Thursday, June 26

Dog philosophies to live by

Greetings. I received this from an email list. Here are some dog philosophies that perhaps we humans should take under consideration. Enjoy.

Dog Philosophy

Don't accept your dog's admiration as conclusive evidence that you are wonderful.

-Ann Landers

If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.

-Will Rogers

There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face.

-Ben Williams

A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.

-Josh Billings

The average dog is a nicer person than the average person.

-Andy Rooney

We give dogs time we can spare, space we can spare and love we can spare. And in return, dogs give us their all. It's the best deal man has ever made.

-M. Acklam

Dogs love their friends and bite their enemies, quite unlike people, who are incapable of pure love and always have to mix love and hate.

-Sigmund Freud

I wonder if other dogs think poodles are members of a weird religious cult.

-Rita Rudner

A dog teaches a boy fidelity, perseverance, and to turn around three times before lying down.

-Robert Benchley

Anybody who doesn't know what soap tastes like never washed a dog.

-Franklin P. Jones

If I have any beliefs about immortality, it is that certain dogs I have known will go to heaven, and very, very few persons.

-James Thurber

If your dog is fat, you aren't getting enough exercise.


My dog is worried about the economy because Alpo is up to $3.00 a can. That's almost $21.00 in dog money.

-Joe Weinstein

Ever consider what our dogs must think of us? I mean, here we come back from a grocery store with the most amazing haul, chicken, pork, half a cow. They must think we're the greatest hunters on earth!

-Anne Tyler

Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea.

-Robert A. Heinlein

If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you; that is the principal difference between a dog and a man.

-Mark Twain

You can say any foolish thing to a dog, and the dog will give you a look that says, 'Wow, you're right! I never would've thought of that!'

- Dave Barry

Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.

-Roger Caras

If you think dogs can't count, try putting three dog biscuits in your pocket
and then give him only two of them.

-Phil Pastoret

Wednesday, June 25

Stream version 2 preview

Greetings. Stream version 2.0 should be out next week, though keep in
mind that delays can happen. According to the Accessible World podcast
on Monday of this week, here are a few highlights of this release.

* New audio formats include WMA; not the protected DRM WMA files just yet.
* New file/document formats include BRF files, in contracted,
uncontracted, and with support for several different languages; and
RTF files.
* 2 more bookshelves: Audible and podcasts.
* The ability to put downloaded NLS digital books directly onto the Stream without unzipping/extracting the files in the book.
* Support for SDHC cards up to 16 GB in size, which is good for those of us that have those larger cards.
* and more.

To learn more about what HumanWare is calling the most comprehensive
update thus far, and to get a list of the various fixes and
enhancements, download and listen to the broadcast at:

After reading all this and listening to the file above, if you don't have a Stream yet, then why not? Enjoy.

Stream enters guide dog training

Greetings. Below is a press release I received through the Stream News Wire concerning a partnership between HumanWare and Guide Dogs for the Blind in California. I must say, this is pretty cool, especially the lowered price for the Stream for GDB students when they leave class. Enjoy.

Longueuil, Quebec (June 25, 2008) -- Guide Dogs for the Blind and HumanWare are pleased to announce the Victor Reader Stream will become an integral part of the curriculum at Guide Dogs for the Blind in the early fall of 2008. The Victor Reader Stream players will allow students attending Guide Dogs for the Blind to read and navigate through class materials, providing them with unprecedented access to materials on campus and beyond.

"All information will be in the DAISY format (digital accessible information system) which can be read by the Victor Reader Stream," says Michael Hingson, president of The Michael Hingson Group, technical consultant for the new program. "When played on the Victor Reader Stream, the recorded data can be navigated much like a print book, allowing the reader to move from chapter to chapter, section to section or jump directly to any page."

Over the past three years Guide Dogs for the Blind has been conducting a total make over of their training program, especially concerning how information is presented to their students. Now with the addition of the Victor Reader Stream students will have all needed documentation available at their finger tips at any time.

"The Victor Reader Stream offers blind people an enhanced reading experience and we are excited to see it used in a true educational way at Guide Dogs for the Blind," says Gerry Chevalier, Victor Reader Product Manager at HumanWare. "This is the first time we have seen the Stream be fully integrated into any educational environment."

The Victor Reader Stream which normally sells to blind users for approximately $330 will be available to Guide Dogs students for $150 to take home following class. All general take home materials from GDB, including all state access legislation concerning guide dogs, information about traveling internationally with guide dogs such as access rules and regulations from many countries will be contained on the Victor Reader Stream.

About Guide Dogs for the Blind
Established in 1942, Guide Dogs for the Blind provides enhanced mobility and quality of life to people who are blind through lifetime partnerships with Guide Dogs. This non-profit organization, headquartered in San Rafael, Calif., is the largest school of its kind and has produced more than 11,000 partnerships across the United States and Canada. Services are provided free-of-charge to those it serves, and relies entirely on private donations. Please visit or call toll free 800.295.4050 for additional information.

About HumanWare
HumanWare is the global leader in assistive technologies for vision, including products for the blind and visually impaired. HumanWare's products include BrailleNote, the leading productivity device for blind people in education, in business and in their personal lives; the Victor Reader product line, the world's leading digital talking book players; and myReader2, the new version of HumanWare's unique "auto-reader" for people with low vision.

