October Quarterly Newsletter

Bringing You News On Accessibility And Education

I. UPCOMING EVENTS

1. AHG Conference 2022

Continual Engine is pleased to attend and exhibit at the in-person 25th Annual Accessing Higher Ground: Accessible Media, Web & Technology Conference to be held from November 14 to November 18, 2022. The 25th Annual Conference will take place in Denver, Colorado at the Hilton Denver City Center. The conference provides an excellent opportunity for us to share information about our ground-breaking artificial intelligence-based solution, PREP, which works on making documents accessible with the goal of making higher education content accessible to people with disabilities.

The upcoming Accessing Higher Ground (AHG) Conference focuses on the implementation and benefits of Accessible Media, Universal Design and Assistive Technology in the university, business and public setting, it concentrates on legal and policy issues, including ADA and 508 compliance. The conference sheds light on the creation of accessible media and information resources, including Web pages and library resources.
If you are attending the AHG conference and would like to learn about our accessibility solutions, please email us at contact@continualengine.com to schedule a meeting with our Vice President, Growth & Strategy, Vijayshree (VJ) Vethantham. We look forward to seeing you at the conference.

II. PAST EVENTS

1.

Continual Engine presented at the 13th annual Inclusion in Science, learning a New Direction, Conference on Disability (ISLAND) on the topic, “Using AI to instantly Make STEM Images and Documents Accessible“. The hybrid event was held virtually and in-person at Princeton University on September 17th, 2022.

Since 2010, the Inclusion in Science Learning A New Direction (ISLAND) conference on disability and STEM has provided a forum to address how people with disabilities can be more fully integrated into Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). This is a space for professionals, students, researchers, access technology developers, parents, and service providers to meet and network for this purpose.
The 2022 Island Conference served as a forum for access technology developers, science educators, rehabilitation professionals, and educational researchers to network and share their experiences with how they have promoted the inclusion of persons with disabilities into Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields of study.

Presenters:

  • Vijayshree Vethantham, Vice-President, Growth & Strategy Continual Engine US LLC
  • Rajat Prakash, Product Manager Continual Engine

2.

Continual Engine hosted a webinar on Science Technology Engineering Math (STEM) accessibility with Macmillan Learning’s Rachel Comerford, Senior Director of Accessibility Outreach and Communication on Wednesday October 12 to explore core topics, challenges, and best practices in STEM accessibility.
A skilled accessibility and diversity champion, Rachel comes with the experience of managing teams dedicated to building accessible products, remediating legacy products, and creating personalized accessible experiences.

She is also an integral part of making Macmillan Learning, one of the earliest global accessible publishers certified by Benetech. A leading global education publisher, Macmillan Learning has pioneered a workflow for creating accessible books that conforms to the accessible EPUB creation guidelines based on WCAG 2.0 AA+ standards. All its content, starting in 2019, is ‘born accessible’. A recording of the webinar session is available here.

Presenters:

  • Guest Speaker: Rachel Comerford, Senior Director of Accessibility Outreach and Communication, Macmillan Learning
  • Host: Vijayshree Vethantham, Vice-President, Growth & Strategy Continual Engine US LLC

3.

The Fifth EMPOWER 2022 conference was organized at the IIT Madras Research Park, Chennai from October 13 to 15, 2022. A valuable event, this conference equipped us with meaningful insights and inputs from multiple speakers and participants aligned with Continual Engine’s mission to bring exponential time and cost savings to accessibility and learning through our (AI)-driven tools, PREP and Invicta™.

The conference is an annual technical event, organized with the objective of bringing together all stakeholders in the assistive technology sector, which includes researchers, user organizations, industries, and policymakers. The participants are engaged with the issues involved in the creation, production, and dissemination of assistive technology solutions. EMPOWER provides opportunities for discussions around current solutions and also seeds ideas for research.
We at Continual Engine have showcased our proprietary artificial intelligence (AI) – powered tools, PREP and Invicta™, that can help you with document and image accessibility more easily and efficiently. It was an opportunity for us to connect with like-minded people and curious minds that were so much interested in finding solutions for challenges in STEM accessibility.
If you’d like to learn more about PREP and Invicta™ and their ability to accelerate accessibility, please contact us at contact@continualengine.com.

