Cognitive Accessibility User Research describes the challenges of using web technologies for people with learning disabilities or cognitive disabilities. The research describes challenges in the areas of attention, executive function, knowledge, language, literacy, memory, perception, and reasoning. It is organized by user groups of the following disabilities: Aging-Related Cognitive Decline, Aphasia, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Autism, Down Syndrome, Dyscalculia, Dyslexia, and Non-Verbal. Additional user groups may be added to future versions. This document provides a basis for subsequent work to identify gaps in current technologies, suggest strategies to improve accessibility for these user groups, and develop guidance and techniques for web authors.
Chuck Hitchcock's insight:
A First Public Working Draft of Cognitive Accessibility User Research was published today by the Cognitive and Learning Disabilities Accessibility Task Force, a joint task force of the Protocols and F...
Burlington, Vermont (July 29, 2014): The National Federation of the Blind, the nation’s leading advocate for equal access by the blind to technology and electronic information, and Heidi Viens, a blind parent from Colchester, Vermont, have filed suit (case number: 2:14-CV-162) against Scribd, Inc. Scribd offers an Internet-based “personal digital library” that allows sighted subscribers to access a collection of over 40 million titles. For a monthly fee of $8.99, sighted subscribers gain unlimited access to this large collection through its website and apps, as well as other services, such as publishing their own work by uploading it to the Scribd collection and participating in social media features. The case has been filed in the United States District Court for the District of Vermont and alleges violations of Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The website and mobile applications that Scribd uses to provide its subscribers with access to electronic documents are not accessible to blind people.
Chuck Hitchcock's insight:
Another summer 2014 story that will be worth following.
In 2007 a paltry 3,073 audiobook titles were produced and this figure rose exponentially to over 12,000 published in 2011. In 2013 many industry experts proclaimed that over 20,000 audiobooks were now available and in 2014 over 35,000 were released by major publishers and companies like Audible.
The global audiobook industry is currently worth 2.6 billion dollars and part of the reason why we have seen a dramatic increase in profitability is due to digital. In a recent New York Times piece, they said “In the first eight months of 2014, sales were up 28% over the same period last year, far outstripping the growth of e-books, which rose 6%”
An updated version of the Web Accessibility Evaluation Tools List is now available. Web accessibility evaluation tools are software programs or online services that help determine if web content meets accessibility guidelines. Information about features of evaluation tools that help with evaluation is in Selecting Web Accessibility Evaluation Tools. Web accessibility evaluation tool vendors are encouraged to submit information about their tool to the list.
Direct to Updated Version of Web Accessibility Evaluation Tools List
IBM is a global technology and consulting company headquartered in Armonk, New York. With operations in more than 170 countries, the company develops and sells software and systems hardware and a broad range of infrastructure, cloud, and consulting services.
IBM has also been a leader in the accessible technology arena for more than 100 years (link is external), and in July 2014, it appointed Frances West as the company's first chief accessibility officer. PEAT recently talked with West about her new role and IBM's approach to accessibility.
Chuck Hitchcock's insight:
Note the emphasis on creating products that are accessible from the start.
This document is an Editor's Draft, produced by the IDPF EPUB 3 Working Group, based on an initial member submission by Pearson in December, 2013.
Unlike traditional IDPF specifications, the development of this profile is anticipated to follow an agile model, with core features and functionality defined in the initial release and less critical features -- or features that require more time to properly detail and implement properly -- following later.
Functionality and features in the profile will continue to be evaluated over the duration of the development cycle and could be modified or deprecated based on real-world usage.
This document may be updated, replaced, or rendered obsolete by other documents at any time. Its contents do not necessarily reflect the consensus of the Working Group.
This site is a resource to provide information about which new HTML5 user interface features are accessibility supported in browsers, making them usable by people who rely upon assistive technology (AT) to use the web.
Note: Browsers may not have practical accessibility support for HTML features on particular operating systems. Refer to Rough Guide: browsers, operating systems and screen reader support for details.
It is not intended to dissuade developers from using new HTML5 features. Sometimes there are better choices, sometimes developers have to add a little extra to make the feature useful or usable, and other times features have simply not been implemented by any browser or only by browsers that do not yet support assistive technologies. As a consequence it may not yet be practical to use a particular HTML5 feature.
