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Why emerging tech supports an accessible, inclusive future workplace

Emerging technologies — augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and artificial intelligence (AI) — will play a crucial role in creating an accessible future of work for individuals with disabilities, according to experts. Remote work environments amid the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the adoption of workplace technology trends. “What should have happened in five years, happened in a couple of months,” Cathy Hackl, a futurist and author of “The Augmented Workforce,” said during a U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) webinar Oct. 20…

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Purple Tuesday call for retailers to act to make it easier for disabled people to buy online

Shopping has become harder for disabled people both online and in-store during the Covid-19 pandemic, new research has found. Now retailers are now being urged to act in order to make websites and apps easier to use by people who are often looking to buy the essentials. Purple, the organization behind today’s Purple Tuesday event highlighting the importance of accessibility for disabled shoppers both online and in-store, is asking retailers to make simple changes to improve access to the goods and services they sell…

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As deadline looms, expert says businesses are ‘just starting’ to take digital accessibility more seriously

Canadian businesses face a January 1, 2021 deadline to make all internet websites and web content more accessible, and experts are urging Canadian businesses to take a hard look at their web presence and take the deadline seriously. The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) requires organizations with 20 or more employees to file a compliance audit* before this deadline. AODA will require Canadian businesses in Ontario to meet web content accessibility guidelines (WCAG 2.0) Level AA other than criteria 1.2.4 (live captions) and 1.2.5 (pre-recorded audio descriptions)…

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Microsoft’s Xbox Website Allegedly Violates ADA

On Thursday in the Southern District of New York, Microsoft was sued in a putative class-action complaint by the plaintiff, “a visually-impaired and legally blind person who requires screen-reading software to read website content using his computer,” who alleged that Microsoft failed to have an accessible website for its Xbox under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Specifically, the plaintiff brought this suit for Microsoft’s purported “failure to design, construct, maintain, and operate its website to be fully accessible to and independently usable by Plaintiff and other blind or visually-impaired people.”…

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To Build More-Inclusive Technology, Change Your Design Process

In technology, inherent bias can be hard to root out. Our tech tends to reflect the people who create it — their perspectives and experiences shape how products are designed. Whether you’re talking about a smart city or a smart speaker, the systems that underpin our lives are the sum of designers’ decisions; inequality and exclusion are often the unintentional consequences of those choices. To address this, organizations, experts, and regulators have worked to make technology more accessible for people with different physical and cognitive abilities; the tech industry has taken meager steps to diversify its workforce…

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Local Culinary Businesses Hit with ADA-Compliance Lawsuits

In early August, James Blanchard, co-owner of Blanchard Family Wines, answered a knock at his door. On the other side was something very unexpected: a lawsuit. The complaint was that the winery’s website violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which extends to a business’ website. Blanchard was shocked. He’d hired a large corporation to create his company’s website and hadn’t received any prior complaints—not from customers, and not directly from the plaintiff, David Katt, a legally blind Douglas County man who alleges that Blanchard’s website cannot be fully read by his screen-reading software…

photo of man with blindness sitting in front of his computer

Eight months into pandemic, blind Coloradans still cannot access some state and county COVID information

County and state public health agencies in Colorado have posted coronavirus data, public health orders and testing locations on their websites. But many of those documents, forms and graphics are inaccessible for people with vision impairments. Curtis Chong, a blind person from Aurora who has worked with the National Federation of the Blind on computer accessibility issues, noted that his JAWS screen reader cannot interpret many of the data visualizations on the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s website…

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Nevada must improve blind people’s access to government websites

The internet has become an integral part of most people’s daily lives. This is truer than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic, when most of us are spending a great deal of time in our homes interacting with the outside world through websites, apps, and video conferences. Unfortunately, despite some efforts by a few officials and agencies and clear state mandates and federal laws, blind Nevadans like me and the thousands represented by the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) and its Nevada affiliate, of which I serve as president, still can’t access many of the state’s internet resources.

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New Online Accessibility Act Introduced To Congress

As lawsuits over Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility on websites and mobile apps became increasingly common — including a high-profile case involving Domino’s, which went to the Supreme Court in October 2019 — Congress has just introduced the bipartisan-supported Online Accessibility Act, which would extend the legislative breadth of the ADA. Under this extension, businesses would have to make their websites accessible to visually impaired users.

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Blindness and sight loss to double by 2050

Blindness and severe vision impairment is predicted to affect almost 900 million people worldwide by 2050—up from around 338 million today, according to a new pre-print study accepted by The Lancet and highlighted on World Sight Day (8 October). Researchers led by Rupert Bourne, Professor of Ophthalmology at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), examined more than 500 studies showing trends in prevalence of blindness and vision loss, allowing them to make forecasts about vision loss over the next three decades…

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