Monday, June 23

Summary of the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act

Greetings. And finally, here's a plain language summary of the act that seeks to make on-screen information accessible to all. Enjoy.

Summary of the
"21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act"

Telecommunications technologies have a proven ability to empower
individuals with the necessary tools of the information age. These
technological tools can animate the personal use of communications
for work or enjoyment, but also impact health care delivery,
educational opportunities, the prospects for employment, and job
creation. The goal of the legislation is to establish new
safeguards for disability access to ensure that people with
disabilities are not left behind as technology changes and the
United States migrates to the next generation of Internet-based and
digital communication technologies.

Title I -Communications Access

Definitions. Section 101. -Adds definitions to the Act as follows:

Disability -This has the same meaning as in the Americans with
Disabilities Act and Section 255 of the Communications Act.
Interconnected VoIP Service -This definition has the same meaning
as in the FCC's regulations.

IP-enabled communication service -This definition encompasses
interconnected VolP service and includes transmission services that
have the purpose of conducting voice, text, or video conversations,
interactive voice response systems, and other similar
communication-based services.

Hearing Aid Compatibility. See. 102. -Extends federal law that
currently requires
hearing aid compatibility on newly manufactured and imported telephones, to
comparable customer premises equipment used to provide IP-enabled
service. The purpose of this section is to make sure that people
with hearing loss have
access to telephone devices used with advanced technologies,
including cell phones or
any other handsets used for Internet-based voice communications.
(This section is not
intended to extend to headsets or headphones used with computers.)

Relay Services. Sec. 103. -This section clarifies that
telecommunications relay services (TRS) are intended to ensure that
people who have hearing or speech disabilities can use relay
services to engage in functionally equivalent telephone
communication with all other people, not just people without a
hearing or speech disability. It revises Section 225 of the Act,
which has been interpreted at times (by the FCC) to authorize only
relay services between people with disabilities and people without
disabilities. This section also expands the relay service
obligation to contribute to the Telecommunications Relay Services
Fund to all providers of IP-enabled communication services that
provide voice communication.

Access to Internet-Based Services and Equipment. Sec. 104. -This
section builds upon authority contained in Section 255 of the
Communications Act, which generally requires telecommunications
service providers, as well as interconnected VoIP providers and
manufacturers, to make their services and equipment accessible to
and usable by
people with disabilities. This section creates new safeguards for
Internet-based communications technologies (equipment, services and
networks) to be accessible by people with disabilities, unless
doing so would result in an undue burden. Where an undue burden
would result, manufacturers and providers must make their equipment
and services compatible with specialized equipment and services
typically used by people with disabilities. The term "undue burden"
has the same meaning given it in the Americans with Disabilities Act.

This section also contains measures to improve the accountability
and enforcement of disability safeguards under Section 255 and the
new Section 255A, including directives for new FCC complaint
procedures, reporting obligations for industry and the FCC, the
creation of a clearinghouse of information on accessible products
and services by the U.S. Access Board and National
Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), and
directives for enhanced outreach and education by the FCC and NTIA.

Sec. 104 also clarifies that the transmission and receipt of text
messages sent by radio to and from mobile wireless devices are
telecommunications services, and therefore must comply with the
accessibility obligations under Section 255 and the new
accountability measures under Section 255B.

Universal Service. Sec. 105. -This section makes consumers with
disabilities - as a distinct group - eligible to receive universal
service support through two specific measures. First, it grants the
FCC authority to designate broadband services needed for "phone
communication" by people with disabilities as services eligible to
receive support under the existing Lifeline and Linkup universal
service programs. For example, this would include deaf individuals
who are otherwise eligible for Lifeline and Linkup support, but who
rely on Internet-based video relay services or point-to-point video
for their telephone communications. Second, it grants authority to
the FCC to designate programs that distribute specialized equipment
used to make telecommunications and Internet-enabled communication
services accessible to individuals who are deaf-blind, as eligible
for universal service support. Such support, however, is capped at
$10 million per year.

Emergency Access and Real-Time Text Support. Section 106. This
section contains a specific requirement for real-time text support,
to ensure that people with disabilities, especially individuals who
are deaf or hard of hearing or who have a speech disability, are
able to communicate with others via text in an IP environment with
the same reliability and interoperability as they receive via the
public telephone network when using TTYs. A primary goal of this
section is to ensure that individuals who rely on text to
communicate have equal access to emergency services during and
after the migration to a national IP-enabled emergency network.

Title II -Video Programming

Commission Inquiry on Closed-Captioning Decoder and Video Description
Capability, User Interfaces, and Video Programming Guides and
Menus. Sec. 201. - This section directs the FCC to conduct three
inquiries within 6 months of passage of the Act, and to report to
Congress on the results of such inquiries within 1 year: (I) to
identify formats and software needed to transmit, receive and
display closed captioning and video programming provided via
Internet-enabled services and digital wireless services, including
ways to transmit televised emergency information that is accessible
to people who are blind or visually impaired; and (2) to identify
ways to make user interfaces (controls -e.g., turning these devices
on and off, controlling volume and selecting programming) on
television and other video programming devices -including the
receipt, display, navigation and selection of programming
-accessible to people who are blind or visually impaired, and (3)
to identify ways to make video programming guides and menus
(typically on-screen) accessible in real-time to people who cannot
read those guides or menus.

