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Leading US accessibility advocate speaks at Sydney conference

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Karen Peltz Strauss, one of the principle architects of accessibility legislation in the US, spoke today at the M-Enabling Conference about the decades-long efforts to make telecommunications, television and, more recently, the internet accessible for people with disabilities.

Peltz Strauss, who is currently Deputy Bureau Chief of the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), has been involved in this field for 30 years. In her presentation, she explained that legislation always struggles to keep up with technology. For example, an amendment to the Telecommunications for the Disabled Act in 1988 ensured that all telephones would be accessible to people with disabilities – with the exception of wireless phones.


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Australia falling behind in video on demand captioning

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Media Access Australia today released a report, Captioning on Video on Demand: It’s Time for Australia to Catch Up, which shows that most video on demand and catch up TV providers are failing to make their content accessible for Deaf and hearing impaired viewers.

“Consumers are increasingly watching TV programs and movies online, on a variety of devices,” said the author of the report, MAA’s TV Project Manager, Chris Mikul. “In Australia, the only networks which provide captioning on their catch up services are the ABC and SBS. The only Australian video on demand service to offer captioning on some content is iTunes.”


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MasterChef highlights online access gap

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One of the contestants on Network Ten’s MasterChef: The Professionals, Bonny Porter, has a hearing impairment, but like other Deaf and hearing impaired Australians she is unable to watch the show with captions online.

In an article in B&T, deafness advocate and Deafness Forum member Michael Lockrey noted that Porter’s job at Sydney’s Rockpool Bar and Grill prevented her from watching the show as it goes to air. “While Bonny and her hearing loss have been portrayed in a very positive manner on the show, it is ironic that she and other people with deafness are being discriminated against in this manner,” said Lockrey.


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Top 12 of 2012 #12 – US regulator takes the lead on online captioning

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The USA has seen a number of developments this year which will increase the availability of captions online. With the world’s most popular content coming out of Hollywood, these changes have significant international implications.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ruled that from September 30, all television networks must provide captions for the content they put online. This only applies to content that was originally broadcast on TV, as required by the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010.


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