Major Tech Companies Strive to Make Tools Accessible for Students
With many universities adopting universal design standards and accessible technology initiatives, students with disabilities are now just as likely to pursue science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields in higher education. Major tech companies like Adobe, Microsoft and Google have all designed features in technology that benefit students with disabilities to work independently and efficiently at universities.
From EdTech, July 14, 2017
New FCC Rules Increase the Amount of TV Programming Available with Audio Description
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has adopted new rules to ensure Americans who are blind or visually impaired have access to more video described programming. Beginning in July 2018, broadcasters and pay-TV providers carrying one of the top networks must provide 87.5 hours of described programming per calendar quarter. This is an increase of 75 percent over the 50 hours per quarter presently required. The networks currently covered by the rule are ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, Disney Channel, History, TBS, TNT, and USA. The list of the top five nonbroadcast networks will be updated in July 2018, so this is subject to change.
From Federal Communications Commission, July 12, 2017
Democrats Unveil Legislation to Expand Access to Higher Ed
Lower Chamber representatives have joined efforts to introduce the Improving Access to Higher Education bill which aims to amend the Higher Education Act to improve college access and completion for students with disabilities.
From democrats-edworkforce.house.gov, July 12, 2017
Google Maps Now Lets Users Add Wheelchair Accessibility Details for Location
In December 2016 Google added a new layer of information designed to make Google Maps data reflect wheelchair accessibility of spaces. However, the available information still left a lot to be desired. It is now looking to speed up the process by crowdsourcing information pertaining to the accessibility of different locations on Google Maps. Users can now mark locations with information such as, “wheelchair-accessible entrances,” “wheelchair-accessible elevators,” “wheelchair-accessible seating,” and “wheelchair-accessible parking”. Essentially, Google wants to be able to inform wheelchair users exactly what to expect.
From TechCrunch, July 08, 2017
Planning Age Friendly Accessible Cities
Innovative, outcome-orientated research is providing greater knowledge of the needs and preferences of elderly communities. Access to amenities, transportation and housing are obviously key, but the findings from research also highlight the importance of social infrastructure and community support to age-friendly neighbourhoods. This is leading to inclusive urban design and inventive social programmes.
From Urban Redevelopment Authority Singapore, July 05, 2017
Amazon Video Audio Description Feature Expands Accessibility
Amazon has introduced audio description support for Amazon Video, to better provide persons with visual impairments access to professional narration. The feature describes what is taking place during stretches where there is no dialog.
From Amazon, July 04, 2017
AI, Smart Glass Tech Helps Persons with Disabilities
Microsoft Research Asia in collaboration with Chinese Science Academy and Peiching Union University have developed a prototype which translates sign language into spoken language and spoken language into sign language in real-time. These are some of the many initiatives that Microsoft Corp is working on so as to make life easier and more productive for persons with disabilities.
From Financial Express, July 03, 2017
Audio Description Makes TV Accessible to Persons with Visual Impairments
Without audio description, a television series can be incredibly inaccessible for visually impaired people—especially the moody, dramatic tentpoles of prestige TV, which often feature long, dialogue-free stretches. The world of audio description has been very dynamic. It has been a game-changer in making TV more accessible for persons with disabilities.
From Vanity Fair, July 03, 2017
New Map Technology to Help Passengers Navigate Airports
New technology will now help passengers find their way around airports. This will debut in Houston. According to the Houston Airport System, Bush Intercontinental Airport and Hobby Airport will be the first in the world with the turn-by-turn, way-finding technology that does not require downloading a separate app to smart devices.
From Click2Houston, June 30, 2017
The Rise of Revolutionary Technology for Persons with Visual Impairments
Technology is increasingly playing a key role in improving the lives of persons with visual impairments. Connectivity has become feasible as apps link them to sighted volunteers. This has ushered a new era in assistive technology.
From The Guardian, June 29, 2017