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Lawsuit claims Apple’s website is inaccessible for visually impaired users

A lawsuit has been filed against electronics giant Apple in the United States, over claims that its website violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and is not fully accessible to people who are blind or visually impaired.

The action has been taken by Himelda Mendez, described as “visually-impaired and legally blind” in the complaint document. Mendez is filing the lawsuit on behalf of both herself and “others similarly situated”, according to the complaint text.

In the complaint, Mendez is described as a “proficient JAWS screen-reader user,” but has encountered “multiple access barriers” when visiting Apple.com that denied her the same level of access to the goods and services offered by the company as sighted users.

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Driverless cars and advanced tech highlighted in new Government transport plan

Autonomous vehicles, digital wayfinding systems and other technologies will play a key role in making transport more accessible for people with disabilities, according to plans in the UK Government’s Inclusive Transport Strategy.

Produced by the Department for Transport (DfT), the strategy sets out the Government’s goal to create an equal access transport system by 2030. Responses to a public consultation in 2017 on a draft ‘Accessibility Action Plan’ were used to help develop the strategy.

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Disabled music fans asked to get vocal about access barriers at live shows

A charity is asking people with disabilities to contribute to new online research about accessibility issues at live music events and nightclubs, and by acting as ‘mystery shoppers’ at gigs and events.

The research is being conducted by the Attitude is Everything charity, which works to make live events more accessible for people with disabilities. The charity is asking anyone with a visual or hearing impairment to complete a survey on ‘sensory impairment and live music’ on its website.

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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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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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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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