How Emojis are Improving Inclusion

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In fall this year, we can expect an array of new emojis coming to our smart devices, including ones that are more inclusive to differing genders.

The Unicode Consortium announced earlier this year that there would be 62 new emojis coming to smart devices, including 55 emojis that will strive to be more gender inclusive.

Emojis of the transgender flag and of non-binary individuals in occupations that were previously only available as women and men will be just some of the new additions we can expect to see.

 

Some of the new gender inclusive emojis to be released later this year
Some of the new gender inclusive emojis to be released later this year

By implementing these emojis, people of differing gender identities will not only be able to express themselves through messages and social media in a smaller, normalized way, but will also attempt to include those of all genders to feel validated in who they are.

While these emojis are set to appear on most devices around September or October, some smart devices could receive the new additions early.

From Inclusion to COVID, Meet the These Hollywood Stars Doing the Most for the LGBTQ+ Community

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Wilson Cruz with a group of Star Trek fans

From allies to active members of the LGBTQ+ community, meet some celebrities who have currently been working to further the rights and safety of LGBTQ+ people.

Cathy Rena

Longtime LGBTQ+ PR icon Cathy Rena has always found herself on the forefront of the United States’ LGBTQ+ history.  From Ellen DeGeneres’ coming out story to Michael Shephard’s beating in the 1980s to the creation of Pride events, Rena has worked with journalists and LGBTQ organizations for decades to properly portray and advocate for the community in its most difficult times.

Now, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Rena is working diligently to advocate for the community’s needs and specific struggles during this time. Not only is she an integral member in creating the first-ever virtual global pride, but she also has been working to make the public aware of the inequality of resources that has been given to the LGBTQ+ community.

Omar Shariff Jr.

Omar Shariff Jr., actor and grandson of Omar Shariff, has been one of the most vocal voices for LGBTQ+ people in a time of uncertainty. Already being an active member in the community, formerly serving as a GLAAD spokesperson and an ambassador for the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, Shariff has taken his activism to paper in an article that informs the public of how COVID-19 has directly affected the LGBTQ+ community through healthcare discrimination, the need to isolate with unsupportive family members, and the inability to donate blood, to name a few.

Shariff hopes speaking out about these issues will result in a more unified community and a decrease in homophobia by the time the pandemic has ended.

Wilson Cruz

Actor Wilson Cruz, pictured with fans, from the hit TV show My So-Called Life, is moving from in front of the camera to behind it, serving as one of the producers of the new docu-series, Visible: Out on Television. The Apple TV Plus series is set to show how the LGBTQ+ community has been represented in media and how it was used as a platform for activism in the 1970s.

Being one of the first actors to be openly gay in the entertainment world, Cruz hopes to use his influence to encourage others in the community to feel comfortable and proud of who they are.

Natalie Wood

Starring actress of Miracle on 34th Street and West Side Story Natalie Wood was best known for her successful acting career before her tragic death in 1981. Despite her passing nearly 40 years ago, Wood’s support for LGBTQ+ people has become a popular topic in the last few weeks due to her newest documentary, Natalie Wood: What Remains Behind. Actress Natasha Gregson Wagner, Natalie Wood’s eldest daughter, narrated and produced the HBO released documentary that closely accounts for Woods’ life outside of the public eye.

Being no stranger to standing up for herself as a woman in Hollywood, Woods was also quite accepting of the LGBTQ+ community, despite society’s view of LGBTQ+ people during the time. Wagner recalls being practically raised by gay men as her mother was friends with many men who identified as gay. Two men in particular, Matt Crowley, a playwright, and Howard Jeffrey, a producer and choreographer, were some of Woods’ closest friends who identified as gay. The two men, though not romantically involved with each other, lived in Woods’ guest home and were made Wagner’s godfathers.

“She would have been in the forefront,” Wagner says of her mother, “She would be waving the rainbow flag with the best of them.”

The Cast of “Queer as Folk”

The 2000’s British TV show, Queer as Folk came back together earlier this month to raise money for CenterLink, the parent company of over 200 LGBTQ centers. Money raised for the organization came from both donations and an auction of some of the show’s memorabilia. The event streamed live on YouTube on May 1 and is still available in its four-hour entirety for viewers to watch. The event was hosted by Scott Lowell but also included other cast members, such as Gale Harold, Randy Harrison, Sharon Gless, Michelle Clunie, Robert Gant, Peter Paige, and many more.

