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New audio description business flourishes in South Australia

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Over the last four years a team of dedicated arts access workers in South Australia have worked towards establishing Access2Arts, a disability arts organisation that includes a professional audio description service to bring the arts to life for people who are blind or vision impaired. Access2Arts is soon to complete its first year of operation with a number of successful projects under its belt.

Formed in 2009 as Arts SA’s Disability and Arts Transition Team (DATT), initial purchase of audio description receivers and broadcasters allowed DATT to branch out and offer audio description to venues and arts companies not traditionally part of the fixed venue service, then offered by the Royal Society for the Blind.


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Highlights of 2013: Australian made apps

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Australia has made a huge contribution to the world of assistive apps this year. As part of our Highlights series, we look back at just a few.

Glassbrick

In January, Media Access Australia reported that a new screen magnifier for Microsoft Windows had been released. Glassbrick is a free magnifier made by Brisbane-based mobile game studio Halfbrick.  The software is lightweight so that it works with heavier programs such as games without slowing the computer down.


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Highlights of 2013: Talking TVs released in Australia

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Over the past few years, the increasing availability of text-to-speech technology in PCs, tablets, smartphones and other electronic devices has made them much more accessible for blind and vision impaired consumers. In April this year, the technology reached the Australian television market with the release of several models in Panasonic’s Viera smart TV range which have a text-to-speech function called Voice Guidance.

Voice Guidance was originally developed by Panasonic’s UK division, in conjunction with the Royal National Institute of the Blind, and the first TVs with it went on sale there in 2012. When activated by the user, it reads out onscreen text including channel names and program information. Prior to the release of these models, the only TV receivers available in Australia with a text-to-speech function were two set top boxes manufactured by Hills and Bush.


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Forty years of captioned news

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This week marks the 40th anniversary of the world’s first captioned news program, which went to air on America’s PBS network at 11pm on 3 December 1973.

Today, news bulletins around the world are routinely captioned using a number of different techniques. Live elements of a program are captioned by ‘stenocaptioners’ who use a stenographic keyboard, or by captioners using speech recognition software. These techniques did not exist in 1973, so the first captioned bulletin, called The Captioned ABC Evening News, was a repeat of the bulletin that had gone to air at 6 pm. This gave a team of six captioners time to prepare the captions for broadcast.


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