April Quarterly Newsletter

Dear Valued Readers,
As Spring arrives in the Northern Hemisphere, we are happy to share the quarterly edition of the Continual Engine newsletter. In this edition, we cover the following topics:
  • Continual Engine’s Chief Learning Officer, Rajiv Narayana, predicts better designed, inclusive learning as the next trend, while emphasizing the need for a mindset shift to bridge the digital divide caused by the pandemic.
  • A summary of upcoming events and past events attended or hosted by Continual Engine.
  • A collection of insightful and thought-provoking blogs focusing on challenges experienced by people with disabilities, particularly the visually impaired, highlighting the need for more attention and action to address accessibility challenges in various areas of life.
  • The latest news related to accessibility and inclusion which includes a smart-glove, redesigned Disneyland, and Amazon Prime Video's new accessibility feature.
As always, we hope you find this edition to be interesting and informative. Please reach out to us with your feedback or questions.
Warm Regards,
Continual Engine

I. The Future of Accessibility and Continual Engine’s Commitment

A note from Continual Engine’s Advisor and Chief Learning Officer, Rajiv Narayana

Learning and accessibility are always evolving, which is what makes it so interesting and meaningful to be part of these fields. However, this continuous and quickening process of disruption means we must move fast and intentionally to address issues that emerge when unforeseen or unprecedented changes occur.
This was the case over the past few years when the pandemic laid bare the consequences of the existing digital divide and how quickly this inequity could be magnified. The pandemic revealed many things about how we live and work, and it amplified inequities that existed with access to technology. In accessibility circles, access to technology has been likened to access to society in today’s world, and that became overwhelmingly obvious to more people than ever before during the pandemic.
The acknowledgement of the magnitude of the problem was the first step. The next step involves a mindset shift amongst influential stakeholders in business, education, government, and other sectors of society towards action. This action has included more aggressive regulatory requirements and enforcement, proactive measures being taken by companies and academic institutions, and a push by customers, employees, and advocacy groups to make organizations more inclusive. This has culminated in what amounts to an evolution of societal norms and expectations, and while of course there is always pushback to such changes, the momentum has continued.
Specific trends in accessibility and learning are difficult to predict with accuracy, but the forces that drive these trends are clear. Digital learning is here to stay, learners want their learning available on-demand and in smaller bites in the same way they consume other information and media, and consumers are driving a stronger focus on a much broader definition of inclusivity in learning. All this means that the next big trend will be better designed learning to take advantage of advancements in technology, coupled with a more deliberate and proactive focus on making that learning inclusive. This is going to require new innovations in order to bring such a design focus to scale, and Continual Engine is already contributing to that future.
Continual Engine’s greatest strength is its technological and learning expertise combined with a pragmatic and human-centered approach to developing learning process innovations. Automation technologies offer a lot of promise to make learning more accessible, but few companies have been able to develop solutions that effectively replace manual development with the quality that people with disabilities demand. By working with progressive learning experts, artificial intelligence visionaries, the best learning organizations, and with large volumes of high quality data, Continual Engine’s solutions have become the envy of the industry.

II. Upcoming Events

1. Join Continual Engine's Upcoming Webinar With Web Accessibility Specialist Sarah Stricker

Continual Engine is excited to announce our upcoming webinar featuring IAAP-certified Web Accessibility Specialist, Sarah Stricker, from ansrsource. Join us on Thursday, June 15, 2023, for an informative webinar session on the topic, “Prepping PDFs for Accessibility”. In a hands-on session, Sarah will share best practices, tools, and tips for making documents more accessible simply by starting with accessibility in mind. Sarah brings extensive experience in instructional design and educational technology, and her session will provide valuable insights for anyone looking to create more accessible content.

As an IAAP-certified Web Accessibility Specialist, Sarah is a leader in the field of web accessibility. She leads a team of web developers and manages technical solutions for higher education clients, providing a unique perspective on the challenges and solutions in creating accessible content.
Don’t miss out on this opportunity to learn from a true expert in the accessibility field.

2. Continual Engine Is Exhibiting And Attending The AHEAD 2023 Conference In Portland, Oregon

Continual Engine is thrilled to announce that we are exhibiting and attending the AHEAD 2023 Conference this July, which will be held at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland. As an award-winning company dedicated to transforming learning and accessibility through the power of artificial intelligence, we are looking forward to connecting with other industry leaders and exploring the latest trends and technologies that are shaping the future of the industry.

Continual Engine’s Senior Vice-President of Growth & Strategy, Vijayshree (‘VJ’) Vethantham, will be joining the AHEAD 2023 conference to explore trends and the most effective practices in accessible communications. We are eager to share our insights and knowledge with others and learn from the experiences of our peers, as we work together to create innovative solutions for our clients.

