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Google Maps App Now Tells Users If Locations Are Accessible, But Is It Accurate and Reliable?

Seyfarth Synopsis: Google Maps now provides information on accessibility, but the information may not be particularly reliable or useful to gauge accessibility.

The Google Maps app now indicates if a location is “accessible” to wheelchair users.  Here’s how it works: users can now click on various storefronts and other public places within the mobile app, and it will say whether the locations have accessible entrances. The information is listed under the “Amenities” section for each business.

This is not the first time that someone has attempted to provide information about the accessibility of businesses, as we previously reported, but the fact that this is a project powered by Google means it will likely produce information on many more businesses. It raises quite a few questions:

Is the information reliable?  It is our understanding that the information comes from “Local Guides” – users who answer questions in exchange for early access to new Google features. After collecting data over this past year, Google recently added the accessibility information to its popular Google Maps App.  We have very serious concerns about people providing “accessibility” reviews when Google has not provided any objective criteria for such people to use.  Under Title III of the ADA, there are very specific standards used to define whether a business is “accessible.”  We suspect that most of the people providing input on the accessibility of a business do not know what these standards are.  What standards are they using to judge a business’ accessibility?  We don’t know.  The designation also does not necessarily indicate which part of the business is accessible.  Is it just the front entrance?  Restrooms?  Aisles?  Dining area?  The feature does not go that far.  We also find suspicious the fact that the accessibility designation is supposed to indicate that the business is accessible for people who use wheelchairs as well as strollers and canes.  Those three different types of users have very different needs but the designation is one size fits all.

What if a customer thinks that the accessibility designation is not accurate?  The only available feature is “suggest an edit” though it is unclear where these suggestions go.

Will this new feature will be used by serial plaintiffs who are looking for businesses to sue even if they have  no genuine desire to patronize them.  “Google lawsuits” already exist whereby individuals look at aerial screenshots via Google maps to determine whether a business contains certain amenities, like a pool lift for an outdoor pool.  The accessibility designation, or lack thereof, may provide an easier way for serial plaintiffs and their lawyers to conduct an initial screening of their potential targets from the comfort of their homes and offices.

One thing is for certain:  Technological advances have dramatically changed the ADA in many ways: improving the lives of many people with disabilities, creating new challenges for them and businesses, as well as facilitating lawsuits.

Edited by Kristina Launey and Minh Vu.

Source Article:

‘A stain on Tennessee’s reputation’: law change aims to stamp out soring

The hooves of a Tennessee walking horse, showing built-up padding and hoof band, sometimes called “stacks”. Credit Todd Behre

The barbaric act of “soring” applied to Tennessee walking horses could be consigned to the history books after the American government introduced a legislation amendment aimed to stamp out the controversial practice.

Soring is the practice of inflicting pain – by chemical or physical means – to exaggerate the horses’ gait, making them lift their front legs higher in what is known as “the big lick”.

The United States Equestrian Federation is backing the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) “efforts to amend and strengthen previous regulations”.

The rule is a final upgrade to the Horse Protection Act, which bans showing or selling horses who have been sored and prohibits certain equipment.

Under the new law, the USDA will train and license inspectors to enforce the act, while chains and large stacked shoes will also be banned.

“Horse soring is truly one of the worst practices,” US representative Steve Cohen said in a statement. “I applaud the Obama administration for finalising this much-needed update to the existing Horse Protection Act regulations.”

From 30 days after the publication of the amendment, all “action devices except for certain boots” will be banned at all shows, exhibitions, sales or auctions.

All pads and wedges will be banned from January 1 2018, unless they are therapeutic. The delay will allow time for the size of any pads to be gradually reduced, to “minimise any potential physiological stress to the horses and prepare horses to compete in other classes”.

X-Ray image of a “performance package” on a Tennessee walking horse, showing shoe, “stacks”: pads, extra nails to add weight and possibly pressure and band across hoof to hold it all on.

The Humane Society of the United States welcomed the rule, which it described as “a move that should largely spell the end of the barbaric and gratuitous practice of horse soring”.

