Deaf/hearing impaired Digital Technology & Online Media news

Australian web accessibility awarded

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The winners of the Australian Web Awards have been announced, recognising the importance of accessibility in web development and design.  The Cerebral Palsy Alliance took out the national award for best overall accessibility for its main website.

"We're delighted that there's a growing recognition of the importance of web accessibility in Australia," said Robyn Cummins, Manager of the Communication Design Team at Cerebral Palsy Alliance." With one in five Australians with a disability and a rapidly ageing population, it should be on every organisation's agenda."

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Captioning of online video clips to be mandatory in US

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The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has voted unanimously to make it mandatory to caption online video clips which were originally captioned for broadcast on TV.

The 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 gave the FCC the power to introduce rules for the captioning of online videos. The first stage of this came in 2012, when it introduced rules for the captioning of full-length programming. Following petitions from a number of groups, the FCC has now decided to extend the rules to short clips.


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Deaf Australia appoints new CEO

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Deaf Australia has appointed Kyle Miers as its new chief executive officer, replacing Karen Lloyd AM, who retired in February.

Miers has been a board member of Deaf Australia for nine years, and was its president for five years. He is currently Manager, Community Relations for Deaf Children Australia, and is also the secretary of the World Federation of the Deaf, Oceania.

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ABC iview on the road to accessibility

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The ABC is working on Australia’s most accessible catch-up TV service as it rolls out improvements to iview.


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ACMA releases community safeguards report

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The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has released its report on the ‘Contemporary community safeguards inquiry’ it conducted last year, which explored matters that should be addressed in broadcasting industry codes of practice.

The report states that the aim of the inquiry was to ‘ensure that codes of practice are fit for purpose in a converging media environment’. Prior to the inquiry. the ACME had identified seven concepts including ‘access’ which are relevant to broadcasting codes of practice, and one of the questions asked in the issues paper was ‘Should the concept of “access” be relevantly included as a guiding core principle?’

In their submissions to the inquiry, Free TV, SBS and the Australian Subscription Television and Radio Association (ASTRA) all argued that there was no longer any need for captioning matters to be included in broadcasting codes, as these were now covered by comprehensive legislative obligations.

In its submission, Media Access Australia argued that captioning provisions in codes of practice are still significant in reinforcing the important role that captions play in people’s lives. They also cover four essential areas which are not covered by the caption obligations found in the Broadcasting Services Act. These are:

  • Ensure that closed captioning is clearly indicated in program guides.
  • Exercise due care in broadcasting closed captioning, and monitor closed captioning transmissions.
  • Provide adequate advice to relevant viewers if scheduled closed captioning cannot be transmitted.
  • When broadcasting emergency, disaster or safety announcements, provide essential information visually wherever practicable.

The ACMA’s report concluded that ‘This is an example of where code provisions may be helpful in complementing legislative obligations for as long as the information is of value, does not duplicate existing provisions and allows for technological and other developments.’

The ACMA also stated that ‘At the outset, the inquiry was expected to culminate in specific guidelines for future codes of practice reviews. However, the ACMA has now decided to defer further work on the inquiry and to publish this report, so that the evidence it captures can immediately inform the broader conversation about the future of broadcasting regulation in Australia, as well as the industry code reviews due to be undertaken.’

The issues paper, submissions to the inquiry and the consolidated report can all be downloaded from the Contemporary community safeguards page on the ACMA’s website.


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Free TV Australia requests an end to caption reporting requirements

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In a submission to the Department of Communications, Free TV Australia, the organisation which represents Australian free-to-air broadcasters, has requested that broadcasters no longer be required to report annually on compliance with caption quotas and caption quality standards.

In November 2013, the Minister for Communications, Malcolm Turnbull, wrote to organisations within the communications sector asking for advice on where regulation could be streamlined or removed. The compliance reporting requirements that Free TV is objecting to were included in the Broadcasting Services Act as part of a package of amendments relating to captioning passed in June 2012.


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Assistive technology promoted at the Super Bowl

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Microsoft has used its advertising slot at the American football championship (known as the Super Bowl) to shed light on how technology enhances the lives of people with disability.

Using the case study of retired football star Steve Gleason, the 60 second ad details how eye tracking software on a Microsoft Surface tablet can be used to by people with severely limited mobility to communicate.

Gleason was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in 2011, and has since lost the mobility of his limbs and the ability to speak. Gleason communicates by focusing his eyes on a tablet computer with software that detects where he is looking. With this, Gleason is able to speak, write and even tweet.

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Most accessible game of 2013 announced

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The AbleGamers Charity, an international authority on video and computer game accessibility, has announced its awards for games and gaming devices released in 2013. The annual awards recognise games, consoles and controllers that were designed to include gamers with disability.

The awards named Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn the most accessible mainstream game of the year. The game allows gamers with physical and sensory disabilities to play online in a fully-accessible format. Producer of the game, Square Enix, confirmed that player feedback and continual updates are important parts of ensuring that the game is accessible. 

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