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Employers ‘Need Support To Make Job Applications Accessible’

Employers need more support to make their digital job application processes accessible to people with disabilities, according to a new report from disability employment services charity Shaw Trust.

The report, ‘Making work a real choice’, examines the government’s disability employment programme Work Choice through the experiences of more than 400 people – a mix of job applicants, employers, and Shaw Trust staff.


International Web Access Guidelines “Ineffective”, Academic Claims

Conforming to the international industry standard Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) can be “ineffective” as a method of reducing problems encountered by blind and visually impaired web users, one IT academic has claimed.

The WCAG guidelines are created by the international World Wide Web Consortium, which oversees web standards. In his PhD thesis for the University of York, ‘Disabled people and the Web: User-based measurement of accessibility’, André Pimenta Freire – a specialist in human-computer interaction – writes that a large number of problems on website pages encountered by print-disabled computer users would not have been resolved by conformance to WCAG criteria.


Global Accessibility Awareness Day: A Worldwide Audience For Web Accessibility

By Tristan Parker

This year, 9 May recently marked the second Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD), an event that aims to encourage web developers and related communities to think about accessibility for disabled computer users when designing and building web pages.

GAAD was inspired by a blog post in which US-based developer Joe Devon called for widespread accessible web design. The post was noticed by accessibility professional Jennison Asuncion, and the two began working to raise the profile of digital accessibility.

Individuals and organisations from across the globe create and take part in awareness-raising activities during GAAD, from holding talks to tweeting accessibility messages to using only part of a computer to simulate the barriers faced by someone with an impairment or disability.


Web Content Accessibility Checker Pitched At Wider Audience

An updated version of a free web content accessibility checker, originally developed because its creator was frustrated at the limitations of similar products, has been launched in JavaScript to allow wider usage.

QUAIL ( ) is a piece of software that uses more than 200 tests to assess if web content conforms to the widely used Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0.


User Priorities Must Drive Accessible ICT Research, Warns Telecoms Expert

Research and investment priorities for the digital economy and development of internet services and mobile devices must reflect the needs of disabled and elderly people, a telecommunications expert has warned.

In a video address to a London event on the future of accessible ICT research( ), Dr Mike Short, vice president of Telefónica Europe and former president of the Institution of Engineering and Technology, said customer demand for more accessible services has risen over the past ten years. Accordingly, mobile network providers need to think about different groups of users when planning for future growth, including the benefits that universal design can offer to everybody, Short said.

Call For New Task-Based Approach To Digital Inclusion

A “change in mind set” on digital inclusion is needed by organisations in all sectors after a general failure to create accessible digital systems – particularly for those with a disability or the elderly – a new report by technology access charity AbilityNet says.

“Mind the Digital Gap: It’s bigger than you think” says that although there has been much discussion on accessibility and inclusive digital systems over the past 15 years, this has not yielded significant results. “The reality is … that apart from a small number of good examples, many digital systems and content are inaccessible to the majority of disabled and older people. The current methodology … has failed and we need a change in mind set on how we approach digital inclusion,” it says.

Ro O’Shay: The World at My Fingertips

After training as a clinical support worker, US-based blogger Ro O’Shay was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2006, before losing her sight in 2008. Since then, the internet and new communications technologies have gradually become a lifeline for her, and she is now a keen writer and technology-user. Tristan Parker talks to her about her passion for technology.


Long Legal Battle Ends for Blind Accessibility Advocate

The long legal battle between Donna Jodhan, a blind accessibility advocate from Canada, over the inaccessibility of government websites – as chronicled by E-Access Bulletin over several years – is over. With the Canadian government having now taken satisfactory remedial action, Jodhan has decided not to take any further legal action, declaring her victory “an opportunity to create a more accessible environment for all Canadians”.

Jodhan first noticed that she was unable to use government websites due to her impairment in 2006. She sued, with a judge initially ruling in her favour, stating that the Government had infringed the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and giving a time period for the government to make its websites accessible to blind and visually impaired users. The government appealed this decision in 2011, but in May 2012 the Canadian Federal Court of Appeal upheld Jodhan’s initial victory (see E-Access Bulletin issue 138: ).


Paralympics Broadcasting: Winning The Accessible Games, Live and Online.

By Tristan Parker

For Channel 4, being the official broadcaster of the 2012 Paralympic Games comes with a lot of prestige, but there are also significant accessibility challenges. If the website and other digital services of this event were not accessible to disabled people, it would be absurd – not to mention catastrophic from a PR perspective.

However, rising to these challenges have helped improve the overall standard and awareness of digital accessibility within the channel, says Paul Edwards, Channel 4’s online programme manager for the Paralympics 2012.


Appeal Court Upholds Canadian Woman’s Web Access Case

A blind accessibility consultant who took the Canadian Federal Government to court over the inaccessibility of its websites has won a second victory, after the Canadian Federal Court of Appeal upheld an initial decision in her favour.

Canadian citizen Donna Jodhan, who is blind, won her first case against the government in 2010, after claiming that her rights were breached when she could not apply for a government job online or complete an online census form using screen-reader technology. The government then appealed the decision (see E-Access Bulletin issue 133), continuing a long legal battle.

In its defence, the Canadian Government had claimed the case should be thrown out since the information was available to Jodhan by other means – by telephone, post or in person. However, the appeal court has now upheld Jodhan’s 2010 victory, which included a ruling that the Canadian Government must make its websites accessible for blind and visually impaired citizens within 15 months.

Jodhan told E-Access Bulletin she was “absolutely delighted, humbled, and relieved that this decision has been handed down.” She said: “It is my sincere hope that the Canadian government will now take the initiative to work with our community to ensure that the court’s ruling is adhered to in full and in the spirit that it was meant to be. Now we need to build on this and use this as a launching pad for creating more awareness and to encourage all stake holders to work together for a common goal.”

In a press statement about the ruling, a spokesperson for the Federal Government said: “Our government is continuing to implement the Federal Court decision from 2010. We are committed to web accessibility and to date over 100 government institutions are converting their content in line with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.”

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