June Quarterly Newsletter

Bringing You News On Accessibility And Education

I. EVENT

Continual Engine participated in the ‘Technologies for Creating Accessible Graphics’ Round Table Conference 2022 on the theme, ‘Inclusion and Access to Information in Our Changing World’, held on May 18th, 2022. This was the second virtual conference hosted by the Australia and New Zealand Accessible Graphics Group (ANZAGG).

The panel discussed the importance for everyone to have access to information, including individuals with visual disabilities who are trying to go about their daily lives. People with disabilities are frequently unable to access content on websites. This prevents everyone from having equitable access to websites or getting the information they are seeking, such as learning resources, banking details and more. It is crucial for companies to monitor the accessibility of their websites and other information to ensure that the content is accessible to all users, regardless of their abilities.
Among those attending the Round Table Conference were Mr. Rajat Prakash, Product Owner and Dr. K Sriram, Content and Product Development Advisor at Continual Engine. The 2022 Conference looked at the challenges and opportunities that technology developers, accessible format producers, libraries, publishers, education institutions, government bodies, and other organizations face in facilitating equitable information access for people with print disabilities in today’s rapidly changing world.
Rajat Prakash, Product Owner at Continual Engine discussed the role of incorporating alt text in images and why it is so important. If an image conveys significant information that isn’t available elsewhere on the page and the image doesn’t have alt text in the HTML alt attribute, a person who is unable to see the image won’t have access to that information. Adding alt text makes it easier for a wider number of people, particularly those using screen readers, to interpret the content.
The Australia and New Zealand Accessible Graphics Group (ANZAGG) has sponsored this workshop to contribute to the development of innovative methods such as alt text generated by Continual Engine’s proprietary tool Invicta™, which is an artificial intelligence platform that makes images, including tactile graphics and 3D models, accessible by automatically generating high-quality alt text in seconds.

We have outlined all the details of our recent ANZAGG workshop here: https://blog.continualengine.com/australian-workshop-on-accessible-graphics-by-rajat-prakash-k-sriram.

Presenters:

  • Rajat Prakash, Product Manager Continual Engine US LLC

II. COMPANY UPDATES

1. Continual Engine received "Cool Tool Finalist" recognition for STEM Solution and Special Needs / Assistive Technology Solution in the EdTech Awards, 2022.

Continual Engine is thrilled to announce that our products PREP and Invicta have received the “Cool Tool Finalist” award for STEM (science, tech, engineering, math) Solution and Special Needs / Assistive Technology Solution in EdTech Awards 2022. We are proud and honored to be a finalist among several other outstanding products and companies.

Continual Engine is excited to be a finalist, along with esteemed peers, in two categories at the prestigious Ed Tech awards,” says Mousumi Kapoor, Founder & CEO, Continual Engine. “We remain committed to our vision of transforming accessibility and learning through the use of technology, and are excited to see how our AI-driven platforms are making a difference to the end users.”

The EdTech award identifies, showcases, and recognizes the world’s most promising EdTech businesses of the year. From free e-learning platforms that democratize higher education to online homework help communities. The awards recognize people in and around education for outstanding contributions in transforming education through technology. EdTech’s prestigious award program honors outstanding educational technology products and companies that have effectively digitized education to enrich the lives of learners all over the world.
We are glad to share space as finalists among other outstanding products and companies. This has also marked how PREP and Invicta are doing extremely well in terms of meeting the requirements for digital accessibility and providing solutions to all the compliant problems.

2. Continual Engine will be Exhibiting at the 45th Annual AHEAD Conference in Cleveland

The 45th Annual Conference is an exciting opportunity for us to share and showcase our revolutionary artificial intelligence based solutions PREP and Invicta™ which makes documents and images accessible with the goal of making higher education content accessible for people with disabilities.
Continual Engine will be exhibiting at Booth # 316. In addition, we will be scheduling one-on-one demo sessions to provide insights on how we have leveled-up our product features and brought more advanced solutions to meet the needs of the individuals using screen readers.
If you would like to schedule a meeting with our Vice President of Partner Engagements, Vijayshree (VJ) Vethantham, please email us at contact@continualengine.com. We look forward to seeing you at the Conference for the Association of Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD) in July.

