In March 2019 IKEA was praised for partnering with nonprofits to develop accessories that make its products more accessible for people with impairments. It’s a novel step forward but I can’t shake the feeling we need to reframe the conversation on accessibility in technology entirely. Accessibility should be a topic at the forefront of design. Here’s why:
Roughly one in five people in the US have registered with a disability, with a similar figure for the UK. But when creating new products or services, investing resources to make technology accessible for impaired users can seem like taking the scenic route to market. An expensive deviation from a lean go to market strategy.
It’s easy to toss accessibility considerations in the ‘nice to have’ bucket. ‘Accessibility as an afterthought’ is a frustration I’ve heard on repeat for the last decade. But to do this is to abandon a unique opportunity to unlock true innovation and realize a much bolder ambition.
The traits separating tasks that AI excels at, and those that remain distinctly human, are consistently cited as creativity, empathy, imagination, and vision. Indeed the Gospel of Jobs clearly states: “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” So before we hand over the reins to AI, why don’t we focus on perfecting the human side of technology solutions.
If you’ve even dabbled in brainstorming techniques — or the hyper-trendy ‘design thinking’ — you’ll be familiar with the art of reframing a problem to see new solutions. What better way to do this than looking at new tech through the lens of our senses, with varying degrees of physical or sensory ability?
Thinking about impairments of sight, hearing, or touch from the outset forces designers, creators, and technologists to ‘look at’ problems from very different perspectives, and that brings opportunity for untold and exciting innovation.
Access Board to Hold Town Hall Meeting and Training in Indianapolis on May 21
The Access Board will hold a town hall meeting in Indianapolis on the afternoon of May 21 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The event will provide an open forum where members of the public can pose questions to the Board or share comments or concerns about accessibility for people with disabilities. There also will be panel discussions with area speakers on accessible recreation and outdoor environments, the Indiana AgrAbility Project, and local compliance initiatives under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The event will take place in the Pacers Square Room at Bankers Life Fieldhouse from 2:00 pm to 4:30 pm. Registration is not required. An assistive listening system, computer assisted real-time transcription (CART), and sign language interpreters will be available. Attendees are requested to refrain from using perfume, cologne, and other fragrances for the comfort of all participants. The meeting will not be streamed online, but there will be a call-in option and streaming CART.
Earlier in the day, the Board will also offer free training sessions on the ADA Accessibility Standards at the town hall site. There will be a program on how to apply the standards and common sources of confusion (9:00 am – 10:30 am). This will be followed by a session on recreation facilities and outdoor sites (10:45 am – 12:15 pm). Advance registration is not required, and participants can attend either or both sessions. Qualified attendees can earn continuing education credits (1.5 per session) from the American Institute of Architects.
For further information, contact Dave Yanchulis at [email protected], (202) 272–0026 (v), or (202) 272–0027 (TTY).
U.S. Access Board Training and Town Hall Meeting, May 21 Pacers Square at Bankers Life Fieldhouse 125 S. Pennsylvania Street, Indianapolis, IN
Training Session on the ADA Accessibility Standards (free) • 8:00 – 9:00 Registration & Welcome • 9:00 – 10:30 Application of the Standards & Common Sources of Confusion • 10:30 – 10:45 Break • 10:45 – 12:15 Recreation Facilities & Outdoor Sites
Town Hall Meeting • 2:00 – 2:15 Opening Remarks • 2:15 – 3:30 Panel Discussions • 3:30 – 4:30 Overview of the Access Board & Open Forum
At its March meeting, the Board unanimously elected Board Member Karen Tamley as its new Chair. Tamley just completed a term as Vice Chair of the Board and has served as the Commissioner of the Chicago Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities since 2005.
“I am honored to serve as the Chair of such a dedicated agency that is a true force for change and that has done so much to advance accessibility both in the U.S. and abroad,” she stated after the vote. “I look forward to working with Board members and staff in the year ahead.”
Tamley joined the Board in 2015 as a public member. As head of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, she leads numerous disability policy and compliance initiatives in transportation, city infrastructure, emergency preparedness, housing, schools and technology, and other areas. She also oversees the delivery of independent living services to city residents.
She succeeds Lance Robertson who represents the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on the Board and who was named Vice Chair by acclamation. He serves as Assistant Secretary for Aging at HHS and heads its Administration for Community Living and previously was Director of Aging Services at the Oklahoma Department of Human Services.
Board officers serve for a term of one year. The Board is structured to function as a coordinating body among Federal agencies and to directly represent the public, particularly people with disabilities. Half of its members are representatives from most of the Federal departments. The other half is comprised of members of the public appointed by the President.
Ensuring that public streets and sidewalks are accessible to people with disabilities can be a challenge, especially since accessibility guidelines for public rights-of-way have yet to be finalized. The next webinar in the Board’s free monthly series will take place June 6 from 2:30 – 4:00 (ET) and will be devoted to answering the various questions that come up in addressing access to sidewalks and street crossings, pedestrian signals, on-street parking, roundabouts, transit stops and other components of public rights-of-way as well as shared use paths. Board Accessibility Specialists will answer questions submitted in advance or during the live webinar and offer guidance, solutions, and best practices based on guidelines the Board proposed for public rights-of-way. Attendees are encouraged to submit their questions in advance.
