Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo and a host of other tech giants have pledged to boost web accessibility

Some of the world’s biggest technology companies want the app-makers of tomorrow to put a much bigger focus on accessibility. “Students in fields such as design, computer sciences and human computer interaction must be better prepared to enter the workforce and create future technologies that are truly inclusive,” reads the mission statement of Teaching Accessibility, a new working group that includes Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, Dropbox, AT&T, Adobe, LinkedIn, and a handful of education partners like Stanford, Carnegie Mellon, and Georgia Tech. The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) is also part of the effort. “Accessibility must become mainstream,” the group says. “Only then will technology reach its true potential for connecting and enabling everyone in the world.

“Teaching Accessibility was formed with a goal of creating “models for teaching and training students of technology to create accessible experiences.” Higher education is Teaching Accessibility’s primary focus; participating companies will push to make accessibility and universal design principles a major component of courses taken by computer scientists, designers, and researchers. Microsoft also says industry job descriptions should establish a clear preference for those with accessibility knowledge. Teaching Accessibility’s formation comes just as the Americans with Disabilities Act turns 25. Other companies including Google, IBM, and Apple are also striving to be more inclusive with their products and technologies.

To read the full article, visit The Verge.

Apple and IBM have also joined forces for an ambitious projected aimed at aiding web accessibility in Japan

Apple, IBM and Japan Post are teaming up for a project aimed at connecting Japanese seniors through customised iPad software. The project will employ iPad apps written by IBM and integrated into Japan Post’s existing services, helping seniors coordinate services like household maintenance, medical services and care-giving. The new apps will integrate with existing Apple services like FaceTime. Japan Post CEO Taizo Nishimuro described the end-goal of the project as “designing experiences that are easy to use for seniors, the kind of intuitive experience the iPad is famous for.

To read the full article, visit The Verge.

Slate’s Tori Ekstrand expresses her disbelief in the tech industry for only just getting on-board with web accessibility, but states that some action is better than none at all

The Internet is increasingly about essential life needs, especially when it comes to access to employment, government services, health care, and education. Try applying for a job or enrolling at a local college or university without a broadband connection, and you’ll run into trouble.

“Web access is quickly becoming mandatory. And that’s a problem, because as access becomes more integral to the essentials of everyday life, the gap between those who have access to the Internet and to its content – and those who don’t – grows. This gap can be significant. People with perceptual disabilities, such as those who are deaf or blind, require websites to provide closed captioning or to be flexible enough to work well with screen reader technology. Websites also need to be compatible with alternate input devices – such as speech recognition or eye tracking – so that those with motor disabilities can use them.

To read the full article, visit Slate.

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