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Accessible media and the autism spectrum

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Today is World Autism Awareness Day. While many may be familiar with issues facing people with autism spectrum disorders, few are aware of the difference accessible media can make. 

Judith Garman, a researcher in the UK has done extensive work in this area. “Captions and audio description are a metaphorical ramp and provide a different kind of value to people on the autistic spectrum,” wrote Garman in 2011.


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Qantas improves in-flight accessibility

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Australia’s national airline has drastically improved the experience of flying for blind and vision impaired passengers by making the devices used on domestic flights to view in-flight entertainment accessible.

Qantas uses Apple iPads for its Q-Streaming system on 17 domestic routes. Until recently, the iPad’s extensive accessibility features were unable to be turned on. This meant that although iPads include screen readers and other assistive technologies, passengers with disabilities were unable to use them.

Following feedback from customers and potential customers, Qantas has now unlocked the iPad’s VoiceOver screen reader.


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That 70s captioned show: how the news was first brought to Deaf Americans

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Following the release of our white paper on caption quality, we look back at the origins of television captioning.

The Captioned ABC News, which began on 3 December 1973, was the first news program ever captioned. It was a repeat of the ABC’s 6 p.m. news which went to air at 11 p.m., with the captions prepared by a team of five captioners.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zcgqQj2wKFw


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Making materials accessible in the classroom

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Accessing education materials, such as videos and diagrams, in the classroom is a particular challenge for students who are blind or vision impaired. A number of new technologies are making it easier for teachers to meet the needs of these students across subjects.

The DIAGRAM Center in the USA is a research and development centre focussing on making content accessible for students. Part of the Benetech Global Literacy initiative, DIAGRAM provides information, tools and tips for creating accessible images. The centre runs a series of webinars such as on topics such making maths accessible and integrating accessible images into eBooks.


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Measuring caption quality: our white paper

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Media Access Australia today released a white paper entitled Caption Quality: International approaches to standards and measurement. It focuses on issues surrounding the live captioning of TV programs, the difficulties in measuring caption quality effectively, and some of the solutions that have been proposed. 

The white paper, which is the first in a planned series, was written by our Project manager for television, Chris Mikul, and sponsored by Red Bee Media Australia.


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Captioning campaign launched in New Zealand

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The National Foundation for the Deaf has launched a campaign, Caption It!, calling for increased levels of captioning on New Zealand television.

The campaign, which coincides with Hearing Week (24-30 March), draws attention to the very low levels of captioning in New Zealand compared to the US and UK, where 100% of programming on all major free-to-air and subscription channels is captioned. The captioning rate on public broadcasters in New Zealand is, by contrast, only 19.7% measured over 24 hours.


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Top themes from CSUN 2014

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The Annual International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference, commonly known as CSUN, has kicked off. The event, held in San Diego, California is one of the one of the world’s largest conferences dedicated to accessibility technology and the discussion of emerging accessibility trends and ideas.

For those unable to attend this year’s conference Media Access Australia put together the following on four of the major themes of CSUN 2014: mobile devices, employment, education and innovation.


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ACMA given more discretion to investigate complaints

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The Australian Media and Communications Authority (ACMA) is to be given greater discretion about whether to investigate complaints under the Broadcasting Services Act, including complaints related to television captioning. 

The change is one of the Federal Government’s ‘Repeal Day’ package of reforms to cut red tape which were announced yesterday. A spokesperson for the ACMA said, “This amendment will allow the ACMA to take no action on complaints that are, for example, misconceived, trivial, stale or inappropriately divert the ACMA’s resources and the resources of broadcasters.”


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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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