Visit www.accessibilityonline.org for more information or to register for the webinar. Webinar attendees can earn continuing education credits. The webinar series is hosted by the ADA National Network in cooperation with the Board. Archived copies of previous Board webinars are available on the site.
Section 508 Best Practices Webinar The Board also offers a free webinar series on its Section 508 Standards for ICT in the federal sector. The next webinar in this series will be held May 28 from 1:00 to 2:30 (ET) and will review the Trusted Tester for Web and highlight significant updates. Developed by Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Office of Accessible Systems and Technology in coordination with other agencies, the Trusted Tester Process provides a scalable, repeatable, accurate process for evaluating web and software products for conformance with the 508 Standards.
Representatives from the Board and DHS will review the latest edition (Version 5) which supports the revised Section 508 Standards and the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (2.0). Trusted Tester 5.0 improves the format, flow, and construction of the evaluation process and test conditions. Presenters will discuss the new testing tool, the Accessible Name and Description Inspector (ANDI), and how it aids testers with code inspection-based testing. They will also cover the availability of DHS online training and certification. Questions can be submitted in advance of the session or can be posed during the webinar.
Visit the webinar site for further information or to register. The Section 508 Best Practices Webinar Series is made available by the Accessibility Community of Practice of the CIO Council in partnership with the Board. Prior webinars can be accessed on the site.
Poland Creates Entity Modeled after the U.S. Access Board
The Polish government has established an agency to promote accessibility that is modeled after the U.S. Access Board. Created in December, the Accessibility Council is responsible for reviewing laws and regulations and making recommendations to the government on implementing a sweeping new law to advance accessibility nationwide. The Council is comprised of 50 members representing ministries and government bodies, disability groups, and academia and meets quarterly. The Council will play a lead role in implementing the Accessibility Plus Program, an new measure that aims to make Poland a leader in accessibility by eliminating barriers in architecture, transportation, education, health care, digital and other services.
Poland’s Minister of Investment and Development Jerzy Kwieciński, who heads the Accessibility Council, credits the work of the U.S. Access Board and a speaking tour by Board Executive Director David Capozzi as the inspiration for the new entity. At the Council’s inaugural meeting in February, he recognized the Access Board’s influence and stated, “I believe that now Poland will become a model for other countries.” He supports a study tour of the U.S. for Council staff, including further consultations with the Board.
Capozzi travelled throughout Poland in 2017 as part of State Department’s speaker program to share the American experience in ensuring accessibility for people with various disabilities. During his weeklong stay in Warsaw, Gdynia, Gdańsk, and Kraków, he met with national and local authorities, advocacy groups, and other representatives, some of whom were instrumental in creating the Council. Capozzi discussed achievements and challenges of ensuring accessibility in the U.S. and shared lessons learned. He participated in dialogues on different aspects of accessibility, including the built environment, information and communication technology, employment, enforcement, and the important role standards play, among other topics.
“It was an honor to travel to Poland on behalf of the State Department and our embassy to meet with those leading the effort to make the country a model for accessibility,” states Capozzi. “The Board looks forward to learning more about their efforts and achievements and exploring how we can further advance accessibility in both our countries.”
In Warsaw, Board Executive Director David Capozzi (right) met with Senate Member Jan Filip Libicki and others.
Legislation was recently introduced in Congress to supplement the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) which prohibits discrimination in air transportation. Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) and Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) submitted bills in the House (H. R. 1549) and Senate (S. 669) to amend the ACAA to further improve access at airports and on aircraft. The bills would create accessibility standards for new airplanes, require removal of barriers on existing airplanes where readily achievable, strengthen enforcement mechanisms, including establishment of a private right of action and enhance safety.
Under these measures, the Access Board would be responsible for issuing standards for aircraft and equipment for boarding and deplaning, including seating accommodations, lavatories, stowage of assistive devices, announcements, and in-flight entertainment and video displays. The standards also would address airports, including ticketing counters, gates, customer service desks, audible announcements, kiosks, and websites. The bills were referred to the appropriate House and Senate committees for consideration.
In addition, under a law passed last year, the Department of Transportation (DOT) began reporting data on the number of passenger wheelchairs and scooters that are damaged or mishandled by airlines on a monthly basis. A total of 701 (2.18%) wheelchairs and scooters were damaged last December, an average of more than 25 a day, as reported in DOT’s monthly Air Travel Consumer Report (February issue). The total for January was 681 (2.06%) and for February was 593 (1.7%).
In a statement, Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), who authored the law said, “Every airline passenger deserves to be treated with dignity and respect, but too often they aren’t. Travelers should be able to find out if certain airlines have high rates of breaking wheelchairs and other equipment that people depend on, just like we can find out if certain airlines have high rates of flight delays or cancellations.”
Further information on this reporting is posted on DOT’s website.
Guidelines for Voting Systems Available for Public Comment
Federal guidelines for voting systems implemented under the Help America Vote Act are currently available for public comment. Issued by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), the Voluntary Voting System Guidelines (VVSG) provide principles and criteria for assessing the basic functionality, accessibility, and security of voting equipment.