Closed-Captioning Decoder and Video Description Capability. Sec. 202 -This
section expands the scope of devices that must display closed
captions under the
Television Decoder Circuitry Act of 1990 from the present
requirement of television sets
with screens that are 13 inches or larger, to all video devices
that receive or display video
programming transmitted simultaneously with sound, including those
that can receive or
display programming carried over the Internet. The section also
requires these devices to
be able to transmit and deliver video descriptions. Video
description is the provision of
verbal descriptions of the on-screen visual elements of a show
provided during natural pauses in dialogue.

Video Description and Closed Captioning. Sec. 203. -This section
reinstates the FCC's modest regulations on video description. Those
rules, originally promulgated in 2001, were struck down by a U.S.
Court of Appeals for lack of FCC authority. This section also
authorizes the FCC to promulgate additional rules to (1) ensure
that video description services can be transmitted and provided
over digital TV technologies, (2) require non-visual access to
on-screen emergency warnings and similar televised information and
(3) increase the amount of video description required. Finally,
this section adds a definition for video programming to include
programming distributed over the Internet to make clear that the
existing closed captioning obligations (and future video
description obligations) contained in Section 713 apply to video
programming that is distributed or re-distributed over the Internet.
It tasks the FCC with creating captioning rules for three types of
programming: 1) pre-produced programming that was previously
captioned for television viewing, 2) live video programming, and 3)
programming (first published or exhibited after the effective date of
the FCC's regulations) provided by or generally considered to be
comparable to programming provided by multichannel programming
distributors. This section is intended to ensure the continued
accessibility of video programming to Americans with disabilities,
as this programming migrates to the Internet

User Interfaces. Sec. 204.-This section requires devices used to
receive or display video programming, including devices used to
receive and display Internet-based video programming, to be
accessible by people with disabilities so that such individuals are
able to access all functions of such devices related to video
programming (such as turning these devices on and off, controlling
volume and select programming). The section contains requirements
for (1) audio output where on-screen text menus are used to control
video programming functions, and (2) a conspicuous means of
accessing closed captioning and video description, including a
button on remote controls and first level access to these
accessibility features when made available through on-screen menus.

Access Video Programming Guides and Menus. Sec. 205 -This section
requires multichannel video programming distributors to make their
navigational programming guides accessible to people who cannot
read the visual display, so that these individuals can make program

On-screen information inaccessibility

Greetings. Here's another article on access technology, this time from the Washington Post. This article addresses the issues that both the blind and deaf face in accessing on-screen information which may not be accessible to them. Enjoy.

Access Denied
The Blind or Deaf Can Feel Left Behind As the Tools of Technology Advance  

By Kim Hart
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, June 19, 2008; D01  

Olivia Norman's fingers fly across her laptop keyboard, dexterously
tapping out instant messages to friends and entering Google searches
without committing a single typo. A minute later, she's listening
intently to the voice cues that help her read e-mail and send text
messages on her Motorola Q smartphone.  

Norman is blind, so the cues help her navigate the tiny keypad and
understand the words on the screen.  

She is not able to order an on-demand movie from Comcast because she
can't read the on-screen menus. And she had trouble setting up an
iTunes account because the speech-synthesizing software she relies on
couldn't find the right link on the Web site.  

"It's a curse and a blessing at the same time," said Norman, 27, who
lives in Cleveland Park. "The Internet has revolutionized my life,
but there are basic things that are still completely inaccessible to
people like me."  

In many ways, Web technologies and mobile devices have created new
ways for blind and deaf consumers to find information and connect
with friends. But as entertainment and communications tools
increasingly take digital form, some people with disabilities feel
left behind. Online videos are not required to have captions for
those who can't hear, for example, and ticker-style emergency
messages are not narrated for those who can't see.  

A number of efforts by various groups have tried to address some of
these hurdles over the past few years.  

For example, the Federal Communications Commission last year ruled
that Internet phone services, such as Vonage, that connect to the
public telephone network must be compatible with hearing aids and
relay services, as traditional phone companies' service is. The
agency also decided that wireless carriers must ensure that at least
half of their cellphones are compatible with hearing aids.  

Five years ago, the FCC set rules requiring video operators to
provide "video description" services that narrate scenes for people
with visual impairments. But those rules were overturned in court
when movie studios argued that the FCC did not have authority to make
such rules.  

Today, a Democratic congressman plans to introduce legislation that
would restore those requirements, as well as bring other big changes
to the way Internet phone and video are designed.  

"Now we're full-blown into this digital era, and we, in general, need
to upgrade the laws that ensure that there is accessibility for all
the people who use these new technologies," said Rep. Edward J.
Markey (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Subcommittee on
Telecommunications and the Internet.  

The bill, also sponsored by Rep. Heather A. Wilson (R-N.M.), calls
for new rules for devices that display video programming. Federal law
requires all TV sets with screens larger than 13 inches to display
closed captions. Under the new legislation, all gadgets from MP3
music players to cellphones would be required to show captions.  

Devices would also be obligated to provide video description services
and read aloud emergency messages that scroll across the bottom of
the screen. And they would have to be designed so that on-screen
menus are usable by people with disabilities.  

In addition, Markey's bill would extend existing Internet phone
service requirements to Skype and similar services that let users
exchange voice, text or video communications over the Internet.  

Various advocates of people with disabilities have lined up in
support of the bill, arguing that it's high time that the law spelled
out technology standards that consider the needs of consumers with
visual or hearing impairments.  

