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We are delighted to present you with a business desk filled with informative and up-to-the-minute news clips. Check this page frequently to stay in the know and to read the insights and opinions of respected business experts and trend watchers.



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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Breaking news for language translators

Hello there!  I'm Matt Chadwick and I'd like to kick off the new year with breaking news for translators.  2008 is supposed to be the year that translators are expected to break all records when it comes to landing those lucrative opportunities both here and abroad.  I hope that you budding translators take advantage of those plum opportunities.  If you'd like to learn more about how you can make translation your new career then please visit www.translationpeople.com and there you'll find a myriad of ideas and suggestions.
Here now is our news of the week.
 
 
Are FM Translators A Lock for AM Stations?
Radio World - Falls Church,VA,USA
Cole agrees the change in LPFM rules will result in fewer opportunities for FM translator hopefuls. "The FCC seems to perceive LPFM and FM translators as ...
For more detail check out:
http://www.rwonline.com/pages/s.0046/t.10656.html
 
CEO Interview: The China Event Planners
BizChinaUpdate - Shanghai,China
We had just two months to source, hire and bring seven of the ten translators required to Shanghai – then brief each one and help them prepare for a highly ...
For more detail check out:
http://www.bizchina-update.com/content/view/496/1/
 
US State Dept Press Briefing
Scoop.co.nz - New Zealand
How many - I mean, its translators and interpreters. It can't be that many. MR. CASEY: Well, there is a legislative ceiling sealing for that. ...
For more detail check out:
http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/WO0801/S00240.htm
 
Court Interpreting Certificate Program Gains Prominence in ...
Imperial Valley News - Holtville,CA,USA
The next course in the Court Interpreting Certificate Program, Spanish 492, Translation Theory, will begin on Friday, January 25, at 4:10 pm in Room LA2, ...
For more detail check out:
http://www.imperialvalleynews.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=729&Itemid=2
 
Types of Low-Power TV Stations
The Associated Press -
Translators: They rebroadcast programs of full-power stations to communities that are remote or mountainous. There are about 4400 translators. ...
For more detail check out:
http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5hJHRQv9TLFExls8htlszQXgfEnsgD8U1SGTG0
 
Interesting times
Guardian Unlimited - UK
Translators sometimes have to make difficult decisions about whether to pare down or tone down the original text to make it read better in English. ...
For more detail check out:
http://books.guardian.co.uk/departments/generalfiction/story/0,,2242145,00.html
 
Russell Hyzen Joins Elanex as Head of Corporate Development
PR-USA.net (press release) - Varna,Bulgaria
We provide top-quality professional translation services, using our global network of 22000 human translators, combined with cutting-edge automation ...
For more detail check out:
http://www.pr-usa.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=57390&Itemid=9
 
What's Going On Calendar: On-going events
San Francisco Bay View - San Francisco,CA,USA
We have Spanish and Chinese translators on-site. Must register 12-1:30pm. Providence Baptist Church, 1601 McKinnon, SF. 415-989-1616. ...
For more detail check out:
http://www.sfbayview.com/20080123828/News/Culture_Currents/What_s_Going_On_Calendar_On-going_events.html
 
China initiatives could work together for Galesburg area
Galesburg.com - Galesburg,IL,USA
Even before the agreements, Knox students had served as interns and translators for projects and visits related to the China Initiative. ...
For more detail check out:
http://www.galesburg.com/opinions/x1151549996
At the business desk, I'm Matt Chadwick wishing you a pleasant evening.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Important news for consumers with special needs

Good evening!  I'm Kerry J Harrison at the business desk and a very happy new year to you out there.  I'm back and it's time for our weekly feature.  Our news round-up for consumers with special needs.  We hope you enjoy our selections for this week.
 
Table of contents
 
January 30 2008
 
1  Google's guide for visually impaired
2 Discrimination against disabled still rife, says report
3 Blind people are scandalously under-employed
4 Use RSS to Track eBay with fEEdBaY
5 HP Licenses Scanning Technology to Mouscan for Mobile Text-to-voice Solution
6 Visually Impaired Students Study Math Using Innovative Software
7 Many leading websites are unworkable for the disabled
8 Vodafone Portugal launches "Say Net" Mobile Broadband
9 IBM donates web accessibility platform to open source Eclipse Foundation
10 Ground-breaking eye op gives Edith new hope
11 December Website Rankings of 100 Retailers
 
 
 
Deccan Herald, India
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
 
Google's guide for visually impaired
 
About a year ago, search giant Google introduced a new facility for persons with visual impairment who browse the web with the help of screen readers.
 
Called "Google accessible search", this special search site, besides being accessible itself, returned results in the order of its accessibility, enabling users to easily click the link and read the results without difficulties.
 