To date, the Queer as Folk cast is still hosting donations to be given to CenterLink. Should you want to donate, the link is provided here.

New Braille Keyboard Opens Many Doors

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Two hands reading a book in braille

With the popularity of the smartphone, many people within the visually impaired community have used the voice dictation feature to write a text message. However, within the last few weeks, Google’s Android makes talk to text the second way that people with visual impairments can communicate.

In the last few weeks, Google released a new braille keyboard on its Android 5.0 products—Talkback.

The keyboard will be available in braille grades 1 and 2 in English and will utilize a six-key system, each key representing one of the six braille dots. Each key will be numbered one through six and be combined into different number combinations to form words and sentences, allowing for words to be written on the smartphone entirely in braille. Deletion of words and spaces will also be possible in a simple two-finger swipe to either the left or the right.
As smartphones became more popular, many worried that using braille would soon become obsolete to the next generation with visual impairments. In some instances, braille keyboards could be attached to devices to write messages, but that would require carrying around a keyboard in addition to your cellular device. Talkback will not only make messaging easier and more compact for those with visual impairments but will also help advocate the importance of learning braille.

Talkback is only one of the many tools available to those with visual impairments for navigating smart technology through Android’s Accessibility Suite. To learn more about the product, click here or to learn how to set the system up on your device, click here 

Making Homes More Accessible

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Rosemarie Rossetti and her husband, Mark Leder, sitting in the living room of their home and smiling at the camera

By Rosemarie Rossetti, PhD

On June 13, 1998, my husband Mark Leder and I went for a bicycle ride on a rural wooded bike trail in Granville, Ohio. After riding for a few minutes, Mark thought he heard a gunshot and slowed down to investigate. As he scanned the scene, he saw a large tree falling. He shouted, “Stop!” But the warning was too late. Instantly, I was crushed by a 7,000-pound tree and paralyzed from the waist down.

Coming home from the hospital in a wheelchair in July 1998 after my spinal cord injury, I realized how my home intensified my disability. My husband and I knew that we had to sell our home and find something more suitable.

Universal Design

Since the 1980s, architects, interior designers, and other design and building professionals have embraced the concept of universal design, which is a framework for creating living and working spaces and products to benefit the widest range of people in the widest range of situations without special or separate design. Universal design is human-centered, accommodating people of all sizes, ages, and abilities.

Building the Universal Design Living Laboratory

My husband is 6’4″ tall while I am 4’2″ seated in my wheelchair. Our heights and reaches were factors in the design of our home so that we would both be accommodated.

In September 2004, we hired architect Patrick Manley to draw the house plans for our new home. Mark and I bought an acre and a half lot in December of 2006. We broke ground in September 2009, and moved in May 2012.

In addition to being accessible, universal design and green building construction principles were followed. Mark and I served as the general contractors of our home, named the Universal Design Living Laboratory. (www.UDLL.com) We received the highest levels of certification from three universal design certification programs, making our home the highest rated universal design home in North America.

Independent Living

The first noticeable improvement when I moved into our new home was the ease in navigating on the hardwood and tile floors. My shoulders were no longer strained as they had been on the carpet in my previous home. I realized that my carpal tunnel syndrome pain and numbness in my hands was lessened.

Living in the Universal Design Living Laboratory for the past seven years has given me a unique perspective. As a person who uses a wheelchair, I have learned the importance of space planning, and that small differences in the width of a door, the height of a threshold or the slope of a ramp can impact a person’s independence. Safety features like grab bars in the toileting area and shower have kept me from falling, and they make transfers easier.

Kitchen Design Keys

As others plan to remodel or build, they need to consider features that allow occupants independence. Universal design features in the kitchen include the overall design of the circulation pattern, cabinet design, countertop height, and appliance selection.

  • A minimum 5-foot turning radius throughout the kitchen allows a person who uses a wheelchair the ability to do a 360-degree turnaround. Power wheelchairs and scooters      may need additional space.
  • Side-hinged ovens are preferable to those hinged at the bottom, installed at a height that is easy to reach from a wheelchair.
  • Cooktop controls and the ventilation control panel at the front and at waist height make them accessible by all.
  • Multiple countertop heights, such as 40, 34, and 30 inches, accommodate a diverse population. A 30-inch countertop with knee space underneath works well for someone  who remains seated during meal preparation.
  • At least half of the storage space should be accessible from a seated position, including drawers and cabinet shelves.
  • Cooktops and sinks with knee space beneath make for user-friendly work areas.
  • A dishwasher raised 16 inches off the floor eliminates the need to bend down low.
  • A side-by-side refrigerator/freezer provides easier access from a seated position.

