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Apps combine forces to give visually impaired passengers a smoother ride.

Popular global transportation app Moovit has partnered with Be My Eyes, an app service providing sighted assistance to visually impaired people, aiming to make transit easier for users with sight loss.

Moovit, which is used by over 120 million people in 80 countries and claims to be ‘the world’s number one transit app’, helps people move around cities by providing users with transport information, such as bus and train trackers and real-time updates. Be My Eyes connects visually impaired users with sighted volunteers to answer queries through a video call– for example, checking the sell-by date on food packaging. The service is used by over 60,000 people with sight loss and has over 876,000 sighted volunteers.

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An exercise in missed opportunity: inclusive fitness equipment for people with sight loss

Going to the gym or using exercise equipment at home is simply part of a daily routine for many people, but locking-in this routine isn’t as easy for everyone. A huge amount of modern fitness equipment just isn’t accessible for those with a visual impairment, as a new report has demonstrated.

The study, ‘Inclusive fitness equipment for people with a visual impairment’, was commissioned by sight loss charity Thomas Pocklington Trust and carried out by Rica (the Research Institute for Consumer Affairs). It showed the prevalence of console systems that are partially or entirely unusable to people with a visual impairment, despite a widespread desire among this group stay physically active.

e-Access Bulletin found out more about the study from Lynn Watson, Head of Research at Thomas Pocklington Trust, and Chris Lofthouse, Outreach Manager at Rica.

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Innovative tech solutions sought to help ageing consumers

A newly launched initiative is seeking innovative technological products and services to address some of the challenges presented by ageing.

The Innovation for Ageing project will bring together different groups to support older people as they become more vulnerable with age, through conditions such as sight loss, hearing loss and dementia.

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Websites, not assistive tech, are key to accessibility, say screen-reader users

New research into screen-reader usage has revealed the majority of users feel that improving existing websites would have a bigger impact on accessibility compared to better assistive technology.

The newly published findings are taken from the seventh Screen Reader User Survey by non-profit organisation WebAIM, conducted in October 2017. A total of 1,792 people responded to the survey, 89.2% of which reported using a screen-reader due to a disability.

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Facebook uses AI to open up photos for blind users

Blind and visually impaired users of Facebook will be able to find out which of their friends are in photos thanks to facial recognition technology.

Facial recognition is already used by the social networking site – for example, to suggest friends that users may want to tag in photos – but the company recently extended the use of this feature for screen-reader users. The new feature means that those users will be able to hear which of their friends are in photographs that appear on the user’s news feed, even if those friends are not tagged in the picture.

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New online platform aims to be a game-changer for accessible ICT

An accessibility resources platform that claims to be ‘the first of its kind in the world” has been launched.

DeveloperSpace aims to be a comprehensive portal for information on inclusive digital content and systems, for a wide-ranging audience. Although primarily aimed at developers, designers and anyone building digital systems or content, the site has been created to foster collaboration between different industries and disciplines, in the hope of creating and sharing what the site calls ‘accessible solutions’ to ICT accessibility problems.

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Funkify plugin reveals impaired browsing to all users

A new browser plugin that distorts web pages to simulate the online experience for users with impairments is aiming to encourage developers to create more accessible websites and apps.

The Funkify tool is available in Google Chrome and features a range of filters, which intentionally make it difficult to read and navigate online content. The intention is to recreate how users with visual, print and motor impairments experience the internet.

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New website guides businesses towards accessible tourism

Tourism businesses in England and Scotland, such as hotels, restaurants and sightseeing attractions are being encouraged to produce ‘accessibility guides’ online to let visitors know about access facilities.

VisitEngland and VisitScotland, the official tourist boards for both countries, have launched a website that gives organisations a template for creating a guide. The result is a single, standardised page containing comprehensive access information for users.

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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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