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++Section One: News.
+01: “Finish Line In Sight” For Accessible Copyright Treaty.
After what will have been five years of negotiations, an international treaty to allow the sharing of accessible copyrighted material across borders for use by blind and visually impaired people could finally be signed in 2013, E- Access Bulletin has learned.
A “roadmap” for formalising a treaty, which would increase book access for disabled people including blind and visually impaired people, has finally been approved at this month’s World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) general assembly in Geneva ( http://bit.ly/OqkKxp ).
The roadmap was first presented to a WIPO Copyright Committee meeting in July, but general assembly support was not a foregone conclusion after earlier interventions by the European Union delegation threatened to block progress. Last December, EU negotiators attempted to add clauses requiring rights-holders to pre-approve all copyright exceptions, a condition the World Blind Union (WBU) – a key player in WIPO negotiations – had warned would render the whole exercise “close to pointless” (see E-Access Bulletin, December 2011: http://bit.ly/rWAIrV ).
Speaking to E-Access Bulletin about the latest developments WBU Vice Chair Dan Pescod said: “[This] points to a clear finish line and provides the means to get there, and we’ve never had that before. This is fairly significant in terms of the seriousness that it demonstrates from pretty much all WIPO member states in saying, ‘all right, let’s now get this done.’”
Crucially, the roadmap identifies a timeline for finalising a treaty, with further work set to take place at WIPO’s Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights session in November and an extraordinary meeting of the general assembly set for December, as needed to call a diplomatic conference in 2013.
The next step is to create a text that can become an effective full treaty, said Pescod. “We don’t want a ‘trophy treaty’ which we couldn’t use on the ground. When all of this is said and done, the point wasn’t to have lots of negotiations, it was to get a law which allows more books to get into the hands of blind and other print-disabled people”, he said.
Two issues are now key, Pescod said. “One, that it should be a binding treaty; and two, that the content of the treaty we get is simple and workable, so that we can actually get people to receive more books, otherwise the whole thing is futile. We’ll be working really hard with member states to try and make sure we get the right provisions in this text, so we can really use it meaningfully.”
And you can comment on this story now, on EAB Live: http://www.headstar.com/eablive/?p=776
+02: Go On Gold Supporter Diane Mulligan Elected To Uncommittee.
Diane Mulligan OBE, one of the UK’s leading national and international disability rights campaigners and advisors, has been elected to the United Nations Expert Committee on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
The committee, of 18 independent experts, monitors implementation of the convention by “states parties” – countries who have signed up to it. Its work includes assessing individual country’s reports on how they have implemented the measures of the convention, taking into account what improvements have been made and difficulties faced since the last report.
The 2012 committee elections for the term 2013-16 took place in New York on 12 September at the fifth conference of states parties to the convention. Mulligan was elected with 84 votes as one of nine members newly elected or re-elected to the body, and will sit as the only UK member.
In a written statement on Mulligan’s appointment, Maria Miller MP, formerly Minister for Disabled People and more recently appointed as Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport and Minister for Women and Equality, said: “Diane is in every respect an outstanding candidate: experienced in advocating for disability rights, familiar with the expert committee, and a consummate professional who has advised more than 20 states on disability and human rights issues.”
This is not the first time Mulligan has been involved with the UN, as she currently co-chairs the organisation’s Task Group with the International Disability and Development Consortium, and is a member of the Task Force on Accessibility for the UN Human Rights Council. She is also a member of the UK Equality and Human Rights Commission’s Disability Committee, and of Equality 2025, an independent non- governmental body which advises the UK government on disability issues.
Mulligan was the subject of a recent video interview for the Go ON Gold campaign ( http://bit.ly/L88fjB ), a national awareness-raising campaign on access to new technologies by disabled people led by E-Access Bulletin publisher Headstar. In a previous interview with the bulletin, she spoke about how technology has assisted her in both working and personal life: http://bit.ly/hlycAq .
And you can comment on this story now, on EAB Live: http://www.headstar.com/eablive/?p=773
+03: Long Legal Battle Ends For Blind Accessibility Advocate.
The long legal battle between Donna Jodhan, a blind accessibility advocate from Canada, over the inaccessibility of government websites – as chronicled by E-Access Bulletin over several years – is over. With the Canadian government having now taken satisfactory remedial action, Jodhan has decided not to take any further legal action, declaring her victory “an opportunity to create a more accessible environment for all Canadians”.
Jodhan first noticed that she was unable to use government websites due to her impairment in 2006. She sued, with a judge initially ruling in her favour, stating that the Government had infringed the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and giving a time period for the government to make its websites accessible to blind and visually impaired users. The government appealed this decision in 2011, but in May 2012 the Canadian Federal Court of Appeal upheld Jodhan’s initial victory (see E-Access Bulletin issue 138: http://bit.ly/QHacrm ).
