As the inaugural CEO of Media Access Australia he has created an organisation that has been a key player in most of the developments and improvements in access to media for people with disabilities in Australia. Media Access Australia also enjoys a significant international reputation gained over its 10-year life.
“When we created Media Access Australia after transferring our captioning business to Red Bee Media (now Ericsson), we had some established areas to focus on and many new opportunities,” said Media Access Australia Chairman Ian Roache.
“Under Alex’s leadership Media Access Australia focused on traditional media such as television, cinema and DVDs, but also was very proactive in working with digital media, the internet, social media and now streaming media. Part of that success has been the clear attention to practical, real-world approaches and a willingness to engage with all players and find pathways to change that could work for everybody.”
Some significant highlights for Media Access Australia over the last ten years include:
- Major improvements to television access for both free-to-air and subscription television.
- Enshrining television access quotas and quality measures in legislation.
- Australia’s first audio description service trialled on Australian television.
- Major cinema access agreement for both captioning and audio description.
- Creation of the first university-backed training course in professional web accessibility in a joint venture with the University of South Australia.
- The ground-breaking review and guide to the accessibility of popular social media that was used as the base for the U.S. Federal Government’s social media accessibility policy and translated into several languages.
- Review of online and streaming video accessibility.
- Establishment of captioned media program for the education sector, including CAP THAT!, an awareness campaign for school teachers in the classroom.
- Major study into the provision of access technology for blind students in Australian schools.
- Creation of the Access iQ website and resources to provide high-level detailed knowledge on digital accessibility issues for developers and web professionals.
- Creation of consumer guides and maintaining an ongoing, fully-accessible website providing consumer information and reporting on developments in access across the world.
- Building Media Access Australia’s and Australia’s reputation as a centre of excellence for access through presentations and collaborations internationally, including: USA and Canada, UK, Europe and the Middle East.
In recent years there has been more of a focus on ensuring that organisations can provide accessible websites and digital resources and this has been achieved through training in accessible documents, consultancy and advice, provision of how-to guides such as the Service Providers Guide for the NDIS, and ensuring progress through practical, real-world solutions. Media Access Australia has always worked in close collaboration with consumer representatives and their organisations and has recently formed a working partnership with the Australian Network on Disability to help major organisations in adopting digital accessibility in both their workplaces and public-facing communications.
“I am very proud of what we have achieved in the last 10 years at Media Access Australia, building on the experience of the Australian Caption Centre” said Alex Varley.
“I have built up a great team of passionate professionals and we continue to deliver practical, real-world access always driven by the need to ensure that people with disabilities can access media and digital information. It is now time for me to look for new challenges. No doubt I will continue to work in the disability field where my real passion for change lies.”
Alex finishes in early May.
For more information:
Ian Roache, Chairman 0414 305 405
Alex Varley, CEO 0407 215 047
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