Issue 11 January 28 2021

Access Ready Reporter

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5 Reasons Why Disability Issues Should Be A Higher Priority, Even Now

The phrase “Everything that’s going on” has rarely been so potent. Presidential Election results have been openly challenged in Congress. The Capitol building itself has been physically attacked by a wild but disturbingly directed mob. The Covid-19 pandemic seems to be escalating everywhere.

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Government Spotlight

 Bill to Establish Web Accessibility Guidelines Fails to Pass

A bill, the “Online Accessibility Act” (H.R. 8478) calling for official Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) web accessibility guidelines, failed to pass during the 116th Congress, which ended Jan. 3. Disability rights advocates opposed the proposed legislation, saying standards already exist and the bill would have limited plaintiffs’ rights. For years, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has discussed issuing regulations on website accessibility. But in 2017 the department officially withdrew those proposed regulations

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Accessible Elections

‘We’re not going to be quiet’: Disability community in Wisconsin demands better access to voting

Rhonda Staats had two choices during the November election: cast a ballot in person and potentially expose herself to COVID-19, or vote absentee and risk having her vote changed without her knowledge. Staats is one of about 100,000 voters in the state who are blind or visually impaired. These voters must travel to their polling place to use an accessible voting machine ó hoping one is available, operating and staff know how to use it ó or have someone fill in their ballot for them

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Current Legal Actions

Justice Department Reaches Agreement With The Board Of Election Commissioners For The City Of St. Louis To Ensure Polling Place Accessibility For Voters With Disabilities

The Department of Justice today reached a settlement under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) with the Board of Election Commissioners for the City of St. Louis, to ensure that St. Louis polling places are accessible during elections to individuals with mobility and vision impairments. The Department reviewed the St. Louis Board’s voting program for compliance with the ADA. The Department identified architectural barriers at St. Louis polling places, including inaccessible parking, ramps that were too steep, stairs at the only entrance or route to the voting area, and doorways with thresholds that were too high.

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Business Accessibility

 Accessibility devices playing larger role at CES

While much of the tech unveiled at this year’s CES aims at easing daily life, some of the latest gadgets go one step further to improve the accessibility options for those with disabilities or impairments.

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Accessible Design

How to Make Your Product More Accessible to Customers

Some businesses want their products to appeal to a small niche; others to a large market. But no business wants customers to be unable to use their products at all. As the world’s consumer base grows, so too do the number of users who need to be considered when optimizing accessibility. Disability rights group Click-Away Pound found that 61% of users with accessibility needs would leave a site and take their business elsewhere if they weren’t properly accommodated ó a serious thing for businesses to consider given that disabled individuals spend a combined half a trillion dollars annually

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Accessible Technology

Study suggests smart assistant design improvements for deaf users

Despite the inherent challenges that voice-interaction may create, researchers at the Penn State College of Information Sciences and Technology recently found that deaf and hard-of-hearing users regularly use smart assistants like Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri in homes, workplaces and mobile devices. The work highlights a clear need for more inclusive design, and presents an opportunity for deaf and hard-of-hearing users to have a more active role in the research and development of new systems, according to Johnna Blair, an IST doctoral student and member of the research team

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