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Raising the Floor Newsletter
  July 2012

Raising the Floor logo. Raising the Floor International. Using the cloud to build a Global Public Inclusive Infrastructure

Welcome to the July 2012 issue of Raising the Floor's newsletter highlighting our participants, accomplishments, upcoming events and activities.

Global Public Inclusive Infrastructure (GPII)

National Institute on Standards and Technology Hosts GPII Demos

NIST's Cloud Computing Workshop V was the site of another set of public demonstrations of emerging GPII functionality. Participants in the Workshop could activate any operating system accessibility feature on the generic GPII laptop by simply placing a wireless code ring near a scanner, or by inserting a standard USB drive device. Attendees learned of the accessibility and personalization options open to these new platforms, and heard a message from the US Access Board about the importance of building accessibility into the cloud.

Upcoming GPII Implementation Events

Lots of upcoming action on the European side of Raising the Floor’s agenda. The First Cloud4All Pan-European Workshop and User Forum will be held July 10th, 2012, followed by a technical workshop and Hackathon; both events are in Linz, Austria. Attendees will get a chance to hear from the Cloud4All team, and participate in on-site technical development. Then in September, the US Federal Communications Commission is holding a 2-day event in Washington DC for accessibility developers at which GPII will both present and write code in real time. Contact us if you are interested in attending any of these events.

Gathering Needs And Numbers

US Court Appears to Apply ADA to Web-based Content

In a startling decision, the Massachusetts Federal District Court ruled that Netflix may be required to caption its streaming movies under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Replying to Netflix's request to dismiss a case brought by the National Association of the Deaf, in NAD's words, "Judge Ponsor stated that the fact that the ADA 'does not include web-based services as a specific example of a public accommodation is irrelevant' since such web-based services did not exist when the ADA was passed in 1990 and because 'the legislative history of the ADA makes clear that Congress intended the ADA to adapt to changes in technology.'” This may not be the last word on this issue. The US Department of Justice has begun considering a formal proceeding to extend ADA coverage to the web, and other cases may be required to cover other industries and accessibility features.

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Microsoft Research Speech Recognition Comes of Age

Greenbutton InCus now offers a commercial version of Microsoft Research's speech recognition project, MAVIS. The service uses cloud computing to perform deep neural network analysis of audio and video files, resulting in highly accurate indexes, transcripts, and captions. Hosted and self-hosted versions are available; service fees for the hosted version run less than $0.20 a minute.

AARP Foundation Adopts Cloud-based Talking Web Technology

The AARP Foundation, part of the largest senior organization in the United States, has just begun using an innovative text-to-speech technology on its WorkSearch Information Network website. ReadSpeaker lets visitors hear the content of the website without having to load any special software. It uses a cloud technology that converts the text on the screen into synthesized speech and delivers it as live audio to the visitor.

AT&T's "The Connected Child" Provides Network-based Support for Learning and Independence

Lee Mabie, an AT&T staffer and accessibility champion, has created a networked technology solution for his daughter London, who has a rare genetic condition. "The Connected Child" uses tablets, smartphones, the Internet, and apps to provide guidance for London's school day and personal life. The technology lets everyone who works with London, including family and friends, know what's going on and how she's doing. Lee creates modeling videos that London can view whenever she wants; the videos help her with learning objectives, and an app will connect her entire social network to activities and progress reports.

Neurotone Offers Cloud-based Auditory Training

Listening And Communication Enhancement (LACE) has long been offered to audiology professionals to use with their clients. It's now available online to hard of hearing people themselves, at a reduced price. 11 days of training help new hearing aid users improve their performance in typical hearing situations that are often challenging: noisy settings, multiple speakers, rapid speech, etc. The multimedia materials use HTML5 instead of Flash, so it's compatible with iPhones and iPads as well as desktops; it's cloud-based so users can access it wherever they go. The training has been validated by independent researchers, and its reports can be integrated into clinical audiology tools.

Get Involved

Would you like to become involved in Raising the Floor? Come visit our website and let us know how you would like to pitch in.

About Raising the Floor (RtF)

Raising the Floor (RtF) is an international coalition of individuals and organizations working to ensure that the Internet, and everything available through it, is accessible to people experiencing accessibility barriers due to disability, literacy, or age. Of particular concern are people who are underserved or unserved due to the type or combination of disabilities they have, the part of the world they live in, or the limited resources (financial or program) available to them. A central activity of Raising the Floor – International is coordination of an emerging consortium to build a Global Public Inclusive Infrastructure (GPII). For more information see

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