Share this…TwitterFacebookPinterestLinkedInEmailPrint RelatedATU228 – iOS 9 and Its Impact on People with Disabilities | Luis Perez | Free AT Webinars, Insulin and Blood Sugar Monitoring on Your Smart Phone, Robots and AutismOctober 9, 2015In “Assistive Technology Update”ATU188 – Wheel Life & The Bally Foundation, Look at Me app for Autism, Applevis’ Golden Apple Awards, Birdhouse for AutismJanuary 2, 2015In “Assistive Technology Update”ATU182 – Roger Voice, KNFB Reader, RESNA’s new Singapore Conference, Legislative Update From Audrey Busch, Drive About Number Neighborhood AppNovember 21, 2014In “Assistive Technology Update” Podcast: Play in new window | DownloadYour weekly dose of information that keeps you up to date on the latest developments in the field of technology designed to assist people with disabilities and special needs.Sachin Pavithran | regulations.gov | access-board.govWCAG-EM Report Tool: Website Accessibility Evaluation Report Generator | W3C News http://buff.ly/1FCR1KnApple Watch Pricing, Pre-Orders, & Release Date Revealed http://buff.ly/1MJVFZ8Assistive Technology Frequently Asked Questions (ATFAQ) www.ATFAQShow.comCSUN 2015: What’s New from the Exhibit Hall and Beyond – AccessWorld® – March 2015 http://buff.ly/1x0UAbMNIH Funding Projects to Develop Assistive Robots – Nasa Tech Briefs :: Medical Design Briefs http://buff.ly/1xePIjtApp: Be My Eyes www.BridgingApps.org——————————Listen 24/7 at www.AssistiveTechnologyRadio.comIf you have an AT question, leave us a voice mail at: 317-721-7124 or email [email protected] out our web site: https://www.eastersealstech.comFollow us on Twitter: @INDATAprojectLike us on Facebook: www.Facebook.com/INDATA——-transcript follows —— SACHIN PAVITHRAN: Hi, this is Sachin Pavithran, the vice chair at the US Access Board, and this is your Assistive Technology Update.WADE WINGLER: Hi, this is Wade Wingler with the INDATA Project at Easter Seals crossroads in Indiana with your Assistive Technology Update, a weekly dose of information that keeps you up-to-date on the latest developments in the field of technology designed to assist people with disabilities and special needs.Welcome to episode number 199 of Assistive Technology Update. It’s scheduled to be released on March 20 of 2015. 199 means that next week is episode 200, and we’ve got a special episode coming up for you. I’m very excited. My good friend Danny Wayne Beamer who is an on-air personality and a user of assistive technology and somebody I’ve known for years is going to interview me. We’re going to talk about the history of the show, some of my favorite interviews and kind of what’s happened with the show over the last 200 episodes. Make sure that you tune in next week and celebrate episode 200 with us.Today, though, I’m excited to have my good friend Sachin Pavithran talk about the refresh of Section 508 of the Rehab Act. Sachin is now the chair of the US Access Board and is going to tell us what the big changes are that are happening over there.We have a story about a new reporting tool that will work with website accessibility; a little bit of a teaser about Apple Watch information; information about the CSON conference that happened recently; and a story about NIH funding to help with assistive technology robots.We hope you’ll check out our website at www.eastersealstech.com, give us a call on our listener line at 317-721-7124, or shoot us a note on Twitter at INDATA Project.Website accessibility is important to everybody, especially those who use assistive technology. There are a lot of good tools out there that people are aware of that are automated and let you run your website address to a tool and give you feedback on accessibility. Well, the W3C’s Web access initiative – they are a group that helps work on this topic, and they’ve created a tool that’s pretty interesting. It’s a report generation tool. What it lets you do is be on the situation where you want to do a quick, down and dirty automated check, allows you to structure a more manual investigation of the web page and that makes sense. I did a real quick run through and it asks you some questions about who you are and what website you are looking at and what set of standards are you trying to apply. Then it helps you go through and address each one of the accessibility standards and make some comments on that. The end result is a really nicely formatted report that can be provided to decision-makers or people who are interested in knowing about the accessibility of your website.There are a ton of great tools that here, but this is the first one I’ve seen that kind of gets into the weeds a little bit and up to structure and generate a report from a manual audit of a website accessibility. I’m going to pop a link in the show notes and you can check out this new WCAG reporting tool that will help you make a nicely formatted report about your website accessibility.Apple is used to more than 15 minutes of fame, that’s