Issue 21 November 26 2021

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Access Ready Inc. is an independent, national nonprofit, cross disability, advocacy organization promoting a policy of inclusion and accessibility across information technology through education and best practices. We and our national, state and local Community Partner organizations know now that making information technologies accessible has been proven not only to be possible, but readily achievable. Accessibility is no longer rocket science. 

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THIS COMPANY TAPPED AI FOR ITS WEBSITE AND LANDED IN COURT

Last year, Anthony Murphy, a visually impaired man who lives in Erie, Pennsylvania, visited the website of eyewear retailer Eyebobs using screen reader software. Its synthesized voice attempted to read out the pages content, as well as navigation buttons and menus. Eyebobs used artificial intelligence software from Israeli startup AccessiBe that promised to make its site easier for people with disabilities to use. But Murphy found it made it harder.

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Government Spotlight

 INFRASTRUCTURE MEASURE INCLUDES FUND TO ENSURE NATION’S TRANSIT STATIONS ARE ACCESSIBLE

A $1.75 billion fund in the infrastructure package will aim to guarantee that transit stations are accessible, decades after campaigns by disability rights activists to demand lifts on buses helped to spur passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act. Almost a fifth of transit stations were not fully accessible in 2019, according to the most recent Federal Transit Administration data. The inclusion of the money in the mammoth infrastructure package, adopted late Friday on a bipartisan 228-to-206 vote, caps a campaign by Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), a double amputee who uses a wheelchair

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Accessible Elections

Sponsored by VOTEC

ADA COMPLAINT: DETROIT VOTERS WITH DISABILITIES BARRED FROM ACCESSING ELECTION INFO ON CITY WEBSITE

Detroit voters with disabilities are unable to access crucial information about Tuesday’s election through the city Department of Elections website, according to an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) complaint filed by Detroit Disability Power (DDP). DDP, a disability rights organization, said in a statement Thursday that it filed the complaint with the city of Detroit after repeatedly reaching out to Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey about accessibility issues on the city website and receiving no adequate response…

ACCESS FOR MINNESOTA VOTERS WITH DISABILITIES GENERALLY GOOD  BUT PROBLEMS PERSIST

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ADA complaint: Detroit voters with disabilities barred from accessing election info on city website

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VOTERS WITH DISABILITIES GAIN POLITICAL CLOUT IN NJ AS BALLOTS BECOME

Voters with disabilities are enjoying a new era of political relevance this Election Day thanks to the COVID pandemic — both the reforms it spurred and the inequities it laid bare. People with disabilities showed “large gains” in 2020’s voter turnout, said Steve Flamisch of Rutgers University’s Program for Disability Research, referring to a report by the university and the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. Turnout rose to 17.7 million, up from 16 million in 2016, thanks to mail-in ballots and other initiatives, according to the group, which looked at national data…

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ADVANCING AN INCLUSIVE WORKPLACE

More than one billion people around the world live with a disability. At some point, most of us will likely experience a temporary, situational, or permanent disability. Employment and education rates are lower for people with disabilities and poverty rates are higher. This disparity has caused a disability divide, a social inclusion gap that has persisted for the more than three decades since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

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LESSON OF THE DAY: ‘A FUTURE FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES IN OUTER SPACE TAKES FLIGHT’

Recently, 12 passengers with disabilities traveled aboard a parabolic flight in an experiment testing how people with disabilities would fare in a zero-gravity environment. In this lesson, you will learn about their experience and the efforts being made to ensure that the future of spaceflight is more inclusive. Then, you will think about accessibility and universal design in your community. Do you want to travel to space? When we asked students this question in February, many of them were excited about, or at least interested in, this possibility…

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ACCESSIBILITY AT CIA HELPS ITS MISSION OF PROTECTING OUR COUNTRY

Etched into the white marble walls in the CIA lobby reads the verse from John 8:32: “And Ye Shall Know the Truth and the Truth Shall Make You Free.” Directly across from the verse, there are 137 stars that honor CIA officers who lost their lives serving our country. Almost a decade after first joining the agency as an undergraduate intern, I still try to make time to walk through the lobby and take in its solemn beauty, reflecting on how honored I am to play some small part in what we do at CIA…

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Current Legal Actions

CVS DROPS SUPREME COURT CASE OVER DISABILITY COMMUNITY CONCERNS

CVS is backing off a U.S. Supreme Court case amid concerns from disability advocates that a ruling in the company’s favor could undermine fundamental tenets of the nation’s disability rights laws. The case CVS Pharmacy Inc. v. Doe was set to be heard by the high court Dec. 7. At issue was a prescription drug plan managed by CVS that required people needing specialty medications to get them by mail rather than at a local pharmacy. Five people with HIV sued the company arguing that the plan rule prevented them from getting appropriate care and discriminated against them based on their disability…

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NEW YORK DISTRICT COURT ISSUES IMPORTANT OPINION ON THE INAPPLICABILITY OF TITLE III OF THE ADA TO CONSUMER-FACING WEBSITES

In Winegard v. Newsday LLC, U.S. District Judge Eric R. Komitee held that a website does not constitute a “place of public accommodation” under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and granted Newsday’s motion to dismiss. The decision is a first of its kind by a New York federal court, and it goes against several district court decisions to the contrary. Nevertheless, the court’s well-reasoned and meticulous analysis could be adopted by other judges in the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York, which have been hotbeds for abusive website accessibility shakedown lawsuits…

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JUSTICE DEPARTMENT SUES UBER FOR OVERCHARGING PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES

The Justice Department today filed a lawsuit against Uber Technologies Inc. (Uber) for charging wait time fees to passengers who, because of disability, need more time to enter a car. Ubers policies and practices of charging wait time fees based on disability have harmed many passengers and potential passengers with disabilities throughout the country. The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, alleges that Uber violated Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits discrimination by private transportation companies like Uber.