Rosemarie Rossetti, Ph.D. is an internationally known speaker, trainer, consultant, and author of the Universal Design Toolkit. To get a free chapter and learn more about the Universal Design Living Laboratory, visit UDLL.com. To contact Rosemarie and learn about her speaking services, visit RosemarieSpeaks.com.

I Feel Like a Tomato

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Fresh tomato isolated on white background

By Shelby Smallwood-Brill

As a woman who uses a rollator most days, sometimes it’s hard to explain to people that I’m kind of disabled, kind of not.

When curious little kids ask why I’m using a walker with wheels just like their grandma, I usually tell them I hurt my leg. It’s easier than explaining years and years of complicated mishaps and surgeries that lead to scar tissue on my spinal cord, which causes my legs to super tight all the time. Kids don’t want to hear that, and frankly neither do most adults.

Sometimes the wicked part of me wants to tell kids that I didn’t eat my vegetables when I was a kid, and now I walk like this – just to freak them out. The thought of it makes me laugh, but I’m not sure how well a joke like that would be received by parents, so I usually bite my tongue. If a child presses me for details, I usually say I was in a car accident (I wasn’t) or hit by a drunk driver (that’s a lie, too). Why? Because kids understand an accident and are able to move on once they understand why I’m using a walker. If I try to tell the truth, I can see their little eyes glaze over as their brain gets caught in a limbo state of not understanding, and with that, confusion about what they should say or do around me. Now that I think about it – that happens with grownups as well.

The human brain naturally puts people and things into categories to understand and process them efficiently. Craig McGarty discusses the importance of social categorization in his article featured in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Psychology. He discusses how we make sense of the world by using categorization. Social categorization influences how we view ourselves and those we interact with. We use social categorization to figure out relationships between people and groups, and how we fit in to those groups. We use categories to predict behavior, anticipate needs, figure out who will see eye to eye with us and who we’ll get along with.

So, when a kid is confused about why I need a walker, it’s because they don’t know what social category to put me in. You and me both, kid.

A tomato is technically a fruit but feels like a vegetable. When it comes to disability, I sort of feel like a tomato. I don’t use a wheelchair, so I don’t fit the classic image of a person with a physical disability, but I do walk with crutches or a rollator, so I don’t fit in with the 100 percent able-bodied group anymore.

Recently I came across the term, “spoonie,” that describes someone who relates to spoon theory. I love how this label helps sum up so much complex information in one word. Similar to “foodie” or “gamer,” you get it with one word.

Spoon theory was coined by Christine Miserandino back in 2003, and the term has been adopted by “spoonies” ever since to describe the physical and mental energy expenditure required to live in a physically disabled body. You start your day with a certain number of spoons, and you must plan your day accordingly. Wake up, 1 spoon. Go to work, 5 spoons. Pick up your kids, make dinner, help with homework… You get it – they take all of your spoons.

The frustrations of running out of spoons too quickly can be similar to counting calories or using a cell phone with a battery that dies too quickly. It doesn’t necessarily need to be spoons that represent your daily energy share – some people think of it in terms of money or points. Either way, you need to be smart and plan for the unexpected things that life throws at you. Living this way makes it hard to be spontaneous, even if that’s your nature. A friend who asks if you want to go to happy hour after work usually gets turned down because you haven’t allocated enough spoons for the added energy. If you were to go to happy hour, you wouldn’t have enough energy, for example, to get up the next morning and go to work.

What I appreciate about spoon theory is that it gives a visual representation of the concept of once your energy is spent, you’re done. Period. Sometimes that can be hard to communicate, and having a visual aid is helpful.

Although many scoff at applying labels to groups of people, I find that it’s a great way to grease the wheels of conversation and lead to a faster connection with others.

Labels are also great when you need to search for things that interest you online. Try searching for “disability” vs “learning disability” and you’ll see what I mean. Both human nature and Google love segmenting people into categories, and I’m fine with that.

