Annual Report 2010-2011

Round Table on Information Access for People With Print Disabilities Inc

Read the Annual Report online below, or download it as a Word file (462 kB).

UEB Rulebook launch

Photo: Mary Schnackenberg, Bruce Maguire, Maryanne Diamond and Christine Simpson at the Launch of the UEB Rule Book in Sydney, June 2010. Photo taken by Brian Conway.


That all information is equitably and equally available to all people at the same time and the same cost as the published versions.


To facilitate and influence the production and use of quality alternative formats for people with a print disability. We achieve this through setting and providing standards, advocating, educating and facilitating cooperation and information sharing.


Information Access is important to all people who have a print disability. Information is needed for recreation, education, employment, training and day-to-day living.  Research has shown that only 3 – 5% of all information released in print in a year is published in formats that can be accessed by people with a print disability.  People who have a print disability access information in a range of formats including braille, large print, e-text, audio etc., and from a number of information providers – libraries, websites, agencies, educational institutions, etc.  Since its formation in 1981, the Round Table has been working towards the achievement of a more accessible information environment in Australia and New Zealand.

We live in the ‘age of information’, and access to information is more important than ever before.  Recently developed technologies have created break-through opportunities to provide people with a print disability with more reading material and a better experience of that material.  Digital technology also has the capacity to address the problem of timeliness and cost. The use of digital technologies reduces the physical limitations of previous methods.  Digital talking books are now available that use structured text, synchronised audio and multi-media functionality to provide people with a print disability with a reading experience similar to that of a sighted person.

To ensure alignment with the Vision and Mission, Round Table has set three strategic goals which form the framework for the strategic plan.  The goals should be seen as an integrated set of goals that are shared by all member organizations in Australia and New Zealand.

  1. Collaboration and sharing through an annual conference
  2. Development and maintenance of standards and guidelines
  3. Further development of accessible information through workshops

Roundtable Executive:

President: Julie Rae
General Manager
Community Information Access
Vision Australia

Senior Vice President: Di Francis
Co-ordinator, Print Alternatives Services
Royal Society for the Blind of SA (RSB)

Junior Vice President: Moira Clunie
Insights, Policy & Advocacy Manager
Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind

Treasurer: Brian Conway
Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children
School Support Service (Vision Impairment)

Secretary: Alison Banks (resigned February 2011)
Queensland Narrating Services

ABA President: Christine Simpson
Information Alternatives

Consumer Representative: Sue Hastie

Committee member: Elisabeth Wegener
Vision Support
St Edmunds School

Committee member: Sheena Daniel
Technical Sevices Librarian
CBM Australia

Administration Officer: Tammy Axelsen

Table of contents:

Vision.. 2
Mission.. 2
Goals. 2
1      Message from the President 5
1.1       Acknowledgement and thanks: 7
1.2       Lifetime Achievement Award. 7
2      Annual Conference. 9
3      DAISY Special Interest Group. 10
4      Guidelines and Standards Working Group. 10
4.1       Improving access to guidelines. 11
4.2       New guidelines and standards projects. 11
4.3       Sound Advice Guidelines. 11
4.4       UEB Rulebook launched. 12
5      Australian Braille Authority. 12
5.1       2010 Annual Meeting. 12
5.2       Executive Committee. 12
5.3       The Rules of Unified English Braille. 13
5.4       Trans-Tasman Braille Proficiency Certificates. 13
5.5       Document Creation.. 14
5.6       ABA Publications. 15
5.7       ABA NSW Subcommittee. 15
5.8       ABA Queensland Subcommittee. 17
5.9       Representation.. 18
6      Financial 19
Audit opinion.. 23
7      List of members. 24
8      Letter of thanks. 27

1 – Message from the President

Welcome to the 2010-2011 Annual Report for the Round Table on Information Access for People with Print Disabilities Inc. which was formed in 1981 by producers and users of braille, audio, large print and other materials in accessible formats in Australia and New Zealand.

The aim was to achieve:

  • greater co‑operation, cohesion and collaboration between producers;
  • common production standards for the industry;
  • a joint voice for the industry in its dealings with other organisations; and
  • best use of resources.

