Technologies

Previewing Access 2020 – can we predict the future?

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Media Access Australia CEO Alex Varley will be hosting a panel discussion on the future of access with four international access experts at the Languages and the Media Conference in Berlin on 6 November.

Robotic eye

A mix of speculation and building on current real-world trends and experiences, the panel will discuss a variety of themes based around disability access to television and related services in 2020:

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Texpo to showcase new assistive technology for the blind

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Vision Australia’s Texpo 14, which starts in Melbourne on Friday, will showcase the latest assistive technology which has been developed to improve the lives of blind and vision impaired people.

Texpo 2014: Experience the latest technology and services for people who are blind or have low vision.

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Windows tablets

The focus of Windows 8.x devices having both the traditional keyboard-and-mouse interface and touch-screen interface has blurred the lines between Windows being a mobile platform and a desktop platform. To add confusion, the more affordable versions of the Surface tablet run a version of Windows 8.x called Windows RT which has a similar look and feel to the traditional Windows desktop but is limited in this functionality. This page provides a guide as to how you can ensure that the Windows 8.x tablet you purchase will support the accessibility features you need.


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Accessible consumer technologies and the cloud: VisAbility Tech Outlook 2014

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Dr Scott Hollier's keynote presentation at the VisAbility Tech Outlook 2014 is now available to download via SlideShare.

Presented at the VisAbility Tech Outlook 2014, Dr Scott Hollier covers the journey of Assistive Technologies (AT) from the hardware-based solutions of the 1980s, to the wide range of affordable AT options available today (including accessibility developments of Windows, Mac, iPhone and Android). The importance of the cloud in relation to the future AT is discussed, including its benefits and issues for consumer accessibility.


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Assistive technology: choice never greater

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Despite an often slow and mixed development history, the choice and availability of assistive technology to help people with disabilities access PCs and other computing devices has never been greater.

That’s the message delivered today to attendees of the VisAbility Technology Outlook conference in Perth, Western Australia by Media Access Australia’s resident accessibility expert, Dr Scott Hollier.

Dr Hollier said that assistive technology had had a long history with hardware-based text-to-speech technology being showcased in 1981, and SAM (Software Automatic Mouth) being released in 1982 for early personal computers from Atari, Apple and the Commodore 64.


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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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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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Accessibility: the missing essential in cloud services

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Independent access expert Media Access Australia has released a research paper on the need for commercial services and governments to incorporate accessibility for people with disabilities into their cloud services.

The research finds that improving the useability of cloud services is an essential criterion in organisations efforts to maximise their customer engagement opportunities and ensure that they are not left behind by their competitors, some of whom have already discovered the commercial potential of access.


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Google Glass flips the classroom

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Students with disabilities at times require specialist technology in the classroom that is often relevant just for their use. With the yet to be released Google Glass wearable head mounted technology, that scenario appears to be ‘flipped on its head’, with the technology being marketed as mainstream.

Some stories about Google Glass help to explain the technology’s potential. Google Glass appears to provide an opportunity for consumers to access and engage in leisure and learning opportunities without significant access barriers. Telstra have been involved in a trial with b2cloud of prototype apps to support those with hearing or vision loss for use with Google Glass.

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Disability employment: three easy steps

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Getting ready to either help or directly employ people with disabilities is easier than you think. Here are three reasons why.

Workplace systems and technology

A major misconception is that there is an expense in setting up computers, office equipment and other systems so that they can be used by people with disabilities.

While this may once have been the case, it’s simply not true anymore. ‘Disabled employment’ no longer means ‘expensive’ or ‘too hard to set up’ and should not be viewed as a barrier.

That’s because the mainstream office technology that we all use—Windows, iOS, OS X and Android-based systems—is now packed with built-in accessibility features.


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