The resource has been co-designed with over 100 organisations including Vision Australia, the Royal Society for the Blind (SA), Blind Citizens Australia (SA), not-for-profits, people with disability and leaders in the disability sector.
The toolkit contains a wealth of information, designed to assist across all areas of digital access including project management, digital content, development, visual design, policy and support.
It’s my view that the toolkit is a valuable and comprehensive accessibility resource that demonstrates both the importance of digital access and how such information can be delivered in a straightforward and practical manner. I’d encourage everyone to have a look at the resource and it’s great to see this work receiving the recognition it deserves.
Microsoft recently announced at its October Surface Event in New York a number of new products. While the new tablets and laptops were the primary focus, an important accessibility feature was also highlighted in the form of real-time captioning using the new Surface Earbuds and its integration into Office 365.
The earbuds feature two microphones to minimise background noise and improve audio clarity. The live demonstration showed how new functionality in Office 365’s PowerPoint can effectively show live captioning.
In addition to the captioning feature, PowerPoint can also be used to instantly translate the text providing improved accessibility to culturally and linguistically diverse audiences.
While automated captioning remains an issue in relation to its quality and accuracy, recent evolutions in audio quality, speech processing and improved integration between hardware and software have seen a notable improvement in the ability for largely usable captions to be more widely available at events and in the classroom.
The initial price of the Surface Earbuds will be $UDS249. There is currently no release date. For additional information, visit the Microsoft Surface Earbuds page.
One of the things that I find exciting working in the digital access space is to see large government departments working hard to make their digital content and processes accessible. Recently I had the privilege to work with the Department of Human Services (DHS) in Adelaide who are in the process of growing internal accessibility knowledge.
are likely best known to Australians for their Centrelink online presence, but
the Federal government department undertakes a lot of work across many different
areas. My involvement has been to support staff that are working hard to
incorporate accessibility into their work practices.
part of the initial work was to deliver two presentations to approximately 150
staff providing a broad overview of digital access, from the personal journey
of a blind user through to the use of assistive technologies. There was also
information provided on the importance of the Web Content Accessibility
Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 standard and future technological developments in which
accessibility needs to be considered.
focus of the work was the delivery of a digital access workshop to
approximately 20 staff which provided more specific guidance on interacting
directly with web content and documents. The workshop provided an opportunity
for attendees to experience the use of assistive technologies for themselves
and assess web content using automated tools. The workshop also provided
opportunities for discussion of the issues and put strategies in place to
continue the conversation.
fact that DHS interacts with millions of Australians with disability on a
regular basis, it’s exciting to see access issues being identified and
addressed as the processes internally and externally continue to improve. Many
thanks to the management and staff for the opportunity to meet your digital
Lego has recently announced plans to create Braille and Audio Instructions to
give people who are blind or vision impaired a chance to create Lego sets.
The idea began when Matthew Shifrin, a blind Lego fan since
childhood, was given a Lego set from a family friend that came with a binder of
Braille instructions, hand-written using a Braille typewriter. He realised that
this wasn’t something he could keep to himself, and so he started up the Legofortheblind website. The website was
where he and his family friend, made Braille and audio instructions for people
who were blind or vision impaired.
The website was a success and almost immediately Matthew
and his family friend Lilya were flooded with requests for different sets to be
made accessible with their Braille system. Unfortunately, Matthew had to turn
down many of these requests as he didn’t have the capabilities to be filling
out hundreds of orders with just him and his friend. He turned to The Lego Foundation, who embraced
the idea of Braille and Audio Based Lego Instructions with open arms.
Sharlini, a 13-year-old Lego Fanatic , shares her
enthusiasm about the news:
“It’s a great chance for everyone, no matter your
capabilities, to be able to enjoy a personal favourite pastime of mine.
Building Lego is meant to bring people together, and this news is proof that
nothing, not even being a person that’s blind or vision impaired, can stop
The Pilot project has commenced with The Lego Foundation
dubbing it as ‘Lego Braille & Audio Building Instructions: A pilot
experience’. The timeline on the website shows they are planning to review
feedback from September – November before announcing any future plans in
While Lego may not be seen as a traditional access story, its growing relevance in teaching children how to interact with robotics and the Internet of Things makes this an exciting new development.
Special thanks to Sharlini for contributing to this article.