But tech industry groups say that such a list of requirements will
dampen the innovation that's already making these products and
services available and more accessible. They also argue that new
regulations will drive up the price of products for all consumers.  

"No one thought about these things five years ago, and yet these
technologies are coming down the pike on their own and we need to
make sure we don't stifle that growth," said K. Dane Snowden, vice
president of state and external affairs for CTIA, the wireless
industry's main lobby group in Washington.  

Robert McConnell, a 23-year-old student at Gallaudet University in
Northeast Washington, said Web cameras, instant-messaging programs
and his BlackBerry allow him to communicate in ways that were not
available to previous generations of the deaf and hard of hearing.
"We live through our thumbs," he said of his dependence on his
cellphone to send text messages and photos of sign-language sequences.  

But video clips and many TV shows that are streamed online are often
unintelligible to him because they lack captions. At the moment, it
is left up to the producers of online content to decide whether to
provide captions. CBS's Web site, for example, does not have captions
for all of the network's content, but, a joint venture
between NBC and Fox, often does.  

Similarly, Sen. Barack Obama, the Democratic presidential candidate,
has put captions on many of the videos on his campaign Web site,
McConnell has observed. Officials with Republican candidate Sen. John
McCain did not say whether his site provides captions for videos.  

Captions are difficult to post with online videos because there is no
common standard for how they are decoded and displayed, said Larry
Goldberg, director of media access at WGBH, a public broadcasting
station in Boston. The station is coordinating a coalition called the
Internet Captioning Forum, formed last year by AOL, Google, Microsoft
and Yahoo, which is working to draw up captioning standards for
content providers and Web sites.  

The proposed bill would not extend to the homemade clips posted on
YouTube and other video sharing sites but would require major TV
networks and movie studios to include captions with Web-bound content.  

"The problem is every video player -- RealPlayer, Windows Media
Player, QuickTime -- works differently," Goldberg said.  

Although made-for-TV content is required to have captions, they are
not always easily repurposed for the Web. For example, if a half-hour
show is broken up into smaller clips for the Web site, the
prerecorded captions "can be garbled or destroyed."  

Some companies have created programs that cater to deaf and blind
people. FeedRoom, a New York company, has created a video player that
can display captions. Audiopoint, based in Rockville, has a
text-to-speech program that reads e-mail and news alerts over the
phone in a robotic voice.  

But the software can cost hundreds of dollars, and compatible devices
can cost in the thousands, said Karen Peltz Strauss, who helped form
the Coalition of Organizations for Accessible Technology.  

She said she thinks federal action would help make the technologies
more affordable.  

But Vincent Morris, communications director for the Information
Technology Industry Council, argued that government action would also
lead to higher prices for all consumers.  

"Our goal would be to craft something that works for the broadest
number of people, and we're not convinced this bill is a good example
of that," he said.

NPR story on hybrids

Greetings. I received the following story via an email list. Though the text below the link is almost a carbon copy of the text in the audio story itself, I encourage you to follow the link below to the NPR page, and click on the Listen Now link to hear the story itself. The reason: its fascinating to hear what sorts of sounds are used in the demonstrations, and to "not hear" the hybrid that is also demonstrated. Incidentally, there are several items on the NFB national convention agenda during the first afternoon of general sessions on Wednesday, July 2, having to do with the hybrid issue. Whether you listen online or are at the convention itself, I'd encourage you to not miss those hybrid items. Anyway, enjoy the following, and as always, please excuse any formatting errors.

Listen to the story at:

All Things Considered, June 21, 2008 · Hybrid vehicles are touted for
their environmental benefits and, given the spiraling price of
gasoline, their economic benefits. But for visually impaired
pedestrians, who rely on sound cues from oncoming traffic, the
relative silence of hybrid engines poses serious safety concerns.

Stanford graduates Bryan Bai and Everett Meyer have developed a
technology to make hybrid cars sound more like, well, cars. Their
system uses miniature, all-weather audio speakers that are placed on
the wheel wells and broadcasts specific sounds based on what the car
is doing.

"It sounds essentially like a vehicle, except the sounds are more
intelligently projected," says Meyer, who along with Bai co-founded
Enhanced Vehicle Acoustics Inc. in Santa Clara, Calif.

"If a person is in drive mode and moving forward, the sounds are only
projected in the forward direction," he tells guest host Guy Raz. "If
the driver decides to turn left or right, the sound changes on the
left or right appropriately. So it minimizes noise pollution and
maximizes acoustic information for pedestrians."

Hybrids like the Toyota Prius can become eerily silent when driven at
speeds less than 25 mph or, say, when idling at a stoplight. At these
low speeds and in stop-and-go traffic, the vehicles switch from
traditional combustion engines to electric power. This boosts fuel
efficiency — but it also increases the risk for pedestrians.

The system created by Bai and Everett's company, which was formed with
the help of a grant from the National Federation of the Blind, emits
sound when the cars go into silent mode.

The federal government and a handful of states are considering
legislation to set minimum sound levels for hybrid cars. In April,
Reps. Edolphus Towns (D-NY) and Cliff Stearns (R-FL) introduced the
Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2008. The bill proposes a two-
year study to determine the best strategy for tackling safety concerns
about hybrids among the visually impaired.

Everett acknowledges that his company's devices could be viewed as
adding to the noise pollution of traffic. But, he notes, "there's a
different between noise and sound, and we view our system as producing
sounds which have a purpose."