The AHEAD Conference is an effort to bring together professionals from the higher education and disability services fields annually to promote access and inclusion for students with disabilities in higher education. The conference offers keynote speakers, workshops, and panel discussions on a variety of topics, including disability law, assistive technology, accessible design, and mental health services. The conference is an important event for those involved in disability services in higher education who want to stay current on trends and best practices.
If you would like to schedule a meeting with our Senior Vice President, Growth & Strategy, Vijayshree (VJ) Vethantham, please email us at contact@continualengine.com. We look forward to seeing you at the Conference.

III. Past Events

1. Continual Engine Hosted An Accessibility Webinar On "All About WCAG Accessibility And What's Next" With Expert Guest Sarah Stricker

In case you missed this, Continual Engine hosted an insightful accessibility webinar with IAAP-certified Web Accessibility Specialist Sarah Stricker from ansrsource. The virtual event took place on February 16th, 2023, and provided attendees with valuable insights on web accessibility and the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
During the event, Sarah provided valuable information on WCAG, including its development, contents, and relevance to content authors and designers. Attendees also gained insights on the current status of WCAG and what the future holds for it.
Overall, the webinar was a great success, and Continual Engine is grateful to Sarah and all the attendees who participated to make the event more successful. Access the webinar recording or download an accessible version of the presentation here, if you missed the event.

2. Continual Engine Co-Presented And Exhibited At The ATIA 2023 Conference With Virginia Tech

Continual Engine had the privilege to co-present with Virginia Tech at the Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) 2023 Conference held in Orlando, Florida in January-February . This conference was a great opportunity for attendees to network and gain knowledge about the unique requirements of those who need assistive technology. The focus of the conference was to provide insights into the collaboration between PREP and Virginia Tech to scale PDF remediation and promote accessible communications.
Vijayshree (VJ) Vethantham, Continual Engine’s Senior Vice-President of Growth & Strategy, joined with Mark Nichols, Senior Director of Universal Design and Accessible Technologies at Virginia Tech to explore trends and most effective practices in accessible communications.
Continual Engine is proud to have participated in this conference and thanks Virginia Tech and ATIA for their collaboration.

3. Continual Engine Participated In Samarthanam’s Awareness Conclave On Assistive Technology For People With Disabilities

Continual Engine was proud to participate in the Awareness Conclave on Assistive Technology for People with Disabilities, which took place on February 23, 2023, at the Chancery Pavilion in Bangalore. This event was organized by Samarthanam in collaboration with DXC Technology, IIITB, and the Government of Karnataka. The event aimed to promote low-cost technological solutions for people with disabilities and understand their needs.
The Continual Engine team included, Rajat Prakash (Product Owner), Pavan Deepak (Product Owner), and Dr. K. Sriram (Content & Product Development Advisor), who attended the event. Dr. Sriram delivered the keynote speech at the inauguration and emphasized the importance of placing the user of assistive technology at the heart of all discussions.
The event brought together stakeholders from various sectors to discuss the opportunities and challenges of assistive technology. Continual Engine’s AI solutions were showcased as a means of making digital content accessible for the visually challenged, particularly in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, and Accounting. If you missed the event, you can access the proceedings by clicking here.

IV. Featured Blogs

1. Advancing Document Accessibility: A Look at Emerging Trends and Technologies

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are trending topics in the tech world that are revolutionizing document accessibility. AI and ML are used to increase accessibility that will make a real difference in the lives of people with disabilities. AI-driven document accessibility tools can automatically detect accessibility issues and suggest improvements. ML can analyze large datasets to identify patterns and create accessible templates.

2. PDF Remediation And Accessible Publishing: The Future Of Content Management

Portable Document Format (PDF) is a highly prevalent file format commonly used to distribute documents intended for printing or screen viewing. Nevertheless, ensuring accessibility of PDFs can be challenging, especially for individuals with disabilities such as visual, hearing, or mobility impairments. The process of modifying existing PDFs to enhance accessibility and align with accessibility standards is called PDF remediation. Conversely, accessible publishing produces born-accessible PDFs optimized for assistive technologies, screen readers, and other accessibility tools.

3. Document Accessibility And Its Role in Fostering an Inclusive Workplace

In today’s world, document accessibility refers to designing and formatting documents that are easily understood and used by individuals with visual, auditory, cognitive, or physical disabilities. Document accessibility has a significant impact on workplace productivity and efficiency. In this article, we will explore the effect of document accessibility in the workplace and how document remediation and accessibility software can help create accessible documents.

V. NEWS ARTICLES ON ACCESSIBILITY

1. Voters With Disabilities Often Overlooked In Voting Battles

Patti Chang walked into her polling place in Chicago earlier this year, anxious about how poll workers would treat her, especially as a voter who is blind. Even though she was accompanied by her husband, she said she was ignored until a poll worker grabbed her cane and pulled her toward a voting booth.