The EAC released the document, referred to as VVSG 2.0, on February 28 for a 90-day comment period, as indicated in a notice published in the Federal Register. The VVSG 2.0 updates guidelines first issued in 2005 and revised in 2015 and features a new streamlined structure comprised of high-level system design goals with broad descriptions of the functions that make up voting systems. The proposal also includes moving technical requirements and test assertions to separate documents that detail how voting systems can meet the new Principles and Guidelines in order to obtain certification. Those requirements and test assertions will be made available for public comment at a later date. The EAC seeks comments on all sections of the Principles and Guidelines including the proposed restructuring. Comments are due May 29.
For further information, visit the EAC’s website or contact Ryan Macias at (301) 563-3931 or [email protected].
Updated VPAT Now Available from the IT Industry Council
The Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) maintains a free reporting tool known as the Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT) to help determine whether information and communication technology products and services satisfy accessibility requirements, including the Section 508 Standards. ITI recently released revised editions of the VPAT (2.3) based on the Board’s revised 508 Standards (VPAT 2.3 508), including the referenced Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0). It also offers VPATs for WCAG 2.1 (VPAT 2.3 WCAG), the European Union’s ICT requirements (VPAT 2.3 EU), and another based on all three (VPAT 2.3 INT).
2017 FDIC National Survey of Unbanked and Underbanked Households
The FDIC is committed to expanding Americans’ access to safe, secure, and affordable banking services. The FDIC National Survey of Unbanked and Underbanked Households is one contribution to this end.
To assess the inclusiveness of the banking system, and in partial response to a statutory mandate, the FDIC has conducted the survey biennially since 2009.1 The most recent survey was administered in June 2017 in partnership with the U.S. Census Bureau, collecting responses from more than 35,000 households. The survey provides estimates of the proportion of U.S. households that do not have an account at an insured institution, and the proportion that have an account but obtained (nonbank) alternative financial services in the past 12 months. The survey also provides insights that may inform efforts to better meet the needs of these consumers within the banking system.
Estimates from the 2017 survey indicate that 6.5 percent of households in the United States were unbanked in 2017. This proportion represents approximately 8.4 million households. Some other estimates put that number as high as 50 million. An additional 18.7 percent of U.S. households (24.2 million) were underbanked, meaning that the household had a checking or savings account but also obtained financial products and services outside of the banking system.
The 2017 survey examines a number of additional topics, including the methods that banked households used to access accounts, bank branch visits, use of prepaid cards, use of alternative financial services, saving for unexpected expenses or emergencies, use of credit, and the methods that households used to conduct financial transactions in a typical month.
See economicinclusion.gov for survey findings, the ability to generate custom tables and charts using 2017 and earlier years of survey data, and data downloads and documentation.
The 2017 survey report, executive summary, and other related materials are linked below. (All items are PDF files. See PDF Help for assistance.)
The boutique Avanti Hotel is known for its poolside, dog-friendly rooms. Yet its website uses the valuable opening page not to highlight the Palm Springs inn’s amenities, but to explain, in stark black letters on a plain white background, that the Avanti violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Like thousands of other businesses in the United States, the 10-room hotel on East Stevens Road has been sued because it hasn’t fully complied with the 1990 law that requires public places — hotels, restaurants and shops — to be accessible to people with disabilities.
In 2010, the Justice Department began to draft formal regulations for websites to meet ADA goals. But last December, the agency announced it was withdrawing its “rulemaking process,” at a time when the Trump administration was calling for a rollback of federal regulations.
The department said it was killing the regulations because it was “evaluating whether promulgating regulations about the accessibility of web information and services is necessary and appropriate.”
In a June 20 letter, 103 members of Congress — Republicans and Democrats — urged then-Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions to adopt website regulations, saying the absence of such regulations “only fuels the proliferations of these suits.”
Lawyers who defend ADA lawsuits say the Justice Department’s actions to pull the plug on adopting new regulations may have instigated the latest surge in lawsuits.
Business owners who are sued under the ADA complain that the law allows plaintiffs to demand huge payouts in damages without first giving the business owner the opportunity to fix the websites.
Read full article as originally published on LA Times
A new breed of accessibility apps can make life easier for people with disabilities. They can also make it harder.
A group gathers on a Nashville street corner, some rolling in wheelchairs and others walking. They have arrived holding their smartphones and make friendly chatter while a coordinator helps them log in to an app. Dispersing in small groups, they examine restaurants, cafes, and shops, looking for features signaling that disability is welcome there: a parking sign with the International Symbol of Access, a wheelchair ramp, an automatic front door, a wide bathroom stall with grab bars, braille text, low-flicker lighting, glare-free floors, scent-free soap. The groups use the app to document and rate these features. Once submitted, the information accumulates in a database that others can use to find accessible locations.
But even if all these problems were solved, digital-accessibility apps still pose one final threat to disability advocacy in urban environments. Apps can make cities more navigable, but they do not change the material features of that environment. Most of the time, they record the current conditions in the built environment rather than advocate for better ones. Before apps came on the scene, disability activists used mapping to catalog injustices and to imagine alternative futures: new environments in which accessibility was the norm, rather than the exception. Contemporary projects should incorporate that lesson, too. By incorporating knowledge from broad groups of people with disabilities, digital mapping could do more than just record the world as it is today. It could also drive political, design, and policy improvements. After all, to deserve the name, a smart city ought to be a better city, not just a more technological one.
