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Telstra introduces captions on BigPond Movies

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Telstra has released an initial batch of 14 BigPond movies with open captions, with a promise to expand the service in the future.

To find the captioned titles on BigPond Movies, click on ‘Movies’ on the home page, then ‘Open Captions’, which will bring up a list of them. The initial titles include The Lego Movie, Transcendence, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom and Veronica Mars. Because the captions are ‘open’, they will be visible when played on all devices.


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Californian DVD kiosks to be accessible after court settlement

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The DVD supplier Redbox has agreed to makes its kiosks in California accessible for blind and vision impaired consumers after several advocates for the blind launched a class action against the company in 2012.

In settling the class action, Redbox has agreed to incorporate audio guidance, tactile keyboards and other accessibility features into its kiosks. One kiosk at each location will have the features within 18 months, and they will be extended to all of its kiosks within 30 months. There will also be 24-hour phone assistance available at each kiosk.

In addition to this, Redbox will pay US$1.2 million to the class of aggrieved persons in California, and US$10,000 to each of the individuals who made the complaint. It will also pay court costs.


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Telstra announces accessibility initiatives

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Telstra has announced several new initiatives aimed at improving access for people with disabilities to telecommunications services.

The company has launched a portal on Telstra.com that lets users search for features that may assist specific disabilities such as speech, vision, cognitive and dexterity impairment.

For vision, features include: screen reader, adjustable font-size, high contrast mode and voice output of caller ID.

For cognition, features include: simplify display, photo associated phone book, supports third party apps and supports gesture navigation.


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ACCAN announces Apps For All Challenge winners

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

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

Prizes for the winners included the Telstra Prize of $1500 in cash, promotion through Telstra’s social media and a one-off opportunity to participate in a mini-incubator experience with Telstra’s own in-house app developers and technology specialists.


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Human Rights Commission releases disability survey results

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The Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has released the results of a survey it undertook in the lead-up to the National Disability Forum which took place on 15 September.

The online survey, which was conducted over two weeks, aimed to identify the most important human rights issues facing persons with disabilities, the priorities for improving their employment outcomes, and the most strategic ways to focus the resources of the AHRC on these issues. For each question, respondents were asked to pick three out of 10 to 16 options. A total of 541 respondents took part in the survey.


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Google launches Android One smartphone

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Google has announced its new low-cost smartphone, the Android One, potentially opening up smartphone features to the world's poorest 5 billion people.

According to Google's senior vice president of Android, Chrome and Apps, Sundar Pichai, to date the cost of smartphones has been a major barrier to people in countries such as India, Indonesia or the Philippines.

"Even entry-level smartphones still remain out of reach for many (bear in mind that in some of these countries the average monthly income is around US$250)," he wrote in a blog post on the release of Android One in India.


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How to improve media access: complain

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People with disabilities have been urged to make formal complaints to the Australian Human Rights Commission in order to encourage governments to make positive changes to policy.

Speaking at the National Disability Forum 2014, President of the Australian Human Rights Commission, Emeritus Professor Gillian Triggs, said the complaints process was one of the most effective ways to help the commission advocate on behalf of people with disabilities.


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Disability Inclusion and Liveable Communities: Local Government NSW 2014

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Dr Scott Hollier's presentation at the Disability Inclusion and Liveable Communities Forum 2014 is now available to download via SlideShare.

Presented at the Disability Inclusion and Liveable Communities Forum, Dr Scott Hollier discusses the need for local government websites to address and support accessibility for the community, providing solutions for understanding user experience, reviewing/implementing policies, addressing online accessibility, writing accessible documents, creating accessible external messages and building accessible public computer facilities.

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Cavena announces text-to-speech system for ‘audio subtitling’

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Cavena, a major developer of captioning software based in Sweden, has announced a new system for vocalising the subtitles on foreign language films, which will help to make them accessible for the blind and vision impaired.

The system, which will use text-to-speech technology developed by Acapela Group. “Users who cannot read the small text at the bottom of the TV screen, will now be able to listen to it,” said Henrik Moberg, CEO of Cavena. “Furthermore, it will ease access for illiterate people or users that find it difficult to follow written subtitles.”


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Apple launches new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus with accessibility features

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Apple has launched a series of new products including two new iPhone models and the long awaited smartwatch, with the iPhones containing a number of new accessibility features.

The Apple iPhone 6 and 6 Plus run the new iOS8 operating system which, like other recent iPhones, contains a number of accessibility features such as the VoiceOver screen reader, zoom, playback of captioned video and high contrast themes. The new iOS8 also contains additional accessibility features including an improved zoom, a greyscale feature, improved predictive text for the on-screen keyboard and the ability to use different software keyboards.

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