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Government stands by accessibility directive exemptions amid sector criticism

The UK Government has published its response to consultation feedback on its plans to implement European accessibility legislation. At the end of April, the government launched the public consultation on the EU Directive on the accessibility of public sector websites and mobile applications, detailing how it planned to introduce and handle the directive.

The consultation gathered 44 responses from individuals and organisations, including the British Computer Society’s Digital Accessibility Specialist Group, disability charity Scope and RNIB.

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On-screen TV guides to become more accessible for people with sight loss

Electronic programme guides used to navigate TV channel menus are set to become easier to use for people with a visual impairment or hearing loss, thanks to a series of new requirements for UK broadcasters.

Organisations using these electronic programme guides (EPGs) must now take the following four steps: provide a text-to-speech function within EPGs; highlight or list separately programmes with audio description or signing; provide a magnification or enlarging function, and; make sure that viewers can switch between default and high-contrast displays.

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Virtual reality immersing young people in the world of work

A series of virtual reality (VR) simulations are helping young people with learning impairments in Australia to prepare for employment.

The training simulations are run on the Oculus Rift VR headset and are part of a ‘Virtual Learning Environment’ project by disability charity the Endeavour Foundation, originally developed in collaboration with Queensland University of Technology.

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From smartwatch wayfinders to robot farmers: Tech4Good Awards 2018

Earlier this month, the AbilityNet Tech4Good Awards took place in London, showcasing everything from tiny farming robots to an innovative new way of contacting emergency services.

Now in its eighth year, the event was created by technology access charity AbilityNet to celebrate digital technology projects designed to improve people’s lives and benefit society. Entries can be new or existing ideas, and can come from anyone, such as a charity, business or individual.

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Government asks for public input on accessibility directive, but exemptions remain

The UK Government is using a public consultation to help plan how European accessibility legislation will be implemented later this year.

The EU Directive on the accessibility of public sector websites and mobile applications is scheduled to become legally binding in the UK on September 23 of this year. It aims to make public sector digital content easier to access, particularly for people with disabilities.

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Tech funding, employment and apps on the agenda at assistive conference

The government’s technology fund, disability in the workplace and new apps were among the topics discussed at the latest Assistive Technology Conference and Exhibition (ATEC).

Taking place in London, the conference featured a wide range of speakers from the accessibility sector, charities, government and beyond.

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Microsoft unveils $25 million ‘AI for Accessibility’ project

A heavily funded program announced by Microsoft will aim to create and nurture advanced artificial intelligence (AI) products and services that can assist people with disabilities around the world.

The five-year program, named AI for Accessibility, was launched at the Microsoft Build conference in Seattle and will be funded by $25 million from Microsoft. The project will provide developers with AI tools and will focus on three key areas: employment, modern life and human connection.

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Global Accessibility Awareness Day 2018 – a snapshot of an evolving phenomenon

By Mel Poluck.

Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) has grown rapidly in its short lifetime.

Beginning with a blog post in 2011 entitled ‘Challenge: Accessibility know-how needs to go mainstream with developers. NOW’ that triggered the annual event, GAAD now counts the world’s technology giants among its participants.

“It’s surreal that as a result of one blog post, tech companies with a market cap of almost two trillion dollars combined have changed their homepage to commemorate GAAD,” US-based developer Joe Devon, author of the post and GAAD co-founder, told e-Access Bulletin.

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Assistive tech can close disability employment gap and end UK’s ‘productivity deadlock’, claims parliamentary committee

A new report from the Work and Pensions Committee (WPC) claims that the Government – and particularly the Department of Work and Pensions, DWP – must lead by example and focus on assistive technology (AT) to boost both disability employment rates and the UK economy.

Other recommendations in the report include widening the scope of Personal Independence Payments (financial help for people with disabilities) to allow claimants to lease or buy assistive technology, and updating training for Access to Work scheme staff to help more people use AT.

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Improve online booking to make live music events disability-friendly, says report

A survey has found that 79% of people with disabilities have been put off buying live music tickets due to problems with booking access requirements, and 73% have felt discriminated against when booking, with many of the issues related to problematic websites and online booking systems.

The findings are taken from the State of Access Report 2018, published by the Attitude is Everything charity. The report examines the process of ‘access booking’ for live music events, defined as booking ‘reasonable adjustments’ or access requirements alongside tickets. This could include wheelchair accessible spaces, step-free seats, or additional tickets for a ‘personal assistant’ to attend a show and provide support.

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