Disabilities can be divided into broad categories like physical or developmental, for example, but once you try to get more specific, things get murky. As people with disabilities, we’re all like little snowflakes with our unique issues and circumstances that make us different than your average person without disabilities. I understand the spirit behind putting people first, and that labels are meant for jars, not people. However, as someone who doesn’t quite fit into any existing labels, I find myself wishing I had one. People who have a label for their disability have an easier time finding each other and becoming a supportive tribe.

I can’t be the only one that feels this way, right?

Source: thatzhowiroll.com

How to Successfully Work Remotely

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Woman's Hands Working From Home on Computer while looking at her iPhone

Suddenly thrust into remote work? Here’s how to cope – and thrive – as a telecommuter.

The past decade has seen the rise of remote work or teleworking for a number of professions, but with the coronavirus outbreak, many people who might never have left the comforts of a traditional office are suddenly thrust into remote life.

A number of companies throughout the U.S., large and small, have either asked or mandated that employees work from home, and as the outbreak continues to spread, there’s no sign of that slowing down.

Massachusetts-based biotech firm Biogen has asked its 7,400 employees worldwide to work from home after employees tested positive for the coronavirus. In Indianapolis, pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly requested that all its U.S.-based employees work from home and restricted all domestic travel. And in the tech hubs of the Bay Area and Seattle, several companies, including Twitter, Airbnb, Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft and more, have asked employees to stay away.

Those experienced in teleworking have greeted the news with a virtual shrug, while others are working to adjust to their new realities. Consider the following advice if you’re new to full-time telework:

  • Adjust quickly to working remotely.
  • Build solidarity with your remote team.
  • Get savvy and connected with technology.
  • Look at remote work as an opportunity.

Adjust Quickly to Working Remotely

To those who are working from home for the very first time, comedian and author Sara Benincasa, who wrote “Real Artists Have Day Jobs,” offers this sound advice via email: “Strap in. You’re about to get to know yourself a LOT better.”

“What I’ve found is that regardless of perceived social cache or any so-called cool factor, your work-from-home job can be dismal or pleasant. That’s because so much of the work-from-home experience depends on YOU,” Benincasa says. “When you work from home, you are your only in-person co-worker and supervisor.”

Benincasa recommends establishing a routine, creating a dedicated workspace and taking periodic breaks. “Do not overdo the caffeine. If you need to write down everything you eat and drink each day in order to keep your caffeine, sugar and alcohol intake low, do it,” she says.

“Also, don’t drink during work hours, please,” she adds.

Isha Kasliwal is a senior developer at Twitch, the video live-streaming service and Amazon subsidiary, based in San Francisco. She and her co-workers were asked to work from home if possible, for their own safety, at least through the end of March. While Twitch has long had a fairly flexible work-from-home policy, Kasliwal says the prolonged experience of remote work is something new for many of her colleagues.

“I’ve had to make adjustments with regards to how I get myself ready in the morning, still getting semi-dressed for the day and not staying in pajamas all day,” she says, “and making sure that I set some time to take a walk outside during the middle of the day so I get fresh air and can get some steps in.”

Kasliwal says she doesn’t mind working from home temporarily but is looking forward to getting back to the office when she and her colleagues are able.

“I’m actually enjoying working from home because I don’t have to deal with commute times, which is great,” Kasliwal says. “But I do miss seeing my co-workers and the Twitch kitchen, which is amazing.”

While it might seem foreign to those who work independently or remotely full time, some people do actually like going into an office and spending time with co-workers. Kelly Hoey, author of “Build Your Dream Network: Forging Powerful Relationships In a Hyper-Connected World,” says managing interpersonal relationships remotely can be an often-overlooked challenge in suddenly having to work from home.

Build Solidarity With Your Remote Team

“For managers, it’s important to keep some sort of routine for your team. There’s a structure to getting up, getting dressed and the community in the office. Some of your staffers might feel lost without it,” Hoey says. “If you usually have Monday meetings or Thursday lunches, for instance, try to arrange a video chat or brown-bag virtual gatherings. Check in with each other.”

She reminds managers to ask their employees if anything else has changed in their lives or routines due to the outbreak. For instance, if an employee’s child’s school is closed or if they’re suddenly caring for an elderly neighbor or relative, that might impact how and when they’re able to log in every day. And if a manager doesn’t ask, Hoey suggests employees communicate that information directly.

Hoey warns teams against simply using the same tools in the same way as they do in a traditional office setting. “If you’re using Slack or email in the office, many times you have that line of sight. You can look up and see if your colleague got your message, and if it came across the way you meant it,” she says. “Now that you’re remote, maybe now you leverage other, more personal technology – even hop on a call – to really connect.”

Get Savvy and Connected With Technology

And for all those conference calls and video chats that will suddenly be required? Hoey recommends setting up a dedicated video space with a neat background, good lighting and no distractions. After all, it might not just be fellow employees also in their pajamas on the other end of the call. Salespeople might need to speak with clients, managers might need to speak with board members and other stakeholders. Working from home is no excuse not to keep it professional. (At least from the blazer up!)

Continue on to U.S. News to read the complete article.

Discussions on Artificial Intelligence Dominate HR Tech 2019

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Collage image of people attending and speaking at the HR tech conference

The team observed three key themes for accessible technology and the impact of emerging technology on people with disabilities while participating in HR Tech 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The HR Technology Conference & Exposition (HR Tech) is one of the top global events showcasing emerging technologies and tools transforming the human relations (HR) industry.

This year, platforms utilizing artificial intelligence (AI) continued to trend at HR Tech.

The conference also infused a new focus on mitigating bias and ensuring that AI tools can align with corporate goals for diverse and inclusive hiring.

Our team observed three key themes for accessible technology and the impact of emerging technology on people with disabilities while participating in HR Tech 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

These themes included AI activities at the forefront, C-suite support for access to emerging technology, and bridging gaps in inclusion in AI focuses.

Artificial Intelligence is Front and Center

HR Tech 2019 featured several sessions related to AI bias in emerging technology. Dmitri Krakovsky, the head of Hire for Google, emphasized that “AI will have the greatest impact when everyone can access it and when it is built with everyone’s benefit in mind.” Several other speakers at HR Tech 2019 outlined key strategies for mitigating the bias that AI can introduce into the hiring process. Himanshu Aggarwal, CEO & Co-founder of the AI-powered platform Aspiring Minds, described strategies for using AI responsibly.

Aggarwal and other speakers also noted that:

  • AI measurements can offer broad indicators about a candidate’s qualifications, but humans need to be involved in the process for selecting data sets and evaluating the data to minimize and mitigate bias.
  • The data measured and collected must be directly job-related; otherwise, companies may face increased risks for discrimination (intentionally or unintentionally).

John Sumser, Editor-in-Chief of HR Examiner (an online magazine), also illustrated the landscape of challenges presented by AI usage by adopting the metaphor of a fruit salad. He noted that AI programs can excel in identifying the individual ingredients that comprise the fruit said, while missing what he considers the best part entirely: “the mixed-up juice at the bottom.” Sumser also stressed that an AI system could mistakenly identify the polka dots on the fruit salad bowl as another ingredient. He offered this advice for working with AI-focused systems:

  • AI is here, so start planning for it and include your legal team in the discussion.
  • Be aware that machines may make major mistakes when using AI today.
  • Machines can have biases pre-programmed in because they are designed intentionally with algorithms that can reflect the biases of their designers and developers.

C-Suite Support is Essential

HR professionals at HR Tech and elsewhere have increasingly viewed accessibility as a business imperative—but only when it is driven and championed at the executive level. Vendors at HR Tech noted that they only observed enthusiasm for accessibility from HR professionals themselves when corresponding commitment from leaders in the C-suite was also present. These experiences dovetailed with our team’s own understanding and insight into how to drive adoption of technology accessibility–that making forward progress requires solid support from top-level corporate leadership to be strongly effective.

Awareness of Disability Inclusion Lags in AI Discussions

When approached with questions about the AI behind their products, HR Tech vendors eagerly described their strategies for mitigating bias. However, most vendors only discussed how their strategies dealt with biases for gender and race. Few vendors showed sufficient knowledge of the issue to respond to this question in depth with respect to disability. We know from our work in promoting accessible workplace technology that people with disabilities represent a very heterogeneous group; this group contains many people considered outliers when compared with people without disabilities.

Thus, we find it very critical that these platforms pay careful attention to multi-factored dimensions of inclusion. We also find it imperative to recall wisdom from leaders like Jutta Treviranus, Director of the Inclusive Design Research Centre at OCAD University in Toronto, Canada. She notes that success in reducing disability-related biases in AI requires approaches rooted in the jagged starburst of human data—rather than simple bell curves.

