December 3 is International Day of Persons with Disabilities

December 3, 2015 is the 23rd annual International Day of Persons with Disabilities. The theme for 2015 is “Inclusion matters: Access and empowerment for people of all abilities”.

International Day of Disabled Persons (IDPD) was proclaimed by the United Nations (UN) in 1992, to promote an understanding of disability issues and to support the dignity, rights and well-being of people of all abilities.

The UN offers these tips to commemorate IDPD 2015 in your local community:

  • Include: Observance of the Day provides opportunities for collaborative and inclusive events by all stakeholders – Governments, the UN system, civil society and organizations of persons with disabilities – to focus on issues related to the inclusion of persons with disabilities in society and development, both as beneficiaries and agents of change.
  • Organize: Hold forums, public discussions and information campaigns in support of the themes of IDPD 2015 to discuss and share ways of including and empowering persons of all abilities to develop and be fully included in their local communities.
  • Celebrate: Plan and organize performances everywhere to celebrate the contributions made by persons with disabilities as agents of change in the communities in which they live. Celebrate persons with disabilities by creating opportunities to help realize their potential, be it through music, sport, academia or interpersonal skills.
  • Take Action: A major focus of the Day is practical action to realize the objectives of the Day for persons with disabilities and their communities. So, highlight best practices and think about making recommendations to your local political leaders, businesses, academic institutions, cultural centers and others. Work to ensure that your activity leaves a legacy and brings about lasting change.

IAAP Access 2015

Be Part of Something New for the Accessibility Profession

The inaugural International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP) educational conference, IAAP Access 2015, will be held October 21-23, 2015, at the Westin Lake Las Vegas Resort & Spa in Henderson, Nevada.

The IAAP describes their first annual conferences as “…a tremendous and exciting opportunity to be part of the first of an annual gathering of accessibility professionals from around the world who are focused on defining, improving and growing the accessibility profession.”

The IAAP was launched in March 2014 as a not-for-profit association focused on advancing the accessibility profession globally through networking, education and certification in order to enable the creation of accessible products, content and services for persons with disabilities. Its numerous founding members include Adobe, Microsoft, and Vision Australia.

July 26, 2015 is the 25th anniversary of the ADA!

ADA 25th AnniversaryJuly 26, 2015 is the Silver Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), signed into law by President George Herbert Walker Bush on July 26, 1990.

To celebrate this historic milestone, the ADA National Network offers an ADA Anniversary Tool Kit for use by the public and the media. The Tool Kit includes:

“On the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, I (name) will celebrate and recognize the progress that has been made by reaffirming the principles of equality and inclusion and recommitting my efforts to reach full ADA compliance.

NOW THEREFORE, I (name) do hereby reaffirm to continue to work toward full ADA compliance.”

The ADA is a wide-ranging civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on disability. It affords similar protections against discrimination to Americans with disabilities as the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on race, religion, sex, national origin, and other characteristics. The ADA also assures equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities for access to businesses, employment, transportation, state and local government programs and services, and telecommunications.

May 21 is Global Accessibility Awareness Day 2015

May 21, the third Thursday in May, is annual Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD). The purpose of GAAD is to  get people talking, thinking and learning about digital accessibility and users with different abilities. An excellent way to participate in GAAD is to make some time in your busy day to experience the impact of digital accessibility first-hand, for example:

The New 508 is Coming!

On February 18, 2015, the United States Access Board published Proposed Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Standards and Guidelines – the long-awaited update to U.S. Federal Government’s “Section 508″ requirements for electronic document and website accessibility. The proposed new regulations are expected to be implemented in the near future.

The new 508 will require compliance with WCAG 2.0 and PDF/UA:

This is a historic leap forward for electronic document accessibility! Consistent application of WCAG 2.0 and PDF/UA is the way to optimize the reading experience of electronic documents for the widest possible audience.

The PDF Association provides an excellent summary of the new 508 rules in PDF/UA featured in the 2015 Section 508 Refresh.

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CSUN 2015 | The Business Case for Document Accessibility

In preparation for the 30th Annual International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference, Media Access Australia published Q&A: The Drivers and Case for Document Accessibility. The interview-style article covers the major access issues associated with online documents, and the business case for making electronic documents accessible to as wide an audience as practical.

The California State University, Northridge (CSUN), Center on Disabilities (COD) puts on the Annual International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference to provide an inclusive setting for researchers, practitioners, exhibitors, end users, speakers and other participants to share knowledge and best practices in the field of assistive technology. Nicknamed in honor of the University, the CSUN Conference is renowned as a forum that showcases cutting edge technology and practical solutions to remove the barriers that prevent the full participation of persons with disabilities in educational, workplace and social settings. The conference is the largest of its kind in the world.

The 30th conference will be held in San Diego from March 2, 2015, to March 7, 2015, at the Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel.

December 3, 2014 is International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD)

IDPD 2014: The Promise of Technology

The International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) is an annual observation promoted by the United Nations to raise awareness of disability issues and the gains to be derived from the greater integration of persons with disabilities into  political, social, economic, and cultural life.

Each year the IDPD focuses on a different issue. The theme for 2014 is “The Promise of Technology”.  Assistive technology (AT) promotes greater independence by enabling people with disabilities to perform tasks that they would otherwise unable to accomplish. AT includes screen readers that interpret a document displayed on a computer screen and re-present it to the user, for example using automated text-to-speech.

Properly structured electronic documents, such as those that are PDF/UA (Universal Accessibility) compliant, optimize the reading experience of AT users.

October 2014 is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM)

Expect – Employ – Empower

National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) is a nationwide campaign that raises awareness about disability employment issues and honors the many contributions of America’s workers with disabilities.

NDEAM is led by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, but its true benefit derives from the many observances held at the grassroots level across the nation. Employers of all sizes and in all industries are encouraged to participate in NDEAM.

This year’s theme – “Expect – Employ – Empower” encapsulates the spirit of NDEAM in three powerful words. Advancing disability employment is about much more than just hiring. It is about creating and maintaining a continuum of inclusion.

The PDF/UA Reference Suite is Here!

On June 16 the PDF Association’s PDF/UA Competence Center, now known as the PDF/UA Technical Working Group published the PDF/UA Reference Suite:

“To serve as a reference for software developers and practitioners interested in best-practices for creating tagged and accessible PDF files, the PDF Association’s PDF/UA Competence Center has posted a set of ten PDF documents conforming to PDF/UA-1.”

The ten documents within the PDF/UA Reference Suite demonstrate correct tagging in a number of sophisticated cases, including:

  • Content spanning multiple pages
  • Complex table structures
  • Multiple languages within a single document
  • Interactive forms and JavaScript
  • Links targeting structure elements

The PDF/UA Reference Suite is an excellent resource for everyone who is interested in achieving document compliance with ISO 14289 (PDF/UA), the way to maximize PDF accessibility for today’s users and those of the future.

May 15 is Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD)

For details see “On May 15, we invite you to participate in Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD). The purpose of the day is to get people talking, thinking and learning about digital (web, software, mobile, etc.) accessibility and users with different disabilities.”

I have just a minor quibble with the above quote – I would have left “dis” off the last word. Electronic accessibility is really about optimizing the user experience for everyone.

GAAD is being recognized at events all around the world. You can also participate in GAAD at any time by taking a few minutes to experience accessibility first-hand.