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.
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.
Georgie Sydnor likes having a computer program that will read to her the words on the screen and reply to her keystrokes. On the other hand, she’s not a fan of the way the female voice responds to her attempts to navigate a tricky task.
Knowbility is an organization that advocates for technology that allows blind, deaf and otherwise disabled people to use the net. Knowbility’s Sharron Rush and Desiree Sturdevant talk about the challenges they face in raising awareness and changing the laws surrounding online usability.