Adjust text size:

profoundly yours the abledbody blog

The motto of Del Taco’s restaurant is “Go Bold or Go Home.” Kenneth Munson chose the first option. He sued the taco chain in 2005 after he was unable to get his wheelchair into their “narrow” restroom entrance. As a result, he had to go across the street to another business to use the facilities. Earlier this week, the California State Supreme Court sided with Munson. The unanimous ruling now makes it possible for California businesses to be sued for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act without proving the business did so “intentionally.” This is a mucho grande ruling. Federal law doesn’t let individuals sue — nor collect damage relief — for disability discrimination. A government agency must intervene on their behalf. But California lets individuals do both. And with this new no-proof-required ruling, Californians with disabilities now have an even stronger hand to play. Could this decision hurt small businesses ... keep reading »
When Apple announced a host of new features for its next-generation iPhone in March, they unveiled a few surprises, but kept the best ones under wraps. Until today, at the Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, Apple revealed gigantic news: its new iPhone 3G S has a built-in screen reader for people with visual impairments — bringing this group one step closer to total cell-phone accessibility. The 3G S introduces VoiceOver for iPhone, Apple’s proprietary screen reader that speaks what appears on the iPhone display. VoiceOver lets visually impaired users make iPhone calls, read email, browse web pages, play music and run applications. TOUCH-SCREEN TECH. VoiceOver is already built into the Mac and iPod Shuffle, but for iPhone this screen reader is a whole new ball game. Calling it the world’s first gesture-based screen reader, VoiceOver for iPhone reads aloud what is touched on the screen. Users can then gesture with ... keep reading »
Despite efforts by blind advocacy groups, the U.S. has sided against a World Intellectual Property Organization treaty agreement that would make books accessible to more blind and visually impaired individuals, as well as those with dyslexia or physical disabilities, throughout the world. The Obama administration, the governments of Canada and the European Union, and several other countries have opposed this initiative, which was introduced by Brazil, Ecuador and Paraguay and supported by many countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as in Asia and Africa. Other supporters include the World Blind Union, the National Federation of the Blind, Bookshare and Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic, among others advocacy groups. Proposal advocates want to expand a U.S. copyright exemption to allow books to be distributed in alternative formats — such as text-to-speech, Braille and large type — to blind and visually impaired individuals around the world. The treaty would have ... keep reading »
Facebook is working with the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) to make its social-networking service more accessible to users who are blind or visually impaired. The non-profit organization’s president and CEO, Carl Augusto, made this initiative a priority after finding that he and others with sight impairments had difficulties updating their profiles and using the site. Augusto, a self-described music fan who played in two garage bands when he was younger, uses Facebook to connect with former band members and fans. People who are blind or visually impaired can use computers with a screen magnification program that enlarges fonts, or they use a screen-reading program that reads the text aloud. These are quick, efficient and helpful solutions — that is, if the websites and computer programs are properly designed. Facebook presents some unique challenges because images and photos are are rarely described with a text caption, and the myriad of ... keep reading »
A Brooklyn man who went on crutches after hurting his foot has questioned how nice New York City subway riders can be when it comes to giving up their seat for the disabled. His answer: Not nice at all. When Matt Muro tried to transport himself to work on crutches from his home in Williamsburg, he frequently had to stand, despite seeing seemingly able-bodied people sitting down in priority seating for the disabled. To channel his frustration, Muro created a website called People Who Sit in the Disability Seats When I’m Standing on My Crutches. The site was linked to by VH1, and received more than 100,000 hits in the first three days. Muro used his Apple iPhone to take pictures of seated subway culprits, who, he says, are either buried in books, have their heads down, or simply don’t care that he, and presumably, other people with disabilities, ... keep reading »
Last week I attended the Society for Accessible Travel & Hospitality’s (SATH) World Congress in Orlando, where I spoke briefly on assistive technology gadgets for travel. I met many interesting people who are helping the disabled pursue their travel passions, including Craig Grimes of Accessible Nicaragua and Accessible Barcelona who puts tours together for people with disabilities (an especially tough feat in developing nations). I also met the infamous Scott Rains of Tour Watch, a social network for travelers with disabilities. He’s a personable guy who puts out the excellent Rolling Rains report. I also talked with Sherri Backstrom of Waypoint Charter, who helps wheelchair users enjoy the experience of yachting via fully accessible ships. SATH held a reception at Universal Studios, where I had the pleasure of being introduced to Cindy Brown, who has a background in ADA compliance and writes for several publications. Her speciality is cultural tourism; ... keep reading »
Last night I watched the latest episode of ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, where Ty Pennington and his crew helped two St. Louis-area families, the Martirizes and the Maleks, who are struggling to live life with major disabilities. Emmanual and Dawn Martirez’s home was refurbished to make it accessible to their twin boys, Evan and Alec, who have rare neurological diseases that cause extreme physical and cognitive disabilities. And Egyptian-born Sam Malek, who has cerebal palsy, owns a small coffee shop that was demoed and rebuilt to make it accessible to him and his employees with disabilities. In doing so, ABC makes a strong statement for supporting small-business and equal-employment opportunities for the disabled. Since its start in 2003, Extreme Makeover has touched the lives of dozens of people with disabilities by renovating their inaccessible or otherwise unlivable homes for free. Each project, which takes seven days, results in significant ... keep reading »
Many years before spearheading a $700 billion package to rescue Wall Street banks despite cries from exasperated Americans who didn’t like where their hard-earned money was going, U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson found himself in hot water with another group of irate Americans — 10 million to be exact — who didn’t like how their money looked or felt. Mr. Paulson was sued in 2002 by the American Council of the Blind (ACB) on behalf of blind and visually impaired Americans, who said the Treasury was being discriminatory by failing to make U.S. currency accessible. According to the ruling, blind and visually impaired people must rely on the “kindness of strangers” for help reading their money, or else use an electronic bill reader to identify and speak the dollar denomination. In a landmark ruling in May 2008, the U.S. Court of Appeals said the Treasury Dept. must make U.S. currency accessible to ... keep reading »
The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) has been quite active in the last couple months. On Friday, the NFB, along with Massachusetts General Martha Coakley, reached an agreement with Apple Inc. to make Apple’s iTunes — the most popular music retail outlet in the U.S. — more accessible to blind and visually-impaired Internet users. In September, Apple released, and was praised for, its 4th generation iPod Nano and iTunes 8, which is screen-reader friendly on both Macs and PCs. These new features let blind users manage their libraries as well as purchase and download content from the iTunes store. The new iPod itself is also equipped with talking menus and large font options. On a Mac, iTunes is compatible with Apple’s built-in VoiceOver screen reader; on a PC using Windows XP or Vista, it’s compatible with GW Micro’s Windows-Eyes (and soon, Freedom Scientific’s Jaws for Windows) screen readers, which must ... keep reading »

Twitter