Good Monday Morning
It’s December 19. Chanukah began last night at sundown, Christmas is next Sunday, and Kwanzaa is one week from today. Whatever you celebrate, I wish you peace and happiness now and always. Spotlight won’t publish during this holiday period and returns on January 9.
Today’s Spotlight is 670 words — about 4minutes to read.
Spotlight On … Online Accessibility
People with disabilities continue to encounter obstacles in modern online life.
In response to complaints by more than one thousand individuals that they were charged waiting fees when needing more time to enter a vehicle, the Justice Department settled a lawsuit with Uber. In the end, more than 65,000 people were affected.
Barriers to access or prohibitively high prices can also affect disabled people. Instead spending hundreds of dollars for accessible joysticks and controllers, Andreas and Oskar Karlsson helped 8BitDo develop video game controllers that cost $35.
Almost all websites: The most alarming online accessibility trend deals with websites. Ninety-six percent of the top one million websites had accessibility errors, according to one trade group. That includes issues like improper contrast settings, broken buttons, and links that do not work with screen readers.
Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) last week released a report identifying federal agencies as non-compliant sites, including Veteran’s Administration sites vital to people with disabilities. Casey highlighted a VA pharmacy and drug abuse website containing more than 6,400 accessibility errors.
Get help here: The GSA runs the Section 508 website that helps organizations understand their legal online accessibility requirements and offers free tools like color contrast analyzers.
3 More Stories to Know
1) Airbnb removed 4,000 property hosts this year for violating nondiscrimination laws. The service removed more than 5,000 last year out of more than 4 million hosts worldwide.
2) TikTok edged closer to a national ban after the U.S. Senate voted unanimously Wednesday to pass a bill prohibiting the app on federal devices. Nineteen governors have also banned the app on their states’ devices.
3) Microsoft signed a 10 year $2.8 billion cloud computing deal with the London Stock Exchange and has taken a 4% equity stake in that exchange. Google signed a similar deal with the Chicago Exchange in 2021 and made a $1 billion equity investment.
Trends & Spends
Did That Really Happen? — Ex-Marine Whelan Punitively Discharged
Following the release of two-time Olympian and WNBA star Brittney Griner from a Russian prison, many conservative media outlets accused the administration of choosing to leave a “highly decorated Marine” as a Russian prisoner.
The details of the prisoner swap negotiation aren’t public, but Snopes uncovered that former US Marine Paul Whelan received a bad conduct discharge in 2008 following a special court martial proceeding that convicted him of multiple crimes including larceny, check fraud, and dereliction of duty.
Following Up — Juice Jacking
The FCC is reminding travelers to avoid using public USB charging stations in airports or at hotels this holiday season because those jacks can compromise your device with malware. Among the agency’s hints about “juice jacking”: carry your own plug and charging cable and use an electrical outlet.
Protip — Apple’s New Security Feature
Protect your iCloud data with iOS’ new software update that allows you to encrypt the information so that only you (not even Apple) can access it. The Wirecutter shows you how.
Screening Room — A Last Holiday Tearjerker
Science Fiction World — No GPS Needed
Ship and submarine crews can look forward to a day when GPS is no longer needed for navigation. A French research team has invented a 3D quantum accelerometer that uses lasers and atoms to measure movement in three dimensions. At worst, the system functions as backup for a vessel that loses its GPS signal.
Coffee Break — Sturdy Gingerbread Houses
Thrillist has your back if you need to venture into gingerbread house construction this week. One hint: use a “royal runny icing made with egg whites and confectioners sugar.”