Society president and CEO Wayne Pacelle said: “Horse soring is a stain on Tennessee’s reputation, and today’s move by the USDA begins to wipe that stain away.

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“Hurting horses so severely for mere entertainment is disgraceful, and I put this abuse in the same category as dogfighting or cockfighting – practices that betray our humanity and that cannot stand the light of day.

“We applaud Secretary Vilsack and the administration for addressing these issues before President Obama departs the Oval Office.”

Original Source File

H&H 2017 outstanding mare award: ‘She transforms from a fluffy pony into a supermodel’

The 2017 Horse & Hound outstanding mare award has been won by the Hawtins Stud’s foundation broodmare World’s Finest.

The stud’s owner Judith Davis collected the prize at the annual British Equestrian Federation’s Breeders’ Awards Dinner in London on Saturday night (14 January).

Although she’d been tipped off that her mare had won, Judith had not told her husband or the stud’s rider, Briony Goodwin.

“They were so excited and my husband kept saying things like, ‘Wouldn’t it be brilliant if she won?’ and I’d reply, ‘Oh look at the weather!’ And in the back of my mind for some reason I kept thinking that the powers that be might have changed their minds.”

The prize was presented by H&H’s Alice Collins and Paul Ward and, as they listed the mare’s accolades from the stage, Judith’s table realised that World’s Finest (Wolfie) had indeed won.

“She’s 23 this year,” said Judith. “I love my mares so much. Everyone talks about stallions all the time, but the mare is such an important part.”

World’s Finest’s legacy is truly impressive. In 2016 she had seven descendants at the British Dressage national championships, from young horses up to small tour. Her granddaughter Hawtins San Floriana stood four-year-old supreme champion, while her grandson Hawtins Delicato won the prix st georges class with over 75% under Charlotte Dujardin.

Four of Wolfie’s daughters have been retained by the stud and have already been awarded elite status. Her youngest direct offspring — and her final foal as she is now retired from breeding — is a two-year-old mare called Hawtins Floresta by the champion Fürstenball son Follow Me, whom Judith says is “looking every inch like another future champion”.

“She has won the mare family award at the British Hanoverian show twice, once in 2009 and, most recently, in 2016.

“Me and her were the veterans of the show, running around together,” beamed Judith. “She’s a lovely ‘person’ and temperament is so important; there’s no point in having something that moves if it doesn’t do the job. Her offspring are true competition horses, ones that can do the job quite easily and feel nice to ride.

“As breeders, we’re the keepers of the marelines, with responsibility to move them forward. If you make bad decisions then you’re not progressing the line and building it for the future.”

World’s Finest is a true pro when it comes to showing off her foals.

“In the winter she gets a proper winter coat and looks like a fluffy pony,” explained Judith. “But as soon as she has a foal, she turns into a supermodel and loses her coat straight away; she’s like one of those celebrities who have c-sections. It’s really an unbelievable transformation.”

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To underscore the quality and consistency of World’s Finest’s progeny, two direct offspring and one grandson were guinea pigs in the inaugural British Dressage young horse forum at Matt Hicks’ Hampshire base, Hurstbourne EC, on Monday (16 January).

“Her offspring have proved her worth and 2016 has definitely been her year. Some extra carrots are definitely headed her way,” concluded Judith.

Original Source File

How extreme is your love for your horse? Take our quiz

Charlotte Dujardin GBR winner of the gold medal during the Grand Prix Freestyle for the individual Dressage competition at the Olympic Equestrian Centre in Deodoro near Rio, Brazil on 15th August 2016 kisses kiss valegro

Do you think nothing of sharing food with your horse? Or is your entire mobile phone picture gallery filled with selfies of you and your four-legged friend? Take our quiz to find out how extreme your love for your horse is…

Original Source File

Horses in the snow (but not the kind that ruins your ride…)

With snow falling heavily around parts of Britain — making life on the yard near-impossible — we’d understand if you never wanted to see the white stuff again. But with the Snow Polo World Cup in St Moritz (27-29 January 2017) fast approaching, we celebrate snow in it’s other (more glamorous) guise, with pictures from last year’s tournament…