for sure. I think their 15 minutes is going to drag on just a little bit longer when it comes to the Apple Watch. They have announced that in April you will be able to make preorders for the Apple Watch. It’s going to do all kinds of cool stuff. Prices ranging from $350 to upwards of $10,000 depending on bells and whistles and the kind of strap you get, the kind of metal and all that kind of stuff. I’m not going to spend a whole lot of time on the topic today because in our other show, AT FAQ, which be coming up Monday right after the show comes on Friday, we spend a little bit of an extended period of time talking about the Apple Watch and what that’s going to mean for folks with disabilities.If you haven’t checked out AT FAQ, it comes out twice a month and folks here at Easter Seals crossroads who are experts in the field of assistive technology take your questions and answer them and give you some advice on how to do with assistive technology. In this week’s upcoming AT FAQ, the Apple watch was our wildcard question that gets thrown to the group without much preparation.I’m going to encourage you to do two things: one, check our show notes. I’ve got a link over to the critical information about the Apple Watch and information that you want to know if you haven’t heard already. Two, on Monday, check in iTunes or wherever you get your podcast to find our episode of AT FAQ episode to where we talk about the Apple Watch and other cool stuff too. Check our show notes, will have things to both of those places.It’s that time of the year when a lot of people in the assistive technology industry gather up in California for the CSON conference. On the AFB Access World magazine’s web version, J.J. Meddaugh has been a little recap of what he found to be interesting at CSON this year. There is a lot of good stuff to check out. Some of the headlines are the KNFB Reader app gets more features and is coming to Android, Google apparently had a big-time presence at the conference this year. They had over 60 people from their staff attending to learn, share information and get more connected to the assistive technology industry. Handy Tech has a musical braille display. AccessaMed accessible prescriptions might be coming to major pharmacy chains. Comcast X1, which is their talking guide for cable boxes, was on the exhibit floor. One of the points that he makes is that there were a lot of mainstream companies there. In addition to Google and Comcast, Canon was there with an ultraportable scanner line as their talking about. I don’t want to spoil it all. I encourage you to check our show notes. We’ll have a link over to JJ’s article and you can find all the stuff that he found out while he was at CSON.I’m always a sucker for a good robot story. According to the Medical Design Briefs blog, the National Institutes of Health are getting behind some projects that had to do with the robots and people with disabilities. One of those projects is a wearable therapeutic exoskeleton designed to help folks who have trouble with mobility, perhaps who have had strokes, be more stable as they move around and have a little bit more control and a little bit more stamina. And then there is one about automatic robotic wheelchairs. Apparently the users of the wheelchairs will wear some sort of glasses and rely on head movements to control their wheelchair and navigate their environment. And then there is a third one here that’s about music-based robotic stimuli for children who have autism. They are talking about having children play instruments, musical instruments, and improvise and interact with a robotic companion to help identify some innovative interventions for autism spectrum disorder. Interesting stuff, very futuristic stuff. I’m excited to see what happens with those projects. I’ll pop a link in the show notes and you can go and read more about how these robotic research projects may help folks with disabilities in the future.Each week, one of our partners tells us what’s happening in the ever-changing world of apps, so here’s an app worth mentioning.AMY BARRY: This is Amy Barry with BridgingApps, and this is an app worth mentioning. Today’s app is called Be My Eyes. Be My Eyes is a crowd sourced app that partners a person with vision to a person who is blind or visually impaired using video chat. The person with sight tells the other user what he or she sees. For example, a person who is blind or visually impaired may ask what color is this shirt? And the volunteer answers blue. On February 5, 2015, there were 119,000 volunteers signed up to assist. There were 10,530 people that are blind or visually impaired signed up. And there were 31,000 times that people were helped.We trialed this app with a 21-year-old young man with a vision impairment. The app was easy to use and very user-friendly. It took us about one minute to sign up and get started. The volunteer that aided was very professional and helpful. She