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Feature image Accessibility News - Summary for the Week of January 27th, 2017

Bringing you yet another week of accessibility news! Today is Friday, January 27, 2017 and we know you’ve probably been inundated with a lot of political news this week after the US’s recent presidential inauguration. Sandwiched in between some happy stories about Google honoring a disability right’s activist and the fashion world embracing adaptive fashion are two political articles that are pretty important to know a bit about.

Google Honored Disability Rights Activist Ed Roberts

Google is one of the biggest online search engines in the world with a staggering average of 3.5 billion searches per day.[1] To add a bit of interest to the mundane act of searching for something on the internet, Google came up with a fun, educational, and sometimes interactive component called the Google Doodle. These Doodles are typically to mark a specific day, honor a person, or bring awareness to a cause.

This week, Google unveiled a Doodle honoring what would have been the 78th birthday of American disability right’s activist Ed Roberts. According to Time online, Roberts contracted polio at the age of 14, leaving him paralyzed below the neck.[2] Many hail Roberts as the father of the independent living movement with the Center for Independent Living of North Central Florida writing, “He fought throughout his life to enable all persons with disabilities to fully participate in society.”[3] He used his educational pursuits to paved the way for other students with disabilities, and brought significant attention to the treatment of all people with disabilities.

Find out more about the incredible work of Ed Roberts by visiting CNET’s article about the activist.

Did the Whitehouse Website Really Remove Disability Content?

According to the Disability Scoop website, the bulk of the content the Whitehouse website used to have on disability issues is no longer there. When the article’s author attempted to find the once prominently listed information they came up lacking, “Searches for disabilities or disability on the new version of whitehouse.gov yield just nine results including two related to Grover Cleveland.”[4] While the content is no longer where it used to be, that doesn’t mean it’s gone forever. For now, we can just wait and hope that they are retooling the website and that it will resurface.

However, USA Today found another pretty alarming problem. The accessibility features on the site also seem to be missing according to their recent report that states, “A little button at the bottom of the Obama White House website provided information for people with disabilities — including a White House video tour in sign language and an explanation of links on the site that allowed users to use audible screen readers, closed captioning and other services.”[5] As the article correctly points out, this will likely not be a permanent issue. While the disability information does not legally have to be on the site (to my knowledge), the federal government is required to make their websites accessible under Section 508. This means that the Whitehouse website will probably need to replace the accessibility features soon or risk violating a pretty important policy.

You can learn more about the content that people have seen disappear from the Whitehouse website by visiting the disabilityscoop website.

You Can Join the New Wave of Protesting: A Virtual Disability Protest

On a related note, you probably heard a lot about the recent women’s marches across the world protesting some of the recent political changes happening in America. While marching is a pretty historical way of protesting, it isn’t something that is accessible to many people across the globe. The people at Bustle brought my attention to a great idea developed by Sonya Huber who explained why she started the virtual march, “’I was trying to think about an alternative for myself and I started thinking about the large numbers of people that I know who have travel and other activity [limitations] because of chronic health issues.’”[6] For all of the people who are unable to march in protests, a virtual protest can be an excellent alternative to allow you to have your voice heard.

At the time this article was written, the Disability March website noted that their inbox was currently full. However, you are able to sign up for alerts as they organize more events by going to their website.

Disabilities are Starting to Be Represented in the Fashion World

If you follow fashion trends, you may have noticed that more ad campaigns and fashion shows are starting to be more inclusive. While the fashion industry has been fairly closed off for a long time and typically only featured a very slim (pun intended) slice of the population, it seems that this is starting to change. In yet another Bustle article entitledWhy Disability Is The Latest Fashion Industry Frontier, they interviewed fashion blogger Karin Hitselberger. Hitselberger sheds light on the inequality she often feels, “Just because I’m physically disabled doesn’t mean I don’t have my own style, and fashion can’t be something that I care about.”[7]

The article goes on to explain how the fashion world is working toward more inclusive styles with important concepts like what they term “wheelchair couture” becoming more widely available. As someone who has struggled to find a fashion-forward eyepatch, I certainly appreciate that people are starting to realize that adaptive fashion is something that needs to happen.

What accessibility news caught your attention this week? Share links to your favorite stories or tell us how you feel about what happened this week by writing a comment below!