Blind or vision impaired

Disability Inclusion and Liveable Communities: Local Government NSW 2014

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Dr Scott Hollier's presentation at the Disability Inclusion and Liveable Communities Forum 2014 is now available to download via SlideShare.

Presented at the Disability Inclusion and Liveable Communities Forum, Dr Scott Hollier discusses the need for local government websites to address and support accessibility for the community, providing solutions for understanding user experience, reviewing/implementing policies, addressing online accessibility, writing accessible documents, creating accessible external messages and building accessible public computer facilities.

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Cavena announces text-to-speech system for ‘audio subtitling’

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Cavena, a major developer of captioning software based in Sweden, has announced a new system for vocalising the subtitles on foreign language films, which will help to make them accessible for the blind and vision impaired.

The system, which will use text-to-speech technology developed by Acapela Group. “Users who cannot read the small text at the bottom of the TV screen, will now be able to listen to it,” said Henrik Moberg, CEO of Cavena. “Furthermore, it will ease access for illiterate people or users that find it difficult to follow written subtitles.”


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Apple launches new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus with accessibility features

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Apple has launched a series of new products including two new iPhone models and the long awaited smartwatch, with the iPhones containing a number of new accessibility features.

The Apple iPhone 6 and 6 Plus run the new iOS8 operating system which, like other recent iPhones, contains a number of accessibility features such as the VoiceOver screen reader, zoom, playback of captioned video and high contrast themes. The new iOS8 also contains additional accessibility features including an improved zoom, a greyscale feature, improved predictive text for the on-screen keyboard and the ability to use different software keyboards.

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Air Canada improves access for the vision impaired

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Air Canada has become the first airline in the world to introduce ‘text-to-speech’ functionality on its in-flight entertainment system, making it easier for blind and vision impaired passengers to navigate.

The feature is available on Boeing 787s, which have recently been introduced to Air Canada’s fleet. An Air Canada spokesman, Peter Fitzpatrick, said, “We use a female voice in English and male voice in French. Voices are fed from the text-to-speech software that Air Canada licenses to operate its content management system.”


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Local Government: Practical accessibility steps

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Local councils have been urged to consider taking practical steps to improve the accessibility of their websites so that they can better meet their policy and legal compliance requirements.

Speaking ahead of his presentation on web accessibility at the Disability Inclusion and Liveable Communities Forum in Sydney on 12 September, Media Access Australia accessibility expert Dr Scott Hollier said meeting accessibility compliance was easier than many councils thought.


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Australian accessible apps developers to be honoured

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The shortlist for the inaugural competition to recognise the work of Australian accessible app developers, the Apps For All Challenge 2014, has been announced.

The challenge, announced earlier this year, is being run by the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) and the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), and is sponsored by Telstra.

For the category of 'Most accessible mainstream app', the finalists are: Energy Rating, ACCC Shopper and My Bus (Canberra Transport).


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Aussie boy Huey inspires internet accessibility for all

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At age four, Huey Springer became ill with a life-threatening condition which doctors identified as a result of head fluid build-up, requiring numerous trips to the hospital and major surgery.

The boy survived, but excessive pressure from the condition caused damage to Huey’s optical nerves, resulting in loss of sight in both eyes. After becoming legally blind, Huey was able to transition from reading and writing to learning a new form of Braille and utilising accessible technology quickly, but this did not occur without trials and frustrations during the learning process.


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Leading Australian arts and disability conference is fully accessible

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The fourth national Arts Activated: Creative Connections conference will be presented in Sydney in late October. The conference is the leading arts and disability conference in Australia and is hosted by Accessible Arts (NSW).

The two-day conference features streams covering access through technology, creative practice, audience development, international collaborations, disability-led practice and community connections. The extensive program features 85 speakers from across Australia and the world.


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Finding your way around our updated education website content

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The education section of our website has a new menu structure, with an increased level of content and information to assist teachers and parents.

There are three main categories that provide focused points of reference: accessible media for diverse learners, hearing impairment and deafness and low vision and blindness.


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Trial of audio description on ABC iview to start in 2015

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The Minister of Communications, Malcolm Turnbull, has advised Media Access Australia that a trial of audio description will commence on the ABC’s catch-up TV service, iview, in April 2015.

The service will initially be available on iPhones, then expand to other platforms including Android, via PCs and Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV (HbbTV) by August 2015. (HbbTV is the platform that will host the Freeview Plus service, due to be launched on 2 September.)

The trial will last for 15 months, and provide at least 14 hours of audio described content per week, with a mix of drama/entertainment, documentary/current affairs and children’s programming. Currently, the only catch-up TV service in the world to provide audio description is the BBC’s iPlayer.


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