An AI-powered data-gathering platform used by the city of Aurora, Illinois, has helped officials make better decisions, the city’s chief information officer said at a conference in Denver last week. But he also conceded that the platform’s reliance on social media like Twitter and Facebook leaves open the possibility that it’s using great deal of information from unverified sources. Michael Pegues, the top IT official for the Chicago suburb of about 210,000, said at the Smart Cities Connect conference that public safety leaders and other officials in his city often look to ZenCity — an analytics tool that blends official information, news sources and social media — to guide law-enforcement operations and other big policy actions. “We’re learning to be the smartest city in America,” Pegues said, aspiring for an ideal bandied about by many local governments pursuing a “smart city” agenda. Pegues said the ZenCity platform came in handy on Feb. […] Source
A host of organizations must get involved with a state or local government’s open data program before it can begin generating information rich enough to inform policy or improve operations. But officials from Austin and the Texas state government told a conference audience Monday that with persistence and open communication, it’s possible to convert skeptics into open-data advocates. Texas launched its open data portal as a pilot project in 2014 without much support. But as of early 2019, it’s logged 288 million downloads of its datasets, Ed Kelly, the state’s data coordinator, said at Tyler Technologies’ Connect conference in Dallas. The state has partnered with the city of Austin and is now looking for new partnerships with more city and county governments as it continues searching for ways to ply data against government’s challenges, he said. 1. Lead by example Kelly said that lifting the state’s data program out of […] Source
U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Cory Gardner introduced legislation Monday that would authorize the Department of Homeland Security to give state and local governments grants to purchase additional cybersecurity resources and hire more information-security personnel. Under the State Cyber Resiliency Act, state, local and tribal governments would be invited to put together plans to improve their overall defenses around their computer networks, communications systems and industrial control systems, such as internet-connected devices that operate environmental sensors and other “smart city” platforms. Plans would be designed with the goals of improving overall security, running regular vulnerability assessments and other threat-mitigation exercises and ensuring operational continuity — particularly public safety and law enforcement — in the event of a cyberattack. “As cyberattacks increase in frequency and gravity, we must ensure that our nation — from our local governments on up — is adequate..
Former Iowa Chief Information Officer Robert von Wolffradt was hired Monday as the first CIO of Abilene, Texas, city officials said. Von Wolffradt, who left the Iowa state government in January, will begin his new role in Abilene, a Central Texas city of about 136,000, later this month. The city’s IT division will take a higher priority in technology discussions moving forward, according to Abilene City Manager Robert Hanna. “Mr. von Wolffradt will lead the City’s efforts to better leverage technology to serve our citizens as Abilene’s first Chief Information Officer,” Hanna said in a press release. “Previously, the City’s Information Technology Division did not always have a seat at the table and wasn’t always brought into high level discussions on technology. Bob will lead a team of dedicated professionals and will ensure that the City’s acquisition and implementation of technology is strategically focused and well executed.” During his six years as […] Source
Local governments strapped for resources may soon find their best allies for uncovering innovations are other local governments hundreds of miles away. The software firm UrbanLeap on Friday announced a new partnership with ELGL, a network of more than 3,000 local government leaders, to establish a yearlong innovation program designed to give local governments a chance to pilot new ideas and technologies at low risk. Called the “Small Places, Big Ideas Innovation Cohort,” the program will allow 25 city, county and town governments a chance to build out new technologies designed to improve services offered to residents with the help of ELGL and UrbanLeap. In an attempt to assist local governments that may have fewer connections or less funding at hand, localities with populations below 30,000 will be given preferential treatment in the application process, according to a press release. Each applicant is required to dedicate at least one full-time […] Source
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont announced Tuesday a series of proposals aimed at reducing redundancies in the state’s procurement processes and making government services increasingly digitized. The initiatives come a few weeks after Lamont’s office issued a budget proposal vowing to make Connecticut the first “all-digital government.” Several of the proposals Lamont offered Tuesday involve reducing the number of forms businesses seeking contracts with the state government have to complete to bid on projects, and moving more of the solicitation process online through an updated procurement portal. He also said his administration plans to make it easier for residents to conduct government transactions online rather than visiting agency offices or waiting for physical forms sent in the mail. Not coincidentally, Lamont and Josh Geballe, the commissioner of the Department of Administrative Services, which includes the state IT office, made the announcement at a paper-shredding plant in East Wi..
