Accessibility News - Summary for the Week of May 12th, 2017 May 12, 2017

Computer screen with "Accessibility in the News" written on it

It’s Friday, May 12th, which means it is time for another edition of accessibility news! This week’s stories cover a wide range of topics from the EU to the ADA. We’re going to look into ways that groups are trying to entice website owners to improve their digital accessibility. We are also going to cover accessibility and healthcare in both digital and physical forms. Finally, we’ll check in with the EU and get a lesson on how they’re trying to improve the accessibility of their print materials. Here it is – your weekly news roundup!

Incentives for Complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act

If you’ve visited this blog before, then you know we often talk about the reasons why digital accessibility is so important. Basically, making websites easily accessible to everyone is the right thing to do. However, the knowledge that they are doing the right thing is not always enough to spur website owners to act. That is why some groups are searching for ways to encourage website owners to update their sites to comply. While these groups do care about digital accessibility, they are also trying to ensure that website owners reach compliance so they can avoid lawsuits.

In Colorado, one solution seems to be working, “In Durango, interested businesses can get a free ADA assessment. If they make proper ADA renovations, they can get reimbursed dollar for dollar up to $2,000.”[1] According to The Denver Channel website, this initiative was championed by Peak Access, a local nonprofit.[2]

To read more about programs that are creating incentives for businesses to comply with ADA guidelines, head over to The Denver Channel’s full report.

Accessible Print Materials in the European Union

Have you heard about the European Union’s Marrakesh Treaty? Admittedly, it’s not something I knew about either. While the Treaty was adopted by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) in 2013, the EU recently entertained a proposal that will impact their print materials. I’ll let the official European Union briefing explain exactly what the new proposal can achieve since they’ll probably do a better job of describing it, “The objective of the proposals, made by the Commission as part of the ongoing modernisation of the EU copyright law, is to facilitate access to published works for persons who are blind, have other visual impairments or are otherwise print disabled.”[3] Essentially, it will make sure that when things are published, they are also done in a format that is accessible. However, the proposal still needs to be passed by two EU co-legislators in order to be official.

Get the scoop on the Marrakesh Treaty by visiting their website here.

Healthcare and Accessibility

You have probably noticed that health care is taking on a decidedly more digital focus. While certain issues require you to have a doctor physically present, there are increasingly more medical care matters that can be completed online. Many patients can complete things like having a virtual doctor’s visit to accessing their medical test results entirely online. In his interview,  Key digital trends for healthcare clinics, Adam Schrag covers some of the benefits these systems can bring to users, “Practices improve accessibility by offering patients the ability to schedule appointments, view medical records, request prescription refills, receive test results and directly message their physician with questions or concerns.”[4] These new systems are exciting, and can be amazing for patients around the world.

With these digital advancements come the need for accessibility considerations. While this isn’t necessarily new news (and it's something that only occurred to me while I did a virtual doctor's visit for a cold last week), as the healthcare field looks at transitioning to digital platforms they will need to think about these concerns. These digital healthcare concerns will only grow as more medical processes are conducted online. These advancements are important and helpful to making healthcare easier for everyone to access. Each online healthcare platform needs to also ensure that these online features are also accessible. Without testing all of them individually, it’s hard to tell which ones will take digital accessibility issues into account. Hopefully, providers will build accessibility into each system, making these online healthcare options easy for everyone to use.

On a similar note, if you need traditional healthcare, accessibility is also a big consideration. Digital Health reports that Sheffield Teaching Hospitals have launched an online disability access guide. The guide gives users access to all sorts of accessibility information to prepare for their visit including, “…where a department is located, parking spots, whether there are lifts to access other floors or if a hearing loop is fitted at reception.”[5] These types of accessibility guides are extremely important, especially in healthcare situations. If you have ever been lost in a hospital complex or late for a doctor’s appointment, you know how frustrating it can be to deal with these problems. Adding the extra step of trying to find accessible parking or the correct elevator can make things much more difficult. Having an accessibility guide can help visitors to plan their visits and ensure they have access to the accommodations they need.

Accessibility Begins to Take Center Stage

As accessibility starts to become a more regular consideration, we will start seeing more innovative approaches to creating an accessible world. It’s an exciting time to watch what companies, individuals, and governments are doing to support everyone’s needs. Things like digital healthcare have the potential to make a true impact on many lives, and the more accessible we make them from the beginning, the better they will be from the outset. If you are an innovator, creator, designer, or pretty much anyone who is putting a product or idea out into the world please consider accessibility. It’s an important issue that might seem small until you start noticing the impact that it has on real people’s lives every day.

What news did you find interesting this week? Has your doctor moved to a really great digital platform that you think people should know about? Share your thoughts on this week’s stories in the comments below!

 

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