2. Blind Man Says He Was Stuck In Atlanta Hotel Elevator Without Braille Due To Digital Control Panel

Digital assistants like Amazon’s Alexa aren’t currently useful for, say, the hard of hearing and deaf community. George Mason University researchers led by Jana Košecká are making the Internet of Things more inclusive and accessible to those for whom it has not been designed. For the next year, her work to improve “seeing” computer systems to translate continuous American Sign Language into English will be funded by Amazon’s Fairness in AI Research Program.

3. The Importance Of Sport For Children With Disabilities - And The Lengths Their Parents Go To Access It

Access to physical activity and sport is not equal. Children and young people with disabilities are less likely to engage in physical activity and sport, as there are significant barriers to their participation.

4. People With Disabilities Face Greater Accessibility Challenges In Rural & Northern Communities

People with disabilities living in rural areas of Canada, such as Northern B.C., face much greater barriers to accessibility and accessible transportation, Taylor Bachrach, MP for Skeena-Bulkley Valley and NDP Transportation Critic, said on March 29.

5. Collaboration Tools Help And Hinder Workplace Accessibility

Over the last three years, collaboration providers rapidly advanced their products and introduced features that opened doors to accessibility for employees with disabilities. But organizations and collaboration providers can’t get complacent, said Claudio Luis Vera, an accessibility analyst and community organizer.

6. Two Thirds Of Canadians With Disabilities Face Barriers On Planes, Trains

Two-thirds of people with disabilities faced barriers on federally regulated planes and trains in 2019 and 2020, according to a report released by Canada’s auditor general on Monday (March 27).

7. Chicago Found Violating Americans With Disabilities Act By Failing To Provide Accessible Pedestrian Signals

A federal judge in Chicago held the City of Chicago liable for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act by failing to provide accessible pedestrian signals at signalized intersections throughout the city to those who are blind or have low vision.

8. What Is The Economic Impact Of Hiring Autistic, Neurodivergent And Disabled Talent? Here's What You Should Know

Here are nine reasons why disability inclusion benefits not just workplaces but the overall economy as well. Much as the world sings paeans of praise about how disability inclusion has become an integral part of workplace culture, concerns around return on investment remain a major deterrence for many organizations not to hire autistic, neurodivergent and disabled people at scale.

9. 'How I Reached Everest Base Camp With 5% Vision'

A group of visually-impaired people have reached the Everest base camp – and is believed to be the first group of its kind to do so. The expedition was organised by travel firm Venture Force, in Melton in Leicestershire, which arranges adventurous trips around the world. Participant Amanda Large, from Manchester, has less than 5% vision and said the expedition was “bonkers, but great”.

VI. LATEST ADVANCEMENTS IN ACCESSIBILITY

1. This Kenyan Inventor Is Behind A Smart-Glove That Translates Sign Language Into Speech In Real Time

Spring is upon us, but most areas are still experiencing some remnants of winter weather. So until the environment settles, keeping your favorite jacket, scarf, and gloves handy is a good practice. But what if your garment pieces could communicate how you feel and what you need during those more frigid moments? Kenyan inventor Roy Allela answered that question and provided an accessibility solution with his smart gloves.

2. Disneyland Reopens Completely Redesigned, More Inclusive Toontown

After a year-long closure, the California theme park is finally ready to welcome guests back to Mickey’s Toontown. Disneyland is finally ready to welcome guests to a completely reimagined version of its beloved Toontown–one that makes the magic accessible to every guest.

3. Amazon Prime Video Gets Dialogue Boost: What It Is, How It Will Help Users

Amazon has rolled out a new accessibility feature for Prime Video users called ‘Dialogue Boost’. The e-commerce giant said that the feature will amplify the vocals in certain movies and series, so that users can clearly hear the dialogues even during the noisiest parts. The company said that the feature is especially built keeping in mind the needs of customers who have hearing difficulties.

4. Accessible £38k Powerboat Launched On River Soar

A wheelchair accessible powerboat has been launched on a Leicestershire river, aimed at helping children and young cadets with disabilities to take part in water-based activities. The boat – a Coulam Wheelyboat V17 which has been named Lilibet, after the late Queen Elizabeth II – has been launched on the River Soar.

5. Leeds Railway Station Introduces British Sign Language Service

Leeds Railway Station has launched a scheme to provide the latest passenger information using British Sign Language (BSL). The technology translates live journey information into BSL, which is displayed on digital screens. Deaf rail user Firdous Khursihd welcomed the move and said she was “intrigued” to see how it would work. “It’s a major improvement – it’s just not a nice feeling not knowing what’s going on.”

Editors:

Debangku Sarma

Digital Marketing Associate
Continual Engine

Vijayshree Vethantham

Senior Vice-President, Growth & Strategy
Continual Engine US LLC

Skip to content