T V Raman, or Thiruvannamalai Venkatraman, the man responsible for this new feature, is a mathematician turned computer scientist. Being visually impaired, Raman did his initial education in IIT Mumbai with a focus on mathematics, like anyone aspiring to scale new heights in science, sailed to the US in the late 1980's to pursue higher studies in Cornell University. After his Ph D in Mathematics (1994), his interest turned to computers and he is reputed for developing Emacspeak, a speech interface to the complete PC desktop including web and email access. After working with some of the best companies (like Xerox, Digital Equipment Corporation, Adobe Systems and IBM Research), Raman joined Google. The scientist spoke about his life and work to Deccan Herald's L Subramani through e-mail from Google's HQ in the US. Excerpt:
 
Even today, despite technology advancement, several visually impaired persons find it difficult to pursue science/mathematics. How was it in your days?
Yes, it was extremely difficult. Several schools rejected admission, but there were a few teachers who recognised my aptitude for the subject. Once they did, they encouraged me to pursue math. Education apart, one of the most serious problem I found in our country is the overall social attitude towards persons with disability. This seems to be the case in my time (in the 1970's) and now too, despite technologies. This is what I find during my visits to India. Even if you were to say that technology has improved in the country, I would have still travelled to the US, given my background and the encouragement and support one get here to be innovative in India. That's not the same in India for persons with disability.
 
You speak of higher studies in the US, which involves things like taking TOEFL and GRE. How did you manage them?
 
I initially wrote to Education Testing Systems, who conducte GRE, and took the test with a writer. However, due to a miscommunication, there was a problem in taking TOEFL. I went to the USEFI in Mumbai and received a letter from them stating that I could speak English. These things may remain difficult in our country, as I mentioned, due to the social attitude and looking at disability as a limiting factor.
 
You have said in your previous interviews that your penchant for innovation has made you more a computer scientist than a mathematician. Have you truly embraced computers or is it just a profession?
 
Well, it's very difficult to say because my interest in computers and mathematics is related to one another. Having said that, I feel if a person once becomes a mathematician, he will remain so. Perhaps I feel this way because being a mathematician significantly influences the way I think about things.
 
What kind of efforts is Google undertaking in the field of accessible search?
 
Accessible Search is an early Google Labs product designed to identify And prioritize search results that are more easily usable by blind and visually impaired users. Regular Google search helps you find a set of documents that is most relevant to your tasks. However, Accessible Search goes one step further by helping you find the most accessible pages in that result set.  In its current version, this product looks at a number of signals by examining the HTML markup found on a web page. It tends to favor pages that degrade gracefully --- pages with few visual distractions and pages that are likely to render well with images turned off. It is built on Google Co-op's technology, which improves search results based on specialized interests. 
 
Accessible Search is a natural and important extension of Google's Overall mission to better organize the world's information and make it universally accessible. It is designed to help the visually impaired find the most relevant, useful and comprehensive information, as quickly as possible.
 
What are the particular technology challenges you face in this project?
 
In the past, visually impaired users have often waded through a Lot of inaccessible websites and pages to find the required information. Our goal is to provide a more useful and accessible web search experience for the blind and visually impaired. This is a constant task that needs constant work. 
 
 
 
 
 
Personnel Today (UK)
Monday, December 03, 2007
 
Discrimination against disabled still rife, says report
 
By Jo Faragher
 
Shut out: Our exclusive online survey shows that employers are happy to make practical changes to the way they work to open up access to the disabled, but prejudice is still rife, as Jo Faragher reports
 
Despite years of making changes to the way we work and several drafts of legislation, prejudice around employing disabled people is still rife. In our survey of just under 700 businesses, carried out in conjunction with disability charity Leonard Cheshire, 86% agreed that employers would pick a non-disabled candidate over a disabled candidate, while 92% said there was still discrimination against disabled people in employment and recruitment.
 
Yet paradoxically, employers are more ready than they have ever been to welcome the disabled into the workplace. When it came to the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA), almost 80% of respondents felt their knowledge of the legislation was either reasonable or good, although only 5% felt it was 'excellent'. The majority of respondents employed more than 25 disabled people in their organisation.
 
Loyal workers
 
The level of discrimination disabled people still face is all the more surprising given the perception among most respondents that they are more loyal workers. Almost 90% of respondents did not agree that the average turnover rate for disabled workers would be higher than that for non-disabled workers. And, 43% did not think that disabled people would be more likely to be frequently absent - so the preconception that disabled people take more time off does not necessarily hold true.
 
Many employers have made adjustments to their work environments to accommodate disabled employees. Three-quarters of those questioned in our survey had been asked to make adjustments to the workplace, and almost all were able to honour those requests. Of those that couldn't accommodate the changes, the most common reason was because they were 'unreasonable'. Other factors included cost (27% felt it was too expensive) and disruption to other staff (a further 27%).
 
