You’re listening to a podcast from Media Access Australia. Inclusion through technology.
MC Julie McCrossin
Ladies and gentlemen, Natalie Collins.
Thank you Julie and I’d like to begin by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land, which we’re meeting today and pay my respects to elders past and present. I would also like to acknowledge the new CEO of Media Access Australia, Manisha Amin, who is up the back up there.
And I would also like to acknowledge Dr Scott Hollier, who is the producer of the Affordable Access Resources and the researcher who unfortunately can’t join us today but we will hear from him hopefully in a few moments. So welcome to the launch of Affordable Access and the Affordable Access project and resources.
I’d like to begin by just advising those of you who don’t know about Media Access, in just a few words. So Media Access Australia is an independent not-for-profit organisation dedicated to ensuring media, web and digital technology is accessible for people with a disability and all other Australians.
Our mission ‘inclusion through technology’ means that whatever we do we ensure that people are empowered to be more independent, to gain knowledge, make their own informed choices and be active and engaged members of our society.
Media Access Australia is focused on improving accessibility through our advocacy work, through education and a provision of digital accessibility services. We demonstrate how media accessibility can be improved in practical ways by providing innovative ideas with everyday web and digital interactions. And the Affordable Access project is an excellent example of how we develop practical resources but also fulfil our mission.
So the original idea for the project initially came about some six years ago, so when I first joined Media Access Australia, and through my introductory conversation with Dr Scott Hollier, where he showed me a netbook that he was using. The netbook had everything my computer had on it, it was connected to the internet, it had word processing tools, it ran open source software but most importantly it had accessibility features which enabled Scott, who is legally blind, to invert the colours of his screen so he was reading white text on a black background and also magnify the screen to 700%, whereas we normally look at the screen at 100%.
So I thought that was really fascinating but when he told me the price of what he purchased it for it was less than $199, so I was kind of flabbergasted and thought, “wow that’s pretty incredible and imagine if everybody could gain access to that information”. The problem was that neither the technology or the fact that there were accessibility features imbedded on that device were mainstream or available to anybody in an easy to read format. So over that time obviously technology has changed a lot and in many areas it’s even become more accessible and more affordable, and that’s what makes this time an excellent time to make these resources available.
Is it at all possible to go to the video of Scott Hollier and maybe we can hear from him as he speaks a little bit more about some of the specific affordable technologies and specifically about the resources.
Dr Scott Hollier
I’m Dr Scott Hollier, a specialist advisor for digital accessibility and I’d like to step through with you a few things about the Affordable Access project.
Firstly, my apologies for not being able to make it to the conference this year but it is wonderful to have a chance to take this opportunity to demonstrate a few of the things that are in the Affordable Access resource. I’d also like to acknowledge Visibility, our partner in doing research for this project, and a big thank you to ACCAN for making this project possible with the funding.
Some of the things I’d like to step through with you fall into the four categories of the project. The website’s divided into four parts; we have “What’s Accessible”, looking at the accessibility features in popular products; “What’s Affordable”, and these are the products under $250; we look at “What’s Suitable”, so we look at the products best suited for different groups such as seniors, families and children, looking at people in the workforce and students; and then we also look at “What’s Possible”, so these are some of the more cutting edge things and great products which maximise accessibility at a budget price.
Some of the things I’d just like to quickly show you today, I’d like to start with this android smart phone. So this android phone has a lot of accessibility in it and I’ve got an SMS at the moment and I can move my finger around the screen and it will read things out to me.
What’s also great in addition to the budget android smart phone having accessibility features is for $50 we can use what’s called the Google Chromecast. And you’ll see behind me here that not only is the information on my phone, but thanks to the Chromecast I’ve been able to put it out to my 60 inch TV and being vision impaired, not being able to see very well, I can now read my SMS in giant text telling me that my mobile phone plan has been renewed. So for $50 you can make whatever’s on your phone on the TV, and that is a great thing to support people with disabilities.
A few other things to show you in demonstration. One of the other products that we have in our resource is this. This is the Intel Compute Stick. This looks a little bit like a USB stick but it’s actually a full Windows 10 desktop computer. Basically you plug this straight into a monitor and by doing so you can connect it with a mouse and keyboard and you have a full computer basically in the palm of your hand and it’s fantastic that these are around the $150 mark and for that price you can get a full Windows 10 desktop computer full of accessibility features.
The last thing I’d like to show you today is the Raspberry Pi. In terms of what’s possible, this computer is a credit card sized computer. Most of what you’re seeing here is actually the casing, the actual computer inside is tiny. And if you want to maximise accessibility you can install this as a media player, you can install this as a retro games playing console. You have lots of options and lots of access where you can change the interface to be large print or high contrast, it has full caption video playback and lots of great accessibility on it.
So those are just a few features that we cover in the resource. Again, thank you to ACCAN for funding the resource and really excited to see its launch. Thank you.
So once again, I’d just like to thank ACCAN for funding the project because without ACCAN funding we wouldn’t be able to have created these resources and also the people at Visibility for their research support.
So obviously we know that there are lots of great products and services in the market that have accessibility features and are available at affordable prices. So this initiative provides information for everybody irrespective of their life stage, computer proficiency, ability and also provides information on popular devices such as tablets, smart phones, telecommunications, plans, TV media players and desktop computer options priced below $250. And as Scott outlined, there are four areas; there’s accessible information, so What is Accessible, What’s Available, What’s Suitable for you and What’s Possible. And the resources section at the end here actually has some really fantastic resources that can be downloaded and they’re all in accessible formats. So there’s a fact sheet and there’s a number of tip sheets there, and the Affordable Access Guide at Work has information there on what technologies are available at work…
MC Jill McCrossin
And just the web address?
Yes, it’s www.affordableaccess.com.au. And there’s also information on what products are affordable and accessible. So there’s information for students, for parents, people at work and seniors. Now with thanks to support from Telstra, at afternoon tea outside we have a couple of Media Access Australia staff. So we’ve got Matt and Heidi up the back out there running around with some Samsung Galaxy tablets demonstrating their accessibility features and we’ll also be handing out some of the printed versions of the resource sheets and the tip sheets. They’re also available on the table outside and for any of you that have been doing a little bit of scouting through your delegate pack, or your satchel, there’s also a very handy USB stick with all of the accessible tip sheets on the USB stick. So please join me for afternoon tea and thank you very much.
This podcast was presented by Media Access dot org dot au.