Kiosk Manufacturer Association with ADA, NRF, and Emergency Kiosk updates
EASTLAKE, Colo., Oct. 8, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — The Kiosk Manufacturer Association (aka KMA) is pleased to announce the appointments of inaugural Chairpersons for the ADA and Accessibility Committee.
Laura Miller of KioWare (https://kioware.com) and Randy Amundson of Frank Mayer, Inc. (https://frankmayer.com) have been named as Co-Chairperson for the ADA and Accessibility Committee. Both Laura and Randy have extensive experience in both software and hardware aspects of self-service technology and how assistive technology best serves the public.
The Kiosk ADA and Accessibility Committee includes:
As of 2015, according to U.S. Census surveys, over 12% of all persons in the United States have some type of disability and that number is growing.
To help address disabilities and the ADA regulations, the KMA has recently released a proposed framework for Voice Recognition and Speech Command. Working with the U.S. Access Board directly, the KMA is hopeful that a proposed Code-of-Practice can be adopted for this type of assistive technology. Public comment and working group participation is encouraged and only requires expertise and experience.
This is intended for global adoption with much of the input by the UK’s Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB).
In another related public service, the KMA recently released a white paper describing emergency alert and detection technologies for public terminals for use in education, government, retail, transportation, hospitality and entertainment segments. Smart City and smart transportation are target markets. Mission critical public safety tools are the proposed end solution.
The purpose of the document is to define how Wayfinding Technology, Digital Signage and Kiosks can be networked and used to detect and/or prevent active shooter and mass casualty attacks and expedite the response of Law Enforcement and Emergency Services First Responders to catastrophic events in large public venues. We focus on several of the most respected technology providers in the industry and how they would each play a critical role as foundational partners to bring a combined solution to market.
The KMA has joined as a member of the National Retail Federation in order to help communicate education and issues on self-service kiosk technology. The most public iteration of this technology is in the QSR or Fast Casual segment where companies such as McDonalds and Wendy’s have chosen to adopt in order to serve all of their customers as they wish to be served.
In January 2019 in New York, the KMA will be exhibiting on the main floor of NRF’s Big Show and will be accepting members from providers to deployers. An Advisory Panel of companies deploying self-service which can provide their unique perspective on all of the above issues is the objective.
Kiosk Hall of Fame – we are now taking nominations for hall of fame candidates. Marsha Mazz of U.S. Access Board, John Glitsos of FirstWave and Dave Heyliger of Rocky Mountain Multimedia are the initial candidates. See https://kioskindustry.org/kiosk-about/kiosk-hall-fame/
“Satellite” websites include RetailSystems.org, Selfservice.io and ThinClient.org. We are hosted at Rackspace, the premier hosting solution (especially during Prime Day). Last month we had 35,000 unique visitors, last 30 days Cloudflare humans = 28,500 Join our LinkedIn Group with over 1600 members.
The Use of Voice Recognition and Speech Command Technology as an Assistive Interface for ICT in Public Spaces.
A whitepaper published by Peter W Jarvis (Senior Executive VP, Storm Interface) and Nicky Shaw (Operations Manager North America).
The emergence and increasing use of smart speakers (AI) in the home environment has delivered significant benefits for those with mobility, sensory, cognitive or dexterity impairment. For millions of disabled people voice recognition and speech command technology, allied with audible confirmation and presentation of requested information, permits more informed decision making and personal control of their immediate environment.
This improved access to information and control opens a new world of communication, entertainment, education and opportunity for those who are unable to see, read or interact with content presented on a display screen and for those who lack the mobility or dexterity to manipulate tactile system interface devices (such as keyboards, trackballs or touch screens etc.). Speech Command Technology creates significant new opportunities for independent living.
This improved accessibility also creates unique challenges for system designers, legislating authorities and those concerned about privacy and misuse of personal data. As Voice Recognition and Speech Command technology moves beyond the domestic environment into public spaces and the urban infrastructure we will need new guidelines to increase public awareness and new regulation to protect the general population against the misuse of recorded information.
This whitepaper explores the implementation and integration of Speech Command technology within ICT kiosks and self-service applications. It is intended to provide a framework for a proposed Code-of-Practice. This CoP to be drafted for public consultation and possible adoption by the Kiosk Manufacturer Association (KMA) as an addendum to its Accessibility Guidelines.
To illustrate certain devices or technologies there are some references in this document to products manufactured by Storm Interface. These are intended as exemplars only. Other brands and products are available.
1. Who’s Listening
1.1 When a private citizen purchases a connected smart speaker device for home use, he/she makes an informed decision to install that device into their home environment. Before connecting their new device to the manufacturer’s cloud-based AI applications new customers are required to agree and accept many terms and conditions of service. By doing so they make a decision to accept a listening device into their home; albeit with an option to mute that device or switch it off at any time. The customer knows where the device is located, what its connected status is and how to switch it off.