Rights and obligations
 
Some of the difficulties employers have in employing disabled workers seem to lie in knowing their precise rights and obligations. While most respondents felt they had a good grasp of the DDA, there was some confusion about who it applies to.
 
For example, when asked whether someone who'd been diagnosed with cancer, but was not yet showing signs of the disease, would be covered by the DDA, 79% agreed(this has been the case since December 2005). However, respondents were split over whether someone who had recently been diagnosed with depression would qualify - 41% said they would, while 50% said they wouldn't. In fact, if a mental illness (including depression) has a substantial, adverse and long-term effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities, then the worker is covered by the DDA.
 
There is also a need for clarity over how employers and workers gain government assistance. Awareness of the government's Access to Work scheme was high, with more than three-quarters of respondents conscious of it, and more than half supporting disabled workers through the scheme. However, almost one-quarter said they found the scheme, which offers practical support to disabled people who are in or looking for paid employment, 'not very easy' to use.
 
Our survey suggests that awareness of the challenges facing disabled employees, not to mention practical adjustments to accommo­date them, are high up on the corporate agenda. Where the real work needs to be done is in overcoming the discrimination that continues to stifle the progress of the disabled at work.
 
Making adjustments
 
Accommodating the needs of disabled workers extends way beyond installing a ramp or adapting toilet facilities. Many of the respondents to our survey had gone out of their way to make the jobs of disabled employees easier and fit in more flexibly to the business. Some of the changes included:
 
Employing signers to enable deaf people to attend important meetings.
Identifying products by colour codes rather than numbers.
Flashing lights for deaf employees and vibrating alerts for blind workers.
Alterations to heavy doors for multiple sclerosis sufferers.
Assisting with costs for wheelchairs, hearing aids, etc.
Allowing dyslexic employees to dictate reports rather than write them down.
Disabled car parking adjacent to the office.
Providing an appropriate environment for hearing dogs/guide dogs.
Painting doorways in bright colours for the visually impaired.
 
Jo Faragher
 
 

Evesham Journal (UK)
Friday, November 30, 2007
 
Blind people are scandalously under-employed
 
BLIND and partially sighted people's talents are being wasted because of discrimination in the workplace, says a prominent Euro MP.
 
Liz Lynne, the MEP for the Midlands area and vice-president of the employment and social affairs committee, and vice-president of the European Parliament's disability intergroup, hosted a meeting in the European Parliament on Wednesday, November 28 to highlight the continuing difficulties encountered by blind and partially-sighted people in the workplace, and to discuss further EU action on the issue.
 
She said: "It is scandalous that in the UK 66 per cent of blind and partially-sighted people of working age are unemployed. In Slovakia, Poland, and the Czech Republic this figure rises to about 80 per cent."
 
Ms Lynne highlighted the need for existing legislation, particularly the European employment legislation which outlaws discrimination on the grounds of disability, and requires employers to make a reasonable adjustment', to enable the participation of disabled workers.
 
Trade unions, NGOs (non-governmental organisations) and employers are also being called on to inform people of their rights.
 
"I am delighted that the Commission has now agreed to bring forward new measures next year to outlaw discrimination across the EU outside of employment" Lynne added, "but we must also continue our campaign for a specific disability directive under Article 13 to outlaw discrimination in access to goods and services.
 
"There is no point in paying lip service to disabled people's rights. We have to continue the fight for all EU citizens, disabled or non-disabled, to be treated equally."
 
10:11am Friday 30th November 2007
 
 
 
 
The Fred's Head Companion (APH)
Thursday, November 29, 2007
 
Use RSS to Track eBay with fEEdBaY
 
By Michael McCarty
 
Thursday, November 29, 2007
 
eBay has got to be the hottest place on the net for finding great deals on just about anything. I love to surf the eBay site just to see what's up for grabs at any given moment.eBay does have a lot of links and other material to wade through. This is especially a problem when you're seeing their site through the eyes of JAWS or Window Eyes. Well, life is about to get a lot easier for those of us who love to shop eBay.
 
I'm happy to introduce you to fEEdBaY, where you can keep track of listed items on eBay through RSS technology.
 
RSS (Real Simple Syndication) is technology that allows certain programs called RSS readers to download new content from an RSS feed to your computer. RSS feeds are often found on blogs or forums and contain the latest posts to that blog or forum. An RSS feed can also be found on news sites and contains the latest articles found on that site. Just like an email program such as Microsoft Outlook saves you time by checking for new mail for you and downloading it so that you can view it, the RSS reader checks for updates for you and as soon as it sees an update, it will download it to your computer and can notify you by a popup message or dialog, etc.
 
The first thing you'll notice about the fEEdBaY site is that all the standard eBay catagories are listed. Simply click on the catagory of your choice and you'll be presented with another page full of RSS feeds.
 