The Georgia state government hired David Allen, a former chief technology officer for the state’s National Guard, as the new statewide chief information officer this month, the Georgia Technology Authority confirmed to StateScoop Wednesday. Allen, who spent a decade as a deputy CTO and then IT chief for the National Guard, succeeded former CISO Stanton S. Gatewood, who resigned in February after three years leading the state’s cybersecurity office. Stanton took the CISO job in February 2016, capping a four-decade career that included five years as the CISO of the University of Georgia and seven as the top information security official for the University System of Georgia, which encompasses all 28 of the state’s public four-year colleges and universities. Before UGA, he also worked for four years as the CISO at the University of Southern California. As Georgia’s statewide cybersecurity chief, Gatewood most recently played a role in the development […] Source
Between long lines at state offices, millions of dollars in supplementary funding requests and reports of attempted interference against a voter registration system by overseas actors, the computer systems operated by the California Department of Motor Vehicles are not working well these days. Now, amid an audit of the DMV, a lengthy investigation published this week by the Los Angeles Times and ongoing budget talks that continue to uncover new problems, some lawmakers, led by Republican Assemblyman Vince Fong, are calling for new leadership at the state’s Department of Technology, which designed the DMV’s automatic voter registration system. Fong, who called in October for the resignations of then-DMV Director Jean Shiomoto and state Chief Information Officer Amy Tong, told StateScoop he is hopeful with the new evidence of the DMV’s troubles in its computer systems and what he characterized as systemic problems within the state’s overall IT governance, that there will […] Source
Officials in Albany, New York, said Wednesday that no city information was compromised in the ransomware attack that struck its municipal government late last month. Mayor Kathy Sheehan and Rachel McEneny, the city’s administrative services commissioner, said that the city did lose access to some data, but that the technicians responding to the hack, which Sheehan made public March 30, have the ability to restore it. “From the standpoint of mission critical data and information we feel confident that anything we need to recover, we’ll be able to recover,” Sheehan said at a news conference. While most city services are available to residents, officials are still unable to process requests for vital records like birth certificates and marriage licenses, and are referring people to offices in neighboring jurisdictions. The mayor said that Albany has not paid the ransom demanded by the malware that encrypted city computer systems, but few other details […] Source
Seyfarth Synopsis: Florida’s recently-enacted House Bill 727 gives businesses a way to deter serial plaintiffs from suing them in Florida courts. Watching businesses deal with the at least 1,663 ADA Title III access suits filed in federal court in Florida in 2016 motivated Florida legislators to take action with House Bill 727 (“HB 727”) which went into effect on July 1, 2017. One of bill’s sponsors, Rep. Tom Leek, claims that “[t]his law give the ADA back to the people for whom it was written, Americans with disabilities.” We are not quite so optimistic. Under HB 727, a business that hires a “qualified expert” to inspect its premises to either verify conformity with ADA facilities access requirements, or to develop a compliance plan, can have that information considered in a lawsuit filed in a court within the state of Florida, provided that the certificate of conformity or remediation plan has been filed with the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (the “DBPR”). The ..
ADA Title III Lawsuits Increase by 16% in 2017 Due Largely to Website Access Lawsuits; Physical Accessibility Legislative Reform Efforts Continue
By Kristina M. Launey, Minh N. Vu, & Susan Ryan Seyfarth Synopsis: The number of federal ADA Title III lawsuits continue to surge in 2017, fueled largely by website accessibility claims; while legislative reform efforts continue to mitigate the physical accessibility portion of those lawsuit numbers. The results of our 2017 ADA Title III lawsuit count are in, putting a fifth consecutive year (since we began tracking in 2013) of growth in the number of ADA Title III lawsuits filed in federal court. In 2017, 7,663 ADA Title III lawsuits were filed in federal court — 1,062 more than in 2016. While a bit slower growth than in 2016 (which saw an 1,812, or 37% year over year increase) over 2015, this 16% increase is almost double the 2014-2015 8% increase, demonstrating a continued upward trend in the number of filings. ADA Title III Lawsuits in Federal Court: 2013-2017: 2013 (2722); 2014 (4436, 63% increase over 2013); 2015 (4789, 8% increase over 2014); 2016 (6601, 37% increase over 201..