1.2 However, to overcome the latency (delay) inherent in delivering cloud-based AI services to a device that has just been switched on, these devices (by default) usually remain in a powered and connected configuration. Amazon have referred to this default configuration as “Always on, always ready”. This configuration is sometimes referred to by more cynical commentators as “Always on, always listening”. The device needs to be configured in this way to operate as an effective ‘hands free’ Voice Recognition and Speech Commanded information system.
2. In a Public Environment.
2.1 Speech Command and Voice Recognition technology will provide an effective and valuable improvement in accessibility to public ICT systems. Applications such as public transport ticketing and airline check-in terminals would be typical examples.
2.2 As part of a multi-modal approach to accessibility, Speech Command will provide an additional option for those with disabilities (and those without) to confirm their biometric identity and to interface with the kiosk’s application software. The kiosk user will be able to choose from a combination of tactile, audible or visual interface devices to best meet their specific accessibility needs.
2.3 However, it will be essential that all kiosk users and those members of the public in proximity to the kiosk be made aware that the terminal includes Voice Recognition and/or Speech Command technology and that the Speech Command facility is “on and listening”. This awareness is essential for two reasons:
2.3.1 To inform the kiosk user that Speech Command / Voice Recognition technology is available for their use and convenience.
2.3.2 To warn members of the public (in proximity) that their conversations may/will be picked up by the Speech Command / Voice Recognition facility and may be transmitted to a remote server for analysis, processing and possible retention.
2.4 This awareness must be provided for members of the public who are sighted, partially sighted, non-sighted or hearing impaired.
3. A Universal Symbol
3.1 It is proposed that a universally recognized symbol for Speech Command functionality be adopted by the Kiosk and Self Service industry.
3.2 The symbol’s purpose is to indicate the presence of Voice Recognition or Speech Command technology.
3.3 Storm Interface have designed a high contrast, highly visible and tactilely discernible symbol that can be easily applied to the kiosk. During the development of this logo, Storm Interface worked closely with the UK’s Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB). Feedback received from the RNIB has influenced the logo design. This to aid recognition and ease of use, and to ensure that all contours and edges are rounded to make it comfortable to the touch.
3.4 As with any new logo, but in particular tactile logos, people will need to learn its meaning. This highlights the importance of introducing a standard logo which can be used across all kiosks and sectors to ensure that blind people need only learn one symbol.
3.5 When Voice Recognition or Speech Commanded services are activated the symbol will be illuminated with bright white LEDs.
3.6 The applied symbol should be positioned such that it can be easily seen or tactilely located as a user approaches or addresses the kiosk.
3.7 When the kiosk is in home screen or screen saver mode, with no detected user activity, an audible signal or statement to indicate the presence of an activated Voice Recognition or Speech Command facility should be played periodically. Alternatively, a proximity sensing device could be used to un-mute a VR or SC device only when a kiosk user approaches the kiosk interface zone.
3.7.1 Similar audible indicators of a functioning Voice Recognition or Speech Command technology should also be given when such a facility is activated (switched on or un-muted) after a period of non-functionality.
3.8 A proposed specification for the symbol is reproduced below. Storm Interface and the RNIB propose to make this symbol available as a “free-to-use” graphic device. Storm Interface propose to offer a physical, manufactured version of the graphic device, in the form of an illuminated tile, for sale to and use by kiosk manufacturers, specifiers or operators.
Figure 1: Images courtesy of Keymat Technology Ltd. All rights recognized.
4.1.1 Kiosks that offer Speech Command or Voice Recognition technology must support and provide the means for voice input.
4.1.2 This should be by provision of a suitable standard connection point for an audio headset or ear piece (equipped with its own microphone) and by provision of a suitable microphone (or microphone array) permanently installed as a fixture of the kiosk.
4.1.3 In many public kiosk locations or applications it will be necessary to employ advanced noise cancelling and beam focusing technology to enable effective operation of the Speech Command or Voice Recognition technology.
4.1.4 Connection of a headset or assistive hearing device (equipped with its own integrated microphone) should be detected by the host kiosk and the functionality of any permanently installed microphone (or microphone array) should be automatically adjusted to accommodate and allow correct functioning of the headset or hearing aid device
4.1.5 To facilitate reliable and continued functionality, provision and installation of audio device connection points and/or permanently installed microphone devices should accommodate requirements for regular sanitation (wash-down) procedures and should resist the hard use and abuse associated with ICT installations in public spaces. As a minimum requirement, water and dust resistance in accordance with IP54 (or equivalent) should be achieved. A minimum impact resistance of 10J should be achieved.
Figure 2. Beam array microphone for outdoor or unsupervised public environments. Other brands and products are available.
4.2.1 Kiosks that offer Speech Command or Voice Recognition technology must support and provide the means for audible reproduction of sound or speech.
4.2.2 This should be by provision of a suitable connection point for an audio headset or earpiece and by provision of a suitable amplified speaker system permanently installed as a fixture of the kiosk.
4.2.3 In many public kiosk locations or applications it will be necessary to employ sound directing or sound focusing technology to prevent noise pollution or irritation to those in the local vicinity of the kiosk.
4.2.4 Connection of a headset or assistive hearing device (equipped with its own integrated speakers) should be detected by the host kiosk and the functionality of any permanently installed amplified speakers should be automatically adjusted to accommodate and allow correct functioning of the headset or hearing aid device.