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Business Accessibility

WHY AUTOMATED TOOLS ALONE CAN’T MAKE YOUR WEBSITE ACCESSIBLE AND LEGALLY COMPLIANT

It has been posited for some time now that the industry around ensuring websites and other digital products remain accessible to users with disabilities is heading for an inevitable “market failure.” The problems across the sector are myriad but, in essence, boil down to one critical theme – making a website legally compliant and accessible, especially if large-scale revamping is needed, requires significant time, money and education for website owners. For smaller businesses, in particular, such resources are not always readily available and hence the risk of excluding users and subsequent legal action looms large…

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IT PAYS FOR AUTO INDUSTRY TO HIRE PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES

There’s a solution to the shortage of workers in the U.S. automotive industry, but employers may assume it’s too hard to make this option work. There are job vacancies in automotive manufacturing, in parts making and at dealerships, even though 8.4 million Americans were registered as unemployed in August. Another 5.7 million not in the labor force may currently want a job, yet weren’t actively looking in August, when these latest Bureau of Labor Statistics figures came out. But do you question the caliber and appropriate fit of candidates applying for roles in your workplace?…

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DOES YOUR RECRUITING PROCESS NEED AN ACCESSIBILITY MAKEOVER?

For non-disabled people, hiring people with disabilities can be nerve-wracking. As the CEO of Global Disability Inclusion, Meg O’Connell points out, “Historically, companies have viewed people with disabilities as a government problem, a religious problem, a nonprofit problem. ‘We’ll give to our corporate foundation.'”  Disability rights advocates like O’Connell suggest that, instead of viewing folks with disabilities as disenfranchised from society, non-disabled people can work to include their peers in tangible, innovative ways

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Healthcare Accessibility

JUSTICE DEPARTMENT SECURES AGREEMENT WITH RITE AID CORPORATION TO MAKE ITS ONLINE COVID-19 VACCINE REGISTRATION PORTAL ACCESSIBLE TO INDIVIDUALS WITH DISABILITIES

The Justice Department and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania today announced a settlement agreement with Rite Aid Corporation that will help people with disabilities get information about COVID-19 vaccinations and book their vaccination appointments online. Rite Aid’s COVID-19 Vaccine Registration Portal was not accessible to some people with disabilities, including those who use screen reader software and those who have a hard time using a mouse…
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ALZHEIMER’S: STUDY REVEALS HOW DISEASE PROGRESSES IN THE BRAIN

New research has tracked the replication and spread of the protein tau for the first time. Aggregates of tau and the protein beta-amyloid are involved in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. The international study, published at the end of last month in the journal Science Advances, was led by scientists at the University of Cambridge. In it, the authors wrote that by bringing together chemical kinetics with measurements of the tau aggregates, or “seeds,” across brain regions, they could quantify the rate of their replication in human brains…

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COMMON LOUD NOISES CAUSE FLUID BUILDUP IN THE INNER EAR, STUDY FINDS- RESEARCH HAS IMPLICATIONS FOR DETECTING AND TREATING HEARING LOSS

Exposure to loud noise, such as a firecracker or an ear-splitting concert, is the most common preventable cause of hearing loss. Research suggests that 12% or more of the world population is at risk for noise-induced loss of hearing. Loud sounds can cause a loss of auditory nerve cells in the inner ear, which are responsible for sending acoustic information to the brain, resulting in hearing difficulty. However, the mechanism behind this hearing loss is not fully understood. Now, a new study from Keck Medicine of USC links this type of inner ear nerve damage to a condition known as endolymphatic hydrops, a buildup of fluid in the inner ear.

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Accessible Technology

YAHOO SPORTS’ DOCUMENTARY SHORT FEATURES ALL BLIND FANTASY LEAGUE

Yahoo Sports is proud to announce the debut of a short documentary produced by Yahoo about its All Blind Fantasy League (ABFL)  a group of sports fanatics who use assistive technology like screen readers with the Yahoo Fantasy app to connect with their passion for fantasy in a fully accessible way. The short documentary captures the engaging stories of the blind and visually impaired fantasy managers of the league, and it shares their enthusiastic enjoyment of a game millions of people love, but which was not always accessible to people with vision loss.
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TEEN CREATED AN APP TO HELP DEAF KIDS ENJOY CHILDREN’S FILMS

Subtitles and closed captions make it possible for deaf people to enjoy films and television shows—but what about little kids who can’t read yet, or whose reading isn’t fast enough to keep up with the captions? How does a deaf child fully appreciate a children’s movie if they can’t understand what any of the characters are saying and can’t read the captions? Mariella Satow ran into that question when she was teaching herself American Sign Language…

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