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Sometimes there are trends in the news, and this week is no exception. It’s all about disability, fashion, inclusion and perception. Check out some of these amazing articles and other cool stories (like wearable technology, free AT trainings, and some super-smart students designing really cool gadgets), right here – AT in the news for the week of 4/13 thru 4/17.

Open Style Lab: Making Apparel Accessible To All

Elder Chic Now Includes Hearing Aids

Designing for Disability

Takafumi Tsuruta’s Fashion Label HaHa Makes Clothes For All Walks of Life

Wearable technology buzzes for bus stops

Digital access enhances life for the disabled

Am I Really Blind? Adapting to Adaptive Technology

Eelke Folmer uses human-computer interaction research to help blind

Ollie the Baby Otter Is a Therapy Robot That’s Actually Affordable

Improved VoiceOver support in Office 2016 for Mac Preview updates

How to Enable Audio Description on Netflix for iPhone, Android, and Apple TV

High School Freshman Releases Free OCR App for iOS

Usability Testing with People Who Have Vision Impairment

UA team to study wheelchairs

Droplet Smart Reminder Enters Kickstarter Phase

East Catholic Students Invent Device to Help Disabled Man Improve Job Performance

Will Apple’s updated music app address accessibility issues?

Exoskeletons v wheelchairs: Disability advocates clash with futurists

Vanessa’s Journey: Empowering Special Education Through Technology

Parents fight for money to help visually impaired kids

Go Baby Go gets disabled children on the move

Computer science student strives to make the technological world more accessible

Allowing disabled staff to flourish: ‘How do we make this work?

Assistive technology helping students with disabilities and learning

HelpKidzLearn is offering free of charge, fully interactive, live online training sessions

The University of Maryland announces a Graduate Professional Studies Certificate program in Career Planning & Placement for Youth in Transition

Please forward this announcement and attached flyer to any VR, provider organization or school based transition professionals who may be interested in enrolling in the University of Maryland’s 12 credit Graduate Professional Studies Certificate Program in Career Planning and Placement for Youth in Transition.

The deadline for applying is July 1, 2015.

Program starts September 14, 2015.  More information click here.

WCAG 2.0 and Text Sizes

WCAG 2.0 does not specify a minimum text size—1 pixel font would be compliant, though obviously inaccessible to all sighted users. Font sizes should generally be at least 10 pixels.

WCAG 2.0 Success Criterion 1.4.4 (Level AA) requires that content must remain readable and functional when text size or page zoom is set to at least 200% or twice the default size. This can be tested by selecting Control + (or Command + on a Mac) in your web browser or by increasing the text size under the View menu. The 200% text sizing requirement can be very difficult to meet on many pages. However, it is very uncommon for end users to need text sizing this big. Any user requirements over around 150% would necessitate page zooming or a dedicated screen enlarger. While supporting 200% text sizing ensures significant flexibility for end user text sizing, effort may best be spent achieving a more reasonable requirement of 150% text sizing.

Contributed by Joel Zimba, Special Projects Coordinator, MDTAP

I recently came across this article, 9 advances helping visually-impaired people navigate cities, in which many technologies discussed on our blog or posted on our news feeds are explored. Navigation apps and related tools have always been a bit of a hobby to me, thus making this article all the more interesting.  It seems like each new device solves a particular kind of problem, which means an entire assistive technology toolkit must come into play while navigating.

In some respects, this means selecting the best tool for the job.  On the other hand, if the mainstream approach to travel were to be sure you had your bag of maps, a GPS system, a compass and remote navigation experts to help you get where you were going, one might think the technology is flawed.  We push the technology to the limit.  Every user has slightly different needs.  The lowest common denominator approach, which works in commercial products, simply doesn’t work here.

In the near future I plan to feature the navigational toolkits of other blind travelers.  In the meantime here is mine: While in route, pinning down my actual location can be difficult.  I use two tools to do this.  LookAround from Sendero is a free app which gives approximate location and the nearest intersection. Ariadne GPS seems to almost magically know an address range for my location.  These two keep the ball rolling, especially when in an unfamiliar location.

The walking directions from Apple Maps or Google Maps work quite well (mass transit is a completely different kettle of fish).  The minute detail from LookAround and Ariadne help to keep the navigational plan going according to the bigger chunks provided by these mainstream GPS tools.

Constantly switching among these three apps does the way-finding part very well.  When selecting a destination, BlindSquare, or even Yelp can be a great place to start.  At any given time, I could  have up to five apps which require GPS data.  So, I have to add an external battery to the mix for suitable battery life.

The Sunu device mentioned in the above article is similar in function to a device I had built by VLINC a couple of years ago.  I have used the prototypes of Sunu and while vastly miniaturized and waterproofed, it is essentially the same principle of object detection  over varying distances.  A widely available and affordable tool like Sunu will doubtless serve all kinds of innovative purposes.  We have a similar tool in the MDTAP library which houses the vibration motors in a pair of glasses.  Responses have been mixed, but there is much interest in the idea.  I believe Sunu to be a better approach.

That brings us to in-door navigation.  Everyone wants it.  It isn’t just an issue of assistive technology.  For now though, it’s not going anywhere.  Quite a few exhibitors at the recent CSUN conference were explaining their novel approach to in-door navigation, and the article discusses several as well.   All of them require cost and or considerable modification to the surroundings.  Until there  is a single standard which is inexpensive, especially in retrofitting situations, in-door navigation will prove difficult.  Industrial settings have come up with navigational systems for robots or what we now are calling drones.  This may lead to a surprising in-door solution which makes everyone happy.  I predict the biggest change in the in-door navigation arena over the next few years.

In short, there are many great tools currently available.  Many of them make life easier and safer.  I see no real game changers, though I believe there will be—and likely sooner than any of us expect.

SSB Bart Group hosts FREE Accessibility Webinars throughout the year. Upcoming webinars include:

To learn more or to register, visit them online.

We’re showing our Baltimore Pride this week as we take the lead in super-cool AT news, like Sean Gray’s Accessible Venue project, and the local IMAGE Center’s Disability Gateway project. Check it all out here – AT in the news for the week of 4/6 thru 4/10

3D printer helps Boston Home aid residents

Cautionary Tale of a Bionic Man

Students Build World’s Lightest and Least Expensive Electric Wheelchairs

On A Scale Of 1 To 10, Brazil Gets A Zero For Disability Access

Sean Gray confronts gap in venue accessibility for people with disabilities in Baltimore and beyond

Harnessing The Internet For New Ways To Deal With Disability

Jacoti releases first FDA-registered medical device hearing aid application for smartphones

10 ways virtual reality is revolutionizing medicine and healthcare

Bionic suit for elderly to be built by Irish researchers

50 great apps for teachers

What Makes a School Dyslexia-Friendly?

Making Theater Autism-Friendly

Microsoft announces pilot program to hire people with autism & other disabilities

This Tech Will Have You Hiking Like You’re 18 Again

Automated Braille Tutor wins Touch of Genius Prize

HIMS CANDY 5 HD II Handheld Video Magnifier Receives 2015 Red Dot Award

Easter Seals offers loans to finance assistive technology

AT&T’s challenge to developers: inventive apps for the disabled

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