Since then, the Round Table has been able to set trans-Tasman standards for transcription of print material into a range of accessible formats, and it has been a vehicle for negotiation with Government, and other industry bodies, on matters such as copyright, subsidies and production standards.

The Round Table now comprises of 40 organisation members in Australia and New Zealand, and covers major producers, distributors and consumer groups.

As a volunteer organisation it has become apparent that we need to ensure that we can achieve our goals and commitments, to this end, we have realigned our strategic plan and will concentrate on three key areas,

  1. the development of standards and guidelines,
  2. the annual conference and
  3. Introduce workshops which further contribute to our collaboration and best use of resources.

Our value as an organisation is the ability to bring together the multitude of individuals and organisations who are committed to ensuring that their clients, end users, friends, students or employees have access to the information they require to go about their daily lives.

We are committed to working together to ensure that access to published works in an alternative format is increased; that movies, TV and live events are audibly described, that websites are accessible, that newspapers and time sensitive information is automatically accessible through online services or radio for the print handicapped.

Working together we can bring about change to community attitudes.

Working together we can assist publishers to build in accessibility of their products.

Working together we can influence Government policy.

Working together we can make a difference to the 5% of accessible information available.

By working together we can achieve what no one individual or organisation can do alone.

During the last 12 months, Roundtable has continued to monitor a number of projects that are occurring across the world.  The World Blind Union is working with a number of countries to ensure that cross border sharing of accessible titles can be achieved through the introduction of a treaty for Improved Access for Blind, Visually Impaired and other Reading Disabled Persons, the Roundtable supports this initiative and has continued to inform Government agencies and libraries on the progress and importance of the treaty.  Recently the World Blind Union has suspended all activity around the WIPO (World Information Property Organisation) stakeholder’s platform as they are extremely concerned that this activity will jeopardise the treaty’s success.

The Round Table Executive has long understood the need to communicate regularly with members and interested individuals. To do this we have continued to post material on our Web page and list server.

Leading up to last year’s conference, Round Table trialled a range of online communications tools for sharing news with members and conference attendees. Following the success of the conference blog, Round Table developed a general blog for sharing information about all of its projects. The blog is at:  Roundtable also has set up an interest group in LinkedIn and we invite you to join

The Australian Braille Authority a committee of Round Table has also set up a number of avenues for their members, state committees and interested parties to ensure information can be shared and for communication.  Refer to:

OZBRL, our listserve, is also a valuable communication tool. Apart from providing us with an easily accessible platform for circulation of notices and other key material, it also provides a question and answer forum where people can post questions relating to braille, software, equipment etc. In return, they can get answers and suggestions. It is most satisfying to see it being used in this way as the question of one person is often on the lips of others. And the answers provided are regularly of help to many readers. I thank Bruce Maguire for his continued moderation of this list.

It has been with the enthusiasm and skills of Leona Holloway that ABA now has a Facebook page. Leona has taken responsibility for this project and she continues to post short, interesting snippets of information relevant to braille. Facebook membership is growing, but we also need you and your friends. Visit the ABA’s Facebook page at

Facebook members can “like” the page to start receiving updates from the ABA on their own Facebook “wall”. Many of the updates are accompanied by a link to a relevant website, and all can be “liked” or commented on to share with your friends and contribute to the group. The page will NOT send emails to its members.

The UEB Rulebook was launched by Maryanne Diamond – President of the World Blind Union at the ABA General meeting in June 2010.  We were joined for the occasion by Mary Schnackenberg – President of the International Council on English Braille. The work undertaken on this project was funded by the Royal National Institute of Blind People, Vision Australia, Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children, Royal Society for the Blind SA and Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind, extensive and thorough thanks must go to Christine Simpson from Information Alternatives for her diligence and hard work in making it a reality.  For more information on the Rulebook or its launch, visit: Copies of the rulebook files (PDF or BRF), may be downloaded from

1.1 Acknowledgement and thanks:

Recognition and thanks must go to Brian Conway for his presidency for the past 5 years.  His dedication and commitment is apparent in the development of many standards and guidelines.

Bruce Maguire stepped down as Chair of the Australian Braille Authority (ABA) at the end of 2010.  Bruce’s passion, expertise and dedication to the promotion and development of braille and in particular his involvement and enthusiasm for the UEB is inspiring.