ST. MORITZ, SWITZERLAND – JANUARY 28: A horse runs during the Team Cartier vs Team Brioni match for the Cartier Trophy during the 23rd Cartier Polo World Cup on Snow on January 28, 2007 in St. Moritz, Switzerland. The Cartier Polo World Cup on Snow is the world’s most prestigious winter polo tournament. Four high-goal teams with handicaps between 20 and 22 goals are battling for the coveted Cartier Trophy on the frozen surface of Lake St. Moritz. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

Original Source File

1 unicorn hunter and 9 other bits of brilliant horsey social media this week

Enjoy some of our favourite updates from equestrian social media channels during the past week. From a very scopey Shetland to team Fox-Pitt saying goodbye to Chilli Morning, it all happened on social media this week.

Apatchy logo highest res may 1Don’t miss the exciting competition on this weekly page. Our favourite tweet each week will win either an Apatchy mini tablet case or an Apatchy cosmetic bag, personalised with your own initials. For more information about the competition and to find out who this week’s winner is, go to the bottom of this page.

Tweets of the week

Arena motivation

❄Brrr❄ Back to it in 2017-the weather is keeping us moving quickly this morning!!

A photo posted by Lauren Shannon (@shannoneventing) on Jan 2, 2017 at 12:30am PST

Thirteen-year-old Pete The Feat wins the £100k Veterans’ Chase at Sandown under Aidan Coleman for a delighted Charlie Longsdon

Two-year-old Emily Fox-Pitt, the youngest daughter of William and Alice says hello to some hounds while out hunting

Meet and greet!

A photo posted by Alice Fox Pitt (@alicefoxpittplunkett) on Dec 3, 2016 at 11:05pm PST

Oh bless…

What a sight!

Face-palm moment

Team Fox-Pitt bid farewell to Chilli Morning as he heads off to stud

It must have been a good joke

Scopey Shetland!

And congratulations to this week’s Tweet of the Week winner

This unicorn was spotted out hunting with the Cottesmore

Will Turner – More Hounds and Unicorns than Horses or People | Facebook

More Hounds and Unicorns than Horses or People

If you like this, why not follow @horseandhound on twitter today?

Tweet of the week competition

Personalised Mini Tablet CaseThe winner of the Horse & Hound tweet of the week competition can also be found by searching Twitter for #HHTweetOfTheWeek. The winner will receive an Apatchy mini tablet case (pictured left) or an Apatchy cosmetic bag (pictured below right), personalised with their initials.

Apatchy are designers and makers of bespoke lifestyle gifts. Their ranges include wash, cosmetic, Cosmetic bag apatchytravel and sports bags, which can be instantly personalised or customised without the need for sewing, gluing or ironing. To find out more about Apatchy’s unique personalised products and their wonderful gift wrapping service, visit

Original Source File

Meet the cats who are purr-fecting their skills in the saddle

A horse and a hound might be a more obvious partnership, but these horses and ponies seem equally content with their feline companions…

‘This picture of Leo and his friend Alfie the cat was taken at the fabulous Little London Liveries and Alfie belongs to the yard owner Helen Barrett. Alfie and his brother Spencer love meeting and chatting to all the horses and hitching a ride when possible.’ — Tabby Kerwin

Original Source File

Your chance to have a say on the future of equestrianism

horse rear end and tail

The British Equestrian Federation wants insiders’ views on equestrianism as it aims to follow a “collective approach” to the future of the sport.

The BEF has launched a survey (link below), to find out perceptions of equestrianism and the motivation behind participants’ involvement, as part of a “strategy study to ensure it has a clear remit and direction over the next four years”.

“The UK is very much a nation of horse lovers with a proud equestrian tradition, but we know that there are many misconceptions about equestrianism and that many people are not aware of how they could get involved, whether it is as a rider, volunteer or spectator,” said BEF chief executive Clare Salmon.

“As the largest spectator sport in the UK after football, and with the heightened popularity of equestrianism following the Olympic and Paralympic Games, we have a huge opportunity to build on this latent potential and grow the appeal of horsey activities.