HR Tech 2019 also reminded our team that awareness about the impact of emerging technology on people with disabilities remains the major immediate hurdle—especially when companies increasingly seek to benefit from inclusion of people with disabilities in the workplace. Unless HR systems align with diversity-focused hiring goals, companies will not fully realize the business advantages of hiring people with disabilities. In fact, new research from Disability:IN and the American Association of People with Disabilities showed that businesses leading in inclusion of people with disabilities saw a 28 percent gain in revenue. These organizations also witnessed a doubling of their net income and a 30 percent increase in economic profit margins.

Exploring Tangible Pathways for XR Accessibility at the 2019 W3C Workshop

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Women in wheelchair at the access symposium wearing the Oculus headgear

Lately, the Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology (PEAT) has met many people across industry and academia who are enthusiastically driving a new wave of (XR) technologies. This community’s commitment to accessible and inclusive XR solutions is essential, and we were excited to join a recent workshop in Seattle, Washington exploring these issues in depth.

Hosted by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the workshop’s goal was to discuss strategies for making XR platforms on the web using principles of inclusive design.

Below, please check out the takeaways our team gathered for tackling the unique accessibility challenges of XR—and how accessible XR can increase employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

XR Is Made for Accessibility

Speakers throughout the day conveyed an overarching theme: XR naturally lends itself to inclusive design. Josh O’Connor from the W3C noted that XR can provide “rich, accessible alternatives” that do more than simply convey text on a web page. In fact, XR can offer a full accessible experience with multiple modes of interaction based around the user’s needs and preferences.

Creating XR tools often means blending physical and digital environments, which contains checkpoints for overlaying accessibility features directly onto the world. Common recommendations emerged throughout the day from several speakers, including: the importance of building accessible XR hand or eye controllers for people with varied dexterity, possibilities for plain language guidance to support cognitive accessibility.

Several speakers also discussed exciting research on tangible accessibility solutions:

Meredith Ringel Morris from Microsoft demoed SeeingVR, a set of tools to make virtual reality more accessible to people with low vision.

Wendy Dannels from the Rochester Institute of Technology presented her research to deliver auditory accessibility using XR.

Melina Möhlne from IRT showcased her research on how to display subtitles in 360° media.

Building XR with Meaning

During the event, we discussed the guiding question of how to extend existing web accessibility standards to XR platforms. For example, what factors could we apply from the W3C’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and the Web Accessibility Initiative’s ARIA standards (Accessible Rich Internet Applications)?

Taking a step back, this question really concerns how to build XR that conveys meaning to people with and without disabilities. ARIA attributes work for websites because they provide labels for specific features like checkboxes and forms. XR spaces are essentially boundless. Because many more types of objects require labeling, participants generally doubted ARIA’s abilities to transfer to XR.

Fortunately, a new file type called glTF could help us assign meaning in XR spaces. Chris Joel from Google presented glTF as a counterpart to jpeg image files. While jpeg is for pictures, glTF is for 3-D objects and scenes. These files carry the ability to add immaculate labels with rich text information that makes them more accessible. This text can be legible to screen readers, and it can provide plain language guidance to aid with cognitive accessibility.

However, questions remained about just how much information to feed the user, as opposed to letting them figure out the 3-D space on their own. Participants wondered how we can make this information production easier for the developers creating glTF files— and of course, what other solutions might exist to build XR with meaning.

How Can We Use XR at Work?

XR includes virtual, augmented, immersive, and mixed reality tools, and the applications are staggering. In the workplace, these XR tools can bolster functions like virtual meetings and online training. XR can also provide a platform for workers to engage more intimately with 3-D models, which span domains like architecture, medicine, engineering, and manufacturing.

PEAT looks forward to continued involvement in making XR more accessible through our partnership with the XR Access Initiative. For more on the topic of accessible XR technologies, check out our key takeaways from the 2019 MAVRIC Conference on Achieving Measurable Results with XR.

Teen With Asperger’s Named Time Person Of The Year

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NEW YORK — She inspired a movement — and now she’s the youngest ever Time Person of the Year.

Greta Thunberg, the Swedish 16-year-old activist who emerged as the face of the fight against climate change and motivated people around the world to join the crusade, was announced Wednesday as the recipient of the magazine’s annual honor.

She rose to fame after cutting class in August 2018 to protest climate change — and the lack of action by world leaders to combat it — all by herself, but millions across the globe have joined her mission in the months since.

