Blind or vision impaired

Ofcom releases access requirements for 2015

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The UK communications regulator Ofcom has released its list of TV channels which will be required to provide access services – captioning, audio description and signing – in 2015.

Ofcom conducts an annual mid-year review of access requirements, based on each channel’s revenue and audience share in the previous year. Following this year’s review, 79 domestic channels will be required to provide access services in 2015, compared to 76 in 2014. This accounts for over 90% of the total UK audience share.


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The National Library: a ‘treasure trove’ of captioned resources

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The National Library of Australia (NLA), located in Canberra, is home to extensive collections across a range of disciplines including Australian cultural collections; and provides access to online journals, databases, newspapers and much more.

The NLA also provides an impressive and the most substantial list of captioned videos nationally, via its search engine. Once a captioned title has been located, borrowers can organise an interlibrary loan between relevant libraries.

With over 61,400 captioned videos and DVDs available for discovery by the search engine Trove, the NLA offers huge opportunity for the provision of access to captioned educational content for teachers and students in Australian schools.


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WA Accessibility Camp agenda now available

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The agenda for the WA accessibility camp to be held on 1 August 2014 is now available. The event is headlined with keynotes by Alec Coles from the Western Australian Museum based on the topic ‘An Accessible Museum for WA’, and MAA’s own Dr Scott Hollier speaking about recent advances on accessibility and cloud computing.

The full agenda is as follows:

9:15 – 9:30: Registration

Session 1 – Keynotes

9:30 – 9:45: Introduction (Morgan Strong)
9:45 – 10:15: An Accessible Museum for WA (Alec Coles)
10:15 – 10:45: Accessibility in the cloud (Dr. Scott Hollier)

10:45 – 11:00: Morning Break


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UK regulator begins consultation on speaking TV program guides

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The UK communications regulator, Ofcom, has begun a consultation process in which it is asking for feedback on how electronic program guides (EPGs) with a ‘text-to-speech’ function would benefit blind or vision impaired people, and how feasible it is to introduce them.

In its discussion paper, ‘Speaking TV programme guides’, Ofcom notes that it has a duty to provide guidance on the practices involved in the provision of EPGs. “These practices must include the incorporation of such features as Ofcom considers appropriate for ensuring that people with disabilities affecting their sight or hearing (or both) may use EPGs for the same purposes as other people, so far as practicable.”


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The Audio Description Project Conference

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The third annual Audio Description Conference, an initiative of the American Council of the Blind, will be held in Las Vegas from 13 to 15 July.

The conference brings together audio describers, consumers, policymakers and other experts to discuss the current state of audio description and how the service could be improved and extended. This year there are sessions about the ways that audio description can aid literacy; audio description for broadcast television, the performing arts and museums; and audio description in Spanish.


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Australia signs treaty to increase print access for blind and vision impaired

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On 23 June 2014, the Australian Government signed the ‘Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons who are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled’.

Last year, 51 countries signed the treaty, which will give blind and vision impaired people greater access to works in accessible formats like braille and audio. Currently, due to copyright restrictions, only between 1 and 7 percent of the world’s published books are made available in these formats.


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Association for the Blind of WA changes name to VisAbility and launches new website

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The Association for the Blind of WA, the state’s primary disability service provider for people who are blind and vision impaired, has changed its name to VisAbility and launched a new accessible website.

According to VisAbility’s press release, the change comes after extensive independent research and consumer consultation, and will allow the organisation to better welcome and represent people with low vision who want to access its services.

With a little as five per cent of people with vision impairment experiencing total blindness, many Western Australians living with low vision – who may not identify themselves as ‘blind’ – are missing out on vital services.


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Red Bee Media Spain wins audio description award

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Red Bee Media Spain has won an ATRAE award for the best audio description on Spanish television for its work on The Simpsons.

ATRAE, the Spanish Association of Audiovisual Translation and Adaptation, represents all areas of audiovisual translation and adaptation, from translation subtitling and access services to dubbing, voiceover and video game translation. This was the second ATRAE awards, and the first time that Red Bee Media has won one of them.


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Real Thing launches accessible news reader device, RealSAM

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Media Access Australia spoke to Nick Howden, CEO of Australian technology company Real Thing, about the launch of RealSAM (Simple Accessible Media), a new device to help people with vision impairments access news and media services.

Media Access Australia: What does RealSAM do?

Nick Howden: RealSAM is a small handheld device which is the size of a small mobile phone. Using natural spoken interactions, users can browse a vast array of media content, and ask RealSAM to read out articles from a wide range of newspapers, play radio podcasts, or give information on the weather, time and location. All content is gathered online via 3G or Wi-Fi, without the user having to worry about computers or network connections.


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Describing Judy Dixey

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Judy Dixey is the Executive Director of VocalEyes, the United Kingdom’s premier audio description company for performing arts. After ten very productive years at the helm Judy is retiring at the end of July, but we couldn’t let her go without a final interview. Media Access Australia project manager Ally Woodford chatted with Judy, exploring her achievements and what she’s doing next.

1. How long have you been with VocalEyes?

The post of Executive Director was advertised in summer of 2004 and I was appointed in September, so it’s jolly nearly ten years.


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