“We also recognise that we need to help support equestrian businesses to thrive to achieve a sustainable future for the sector and, through this process of engagement, we hope to understand their needs better.”

The results from the survey will be considered as part of a wider project, with workshops involving BEF member bodies already under way.

Another study, on “usage and attitude”, will also be launched in the near future, with the aim of understanding the underlying appeal of the sport.

“The usage and attitude study, funded by Sport England, will provide additional information on the wider marketplace, targeting both the equestrian market, as well as those not currently engaged within equestrian sport,” said a BEF spokesman.

Following users’ initial feedback on the current survey, some of the questions have been reworded.

Continues below…

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The current survey runs until 31 January.

To take part, click here.

Original Source File

WCAG 2.0 AA Is the New Accessibility Standard for Federal Agency Websites


Seyfarth synopsis: The federal government has adopted the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 Levels A and AA as its accessibility standard for federal agency websites, making it very likely that the Department of Justice will also adopt this standard for public accommodations websites in its forthcoming regulations.

ADA BLOGBusinesses working on making their websites accessible to individuals with disabilities often ask us what technical standard they should be using since the ADA Title III regulations do not yet specify a standard.  We believe the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) will likely adopt the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 Levels A and AA (“WCAG 2.0 AA”)  as the standard for public accommodations websites for a number of reasons, including the fact that WCAG 2.0 AA is the access standard used in all DOJ settlement agreements and consent decrees about websites and mobile apps.

Yesterday, the U.S. Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (the “Access Board”) announced a final rule, under the authority of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, requiring the websites and electronic content of federal agencies to conform to WCAG 2.0 AA within one year of the date the rule is published in the Federal Register (most likely in the next few weeks).  The federal government’s adoption of WCAG 2.0 AA for its own websites makes it even more likely that the DOJ will adopt the same standard for the websites of public accommodations and state and local governments under Titles II and III of the ADA–someday.

As we have previously reported, the DOJ most recently stated that its proposed rule for public accommodations websites will be published in 2018.  However, we have little confidence in that date given the number of delays thus far and the impending administration change.  That said, this final rule applicable to federal agency websites should provide businesses with confidence that WCAG 2.0 AA is the standard to use if they are working on making their websites accessible.

Edited by Kristina M. Launey

Source Article:

‘Sweet dreams, little man’: Jessica Mendoza loses top horse

Ramiro De Belle Vue

British showjumper Jessica Mendoza has lost one of her top horses, Ramiro De Belle Vue, to colic complications.

The 16-year-old gelding had undergone an eye operation after an accident in the stable at Jessica’s base in the Netherlands, and succumbed to complications from colic shortly afterwards.

Jessica, who is currently in Wellington, Florida, for the start of the Winter Equestrian Festival, said: “It’s been such a sad and tough week for him and all of us.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better few years on him.  He took me from winning at my first Global Champions Tour to winning my first Derby and car. 

“He was the most cheeky and cheerful character who has a special place in all my team’s heart,” she added.

The Belgian-bred son of Mozart Des Hayettes was previously ridden by Jerome Guery and Vincent Lambrecht and came to Jessica in 2013. The pair went on to compete at the highest level.

In 2014, they won a two-phase at the CSI5* Longines Global Champions Tour (GCT) of London, beating Frenchman Roger Yves Bost. This was Jessica’s first appearance on the GCT circuit. Earlier that year, Jessica and Ramiro had been crowned victors of the prestigious derby in Eindhoven, pipping William Funnell and Billy Onslow in to the runner-up spot.

Jessica and Ramiro’s last show together was the CSI2* at Madrid in November and the pair had been in spectacular winning form on the Vilamoura Champions Tour the month before, notching up a hat-trick of victories.

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Jessica, 20, who originally hails from Chippenham in Wiltshire, was travelling reserve for the Rio Olympics in 2016 with her other top horse Spirit T and is a regular squad member on Great Britain’s Nations Cup teams.

“Thank you for everything and sweet dreams little man,” said Jessica in tribute.

Original Source File