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Telia Lithuania adapts smartphones for use by people with vision disabilities

Operator Telia Lithuania, in cooperation with the Lithuanian Union of the Blind, has launched a project to offer mobile phones adapted for use by people with vision disabilities. The smartphones tested and certified by the Union of the Blind will be specially marked in shops. The devices have software converting information available on the screen […]

Moving at the Speed of Light: LightHouse is in a NASCAR Race This Weekend

There’s plenty of hubbub happening this weekend at Sonoma Raceway, and LightHouse will be right there in the thick of it as an associate sponsor on board the No. 23 EarthWater Limited Toyota Camry of Alon Day, thanks to the generous support of NASCAR’s BK Racing team.

Day’s Toyota Camry will be repping the LightHouse logo on the right and left back quarter panels, complete with the “L” and “H” braille dots that will no doubt turn heads both on television and from the stands as the 200-mile per hour vehicle pulls in to refuel. Thanks to BK Racing, we’ll also have a few NASCAR enthusiasts from the LightHouse community behind the scenes for VIP pre-race garage and pit tours, as well as a meet and greet with Alon Day. They’ll also be sitting with his crew chief atop the pit box during the race, so whether you’re watching from the grandstands or the ESPN telecast, look out for those white canes.

“Blind people aspire to participate in all aspects of culture, including NASCAR,” says LightHouse CEO Bryan Bashin. “We love the drive, energy and daring along lines of excellence and our community is thrilled to be a part of it as a sponsor for Alon Day’s debut.”

“I’m very proud to have a great organization like Lighthouse for the Blind on the car for my Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series debut,” says Day. “The work that they do for blind individuals in California and around the world is truly inspiring.”

“I am excited to have Lighthouse for the Blind on our car this weekend,” said Team Owner, Ron Devine. “The work they do is special, and it’s an honor to have them join us for the race. If you’d like to donate, you can visit their donate page at”

About BK Racing

BK Racing is a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Toyota Racing team headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina. The team was founded in 2012 after owners Ron Devine and Wayne Press acquired Red Bull Racing. BK Racing’s staff of highly skilled mechanics and engineers fields the No. 23 & 83 entries in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series as a Toyota Racing team. The 2017 season will be BK Racing’s 6th consecutive full-time season in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Follow us on Twitter @BKRacing_2383, Facebook, and Instagram @bkracing_2383. Visit us at

Introducing the Micro-Speak Plus Digital Voice Recorder

Picture of Micro-Speak Digital Voice Recorder

A T Guys is pleased to introduce the Micro-Speak Plus Talking Digital Voice Recorder to the U.S. market. The portable recorder will be introduced at the ACB and NFB summer conventions and is available for preorder at

Micro-Speak Plus is a brand new digital voice recorder that combines smart design with ease of use and high quality performance. Micro-Speak Plus is packed with useful features including specifically designed software that provides spoken prompts and beeps to assist blind and low-vision users.

Record with the press of a button and playback immediately via the built-in speaker. High Definition recordings in uncompressed WAV format ensure impressive results for unlimited speaking and listening activities.

The Micro-Speak has plenty of room to record the moments in your life, featuring up to 48 hours of high-quality recording time. Users can play recordings or MP3 music files using the loud, built-in speaker or by plugging in a pair of headphones.

The Micro-Speak features a built-in rechargeable battery which can be charged from a computer or a wall outlet. The current battery status will be spoken in a clear voice when the unit is powered on.

The Micro-Speak is produced by Talking Products Limited and comes with a one year warranty against manufacturer defects.

Those visiting the summer conventions can place a preorder now and pick up the Micro-Speak at the A T Guys booths at the ACB Convention in Reno or the NFB Convention in Orlando. Others can place a preorder now with delivery expected in 1-2 weeks.

For more information or to place an order, please visit The Micro-Speak page on A T Guys, Email, or call (269) 216-4798.

For dealer inquiries, please send a message to the address above.

Convention Preorders

Preorder the Micro-Speak to pick up at ACB in Reno
Preorder the Micro-Speak to pick up at NFB in Orlando

If Variety Is The Spice…

Then Simplicity Is The Entrée Today’s world is moving at such a hectic pace it’s getting increasingly harder to keep up. Even though all of us operate within the same 24-hour parameter it can feel like there’s never enough time to do all we need or want to accomplish. Since dealing with family situations, health … Continue reading "If Variety Is The Spice…"

Throwback Thursday Object: Razmara Compass

When an observant Muslim worshipper prays, he/she faces in the direction of the city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia.  It is a sign of unity.  Before the common use of GPS technology, how did the worshipper determine that direction, called the Qibla, when outside a mosque or home?  They used a compass, of course.  Our object this week is an adapted compass. In 1952, the Iranian Hossein Ali Razmara invented a new compass to determine the direction of Mecca.   The new compass was also adapted for use by the blind in this "contact" model. It is small, only about 2 inches in diameter.  The face is open, so that the magnetic needle can be felt. Micheal A. Hudson
Museum Director
American Printing House for the Blind

Benetech Establishes Global Certified Accessible Program

Benetech, the leading software for social good nonprofit, in conjunction with Dedicon, Royal National Institute of Blind People, and Vision Australia, today announced Global Certified Accessible.