Sunday, June 15

DOJ To Issue Sweeping Changes On ADA Regulations

Greetings. I received the following information from an email list. If these changes are indeed made to the ADA, then it looks like they will help to make things more accessible, reduce the confusion on exactly what a "service animal" is, and in other areas. For those able to do so, consider participating in the conference call this Wednesday. Enjoy, and as always, please excuse any formatting errors.


DOJ Conference Call
Wed June 18th 10:00 A.M.
Dial: (202) 353-0879 or 1-800-521-6079
Pass Code: 3658#

Unofficial text of sweeping NPRM below.  This is the first major NPRM
related to the ADA since the original implimenting regulations were
published.  Several issues of concern to people who are blind either
in terms of proposed rules or in regards to rules that are not defined
in the NPRM.  The article below from Mark Richert of AFB summarizes
these matters.

AFB DirectConnect Letterhead

ALERT! Justice Department to Propose Sweeping Revisions to ADA

For further information, Contact--

Mark Richert, Esq.
Director, Public Policy, AFB
(202) 822-0833

(Readers are encouraged to share this alert widely.)

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is expected next Tuesday, June 17,
to formally issue notices of proposed rule making (NPRMs) to
comprehensively update and revise the federal regulations implementing
the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) concerning
state and local government and public accommodations. If made final, the
draft regulations would represent the most sweeping changes to federal
ADA implementation and enforcement since DOJ's issuance of the original
ADA regulations in 1991.

Advocates have been anticipating the release of these NPRMs for several
years. Indeed, while a major purpose of these proposed rules is to
formally adopt pending revisions to the highly-technical Accessibility
Guidelines (known as the ADAAG) relating primarily to the physical
environment, DOJ is also required by law to perform a ten-year
evaluation of its regulations, a deadline that it has missed

That having been said, some advocates had been hoping that DOJ would not
publish proposed rules this year given both the short time frame now for
completion by January, 2009, and the feared negative treatment of some
issues by the current Administration. Nevertheless, the federal
government has taken action to move these draft proposals forward in
time before a self-imposed government-wide limit on issuance of major
new rules.

Official publication of the NPRMs on Tuesday will start the clock on
what is expected to be a very short 60-day time period in which the
public will have the opportunity to offer comment on any or all of the
draft regulations. The DOJ has made an unofficial advanced text
available (see below for links), and the draft regulations themselves
and their accompanying appendices and related material are voluminous.
While a thorough analysis of the proposed rules is therefore impossible
at this time, there are several areas of obvious interest to the vision
loss community--

* Failure of the proposal to make clear the ADA's applicability to
Internet-only places of public accommodation.

* Possible narrowing of the concept of service animals to those from
particular species and that perform clearly identifiable tasks.

* Possible broader and better defined mandate for description of movies
shown in cinemas.

* Failure to better define the concept of effective communication or to
address accessibility of equipment provided generally to customers/users
of state/local government and public accommodations.

...among many others.

Once the NPRMs are published, we will provide readers with information
regarding how to offer comment, as well as any supporting material
and/or analysis that may be useful in preparing such comments. A growing
number of advocates are indicating that their first response to the
publication of the proposed rules will be a strong call for extension of
the comment period. Extension of the comment period is essentially a
discretionary matter and would obviously impact significantly the
progress toward finalization of the rules during the current

Finally, on Wednesday, June 18, beginning at 10:00 am Eastern, the DOJ
will be conducting an informational conference call to acquaint all
interested parties with the scope and general features of the proposed
rules, and DOJ has asked us to spread the word about this opportunity.

To join the call--

Dial: (202) 353-0879 or 1-800-521-6079
Pass Code: 3658#

Links to the advance text of the Proposed Regulations and Other

Title II: Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to amend 28 CFR Part 35:
Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in State and Local
Government Services
HTML format:

Title III: Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to amend 28 CFR Part 36:
Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability by Public Accommodations
and in Commercial Facilities
HTML format:


Appendix A: Analysis of the Proposed Standards
HTML format:

Appendix B: Initial Regulatory Assessment
HTML format:

Regulatory Impact Analysis: Initial Regulatory Impact Analysis Of The
Proposed Revised Regulations Implementing Titles II And III of the ADA,
Including Revised ADA Standards For Accessible Design
HTML format:

Proposed ADA Standards For Accessible Design
HTML format:

Barbara Jackson LeMoine
Policy Analyst
American Foundation for the Blind
Public Policy Center
1660 L Street, N.W., Suite 513
Washington, DC 20036

Expanding possibilities for people with vision lossTM

An icon in assistive technology has died

Greetings. I received the following note from several different email lists. Indeed Clarence Whaley made his impact in GW Micro and I remember seeing him at several different NFB conventions. He was also apart of many technology related interviews on ACB Radio's Main Menu, discussing new features of Window-Eyes and other GW products. He contributed to assistive technology and will most certainly be missed.


On behalf of the entire staff of GW Micro, it is with deep sadness that we must announce the passing away of Clarence Whaley on Saturday morning, June 14.  To read his obituary please go to

choose the Obituaries link and search for Whaley.

Clarence worked with us at GW Micro for almost 10 years, serving as Sales Manager and also Director of Training.  He worked at many trade shows, gave many presentations both in the US and abroad, trained many people in the use of Window-Eyes, the Braille Sense and Voice Sense notetakers plus other products.  Clarence was always ready to explain how to do a certain task in an easy-going manner that no one else could match.  Clarence always made people feel comfortable and at-ease and they had confidence in his abilities.