assisted with his questions and nothing more. This app is a great tool for someone transitioning out of school and will be experiencing independent living. People who are blind or visually impaired do an amazing job of navigating their environment. We think this app can be a great resource for when they get into a pinch and need quick assistance. Be My Eyes is free in the iTunes store and is compatible with iOS devices. For more information on this app and others like it, visit BridgingApps.orgWADE WINGLER: Before we jump in to today’s interview, I need to do a quick update. Just days after I recorded this interview with my friend Sachin, his title changed. He was formerly the vice chair of the US Access Board, but just a few days after this interview, he was appointed the chair of the US Access Board. It’s been in the news recently. You might have seen that information. When Sachin introduces himself as the vice chair, know that that has changed since recording. With that, here we go.I’ve seen a lot recently in the news about something called a 508 refresh. For people in the business, think a lot of us know what that means. But I think some don’t as well. I have a good friend and colleague named Sachin Pavithran who is kind of my counterpart for one of the AT projects in Utah but is also the vice chair of the Access Board and has been very much at the center of this 508 refresh. Sachin is joining me via the Internet today. You are calling me from the CSON conference as we record this, right?SACHIN PAVITHRAN: That’s right.WADE WINGLER: First of all, thank you so much for cutting some time out of the conference and spending a little time with us. I thought we might start a little bit by having you tell folks a little bit about yourself, your experience as an AT user and how you got to be the vice chair of the Access Board.SACHIN PAVITHRAN: I run the assistive technology program in Utah. I am blind myself. I’ve been using assistive technology for a long time now. As far as becoming part of the US Access Board, I was appointed by President Obama in 2012 and last year I was elected by the members of the board to be the vice chair of US Access Board. It’s been a great experience. It’s been a lot of learning in the process. I’ve had a great time so far.WADE WINGLER: Good. I for one am glad that you are on the Access Board because I know you know this stuff really well. I think you represent a unique section of the population who really can benefit from being represented. I’m glad you are there, and I know others are as well.Sachin, give us a little bit of the elevator speech about what is Section 508, how does the Access Board fit into that come and how does that impact people with disabilities.SACHIN PAVITHRAN: Section 508 basically has technical criteria or standards on how the federal government needs to implement — electronic in nature. If they are procuring IT, they need to assure it’s accessible for people with disabilities. Section 508, the way it stands right now, has been out for a long time. Technology, as we know, has evolved significantly in the last decade or so, uniquely the last three or four years. The existing Section 508 standard that we have out there really does not meet the technology requirements that we have in the market. It’s way past due to have it updated.Basically Section 508, like I said earlier, lets the federal government know when you purchase IT, it needs to be inclusive of how people with disabilities can use it. It talks about web access; it talks about IT as a whole. The problem we faced in the last few years is technology has evolved significantly come and those criteria that we passed over the last decade or so is not good enough and is not really justify accessibility the way it should. That’s where the whole big refresh has come up.WADE WINGLER: This has been a process. The Access Board has been working on this for a while. Where are you in the process?SACHIN PAVITHRAN: The refresh process started a few years ago. It started in 2008 which is a long process. People have been waiting for this for quite some time. I would say a lot of people started to get impatient, why is it taking so long.In 2008, we had the contact committee which is a huge advisory committee. I think it had over 40 organizations come together. About 80 members on this committee that set of prioritizing different things, what this refresh need to look like. We went through different phases of all we call the rulemaking process. At this point, where we are as two weeks ago is we introduced Notice of Proposed Rule Making which basically shows to the public this is what we are proposing, these are all the things we have put together. It’s time for you to commit comments. There’s 90 days in which to make comments. We will also hold a public hearing. We are waiting to get feedback from the public. We read all the comments and feedback from the different federal agencies which is the reason it