The program is the first third-party ebook verification program for accessible content. Global Certified Accessible supports publisher efforts to meet or exceed accessibility requirements set by K-12 schools and post-secondary institutions. Today’s announcement comes on the heels of a six-month beta program with participation from industry leaders spanning educational, academic, professional, and trade publications.


Global Certified Accessible ensures students unable to read standard print due to blindness, low vision, dyslexia, or a physical disability have equal access to the same content as their peers.


The program has a global footprint in order to serve students around the world. Benetech developed the certification standards and serves as the lead certification provider for North America.


Dedicon provides certification for mainland Europe, Royal National Institute of Blind People for the United Kingdom, and Vision Australia for Australasia.

“The importance of electronically published books continues to grow, but many ebooks lack core accessibility features that students require, falling short of procurement requirements and student needs,” said Jim Fruchterman, founder and CEO, Benetech. “As the nonprofit operator of Bookshare, the largest online library of accessible books, Benetech is well suited to offer a Global Certified Accessible program that not only gives procurement offices the confidence that comes with third-party certified materials but also allows publishers to serve a larger addressable market.”


Global Certified Accessible is part of Benetech’s Born Accessible initiative, which encourages the education community to request accessible digital content and engages the publishing community to produce content that is accessible from the moment it is created. As a result of the recently released EPUB Accessibility Specification 1.0 and the growing demand for accessible materials, leading publishers and educational institutions are increasing their support for accessibility as a business and a classroom imperative.


Ingram Content Group’s VitalSource® and CoreSource® will include the accessibility ratings for eTextbooks from publishers participating in the Global Certified Accessible program as a part of their metadata and catalog feeds through Bookshelf®, VitalSource’s content-delivery platform.


By doing so, procurement offices and school districts will be able to easily identify and prioritize third-party certified, accessible eTextbooks from publishers who choose to participate. “VitalSource is excited to help accelerate the adoption of accessible publishing,” said Rick Johnson, VP of Product Strategy, VitalSource®. “As a global solutions provider, receiving accessibility certifications from Benetech and their global partners is a logical choice. As publishers increase their ability to produce content that provides access to all students, having a trusted source that can certify their accessibility will provide a welcome level of transparency to all involved.”


Education leaders, publishers, and partners champion Global Certified Accessible:


Los Angeles Unified School District


Kari Tapie, Instructional Technology and Assistive Technology Program: “It’s imperative that educational institutions prioritize accessible content that serves all students equally. Benetech’s Global Certified Accessible program is a critical step in ensuring educators and procurement offices can confidently source ebooks that meet or exceed accessibility mandates.



I look forward to the day when all publishers make their books accessible as a first decision and not as an afterthought.” Elsevier Alicia Wise, Senior Vice President Global Strategic Networks: “At Elsevier we’re committed to making sure that all our users get maximum benefit, insight and understanding from our online content. And so we are very pleased to pilot Benetech’s Global Certified Accessible program. Our academic ebooks are born accessible and ready for wide, global dissemination. The program results will help us to continue to refine our accessibility features so that no user is without access. It’s so important for all of us within the information, data, and publishing industries to work together to advance accessibility.”


HarperCollins Publishers



Tracey Menzies, VP Production and Creative Operations “Benetech is providing an invaluable service by formalizing the specifications for accessibility within ebooks.


In establishing a set of criteria by which publishers and other partners can create and measure their ebook files, Benetech is spurring the industry forward towards the common goal of providing students with accessible content.”

Harvard Business Publishing

Harvard Business Publishing Denis Saulnier, Managing Director, Product Design & Delivery, Higher Education “Every publisher should strive to make their content as accessible as possible. The first step is getting an accurate snapshot of compliance. Benetech’s certification process is invaluable in identifying areas of improvement and helping to prioritize work. We’re proud to be partners in this initiative.”

Macmillan Learning

Rachel Comerford, Director of Content Standards “Participating in the certification program has given Macmillan Learning the opportunity to better understand the needs of students in the accessibility community and ensure that the products that we create provide students with the best possible learning experience. Certification provides us with confidence that we’re producing quality products and allows our customers to have confidence that the product they’re purchasing is truly accessible for all students.”


