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European Accessibility Act To Be Unveiled in 2012

A proposal for a ‘European Accessibility Act’, which will include accessibility measures on ICT and websites, will be put forward during 2012, European Commission Vice-President Viviane Reding has confirmed.

The act, part of actions following on from a wider European Disability Strategy ( http://bit.ly/fDCRlP ) unveiled last year, will be based on an upcoming commission study of accessibility barriers for disabled citizens across Europe. The study will cover access to public services, public buildings and transport, as well as other areas.
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Canadian Government Loses Milestone Web Access Case

A blind accessibility consultant has won her case against the Canadian government for the lack of accessibility on its websites, the country’s Federal Court has announced.

As reported in last month’s E-Access Bulletin ( http://www.headstar.com/eablive/?p=508 ), Donna Jodhan sued the Canadian government after she was unable to apply for a government job online or complete an online census form without assistance from sighted government employees, arguing that this breached her rights.
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International Law – Jodhan vs Canadian Government

By Tristan Parker

It’s fair to say that Canadian citizen Donna Jodhan knows a thing or two about accessibility. A specialist consultant in the field with more than 16 years’ experience, her company has worked with numerous clients, including financial institutions and the University of Toronto. She has obtained Systems Engineering Certification from Microsoft and won various technical awards from IBM.

So when Jodhan – herself legally classed as blind – brought a case against the Canadian Federal Government, stating that the lack of accessibility of its websites for blind and visually impaired Canadian citizens meant that her rights were being breached, she made a formidable opponent.
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Cautious Welcome For Copyright Law Change Timetable

The RNIB has given a cautious welcome to a World Intellectual Property Organisation decision to agree a timetable for creation of a new international law allowing sharing of accessible versions of copyright works across national borders.

If passed, the law would require the introduction of exceptions in the national legislation of all member states, so that print-disabled people, including blind people, people with impaired vision and people with dyslexia, can make accessible copies of copyright works and share them across international boundaries.
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Voluntary Compliance To Web Access Standards ‘Inadequate’

Voluntary application of technical standards on accessibility of web sites to people with disabilities has proved “inadequate”, suggesting more formal regulation is needed, the US government has said.

In a document issued as part of a public consultation process on four new proposed regulations to extend the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to improve technology access for disabled people, the US Department of Justice said: “Voluntary standards have generally proved to be sufficient where obvious business incentives align with discretionary governing standards as, for example, with respect to privacy and security standards designed to increase consumer confidence in e-commerce. There has not, however, been equal success in the area of accessibility.”

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Electronic Books: The Right to Borrow

By Guy Whitehouse.

One of the last pieces of legislation passed earlier this year by the UK’s outgoing Labour government was the Digital Economy Act 2010, which, among other things, extended the Public Lending Right to audiobooks and ebooks in libraries.

This transfers out of copyright both physical hardcopy audiobooks in libraries, and audio/ebooks downloaded to an mp3 player or ebook reader on library premises; authors receive a payment from the government for each loan based on a rather complicated formula. The US does not currently have a similar scheme, following a failed attempt to introduce one in the 1980s.
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CSUN 2010, San Diego: The 25-Year Buzz

By John Lamb

Gatherings of technologists always have an atmosphere of excitement about them whether it’s generated by the thrill of discovering the next big thing or just catching up on the gossip about what’s hot and what’s not.

But there is an even more special buzz to the California State University Northridge (CSUN) Technologies and Persons with Disabilities Conference, the largest assistive technology event in the international calendar and this year celebrating its 25th anniversary.
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Campaigning Peer Blocks Weakening Of Web Access Law

A campaigning peer has ensured that the new Equality Act, an update of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA), includes a commitment to online accessibility, by successfully moving an amendment as the law passed through the House of Lords.

Lord Low of Dalston, vice president and former chairman of the Royal National Institute of Blind People and himself blind, moved a change of wording to the Act to state that when providing information, organisations’ processes should “include steps for ensuring that… the information is provided in an accessible format.”
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Exclusive: EU Set To Ditch Rules On Accessible Goods

The European Union looks set to backtrack on proposed legislation that would have required accessibility to disabled people of all manufactured consumer goods, from digital televisions to washing machines, E-Access Bulletin has learned.

A Brussels meeting this week is expected to confirm changes to the draft Equal Treatment Directive (ETD), first proposed by the European Commission in 2008 to ban discrimination in access to goods and services, as set out in its full title: Proposal for a Council Directive on implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation
( http://bit.ly/9IFqXc ).
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Proposed US Law Would Force Product Accessibility

Manufacturers and suppliers of consumer technology devices in the US could be forced to make all their products accessible to blind consumers, if proposed legislation is passed by Congress.

Introduced by Jan Schakowsky, a Democratic House of Representatives member from Illinois, the Technology Bill of Rights for the Blind Act 2010 ( http://www.opencongress.org/bill/111-h4533/text ) is based around creating accessible alternatives to what it calls “increasingly complex user interfaces” found in consumer electronics.
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