E-readers are fast rivaling print as a dominant method for reading. Because they offer accessibility options that are impossible in print, they are potentially beneficial for those with impairments, such as dyslexia. Yet, little is known about how the use of these devices influences reading in those who struggle. Here, we observe reading comprehension and speed in 103 high school students with dyslexia. Reading on paper was compared with reading on a small handheld e-reader device, formatted to display few words per line. We found that use of the device significantly improved speed and comprehension, when compared with traditional presentations on paper for specific subsets of these individuals.
In this edition of Ask UXmatters, our panel of UX experts answers questions about two issues that confront UX professionals:
Should accessibility be a UX team’s responsibility? What is the best way to work with a visual designer?
Should user experience and accessibility be the responsibility of the same team? Should accessibility be part of a UX team’s purview? When should designers think about the accessibility of a design? What types of disabilities may impact people’s ability to use your products?
It is well documented that students with disabilities are facing barriers in their pursuit of higher education, and institutions are having a difficult time fulfilling their legal obligation to ensure equal access. So it was surprising last month when the American Council on Education, in a letter to Sen. Tom Harkin about the proposed reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, completely dismissed a provision that would make it easier for its member institutions to meet the needs of students with disabilities.
The provision, Sec. 931 of the draft document, calls for guidelines to ensure that students with disabilities have access to "electronic instructional materials and related information technologies" that are "consistent with national and international standards." Colleges that do not use materials that conform to the guidelines may opt out by showing that they offer students with disabilities access to instructional and technological materials that are equivalent to those usedby non-disabled students, a standard the institutions should already be meeting.
Federal legislation that would facilitate equal access to digital academic materials for college students with disabilities, an existing requirement under federal law, is floating through Congress with uncommon bipartisan support. The TEACH Act (standing for “Technology Equality and Accessibility in College and Higher Education”) establishes voluntary, market-driven protocols for colleges and universities to meet their obligation to level the academic playing field for all their students, a legal scheme that would significantly reduce compliance costs and institutional exposure to private lawsuits and enforcement actions by the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights.
Chuck Hitchcock's insight:
Note the link, in the story, to the original article from the Boston Globe.
Nashville, TN (PRWEB) July 07, 2014 -- Vital Source Technologies, Inc., Ingram Content Group’s leading e-textbook solution, showcased new features to its comprehensive accessibility support for its VitalSource Bookshelf® platform at the National Federation of the Blind National Convention, July 1-6, in Orlando, FL.
As a result of rigorous, ongoing accessibility testing of the various Bookshelf platforms, Tech For All, Inc. can attest that a real asset of the Vital Source approach is its strong commitment to deliver an accessible, rich eBook reading experience which students with disabilities, like their peers, can access from home, in the classroom, and in a mobile environment," said Rick Bowes, Executive Consultant for Tech For All, Inc., a leading accessibility and universal design consulting firm.
The Authors Guild has lost yet another legal battle in a long-running dispute over who can access digital copies of library books created under Google’s book-scanning program.
A federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday that the HathiTrust, a searchable collection of digital books controlled by university libraries, does not violate copyright, and that the libraries can continue to make copies for digitally-impaired readers.
The decision is a setback for the Authors Guild and for other groups of copyright holders who joined the lawsuit to shut down the HathiTrust’s operations. By contrast, it is a victory for many scholars and librarians who regard the database a an invaluable repository of knowledge.
It was only seven years ago that Apple rolled out its first iPhone to the general public, introducing the world to the iOS operating system. In 2008, the HTC Dream was the first commercially available smartphone to run the Android operating system from Google. How times have changed! iOS and Android have quickly become the most ubiquitous mobile operating systems on the planet. Apple and Google remain in fierce competition over market share in the mobile OS space. So what does this mean for consumers who are blind and visually impaired? This level of competition, along with a concerted effort by smartphone manufacturers to offer a higher level of built-in accessibility, has resulted in a continual increase in options for consumers with visual impairments.
Chuck Hitchcock's insight:
Useful information for those who access educational materials using their SmartPhones.
A blind mother whose three children attend Seattle Public Schools is suing the district, saying its website and math software aren’t compatible with technology that blind people use to access the Internet.
Noel Nightingale filed the discrimination lawsuit in federal court Wednesday (August 2014). She says that from 2005 until 2012, she was able to use the Seattle Public Schools website with a “screen reader,” a device that vocalizes the information on a computer screen or displays the content on a refreshable Braille display.
But in 2012, she says, changes to the website made it no longer compatible. The software that students use to complete math assignments wasn’t available either.
Chuck Hitchcock's insight:
I'm a little late in Scooping this but I do plan to follow the case.