The next section of note is their listing of the most popular feeds. Want to see what others are interested in? Simply add one of these links to your aggrigator and you'll be informed within minutes.
 
Now, if that weren't enough, there's a "Create a Custom eBay Search Filter for RSS" link that does exactly what it says. Enter your search Keywords, choose the number of results, the eBay catagory, and click the search button. You'll have a chance to preview the feed and if you like what you see, you can add it to your news aggrigator or or RSS reader. How cool is that?
 
Click this link to start tracking eBay with fEEdBaY:
 
 
Posted by Michael McCarty at 11:44 AM
 
 
 
 
 
Reuters
Thursday, December 06, 2007
 
HP Licenses Scanning Technology to Mouscan for Mobile Text-to-voice Solution
 
By Business Wire (Press Release)
 
Thu Dec 6, 2007 7:00pm EST 
 
PALO ALTO, Calif.--(Business Wire)--HP (NYSE:HPQ) and Mouscan, a Korea-based start-up company with scanning and mouse expertise, today announced a licensing agreement that will offer people a way to listen to printed text.
 
   Mouscan will use HP handheld scanning technology and its own
text-to-voice software to develop Voiscan, a product that will allow
people to scan hard copy text in any language using a handheld device
and then receive a spoken translation of the scanned text.
 
   The technology has potential applications as, for example, a
reading aid for the blind and visually impaired, a translation tool
for tourists traveling in foreign countries and an educational aid for
those learning to speak another language.
 
   Under the agreement, HP will license its intellectual property to
Mouscan in return for royalty payments. Mouscan will develop,
manufacture and sell the product, which the company expects to be
commercially available worldwide by the end of 2008.
 
   "HP welcomes partnerships with start-ups like Mouscan to help them
find capital while giving new life to technology developed in HP
Labs," said Joe Beyers, vice president, Intellectual Property
Licensing, HP. "Our IP licensing program is one way HP can help make
useful technologies such as Voiscan widely available."
 
   The Voiscan product incorporates a handheld scanning technology
invented by HP Labs, the company's central research unit. Unlike most
scanners, HP's handheld scanning technology does not require the
scanned image to be laid flat; this allows the user to scan images on
a wall or other vertical surfaces.
 
   HP's scanning technology also allows users to scan a large image
with multiple passes of the device, which then digitally reassembles
the overall image out of the segments captured during each pass.
 
   This capability makes Voiscan an ideal solution for the visually
impaired or those traveling to foreign countries to understand signage
- whether a menu posted outside a restaurant or a description of a
painting on a museum wall.
 
   "Breakthroughs in mobile and wireless technologies are
revolutionizing the way people use technology in their everyday
lives," said Yang Yu, chief executive officer, Mouscan. "This
pioneering handheld scanning technology developed by HP allows us to
bring to market a unique device that facilitates communication from
text to audio anywhere, anytime and in any language."
 
   HP encourages organizations worldwide to leverage its vast
research and development network and portfolio of nearly 30,000
patents to bring new technologies to market through intellectual
property licensing agreements. These agreements also enable HP to
generate a return on its research and development investment through
licensing fees and royalties.
 
   More information on HP's intellectual property licensing program
is available at www.hp.com/hpinfo/abouthp/iplicensing/.
 
   About Mouscan
 
   Mouscan was founded in August 2002 in Korea, by Y.C. Moon and Yang
Yu to develop, manufacture and sell a handheld device, called Voiscan,
that reconstructs original scanned images to text and audible voice.
 
   About HP
 
   HP focuses on simplifying technology experiences for all of its
customers - from individual consumers to the largest businesses. With
a portfolio that spans printing, personal computing, software,
services and IT infrastructure, HP is among the world's largest IT
companies, with revenue totaling $104.3 billion for the four fiscal
quarters ended Oct. 31, 2007. More information about HP is available
at www.hp.com.
 
   Note to editors: More news from HP, including links to RSS feeds,
is available at www.hp.com/hpinfo/newsroom/.
 
   This news release contains forward-looking statements that involve
risks, uncertainties and assumptions. If such risks or uncertainties
materialize or such assumptions prove incorrect, the results of HP and
its consolidated subsidiaries could differ materially from those
expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements and
assumptions. All statements other than statements of historical fact
are statements that could be deemed forward-looking statements,
including but not limited to statements of the plans, strategies and
objectives of management for future operations; any statements
concerning expected development, performance or market share relating
to products and services; anticipated operational and financial
results; any statements of expectation or belief; and any statements
of assumptions underlying any of the foregoing. Risks, uncertainties
and assumptions include the execution and performance of contracts by
HP and its customers, suppliers and partners; the achievement of
expected results; and other risks that are described in HP's Quarterly
Report on Form 10-Q for the fiscal quarter ended July 31, 2007
and HP's other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission,
including but not limited to HP's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the
fiscal year ended Oct. 31, 2006. HP assumes no obligation and does not
intend to update these forward-looking statements.
 