Clarence loved his Seeing Eye dogs and they assisted him wherever he traveled.  He was active in the music business and enjoyed many types of songs although I am certain his favorite was the music from his hometown - Nashville, Tennessee.

For those of you who wish to express your feelings, thoughts and memories of Clarence, we've added a discussion topic on our blog web page

titled Memories of Clarence Whaley.  We encourage you to write something about Clarence to help others remember him and know him a little better.  This could be anything from a phone conversation to an in-depth training session. Clarence was very active and he touched a lot of lives with his service.

Clarence is survived by his wife Dranda as well as other family members.  Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers as they work through this time of grief and mourning.  He was a well-loved member of the GW Micro family and we will truly miss him.

Dan, Doug and the entire GW Micro staff

GW Micro, Inc.
725 Airport North Office Park
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Saturday, June 14

Comments on quiet cars

Greetings. I received the following message from an email list. It looks like the information on the dangers of quiet cars is finally getting some attention. Enjoy, please excuse any formatting or web address errors, and consider submitting your own comments to the relevant people. Also, thanks to Larry from the Disability Nation podcast for submitting his comment on the May 17th post on quiet cars. Please read what he has to say and visit their site to hear the quiet cars podcasts that he has.


 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
[Docket No. NHTSA-2008-0108]
 Quiet Cars Notice of Public Meeting and Request for Comments
AGENCY: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA),
Department of Transportation (DOT).
ACTION: Notice of public meeting, request for information.
SUMMARY: NHTSA is having a public meeting to bring together government
policymakers, stakeholders from the blind community, industry
representatives and public interest groups to discuss the safety of
blind pedestrians encountering quiet cars including hybrids, all-
electric vehicles and quiet internal combustion engine vehicles. This
public meeting and the request for information, is an opportunity for
an exchange among interested parties, as well as the public, on the
technical and safety policy issues related to increasingly quieter cars
and blind pedestrians. The date, time, location, and framework for this
public meeting are announced in this notice.
DATES: Public Meeting: The public meeting will be held on June 23,
2008, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Grand Hyatt Washington, Washington,
    Comments: Written comments may be submitted to the agency and must
be received no later than August 1, 2008.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mrs. Debbie Ascone, Office of the
Senior Associate Administrator for Vehicle Safety, NHTSA, telephone
202-366-4383, e-mail
. She may also be reached at
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., Washington, DC 20590.
ADDRESSES: Public meeting: The public meeting will be held at the Grand
Hyatt Washington, 1000 H Street, NW., Washington, DC 20001, telephone: 202-

    Written comments: Written comments on this meeting and topic must
refer to the docket number of this notice and be submitted by any of
the following methods:

     Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to
. Follow the online instructions for submitting comments.
     Fax: 1-202-493-2251.
     Mail: Docket Management Facility, M-30, U.S. Department of
Transportation, West Building, Ground Floor, Rm. W12-140, 1200 New
Jersey Avenue, SE., Washington, DC 20590.
     Hand Delivery: West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140,
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., between 9 am and 5 pm Eastern Time, Monday
through Friday, except Federal holidays.
    Regardless of how you submit your comments, you should mention the
docket number of this document.
    You may call the Docket Management Facility at 202-366-9826.
    Instructions: For detailed instructions on submitting comments, see
the Procedural Matters section of this document. Note that all comments
received will be posted without change to,
including any personal information provided.
    According to R.L. Polk & Co, registration for new hybrid vehicles
rose to 350,289 registrations in 2007.\1\ While hybrid vehicles remain
a small portion of new registered vehicles, registrations of hybrids
increased 38% from 2006 to 2007. A hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) is
more commonly defined as a vehicle which combines a conventional
propulsion system (such as a gasoline or diesel engine) with an
electric motor and has an on-board rechargeable energy storage system
(such as batteries) to achieve better fuel economy than a conventional
vehicle. HEVs prolong the charge on their batteries by capturing
kinetic energy via regenerative braking, and some HEVs can use the
combustion engine to generate electricity by spinning an electrical
generator (often a motor-generator) to either recharge the battery or
directly feed power to an electric motor that drives the vehicle. All
HEVs have a start/stop system which can turn off the engine at idle and
restart it when needed. Some hybrids are capable of being driven by
only the electric motor at lower speeds (generally up to 25 mph). As
such, these vehicles can be significantly quieter than conventional
gasoline powered vehicles.
    Deborah Kent Stein discusses an emerging problem with HEVs in the
    ``When the hybrid is traveling at low speeds, the electric motor
is very quiet. The problem arises when a hybrid car, powered by its
electric motor, is traveling at slow to moderate speeds--as when it
moves along a side street, emerges from a driveway or parking lot,
or starts up after a red light or stop sign. Under these
circumstances the engine is silent, and there is little or no sound
from tire friction or wind resistance. In addition nearly all
hybrids come to a full stop at red lights or stop signs, shutting
off the engine completely. The engine does not idle, emitting a low,
telltale purr. It makes no sound at all. A blind traveler has no
indication that a car is present and preparing to move forward at
any moment.'' \2\
    \2\ Stop, Look, and Listen: Quiet Vehicles and Pedestrian Safety
by Deborah Kent Stein; from: The Braille Monitor, June 2005.
    Mrs. Stein, chairman for the National Federation of the Blind
(NFB), Committee on Automobile and Pedestrian Safety/Quiet Cars made
this statement in the article ``Stop, Look and Listen: Quiet Vehicles
and Pedestrian Safety,'' in the June 2005 issue of The Braille Monitor.
NHTSA recognizes this is a potential safety problem and is responding
to the concern and investigating the hazard of quieter vehicles to
pedestrians, cyclists and others who need to be aware of approaching
cars that are out of their line of sight.
    While the size of the specific problem is currently unknown, the
total number of pedestrian crashes in 2006 was 65,404 resulting in
4,784 fatalities and an estimated 61,000 injuries.
    Since August 2007, NHTSA has been working through the Society of
Automotive Engineers International (SAE) to identify effective ways to
address the safety issue with quieter vehicles. The Alliance of
Automobile Manufacturers and the Association of International
Automobile Manufacturers, along with the SAE have formed the Vehicle
Sound for Pedestrians Subcommittee under the SAE Safety and Human
Factors Committee.\3\ This subcommittee, Vehicle Sounds for Pedestrians
(VSP), created the three following Task Forces to gather information to
assist in determining the technical approaches to address the problem:
Audience for specification, target sound level, and type of sound and
driving conditions for the sound. The VSP subcommittee is currently
working to both define the issue and understand the conditions in which
these types of incidents occur and expects to propose and evaluate
different methods to address the issues as these factors are better
    Further work of the VSP subcommittee will explore: who will benefit
from the establishment of a minimum sound level for motor vehicles,
what that sound level should be and the type of sound that will be
necessary to have the desired effect, and under what vehicle and
ambient conditions the sound is required to be heard and measured. The
subcommittee is currently in the data gathering stage: what incidents
have happened, where, and under what conditions. Different data sources
have been identified and approached. Concurrently, the task force on
sound measurement is preparing an outline for a test procedure to
measure vehicle operating sounds.
    Thus far, this group of human factors experts also includes a
member of the American Council for the Blind and a representative of
NHTSA. The group is regularly meeting at four-week intervals to study
possible ways of improving the detection of quiet cars by pedestrians
and to explore the feasibility of proposing an SAE Recommended
Practice. In addition to the SAE initiative, NFB has commissioned Dr.
Lawrence Rosenblum at the University of California-Riverside to
investigate the sound made by hybrids and people's ability to detect
them. At Stanford University, with financial help from the NFB,
researchers have developed a prototype sound generating device that
receives information about the vehicle function and transmits the
information to speakers placed on the vehicle. While this vehicle-based
system is one potential countermeasure for quieter vehicles, NHTSA, the
automotive industry and the SAE subcommittee will continue their
efforts to identify the most appropriate and effective countermeasures.
In the United States House of Representatives, a bill has been
introduced entitled the ``Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2008,''
which, if enacted, requires the Secretary of Transportation to study
and establish a motor vehicle safety standard that provides for a means
of alerting blind and other pedestrians of motor vehicle operation.\4\
Additionally, in December 2007, NHTSA met with representatives of the
NFB to discuss this issue.
[[Page 31189]]
Public Meeting
    NHTSA is having this public meeting to discuss the technical and
safety policy issues associated with the increasing presence of quieter
cars and the risks to blind pedestrians. The meeting will bring
together State and local government policy makers, stakeholders in the
blind community, industry representatives and public interest groups.
    The meeting will be open to the public, but presentations will be
by invitation only. Time will be designated for open floor discussion
by the general audience. Meeting participants and the public are also
invited to submit comments on this issue to the docket. All materials
to be presented are asked to be submitted to NHTSA in advance for
appropriate dissemination to visually impaired attendees.
    The sections below describe the discussion of topics for the
Statement of Problem
    Representatives of the blind community will discuss the problem
facing blind pedestrians around quieter vehicles. The discussion should
include the explanation and known size of the problem. The
presentations should identify specific situations in which vehicles are
hard to hear, the sound cues that are necessary in detecting a vehicle
and which of those cues are absent in those problematic locations. To
gain a better understanding of the desired outcome to this problem,
representatives of the blind community should discuss general ways to
increase the safety of blind pedestrians and potential solutions--both
desirable and undesirable to the blind community.
Pedestrian Safety
    Pedestrian safety is a difficult but important issue both
