Speech Accessibility Advocate Summarizes State of STS at CSUN 2014

Speech accessibility advocate Bob Segalman, Ph.D., spoke at the recent CSUN 2014 conference held in March in San Diego, CA. He noted how there is some form of Speech-To-Speech (STS) -- including Video Assisted STS -- available in Australia, Finland, New Zealand, Sweden and the U.S. His presentation addressed how STS is implemented and raised concerns about how it is used.

Some Advocates Take On NetFlix to Ensure Video Description

Some advocates have been contacting Netflix to see how they are going about ensuring video description of the content they distribute.  They have a website that blogs on the topic called the Accessible Netflix Project.  The project is organized by Robert Kingett who provides regular updates. To assist in this accessibililty advocacy, please visit the website, sign up for updates and join the effort.

Informal Petition Calls for Accessible Home Appliances for People Who Are Blind, Low Vision

An activist has started a petition addressed to the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers to ask them to ensure accessibility for people who are blind and those with low vision. The petition now has over 2,000 signers, but needs more. This is an important area of accessibility as flat screens or panel controls are put onto ovens, refrigerators, washers, dryers, etc. Also, many new appliances have broadband and/or wireless connections, which may raise accessibility concerns. While not everyone has one of these new type refrigerators or ovens, this is certainly the wave of the future. The question is: Are the designers, developers and manufacturers thinking about the full range of users? Will people with disabilities be left behind again? The petition raises one aspect of this issue with a trade association.

Broadband Availability: Comcast Time Warner Merger

There's much in the news about a proposed merger by Comcast with Time Warner Cable, companies that provide TV, Internet and phone services over broadband connections. Since both companies are responsible for ensuring accessibility of TV programming under our hard-fought for disability laws, advocates are interested in this merger and its effect on accessibility. While the article copied here does NOT address accessibility, it provides some material for thought and raises questions about broadband availability overall. Please read the article and comment afterwards in regard to whether or not you think there could be more or less accessibility for people with disabilities as a result of the merger.

Ten Years After Advocates Ask, FCC Issues Closed Captioning Quality Rules

On February 20, 2014 the FCC issued a long-awaited Order on the quality of closed captions on television. They set some standards such as closed captions on television programs must accurately convey dialogue and sounds, run from the beginning and to the end of the program, not lag behind the actual dialogue, and mustn't block other key information on the screen. Other commonsense requirements are also codified to ensure higher quality of closed captions, and a Further Notice of Proposed Rule-making on the subject was also issued.

A Step Forward to Text-to-911 Service

Despite requirements in several laws advancing accessibility of 911 Public Service Answering Points (PSAPs), such as texting to 911, this is still a limited availability. Recently the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) established some benchmark goals in regard to people with disabilities and accessing 911 by text and asked for input on some proposed rules. The FCC also issued a call for Comments: first round of Comments due April 4, 2014, reply comments due May 5, 2014.

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