GOP Paranoid Politics Defeat CRPD Disability Treaty in Senate 61 – 38

Senator Kerry was eloquent. 89-year old Bob Dole emailed from Walter Reid hospital and made it to the Senate floor to urge a yes vote. Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng wrote a supporting letter. Veterans, disability and civil rights group lobbied, tweeted, and organized. But it wasn’t enough. On December 4, at 9:29 a.m., thirty eight Republican Senators voted against the United Nations Convention of the Rights of People with Disabilities (#CRPD). Thirty eight votes is all it took to deprive the majority of the 2/3 vote needed to ratify a basic human rights treaty already approved by over 120 countries around the world. Yesterday at 9:29 a.m. human rights lost. The victors, to quote the New York Times, were “purveyors of paranoid politics.” Read more…

Rick Santorum’s Most Recent Enemy? Millions of Disabled People Around the World

On Tuesday December 4th, the United States Senate can join over 120 other countries and ratify the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Supporters of the treaty span almost the entire political spectrum – President Obama, Senate Democrats, the U.S. disability community, 21 faith organizations, 30 veteran organizations, movie critic Roger Ebert, and the U.S Chamber of Commerce and former president George HW Bush, to name just a few. Who’s missing? The Tea Party wing of the Republican Party. Led by Rick Santorum and Tea Party front group Patriot Voice, the far right threatens to derail years of work by human and civil rights activists around the world. The CRPD vote will be a showdown between Tea Party activists and those who believe people with disabilities around the world deserve education, employment, and basic human and civil rights. Read more…

Cinemark Audio Description Settlement Agreement

The settlement agreement posted here is a result of Structured Negotiations between the California Council of the Blind, Cinemark patrons with visual impairments, and Cinemark, a leading domestic and international motion picture exhibitor. Linda Dardarian, of the Oakland, California civil rights firm Goldstein, Demchak, Baller, Borgen and Dardarian, and the Law Office of Lainey Feingold worked with the blind community on this initiative. Audio Description provides vocal description of key visual aspects of a movie, such as descriptions of scenery, facial expressions, costumes, action settings, and scene changes, described audibly during natural pauses in dialogue or critical sound elements. Narration of these elements is then woven into the soundtrack of the program or film, so that the finished version is a mix of program audio and descriptive narration. The description, which is provided by movie studios, is available only to members of the audience who choose to receive it via personal headsets and a receiver provided at the theater. Read more…

Cinemark Installing Audio Description Technology Across the United States

CINEMARK ANNOUNCES GREATER MOVIE THEATRE ACCESSIBILITY FOR CUSTOMERS WHO ARE BLIND AND VISUALLY IMPAIRED Cinemark LogoSeptember 27, 2012 – Plano, Texas Cinemark Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: CNK), one of the world’s largest motion picture exhibitors, today announced that it is providing an audio description option for people who are blind or have visual impairments in all of its first-run theatres. Cinemark is installing audio description systems on a rolling basis across its circuit in conjunction with the chain’s conversion to an all-digital format. Installation is already well under way, and all of Cinemark’s theaters in California already have audio description capability. Cinemark will be able to offer audio description at all of its first-run theaters by mid 2013. Read more…

NCR Installs Additional Talking ATMs in India (with solar power option too!)

The article posted here about NCR’s Talking ATMs in India first appeared in the Hindu Business Line. The Law Office of Lainey Feingold, and Linda Dardarian, first engaged with NCR in the mid-1990’s as the Talking ATM initiative was getting underway in the United States. This story about NCR’s Talking (and solar-powered!) ATMs demonstrates yet again that accessibility is an international issue. Accessible technology that starts in one country is bound to make its way around the world. The technology corporations are global, advocacy needs to be too. Blind advocates are not mentioned in the story below, but no doubt they played an important role in efforts to bring independent access to financial services to India. Read more…

Federal Judge Rules that ADA Covers Web-only Businesses

Those who believe that web content should be available to everyone regardless of disability received welcomed news on Tuesday, June 19. On that day, a federal district court judge in Massachusetts held that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to web-only businesses. The ruling came in a case brought by the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) against Netflix for the streaming video giant’s faiure to provide closed captioning on most of its “Watch Instantly” programming streamed on the Internet. Netflix had tried to get the case thrown out of court, arguing that the ADA only applies to physical places, and not to a web-only operation like Netflix’ streaming video service. The Judge rejected this argument, and the case will now move forward. The U.S. Department of Justice also played a significant role by entering the case in support of the plaintiffs’ position. Read more…

How to Order Walmart Talking Prescription Containers

On June 8 Walmart announced that it is now providing the ScripTalk Talking Prescription Containers free of charge to persons with visual impairments as part of a pilot program. The ScripTalk Talking Prescription program is being offered to customers across the country through Walmart mail order, and also at three Walmart stores. Read the Walmart… Read more…

Walmart Offers Talking Prescription Containers to Customers with Visual Impairments

The Walmart press release posted here announces a pilot program in which Talking Prescription Containers will be available for blind Walmart customers across the country through Walmart mail order, and also for blind customers at three Walmart stores. This is the first time in the United States that a national pharmacy retailer has piloted talking prescription technology on a national basis. Wal-Mart is working with En-Vision America, maker of the ScripTalk talking prescription program. Read more…

Talking ATMs in India

The June 6, 2012 Google Alert for Talking ATMs included a news report, posted below, of the “first” Talking ATM in India. It was not the first time the Indian press covered accessible ATMs though. In September 2011 the Hindu Business Times reported on the experience of using a Talking ATM for the first time, but on closer read last Fall’s story may just have been describing temporary installations. Whether or not Union Bank of India has installed the first or second Talking ATM, congratulations go out to advocates in the Indian blind community and that country’s banking industry for recognizing the importance of accessible technology. Read more…

First Addendum to MLB Settlement Agreement

The settlement posted here extends the Agreement between Major League Baseball and the American Council of the Blind and its Massachusetts and California affiliates. This is the first agreement of its kind to address the accessibility of applications for mobile devices. MLB has agreed to use the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level AA as its standard for mobile applications, and has recently released AtBat™ for the iPhone and iPad with enhanced accessibility. Read more…