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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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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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Boost UK industry through assistive tech, MPs and academics declare

Driving economic growth through technology, the disability employment gap, and robotics in healthcare were some of the topics discussed at the latest meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Assistive Technology (APPGAT).

The aim of the meeting was to explore assistive technology in relation to the UK Industrial Strategy, unveiled by the Government in November of last year, which set out plans to boost the UK economy and industry.

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Government asks the experts for guidance in assistive technology inquiry

Accessibility professionals and assistive technology users have given the UK Government recommendations in an inquiry organised by the government’s Work and Pensions Select Committee.

The inquiry looked at how technology can help improve employment rates among those with disabilities, as part of the government’s response to a report on the disability employment gap.

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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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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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New parliamentary group on assistive tech launches to level the playing field

A “flood” of new technology represents a unique opportunity to increase education and employment for those with disabilities in the UK, claims a new cross-party parliamentary group.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Assistive Technology (APPGAT) launched on March 6 and aims to spark debate and share knowledge on assistive technology (AT) throughout parliament. Its work will include contributing to government consultations and raising awareness of AT.

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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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Hollywood-voiced avatar solves citizens’ accessibility queries

An online avatar voiced by an Oscar-winning actor has been created to give disabled Australian citizens information on the country’s National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

The virtual assistant ‘Nadia’ is voiced by Australian actor Cate Blanchett and is able to answer common questions about the NDIS – a support scheme for Australian citizens under 65 with a permanent disability, replacing a previous national disability scheme. Users interact with Nadia through their computer’s webcam and microphone. This gives the process a human element and means that only minimal keyboard or mouse navigation is needed.

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Accessibility survey reveals PDF problems, technology types and satisfied users

The UK Government online services portal, GOV.UK, is aiming to cut down on PDFs after an accessibility survey revealed that many users encounter problems with them.

Launched in May, the GOV.UK 2016 assistive technology survey aimed to find out about the range of technologies that people are using to access and navigate the site. The survey received 712 responses from assistive technology users.

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