III. NEWS ARTICLES ON ACCESSIBILITY

1. Bad News And Good News People With Disabilities Need To Hear Today

If you spend any time at all browsing disability-related writing and other content, you may eventually find yourself asking a basic question. What’s more important for disabled people to hear about — bad news or good?

2. Federal Appeals Court says Americans with Disabilities Act Protections cover ‘Gender Dysphoria,’ Handing a Win to Trans People

A federal appeals court said Tuesday that the Americans with Disabilities Act covers individuals with “gender dysphoria,” handing a win to trans people in a case concerning a former inmate who alleged discrimination at a Virginia prison.

3. Why Web Accessibility Compliance is A Game-Changer

Think of the web as a big public library that is open to every member of the community. Anyone should be able to easily and freely walk in. Some visitors may use the stairs; others may need alternative means of entry like an access ramp. If access ramps are available, then more people can enter the library. The more accessible the library, the more likely people will return, share their experiences and bring others too. In the same way, web accessibility is the access ramp to the Internet.

4. NSW’s Rejection of Basic Accessible Home Standards ‘Salt In The Wound’ for People with Disabilities

The New South Wales government’s refusal to enforce basic accessibility standards for new homes is “salt in the wound” for people with disabilities and will force more than 1 million Australians to continue living in ill-suited dwellings, advocates say.

5. Accessing the Digital World With a Visual Disability

Blindness is a spectrum and can affect people in a variety of ways. A visual disability cannot be corrected with contacts, glasses or surgery. For me, my visual disability is caused by genetics, which cannot be fixed.

6. What's New in Digital Equity: Lawmakers Urge Action on Accessibility

Thirty-two House Democrats have come together to request in a letter that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) address digital accessibility issues by making regulations and other administrative actions well known.

7. Federal Govt To Invest In Assistive Technology For Persons With Disabilities

Minister of Science, Technology, and Innovation Dr. Adeleke Olorunnimbe Mamora has said that the federal government will invest in assistive devices to help people living with disabilities to function well, stressing that disability in any form should not be a reason for discrimination.

8. Testing Your Website’s Accessibility Is A Must for 2023

With the recent Department of Justice affirmation that websites are considered places of public accommodations and must be accessible for people with disabilities, it’s clear that web accessibility is going to be a big issue in the coming year as businesses scramble to adhere to the law.

9. How Website Accessibility Impacts User Experience

Many businesses have created their website for communication, marketing, and sales purposes. It’s an excellent way to expand their customer reach quickly through helpful and engaging content.

10. Optimizing The Online Experience for Disabilities Improves It for All Customers

What if I told you there’s a huge, under-served consumer group that you can market to in such a way that it will improve all your marketing? Bet you’d be pretty interested. Good news: There is. And, if that’s not incentive enough, failing to address their needs could get you sued under a major federal law.

11. Looking Ahead: What Has The Pandemic Taught Us About Online Access?

During the first few months of 2020, while the world entered a period of uncertainty and restrictions on public spaces and traditional face-to-face interactions became unfeasible, the online world became more crowded and prosperous. Access to goods and services such as banking, shopping and education all took place remotely, and digital became the new normal rather than an option. While the world became aware of how much easier it is to perform tasks, many users who have additional access requirements were already open to the benefits of online access.

12. Marketers Doing More To Reach Consumers With Disabilities, But Barriers Remain: Study

According to the CDC, one in four American adults live with a physical or mental disability. Yet software review company Capterra’s new Accessible Marketing Survey shows that accessibility barriers often exclude these folks from digital marketing messages.

13. Email Is Challenged In Serving Those With Disabilities

Social media is the most difficult platform for serving consumers with disabilities, according to Capterra. But email is second, according to the firm’s 2022 Accessible Marketing survey.

14. How Live Music is Improving Accessibility for Fans

Live music is an experience like no other. The feel-good factor of seeing your favourite artists live is hard to beat, but for some, it can also be hard to access.

