Highs, challenges, and the road ahead: A podcast with Alex Varley

Tuesday, 10 May 2016 11:00am

Alex Varley was the CEO of Media Access Australia since its inception and has been an active advocate for inclusion in the changing media accessibility landscape over the years. In his final interview just before he left the organisation, Alex shares some of his high points and talks candidly about how web and digital access has changed over time and the challenges that await us just over the horizon.

A head and shoulders photo of Alex Varley

Alex Varley believes that web and digital access is slightly less of a problem than it used to be, but in all too many cases, accessibility is still an afterthought and can be one of the first things to be dropped when organisations try to cut costs.

“I think trying to keep accessibility top of mind is critical,” says Varley. “Especially as it expands more and more into mainstream consumer spaces and gets away from just the developers and other professionals who may actually have picked up on this stuff through the work that they do or through their training.”

“It’s actually about getting ordinary business people to understand that this stuff is really important,” he adds.

Another issue that Alex Varley has observed over recent times is the tendency for some to group together people with different abilities all into the one category.

“I think the next challenge is for people to realise that different disabilities are actually individual markets and that they’re valuable in themselves and that they should be treated as individuals and not just lumped together,” says Varley.

“There’s still a bit of a tendency to say, ‘what’s the disability market?’ and ‘how do I do disability access?’ instead of thinking about the absolutely diverse and sometimes opposite needs, for example, of Deaf people and blind people, or people with a cognitive disability."

Listen to the May 2016 interview with Media Access Australia’s Philip Jenkinson, where Alex Varley talks about what he’s seen, what he’s achieved, and how he views the road ahead.

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Read the transcript of Philip Jenkinson’s interview with Alex Varley on his 'Highs, challenges, and the road ahead'.


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