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A “tax on accessible books”: mixed emotions at Marrakesh Treaty progress

The latest agreement in the process of implementing the Marrakesh Treaty, which aims to help end the ‘book famine’ faced by blind and visually impaired people, has been met with a mixture of praise and frustration.

The treaty aims to increase the availability of books in accessible formats, such as Braille and e-books, by relaxing copyright laws which make it difficult or time-consuming to share accessible books across different countries (read e-Access Bulletin’s previous coverage of the Marrakesh Treaty at the following link: http://eab.li/6j ).

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New accessible ATM app points users in the right direction

A new app that helps blind and visually impaired users track down accessible ATMs has been launched.

The free LINK ATM Locator lets users search for cash machines that have a range of usability features, including: audio assistance; wheelchair access; free-to-use ATMs; £5 note dispensing; mobile phone top-up facilities; and PIN number management.

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‘Smart cities’ are not inclusive – but they can be, new research claims

‘Smart cities’ are not serving the needs of people with disabilities and older people, and risk deepening an existing digital divide, according to new, in-depth research.

Smart cities are loosely defined as cities that integrate digital technologies into their infrastructure to transform and improve the lives of citizens and landscapes.

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EU accessibility legislation: Keeping the public sector accessible

By Carine Marzin.

The EU directive on making the websites and mobile apps of public sector bodies more accessible was adopted at the end of 2016 and is the very first piece of EU legislation on digital accessibility. It will benefit over 500 million European citizens, including an estimated 80 million Europeans living with a disability, by making digital content from the public sector across Europe more accessible.

Governments will have to check that public sector bodies consistently adhere to the accessibility standards and there will be a new enforcement procedure, making it easier for members of the public to complain about inaccessible content and get the situation resolved.

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Age doesn’t bridge the digital skills chasm, new research reveals

Americans with disabilities are using technology at a lower rate than those without a disability – including teenagers and younger citizens – research has found.

In the report, conducted by the United States-based Pew Research Center (which defines itself as a “nonpartisan fact tank”), those with disabilities in the two age groups measured (18-64 and over 65) showed similarly low levels of technology ownership, compared to those without disabilities.

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Countdown to the UK release of the first Braille smartwatch

The first Braille smartwatch for visually impaired people is planned to be shipped out to customers in May, after initially taking around 140,000 orders from customers around the world.

The Dot Watch lets users read messages through four Braille characters on the watch face. It connects to a user’s phone via Bluetooth and can then receive messages and notifications from services and apps on the phone, such as WhatsApp, Google Maps or traditional SMS texts.

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Let’s educate the supply chain, says Barclays head of accessibility

Suppliers to businesses often struggle with the concept of accessibility, particularly when providing technology products and services, the head of accessibility at a major UK bank told delegates at a recent event.

Speaking at a technology-focused session at the Business Disability Forum (BDF) Conference on ‘Disability-smart suppliers and partners’, Paul Smyth – head of accessibility at Barclays – said that there is a need for businesses to explain the principles behind accessibility to their suppliers: “[Suppliers] are new to accessibility, so we need to spend a lot of time talking about the ‘why’, what we mean by accessibility and about why it’s important to us.”

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Sounding out the web: web accessibility for people who are deaf or hard of hearing

By David Swallow.

This is a condensed version of a two-part article originally published on the blog of The Paciello Group, an international accessibility agency. Links to the original posts can be found at the end of this article. David Swallow is an Accessibility Associate at The Paciello Group.
The largely visual nature of the web means that there’s a lot of focus on supporting people who are blind or partially sighted. But deaf and hard of hearing people are often overlooked. Ruth MacMullen, a copyright and licences officer at York St. John University, explains her experience of being deaf and how it affects her use of the web.

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New parliamentary group on assistive tech launches to level the playing field

A “flood” of new technology represents a unique opportunity to increase education and employment for those with disabilities in the UK, claims a new cross-party parliamentary group.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Assistive Technology (APPGAT) launched on March 6 and aims to spark debate and share knowledge on assistive technology (AT) throughout parliament. Its work will include contributing to government consultations and raising awareness of AT.

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Impaired users and mobile access prioritised in new web accessibility guidelines

The first public draft of an update to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) has been released, with an increased focus on mobile content, users with low vision, and users with cognitive and learning disabilities.

The current guidelines – WCAG 2.0 – are seen by many as a benchmark for web accessibility. WCAG 2.0 is widely used by authorities and organisations seeking to review websites, and to make and keep them accessible for users with disabilities. For example, the Society of IT Management (Socitm) uses WCAG 2.0 to test the accessibility of UK council websites in its annual Better Connected review.

The public working draft of the update, WCAG 2.1, seeks to build on the existing guidelines, adding in new recommendations for those creating and designing web content.

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