Beyond Title III: Website Accessibility Lawsuits Filed Alleging Inaccessible Online Employment Applications
Seyfarth Synopsis: Plaintiffs who pursued numerous web accessibility actions under Title III of the ADA are now using website accessibility to test the limits of a different area of law – employment law – California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act. Over the past few years, we have frequently written about the proliferation of demand letters and lawsuits alleging that a business denied a usually blind or vision-impaired individual access to its goods and services because the business’ website was not accessible, in violation of Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and state laws. One firm that pursued many web accessibility actions under Title III and California’s Unruh Act (including a success in the Bags N’ Baggage case decided in plaintiff’s favor by a California state court) is now going after employers. In recent demand letters and lawsuits, they are alleging that employment websites are not accessible to blind job seekers, in violation of California’s Fair Emp..
Seyfarth Shaw Synopsis: Effective December 18, 2017, New York became the latest state to enact a law cracking down on fake service animals. New York recently joined an increasing number of states that have passed laws aimed at curbing abuse of laws and regulations designed to ensure that individuals with disabilities can be accompanied by their service animals in places of public accommodation and other settings. On December 18, 2017, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law a bill that, among other things, makes it unlawful to knowingly apply a false or improper identification tag designating a service, emotional support, or therapy dog. In signing the bill, Gov. Cuomo noted an increasingly important role therapy dogs play in supporting individuals with diseases such as anxiety and PTSD, and also their role in assisting the ill and elderly. Authority to enforce the new law is vested with each municipality’s dog control officer. Violators will face a fine of up to $100, up..
By Minh N. Vu Seyfarth Synopsis: HR 620 requires potential plaintiffs to provide businesses with notice of architectural barriers and give them an opportunity to remove them before filing suit. Today, the House of Representatives passed the ADA Education and Reform Act (HR 620) by a vote of 225 to 192, with 12 Democrats voting for the bill. As we recently reported , the number of ADA Title III lawsuits has risen dramatically in the past four years. HR 620 is primarily an attempt to stem the tide of lawsuits brought by serial plaintiffs who bring dozens, if not hundreds, of lawsuits against businesses based on relatively minor physical access barriers found in their facilities for quick settlements. HR 620 requires a would-be plaintiff to send the business a pre-suit notice that specifies (1) the alleged barriers in the facility, with a citation of the section of the ADA that has been violated; (2) “the circumstances under which the individual was actually denied access to a public ..
By: Minh N. Vu Seyfarth Synopsis: The Justice Department withdraws pending rulemakings for accessible websites, furniture and non-fixed equipment. The current Department of Justice’s (DOJ) regulatory approach to Title III of the ADA is yet another example of what a difference an election can make. In 2010, the DOJ started the rulemaking process to issue new regulations about the websites of public accommodations and state and local governments, as well as non-fixed equipment and furniture used in public accommodations. In July of this year, the DOJ placed these rulemakings on the “inactive list”. On December 26, 2017, these rulemakings will officially be withdrawn. On the web access rules, the DOJ stated that it is “evaluating whether promulgating regulations about the accessibility of Web information and services is necessary and appropriate. Such an evaluation will be informed by additional review of data and further analysis. The Department will continue to assess whether speci..
Seyfarth Synopsis: 2017 saw an unprecedented number of website accessibility lawsuits filed in federal and state courts, and few courts willing to grant early motions to dismiss. Plaintiffs were very busy in 2017 filing ADA Title III lawsuits alleging that public accommodations’ websites are not accessible to individuals with disabilities. Here is our brief recap of the 2017 website accessibility lawsuit numbers, major developments, and our thoughts for 2018. In 2017, plaintiffs filed at least 814 federal lawsuits about allegedly inaccessible websites, including a number of putative class actions. We arrived at this number by searching for lawsuits with certain key terms and then manually reviewing the results to remove any cases that did not concern an allegedly inaccessible website. Our numbers are conservative, as it is very likely that not every website accessibility lawsuit’s description – upon which we based our search – contained our search terms. This caveat applies to all of..
