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Australian university adopts Google Apps for Education with known accessibility issues

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Australia’s RMIT University may be excluding students with disabilities after all of its 74,000 student email accounts were moved to Google Apps for Education.

Google Apps for Education is a suite of hosted email and collaboration applications, such as Google Mail (Gmail), Google Documents and Google Calendar, that are available to schools and universities free of charge.

Brian Clark, Executive Director of Information Technology Services at RMIT, is also expecting students to use the collaborative applications in the suite.

“There’s a range of collaborative features built into Google Apps’ technology that will allow students to collaborate on assignments,” said Clark.


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Student team wins Microsoft Imagine Cup for new and innovative assistive technology

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A team of students in the US has won second place in the Microsoft Imagine Cup for Note-Taker, an assistive technology that helps people who are blind or vision impaired take notes in the classroom as quickly and easily as their sighted peers.

Note-Taker uses a portable camera connected to a touch-screen tablet PC to take live video that can be enlarged to suit the needs of the student. At the same time, students can take typed or hand-written notes on a split-screen interface.

ACM Professional Member John Black, a member of the ACM Special Interest Group on Accessible Computing, mentored the winning team from Arizona State University.


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YouTube expands automatic captioning to other languages

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YouTube, which introduced automatic captions for English language videos in 2009, has now expanded the service to Japanese videos.

The captions are created using Google’s speech recognition technology, and while the quality is variable, video owners can download the caption files and edit them. Caption files can also be also be translated into 50 other languages.

In March this year, YouTube began rolling out automatic captioning to all the English language videos it hosts. Video owners can speed up the process by clicking on a ‘request processing’ button.

Digital media and technology: 

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Cinemas change from open to closed captions

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A number of major cinema complexes have made the change from open captions to closed captions in recent weeks. This provides more opportunities to see captioned movies, but means captions are reliant on the availability of CaptiView units.

The new closed caption system has just been introduced at Event Cinemas at Parramatta, George Street Sydney and Maroochydore. You can still book movie tickets online for closed captioned movies, but on arrival at the cinema, you will need to visit the box office and collect a CaptiView unit.  


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