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Air Canada improves access for the vision impaired

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Air Canada has become the first airline in the world to introduce ‘text-to-speech’ functionality on its in-flight entertainment system, making it easier for blind and vision impaired passengers to navigate.

The feature is available on Boeing 787s, which have recently been introduced to Air Canada’s fleet. An Air Canada spokesman, Peter Fitzpatrick, said, “We use a female voice in English and male voice in French. Voices are fed from the text-to-speech software that Air Canada licenses to operate its content management system.”


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Local Government: Practical accessibility steps

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Local councils have been urged to consider taking practical steps to improve the accessibility of their websites so that they can better meet their policy and legal compliance requirements.

Speaking ahead of his presentation on web accessibility at the Disability Inclusion and Liveable Communities Forum in Sydney on 12 September, Media Access Australia accessibility expert Dr Scott Hollier said meeting accessibility compliance was easier than many councils thought.


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Australian accessible apps developers to be honoured

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The shortlist for the inaugural competition to recognise the work of Australian accessible app developers, the Apps For All Challenge 2014, has been announced.

The challenge, announced earlier this year, is being run by the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) and the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), and is sponsored by Telstra.

For the category of 'Most accessible mainstream app', the finalists are: Energy Rating, ACCC Shopper and My Bus (Canberra Transport).


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Facebook introduces video captions

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Facebook has launched a major update to its accessibility features, now allowing users to add captions on videos.

The announcement comes from Facebook Accessibility’s August 2014 update, providing a complete guide to adding and viewing captions on user-uploaded video files.

Facebook’s steps to provide captions on videos are outlined below:

How do I add captions to my video?

You can add captions to a video by uploading a SubRip (.srt) file that is saved using the following format:

filename.en_US.srt

To add captions to a video as you upload it:

Digital media and technology: 

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Aussie boy Huey inspires internet accessibility for all

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At age four, Huey Springer became ill with a life-threatening condition which doctors identified as a result of head fluid build-up, requiring numerous trips to the hospital and major surgery.

The boy survived, but excessive pressure from the condition caused damage to Huey’s optical nerves, resulting in loss of sight in both eyes. After becoming legally blind, Huey was able to transition from reading and writing to learning a new form of Braille and utilising accessible technology quickly, but this did not occur without trials and frustrations during the learning process.


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Leading Australian arts and disability conference is fully accessible

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The fourth national Arts Activated: Creative Connections conference will be presented in Sydney in late October. The conference is the leading arts and disability conference in Australia and is hosted by Accessible Arts (NSW).

The two-day conference features streams covering access through technology, creative practice, audience development, international collaborations, disability-led practice and community connections. The extensive program features 85 speakers from across Australia and the world.


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Finding your way around our updated education website content

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The education section of our website has a new menu structure, with an increased level of content and information to assist teachers and parents.

There are three main categories that provide focused points of reference: accessible media for diverse learners, hearing impairment and deafness and low vision and blindness.


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NSW Premier’s Teacher Scholarships awarded

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On Saturday 30 August, 22 teachers were awarded NSW Premier’s Teacher Scholarships across a range of subject areas and disciplines at Parliament House, Sydney. Media Access Australia’s Education Manager was among them.

Our Education Manager, Anne McGrath also works as an Itinerant Teacher of the Deaf with the Catholic Education Office, Sydney. McGrath was awarded the 2014 Premier's IOOF Centre for Educational and Medical Research Itinerant Support Teacher (Hearing) Scholarship by the Premier, Mike Baird, and the NSW Minister for Education, Adrian Piccoli.


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Trial of audio description on ABC iview to start in 2015

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The Minister of Communications, Malcolm Turnbull, has advised Media Access Australia that a trial of audio description will commence on the ABC’s catch-up TV service, iview, in April 2015.

The service will initially be available on iPhones, then expand to other platforms including Android, via PCs and Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV (HbbTV) by August 2015. (HbbTV is the platform that will host the Freeview Plus service, due to be launched on 2 September.)

The trial will last for 15 months, and provide at least 14 hours of audio described content per week, with a mix of drama/entertainment, documentary/current affairs and children’s programming. Currently, the only catch-up TV service in the world to provide audio description is the BBC’s iPlayer.


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ACMA finds Nine cricket coverage breached caption quality rules

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The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has found that segments of Channel Nine Cricket broadcast in January 2014 breached its caption quality standard.

The ACMA’s standard, which came into effect in July 2013, states that captions must be readable, accurate and comprehensible. The breaches related to the pre-game segments of programs which went to air on 12 and 17 January.


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