Blind or vision impaired

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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Winners of US Awards for Advancement in Accessibility announced

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America’s communications regulator, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced the winners of the 2014 FCC Chairman Awards for Advancement in Accessibility.

The awards, presented at the M-Enabling Summit, seek to recognise innovators who develop communications technology for people with disabilities.

This year, seven award categories were available, including Advanced Communication Services (ACS), Employment Opportunities, Closed Captions, Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, Mobile Web Browsers, Social Media and Video Description.

The winners were:


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The ultimate game experience for blind World Cup fans

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With the largest sporting event in the world, the FIFA World Cup, starting in Brazil on 12 June (13 June Australian time), with an estimated billion people expected to watch the final alone, there will also be millions of disabled football fans tuning in.

Audio description of live events on television is very rare, and most blind football fans will follow the World Cup via radio coverage where commentators give some visual description of the action.  However, for those blind and vision impaired ticket holders attending matches in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Brasilia and Belo Horizonte, FIFA is offering special descriptive commentary via short-range radio inside the stadiums.


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Audio description seminar calls for papers

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The 5th Advanced Research Seminar on Audio Description (ARSAD) will be held in Barcelona on 19-20 March, 2015, and organisers are calling on experts and researchers in the field to submit papers for it.

The seminar, which was first held in 2007, is organised by the TransMedia Catalonia Research Group and the EU project HBB4ALL (Hybrid Broadcast Broadband For All) and is partially funded by the Spanish government. It “aims to bring together practitioners and researchers in order to advance the knowledge of current Audio Description (AD) practices and research”.


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Audio description in the classroom

Audio description is an audio track of narration which describes the visual elements of a video or performance. It is an essential access tool for people who are blind or vision impaired and is growing in availability around the world.

Below is an audio described scene from The Hunger Games.


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