Penguin Random House


Liisa McCloy-Kelley, VP Director Ebook Product Development & Innovation “Our goal at Penguin Random House is to bring our authors’ stories and ideas to readers wherever they are and in whatever format they want to read. That includes ensuring that our titles are readily and easily accessible for people with reading disabilities and for classroom use. Together with Benetech, we have identified opportunities to improve our content-development processes and the accessibility of our ebooks, as we continue to better understand and address the needs of this community.”


Apex CoVantage


Bill Kasdorf, VP and Principal Consultant “This is a watershed moment for accessibility. Benetech has long been a leader in fostering ‘Born Accessible’ publishing. Its development of the certification standards for the Global Certified Accessible program brings long-needed clarity to the process of creating and procuring properly accessible publications.


Our partnership with Benetech in this program enables Apex to guide our many publishing clients to integrate accessibility into their workflows so that their publications can be truly born accessible.”


Amnet Systems


Aashish Agarwaal, CEO and Founder “Benetech’s development of the certification standard for the Global Certified Accessible program is a major milestone for accessibility, Benetech and the publishing industry. Certification will assure students, teachers, libraries and others of the work and quality that has gone into these certified books. Benetech’s development of the certificate standards brings much needed clarity to the process of creating and procuring accessible content. Amnet is proud to have partnered with Benetech in this program and looks forward to helping our publishing partners integrate accessibility into their workflows to ensure that over time their publications can be ‘born accessible.’”




Maarten Verboom, Directeur “Dedicon welcomes the co-operation with outstanding international partners in the advancement of accessible publishing. As a producer of accessible information of the first hour, Dedicon encourages publishers to adopt accessibility guidelines. We are confident that this program will enable publishers in reaching accessibility. Certification gives publishers recognition of their successful effort to achieve equal access to information for all.


And organizations that use information, such as schools, libraries, and local governments, now have a great tool to reach a common goal: equal rights for all through accessible information.”


Royal National Institute of Blind People


Steven Tyler, Head of Solutions, Strategy & Planning “RNIB is committed to ensuring the fullest access to the written word along with creating a world where blind and partially sighted people, and those with print impairments, can access what they want at the time they want it in a format they can read.

We are working closely with publishers in the UK to establish appropriate business models and standards, in line with Benetech, that secure this future. Working in partnership with the publishing industry, we want to take advantage of the revolution in standards that is finally here and for which we have worked hard to attain – building accessibility into mainstream standards marks the beginning of a new chapter; we now have to ensure that we bring these standards to life in a way that works for the end user and is sustainable for the industry.”


Vision Australia


Karl Hughes, Production Manager “Vision Australia has a strong commitment to accessibility, working in partnership with Australians who are blind or have low vision to achieve their greatest potential through education, employment and independence. To do this, we work with publishers, educational institutions, government and others to provide printed materials and other information in alternative formats. We are pleased to cooperate with leading organizations from around the world to offer this Global Certified Accessible program. Our aim through this service is to support those publishers and others that are striving to provide accessible materials, and provide feedback and formal recognition of the quality and efforts made to ensure their products are ‘born accessible.’”

More information is posted to the Benetech blog post.

VIP: Let Me See You Work It!

This week, the team is quite active! Join Joel, Jessica, and Rachel, as they discuss topics from a 9-month National Fitness Challenge, to the Ecobee4 Thermostat, to the Amazon Echo stepping into the communication market.

A 9-Month Fitness Challenge?

Students from the Georgia Blind Sports Association along with the United Association of Blind Athletes and the Amerigroup are taking part in a 9-month fitness challenge.
Read about it here
there are always things to say when it comes to getting out there and being active! Listen as the team shares their thoughts on this challenge and the devices used to promote friendly competition.

“Introducing a new way to be together”

How to make calls from your Amazon Echo. In this section, Joel and Jessica demonstrate how the Amazon Echo and the Alexa app now have the ability to make calls and send messages to other Echo users who have enabled this service.
Get all the details here

Getting Smart with the Ecobee4 Thermostat

After all those workouts, being able to set that AC to a cool temperature would be fantastic. Is it doable with this unit?
Take a look here

Cool Picks

As Joel is the audio master on the CBT team, his pick of choice is the app he uses to do all his audio magic.

Since Jessica is the traveling ninja, she wants to tell us all about this new transit app she makes extensive use of.
CityMapper Transit App for iOS, web and Android

While at the gym, Rachel really enjoys a great thriller to keep her energized throughout
her workout. She has chosen
Voicedream Reader
You can read pretty much anything, with a variety of voices or fonts to help consume the content the way you want.
Listen and enjoy!

