ADA Center's quarterly Accessible Technology Bulletin
Technology Trainings & Events
Join Us for Next Accessible Technology Webinar
The ADA National Network provides comprehensive services for up-to-date information, consultation, referrals, resources, and training on the Americans with Disabilities Act for businesses, employers, governmental entities, service providers and individuals with disabilities.
The Next Session is Thursday May 21, 2015 1:00 – 2:30pm CST
Digital and Technology Access: the Role of Law and the Limits of Law with Speaker Lainey Feingold, Law Office of Lainey Feingold
This session will explore the role of the law in advancing digital accessibility in the United States. The ADA doesn't mention websites or the Internet. Does it matter? Court decisions, voluntary settlements, advocacy by the Department of Justice and Department of Education and new regulations are making the digital environment more accessible. But is it enough? Participants in this webinar will learn about recent litigation, Structured Negotiations, and administrative actions making websites, mobile applications and other technology available to people with disabilities. We'll talk about how the ADA and other state and federal laws can advance digital inclusion and the various strategies that advocates have at their disposal to effectively use those laws.
About our Speaker
Since 1996, Lainey Feingold, a 1981 graduate of Hastings Law School has had her own law practice in Berkeley, California. Lainey is a disability rights lawyer who works primarily with the blind community on technology and information access issues. She is nationally recognized for negotiating landmark accessibility agreements and for pioneering the collaborative advocacy and dispute resolution method known as Structured Negotiations. Feingold is a regular presenter at the International Technology and People with Disabilities Conference (CSUN), has taught disability rights classes at Bay Area law schools and has written and spoken extensively on disability rights issues around the country.
The Accessible Technology Webinar series is free, but participants must register at http://www.ada-audio.org/
- July 16, 2015 Screen Readers Jonathan Campbell
- September 17, 2015 How do I know if my PDF is accessible? With Christy Blew
- November 19, 2015 Social Media, Accessibility and Disability Inclusion with Debra Ruh
Section 508 Refresh
On February 18, the U.S. Access Board released the proposed Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Standards and Guidelines that would update the standards for Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act and Section 255 of the Communications Act for public comment. This is a continuation of the process to update these standards and is one step removed from final issuance of the standards. The updated standards reflect changes in the technology landscape due to development of new technologies, the convergence of technologies and the increasingly multi-functional capabilities of products such as smart phones. As with previous drafts of the proposed rule, the update focuses on the following key areas:
- The standards are now organized by function rather than technology type – that is, what the product does rather than what it is;
- Harmonization with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, an industry and global standard for making web content accessible to people with disabilities;
- A requirement that any products providing two-way, real-time voice communication include the functionality to transmit real-time text (RTT) which displays characters as they are typed instead of as a block of text;
- Further clarification of internal agency content that is subject to compliance with the standards;
- Specific requirements for electronic documents and for re-usable modules such as templates and software development kits
The Board is seeking public comments on the rule as well as a preliminary assessment of its estimated costs and benefits. Comments are due by May 28, 2015. The Board conducted a public webinar to review the proposal on March 31, please see archive of that session.
Assistive Technology Survey
Are you a young adult with a disability in post-secondary education? Do you work with or know individuals with disabilities in post-secondary education? Please help us distribute this import survey on Assistive Technology use. The survey takes about 5 minutes to complete and results are confidential.
Survey Link: http://bit.ly/SurveyAT
The survey is part of the Quality Indicators for Assistive Technology in Post-Secondary education, offers tools and resources on quality implementation of assistive technology in the post-secondary educational environments. The project is sponsored by the Great Lakes ADA Center and the Pacific ADA Center, members of the ADA National Network. QIAT-PS is a collaborative effort of hundreds of professionals from a wide variety of higher education and K-12 schools and based on the successful implementations of assistive technology indicators in K-12 public schools. The QIAT-PS website is www.qiat-ps.org
What is Audio Description?
Audio description also referred to as a video description or more precisely called a visual description, is an additional narration track intended primarily for blind and visually impaired consumers of visual media. Audio Description is a narration service (provided at no additional charge to the patron) that attempts to describe what the sighted person takes for granted -- those images that a person who is blind or visually impaired formerly could only experience through the whispered asides from a sighted companion. Audio description helps to ensure that people who are blind or have low vision enjoy equal access to performances and exhibits.
With performances, audio description uses the natural pauses in dialogue or narration to provide essential visual information. A trained describer inserts descriptions of critical visual elements: actions, appearance of characters, body language, costumes, settings, lighting, etc. At live performances, descriptions are delivered through a wireless earphone allowing people who are blind or have low vision to sit anywhere in the audience.