4.2.5 Tactile discernable sound volume controls must be easily accessible to those using assistive headsets, earpieces or hearing aid devices. Tactile sound volume controls should be accessible and functioning throughout the kiosk user session. Wherever possible tactile discernible controls should be suitably shaped to enable function with headsticks or assistive easy grip styli.
Figure 3. Tactile discernable sound volume controls must be easily accessible to those using assistive headsets, earpieces or hearing aid devices and those using headsticks or easy-grip styli.
4.2.6 To facilitate reliable and continued functionality, provision and installation of audio device connection points and/or permanently installed amplified speakers should accommodate requirements for regular sanitation (wash-down) procedures and should resist the hard use and abuse associated with ICT installations in public spaces. A minimum requirement for water and dust resistance in accordance with IP54 (or equivalent) should be achieved. A minimum impact resistance of 10J should be achieved.
4.3 Wireless Devices
4.3.1 For those kiosk users who prefer to use wireless headsets, earbuds or implants in preference to wired devices with a cable and jack-plug connector, it should be possible to connect a personal wireless transponder (powered by a button cell battery) into the jack-plug socket. These personal devices provide encrypted communication between the transponder and a paired personal headset. The transponder would be removed and retained by the kiosk user when the kiosk session is completed.
Figure 4: Compact wireless transponder. These devices can be paired with a wireless headset or earpiece to provide a private listening capability. The transponder can be plugged directly in to the kiosk’s audio jack socket. Other brands and types of transponder are available.
The emergence of Voice Recognition as a means of biometric confirmation of identity, coinciding with the profound impact of AI on speech commanded ICT, will drive adoption of speech command technology in public spaces and applications. Whereas this presents many challenges and risks to privacy and protection of personal data, it will lead to a new era of equality in access to information, freedom and independence for those with disabilities. It will be necessary for accessibility mandates, regulation and standards to be adapted in support of this revolutionary change in the way humans interface with the digital world. Speech Command Technology creates significant new opportunities for independent living.
Over the past year, the number of website disability access lawsuits has surged across all industries, but the problem is particularly intense in the food service industry and QSR sector suits are well represented. In short, being in this business today means knowing the law and its requirements when it comes to website accessibility, lest you leave your brand highly susceptible to a court case.
First off, understand that website disability access lawsuits or web access lawsuits allege that a consumer-facing website is discriminatory because it contains certain barriers that prevent access to individuals with visual, auditory or other disabilities. This type of action is brought under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), as well as under the stipulations of any state’s non-discrimination laws, like the Unruh Civil Rights Act in California.
The costs associated with these lawsuits can be significant, as plaintiffs seek legal remedies that will bring inaccessible sites into compliance, along with any number of attorneys’ fees. Additionally, certain state non-discrimination laws — like the Unruh Act — also add minimum statutory penalties.
NEW to KioWare for Android – Support Added for Storm Assistive Technology Products
“Accessibility should be a strong consideration for any kiosk deployment. With this release, both KioWare for Windows and KioWare for Android support the heavily tested and well-respected Storm ATP suite of keypads, keyboards & other accessibility products.” ~ Laura Miller of KioWare.
KioWare has released a new version of KioWare for Android kiosk software supporting Storm Assistive Technology Products such as the Nav-Pad, Nav-Bar and AudioNav. KioWare kiosk software products lock down your device into kiosk mode, turning your tablet into a secure kiosk or purposed device for self-service, digital signage, or mobile device management deployments.
Kiosk Accessibility Made Easy
Version 3.16 of KioWare Basic & KioWare Full for Android now includes support for Storm’s ATP devices. These ADA compliant devices allow users with impaired vision, reading difficulties or impaired fine motor skills to navigate through menus or directories that would typically be presented on a visual display or touch screen. They are designed to provide a tactile/audio interface for any accessible self-service application. Devices supported include the Nav-Pad, Nav-Bar and AudioNav. KioWare for Android offers out of the box compatibility for those that want to make their Android self-service or purposed device experience accessible. Prior to this integration, devices running the Android OS were quite limited in their ability to provide an accessible self-service solution.
Additional New Features and Improvements
KioWare for Android 3.16 has also added features to improve the ability to provision Android devices. Android devices may now be provisioned via a USB storage device. Provisioning support has also been added for running shell scripts.
Secure File Browser
A secure file browser has been added to allow users to open a file browser and select a file to upload. With new security features, users can be restricted to browse only allowed files and folders on the file system. New functionality includes the ability for users to take new photos and videos or browse this file system for existing files.
Multiple Exit Passcodes & Actions
Different exit passcodes can now be used to call different exit actions. This allows for actions to be taken based on the exit passcode entered. Deployers can vary permissions based on user need.
Reboot Schedule Management
Reboot schedules can now be used on devices that are rooted.
View all updates to KioWare for Android version 3.16 here.
The Access Board held a town hall meeting in Phoenix on May 23 that featured presentations by local speakers on various topics and a public “open mic” forum. It was held at Ability360, a Center for Independent Living. Board Vice Chair Karen Tamley and Executive Director David Capozzi opened the meeting with introductions and an overview of the Board and its work.