“We can’t just continue living as if there was no tomorrow, because there is a tomorrow,” Thunberg told Time in the issue’s cover story. “That is all we are saying.”

The Person of the Year issue dates back to 1927 and recognizes the person or people who have the greatest influence on the world, good or bad, in a given year.

Since her protest, Thunberg has spoken at climate conferences across the planet, called out world leaders and refused to waiver in her quest to make an impact on the future.

Time editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal acknowledged Thunberg as “the biggest voice on the biggest issue facing the planet” in an article explaining the 2019 selection.

“Thunberg stands on the shoulders — and at the side — of hundreds of thousands of others who’ve been blockading the streets and settling the science, many of them since before she was born,” he wrote. “She is also the first to note that her

“We can’t just continue living as if there was no tomorrow, because there is a tomorrow,” Thunberg told Time in the issue’s cover story. “That is all we are saying.”

The Person of the Year issue dates back to 1927 and recognizes the person or people who have the greatest influence on the world, good or bad, in a given year.

Since her protest, Thunberg has spoken at climate conferences across the planet, called out world leaders and refused to waiver in her quest to make an impact on the future.

The selection of Thunberg was praised by Hillary Clinton, who tweeted that she “couldn’t think of a better Person of the Year.”

Continue on to Disability Scoop to read the complete article.

Google Seeks Help From People With Down Syndrome

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A man with voice recognition on his phone

Voice computing is the future of tech— devices like smart-home systems and internet-enabled speakers are leading a shift away from screens and towards speech. But for people with unique speech patterns, these devices can be inaccessible when speech-recognition technology fails to understand what users are saying.

Google is aiming to change that with a new initiative dubbed “Project Understood.” The company is partnering with the Canadian Down Syndrome Society to solicit hundreds of voice recordings from people with Down syndrome in order to train its voice recognition AI to better understand them.

“Out of the box, Google’s speech recognizer would not recognize every third word for a person with Down syndrome, and that makes the technology not very usable,” Google engineer Jimmy Tobin said in a video introducing the project.

Voice assistants — which offer AI-driven scheduling, reminders, and lifestyle tools — have the potential to let people with Down syndrome live more independently, according to Matt MacNeil, who has Down syndrome and is working with Google on the project.

“When I started doing the project, the first thing that came to my mind is really helping more people be independent,” MacNeil said in the announcement video.

Continue on to Business Insider to read the complete article.

Stepping into the Limelight

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Verizon's collage of disability images

By Kat Castagnoli, Editor, DIVERSEability Magazine

Seeing people with disabilities on a TV series, the big screen or even in commercials hasn’t always been the norm. Actor portrayals have been more typical than an actual person with a disability playing a role. But no more. DIVERSEability Magazine is giving a standing ovation for those with a disability who are proudly stepping into the limelight so that more youngsters can point to a television or movie screen and say, ‘hey, they’re like me!’

Like Ali Stroker, our cover story, the very first actress who uses a wheelchair to win a Tony Award. The 32-year-old, who won for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for her portrayal of Ado Annie in Oklahoma!, says it’s “really cool” to see herself represented. “It didn’t feel like, ‘Oh, you did something to overcome being in a chair,’” Stroker said. “It was actually, ‘We’re recognizing you for being at the highest level of your field.’ That’s what I’ve always wanted.”

And what about America’s Got Talent’s latest winner Kodi Lee? The singing phenom—who is both blind and autistic—stole the hearts and minds of millions who were cheering him on through Season 14, including AGT judge and actress Gabrielle Union, who declares, “Kodi has literally changed the world.”

We here at DIVERSEability can think of nothing better. Because when people with disabilities are represented, it changes the way we think about disability and inclusion in all walks of life and business. The 2,000 attendees at Disability:IN this past July can definitely testify to that. Read the jam-packed Wrap-Up on page 16, and you’ll see “life-changing” as an overriding theme.

In addition to our Best of the Best list of disability-friendly companies, we’re seeing even more jobs for people with a disability (page 46). Also, take a look at ways to create better experiences for all your employees (page 40) as well as how to make your business even more successful (page 66).

Finally, we are thrilled to see companies like Verizon shattering stereotypes by launching their new Disability Collection of images (pictured above). The company says the new image library aims to shed light on how the world views the disability community.

We challenge all companies to step into the spotlight and follow suit to create a more inclusive, visible and well represented workforce. Can you imagine a world where we can all say, ‘hey, they’re just like me!?’ We can.