With exhibits, audio description melds the description of significant visual elements with an abbreviated version of any posted text. Descriptions may be delivered as part of a live or recorded tour through specialized playback systems. Recorded tours also include information about the operation of the device and basic navigation through the space.
In theaters, in museums, and accompanying television, film, and video presentations, Audio Description is commentary and narration which guides the listener through the presentation with concise, objective descriptions of new scenes, settings, costumes, body language, and "sight gags," all slipped in between portions of dialogue or songs.
The late Dr Margaret Pfanstiehl and her late husband Cody invented audio description in 1981. In 1990, the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences awarded Margaret an Emmy for her "leadership and persistence in the development of television for the visually impaired." In 2009, Margaret received the Excellence in Accessibility Leadership Award at the LEAD Conference at the Kennedy Center for her lifetime commitment and enduring advocacy on behalf of audio description and other forms of information access for the visually impaired community. Over the years, the Pfanstiehls personally trained hundreds of audio describers around the world. Since then, many of those trained describers have gone on to train other audio describers.
In 2010, President Obama signed the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act, which, among other accessibility initiatives, mandates, after one year, 4 hours per week of video description on the top 4 broadcast networks and top 5 cable channels in the top 25 most populated markets. The law prescribes incremental expansion of video description over a period of years to achieve 100 percent nationwide coverage.
For a complete timeline of audio description, visit the Audio Description Coalition website.
Samples Demonstrating Audio Description
- Self-Driving Car Test: Steve Mahan
- HTML5 video accessibility and the WebVTT file format
- Videos for Students: Evolving Ideas (from WGBH - launch a video, then click on the Descriptive Video Service link)
- Audio Description of a Museum Painting
There are basic techniques to audio description.
- Use of Natural pauses in existing soundtrack to insert descriptions of visual elements such as actions, settings, appearance of characters, body language, costumes, lighting, and on-screen text.
- Offer good description when no audible indications are offered.
- Describe what is seen and do not interpret and try to describe objectively.
- Keep language consistent.
- Do NOT censor the material.
- Provide a separate script and record to a separate audio track.
- If possible, allow the narrator’s voice to compliment the video. An appropriate tone should be used based on the levity of the topic. If possible, use a voice to compliment the topic being Audio Described.
- A trained individual is recommended to narrate and/or write the descriptions.
The Audio Description Coalition provides a set of standards based on the training and experiences of audio describers in the united states. Download a PDF copy here.
- 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act – http://www.fcc.gov/guides/21st-century-communications-and-video-accessibility-act-2010
- Audio Description Coalition – http://www.audiodescriptioncoalition.org
- The Media Access Group at WGBH – http://main.wgbh.org/wgbh/pages/mag/description.html
- American Council of the Blind (ACB) – http://www.acb.org/adp/services.html
The two logos are samples of Audio Description logos offered for use by American Council of the Blind.
Learn About Employment Accommodations
Punch-in, a project of the Great Lakes ADA Center, is sponsoring a webinar for young adults with disabilities to learn about employment accommodations.
Workplace accommodations level the playing field for many people with disabilities. Knowing how, when and why it might be necessary to disclose a disability is the first and often most difficult part of the accommodation process. The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) is a federally funded program staffed with experienced consultants who can educate young people about their rights as well as provide coaching throughout the disclosure and accommodation process. In addition to JAN’s one-on-one consulting, a number of other tools are available. Join this webcast for a live tour of the JAN website at AskJAN.org where the various tools will be showcased. Participants will also learn how JAN can assist them in starting or advancing their careers, including the accommodation process for both post-secondary training and the workplace. Real-life examples will be interspersed throughout.
Melanie Whetzel, MA - Melanie joined the JAN staff as a consultant on the Cognitive and Neurological Team in February 2008. She has a fourteen-year history of teaching and advocating for students with disabilities in the public school system. Melanie holds a Master of Arts degree in Special Education, a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, and has most recently completed a graduate certificate certification in Career Planning and Placement for Youth in Transition. She became a certified brain injury specialist in 2014.
Lou Orslene, MPIA, MSW, CPDM - As the Job Accommodation Network's (JAN) Co-Director, Lou Orslene leads the premier national resource for free, expert and confidential guidance on workplace accommodations and disability employment. Lou’s presentations are informed by 25 years in the field of disability employment and through collaborations with ATIA, DMEC, SHRM, USBLN and others.
The webinar is free, but you must be a part of the Punch-In network to participate. If you are interested in becoming part of Punch-In, please email Janet Peters at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.