April � June 2015
Volume 9 Issue 3 

ADA Center's quarterly Accessible Technology Bulletin

Technology Trainings & Events
(Central Standard Time)

New Technologies, New Opportunities: The Changing World of Assistive Technology
April 8, 2015 6:30pm CST
Parents and professionals will learn about current technology trends digital citizenship, wearable technology, 3D printing, mobile devices, and more and their potential to help children with disabilities and learning differences. For more information visit: www.pacer.org/workshops.
Successfully Integrating Web Accessibility in Your Organization's Lifecycle
April 8, 2015 Noon CST
WCAG 2.0 has been with us for over seven years, yet organizations are still struggling to provide Web experiences that are accessible to people with disabilities and the elderly. For most organizations, Web accessibility is nothing short of a nightmare. But does it really need to be? Accessibility requirements challenge development practices and jeopardize a project's profitability. For more information: www.accessibilityassociation.org
Accessibility Training for Online Educator
April 14, 2015 1pm CST
Is your college or university considering providing a similar course for its faculty? These two live examples will provide you a wealth of ideas and experience to design such an online experience for its faculty. Few schools are providing anything this comprehensive, but schools need to provide training similar to these successful online courses. For more information go to: EASI Webinars.
Acrobat XI Accessibility Requirements, Implementation, and Evaluation
April 14. 2015 1pm CST
This webinar will discuss the requirements, implementation, and evaluation techniques for core areas of PDF Accessibility. Key topics in this presentation will include, Creation of accessible source documents, Use of proper heading structure and reading order, Textual alternatives for visual elements, Using the Make Accessible Wizard and Accessibility Checker in Acrobat, Using the Touch-up Reading Order and Tags panels, and Best practices to maintain and update documents. For more information: info.ssbbartgroup.com.
Making Learning Available to Everyone: Section 508 Accessibility in Education
April 21, 2015 10am CST
This session will discuss applied accessible development to a relied upon learning platforms for business and elementary education. For more information go to: WeCo Webinars.
Charting the Cs Cross Categorical Conference
April 27 - 28, 2015
Alexandria, MN
The Minnesota Assistive Technology Leadership Team is expands Charting the Cs assistive technology conference to be cross-categorical. Keynote speaker: award winning Joy Zabala. For more information go to: www.lcsc.org
University of Illinois Web Conference
April 29 30, 2015
Champaign, IL
The 16th Annual University of Illinois Web Conference brings together web professionals from higher education and beyond for two days of professional development and networking activities. Content managers, designers, programmers, IT pros, and more. If you work with the web, this event is for you. For more information: http://webcon.illinois.edu/
Overview of Global IT Accessibility Laws and Policies
May 9, 2015 Noon CST
This webinar is a high-level overview of global IT accessibility laws and policies. The presentation will start with an analysis of U.S. laws and policies with a goal of creating a general conceptual framework for understanding how different laws and policies fit together. It will then extend this framework more broadly to include examples from other nations. This approach will help audience members understand how to examine any countrys IT laws and policies, harmonize elements that might otherwise seem inconsistent, and identify where gaps still exist. For information: www.accessibilityassociation.org
Web Accessibility Training
May 19 20, 2015
Logan, UT
This hands-on training session, sponsored by Webaim, will teach basic web accessibility principles and to advanced accessibility techniques. For more information: www.webaim.org/training
Section 508 Accessibility in Healthcare: Reaching Patients Living with Disabilities
May 20, 2015 12:30pm CST
Learn from health care organizations who have incorporated accessible changes into how they reach and serve patients. For more information go to: WeCo Webinars.
101 Worksite Accommodation in Five Minutes or Less
May 28, 2015 2:30pm CST
This webinar will discuss and demonstrate over 100 worksite adaptations that can be made in five minutes or less for individuals who are employed in service, manufacturing, or agricultural related occupations. For more information: www.atia.org
Reaching the Public with Section 508 Accessible Government Communication
June 4, 2015 1pm CST
Hear directly from governments, and companies who build applications for governments, on how they have moved products, information and platforms into accessible formats. More details to come! For more information go to: WeCo Webinars.
Modern Web Accessibility with JavaScript and WAI-ARIA
June 10, 2015 Noon CST
JavaScript is the one language that works on all Web-enabled devices! JavaScript and WAI-ARIA are essential for making dynamic websites and apps accessible. Modern screen readers have excellent support for WAI-ARIA, even on mobile devices. Learn to use the W3C's WAI-ARIA spec and JavaScript to create accessible HTML5 Web apps. See how HTML5 and ARIA enhancements work in different combinations of the newest browsers and screen readers. For more information: www.accessibilityassociation.org
Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA) Annual Conference
June 10 14, 2015
Denver, CO
If you are working in the field of assistive technology or rehabilitation engineering, studying or just interested in the field, then this is the conference for you! You will be able to learn about the latest advances in technology solutions for persons with disability and network with others with similar interests while earning continuing education credit. For more information: www.resna.org/conference

Join Us for Next Accessible Technology Webinar

The Accessible Technology Webinar series is hosted and coordinated by the Great Lakes ADA Center and the Pacific ADA Center, members of the ADA National Network.

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.

Picture of Lainey Feingold

Lainey Feingold

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/

Future sessions:

  • 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.

The NPRM is available on the Access Board's website and at Regulations.gov

Further information about the proposal is available on the Access Boards ICT Refresh page or by contacting Timothy Creagan at (202) 272-0016 (v), (202) 272-0074 (TTY), or 508@access-board.gov

Assistive Technology Survey

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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


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 narrators 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.


Picture of AD Logo White Picture of AD Logo Black

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.

Picture of Punch In Logo

Session Description

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 JANs 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.

Our Speakers

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. Lous 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 jpete@uic.edu for more information.


Last Updated on:
Wed Apr 1, 2015