   (C) 2007 Hewlett-Packard Development Company, L.P. The information
contained herein is subject to change without notice. The only
warranties for HP products and services are set forth in the express
warranty statements accompanying such products and services. Nothing
herein should be construed as constituting an additional warranty. HP
shall not be liable for technical or editorial errors or omissions
contained herein.
 
HP
Christina Schneider, +1 650-857-8222
christina.schneider@hp.com
or
Mouscan
Yang Yu, +1 650-515-7513
Y.C. Moon, +82 10 3749 0586
customerservice@mouscan.com
or
HP Media Hotline, +1 866-266-7272
pr@hp.com
www.hp.com/go/newsroom
 
 
 
 
US Department of State, DC, USA
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
 
Visually Impaired Students Study Math Using Innovative Software
 
By Jeffrey Thomas USINFO Staff Writer
 
Sighted kids also benefit from hearing equations via MathTrax program
 
MathTrax allows visually impaired students to "hear" complex math graphs like this one. (Courtesy NASA)
 
Washington - Until recently, blind and visually impaired students found it extremely difficult to study certain subjects and pursue careers in science and technology because they could not see graphs and other visual representations. But now, a team at NASA has created easy-to-use software that allows students to graph equations, interact with the data and understand it all through text, tones and spoken language. 
 
The program, MathTrax, transforms graphs and equations in real-time into words, so students have multiple ways to process complex information. "For blind and low vision kids ... MathTrax provides a tool for them to work along with their sighted peers in their math and science classes," says Robert Shelton, a blind NASA mathematician who worked with Terry Hodgson and Stephanie Smith on the development of MathTrax.
 
Shelton realized that "even now, when modern assistive technology should be opening doors to STEM [science, technology, engineering and math] careers, many otherwise capable blind students are steered away from the math and science courses which could provide the basis for further education, employment and independence."
 
His team at NASA had "a long history of developing innovative educational technology applications such as games, simulations and knowledge discovery tools, and we saw the development of an accessible math tool as a way that our efforts could make a large difference for an otherwise underserved population."
 
NASA management "absolutely loved the idea" when Shelton's team proposed it, he said. "NASA's core business is very different from what we do, but it is generally understood that enlarging the STEM pipeline is critical, not only to NASA's mission, but to the long-term security and prosperity of our civilization."
 
"Like all other educational technology projects at NASA, we have to compete for resources and we operate on a shoestring [budget], but NASA has a proud history of trying innovative ideas that work, and MathTrax is definitely one of those," Shelton said.
 
At a NASA science camp for students with vision impairments called "Rocket On," students used MathTrax for dealing with rocketry for mission planning, trajectory planning and data analysis.
 
"There was no other tool on the planet that would have let them do that rocket camp without an engineer helping them," Shelton said in a NASA article on the camp. "And this year the kids did it [on their own]."
 
Besides analyzing rocket launches, kids also can use MathTrax to do things like study ozone change, illustrate air and sea interactions, study rainfall distribution, forecast ecosystem changes, investigate the nature of black holes, explore the expansion of space, estimate solar activity, model solar wind, compare body adaptations to microgravity, track the effects of space radiation and represent and model scientific information.
 
MathTrax received an education award from the Tech Museum of Innovation at a ceremony November 7 in San Jose, California. The award was based on the recommendation of an international panel of judges. In 2006, MathTrax was the runner-up for NASA Software of the Year.
 
MATHTRAX ALSO VALUABLE FOR SIGHTED STUDENTS
 
MathTrax can be helpful to, and deepen the mathematical understanding of, all types of students. In fact, "we have a wealth of anecdotal evidence that the majority of our users are sighted," Shelton told USINFO. "We are over 100,000 downloads now, and I'm pretty sure that most of those people can see. Failure to complete basic algebra is a multibillion a year problem in the United States and a tool like MathTrax can make a difference to anyone who has issues with graphical concepts."
 
Most math students are familiar with graphing calculators, which turn mathematical equations into visual forms. MathTrax presents the equation in additional ways, providing a text description and an audio version of the graph, with sounds that correlate to the visual image.
 
One of the most fascinating aspects of the software is that a student actually can hear the music of certain equations. "They'll see how equations look if they're looking at it," according to Shelton. "They'll hear how they sound if they're listening to it."
 
"MathTrax demonstrates how graphing software can be made more accessible to everyone.  We've made the technology available, worldwide, with the Open Source release of the Math Description Engine Software Development Kit.  We hope that industry and researchers will build on the technology and apply it as widely as possible."
 
