G3ict: The Global Initiative for Inclusive ICTs
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Dedication to Access on a Global Scale – Interview with James Thurston, G3ict
Welcome to 2016! There's nothing like a new year to start thinking about the changing needs of accessibility on a global basis. To kick things off, it's my great pleasure to introduce James Thurston, Vice President for Global Strategy and Development in the Global Initiative for Inclusive Information and Communication Technologies (G3ict). James very kindly took some time out of his busy schedule to explain his remarkable work in supporting the access needs of people with disabilities around the world and the goals of G3ict.
From http://www.accessiq.org/news/w3c-column/2016/02/dedication-to-access-on-a-global-scale-an-interview-with-james-thurston, February 01, 2016

Media Access Australia: Web Accessibility Training and Certification for Developers
Australia’s only university-accredited web accessibility certificate for web professionals. Students first gain an understanding of the challenges faced by users with a disability through hands-on experience with assistive technologies. This module provides the ethical, practical and financial arguments for implementing accessibility across your organization.
From http://www.mediaaccess.org.au/digitalaccessibilityservices/services/education-and-training/pcwa/, February 01, 2016

Georgia Tech Partners with edX to Offer Course on Disabilities in the Workplace
The Georgia Institute of Technology has signed an agreement with edX, the nonprofit online learning destination, to offer massive open online courses (MOOCs) for learners around the world. The first Georgia Tech class, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Accessibility, is open for enrollment and will address the importance of developing an inclusive workplace for employees and customers with disabilities. The Institute AMAC Accessibility Solutions and Research Center is launching the course in partnership with the United Nations Global Initiative on Inclusion.
From http://www.news.gatech.edu/2016/01/26/georgia-tech-partners-edx-offer-online-courses, February 01, 2016

Apple Stores to Begin Selling Accessibility Accessories in Early 2016
Monday December 21, 2015 5:56 AM PST by Mitchel Broussard Apple is rumored to begin selling accessibility-related accessories and peripherals in its retail stores sometime in early 2016. The report, from Mac Otakara [Google Translate], states that the new iOS- and OS X-supported devices will go on sale between January and March of next year.
From http://www.macrumors.com/2015/12/21/apple-stores-selling-accessibility/, January 17, 2016

Facebook Plans to Improve Accessibility for Visually Impaired Users
Odds are you’ve checked your Facebook account in the last few hours. Odds are even pretty good that you have Facebook open on your desktop or smartphone at this very moment. In its 11+ years, Facebook has gone from cyber novelty to internet tentpole—a (if not *the*) hub around which a tremendous number of people orient their everyday online activity. For seeing-impaired users, however, Facebook’s inherently visual offerings can make using the social network a difficult proposition. And while Facebook has long worked on tools to make the site—particularly its “photos” functionality—more accessible to those with visual impairments, reports of a new feature indicate the company is preparing to up their usability in a significant way.
From https://magazine.good.is/articles/facebook-visually-impaired-blind-tools, January 17, 2016

W3C Releases Guidelines to Help Make User Agents More Accessible
The W3C has released new guidelines that will assist developers in making the Internet more accessible for people with disabilities. Almost thirteen years to the day after its first iteration became a formal recommendation, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has released Working Group Notes for the second version of the User Agent Accessibility Guidelines (UAAG). Included in UAAG 2.0 are 26 guidelines across 5 principles (perceivable, operable, understandable, programmatic access and specifications and conventions) which aim to provide developers with a greater understanding of the objectives of included success criteria. The guidelines also are linked to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, and the Authoring Tools Accessibility Guidelines (ATAG) 2.0, all of which sit under the W3C’s Web Accessibility Initiative.
From http://www.accessiq.org/news/news/2015/12/guidelines-to-help-make-user-agents-more-accessible-released, January 17, 2016

The High Cost of Digital Discrimination: Why Companies Should Care About Web Accessibility
Netflix, Disney and Target have all faced lawsuits alleging their websites offer poor accessibility for the disabled. It makes no sense to wait for US guidelines, now expected in 2018, to end an era of digital discrimination. Every few months, a new lawsuit involving internet accessibility pops up. In November, a legally blind man sued the National Basketball Association, claiming its website did not accommodate the visually impaired. Over the summer, cruise operator Carnival Corp agreed to pay $405,000 in damages and penalties in a settlement with the US justice department over a variety of accessibility issues, including ones with its website and apps.
From http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2015/dec/31/digital-discrimination-netflix-disney-target-web-accessibility-doj, January 17, 2016

Should Accessibility Overlay Tools Be Used as a Strategic Part of your Accessibility Efforts
Other technology giants have joined the conversation and their efforts are helping everyone. We also learned that when a website, software application, app, tool, game or other types of the Internet, Communications and Technology (ICT) is made accessible everyone benefits. Accessibility supports persons with disabilities but also helps novice ICT users, non-native language speakers, senior citizens, and persons with neurodiversity like dyslexia. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that globally 1 in 7 persons have a disability, 1 billion people or about 15% of the population. These numbers will continue to grow for many reasons especially due to aging societies. Think about the implications - would you want to build a system that 15% of your customers could not access?
From http://www.huffingtonpost.com/debra-ruh/should-accessibility-over_b_8900720.html?ir=India&adsSiteOverride=in, January 15, 2016

The Revolution in Technology That is Helping Blind People See
Lex Arriola is your typical 15-year-old girl. She uses her smartphone a ton. She texts. She FaceTimes. Like most teens, she loves emoji and, of course, Taylor Swift. But unlike most of her peers, Arriola was born blind. When she gets texts with emojis, Siri translates them, so messages are punctuated by “face screaming in fear” and “puffing with angry face”. She has a Braille Sense, a small book-sized beige contraption with a tactile keyboard that she uses to read and write. Arriola, a petite curly-haired brunette with a warm smile, commands her always-dark iPhone screen with a flurry of taps, swipes and voice commands to Siri. Over the last 30 years, technologists have made huge strides in making the internet more accessible to the blind, with digitized Braille systems and text-to-speech software that reads the words on a webpage or app aloud. More recently, companies, including Facebook, have started translating images into read-aloud text. (Maybe that will actually nudge Arriola to start using the social network.)
From http://fusion.net/story/234818/tech-disabilities-artificial-intelligence/, January 15, 2016

Dubai Students Develop Sign Language App to Benefit Deaf Community
A team of university students have set out to help bridge the gap between the deaf and non-deaf communities of the UAE through a mobile application that teaches users the fundamentals of Emirati sign-language. The students from Canadian University Dubai, or CUD, came up with the idea for the app named Efhamni - Arabic for "understand me" - after research revealed that families with deaf children tend to adopt more informal methods of communication that could limit the child's potential to engage with wider society. The technology is being developed as part of the Ripples of Happiness Programme, a region-wide community initiative delivered by the Coca-Cola Foundation and Injaz UAE, which aims to encourage social responsibility.
From http://www.albawaba.com/business/dubai-students-develop-sign-language-app-benefit-deaf-community-786540, January 15, 2016

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