Talking menus

Apple TV, iPhone and iPad lineup offers both accessibility benefits and challenges

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The new range of Apple products has been announced with upgrades of many of them including new iPhones, an iPad with a larger screen, and a significant update to the Apple TV. While many of the products include helpful accessibility improvements, users should also be aware of some potential challenges the new features may create.

Apple iPad Pro and iPhone 6S with iOS9 home screen displayed

Digital media and technology: 

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US cable company launches talking TV guide

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The cable television company Comcast has added a ‘talking guide’ to its new X1 set-top box, allowing blind and vision impaired viewers to easily find content.

"A" hot button highlighted on X1 remote. Image credit: Comcast

The ‘talking guide’, which features a female voice, reads out program titles and other information, network names, time slots and settings. It will be made available to all Comcast customers in the next few weeks.


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Transport for NSW releases app to help the blind navigate

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Transport for NSW (TfNSW) has announced the release of an app, Stop Announcer, which will help blind or vision impaired people to find their way around the public transport system across NSW.

Stop Announcer (NSW) app icon


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Ofcom consults on accessibility of on-screen TV guides

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The UK communications regulator Ofcom has issued a consultation paper outlining changes it is proposing to make electronic program guides (EPGs) more accessible for blind and vision impaired TV viewers.

TV remote resting on a flat wooden surface next to an open magazine


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Accessible Christmas gift ideas for 2014

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Looking for that special something for that special someone—a Christmas present that is both accessible and awesome? Look no further than Media Access Australia’s guide on accessible Christmas gift ideas for 2014.

iTunes gift card

iTunes $30, $20 and $50 gift cards


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US cable company introduces talking TV guides

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Comcast, one of the largest cable TV suppliers in America, has introduced the industry’s first ‘voice enabled television interface’, allowing blind and vision impaired customers to easily navigate through program guides and other features.

Television remote control resting on printed TV guide


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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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Californian DVD kiosks to be accessible after court settlement

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The DVD supplier Redbox has agreed to makes its kiosks in California accessible for blind and vision impaired consumers after several advocates for the blind launched a class action against the company in 2012.

In settling the class action, Redbox has agreed to incorporate audio guidance, tactile keyboards and other accessibility features into its kiosks. One kiosk at each location will have the features within 18 months, and they will be extended to all of its kiosks within 30 months. There will also be 24-hour phone assistance available at each kiosk.

In addition to this, Redbox will pay US$1.2 million to the class of aggrieved persons in California, and US$10,000 to each of the individuals who made the complaint. It will also pay court costs.


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Human Rights Commission releases Australia’s first fully-accessible DVD

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Twenty Years: Twenty Stories is a video project initiated by the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) which celebrates the twentieth anniversary of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA). The DVD release, as well as having captioning and audio description, will also feature spoken menus – an Australian first. 

Each of the twenty videos, which were produced in association with the Sydney Community Foundation, tells the story of a disabled person who managed to bring about systemic change by making a DDA complaint. The videos, created by both professional filmmakers and community groups, were made possible by donations from government and commercial enterprises. Captioning of the videos was funded by the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs’ Captioning Grant, which is administered by Media Access Australia.


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