Raising the Floor News
Google Hangout users have been able to get their sessions transcribed in real time via CART services for several months, and sign language users and interpreters can participate equally. A new feature integrates sign language interpreting even better: when the sign language user begins signing, he or she gets the focus instead of the interpreter. (Hangout's default is to focus on whoever is speaking, so previously the interpeter got the focus instead of the person being interpreted.) Another improvement is a wider range of keyboard shortcuts.
Amara always let you crowdsource captions and subtitles for your online videos, including YouTube. Now you can link your YouTube channel to Amara so that your YouTube viewers are brought into the process, and their work is automatically updated. This expands the reach of both language and disability access to the expanding world of video in education, work, entertainment, and cultural inclusion.
A new study by the Royal National Institute for the Blind shows that seniors with visual disabilities are missing out on using the Internet for specific reasons. The primary reason (given by 83% of the respondents) was their vision loss, possibly revealing low awareness of assistive technology solutions.
The US Department of Justice has announced that it will release a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on web accessibility for state and local government websites, in July 2013. This notice also indicates that DoJ has separated the state and local government rules (Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act) from the public accommodation rules (Title III).
Google has proposed a path beyond the password -- a new way to authenticate yourself to your online services and applications. The prototype uses a tiny chip you insert into a USB port, but the same functionality may eventually live in your smartphone or even jewelry. Google wants to help develop an independent protocol for browsers that supports this new login standard, but also prevents websites from using it to track users.
Readers may be familiar with Swype, the Android app that lets you enter text by simply sliding from one on-screen keyboard character to another without lifting your finger (or stylus, mouthstick, headstick,...). It always autocorrected errors; now Swype's Living Language uses the cloud and the crowd to find the best, most likely new terms and regular words you were trying to spell.
Best Buy's Insignia Narrator HD Radio recently won an accessibility award from the Chairman of the US Federal Communications Commission. The mainstream radio, sold at Best Buy stores and online, has a full talking control interface.
News In Levels is a new service that takes online articles in English text and renders them in 3 distinct language levels. News in Levels is aimed at people learning English, but could easily be used by native English speakers with cognitive disabilities. Partners include many language learning organizations, and they are actively seeking language instruction experts for suggesting articles as well as writing and editing.
The European Commission has moved to improve web accessibility throughout the European public sector, proposing a new law to require member states to enact or harmonize their laws by the end of 2015. Accessibility would be mandatory for income taxes, job search services, social benefits, health-related services, personal documents, car registration, building applications, public security, public libraries, and enrollment in higher education.
A new study led by ophthalmologist Dr. Daniel Ross found that using a tablet device with backlighting increased reading speed for users with moderate vision loss more than one without backlighting -- 30 words per minute faster. 100 users with low vision tried both an iPad™ and Kindle™ with the print size set to 18 point on both devices.