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Web accessibility vital to elections

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Media Access Australia’s resident web accessibility expert, Dr Scott Hollier, has warned that a lack of accessible websites could lead to voters with disabilities potentially miscasting their votes at the next federal or state election.

Speaking ahead of his presentation on disability and digital divides, to be given at the Australian and New Zealand Communication Association (ANZCA) conference in Melbourne, Dr Hollier said that a lack of web accessibility could have profound effects on society.

“If you look at the last federal election as a case study, a voter with a disability would have had a very difficult time in gaining information to guide their votes based on the lack of accessibility of the websites of the major parties,” he said.


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Q&A: How SMS aids Deaf research and communication

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Media Access Australia spoke with Erin Walsh and Meaghan Arundell from the Australian National University ahead of their presentations at the Australian and New Zealand Communication Association (ANZCA) conference in Melbourne on how SMS is being used as a research and communication tool for people who are Deaf or hearing impaired.

The conference, being run at Swinburne University’s Hawthorn campus from 9-11 July, tackles a diverse range of issues in the media and communication space, including issues around disability and media access.

Digital media and technology: 

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Canada makes captioning of commercials and promos mandatory

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The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has made it a licence condition for all television commercials, sponsorship messages and promos to be closed captioned from 1 September.

Canada is the first country to make the captioning of commercials and promos compulsory, and is thus the first country to achieve what is in effect 100% captioning on TV broadcasts. While the voluntary captioning of commercials is common in Australia and many other countries, captioning of promos is very rare.


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Q&A: Improving inclusive and accessible design

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Media Access Australia spoke with Linda Leung, Associate Professor at the School of Software Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology at the University of Technology Sydney, ahead of her presentation on inclusive and accessible service design at the Australian and New Zealand Communication Association (ANZCA) conference in Melbourne.

The conference, being run at Swinburne University’s Hawthorn campus from 9-11 July, tackles a diverse range of issues in the media and communication space, including issues around disability and media access.


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The Audio Description Project Conference

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The third annual Audio Description Conference, an initiative of the American Council of the Blind, will be held in Las Vegas from 13 to 15 July.

The conference brings together audio describers, consumers, policymakers and other experts to discuss the current state of audio description and how the service could be improved and extended. This year there are sessions about the ways that audio description can aid literacy; audio description for broadcast television, the performing arts and museums; and audio description in Spanish.


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Telstra backs ACCAN’s Apps For All challenge

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Australian app developers have been encouraged to enter the Apps For All challenge following the news that significant cash and career development prizes have been added to the inaugural competition.

Apps For All, a partnership between the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) and the Australian Human Rights Commission, now offers the winners in all four categories a $1500 cash prize, thanks to Telstra’s signing on as sponsor of the competition.


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Google Glass helping audiences or pirates?

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Google Glass has been hailed as a potential access tool for people with disabilities, but two very recent news pieces show how one person’s lifeline can be seen as another’s commercial threat. Commentary by Media Access Australia CEO, Alex Varley.

On the positive side Google Glass is being trialled at some opera performances in the USA as a method for delivering subtitles (or ‘surtitles’ as they are known). The subtitles are being beamed onto the lens of the Google Glass and replace either seat-back displays or subtitles delivered to a mobile device or tablet.


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Graeme Innes’s greatest media access hits

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With Graeme Innes finishing up in his role as Disability Discrimination Commissioner today, Media Access Australia takes the opportunity to look back at some of his greatest achievements in improving access to media for people with disabilities.

Innes, who has been blind since birth, completed a law degree in 1977. He was a hearing commissioner with the then Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission from 1994 to 2001, Deputy Disability Discrimination Commissioner from 1999 to 2005, and has been Disability Discrimination Commissioner since 2005. He contributed to the drafting of the United Nations’ ‘Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities’, and was an advisor during the development of the National Disability Strategy.


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ACMA releases data on teens’ web use

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The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has released statistics on how Australian teenagers use the internet, showing that almost all of them are connected, and demonstrating the importance of making web, applications and communications devices like smartphones and tablets accessible to people with a disability.

Aussie teens online is not only a great snapshot of the role the web plays in the lives of young Australians, but it is also valuable in helping web accessibility professionals as well as content authors, designers and developers think about how they need to make the web and devices accessible for the next generation of users.

Digital media and technology: 

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  • Media Access Australia is Australia’s only independent not-for-profit organisation devoted to increasing access to media for people with a disability.
  • We are self-funded, thus affording an unbiased approach to the provision of information and services.

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  • Media Access Australia is a real-world expert for those seeking information about media access.
  • We provide functional and up-to-date information on the latest developments in the area of access.

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