III. NEWS ARTICLES ON ACCESSIBILITY

1. Changing the Narrative on Disability: Is Representation in Books Getting Better?

Are we finally getting some good disability representation in fiction? Certainly, the publishing industry seems to have belatedly recognised the need to get disabled writers through the door. After a successful social media campaign, Amazon has recently introduced a “disability fiction” section. The Society of Authors now has a dedicated peer network for disabled and chronically ill writers. And in 2020, the Barbellion prize was set up to reward brilliant work by disabled authors. But does any of this mean that disabled people are finally seeing themselves and their experiences in the novels they pick up in Waterstones? It depends where you look.

2. What People With Disabilities and Their Families Wish Fellow Travelers Would Know and Do

Linda Williams doesn’t make dinner reservations the way most of us do. She makes a point to ask others about their accessibility needs first. The clinical psychologist and founder and CEO of Invisible Disability Project knows more than 1 in 4 U.S. adults have some kind of disability, whether or not it’s obvious to others.

3. U.S. Businesses Get Hit With Record Numbers of Disability Lawsuits

U.S. small businesses have been battling soaring inflation, labor shortages and supply-chain snarls during the pandemic. Now many are hit by another unexpected challenge: disability lawsuits. Industry associations and business owners say serial plaintiffs filing dozens or hundreds of cases are increasingly using the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act to extract tens of thousands of dollars in settlements — and not to promote access as the landmark civil-rights law intended.

4. What It’s Like Returning to the Office As a Person With a Disability: ‘My Biggest Fear was Physical Survival’

There’s a lot to dread about returning to the office: waking up late, hitting traffic, meeting co-workers for the first time — the list continues. But as Alexa Dectis recalls, her return-to-office fears boiled down to “physical survival.”

5. Feds Warn Employers Against Disability Discrimination

Increasingly common methods that employers are using to select new hires, judge performance and determine pay or promotions may discriminate against people with disabilities, federal officials say.

6. Are We in Danger of Rolling Backwards on Global Disability Inclusion Progress?

In 2018 the UK government demonstrated leadership on the issue, as joint hosts with Kenya of the very first Global Disability Summit (GDS), as well as the release by Department for International Development (DfID) of their first Disability Inclusion strategy.

7. How The Inevitable Foundation is Fighting For Disability Inclusion in Hollywood

The Inevitable Foundation is calling for Hollywood to be more inclusive of disabled creatives, a community that is often looked over for jobs and omitted from conversations and studies about diversity. Disabled people make up over 20 percent of the population but count on less than 1 percent of representation in film and TV.

8. Supreme Court Decision Weakens Disability Rights, Advocates Say

A recent U.S. Supreme Court decision chips away at disability rights, advocates say, by making it harder to bring claims under some of the nation’s anti-discrimination laws. The high court ruled late last month 6-3 against Jane Cummings, who is deaf and legally blind, determining that emotional distress from discrimination is insufficient harm to warrant a lawsuit under four federal civil rights laws.

IV: LATEST ADVANCEMENTS IN ACCESSIBILITY

1. Japan’s Trains are Becoming More Accessible

The reopening of Japan to groups of international travelers on June 10 provides an opportunity for the country to show off its evolving transit system. Trains and subways, while hailed for their high-speed mobility, have long been perceived as difficult to use for people with physical disabilities, and the government has been working to change that.

2. New Research Shows that Disability Inclusion Creates Long-Term Business Value

Voya Financial, Inc. (NYSE: VOYA), announced today that a research paper released at The 2022 Harkin International Disability Employment Summit shows that companies with an environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategy that fosters competitive, integrated employment for people with disabilities are creating a competitive advantage and positioning themselves to capitalize on a $13-trillion, global disability market.

3. Coming Soon to a Phone Near You: A New Wave of Accessibility Tools

Together, Apple and Google are responsible for the software that powers nearly all of the world’s smartphones. And within the last week, both of them have outlined plans to make that software more useful for users with disabilities.

4. AI Hiring Tools Can Violate Disability Protections, Government Warns

Employers that use artificial intelligence to assess workers and job seekers need to be careful to comply with laws protecting disabled people, two U.S. federal agencies said, expressing skepticism about a technology that many businesses have tapped amid widespread labor shortages.

5. Google Docs Improves Usability for Markdown and Braille Users

Google seems to love little more than constantly bringing new features to its Workplace suite, and Docs is always on the receiving end of that, recently picking up new tools for working with watermarks, summaries, and easily the most important — em dashes. This week we’re checking out two of the latest tweaks, as Docs makes Markdown much more versatile, and introduces some braille improvements to make it easier for the visually impaired to navigate documents.

Editors:

Debangku Sarma

Digital Marketing Associate
Continual Engine

Vijayshree Vethantham

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

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