Ensuring Technological Accessibility for All

This week in BCM310 we looked at the issue of technology and disabilities, discussing how although we are a technologically advanced society, our information technology is not consistently inclusive and accessible to those with a disability.

Gloggin & Newell (2007) remark that the ‘introduction of new technologies sees people with disabilities overlooked, omitted, neglected, or not considered’.  This is becoming a larger issue as the number of disabled people utilising technology is rising. The ABS (2009) reported that the number of persons with a reported disability accessing the Internet at home had increased from 41% in 2003 to 62% in 2009.

A significant problem in Australia has been the lack of television accessibility for visually-impaired people. Australia is far behind with regards to audio description (AD); the feature was first introduced on the BBC in 2000 and is accessible in a variety of countries including the US, Canada and New Zealand (Mikul 2012).  In 2012 the ABC held an AD trial; however, AD has yet to be adopted by the network. After the 2012 trial ended, a campaign entitled ‘It’s as easy as ABC‘ was launched by Blind Citizens Australia, Vision Australia and the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network in order to promote the need for AD services (ACCAN 2012). These groups campaigned heavily in the lead up to the Federal Budget of May 2013. Unfortunately, Media Access Australia (2013) recently reported that the Federal Budget has failed to include any funding for audio description services.

People with a disability in Australia should be able access all technologies. Taylor et al (2005, cited by ACCAN 2012) note that there are ‘approximately 600,000 people in Australia who are blind, vision impaired or can benefit from using AD’, and this is a significant group that has been overlooked.

Goggin & Newell (2007) suggest that we are slow to adopt inclusive technologies because it is not profitable or because there is a lack of awareness.

I believe you cannot put a price on ensuring that every Australian, regardless of their physical capabilities, is able to enjoy the full use of technological services.

Thanks for reading,

Katie

References:

ABS 2009, ‘Internet and computer use by persons with a disability’, Australian Bureau of Statistics, accessed 16/5/2013 via here

ACCAN 2012, ‘Campaign for equal access to ABC TV kicks off today’, ACCAN, 3 October, accessed 16/5/2013 via here

Goggin, G & Newell, C 2007, ‘The Business of Digital Disability, The Information Society: An International Journal, vol. 23, no. 3, pp 159-168

Media Access Australia 2013, ‘Federal Budget Fails to Deliver on Audio Description’, Media Access Australia, 16 May, accessed 16/5/2013 via here

Mikul, C 2012, ‘A minister with vision?, Ramp Up, 29 February, accessed 16/5/2013 via here

Image sourced from here.