I know there are bigger environmental issues out there than plastic bags, but it still is an important issue.  Seeing videos like this I can’t help but wonder what TV ads would look like if advertising companies used their skills more responsibly.


Manufacturers and suppliers of consumer technology devices in the US could
be forced to make all their products accessible to blind consumers, if
proposed legislation is passed by Congress.

Introduced by Jan Schakowsky, a Democratic House of Representatives member
from Illinois, the Technology Bill of Rights for the Blind Act 2010 ( ) is based around creating
accessible alternatives to what it calls “increasingly complex user
interfaces” found in consumer electronics.

Many of these devices, from televisions and dishwashers to office equipment
such as photocopiers and fax machines, are operated by touch-screen
technology or other visual displays that are not accessible to blind people,
the bill says. “This growing threat to the independence and productivity of
blind people is unnecessary because electronic devices can easily be
constructed with user interfaces that are not exclusively visual”, it says.

The draft law builds on guidelines set out in Section 508 of the
Rehabilitation Act, which requires US Government bodies to engage in
accessible IT and electronics procurement ( See:( ).

The bill is divided into three parts: first, to commission study to
determine non-visual control methods for consumer electronics; second, to
create a set of “minimum non-visual access standards” to which devices
should conform; and third, to establish an “office of non-visual 

compliance” to carry out the study and enforce the access standards.

Peter Abrahams, accessibility and usability practice leader at IT research
organisation Bloor Research (
), told E-Access Bulletin that as well as being a significant step for
accessible manufacturing of consumer electronics, the bill could, in theory,
also be used to enforce website accessibility. “I can imagine you could say
that [a website] is the interface to a product or service, and therefore it
has to be accessible and be covered by the same bill. My view is that in the
future it could be used to push [the web accessibility] agenda as well.”

However, it may take some time for manufacturers and website owners to be
affected by the technology bill, even if it is passed, warned Abrahams. The
bill needs to pass both houses of the Congress by a majority vote, before
being examined and signed by President Obama. This process, combined with
setting up the office of non-visual access compliance and carrying out the
study and report as set out in the bill, means it could be several years
before the proposed legislation comes into effect.

Retailers’ use of fixed devices faces challenge by handicapped groups

Retailers’ use of fixed devices faces challenge by handicapped groups
By ALLISON LAMPERT, The GazetteFebruary 19, 2010

Quebec associations for the handicapped are challenging retailers’ use of immovable debit-card readers.

They say the practice of attaching bank-card readers to store checkout counters discriminates against certain handicapped customers – such as those in wheelchairs – who can’t easily reach the counter.

The Confédération des organismes de personnes handicapées du Québec is campaigning to bring a group complaint on debit-card readers to the Quebec Human Rights Commission in May.

Their efforts are pitting the rights of thousands of handicapped Quebecers against retailers’ security and cost concerns.

Last year, Quebec police urged retailers – especially dépanneurs, restaurants and gas stations – to replace movable debit-card readers, which were being
unhooked and stolen. Criminals were using the devices to access bank-card data and customers’ PIN numbers.

Julie Weber, an organizer for the handicapped, acknowledged the need for retailers to protect their clients from theft, but said they must also accommodate their handicapped customers.

Retailers now have the option of using immovable readers that are attached to the counter in a sleeve, but can be removed with a key for use by handicapped clients.

“We want them (handicapped customers) to have the same rights as everyone else,” Weber said.

In December, a Montrealer brought a similar complaint to the Human Rights Commission against Pharmaprix and parent company Shoppers Drug Mart Corp.

The complaint, filed by Linda Gauthier, 53, has not been heard by the commission.

A spokesperson for Ontario-based Shoppers couldn’t be reached for comment yesterday.

Gauthier, who uses a wheelchair after losing the use of her legs to multiple sclerosis, said the immovable readers make it very difficult for her to pay
by debit card.

During the incident that provoked her complaint, Gauthier said the only way she could use the reader was by punching in her PIN number in front of other

“It’s discrimination. My money is as good as anyone else’s,” the former amateur ballroom dancer turned activist said. “We aren’t second-class citizens.”

A retired bank customer service agent, Gauthier said some retailers are making an effort to be more accessible to the handicapped. Gauthier said she has approached Dollarama LP and accessories retailer Ardène Holdings Inc. with some success.

In Gauthier’s Plateau Mont Royal neighbourhood, a Jean Coutu drugstore offers accessible bank card readers at all of its eight cash registers.

Valérie Marcouiller, pharmacist owner of the store on Mount Royal St. E., said converting to the immovable bank-card readers that unlock with a key wasn’t prohibitively expensive.

“It’s a small gesture that doesn’t take that much effort to do,” Marcouiller said.

© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette

Reproduced from