Digital technology

Google Glass helping audiences or pirates?

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Google Glass has been hailed as a potential access tool for people with disabilities, but two very recent news pieces show how one person’s lifeline can be seen as another’s commercial threat. Commentary by Media Access Australia CEO, Alex Varley.

On the positive side Google Glass is being trialled at some opera performances in the USA as a method for delivering subtitles (or ‘surtitles’ as they are known). The subtitles are being beamed onto the lens of the Google Glass and replace either seat-back displays or subtitles delivered to a mobile device or tablet.


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ACMA releases data on teens’ web use

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The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has released statistics on how Australian teenagers use the internet, showing that almost all of them are connected, and demonstrating the importance of making web, applications and communications devices like smartphones and tablets accessible to people with a disability.

Aussie teens online is not only a great snapshot of the role the web plays in the lives of young Australians, but it is also valuable in helping web accessibility professionals as well as content authors, designers and developers think about how they need to make the web and devices accessible for the next generation of users.

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Real Thing launches accessible news reader device, RealSAM

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Media Access Australia spoke to Nick Howden, CEO of Australian technology company Real Thing, about the launch of RealSAM (Simple Accessible Media), a new device to help people with vision impairments access news and media services.

Media Access Australia: What does RealSAM do?

Nick Howden: RealSAM is a small handheld device which is the size of a small mobile phone. Using natural spoken interactions, users can browse a vast array of media content, and ask RealSAM to read out articles from a wide range of newspapers, play radio podcasts, or give information on the weather, time and location. All content is gathered online via 3G or Wi-Fi, without the user having to worry about computers or network connections.


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Amazon touts accessibility of Fire smartphone

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Amazon has announced that accessibility has taken centre stage in its new Fire smartphone.

The company, better known for its Kindle e-reader and its online shopping site, has stated that its Fire smartphone contains features to address vision, hearing and motor-related impairments.

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Accessible gaming: An interview with Ian Hamilton: Part 2

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Media Access Australia spoke to Ian Hamilton, UX designer, accessibility specialist and co-author of the Game Accessibility Guidelines about accessibility issues in gaming.

The Guidelines, a free web-based resource created to help developers create games which are more inclusive of disabled gamers, were recognised at the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman’s Awards, picking up the prize for Advancement in Accessibility.

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Accessible gaming: An interview with Ian Hamilton: Part 1

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Media Access Australia spoke to Ian Hamilton, UX designer, accessibility specialist and co-author of the Game Accessibility Guidelines about accessibility issues in gaming.

The Guidelines, a free web-based resource created to help developers create games which are more inclusive of disabled gamers, were recognised at the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman’s Awards, picking up the prize for Advancement in Accessibility.

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Spanish website provides accessibility reviews of smartphones

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Spanish organisation Fundación ONCE has created a website, Amóvil, designed to provide accessibility reviews of popular European smartphones.

Amóvil is a Spain-based initiative designed to help people with disabilities find a smartphone that suits their needs and preferences. It allows users to search for a particular model of smartphone and then read reviews about the device and its accessibility features.

The search function allows users to search by accessibility type, such as features only applicable to blind users, hard of hearing users and low vision users.

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Winners of US Awards for Advancement in Accessibility announced

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America’s communications regulator, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced the winners of the 2014 FCC Chairman Awards for Advancement in Accessibility.

The awards, presented at the M-Enabling Summit, seek to recognise innovators who develop communications technology for people with disabilities.

This year, seven award categories were available, including Advanced Communication Services (ACS), Employment Opportunities, Closed Captions, Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, Mobile Web Browsers, Social Media and Video Description.

The winners were:


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Tech companies urged to address ‘untapped billion’ disabled users

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Mobile device manufacturers have been urged to better address a great untapped market that is globally worth US$8 trillion a year — people with a disability and their immediate friends and families.

According to the recently published Accessibility White Paper, authored by Lewis Insight and commissioned by telecommunications company Telefonica, there are as many as one billion people worldwide with a disability.

However, these people — largely people with hearing, vision, learning, cognitive and physical impairments — have been under-addressed by technology manufacturers.

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Apple Yosemite and iOS8 accessibility roundup

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Apple this week announced the launch of its new Mac operating system, Yosemite, and its new mobile operating system, iOS 8, at its annual developer conference.

The new operating systems have a range of accessibility features, such as Spotlight which makes web searches and launching applications and documents easier for people with motor-related disabilities, and a ‘dark mode’ which switches black text on a white background to white text on a black background, aiding people with vision-related disabilities.


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