On November 26, 2021, the World Health Organization (WHO) classified a new variant, B.1.1.529. It is named Omicron. No cases of this variant have been found in the U.S. to date. CDC is following the details of this new variant. It was first reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) by South Africa. CDC is working with other U.S. and global public health and industry partners to learn more. CDC will continue to monitor its path.
CDC is always watching variants. The U.S. variant watching system has reliably detected new variants in this country. We expect Omicron to be identified quickly, if it emerges in the U.S.
CDC knows what it takes to prevent the spread of COVID-19. They recommend people follow prevention strategies:
Wearing a mask in public indoor settings in areas of high transmission areas
Washing your hands frequently
Physically distancing from others
CDC also recommends that everyone 5 years and older protect themselves from COVID-19 by getting fully vaccinated. CDC encourages a COVID-19 vaccine booster dose for those who are eligible.
1 in 4 adults in the United States has a disability.
What is a disability?
A disability is when a person’s body, mind and/or emotional functions intersect with a physical or social environment. This results in limitation in activities or restrictions in full participation for the person.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data outlines the disability status of U.S. adults. It shows that:
12.0% of adults have a Cognitive Disability
5.9% of adults have a Hearing Disability
12.8% of adults have a Mobility Disability
5.0% of adults have a Vision Disability
3.8% of adults have a Self-care Disability
7.0% of adults have an Independent Living Disability
People with disabilities are diverse and have a wide-range of healthcare and support needs.
This infographic highlights the challenges facing the disability community. It shows clear steps that can be taken to support the health and well-being of this community.
The conference was great with accessibility. I was assigned an employee who guided me everywhere and was just wonderful. The conference website was accessible and easy to navigate. When I identified accessibility problems with the mobile app and with SageMaker tools, Amazon personnel immediately assured me they would be fixed.
The sponsorship included participation in the re:MARS VIP Leadership Networking Reception. I was honored to speak with members of Amazon leadership as well as senior researchers from industry and academia.
Make Web text so simple people understand it the first time they read it.
Text comprises the vast majority of Web content. Poor reading comprehension presents significant challenges to many populations, including people with cognitive disabilities, non‐native speakers, and people with low literacy.
Text simplification aims to reduce text complexity while retaining its meaning. Manual text simplification research has been ongoing for decades. Yet no significant effort has been made to automate text simplification except as a preprocessor for natural-language processing tasks such as machine translation and summarization.
In the short term, my partners and I are improving manual text simplification by creating effective, replicable methods for humans to produce it. We use national and international plain language standards. We conduct pilot studies to see if people comprehend our human-curated, simplified Web text better than typical Web text.
In the long term, my partners and I are developing artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities to produce simple Web text on a mass scale. We are training AI with enormous sets of aligned sentence pairs (typical/simple). We will soon start crowd-sourcing the generation of training data.
Using a website search tool is difficult for people with cognitive disabilities. Finding a relevant result is often thwarted by spelling errors they make, their inability to detect them, or a lack of understanding about how to correct them. Determining which search results are best can be equally difficult.
This post is a synopsis of an approach to circumventing such problems. An example has been implemented on a web site of the German Institute for Human Rights, which is an easy-to-read version of a United Nations convention on the rights of people with disabilities. A typically-appearing site search incorporates novel spelling-correction features and a simplified presentation of search results.
The site search suggests spelling alternatives only for words that actually appear within the content of the website. Searches for correctly-spelled words that produce no search results would be very frustrating for anyone.
To enable spelling suggestions, a manually-edited index of syntactically-similar words was created. Point values were assigned for similarities in the number of the same letters and the word length. A higher value was given to alternative words with the same first letter, but that was not essential.
To enable search-word spelling correction within the fewest steps possible, the most-similar alternatives are displayed in a word cloud. Of those, typically three, the one with the highest probability of matching the intended search word is presented in a larger text size.
Example Spelling Correction
The German word for “contact” is “kontakt”. Initiating a search with the misspelled word “kontat” produces a word cloud as shown in the following image.
The developers believe the word cloud makes it very easy to recognize the correctly-spelled word, and to select a search word. I don’t know why the first letters are capitalized.
Simplified Search Results
Search results are presented in plain language. Each has a bulleted, succinct summary of information on the linked page; and a contextually-relevant image to aid comprehension.
Example Search Result
The following image shows a single search result translated from German to English using Google Translate.
One aspect of the search results I do not favor is that links to the search-result pages are not underlined. It is only when the cursor is hovered over a link, such as “Contact” in the example search result, that an underline appears.
I am impressed with this approach. This is the first time I have seen search results presented so simply, and with accompanying relevant imagery. I think the spelling-correction features are also worthwhile. In a pilot study of them, 9 of 34 people with learning disabilities could use the search site independently. I expect the developers will continue user testing. With funding and time, I would like to develop a site search using similar techniques.
Reference for all information about spelling-correction: