Blind/vision impaired Digital Technology & Online Media news

University entrance now possible for blind students in China

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Thanks to a change in regulation, blind and vision impaired students in China will be given access to mainstream higher education.

The Chinese government has released regulations stating that the national university entrance exam must be made available in Braille and electronic formats. Prior to this, these students were unable to attend mainstream universities, which drastically reduced their chances of employment and equal participation in society.


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ABC iview on the road to accessibility

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The ABC is working on Australia’s most accessible catch-up TV service as it rolls out improvements to iview.


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Results of the WebAIM screen reader survey

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Accessibility service WebAIM has released the results of its international screen reader user survey. They reveal the experience of blind people using computers and the internet, and show what website and software makers can do to be more inclusive.

screen reader is a piece of software on a computer, smartphone or tablet which converts text to audio. It is the primary tool used by most people who are blind. The 2014 WebAIM survey, the fifth of its kind, received over 1400 responses.

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Mozilla's $25 accessible smartphone

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Soon there will be more choice in the accessible smartphone market, with not-for-profit technology organisation Mozilla launching its own mobile operating system and smartphone. With accessibility and affordability key considerations, it is hoped that these products will help bring down the cost of smartphones for people with disability.

Like all Mozilla products, the operating system Firefox OS is open source, meaning that members of the development community can contribute to its improvement. As we reported in July, this will allow for Firefox OS’s accessibility features to be introduced and enhanced more quickly than in closed source systems such as Apple iOS.

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Print Disability Round Table: staff picks

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The Round Table on Information Access for People with Print Disability is on in May. Held in Brisbane, the four day conference will cover almost everything relating to how people with blindness, vision impairment or perceptual disabilities access information. This year, presenters will focus on how the needs of the user can be put at the centre of technology design, policy and implementation. Here, some of our staff members have picked out their favourite sessions.

Alex Varley, CEO

Keynote address: University access and equity for students with a disability

Presented by Mary Kelly, Equity Director, Queensland University of Technology, Equity Section, Administration Services, Sunday 9.30 am

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Project Tango: Google's new indoor mapping device

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Google is currently working on a new smartphone that is able to create a digital rendering of an environment. The experimental technology has huge potential, particularly for blind and vision impaired users navigating indoor spaces.

Google’s Project Tango, which is detailed in a YouTube video, combines robotics and a number of cameras to capture the dimensions of a room and the objects placed in it. Audio cues would then be able to communicate this information to a blind or vision impaired user. This would provide a level of detail previously unseen in indoor mapping services.


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Assistive apps in the spotlight

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Stop Announcer, the app that helps people who are blind or vision impaired navigate public transport, was profiled on the ABC’s 7.30 WA on Friday. The report showed white cane user Trevor Dawson using the app to catch the bus and find out where to get off with complete independence.

As we first reported in January, Stop Announcer (Perth) for Android phones was developed by Perth local Voon-Li Chung after he heard about Graeme Innes’s case against RailCorp in NSW. His aim was to create an app which allows people who are blind or vision impaired to get around on public transport without assistance from others.

“Stop Announcer costs just a few dollars but for the visually impaired, the freedom it affords is priceless,” said presenter Andrew O’Connor.


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Access conference comes to Brisbane

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Registrations for the 2014 Round Table on Information Access for People with Print Disabilities are now open. The annual conference focuses on how the changing technology landscape affects and benefits those with vision and perception related disabilities.

The theme of this year’s conference is ‘putting the person at the centre’. The program states that “Person-centred approaches empower people with a print disability by positioning them at the centre of policy, decision-making and service planning and delivery.” The four-day event covers topics such as Braille, web access, entertainment and education.


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