Raising the Floor News

Will the UN Add Accessible Technology to Its Development Goals?

The United Nations will meet in New York on September 23 to discuss how people with disabilities can move forward from the 2015 Millennium Development Goals. On the agenda is a discussion of the role of accessible technology in permitting people with disabilities to participate in their societies.

Posted on September 13, 2013 at 4:13 am in Highlights

Grassroots Team Lobbies for Audio Description on Netflix

Some savvy grassroots consumers have begun a campaign to increase the number of audio-described videos available through Netflix. Aware that audio description is often available on DVDs but "falls through the cracks" when moved online, they are lobbying both the original studios and Netflix, to make sure that someone takes responsibility for following through.

Posted on September 11, 2013 at 4:49 am in Highlights

US Federal Employees Press for Improved Accessibility

Federal Employees with Disabilities (FEDs), a group representing disabled employees of federal agencies in the US, has sent a letter to the Senate that explains its view of the pervasive barriers to employment and advancement experienced by people with disabilities.

Posted on September 5, 2013 at 8:14 am in Highlights

Comcast Plans Cloud-based Talking TV Interface

Tom Wlodkowski, Comcast's Vice President for Accessibility, leads the cable company's effort to develop a talking settop box that can speak out the electronic program guide and other information and controls. Recent results have been shared with consumers in the Philadelphia area, who provided feedback on the design and implementation.

Posted on August 30, 2013 at 4:53 am in Highlights

New Cloud Service Simplifies Text on the Fly

Rewordify is a new cloud-based service that takes difficult English words in any form of text and converts them into simpler versions. Users can paste text in or use Rewordify a web page or entire site. Aimed at those learning English as a second language, the free service is useful for people with learning disabilities as well. It allows users to choose the way the system works and displays its results, and can be adjusted to suit different learning styles.

Posted on August 26, 2013 at 4:28 am in Highlights

Google Plans New Assistance-on-Demand Platform

Google has announced Helpouts, an extension to its Hangout video chat and conferencing platform. Helpouts will allow people to seek and offer real-time video assistance for anything, such as cooking, home maintenance, and computer support. Helpers will apply, with a photo and a description of their offering, and will be reviewed by Google. Helpers can charge, with Google taking a 20% cut for the platform and its management services, including payment, customer support, and reputation management.

Posted on August 22, 2013 at 6:26 am in Highlights

GPII Partner Updates User Interfaces With Video Options

The Fluid Project, a key GPII partner housed at OCAD University's Inclusive Design Research Centre, has added video options (captions and transcripts) to its rapidly advancing UIOptions. This lets users indicate their preferences for watching videos, including the language for the alternative text. The UIOptions bar is available from the top right of the screen (as "Show Display Preferences"), and contains tabs for other options as well, for adjusting text and display, layout and navigation, and links and buttons.

Posted on August 21, 2013 at 5:14 am in Highlights

Global Survey Asks About Accessible Banking and Financial Services

The Global Initiative on Inclusive ICT (G3ict), supported by Scotiabank, has put up an online survey about accessible workplace technologies and services that banks and financial services firms offer their employees and customers. The goal is to collect best practices and a sense of how well developed the entire sector is. If you're interested and qualified, please participate before September 25, 2013.

Posted on August 17, 2013 at 8:55 am in Highlights

Finnish Software Company Prepares Pay-by-Face Technology

Uniqul is getting ready to release a system that will authenticate payments by scanning your face at a point of sale terminal. The algorithm, described by Uniqul as "military grade", will check the camera image against their database of faces. They plan to charge customers for subscribing to the service, but may move to a vendor-paid model later. A system like this could simplify the act of logging into GPII and installing preferred features and settings on any device.

Posted on July 24, 2013 at 4:13 am in Highlights

FCC Considers User Profiles for Speech-to-Speech Service

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is responsible for administering a type of relay service called speech-to-speech (STS). STS allows people who have difficulty being understood to communicate over the telephone via skilled communication assistants (CAs) who repeat what the user is saying. The FCC is updating how STS operates, and one idea under consideration is to allow users to store their needs and preferences in advance so the CAs can access that information during calls.

Posted on July 20, 2013 at 6:09 pm in Highlights