There is a proposal pending to produce a Spanish-language version of MathTrax, Shelton said.
 
MathTrax can be downloaded for free from the NASA Web site.
 
 
(USINFO is produced by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)
 
 
 
 
The Montreal Gazette, Canada
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
 
Many leading websites are unworkable for the disabled
 
By ROBERTO ROCHA
 
85% fail standards of accessibility, and government sites the best, study says
 
Most of the leading websites in Quebec are unusable by people with disabilities, a scathing new report shows.
 
Eighty-five per cent of the 200 most popular sites for Quebec francophones fail standards of accessibility, the study from AccessibilitéWeb and the Institut Nazareth et Louis-Braille for the blind found.
 
This chasm prevents disabled people from obtaining information and participating in society as able-bodied people can, despite the technologies available to aid them.
 
The study, released to coincide with the International Day of Disabled Persons, paints a bleak picture of the Web as a tool to bring information for everyone.
 
"It's a dream for people like me to access such a wealth of information," Yves Fleury, information officer at the Office des personnes handicapées du Québec, said yesterday at a news conference.
 
"Handicapped people are also consumers."
 
The most accessible sites for Quebecers are those of the Canadian government. Revenue Canada got the top mark, scoring 9.28 out of 10.
 
It was followed by the government's main portal and Environment Canada.
 
AccessibilitéWeb analyzed three pages in the top 200 sites viewed by French-speaking Quebecers according to comScore, a Web ratings agency.
 
To be deemed accessible, a website must follow the guidelines of the W3C, the body that oversees Web standards. Accessible sites feature, for example, text alternatives to graphical content, captions on videos, and simple layouts that can be read by voice synthesizers or Braille output devices.
 
For people with motor disabilities, online forms should have error detection mechanisms and permit a transaction to be reversed.
 
The top non-government site belongs to the Mozilla Foundation, makers of the popular Firefox Web browser. Groupe Desjardins had the highest-rated website for a commercial organization.
 
But only 4.5 per cent of sites received a grade of "Excellent" or "Very good," according to AccessibilitéWeb's criteria. More than half were deemed "very poor."
 
Media websites scored the worst, with an average rating of 5.48.
 
However, Quebec websites scored better than a similar study by British agency Nomensa for the same event last year.
 
Out of the leading websites across 20 countries, 97 per cent did not provide even minimum levels of accessibility.
 
To François Aubin, an expert at usability and ergonomics firm Cognitive Group, the numbers are not surprising. He goes as far to say that half of websites aren't even accessible to able-bodied people.
 
Many times the text is too small for normal standards and the information is badly organized, he said.
 
"There's a big paradox in Web accessibility," he said. "Sometimes you make sites accessible, but not for the everyman." As an example, the city of Montreal created a good accessible version of its portal, but the regular site remains confusing for the layperson.
 
"You can follow all the technical norms, but it's more important for people to find info they're looking for," Aubin said.
 
The drive to be creative and innovative with Web design often does not consider the impact on a user's perception of it, he posited.
 
"Web designers want to use latest technology, and that technology evolves much faster than tools for people with disabilities."
 
 
- - -
 
The 10 most accessible sites for Quebecers
 
1. Revenue Canada
2. Government of Canada
3. Environment Canada
4. Public Service Commission of Canada
5. Mozilla Foundation
6. Human Resources and Social Development Canada
7. Health Canada
8. National Research Council Canada
9. Ministère de la santé et des services sociaux
10. Wikipedia
 
To see the complete list, visit
triennale-2007.accessibiliteweb.com
 
 
Vodafone, Portugal
Monday, December 10, 2007
 
Vodafone Portugal launches "Say Net" Mobile Broadband
 
Lisbon, 10 December 2007 - Vodafone has just launched the Vodafone Say Net tariff plan offering special terms for Mobile Broadband Internet access for people with special needs. This offer includes 50% off the monthly subscription for the 3.6 Mbps Broadband plan with 5GB of included traffic and speeds of up to 3.6 Mbps, reducing the cost to subscribers to 19.95 euros a month.
 
In August, Vodafone Portugal launched a more recent version of the Vodafone Say (introduced onto the market in July 2005) enabling blind and visually impaired people to make full use of all the functions of a mobile phone.
 
Already installed free of charge by Vodafone on over 700 phones, Vodafone Say is a solution specially designed for the visually impaired which enables them to use all the functions of a mobile phone by means of Text to Speech (TTS) conversion.
 
 
This means that people who are blind or visually impaired are able to use services such as SMS, MMS or E-mail, or navigate on the Vodafone live! portal. They can also know who is calling, make a call from the address book, use the calendar function and check the network and battery charge, as well as hearing the time, date, etc.
 
With this offer of special rates and adapted phones, Vodafone aims to contribute effectively to this social group's access to and full integration in the Information Society.
 
