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Driverless cars and advanced tech highlighted in new Government transport plan

Autonomous vehicles, digital wayfinding systems and other technologies will play a key role in making transport more accessible for people with disabilities, according to plans in the UK Government’s Inclusive Transport Strategy.

Produced by the Department for Transport (DfT), the strategy sets out the Government’s goal to create an equal access transport system by 2030. Responses to a public consultation in 2017 on a draft ‘Accessibility Action Plan’ were used to help develop the strategy.

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Disabled music fans asked to get vocal about access barriers at live shows

A charity is asking people with disabilities to contribute to new online research about accessibility issues at live music events and nightclubs, and by acting as ‘mystery shoppers’ at gigs and events.

The research is being conducted by the Attitude is Everything charity, which works to make live events more accessible for people with disabilities. The charity is asking anyone with a visual or hearing impairment to complete a survey on ‘sensory impairment and live music’ on its website.

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Going global: The Global Disability Innovation Hub

In July, a bold new partnership to improve global access to assistive technology was announced at the UK Government’s first Global Disability Summit. The ‘ATscale’ project features various strands being worked on by different partners, including the World Health Organisation (WHO), the Department for International Development (DFID), UNICEF and GDI (Global Disability Innovation) Hub.

For some, this will be the first they’ve heard of GDI Hub, although the organisation has been active in a wide range of global, disability-focused projects since launching in 2016.

Here, we take a closer look at the Hub and its work – including the ambitious assistive technology (AT) project announced at the Disability Summit –  through a chat with its Research Development Manager, Paul Steynor.

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Government stands by accessibility directive exemptions amid sector criticism

The UK Government has published its response to consultation feedback on its plans to implement European accessibility legislation. At the end of April, the government launched the public consultation on the EU Directive on the accessibility of public sector websites and mobile applications, detailing how it planned to introduce and handle the directive.

The consultation gathered 44 responses from individuals and organisations, including the British Computer Society’s Digital Accessibility Specialist Group, disability charity Scope and RNIB.

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On-screen TV guides to become more accessible for people with sight loss

Electronic programme guides used to navigate TV channel menus are set to become easier to use for people with a visual impairment or hearing loss, thanks to a series of new requirements for UK broadcasters.

Organisations using these electronic programme guides (EPGs) must now take the following four steps: provide a text-to-speech function within EPGs; highlight or list separately programmes with audio description or signing; provide a magnification or enlarging function, and; make sure that viewers can switch between default and high-contrast displays.

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Virtual reality immersing young people in the world of work

A series of virtual reality (VR) simulations are helping young people with learning impairments in Australia to prepare for employment.

The training simulations are run on the Oculus Rift VR headset and are part of a ‘Virtual Learning Environment’ project by disability charity the Endeavour Foundation, originally developed in collaboration with Queensland University of Technology.

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From smartwatch wayfinders to robot farmers: Tech4Good Awards 2018

Earlier this month, the AbilityNet Tech4Good Awards took place in London, showcasing everything from tiny farming robots to an innovative new way of contacting emergency services.

Now in its eighth year, the event was created by technology access charity AbilityNet to celebrate digital technology projects designed to improve people’s lives and benefit society. Entries can be new or existing ideas, and can come from anyone, such as a charity, business or individual.

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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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Tech funding, employment and apps on the agenda at assistive conference

The government’s technology fund, disability in the workplace and new apps were among the topics discussed at the latest Assistive Technology Conference and Exhibition (ATEC).

Taking place in London, the conference featured a wide range of speakers from the accessibility sector, charities, government and beyond.

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Microsoft unveils $25 million ‘AI for Accessibility’ project

A heavily funded program announced by Microsoft will aim to create and nurture advanced artificial intelligence (AI) products and services that can assist people with disabilities around the world.

The five-year program, named AI for Accessibility, was launched at the Microsoft Build conference in Seattle and will be funded by $25 million from Microsoft. The project will provide developers with AI tools and will focus on three key areas: employment, modern life and human connection.

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