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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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Opening up the arts: interview with Matthew Cock, VocalEyes chief executive

Matthew Cock is the chief executive of VocalEyes, a charity that works to make the arts more inclusive for people with disabilities, primarily through audio description services at theatres around the UK. He helped lead VocalEyes’ work on State of Museum Access, a report that delved deep if and how 1,700 UK museums publicised their access information online.

Matthew is also one of the organisers of the Jodi Awards. This annual event celebrates positive use of technology to widen access to information and resources in museums, libraries and other cultural organisations for people with disabilities. E-Access Bulletin caught up with Matthew to find out more.

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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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Research uncovers ‘the real digital divide’ facing millions in the UK

Fresh data has shown further evidence of the digital gulf in the UK facing millions of people with disabilities and older people.

A report by digital inclusion charity Good Things Foundation and Professor Simeon Yates, titled ‘The real digital divide?’, examines the demographics of people in the UK who never or rarely use the internet. The report is based on (and builds on) a 2015 report from telecommunications regulatory body Ofcom on ‘Adults’ media use and attitudes’

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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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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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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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Many US government sites not accessible for disabled users, claims new research

Various high-profile US government websites, including major service portals, are not accessible for users with disabilities, according to a new study.

The ‘Benchmarking U.S. Government Websites’ report found that 42% of US federal sites tested failed to meet the necessary accessibility criteria.

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Online shopping ‘not as inclusive as it should be,’ new research finds

The websites of six popular UK retailers would not achieve the basic standard of online content accessibility, according to new research by a usability consultancy.

After a series of ‘mini-accessibility audits,’ accessibility design consultancy User Vision found that some online shoppers with impairments would have difficulty purchasing items from each of the websites examined, due to a number of common barriers.

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One third of councils fail web accessibility testing in UK-wide survey

An annual review of council websites across the UK has revealed that one third of local government sites failed first-stage testing to find out how accessible their websites are for users with disabilities.

Carried out by Socitm (the Society of IT Management), the Better Connected survey is a nationwide examination to evaluate local authority websites on a range of factors.

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