The appeal court also ruled that the judge who had required the government to improve its website accessibility was not in a position to oversee this task. This meant it was left to Jodhan to determine whether the government had complied with its order to improve its websites – a difficult, time-consuming and expensive task, requiring auditing of millions of website pages – and then decide whether to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada if she felt the government had fallen short.
Jodhan sought the help of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB), who agreed to conduct a full accessibility audit. CNIB concluded that the Canadian government had “done well in remediating and addressing many of the issues”, and “has largely met compliance obligations.” After several other smaller-scale audits which revealed similar findings, Jodhan has now decided not to take any further action.
Jodhan, who is president of the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians, told E-Access Bulletin she was “delighted and humbled” that the case could finally be closed, but also said that this signals the beginning of a further drive towards accessibility. “The real work begins now, because we now need to monitor the Canadian Government to ensure that they do indeed live up to what they have been mandated to do”, she said. “As I have said in the past and continue to say, this is not just my victory but one for all blind Canadians, and one for our kids of the future. It is my cherished hope that the Canadian Government would look at this as an opportunity to create a more accessible environment for all Canadians.”
And you can comment on this story now, on EAB Live: http://www.headstar.com/eablive/?p=770
++News in Brief:
+04: Caption Reports:
The online video site YouTube has set up an online form for users to report providers of US television content online without subtitles, in contravention of a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulation. The FCC ruling on captions came into effect in October and covers all streaming websites such as YouTube and Netflix, although clips or short segments are not covered. YouTube has pledged to forward any complaints to the relevant broadcaster, and send any subsequent response back to the user; though it is not known what, if any, further action, such as legal action, may be taken:
Quick link: http://bit.ly/Q9b8oW
+05: Everybody Technology:
The future of access technology is the theme for a free afternoon event in central London on 30 November, to be hosted by IT access charity AbilityNet with the Royal London Society for Blind People. The event aims to inspire developers and designers to make technology more powerful for everybody by making it more accessible, under the title: “Everybody Technology”. Speakers include experts from IBM, Panasonic and the BBC. For more information and to book your free ticket, visit: www.rlsb.org.uk/techevent
+06: Learning Loads:
An online resource to help schoolchildren who have difficulty reading standard printed materials by offering learning material to download in a range of digital formats, has been launched by Dyslexia Action with the Royal National Institute of Blind People. The Load2Learn website features more than 1,500 textbooks and 1,000 images in formats including Word, EPUB and PDF, which can be adapted to suit the student’s individual needs, such as different sizes of print, helping learners with dyslexia or visual impairments. It is available to schools for an annual fee linked to student numbers:
Quick link: http://load2learn.org.uk/
+07: Mobile Matters:
Mobile device applications or “apps” that are designed to be accessible to people with disabilities are easier for everyone to use, the BBC’s senior accessibility specialist told a recent meeting of the User Experience Professionals’ Association. Speaking at the event in London, Henny Swan said that the restrictions of mobile devices, such as small screens and glare from excess light, cause problems for all users, some of which can be solved by accessible design. For more details, follow the link below to coverage in our sister publication, E-Government Bulletin:
Quick link: http://bit.ly/ONww6q
[Section One ends].
++Section Two: 'The Inbox'- Readers' Forum.
Please email all contributions or responses to: firstname.lastname@example.org .
+08: Blue Sensitive:
James Semple, a reader from Devon, has posted a comment online to follow up a story originally published in our sister newsletter E-Government Bulletin, “Accessible Apps More Usable by Everyone”, which reported an analyst’s view that mobile apps that are designed to be accessible to people with disabilities are more usable by everyone.
“On the issue of accessible app displays, one point not covered here - or elsewhere to my knowledge - is the misuse of dark blue or purple text,” James writes.
“Like many old people (I am 72) the lenses of my eyes have yellowed, so blue light transmission is reduced. Also, I have macular degeneration - the most common visual disability in the developed world - and this further reduces the number and activity of the blue-sensitive cones in the retina.
“The end result is that text in dark blue, indigo or violet, however bright, is almost the same as black to me. On a dark background it is virtually invisible. Even my favourite Twitter client, Plume, is sometimes guilty of this.
“Please can this point be more widely disseminated among interface designers.”
+09: Paralympics Challenge:
Another reader, writing under the pseudonym “Deaf”, has responded online to an article back in our July issue, "Paralympics Broadcasting: Winning The Accessible Games, Live and Online", about the accessibility challenges faced by Channel 4 in being the official broadcaster of the 2012 Paralympic Games.
The reader writes: “There’s no excuse not to provide good quality real time captioning for online streaming videos. There are many qualified stenographers who can type at the minimum of 200-220 words per minutes with at least 98% accuracy.
“Unfortunately, Paralympics streaming video on YouTube did not offer any captioning at all and left out many millions of deaf and hard of hearing around the world. The games were not broadcast on TV in all countries.”
[Comments please to email@example.com ].
[Section Two ends].
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+10: From LA To Australia:
Section Three: Profile Martyn Sibley, Co-Editor, Disability Horizons.
Travels Around Technology by Tristan Parker.
