Digital technology

Federal Household Assistance Scheme continues to help people with disabilities

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A bright point in this week’s Federal Government budget is the continuation of the Digital TV Taskforce’s Household Assistance Scheme (HAS).

The HAS provides a set-top box, installation and an antenna, if needed, to eligible households. These households are usually vulnerable people that are elderly, isolated or have a disability.

“The HAS is a model for how government programs should be run,“ said Media Access Australia CEO Alex Varley. “It has been designed in consultation with the people it will help and is sensitive and responsive to their needs.”


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Updates on Google Chrome OS and screen reader support

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The Google Chrome blog has reported improved third-party screen reader support in the latest version of the Google Chrome operating system (beta), and according to a tweet by a Google research scientist, developers may soon have access to Google Chrome’s screen reader, ChromeVox.

The Google Chrome blog post lists a number of changes to the latest version of Google Chrome operating system (Beta), including preliminary support for popular screen readers JAWS, NVDA and VoiceOver.

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Latest W3C column looks at web browser and screen reader compatibility

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The latest W3C column from Media Access Australia’s Dr Scott Hollier examines 2011’s updates to web browsers and screen readers and what the best options are for screen reader users.

This year has seen major technology releases with Microsoft Internet Explorer 9 and Mozilla Firefox 4 and updates to screen readers NVDA and JAWS.

Most updates are linked to developments in the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the organisation responsible for making web standards such as HTML, the code that makes web pages possible. 

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New device assists vision impaired to understand graphics

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A new prototype tablet device developed by Monash University may soon make accessing diagrams for people who are vision impaired easier.

The tablet, called GraVVITAS uses a standard touch screen tablet PC combined with sound, vibration and voice prompts to help guide the user to read the diagram.

PhD candidate Cagatay Goncu who, along with Professor Kim Marriott is working on GraVVITAS said, “The basic idea is to guide the user to find the object by using sound. Touching the object causes the sound to stop and a voice explains what that object is and any other information associated with it.”

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