took so long because every federal agency is impacted by this. They are inputting their comments and giving us feedback on what they want done or changed or removed from the rules.Right now, it’s the public’s time to comment for it and the comment period goes to May 18. After that, it goes back to the Office of Management Budget to review the comments, and we will also review all the comments and opinions. After everything is done, it becomes a final rule.It’s not the end of the road yet, but it’s really close. We know what it’s going to look like at least.WADE WINGLER: That’s why you are at CSON right now, right? You’ve been leading some public discussions about the refresh.SACHIN PAVITHRAN: We had our first public hearing at CSON, which was a packed house. In fact, it was so packed the fire marshals came and asked people to leave because they don’t want people standing around the room.WADE WINGLER: That’s interesting. I want to get into the nitty-gritty of this a little bit. I think I understand the purpose and the process a little bit, but let’s get into the guts of what’s in the refresh at this point. What are the things that are being talked about in the public hearing and one of the main points of the refresh? How is this going to impact users of assistive technology?SACHIN PAVITHRAN: Like I said earlier, technology has evolved significantly. When it comes to web accessibility, one of the big things that is thrown out is WCAG, Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0. What we’ve done in the section 508 refresh, instead of re-creating everything from scratch and having our own version of standards, we figured out there’s no reason to duplicate it. We started referencing WCAG 2.0 A and AA standards so that we can be consistent with what the best practice already out there and try to harmonize with all of the different families that are being used internationally as well.That’s one of the biggest differences in comparison to the previous 508. In previous 508, we had our own standards embedded in Section 508. Now we have referenced a lot into WCAG. We’ve looked a lot into how technology is being used in a broader sense, where technology is going in the future, the discussion about social media, the discussion about mobile platforms. Does it meet everything that is ever going to happen? Probably not. But we are significantly ahead of the curve than we were a decade ago.WADE WINGLER: We’ve learned a lot in the last few years. I remember back in the days of some of the very beginning of web accessibility and how the rules were fractured and the techniques were kind of all over the map. I’ve kind of seen a coalescing over the last couple of decades of Internet use. It sounds like that coalescence is showing up in the refresh, that we kind of figured out the things that need to be done and they are all sort of coming together.SACHIN PAVITHRAN: The key task we had was we wanted to make sure we are speaking the same language as everyone else in the field and we are harmonizing with everything that’s already been proven to work really well, so we’re not duplicating or trying to do things differently just to be different. In this way, we all know the standards work and it’s been proven to work. Let’s put our efforts all together.WADE WINGLER: Sachin, I know that one of the main points of the 508 refresh is all about web accessibility. Are there non-web and not Internet-based components of the refresh, or does it really focus mostly on the web?SACHIN PAVITHRAN: There are software criteria, also desktop software application criteria. There are some aspects of mobile platform, not to the level that I personally would like, but it does have software criteria also for desktop applications, not only web applications. Web is definitely the bigger part of it, but is not the only part.WADE WINGLER: You said we are getting fairly far along in the process. When will the process be closed? My real question is when are we going to start seeing the impact of this? When will users of assistive technology start to feel some of what the refresh did?SACHIN PAVITHRAN: I think we’re going to start seeing the impact soon. Even though this is not final yet, we know in which direction it’s going. You’re going to start seeing agencies or organizations or manufacturers trying to implement these guidelines at least to a level. We know what it’s going to look like. It’s not going to change drastically from what we have put out there. As far as final date when this going to be in effect, that’s really hard to say because a lot of it depends on what comments come from the public. We have to respond to the comments, Office of Management Budget needs to look at it, and we have to see if we meet all the requirements that OMB puts forward. After that point is when it becomes final. There is no saying how long OMB is going to take at that point to review all the comments. Technically, they have 90 days, but that’s