Policy & Legislation

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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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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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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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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NZ Greens push for 100% captioning

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The New Zealand Green Party has released a new disability policy which calls for captioning targets of 100% to be phased in for the country’s main television channels.

Captioning (and audio description) in New Zealand is paid for by NZ On Air, a government broadcasting funding body, but there is no legislation that requires anything to be captioned, or any mechanism for captioning levels to automatically increase. Under the Greens policy, the Broadcasting Act and Telecommunication Act would be amended so that TV1 and TV2 move to 100% captioning by 2017, and TV3 by 2020. Targets for other broadcasters would be set on a case-by-case basis.


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Canadian committee releases live audio description guidelines

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A committee led by Accessible Media Inc. (AMI) and the Canadian Association of Broadcasters has released a set of logistical, technical and artistic guidelines for the audio description of live events.

Audio description for television is still mostly confined to pre-recorded programs, with scripts carefully prepared so that the descriptions do not overlap dialogue or other important audio information on the soundtrack. The audio description of live events, which must be performed spontaneously as a program goes to air, presents much greater challenges.


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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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