In March, we reported on a landmark consent decree that settled the first lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice alleging that a corporate website failed to meet standards for accessibility established by Title III the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Now, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) has announced an agreement to resolve an exhaustive, 19-month investigation of website accessibility compliance in a public education setting under Title II of the ADA and Section 504 of the federal Rehabilitation Act.
For the nearly 8 million people in the US with some degree of vision impairment, the advent of ebooks and e-readers has been both a blessing and a burden. A blessing, because a digital library—everything from academic textbooks, to venerated classics, to romance novels—is never further away than your fingertips. A burden, because the explosion of ebooks has served as a reminder of how inaccessible technology really can be.
For more than a decade, the visually-impaired have been locked in an excruciatingly slow and circuitous battle against US copyright laws. And it’s left the visually-impaired with few options but to hack their way around digital barriers—just for the simple pleasure of reading a book.
Nancy Dunn, an occupational therapist and Bookshare Mentor Teacher, supported this initiative at the Iowa Heartland Area Education Agency. She and others on the assistive technology team trained educators about the benefits and delivery of accessible instructional materials. Their efforts helped to build capacity in more than ten Iowa districts. What did Nancy and the team do?
- Assisted with interventions to determine which students qualify for Bookshare and are able to benefit from electronic text - Helped educators and parents determine the need for assistive technology and reading tools to support student learning - Supported IEP teams to document the need for accessible materials - Provided training to school staff and parents on accessing Bookshare and downloading books through Organizational and Individual Memberships
Classics such as ‘Goldilocks’ are now accessible via iPad to American kids with hearing impairment, thanks to the Israeli project eMotion Stories.
Eyal Rosenthal doesn’t expect to make a mint from his new eMotion Stories digital books in English and American Sign Language. The world’s first interactive bilingual e-library for parents of children with hearing impairment was created as a labor of love, though the market is quite limited.
Rosenthal, an American who moved to Israel in 2008, expects only to reap the satisfaction of bringing a new dimension into the lives of children who otherwise would miss out on reading classics with their parents such as Goldilocks, Cinderella, The Ugly Duckling, Little Red Riding Hood and Three Little Pigs.
Chuck Hitchcock's insight:
These are not the "first-ever" signed story books but it is good to see ongoing developments in this area.
Video games have grown from humble beginnings roughly thirty years ago to a multibillion industry. Millions of players around the world use consoles, mobile phones and computers to play the newest titles. The industry continues to seek out new players and markets for their games.
For some, playing games provides challenges beyond simply beating a final boss. There are many people who find games inaccessible for a variety of reasons. When developers seek to increase the accessibility of their game, both they and consumers benefit. However, the challenge of making games accessible to everyone is no easy task, and the ongoing quest for accessibility continues with both successes and failures.
These tutorials show you how to develop web content that is accessible to people with disabilities and that provides a better user experience for everyone. Images and tables or the first two available topics.
NIMAS is a technical standard used by publishers to produce source files (in XML) that may be used to develop multiple specialized formats (such as Braille or audio books) for students with print disabilities.
There’s no doubt that the process surrounding the consideration and acquisition of accessible instructional materials (AIM) can cause a person’s head to spin faster than a set of Goodyear tires on Dr. Emmett Brown’s Delorean DMC-12 racing to 88 miles per hour. Over the past 7 years I have immersed myself with the policies and procedures for provisioning AIM to qualifying students within Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS). It has been a wild ride filled with many challenges and even more memorable victories.
In an attempt to make its products easier-to-use for a wider range of consumers — including the elderly, or hearing- or seeing-impaired, for instance — IBM has appointed its first “chief accessibility officer.”
The move places IBM alongside other tech giants, such as Microsoft, who already have executives dedicated to accessibility. The title could help IBM better influence policy and industry standards, said Frances West, the new appointee. West previously led IBM’s Human Ability and Accessibility research center based in Cambridge, Mass.
West’s team is developing software that adapts to a user’s individual behavior in real-time, she explained. The ubiquity of mobile devices — and the ability to import user preference information to those devices from the Internet cloud — make it easier to customize technology, she said.
Digital learning materials such as lesson plans, videos of instructional practice, and formative assessments can improve the classroom experience for all students, and they may hold particular promise for students with disabilities. Digital content can be designed and developed with flexibility and customization capabilities at the outset, reflecting the principles of universal design, and can be revised in a more timely manner than the labor intensive and costly process of updating traditional, static materials like printed textbooks.