The results from the April 2018 Survey of Web Accessibility Practitioners are now available at http://webaim.org/projects/practitionersurvey2/. There were 724 respondents. This was a follow-up to the 2014 Practitioners Survey. Here are a few interesting and surprising findings: Those in the web accessibility field were generally older, better paid, and better educated than our peers in broader web design/development. 26.4% of respondents reported having a disability. This is significantly higher than other technology fields. Salary disparity was reported between men and women, though this pay gap has gotten smaller since 2014. In corporations/industry, women reported making slightly more than men, though women made notably less than men in other sectors, especially education, government, and self-employment Respondents with disabilities made notably less than those without disabilities, though this reported pay gap has decreased significantly since 2014. Chrome was the most popular b..
We’re happy to announce the release of Dinolytics – an enterprise-level web accessibility evaluation system based on WAVE. Pope Tech has been developing and refining Dinolytics for nearly a year. While Dinolytics is already being used by over 120 organizations in Higher Ed, K-12, Hospitality, Entertainment, Government, eCommerce, and the Financial industry, today’s release marks a significant milestone for web accessibility tools. This cost-effective, powerful tool is intended to disrupt the market and help organizations large and small significantly improve their web site accessibility for people with disabilities. Dinolytics Features Dinolytics offers the following features: Powered by the time-tested and popular WAVE accessibility evaluation engine. Based primarily on WCAG 2.1, the full power and educational resources of WAVE are incorporated directly into Dinolytics. Site-wide accessibility scanning and monitoring over time. Dinolytics takes the page-specific accessibility detail..
The results from our September 2018 Survey of Users with Low Vision are available at https://webaim.org/projects/lowvisionsurvey2/. Here are a few interesting and notable items: 75% of respondents report multiple types of visual impairment. 61.3% have light or glare sensitivity and 46.8% have contrast sensitivity. 51.4% of respondents report using some type of high contrast mode. 71.2% of users that adjust page contrast prefer light text on a dark background. 45.2% of respondents use a screen reader, 48.4% screen magnification software, and 44% browser zoom controls. Other types of settings and AT are commonly used. JAWS is the most common screen reader, followed by NVDA and VoiceOver. Narrator is rarely used (.8%). Only 8% were detected as having increased the default text size. Very few respondents adjust paragraph, line, word, or letter spacing. 60.4% always or often use a keyboard for web page navigation. This is a very high number of users that rely on keyboard accessibility. 22..
WebAIM has analyzed the home pages for the top 1 million web sites and collected an immense volume of accessibility data. The results provide great insight into the current state of accessibility. Unfortunately, significant and pervasive issues are present across much of the web. While there is much work to be done to improve accessibility, these research findings can help us identify patterns so accessibility efforts can be better focused. Read the full research report Check the analysis results for any home page in our sample Here are just a few notable items: Home pages averaged 59.6 detectable errors each. 7.6% of all home page elements (1 in 13) have a detectable accessibility error. The WCAG failure rate for home pages was at least 97.8%. Low contrast text was the most common detectable issue with an average of 36 instances of low contrasts text on each home pages. One-third of all images (12.3 images per page on average) were missing alternative text. 59% of form inputs were..
The WebAIM Million report shows that there are significant and pervasive accessibility issues on the web. Many have inquired if the state of accessibility is getting better or worse. We will re-analyze these 1 million home pages in the future to track changes. In the meantime, we do have some small-scale data from the Alexa Top 100 home pages that were first analyzed using WAVE for accessibility issues in 2011 and then again in 2017. A re-analysis in 2019 of these same 100 pages (most of which are still very popular) shows the following errors (excluding WCAG contrast errors) over time. Home Page Data Skip lengthy table Site Name 2019 Errors 2017 Errors 2011 Errors myspace.com 160 158 10 washingtonpost.com 103 111 43 tmz.com 100 88 30 slickdeals.net 97 77 306 imgur.com 97 25 19 reddit.com 94 61 24 espn.com 89 238 18 dailymail.co.uk 85 59 22 kohls.com 84 117 51 latimes.com 74 34 67 answers.com 63 21 61 go.com 58 47 44 aol.com 56 177 15 homedepot.com 54 17 90 yelp.com 4..