The first two speakers addressed access for people with heightened sensitivites to chemicals and electromagnetic fields. Dr. Ann McCampbell, Co-Chair of the Multiple Chemical Sensitivities Task Force of New Mexico, described the debilitating physical reactions experienced by those with an acute sensitivity to various chemicals in the environment, aslo known as Multiple Chemical Sensititvites (MCS). These include chemicals used in fragrances, personal care products, deodorizers, cleaners, pesticides, wall and floor coverings, and building materials. Dr. McCampbell, who has had MCS for almost 30 years, also called attention to sensitivity to electromagnetism from cell phones, security equipment, utility meters, florescent lighting, and other sources. She noted that the prevalence of Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity (EHS) appears to be increasing.
Susan Molloy, M.A., an advocate for people with MCS and environmental illness for 35 years, discussed design recommendations that can improve access for people with MCS. These include installing fresh-air ventilation systems and operable windows, allowing more natural light, avoiding carpet, and pesticide-free landscaping. To improve access for people with EHS, smart meters should be avoided or shielded. Molloy called attenion to an earlier project on indoor environmental quality that was conducted by the National Institute of Building Sciences with funding from the Access Board. She outlined findings and recommendations from the project, which are provided in a report that is avaialble on the Board’s website.
The following presentations addressed ADA compliance in the cities of Phoenix and Tempe. Phoenix ADA Coorindator Peter Fischer reviewed recent initiatives by the city to enhance accessibility under its ADA Compliance Program. He noted that the city regularly surveys facilities for compliance with the ADA and that transition plans are continuously updated to reflect city projects and programs. Several Phoenix tranportation departments have undertaken transition plans, including a city-wide program to install curb ramps and accessible pedestrian signals. Last year, over 2,000 curb ramps were replaced. Other city initiatives include a new committee on integrating accessibility in emergency planning and response, an annual awards accessibility showcase, and a “Save Our Space” campaign that enlists volunteers to help enforce accessible parking.
Michele Stokes, an ADA Compliance Specialist with the Tempe Office of Strategic Management and Diversity, noted an online resource the city has launched to collect data on accessibility issues on city property for self-evaluations and tranisiton planning. It includes a newly launched interactive map with data from digital surveys of sidewalks, curb ramps, cross walks, bus stops and pedestrian signals that will help city planners with transition planning. The surveys collect data on running and cross slopes, changes in level, such as joint heavings, surface gaps, and other features along with geographic coordinates. The city also allows the public to report access issues online and offers other resources on local accessibility.
The final speaker, Bob Hazlett of the Maricopa Association of Governments, addressed autonomous vehicles and opportunities they may offer people with disablitities, including those with vision impairments. He noted that a lot of testing of driverless vehicles is done in Arizona which is becoming known as the place “where self-driving vehicles go to learn.” While it is not known when autonomous vehicles may fully take to the road, the potential impacts on public policy and planning at the local level are being assessed, including those pertaining to parking, infrastructure, public transportation, and cybersecurity, among others.
During the public forum that followed, members of the public raised areas where more needs to be done for accessibility. Many urged action to address access for people with MCS and EHS and described how exposure to certain commonly-used chemicals and to elemtromagnetic fields jeopardize their health, limit access to health care, housing, and other services, and lead to isolation. Some commenters submitted information on the subject and endorsed the work of organziations such as the National Center for Environmental Health Strategies.
Other issues noted included the need for entrance doors to be automated, hotel beds that are too high for transfer, access to casinos, and the lack of electronic shopping carts. The Board was urged to do more outreach and training on access to medical care equipment which remains problematic despite new standards the Board issued last year for medical disagnostic equipment.
In addition, concerns were raised about access for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Several comments focused on the sound quality and availability of assistive listening systems in meeting spaces. They also addressed connectivity issues that impact video remote sign language interpretation in hospitals and the lack of communication access in pharmacies to instructions for taking medications.
Board to Host Information Meeting on Assembly Areas September 6
On September 6 the Access Board will hold a public forum on accessibility and assembly areas. The day-long event will focus on accessibility issues related to the design of such facilities, including movie theaters, dinner theaters, performing arts centers, lecture halls, grand stands, stadiums, arenas, and other assembly venues. It will offer an open dialogue to review design challenges and identify potential solutions.
“Our goal is to bring everyone together to find ways of resolving accessibility issues that are unique to different types of assembly spaces,” states Board Executive Director David Capozzi. “The Board will use this information to enhance the technical assistance and training it provides to the public.”
Persons with disabilities, advocacy groups, designers and architects, trade groups, codes organizations, industry, and other interested parties are welcome to attend. Registration is not required. Additional details, including the agenda, will be posted in coming weeks. This event will be in-person only and will not be streamed online. Direct any questions to Dave Yanchulis at [email protected] or (202) 272-0026 (v), or (202) 272-0027 (TTY).
Information Meeting on Assembly Area Accessibility September 6, 9:30 – 5:00 (ET) Access Board Conference Center 1331 F Street, NW, Suite 800 Washington, D.C. Note: For the comfort of all participants and to promote a fragrance-free environment, attendees are requested not to use perfume, cologne, or other fragrances.
