It’s time for “greater representation for diversity within the emoji universe,” says Apple. The tech giant recently proposed a new line of emoji to the Unicode Consortium. Unicode is one of the computing industry’s standards for the consistent encoding, representation, and handling of text. Working with organizations like American Council of the Blind, the Cerebral Palsy Foundation and the National Association of the Deaf, Apple proposed a total of 13 new emoji, for a total of 45 when including variants for gender and skin tone.
Many workplaces are ill-equipped to provide access for individuals with both physical and mental disabilities,” says this article from CIOReview.com, but now that technology is becoming central to almost every industry, it is easier than ever before for employers to ensure that the technologies they purchase have accessibility features that cater to all employees.
The Canadian government is looking to make digital technology truly accessible. The Accessible Technology Program is a co-funding initiative to encourage the development of new assistive and adaptive digital devices and technologies. Private sector firms, not-for-profits and research institutions can apply for funding.
Digital technologies now touch all aspects of daily life, but not everyone is able to access these technologies. Now a digital hub for technology designers has been launched, to address the challenges of over one billion people facing disability, literacy, digital literacy or aging related barriers to using technology.
Toronto masters student Maayan Ziv wonders every day of her life whether she’ll be able to get where she needs to go that day. Just about everything is online, she explains in this video, but until now, accessibility was a roll of the dice. Getting ready to go out on a Friday night, the twenty-five year old says she could find out how much the beer was going to be that night, and the specials, the ratings and reviews, “but not whether a place is accessible.” Maayan uses a wheelchair due to muscular dystrophy. “I have to ask this every day. This is a problem in my life. There are millions of people who can benefit,” she says. “I have to do this.”
UX or User Experience is the process of designing digital products with a deep understanding of users and their abilities and needs. This short video from UX Mastery is an introduction to accessibility for creators of digital experiences. This video asks developers to think harder about the end user, because everyone is different. “How we move, think, hear and see can vary greatly. Don’t cut someone out just because you aren’t prepared for the way they may react to your creation. And most of all, make it easy. This is what being inclusive is about.”
The Evenbreak Best Practice Portal is a new tool designed to help employers and their employees create inclusive workplaces. The portal covers a variety of subjects such as how to interview a candidate and bring on board new employees with a disability. The advice comes in the form of videos, from leaders who have already pioneered a way through the minefield of barriers and red tape, so employers and their staff do not have to start from scratch and can adapt the advice to their own situation.
There’s an area in Toronto which is becoming the most accessible, especially for people who are blind or visually impaired. The Yonge and St. Clair area of the Canada’s largest city is home to the new hub of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB). The centre’s opening this summer has meant an increase in visitors and new residents to the area who are blind or visually impaired.
The internet’s customer-base has multiplied exponentially since its inception in the 1990s. No one would have predicted how the once luxury item has now become a necessary tool in our homes and workplaces.But, not all websites are built the same. Consequently, not all websites are accessible to people with disabilities. That is why Mark Lacek launched Accessiblity360, the internet-accessibility equivalent of a building inspector.
The latest iPad can be seen as a luxury item for a lot of users. Many people buy them simply to play games or watch movies. However, for some people, these modern digital devices can be used to change the way they live their lives, and they can open up a whole new world which was hitherto impossible for them to reach.
Accessibility Sport Hub (ASH) is a new online app launched by Vancouver-based viaSport in partnership with Microsoft Canada. The ASH app or chatbot helps athletes, teachers, coaches, parents and other interested stakeholders find and share sports resources designed for people with disabilities. The application’s development was partially funded with help from the government of British Columbia, Canada.
Tech giant Microsoft is constantly looking for ways to not only increase its market share, but also do so in ways which enhance the experience of both existing and new customers. The company has revamped its OneNote notetaking application, which was originally targeted at businesses and college students, to accommodate the growing number of elementary and high school students who now use one-to-one devices in the classroom.
There is something special about experiencing a live performance, whether it be a pop concert, an opera, a stage-play or a ballet. But, for people with disabilities, especially those with hearing or vision challenges, these performances have often been inaccessible for them to share the enjoyment. However, due to technology advancements, an increasing numbers of venues now offer a range of complimentary accessibility services to promote more inclusive experiences.
Actiview is a startup aiming to give accessibility to movie-goers by simply opening up an app on their smartphone. Actiview’s vision is the phone could show captions, carry audio, switch to multiple languages and describe scenes. All this could be made possible if the theatres invest in a box which would hook up to their systems and generate a wireless network.
The Discovery Conference is one of Canada’s premier innovation showcases where, for the past 12 years, some of the brightest minds in industry, academia, investment and government come together to display leading-edge technologies, best practices and research in areas of the environment, advanced health, digital media, energy, and communications technologies.
Apple CEO Tim Cook says accessibility is a human right, and everyone should have equal opportunity and access. That’s why he invited three YouTubers to the Apple campus recently to discuss Apple’s role on the subject in honour of Global Accessibility Awareness Day. The young filmmakers each have their own accessibility issue.