Access Ready Reporter Issue 1 February 27 2020

Issue 1, February 27, 2020

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The Big Story

AN ENGINEERING STUDENT IS HELPING ENVISION A SELF-DRIVING FUTURE FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES

The weekend she was supposed to be presenting a plan to improve transit service for people with disabilities using self-driving shuttles, Jen Schlegel was confronting her own problems getting around.

The Ohio State University engineering student had opted for a rolling walker over the wheelchair she sometimes uses, but nonetheless she was late.

“The running joke among my friends is that if you can’t find me, I’m waiting on either a bus or an elevator,” Schlegel said.

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Editors note: Is Ohio State University accessible on the web? Learn about their level of accessibility here!

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Government Spotlight

DIGITAL ACCESSIBILITY IN GOVERNMENT ORGANIZATIONS: WHERE DO THINGS STAND RIGHT NOW?

Contributed by CommonLook

Many government organizations are or have been sued in the past for not having digital accessibility in their websites and digital documents. While things have started improving, government organizations still have a long way to go before they become truly accessible in all their digital offerings in compliance with the ADA.

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Editors note: Is the Department of Labor accessible on the web? Learn about their level of accessibility here!

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Accessible Elections

HARRIS COUNTY AGREES TO PROVIDE ACCESSIBLE VOTING PROGRAM

The Justice Department reached an agreement with Harris County, Texas, to provide accessible polling places.
Harris County has the third-largest voting program with over 750 polling places, according to a Justice
Department news release.
The Justice Department filed a lawsuit against Harris county alleging that there were barriers to polling
places including cracks in the sidewalks, steep ramps, locked gates and other obstacles making it difficult for voters with mobility and visual impairments.

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Editors note: Is Harris county elections accessible on the web? Learn about their level of accessibility here!

 

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Legal Actions

SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER, DISABILITY RIGHTS GROUPS FILE FEDERAL CLASS ACTION SUIT AGAINST ICE.

The Southern Poverty Law Center along with disability and civil rights advocacy organizations filed a
class action federal lawsuit this week against the Immigration Customs Enforcement agency alleging that people seeking asylum were not given proper treatment and care for their disabilities.

The suit alleges that the immigrants , held in privately-run detention centers were denied treatments
resulting in vision loss, lack of treatment for mental illness and and severe reactions because of food
allergies that were ignored. The suit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California,
and alleges that ICE’s “systemic failures” violate the Fifth Amendment and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

As recounted in detail in the complaint, individuals in ICE custody are being denied health care, are facing discrimination due to their disabilities and being refused accommodations, and are being subjected to harmful isolation that amounts to punishment.
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Editors Note: Is ICE.gov an accessible website? Learn about their level of accessibility here!

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Business Accessibility

DISNEY STORE IS THE LATEST RETAILER HIT WITH AN ADA LAWSUIT OVER BRAILLE GIFTCARDS

The Walt Disney Company is the latest business facing this legal question after a new lawsuit
accused it of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act—the landmark 1990 law that codified
civil rights for people living with disabilities—for not including the raised-dot writing system on
gift cards at its Disney Store retail locations.

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Editors Note: Is Disney the Happiest Place on Earth on the Web? Learn about their level of accessibility here!

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Non-Profit Accessibility

WHY BOTHER WITH ACCESSIBILITY?

Web accessibility (known in other fields as inclusive design or universal design) is the degree to which a website is available to as many people as possible. Accessibility is most often used to describe how people with disabilities can access the web.

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Editors Note: Does the Red Cross Accept Universal Design? Are they accessible on the web? Learn about their level of accessibility here!

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Accessible Technology

USING AI, PEOPLE WHO ARE BLIND ARE ABLE TO FIND FAMILIAR FACES IN A ROOM.

Using AI, people who are blind are able to find familiar faces in a room

Theo, a 12-year-old boy who is blind, is seated at a table in a crowded kitchen on a gray and drippy mid-December day. A headband that houses cameras, a depth sensor and speakers rings his sandy-brown hair. He swivels his head left and right until the camera in the front of the headband points at the nose of a person on the far side of a counter.

Theo hears a bump sound followed by the name “Martin” through the headband’s speakers, which are positioned above his ears.

“It took me like five seconds to get you, Martin,” Theo says, his head and body fixed in the direction of Martin Grayson, a senior research software development engineer with Microsoft’s research lab in Cambridge.

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Editors Note: Is Microsoft Accessible on the Web? Learn about their level of accessibility here!

 

Editor,  Douglas George Towne