Digital technology

Skype Translator offers real time voice translation

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Microsoft has demonstrated a new application, Skype Translator, which provides near real-time voice and caption translation of different languages.

The application was announced this week and demonstrated using a conversation between an English speaker and a German speaker. A video of the Skype Translator at work is available on Microsoft’s official blog.

In addition to helping break down language barriers between people of different nationalities, the application and its under-pinning technology also has the potential to break down barriers for people with disabilities.

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Wearable

There has recently been significant attention on the development of wearable technologies such as smart watches and glasses. For people with disabilities, the category offers significant potential in its ability to provide information in a convenient and discreet way to the user.

Smartwatches

Apple Watch

The only commonly-available smartwatch available for purchase with specific accessibility features is the Apple Watch. The accessibility features on the Apple Watch can be accessed by making three clicks on the Digital Crown.


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Global Accessibility Awareness Day: 10 things everyone can do to improve access to media

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To celebrate the third Global Accessibility Day, we have compiled a list of tips that everyone can use to make someone’s experience of media a little better. Accessibility is for all of us – it benefits everyone, and everyone can do their part.

Tip 1: Describe the images you put on Facebook

Adding a description to your image posts means that blind and vision impaired people aren’t excluded. This is particularly important for memes and any other images that include text. All it has to be is a sentence.

Tip 2: Make links meaningful


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Google Glass apps for people with disability trialled by Telstra

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The potential benefits of Google Glass for people with disability are becoming a reality thanks to a partnership between Telstra and app developers b2cloud.

Two Telstra employees – Kelly Schulz, who is blind, and Peter Miller, who is hearing impaired – were each given a Google Glass device with assistive apps installed. “These apps have been developed to see what could be done with technology to make the lives of hearing and vision impaired people a little easier,” said Telstra on its blog.


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Accessible app competition launched

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The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) and the Australian Human Rights Commission have come together to run the inaugural Apps For All Challenge. The competition is designed to reward and encourage mobile app accessibility.

The challenge is a response to a growing digital divide between disabled and non-disabled mobile users. Although apps are becoming one of the main ways we do things from banking to socialising, app developers remain largely ignorant of accessibility requirements.

In addition to mainstream apps needing to become accessible, there’s a growing market for assistive apps designed for people with disability.


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Qantas improves in-flight accessibility

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Australia’s national airline has drastically improved the experience of flying for blind and vision impaired passengers by making the devices used on domestic flights to view in-flight entertainment accessible.

Qantas uses Apple iPads for its Q-Streaming system on 17 domestic routes. Until recently, the iPad’s extensive accessibility features were unable to be turned on. This meant that although iPads include screen readers and other assistive technologies, passengers with disabilities were unable to use them.

Following feedback from customers and potential customers, Qantas has now unlocked the iPad’s VoiceOver screen reader.


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ARIA becomes an official web standard

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Screen reader users can expect to gain greater access to websites thanks to technical guidelines, called WAI-ARIA (Web Accessibility Initiative - Accessible Rich Internet Applications), becoming an official standard.

ARIA is technology built into the code of a website which communicates specific information for screen reader users. ARIA landmarks and labels identify elements such as menus, forms and search boxes. ARIA live regions identify parts of a webpage that change, such as a rolling banner. These features, which are invisible to anyone not using a screen reader, can make all the difference for a blind user.

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Top themes from CSUN 2014

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The Annual International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference, commonly known as CSUN, has kicked off. The event, held in San Diego, California is one of the one of the world’s largest conferences dedicated to accessibility technology and the discussion of emerging accessibility trends and ideas.

For those unable to attend this year’s conference Media Access Australia put together the following on four of the major themes of CSUN 2014: mobile devices, employment, education and innovation.


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Results of the WebAIM screen reader survey

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Accessibility service WebAIM has released the results of its international screen reader user survey. They reveal the experience of blind people using computers and the internet, and show what website and software makers can do to be more inclusive.

screen reader is a piece of software on a computer, smartphone or tablet which converts text to audio. It is the primary tool used by most people who are blind. The 2014 WebAIM survey, the fifth of its kind, received over 1400 responses.

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'Includification' in gaming at South By South West

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Austin Texas is currently playing host to the South By South West (SXSW) popular culture conference. The program celebrates innovation in music, film, technology and gaming. Among the companies taking part is AbleGamers Charity, a US based organisation which promotes inclusion of people with disability in gaming culture. Below is our interview with AbleGamers’ Chief Operating Officer, Steve Sohn.

MAA: You’ve coined the word ‘includification’. Can you give us a definition?

Includification is a phrase meant to convey the ideas of including everyone as an ongoing movement.  Game accessibility is not a topic that can be solved with one answer, or decision by one entity, but rather of movement by one segment of the video game community, disabled gamers, asking to be fairly included in regards to access of mainstream entertainment.

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