Skoog's five buttons. The responsiveness of the sensors is adjustable to respond to any user, and the twist motion can be set up to bend the samples to give it life. The beauty is in the simplicity of the instrument, and the possibilities are endless with the highly customizable sensor responses set up through the app.

Read more about improving access to music making with the Skoog

6

Accessibility Implications of iPhone 6, Apple Watch 

This blog post discusses Apple’s announcement of the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, the Apple Watch and a brand new Apple Pay tap-to-pay system to replace credit cards. The author is concerned about the enormous accessibility implications of these devices. Each device and system has a step-by-step accessibility review. Still, the author is unclear on how much accessibility was factored into the design and if the devices are accessible to all users out of the gate or if more work needs to be done to make them fully accessible.

Read the complete blog post about the accessibility implications of new Apple devices

7

Introducing an Accessible HTML5 Video Player
 

Dennis Lembree writes about the accessibility of the HTML5 video player. The HTML5 Video Element is the new standard, Web-based video with no plugins. Video on the Web has seen many incarnations, each of which had its upsides and downsides in regards to accessibility.

Customization is key in making a video player accessible in ways that fit each person’s needs. This aspect appears to have been taken into mind when the HTML5 video player was in development. The goals of the project were also to support captions, which is done through WebVTT. The next goal was to create a fully accessible keyboard for everyone, but especially for screen reader users. They also wanted to take advantage of the latest Web technology by using HTML5 for the video, controls and captions. They also met their goal to reduce code weight to a reasonable size.

Read the blog post about the accessibility of the HTML5 video player
 
8

ICT Courses for People with Disabilities 


The Foundation for Information Technology Accessibility (FITA) is the principal advocate and coordinator for making information communications technology (ICT) accessible for persons with disabilities in the Maltese Islands. The Foundation for Technology Accessibility in Malta organized ICT courses that have been completed by 58 students. The ICT Institute at the Malta College for Arts, Science and Technology (MCAST) hosted the courses, in addition to fellow hosts St. Theresa Girls College, Mriehel, the SIS Training Centre, Aċċess, Vittoriosa and Santa Martha Day Centre in Gozo.

In 2003, FITA — along with its partners, such as the Educational Directorate and MCAST — ran a pilot project that delivered ICT courses as a part of its goal, addressing the digital divide and promoting opportunities for improving the quality of life for people with disabilities. Stanley Debono, CEO of FITA, noted that access to computers play an important part in providing independence for individuals with physical, sensory and learning disabilities.

Read the complete article about the ICT courses for people with disabilities
 
9

Web Accessibility Tutorials on Images and Tables

The Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) Education and Outreach Working Group (EOWG) recently published the “Web Accessibility Tutorials on Images and Tables.” The group has also announced additional tutorials to come in the future. The guides explain how to create Web content with consideration for accessibility for people with disabilities. General guidance is included with specific examples for HTML5 and WAI-ARIA (the Accessible Rich Internet Applications Suite).

Read more about the WAI EOWG’s “Web Accessibility Tutorials on Images and Tables.”
 

10

Using Voice Recognition in RAY Device for People Who are Blind and Vision Impaired
 

RAY is a device that provides voice recognition services for the purpose of converting spoken words and sentences to textual data. This information is extremely beneficial for persons who are blind or visually impaired. The RAY device uses two different methods to invoke voice recognition, including dialing a contact person or the ability to dictate and send an SMS message.

The first method for this is available as a standard extension of the keyboard, through which users can dictate letters, words or complete sentences rather than typing. The second option is available in dedicated applications and functions, such as the dial-by-name option. The service is Internet based and runs through Google servers. The technology RAY uses for voice recognition is owned by Google and is actually the same that Android users are using under the brand of Google Now.

Read the complete blog post about using voice recognition in the RAY device
 
11

Fight Over Digital Accessibility 

Recent proposed legislation is causing an uproar among advocates for students with disabilities and groups representing colleges and universities. The groups are at ends over a provision in Senator Tom Harkin’s proposal to rewrite the Higher Education Act. According to this article, the provision would require a federal board to “establish guidelines for evaluating whether instructional materials and other technology used on campuses are accessible to students with disabilities.” Supporters say this legislation would improve accessibility to technology in higher education, while opponents say the rules would “burden campuses with new legal requirements and stifle innovation.”

Read the complete article about the fight over digital accessibility in higher education
 

12

Gartner Says a Typical Family Home Could Contain More Than 500 Smart Devices by 2022

A typical family home in a mature and affluent market will contain several hundred smart objects by 2022, according to Gartner, Inc. Gartner notes that the so-called smart home will create dramatic innovations and evolution over the next decade. Smart homes will offer many innovative digital business opportunities to organizations that can adapt their products and services to be fully accessible and usable by everyone. 
 
Gartner predicts that it will take until the year 2020 to 2025 for the mature smart home to exist. Similar technology already exists — including remote-controlled switches and dimmers — but has not gotten full traction. This article notes that a “lack of interoperability and standards may also hinder adoption of smart devices.”
 
Read the complete article about the smart home of the future

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