Bill Botten Named Board’s Coordinator of Training and Technical Assistance
Bill Botten, a long-time Board Accessibility Specialist, has been appointed Training and Technical Assistance Coordinator. In this dual role, he will oversee both the agency’s training program and its provision of technical guidance to the public. The Board regularly provides training on its accessibility guidelines and standards upon request at various events and conferences across the county. It also conducts a monthly webinar series in partnership with National Network of ADA Centers. Botten will field training requests, coordinate educational sessions and webinars, and assign Board staff.
In addition, Botten will manage the Board’s technical assistance program. The Board regularly provides technical guidance on its accessibility guidelines and standards and accessible design through its toll-free help line and by email. Accessibility specialists are available to answer questions on accessibility as it relates to the built environment, outdoor sites, streets and sidewalks, transportation vehicles and vessels, information and communication technology, and medical diagnostic equipment.
Botten has served as an Accessibility Specialist at the Board for 18 years and was active in the development of new guidelines and guidance documents for outdoor developed areas and for recreation facilities. He has trained extensively in these and other areas and is a top-rated and highly-requested presenter.
The next webinar in the Board’s free monthly series will take place July 12 from 2:30 – 4:00 (ET) and will review requirements in the ADA and ABA Accessibility Standards for transportation facilities. Presenters will cover provisions for bus stops and shelters, rail stations, and train stations.
The following webinar on August 2 will feature an open question and answer session. Questions are welcome on the Board’s accessibility guidelines and standards, including those issued under the ADA and ABA, as well as other topics related to the Board’s work.
Visit www.accessibilityonline.org for more information or to register for the webinars. Questions can be submitted in advance of the session or can be posed during the webinar. Webinar attendees can earn continuing education credits. The webinar series is hosted by the ADA National Network in cooperation with the Board. Archived copies of previous Board webinars are available on the site.
Section 508 Best Practices Webinar The Board also offers a free webinar series on standards issued under Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act which requires access to information and communication technology in the federal sector. The next webinar in this series is scheduled for July 31 from 1:00 to 2:30 (ET) and will address how federal agencies can update policies for the revised 508 Standards. For more details or to register for this or other sessions, visitwww.accessibilityonline.org/cioc-508/schedule. The Section 508 Best Practices Webinar Series is made available by the Accessibility Community of Practice of the CIO Council in partnership with the Board.
The Access Board will hold its next meeting July 11 from 1:30 – 3:00 (ET) at the Board’s conference space in downtown Washington, D.C. The public is welcome to attend in person or through a live webcast of the meeting.
A public comment period will be held during the final 15 minutes of the meeting. Those interested in making comments in person or by phone should send an email to Rose Bunales at [email protected] by July 5 with “Access Board meeting – Public Comment” in the subject line. Please include your name, organization, state, and topic of your comment in the body of the message.
DOJ Rules for Movie Theater Captioning and Audio Description Take Effect
As of June 2, movie theaters showing digital movies must provide a means for delivering closed captioning and audio description underrules issued under the ADA by the Department of Justice (DOJ). Issued 18 months ago, the rules supplement provisions in DOJ’s ADA regulations on provision of auxiliary aids and services. Movie theaters that show digital movies equipped with closed captions and audio description must acquire and maintain equipment for displaying captions and transmitting audio description.
Closed captions are displayed individually to patrons with hearing impairments at their seats. Open captioning displayed on the movie screen is not required. Audio description provides additional narration of a movie’s visual elements to patrons with vision impairments and is typically transmitted by infrared or FM systems to wireless headsets. The rule specifies the minimum number of closed captioning and audio description devices that must be provided based on the number of auditoriums in a theater. The rule does not apply to theaters showing analog movies only, nor does it require such theaters to convert to digital projection systems. For further information, visit DOJ’s website or contact its ADA hotline at (800) 514-0301 (v) or (800) 514-3083 (TTY).
W3C Releases Updated Web Content Accessibility Guidelines
On June 5, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) released an update of its Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, a globally recognized, technology-neutral accessibility standard for web content. WCAG 2.1 builds upon guidance developed by W3C’s Web Accessibility Initiative by expanding coverage of mobile device accessibility and enhancing access for people with low vision and who have cognitive or learning disabilities.
“The Board applauds the progress made by the W3C Accessibility Guidelines Working Group in its release of the WCAG 2.1,” said Board Executive Director David Capozzi. “The efforts to broaden the range of disability needs currently addressed by WCAG 2.0 will benefit many individuals who still encounter barriers to accessing the web.”
The Board’s updated Section 508 Standards for information and communication technology in the federal sector reference the WCAG 2.0 and apply it to websites, electronic content, and software. In developing WCAG 2.1, the Accessibility Guidelines Working Group ensured backwards capability so that content meeting WCAG 2.1 also satisfies WCAG 2.0.
W3C’s Web Accessibility Initiative works with organizations around the world to promote accessibility of the Web. It helps ensure that web technologies support access, develops accessibility guidelines and related resources, and promotes harmonization of international standards. For further information, visit www.w3.org/WAI/ or contact Amy van der Hiel, W3C’s Media Relations Coordinator at [email protected]or (617) 253-5628.