Disability World
A bimonthly web-zine of international disability news and views, Issue no. 7 March-April 2001

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Access briefly

European Parliament Approves Accessible Buses Directive
A major victory was won by disability advocates on February 16 when the European Parliament in a close vote decided to adopt the "Bus and Coach Directive." This means that all buses in European Union countries will have to be fully accessible, utilizing primarily low floor or kneeling vehicles with an accompanying ramp or lift.

It took a nine year campaign to achieve this outcome, led most recently by the Disability Intergroup of the European Parliament together with disabled European leaders and organizations. Details available from Richard Howitt, MEP, European Parliament via email: rhowitt@europarl.eu.intor from the European Disability Forum: ep@edf-feph.org

Society for Accessible Travel & Hospitality
The Society for Accessible Travel and Hospitality (SATH) is the new name adopted in January by the Society for Advancement of Travel with Handicaps during its fifth world congress in Florida. Since 1976 SATH has worked with the airline and travel industries to increase their accessibility to travelers with disabilities. The congress attracted 300 participants from 14 countries.

To read up on their international program, a new access project in Peru, Open World magazine, Travel Industries Accessibilities Guide, and access resources, check out www.sath.org

European Magazine on Design for All
"Crisp & Clear" is the name of the new European Magazine on Design for All that debuted in 2000. Published by the European Institute for Design and Disability, the editorial staff is based at the Danish Center for Accessibility. (Well, maybe not quite all: our access & technology reporter, Marc Krizack, tells us that right now the magazine is inaccessible to blind web readers and we hope this is fixed soon.) The magazine is available in print, on the web at www.design-for-all.org and the editor, Karin Bendixen, can be reached by email: k.bendixen@design-for-all.org

Israeli Firm Develops Mouse for Blind Computer Users
The Israeli firm, VirTouch Ltd. Based in Jerusalem, announced in January that it had developed a computer mouse and operating system that can provide blind people with access to computer graphics.

The system, developed by two Russian immigrants, enables people to use touch to recognize graphics, read text and Braille and play tactile computer games. A press release appears at www.icanonline.net/news/fullpage/579.html

New International Group Addresses Accessible Information & Telecommunication Technologies
The International Coalition of Access Engineers and Specialists (ICAES) was formed in January to pursue research, development and deployment of accessible information and telecommunication technologies. The Board of Directors includes a range of specialists including Judy Brewer, Christian Buehler, Alexandra Enders, Gunnar Hellstrom, Steve Jacobs, Bill LaPlant, Linda Nelson, Susan Palmer, Mike Patrick, Paul Schroeder, Jim Tobias and Gregg Vanderheiden. Details available from the Secretary, Jim Tobias: tobias@inclusive.comor on the web: http://icaes.org

AccessWorld: Technology for Consumers with Visual Impairments
Launched in 2000, AccessWorld is a magazine produced in print and online (www.afb.org/accessworld.asp) by the American Foundation for the Blind. It is a bi-monthly periodical for anyone who uses or wants to use assistive technology, provides technology training, makes purchasing decisions or wants to keep abreast of technological products, resources, trends and events.

Talking Drug Labels Planned for 2001 USA Launch
Smart or talking labels for prescription drugs are now being tested at two Chicago hospitals and if all goes well, by this summer blind and elderly Americans could have the small-print "directions for use" read aloud to them. Using a program called "ScripTalk," with a special computer chip embedded in the label, a wireless technology will translate the printed label into speech.

Vision-impaired veterans are testing the system at Chicago's Hines Veterans Administration Hospital and the Rush-Presbyterian-St.Lukes Medical Center will be researching if ScripTalk could reduce medication errors. Other low-tech solutions, such as large print labels, are also being explored by Rush.
The talking system, ScripTalk is manufactured by En-Vision America, based in Normal, Illinois.

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