Co-founder and co-editor of the online disability lifestyle magazine Disability Horizons, Martyn Sibley has become an influential voice in the disability community. A keen technology user and advocate, Martyn has run his own social media consultancy, is a frequent blogger, and has developed a number of e-learning and e- campaigning projects alongside his journalism. Here, he talks to E-Access Bulletin about the opportunities new technologies have given him over the years.
E-Access Bulletin: Please give us some background on yourself:
Martyn Sibley: Without getting too hung-up on medical conditions, I have spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). Therefore, since day one I’ve relied on a wheelchair, personal care assistants and other adaptations. Despite the physical limitations and external barriers such as stairs and stereotypes, I went to the local school, played football with friends, gained a masters degree and travelled to Australia before starting work and have enjoyed six years of various work.
My first role was at the disability charity Scope. I worked in HR administration and gained valuable skills and experience. I then completed my dream move to London and began working in their fundraising team. After working my way to a strategic role it was time for a change. Compounded with bad health in winter and a desire to work for myself, I started my own business.
From my blog ( www.martynsibley.com ), I’ve built a vibrant online community of people interested in changing the world for disabled people. I co-founded the Disability Horizons website ( www.disabilityhorizons.com ), run e-learning projects (webinars, e-courses and e-conferences on a host of independent living tips), speak frequently in the media and meet with politicians.
EAB: How have the internet and online tools benefited you over the years?
Martyn: First and foremost, online tools helped me personally. Google has become my best friend in searching for information and contact details for general and disability- specific information. More recently, social and new media tools underpin my projects on disability issues. Not only does this enable the projects, but it also suits my health. Working online means I can be in warmer climates during the tougher winter time.
EAB: How have you used social media and e-campaigning over the years? And how easy is it for people who are new to the internet to use these tools?
Martyn: My blog is free on WordPress with a cool design “skinned” to it. I used Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook to connect with people and share my posts. I now have 5,000 people on my accounts. Disability Horizons used the same strategy and receives 20,000 monthly visits.
I’ve also used webinars to bring together professionals and people with direct experience of disability. They log in, as do the delegates, deliver their PowerPoint presentation and answer questions. I chair the sessions, create the interactive polls and also promote them to ensure high attendance.
More recently, I’ve launched an e-course on employment and an e-conference on use of the internet. You can find all of these at: www.martynsibley.com/get-involved . I’ve also written an e-campaigning guide for the DisLib project. Online campaigning is simple and effective. With free tools and the right approach, anything is possible.
EAB: Tell us about Disability Horizons, and why you set up the website:
Martyn: Having blogged for two years, seen the power of sharing positive stories and engaging with cool people, I was being asked to guest-post articles. Chatting with my good friend Srin on an LA beach for our California road trip, as you do, we discussed a platform for others to write about themselves. After a basic WordPress theme and a cool name, we launched it on a shoestring. Using social media we launched with a bang.
We were inundated with requests from writers. Covering travel, relationships and business, we are the publication for the progress of disabled people. We know we have to maintain equipment and social care funding and support campaigns to do so. However, we are the lifestyle magazine for disabled people in the modern world.
EAB: You’ve recently finished your ‘European disability road trip’. What was the aim behind the trip, and how did it go?
Martyn: I’ve travelled a lot already to Australia, the US, Mexico, Singapore and some of western Europe. I’ve also worked a lot on disability issues. So I decided to combine my two passions and raise awareness. By taking my adapted car, personal care assistant and a lot of courage; we took the boat to Amsterdam, Leipzig, Gdansk, Vilnius (my grandfather’s birth place), Warsaw, Krakow, Prague, Saarbrucken, Luxembourg and Brussels.
I blogged about transport and access, interviewed disabled people and disability organisations to understand attitudes and government policy, met media and politicians too. Despite great coverage, I am writing a book to share it all properly – stay tuned!
EAB: What kinds of barriers do people with disabilities face in accessing and using technology and getting online? What can be done to remove these barriers?
Martyn: The main barriers are cost and education. Firstly, if a person, their family or school can’t afford specific equipment and software, access is denied. Sometimes, simple information from government and charitable funding can unlock this problem. Scope Response can provide great information on this.
Secondly, disabled people need to be taught how technology can enable them. My Dconference [disability e-conference] addresses some of this, but larger-scale work is needed with disability professionals.
EAB: And what kinds of benefits can this kind of technology access and getting online bring to people with disabilities?
Martyn: With the right support, from wheelchairs to personal care assistants to technology, disabled people can achieve so much. My work began by sharing my very personal learning and successes. Whilst no-one should copy another’s goal, Disability Horizons instils a belief and a guide to how much disabled people can do.
To access transport, buildings, work, leisure and relationships is everyone’s right. Technology is a huge game-changer in making this all possible.
And you can comment on this story now, on EAB Live: http://www.headstar.com/eablive/?p=767
[Section Three ends].
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[Special notice ends].
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[Issue 152 ends].