Affordable Access secures grant funding

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Tuesday, 16 June 2015 16:57pm

Media Access Australia has secured an Australian Communications Consumers Action Network (ACCAN) grant for its Affordable Access project, which will look at low-cost, mainstream accessible technology for people with disabilities with an aim to help people make more informed choices when it comes to devices.

Elderly person using a Samsung tablet device. Image credit: Wikipedia commons

The project will be managed by accessibility expert and Media Access Australia project manager Dr Scott Hollier, who has worked on similar projects, including a guide to accessible social media, starter guides for service providers and training programs for seniors.

Dr Hollier said that the main reason for the project was ensuring consumer choice. “Everybody has a right to affordable accessible technology and this project will provide independent, practical information delivered via a fully-accessible microsite.

“The default position of information or advice often given to people with disabilities is some form of specialist accessibility technology. The vast majority of people don’t need this. They can use the wealth of accessibility built-in to mainstream products.”

The project will help people make informed choices, particularly looking at the advantages and disadvantages of different platform/software/device combinations and their accessibility. This includes whether there is an option to cheaply upgrade an existing device to take advantage of new accessibility features.

The information will be presented in useful ways based on ‘user scenarios’ to show different situations and options. For example, students are encouraged to ‘Bring Your Own Device’, and they need to balance accessibility with affordability and ensure that they can properly carry out tasks at school or college with a device that is reasonably portable. 

The project is made up of a number of stages. Starting from July 2015, this will include:

  1. Researching existing devices, operating systems and apps/software to look at basic accessibility features.
  2. Forming user profiles highlighting real-world scenarios of how people with disabilities use different devices. This will be undertaken with the assistance of VisAbility.
  3. Creation of a fully-accessible microsite (to WCAG 2.0 AA standards), including detailed practical information, tip sheets and links.
  4. Promotion of the resource to community organisations and the public.

The funding is part of the ACCAN annual grants program. ACCAN is the peak body for communications consumers and its annual conference in September 2015 is themed around affordable communications.

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