15. Significant Unruh Act and ADA Website Accessibility Ruling from The California Court of Appeal

In a significant August 2022 ruling, the California Court of Appeal narrowed the reach of Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Unruh Civil Rights Act (Unruh) as they apply to online-only businesses.

16. Pandemic-Accelerated Retail Accessibility Barriers Addressed in New Guidebook: Accessibility Amid a Changing Retail Landscape

Retail Council of Canada (RCC) is excited to announce the launch of their new Accessibility Amid a Changing Retail Landscape guidebook. This free 28-page guidebook, available in French and English, made possible through the generous support of the Ontario Government’s Ministry of Seniors and Accessibility, offers retailers critical information, insights, and suggestions to help create and maintain accessible digital and physical stores.

17. Why Every University Needs an Accessible Standard Website Template

For the millions of college students who use assistive technology to interact with digital content, academic success depends on web accessibility. Accessible design, however, is complex. Website errors often include poor text contrast, missing alternative text for images, inaccurately formatted heading structure, confusing form controls, and improper labeling of buttons, links, and captions. Inaccessibility sets up barriers to understanding and deprives disabled students of equal access to learning.

18. The Department of Justice Announces That It Intends to Publish Regulations Related To Website Accessibility

The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced earlier this month that it will begin the rulemaking process related to “Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability: Accessibility of Web Information and Services of State and Local Governments.”

19. Why Web Accessibility Should Be Taught In Computer Science Courses And How You Can Help

Web developers are gatekeepers of the virtual ecosystem. They build a great share of the digital landscape, providing a centralized location for users to interact, purchase goods and services and perform even the simplest of daily tasks. Due to this sustainable and impactful status, web developers are key players in fostering much-needed change within the internet realm. They have the capability and drive to create an internet that’s inclusive for all.

IV: LATEST ADVANCEMENTS IN ACCESSIBILITY

1. The Accessibility And Affordability Of The Metaverse In Education Right Now

Mark Zuckerberg kicked off a gold rush to the metaverse last year with companies revealing their visions of shared, immersive, lifelike, three-dimensional digital worlds. Aspirational videos tease expectations that may not be realized for many years.

2. New Futuristic ‘Smart Suite’ Places UM at Forefront of Innovative Research And Learning

A new high-tech “smart suite” model apartment, developed by the College of Rehabilitation Sciences, opened Sept. 14 at Health Sciences Centre (HSC). Equipped with user-friendly assistive technology and flexible equipment, the suite will help educate and train students to enhance autonomy and well-being for older adults and individuals with disabilities.

3. Assistive Technology (AT) Software Provider RealThing Ai and 5th Gear Marketing Announce Exciting New Engagement

Innovative tech brand RealThing Ai, has engaged with marketing powerhouse 5th Gear Marketing. The team aims to bring the success the brand has achieved in the UK and Australia to the US market with the launch of its flagship smartphone, RealSAM Pocket.

4. Microsoft Launches Call for Low-Cost Assistive Tech Innovations to Advance Access in Low-Income Countries

The Microsoft AI for Accessibility programme is calling for project proposals that advance equitable access to assistive technology in low- and middle-income countries, with the option to incorporate AI.

5. With New Updates, Slack Commits To Making The Digital Workplace ‘More Accessible And Equitable’

Earlier this month, Slack, maker of the ever-popular eponymous corporate communicative tool, published a blog post in which the Salesforce-owned company touted a new software update promising to make the app more accessible—and thereby more inclusive—to disabled people everywhere.

6. PSVR 2 Advanced Accessibility Feature Shown in New Patent

Audiences got their first look at the PSVR 2 back in January of this year during Sony’s conference at CES. Its list of upgrades when compared to the original VR headset was staggering, including an HDR OLED display with 2000 x 2040 pixels per eye, allowing players to enjoy a field-of-view of 110 degrees. Setting up a camera at just the right angle will no longer be necessary, as the new hardware will feature four cameras on the headset itself that will track a user’s space without an external device. Of course, the headsets will also track a player’s eye movements.

Editors:

Debangku Sarma

Digital Marketing Associate
Continual Engine

Vijayshree Vethantham

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

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