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Round-up of the M-Enabling Australasia 2013 Conference

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Experts in mobile technology, accessibility, industry representatives, government and disability and consumer advocacy groups last week came together to discuss challenges and trends in mobile technology and accessibility at the M-Enabling Australasia 2013 Conference. Held at the Australian Technology Park in Sydney, the conference was organised by the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) in joint partnership with Telstra.

International speakers including Karen Peltz Strauss, Deputy Bureau Chief of the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the US, and President and Executive Director of The Global Initiative for Inclusive ICT (G3ict) Axel Leblois, discussed how accessibility is currently driving innovation in legislation and mobile technology.

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Accessible app challenge announced

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The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) and the Australian Human Rights Commission have announced an accessible app challenge called Apps For All at this week’s M-Enabling Australasia 2013 Conference. 

Apps For All challenges developers to create mobile or tablet apps which can be accessed by as many people as possible, including people with disabilities.

Announced by Johanna Plante, Chairperson of ACCAN, and Graeme Innes, Disability Discrimination Commissioner, the focus of the challenge is to raise awareness about the universal benefits of accessible apps.

“The Apps For All challenge will not only highlight why accessibility is so important, but trigger a flood of innovative and groundbreaking ideas around how apps and technologies can truly benefit all,” saidPlante.

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ACCAN calls for new access legislation

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The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) has called for new legislation to ensure the accessibility of online content and digital technology.

The new legislation would be based America’s 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA), which was passed in 2010. The most comprehensive access legislation in the world, it makes it mandatory for programs captioned for television broadcast to be captioned when distributed over the internet. Digital television receivers, smartphones, tablets and other devices must also be able to receive captions and play audio description.

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Australia falling behind in video on demand captioning

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Media Access Australia today released a report, Captioning on Video on Demand: It’s Time for Australia to Catch Up, which shows that most video on demand and catch up TV providers are failing to make their content accessible for Deaf and hearing impaired viewers.

“Consumers are increasingly watching TV programs and movies online, on a variety of devices,” said the author of the report, MAA’s TV Project Manager, Chris Mikul. “In Australia, the only networks which provide captioning on their catch up services are the ABC and SBS. The only Australian video on demand service to offer captioning on some content is iTunes.”


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