With more and more people turning to their computers instead of television to watch video, Congress has acted to require closed captions on Internet videos for the millions of Americans with hearing impairments.
Closed captioning has long been required for feature films and broadcast television, but such laws did not account for the digital revolution. That has meant spotty accessibility on the Web for the estimated 38 million Americans – 12 percent of the population – who are hearing impaired.
The 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 requires any video that is closed captioned for television to also be captioned when made available online. The Federal Communications Commission also has issued a series of deadlines for archived TV footage already edited for the Internet to be captioned. The first deadline is March 30, 2014.
To help those companies and individuals seeking to comply with the new FCC rules, the National Center on Disability and Journalism surveyed the various services available and compiled a list of resources on Web video captioning as well as a summary of the rules and deadlines for compliance.
A team of researchers and scientists in Japan took a different approach to creating a new prosthesis. The “Trans-Radial Prosthesis With Three Opposed Fingers” does not resemble a human hand as many other prosthetics attempt to do. Instead it only has three digits, which the creators say will make it easier for the user to wear and cuts down on cost. Read more.
Columbia Law student Alex Blaszczuk demonstrates how accessible technology allows her to live a more independent life and enjoy many of the things she used to before a car accident left her paralyzed from the shoulders down.
In this NPR profile, Blaszczuk becomes a Google Glass explorer and is able to take pictures, find driving directions and take a camping trip with friends. Google is one of only a few big tech firms working to create accessible technologies for the disabled community. Read more.
Prosthetic legs that can read minds? Researches at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago say it’s a possibility.
With funding from the U.S. Army, the group of researches unveiled its latest prototype bionic device this past week. The leg is comprised of aluminum, motors and sensors and relies on powerful software that translates neural signals into specific motions. Essentially, a patient thinks about bending his knee and his prosthesis follows directions.
Researchers say they hope to release the technology to the military and the general public in the next five years. Read more.
While building and construction standards under the Americans with Disabilities Act have greatly improved physical accessibility for the disabled community, the technology and education realms still lag behind, according to this column by Kyle Shachmut.
Shachmut, the president of the National Federation of the Blind of Massachusetts, writes about his personal experiences, as both student and teacher, navigating the world of higher education as a blind person. He calls for an initiative that would prompt technology manufacturers and purveyors of education to create equal access to digital curriculum for disabled students as society moves ever more into a digital world. Read more.
Disabled thrill-seekers are finding “liberation through technology,” according to NPR. Eric Whitney with “All Things Considered” profiled companies producing innovative prosthetics that allow amputees and those with other disabilities to rock climb, kayak, mountain bike and more.
Sami McGinnis remembers walking into a polling place and casting her vote for the first time.
“It was a wonderful feeling to have that freedom,” she said.
McGinnis, 67, whose vision is impaired, gave up that freedom eight years ago after her husband died. That’s when she first voted by absentee ballot. Having no family near her Mesa, Ariz., residence, she found it difficult arranging transportation — especially on Election Day.
She wishes it were possible for her to physically vote inside a polling place because she questions whether her absentee ballot is counted.