nationally and internationally. Presentations should discuss pedestrian
safety in general as well as specifically related to the blind
community. Any known incidents with pedestrians, in general and
involving the blind, and quieter vehicles will be detailed. Data
collection challenges should also be discussed as well as the needs to
improve this data collection. There will also be discussion of current
technologies to aide the blind community in safer pedestrian travel. A
NHTSA representative will discuss ongoing and planned activities for
pedestrian safety, identifying potential activities that could be
enhanced for the blind. A representative from the international vehicle
safety community will present information about the problem globally as
well as work in other nations to address pedestrians and quieter
vehicles. The discussion should also include international standards
for pedestrian safety and any potential solutions for this problem that
have been researched internationally.
Sound Measurement and Mobility
    In developing a solution to assist blind pedestrians around quieter
cars, a few fundamental questions must be addressed. Presentations on
this topic should include discussions of which sounds of a vehicle
should be measured and the means by which to measure that sound. Any
studies into this area should also be included. Sound experts should
also describe average noise levels as reference points for the audience
as well as extreme noise levels--both low and high extremes. A mobility
expert should discuss sound cues for blind individuals and any
measurement studies related to the field. There should also be
discussion on mobility in rural areas and locations that lack the
infrastructure for technology.
Automotive Industry Perspective
    A representative from the automobile industry should speak about
how the industry is addressing the problem. The discussion should
include information on what current and future vehicles would qualify
as quiet cars as well as what features of the car cause the reduction
in sound. The automobile industry representative should also discuss
what the industry is willing to commit to, product development and lead
time for vehicle-based solutions.
SAE Work and Status
    As was discussed previously, SAE has a subcommittee dedicated to
this topic and has active working groups looking at specific details.
An SAE spokesperson will discuss the process in general and the current
status of this work. Additional details of the working groups should be
laid out at the meeting and the representative should describe the
needs of the subcommittee to continue work and expedite both the work
and the process.
Potential Solutions
    Research into potential ways to address this issue should include
vehicle-, person-, and infrastructure-based approaches. Presentations
should include current and past research into each of these areas,
literature and conclusions from such. Product development,
effectiveness, lead time, cost and public acceptance of solutions
should also be discussed. Any potential solution that is currently
marketed or planned for market would be included in this discussion as
well as the history of the development of the product.
Noise Abatement
    While the lower sound of vehicles presents a safety concern for
blind pedestrians, it also provides a solution to the health concern
arising from noise pollution. Presentations on this topic should
include federal and local perspective on noise pollution as well as the
jurisdiction of noise pollution laws. The discussion should also
include studies about what levels of sound are dangerous to health and
studies into the magnification of sound presented by large numbers of
vehicles or vehicles in confined spaces. Current or planned efforts to
reduce the sound emitted by vehicles should also be discussed along
with supporting research into determination of said maximum levels.
Procedural Matters
    The meeting will be open to the public with advanced registration
for seating on a space-available basis. Individuals wishing to register
to assure a seat in the public seating area should provide their name,
affiliation, phone number and e-mail address to Mrs. Debbie Ascone
using the contact information at the beginning of this notice. Should
it be necessary to cancel the meeting due to an emergency or some other
reason, NHTSA will take all available means to notify registered
participants by e-mail or telephone.
    The meeting will be held at a site accessible to individuals with
disabilities. Individuals who require accommodations such as sign
language interpreters should contact Ms. Debbie Ascone by June 16,
2008. All written materials to be presented at the meeting will be
available electronically on the day of the meeting to accommodate the
needs of the visually impaired. A transcript of the meeting and other
information received by NHTSA at the meeting will be placed in the
docket for this notice at a later date.
How can I submit comments on this subject?
    It is not necessary to attend or to speak at the public meeting to
be able to comment on the issues. NHTSA invites readers to submit
written comments which the agency will consider in its research and
proceedings with the safety of quiet cars and pedestrians.
How do I prepare and submit comments?
    Your comments must be written and in English. To ensure that your
[[Page 31190]]
comments are correctly filed in the Docket, please include the docket
number of this document in your comments.
    Your primary comments must not be more than 15 pages long (49 CFR 553.21). However, you may attach additional documents to your primary comments. There is no limit on the length of the attachments.
    Anyone is able to search the electronic form of all comments received into any of our dockets by the name of the individual submitting the comment (or signing the comment, if submitted on behalf of an association, business, labor union, etc.). You may review DOT's complete Privacy Act Statement in the Federal Register published on
April 11, 2000 (Volume 65, Number 70; Pages 19477-78) or you may visit
How can I be sure that my comments were received?
    If you wish Docket Management to notify you upon its receipt of
your comments, enclose a self-addressed, stamped postcard in the
envelope containing your comments. Upon receiving your comments, Docket
Management will return the postcard by mail.
How do I submit confidential business information?
    If you wish to submit any information under a claim of
confidentiality, send three copies of your complete submission,
including the information you claim to be confidential business
information, to the Chief Counsel, National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration, 1200 New Jersey Ave., SE., Washington, DC 20590.
Include a cover letter supplying the information specified in our
confidential business information regulation (49 CFR part 512).
    In addition, send two copies from which you have deleted the
claimed confidential business information to Docket Management, 1200
New Jersey Ave., SE., West Building, Room W12-140, Washington, DC
20590, or submit them electronically, in the manner described at the
beginning of this notice.
Will the agency consider late comments?
    We will consider all comments that Docket Management receives
before the close of business on the comment closing date indicated
above under DATES. To the extent possible, we will also consider
comments that Docket Management receives after that date.
    Please note that even after the comment closing date, we will
continue to file relevant information in the docket as it becomes
available. Further, some people may submit late comments. Accordingly,
we recommend that you periodically check the docket for new material.
How can I read the comments submitted by other people?
    You may read the materials placed in the docket for this document
(e.g., the comments submitted in response to this document by other
interested persons) at any time by going to
Follow the online instructions for accessing the dockets. You may also
read the materials at the Docket Management Facility by going to the
street address given above under ADDRESSES. The Docket Management
Facility is open between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through
Friday, except Federal holidays.
    Authority: 49 U.S.C. 30111, 30168; delegation of authority at 49
CFR 1.50 and 501.8.
Ronald L. Medford,
Senior Associate Administrator, Vehicle Safety.
[FR Doc. E8-12041 Filed 5-29-08; 8:45 am]