Beginning a new chapter in this adventure we call life

A little over 4 years ago, I joined The Paciello Group and the last 4 years have been nothing short of incredible. At The Paciello Group, I made lifelong friends and got to do great work. TPG was the first place I worked where there was a universal appreciation and respect across the board. Mike […]

D’AMATO: Is a School a Public Place? Question Affects Boy and His Service Dog

Opinion Jun 22, 2017
by Luisa D’Amato
Waterloo Region Record

Is a school a public place?

It’s a simple question, but you could answer it either way.

This is what is at the heart of an Ontario Human Rights Commission hearing in Waterloo that will decide if a boy with autism has the right to have his service dog in the classroom with him.

Final arguments concluded Wednesday at the tribunal, which pits Craig and Amy Fee, parents of nine-year-old Kenner, against the Waterloo Catholic District School Board.

In a case that has commanded national attention, Kenner’s parents appealed to the commission after the school board said Kenner could not have his service dog with him in his classroom at St. Kateri Catholic Elementary School in Kitchener.

His family says the dog, a black Labrador named Ivy, helps Kenner manage anxiety.

Without Ivy, Kenner has displayed increasing difficulties at school. His increasingly severe “meltdowns” and other problems have been discussed in detail. He no longer attends full-time, and has experienced “serious adverse effects” including thoughts of suicide, said the Fees’ lawyer, Laura McKeen.

Human rights legislation and the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act affirm that people have the right to bring service animals with them into restaurants, shopping malls and other public places.

You would think that a school is an even more public place than a store. After all, it’s funded by public money. And schools have the public’s trust in their vital job of educating future generations.

As McKeen pointed out, “Kenner is required by law to go to school.”

But there is another way to think about all this.

“The school is not a public place,” countered the board’s lawyer, Nadya Tymochenko. “The classrooms in a school are not publicly accessible.”

The school has the right to deny access if there are concerns about safety, she said. The board has to consider the needs of others, who may have a phobic reaction to dogs, or severe allergies.

Tymochenko also said there isn’t any scholarly evidence that the use of autism service dogs in schools is effective.

The fact that Kenner feels better when he is near his dog could be because Ivy is home, where he feels more comfortable anyway.

Schools must provide disabled students with access to the curriculum, including extra help such as an education assistant. But it isn’t up to the parents to decide what those modifications should be, Tymochenko said.

“We are responsible for accommodating Kenner and providing for his development,” she said.

“Given that we have this responsibility, we also have the right to determine how to exercise this responsibility.

“Schools are not a place for public access. It would be impossible for a school to do its job if we couldn’t control who comes in and out of the school building.”

Over the past few months, there have been dozens of hours of testimony and many thick binders of information shared. Yet two completely different interpretations have developed from the information. The adjudicator’s decision will be announced later this year. , Twitter: @DamatoRecord

Original at

How to Avoid an OCR Complaint

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) within the Department of Education (DOE) is responsible for collecting and investigating discrimination complaints at educational institutions. OCR will investigate complaints from every level of education, including colleges and universities.

In 2016 alone, OCR received nearly 6,000 complaints on the basis of disability, 600 of which were in the area of digital accessibility alone. This number represents a 55 percent increase in the number of digital accessibility complaints from 2015 and, a 511 percent increase since 2011, when OCR started tracking this kind of complaint.

So what sorts of questions should you be asking yourself to make sure that your website doesn’t violate accessibility laws? Here are some questions you should be asking yourself about your website. (Hint: the answer to all these questions should be yes.)

  • Do you have alternative text for images?
  • Do you have captions for pre-recorded videos with a sound component?
  • Can audio be paused and can its volume be adjusted?
  • Can all website components be navigated using a keyboard?
  • Can moving and blinking content be paused, stopped, or hidden?
  • Do all web pages have a title that describe its purpose?
  • Are fields in online forms labeled properly?

In addition to the questions above, educational institutions must make sure that their content is able to be read by assistive technology, such as a screen reader. Although answering yes to all the questions above will mean that your content is friendlier to assistive technology, there is no replacement for actually having your content tested for accessibility.

Want to learn more?

Join us on Thursday, July 27th for a FREE Webinar:

Don’t Fear the OCR: Digital Accessibility for Education

Our Education Account Managers will walk you through things that your school should know:

  •  Common complaints that persons with disabilities may have about your website
  •  Digital accessibility laws that pertain to educational institutions
  •  What you should do when you get a complaint letter

Read More and Register for the Webinar Today!


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