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Technology is key to making travel more accessible, new report finds

People with access needs still face numerous barriers when booking and undertaking travel, but existing and emerging technologies are crucial to making the process more accessible, research claims.

The new report found that while advancing technologies such as voice recognition, artificial intelligence and virtual reality are being used by some companies and hotels to make travel more inclusive, website accessibility and use of mobile devices – for tasks such as managing bookings – are still fundamental for travellers with access needs.

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‘Call for Evidence’ launched to help make voting more accessible

The UK Government is gathering public opinion to find out how accessible the country’s electoral system is for persons with disabilities.

The Call for Evidence was launched online by the Cabinet Office to collect information about direct experiences of voters with disabilities in elections.

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Procurement is key for accessible ICT in the workplace, claims new guide

A detailed online resource to help employers purchase effective accessible technology through their procurement processes has been released.

The guide, called ‘Buy IT!’, has been produced by the US-based Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology (PEAT).

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Gaming industry takes One Special Day out to raise £100,000

The video games industry is being asked to raise £100,000 in a single day later this month, to boost and support the number of gamers with disabilities.

Organised by gaming charity SpecialEffect, the One Special Day fundraising project takes place on September 29. The organisers are asking developers and other companies from across the video games industry to donate revenue from games sales and in-app purchases on the day.

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Google Maps calls on millions of users to boost access info

The Google Maps team has requested its extensive user community help improve its accessibility listings.

As reported in previous issues of e-Access Bulletin, Google has taken various steps to increase its accessibility offerings in maps during previous months (see e-Access Bulletin December 2016: http://eab.li/7v ). Now, however, the Google Maps team have explicitly asked that its ‘Local Guides’ – a community of millions of users who voluntarily collect data – proactively add in wheelchair-accessible location information to maps.

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Global committee comes to the UK in new inclusive tech event

The UK chapter of an international accessibility organisation will formally launch at a new conference in London in November.

The TechShare Pro conference will host the introduction of the UK branch of the International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP), alongside a programme of talks, workshops and activities on digital inclusivity.

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New app helps to combat poor customer service faced by people with disabilities

A new app-based system has been launched that aims to “shake up” the customer service industry across shops, banks and other venues.

The Welcome app lets people with disabilities tell shops and venues of their arrival, so that staff can provide tailored assistance suited to their condition.

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Housing help tips, podcasts and lifelines for people with sight loss, collected online

A new online housing guide for people with sight loss has been launched, collecting together existing resources, advice and podcasts to help people in a range of situations.

The free guide has been created by sight loss charity Thomas Pocklington Trust, as a comprehensive portal for visually impaired people who are looking for a new home or experiencing housing issues.

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Talking ATMs launched at all branches of major UK bank

Santander has announced talking ATMs for blind and visually impaired customers across all of its UK branches.

Many banks offer talking ATMs at some branches, but Santander’s move makes it the first bank to offer the service at every one of its UK outlets – around 1,400. In May, HSBC launched 1,500 talking cash machines around its UK branch network.

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Evolving technologies won’t automatically empower people, says Paralympian

Advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence have huge potential to empower assistive technology users, but we cannot simply wait for this to happen, a renowned Paralympian and member of the House of Lords has said.

In an opening speech at the Assistive Technology Exhibition and Conference (ATEC) in London earlier this month, Lord Chris Holmes told delegates that these technologies must be harnessed in the right way.

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