Vint Cerf's article sought to spark a dialogue on how to improve accessibility in the field. Highlighting challenges to accessible adaptation, Cerf said that "no amount of automatic adapting will make a poorly designed interface accessible," noting that accessibility, like security, needs to be "built in" to the initial design.
Hochheiser and Lazar say the challenge of technical hurdles is matched by a "daunting regulatory and legal framework." They discuss the role of standards, guidelines, and practices to support accessibility and usability, and how the legal landscape can create perceptions of accessibility as difficult to implement. They conclude with a call to action for computing professionals to be involved in public policy discussions on accessibility, and a list of informative articles, websites, and other resources.
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On December 3, the UN sponsored International Day of Persons with Disabilities
with the theme "Break Barriers, Open Doors: for an inclusive society and development for all." The UN reports that more than one billion people, or roughly 15% of the world's population, live with some form of disability. The day highlighted progress and obstacles in implementing disability-sensitive policies, and promoting public awareness of the issue.
USACM is dedicated to making computing more accessible for everyone. USACM recognizes the value of building appropriate accessibility features into the design of interfaces, platforms, and devices. Designing for accessibility has benefits well beyond better support for people with disabilities. A commitment to making technologies more accessible will pay dividends in evolving technology that can be more easily accessed, and more easily understood and used, by everyone. These advances will result in better access to important information, and broader participation in commercial and educational activities by all citizens.
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The Federal Trade Commission held an all-day workshop titled "Blurred Lines: Advertising or Content?"
on December 4 to explore "native advertising." It featured FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez, the director and staff attorney of the agency's Bureau of Consumer Protection, and panels of advertising industry representatives, consumer advocates, academics, and computer scientists. Among the panelists was usability expert Jeff Johnson, an ACM Distinguished Speaker.
Online native advertising goes beyond traditional display banners, blending sponsored content with editorial, news, entertainment, and other content. The concern is that these practices could make it difficult for users to distinguish between paid advertising and editorial content, which carries the risk of triggering enforcement action by the FTC for unfair or deceptive practices.
Experts will present research on how consumers interact with their devices, insights on technological limitations and unique characteristics of mobile and online environments, and implications for disclosures when content is aggregated by search engines or retransmitted through social media.
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The study seeks information from some 25 companies whose business model relies primarily on buying and selling patents, and asserting patents through licensing and enforcement. The information is intended to help the agency better understand the impact of patent assertion entities on innovation and competition. The FTC will send information requests to an additional 15 patent assertion entities and others asserting patents in the wireless communications sector.
The study seeks information relevant to the following questions:
- How do PAEs organize their corporate legal structure, including parent and subsidiary entities?
- What types of patents do PAEs hold, and how do they organize their holdings?
- How do PAEs acquire patents, and how do they compensate prior patent owners?
- How do PAEs engage in assertion activity (i.e. demand, litigation, and licensing behavior?
- What does assertion activity cost PAEs
- What do PAEs earn through assertion activity?
The FTC's proposed Section 6(b) study was recommended by panelists during the Patent Assertion Entity Activities Workshop
in December 2012. Public comments can be submitted on the FTC website
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New U.S. Department of Transportation federal regulations require airlines to make their websites and airport kiosks more accessible for people with disabilities. Airlines have two years to make reservation, flight, and frequent flyer account information on their websites accessible; three years to make their entire websites accessible; and 10 years to ensure that at least 25% of kiosks are accessible.
The U.S. Access Board has proposed incorporating WCAG 2.0
, the required technical standard for airline websites, into its anticipated update of Section 508 requirements governing the accessibility of public websites provided by federal agencies. Airlines must consult with individuals or organizations representing visual, auditory, tactile, and cognitive disabilities when testing the accessibility and usability of their websites.
Customers with disabilities who are unable to book flights online due to inaccessible airline websites continue to be entitled to online airfare discounts when making reservations by phone. The Final Rule, which reinforces the airlines' obligation to disclose online discounts and waive fees not imposed on online reservations, references a 2010 research study
by USACM member Jonathan Lazar of Towson University and his students. That study revealed possible compliance problems if self-identified disabled customers unable to book flights online due to accessibility problems did not receive equivalent pricing by phone as online customers.
For more information, read the U.S. Department of Transportation's Final Rule
on Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in Air Travel: Accessibility of Web Sites and Automated Kiosks at U.S. Airports.
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About Washington Update -- ACM Washington Update is produced by ACM's Office of Public Policy in Washington DC. It highlights activities of the U.S. Public Policy Council of ACM (USACM), ACM's Education Policy Committee (EPC) and other events in Washington that affect the computing community.
About USACM -- The U.S. Public Policy Council of ACM (USACM) is the focal point for ACM's interaction with U.S. government organizations, the computing community, and the U.S. public in all matters of U.S. public policy related to information technology.
About EPC -- The Education Policy Committee engages policymakers and the public on public policy issues in science and math education that relate to computing and computer science. It focuses on initiatives to ensure that computer science education is identified as a critical component of education policy in the U.S. at both federal and state levels.
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