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Accessible cinema to get a legislative boost in the USA

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Last week the United States Attorney General signed a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking which recommends amendments to the Americans With Disabilities Act to provide captioning and audio description of movies.

The ruling will provide a consistent approach across the United States for cinemas to exhibit closed captioned and audio described movies. While the majority of movies released by American studios have captions and audio description, the number of cinemas making use of these features is varies widely across the country.

Some of the rulemaking inclusions are:


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Caption developments for cinema and the arts

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The last few years have seen major developments in cinema accessibility alongside the update to digital cinema. Theatre and musical theatre have also benefited from the digital revolution with a variety of new methods available to view captions or listen to audio description.

In an update on last year’s article on the Off-Screen Cinema Subtitling System we’ve learned that testing of this new technology has taken place in a UK cinema with the next stage being to finalise software for cinemas to use.


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OwnFone launches ‘world's first braille mobile phone’ in Australia

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OwnFone has launched a braille-based mobile phone for blind and vision impaired users in Australia—a world-first, according to the mobile technology company.

By combining a three dimensional (3D) printing system and customisable, blank mobile devices, OwnFone allows customers to design a mobile phone with up to three contact names and numbers, which are automatically converted into braille buttons on the front of the device.

The phone features a single button dialling system, with pre-programmed options to call emergency services and contacts of the customer’s choice, including family, friends or carers.

Digital media and technology: 

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Ofcom consults on sign language requirements

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The UK communications regulator Ofcom has launched a review of the signing arrangements it has in place for TV channels with low audience levels.

In 2007, Ofcom announced that channels with an audience share of between 0.05% and 1% had to show at least 30 minutes of programming a week with British Sign Language. However, two years later, it gave these channels the alternative of spending £20,000 each year in a way that would also increase the level of signed programs on TV. Over 50 channels have taken this option, and contribute this amount annually to the British Sign Language Broadcasting Trust, which funds signed content on the Community Channel and Film 4.


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Q&A: Former Australian Disability Commissioner, Graeme Innes

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Media Access Australia spoke to former Australian Disability Commissioner Graeme Innes about his time in the role, web accessibility, disability employment, and the need to change attitudes towards disability in the public and private sectors.

Could you reflect on your time as Disability Commissioner?


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IBM creates new role: Chief Accessibility Officer

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IBM has recently named Frances West, a 25-year IBM veteran, as the company’s first Chief Accessibility Officer.

As the former director of IBM Research's Human Ability and Accessibility Center, West’s new role involves working on the technology company’s policies and practices on accessibility and collaboration with other groups.


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Q&A: Digital literature accessibility

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Media Access Australia spoke with Dr. Mike Kent, Lecturer, Faculty of Humanities, School of Media, Culture and Creative Arts, Department of Internet Studies at Curtin University about the accessibility of digital literature.

Dr Kent was scheduled to speak at the Australian and New Zealand Communication Association (ANZCA) conference, which ran at Swinburne University’s Hawthorn campus from 9-11 July. The conference tackled a diverse range of issues in the media and communication space, including issues around disability and media access.


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