 

Computer Weekly
Thursday, December 06, 2007
 
IBM donates web accessibility platform to open source Eclipse Foundation
 
By Author: Antony Savvas
 
Posted: 10:49 06 Dec 2007
 
IBM has contributed its Accessibility Tools Framework (ACTF) to the open source Eclipse Foundation, to make it easier for developers to produce systems that can be made available to disabled web users.
 
By using the framework, developers can create accessibility tools and applications easily and cost effectively, as they no longer need to spend time creating a tool or an application from scratch, said IBM.
 
IBM said the ACTF will swiftly integrate new technologies and accessibility guidelines, to help developers quickly respond to the latest technology trends and high-level technical requirements in the Web 2.0 era.
 
ACTF will allow developers to build and use various types of accessibility tools, such as those for accessibility compliance validation, usability visualisation, and alternative accessible interfaces for persons with disabilities.
 
These tools will be integrated into a single, comprehensive accessibility tooling environment as part of the Eclipse platform.
 
The Eclipse Foundation is an open source community focused on developing a universal platform of frameworks and tools that make it easy and cost-effective to build and deploy software.
 
 
 
 
 

I C Sefton & West Lancs, UK
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
 
Ground-breaking eye op gives Edith new hope
 
By Kevin Core, Birkenhead News
 
A GREAT grandmother from Wallasey who has been facing up to blindness can look forward to the future after revolutionary surgery.
 
Edith Parry, 82, has become one of the first people in the UK to have a "telescope" fitted inside her eye.
 
The revolutionary "Intraocular lens for Visually Impaired People" (IOL VIP) operation is the latest success for Heswall's Som Prasad, who is now only the second man in the UK to have performed it.
 
Unlike the cataract procedure, which sees one lens inserted into the eye, two lenses are fitted, one behind the iris and one in front, making a classic "Galilean" telescope.
 
It is "angled" to direct the image to a healthy part of the macula, and on to the optic nerve and the brain.
 
For Edith the effect has been literally life-changing.
 
She said: "I've been counting the stairs in my house so I will know when to stop taking steps - I've been preparing to go blind.
 
"I can't describe anything worse than waking up in the morning and wondering if you can still see.
 
"In my opinion Mr Prasad is a very clever man and he should be recognised."
 
The mother of three and grandparent of five had travelled the world as the wife of a marine engineer, seeing the sights in the United States, Jamaica, Europe and Central America, but 20 years ago clotting from an aneurysm was linked to the onset of age-related Macular Degeneration.
 
The disease is often caused when cells in a layer under the retina lose their capability to filter useless matter, resulting in a loss of central vision.
 
Edith's husband Peter read about the brand new IOL VIP in a newspaper and Edith rang an eye specialist.
 
She said: "I was told that it was too new and that it wasn't available, but in a few minutes the phone went again and it was Mr Prasad - he just said 'I can do it'.
 
"His secretary kept me up to date with preparations, I went for a consultation and he asked me when I was free!"
 
The couple decided to pay for the private £5,000 procedure and after a preparatory session of laser treatment, the procedure was completed in a half-hour operation last Friday.
 
Mr Prasad said: "It's a mixture of old and new technology, the use of the two lenses provides a telescopic effect, like the object lens and the eyepiece.
 
"The lenses are made of poly methyl methacrylate - which last successfully in most people's eyes for many years."
 
For Edith, the incredible technique, coupled with Mr Prasad's skill, is giving her back a simple pleasure she came so close to losing.
 
She said: "I'm so pleased, I've been able to get my books out again - I've really missed reading."
 
 
 
 
The Retail Bulletin (UK)
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
 
December Website Rankings of 100 Retailers
 
By Glynn Davis
 
Extract: "What is even more surprising is that Amazon and its sister site Endless are placed in equal ninetieth spot with a score of only 1.26 out of 10. "As online-only companies they should be doing better. These are the people who rely on being online so they really can't afford to be doing this badly," he says.  One of the areas they perform especially badly on is accessibility with both sites failing on 100 per cent of their pages, which makes them useless to visually impaired customers. "
 
Tesco's direct catalogue site direct.tesco.com retained its top spot in the table of the 100 retail websites tested this month although with a slightly lower score than last month and only just ahead of Clinton Cards.
 
This represents a dramatic move up the table for the greetings card company that moved up four places this month and an impressive 52 places last month. In doing so it pushed Morrisons out of second place.
 
The comprehensive list of 100 sites, which includes not only the largest players but also some of the smaller specialist online merchants, has been created by The Retail Bulletin and specialist website testing company SiteMorse that used its automated testing of the first 125 pages of each retailer's site to generate a ranked table.
 
Lawrence Shaw, founder of SiteMorse, says that a score of 6.5 out of 10 is decent and that all the retailers in the top 10 scored above this level, which is a good sign that the sector is taking the issue of the quality of their websites seriously.
 
However, he is still shocked that so many big name company's find themselves at the bottom end of the table with the likes of WH Smith, DIY.com (the site of B&Q) and the websites of the DSG group faring especially badly. "Decent sized companies wouldn't allow a store to be ranked this badly. Maybe their website vendors aren't disclosing the full facts to these retailers," suggests Shaw.
 
What is even more surprising is that Amazon and its sister site Endless are placed in equal ninetieth spot with a score of only 1.26 out of 10. "As online-only companies they should be doing better. These are the people who rely on being online so they really can't afford to be doing this badly," he says.
 
One of the areas they perform especially badly on is accessibility with both sites failing on 100 per cent of their pages, which makes them useless to visually impaired customers.
 
Although lingerie retailer La Senza is a multi-channel operator Shaw still finds it surprising that it does not provide a better website as its product mix is ideally suited to online because many male customers would prefer to buy over the internet, thereby avoiding any embarrassment in the stores. The site dropped 12 places this month to prop up the table in 97th spot with a paltry score of 0.34.
 
Another disappointing this month was the fact that three sites - Gap, Boots and Pets at Home - have again been excluded as a result of them either been 'down' at the time of testing or because of their reliance on 'assistive' technology, which SiteMorse believes breaks the general "rules of accessibility" of internet sites.
 
Shaw says Pets at Home failed to have a website available when it came time to test the site, which he says could be down to its new provider Snow Valley not delivering the updated site on time. He recalls the company also worked with Toys R US on its site and made a great fanfare at the time of its launch through press releases even though there were still some teething problems to sort out.
 
(Full top 100 retailers chart in table on source page)
 
At the business desk, I'm Kerry J Harrison bidding you a very warm wish for a cold January evening.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Important info for travel agents

Good day everyone and a very happy new year to all of you out there.  I'm Jeff N Marquis and I'd like to kick off the new year with a very important message to the travel industry and to travel agents.
 
So many of you are just too busy to realize what you're missing out on and that is?  A market consisting of real consumers with real needs that's sitting right under your nose but you're too busy to see what's going on here.  I ask you to please read the following article which I've pasted below and take action immediately.
 

Travel Weekly (UK)
Thursday, December 06, 2007
 
Travel agencies warned over needs of disabled travellers
 
By Chloe Berman
 
Travel agencies could face a fine of up to £5,000 if they fail to communicate the needs of disabled passengers to air carriers, following the introduction of new EU laws in July next year.
 
Agents must take "all necessary measures" to notify the airline, for example making a phone call, emailing, or filling in a box on the tour operator's website at least 48 hours before the flight.  Travel agents may waive this responsibility if they book a package holiday with a tour operator. However, if they book a flight-only or dynamic package, they must fulfil the requirement.
 
Speaking at a Travel and Tourism Lawyers Association seminar, 1 Chancery Lane lawyer Jack Harding said: "This is a complete change of the legal landscape. Tour operators and travel agents will have to examine what they're doing very carefully.
 
"It will no longer be appropriate to take a passive stance and wait for the disabled passenger to inform the operator of his special requests."
 
If agents fail to provide information, they are potentially guilty of a criminal offence and could face a fine of up to £5,000.
 
Greece and Cyprus Travel Centre director Anna Mavroulakis said she was unaware of the new regulation. "If the client tells us they're disabled we will make a request on Galileo or advise the tour operator. The new law should not make too much difference to us but it's something agents should definitely read up on."
 
Meanwhile, the first part of the new laws, which came into force in July this year, prohibits agents, tour operators and airlines from refusing a booking because of a disability. The only exception to this is on the grounds of health and safety requirements or if it is physically impossible.
 
ABTA legal advisor Paula Macfarlane said: "These laws could have a big impact on agents." At the moment, ABTA provides a checklist for agents booking disabled passengers but no legislation governs the process.
 
Make travel websites usable to all
 
Travel agents and tour operators must ensure their websites are suitable for the visually impaired.
 
Partner at legal firm Wragge and Co David Lowe warned agents that websites had the potential to be discriminatory.
 
About 81% of websites do not meet the requirements of Disability Discrimination Act's lowest accessibility standard and levels of adjustments required by law could be more significant than anticipated, said Lowe.
 
"Damages are available for injury to feeling and economic loss if website owners fail to make reasonable adjustments to their websites. It's worthwhile, as disabled adults in the UK have spending power of £80 billion," said Lowe.
 
Companies are at more risk if people can only book online or receive a special online discount, he added.
 
If you'd like to learn more about the special needs consumers market and real consumers with real demands, then please visit www.sterlingcreations.ca.
At the business desk, I'm Jeff N Marquis wishing you a pleasant day. 

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