guidelines.WADE WINGLER: And they want to get it right.SACHIN PAVITHRAN: I wish I could give a date. There’s absolutely no way I can set it will happen in a few months or will happen in the year. We hope you’ll be done by the end of the year, but I’ve been helping for this portion two years ago.WADE WINGLER: The nice thing is there is room for public input. I know that this show will be airing probably a couple of weeks after CSON, and you’ve been out there gathering for the public input. People do want to chime in, you said through May 18 there’s going to be an opportunity. How do people add their input? Are there other public hearings they can attend? Is there a way to submit their inputs other ways?SACHIN PAVITHRAN: There’s a second public hearing coming up in a week, March 11. I guess this will be going live afterwards, right?WADE WINGLER: This is going up after that.SACHIN PAVITHRAN: There is a public hearing coming up on March 11 and people can sign up for that to testify. They don’t need to be present. This is going to be at the access Board room. They can call in or they can come in personally to testify. Or if that doesn’t work, obviously they can go to the regulations.gov website and comment about this particular NPRM. You just have to look for this particular NPRM and comment on it which is what most people are going to do. When you do the public hearing, you just are being really brief, to the point. If you want to go in depth and detail about what you want to comment, the best approach is to go to regulations.gov and put the comments in there. Unless of comments are placed in that docket on regulations.gov, it will not be considered. Anything that needs to be considered have to be put into that website. They have a little less than 90 days to make a comment.WADE WINGLER: I’ll pop a link in the show notes over to regulations.gov so people can find that quickly and easily. Let’s say I’m a person with the website and the regulations are coming out and I want to learn where I can start making sure that my web content is consistent with the 508 refresh, what’s a good starting point from a content provider standpoint?SACHIN PAVITHRAN: First thing, we are going to have on March 31 a webinar kind of talking about this new refresh, what’s coming out, what’s new, what’s different, how it’s going to have an impact. Following that we are going to have several different webinars. Access Board has put out a lot of 508 webinars in the past. I assume we are going to keep doing more of those which will have specific information that is tailored to the new refresh. Keep an eye out on the various webinars that we’ll be putting out. If you’re not signed up to receive news alerts from access board, do go to our website and get signed up, because we send out quite a bit about different webinars that we offer, not just for 508, but everything we do.WADE WINGLER: That’s Access-Board.gov, right?SACHIN PAVITHRAN: Yes.WADE WINGLER: Sachin, we are getting close to the time here, but I wanted to ask you one person in question. As somebody who uses assistive technology and somebody who works in the field and really swimming in the waters all the time, what’s your greatest personal wish for the impact of the 508 refresh?SACHIN PAVITHRAN: The first one would be I hope this would get done a lot sooner rather than later. Secondly, I which it can be done in a way that we don’t wait too long once technology evolved. As technology changes, we can stay on top of it rather than waiting a long period of time before we have to meet the standards for what’s coming out. Those are my wishes. Hopefully we’ll get to a point where we can be more consistent about how we prioritize things and how we put out standards. We can harmonize with when the technology comes out and are putting out new standards at the same time.WADE WINGLER: Excellent. If people wanted to reach out to you or find more about the access board, what kind of contact information would you like to provide?SACHIN PAVITHRAN: Go to the Access Board website, Access-Board.gov. As far as reaching me, you can email me [email protected] WINGLER: Excellent. I’ll pop a link in the show notes to that. Sachin Pavithran is the director of the Utah assistive technology program and also the vice chair of the Access Board and has been our guest today. Thank you so much for carving some time out of your day to visit with us.SACHIN PAVITHRAN: Thank you, Wade.WADE WINGLER: Do you have a question about assistive technology? Do you have a suggestion for someone we should interview on Assistive Technology Update? Call our listener line at 317-721-7124. Looking for show notes from today’s show? Head on over to EasterSealstech.com. Shoot us a note on Twitter @INDATAProject, or check us out on Facebook. That was your Assistance Technology Update. I’m Wade Wingler with the INDATA Project at Easter Seals Crossroads in Indiana.
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