We sadly farewelled Alison Banks from the Round Table Executive Committee and the Round Table  in February 2011 as she has taken a position outside our industry.  Alison has been a member of the Round Table Executive Committee for the past seven years, we thank her for her dedication and diligence, she was responsible for many successful submissions to Government for support funding and she championed Daisy and instigated the Daisy Special Interest Group.

A special mention must also go to Moira Clunie for her dedication and the inspiring conference held last year in Auckland.

In 2010 we farewelled John Gard from the Round Table Executive Committee however his continued support in working with our Treasurer and Administration Officer is invaluable and we thank him for this continued support.

Continued support and thanks must go to Tammy Axelsen for her dedication beyond the call of duty for her administration support of the Round Table.

1.2 Lifetime Achievement Award

For some time it had been a matter of discussion that Round Table on Information Access for People with Print Disabilities (Round Table) should institute a Life Membership category for people who had made an outstanding contribution to the Print Disability sector.

As the Executive Committee pondered the matter it became apparent that it was not appropriate to create a Life Membership category for individuals as Round Table does not have any membership categories for individuals. Round Table is an organisation of organisations. However, the concept of public recognition for outstanding service was both appealing and long overdue. This was the genesis of the Round Table Lifetime Achievement Award.

Finally, at the 2009 Annual Conference Dinner in Sydney, two inaugural Round Table Lifetime Achievement Awards were presented. It was a particularly momentous night as it was also the occasion for a celebration of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Louis Braille.

Round Table Lifetime Achievement Award recipients are presented with a memento in the form of a twin plaque. Each memento comprises two separate rosewood timber circular plaques, 24 cm in diameter. A metal hinge allows, if preferred, the two plaques to stand upright when rested at an angle alternatively, they can be displayed by being hung on a wall.  On the front of each plaque is a silver metal plate on which the Round Table logo and the following words are written: “Round Table on Information Access for People with Print Disabilities, Lifetime Achievement Award, the person’s full name, and the year in which it was awarded. Why two attached plaques? Because on one plaque the words are in print and on the other they are in braille.

The recipient of the 2010 Lifetime Achievement Award of Round Table on Information Access for People with Print Disabilities was John Simpson.

John has for over 30 years been instrumental in the development of accessible information, through the work he has done with Blind Citizens Australia (BCA), research into Audio Description, the development of standards and much other work in the area of the provision of information in alternative formats.

Lifetime Achievement Award presentation 2010

Photo: John Simpson and Christine Simpson, accompanied by Brian Conway, displaying John’s 2010 Round Table Lifetime Achievement at the 2010 Round Table Conference Dinner.

Photo taken by Grant Hutchings.

I wish everyone great success for the coming year and an enjoyable and productive conference.

Julie Rae

2 – Annual Conference

Each year the Round Table holds a annual conference to facilitate and influence the production and use of quality alternative formats for people with print disabilities. Conferences showcase examples of best practice in the provision of accessible information to people with a print disability in the workplace and the community centre, including businesses, agencies, tertiary institutions, libraries, Commonwealth, State and Local Government. This year is the 30th Anniversary Conference and will review the impact of technology and service development over the last thirty years and explore the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead in a fast changing global and local environment.

In 2010 we held our conference in Auckland New Zealand, we must confess that we were initially worried that it would not attract a large number of participants due to its location, how wrong we were.  It was a huge success and the feedback was extremely positive.

It was also the first time that the ABA held their meeting separate to the Round Table conference.

The 2010 conference looked at how local examples of innovation in information access fit into the global picture, where still less than 5% of information published in print is formats that are accessible to print-disabled readers. Speakers updated delegates on international projects and groups including the Global Library project, Unified English Braille, DAISY and international copyright negotiations at WIPO. Alongside this, other speakers shared local successes which contribute to the global effort to improve information access for people with print disabilities.

The program included a wide range of topics: human rights and disability policy, copyright and international collaboration to increase access to information, audio description, tertiary education, public and specialist library services, braille developments and research, the DAISY standard and other related issues.

The conference theme was explored through a mix of speakers, panel discussions and workshops. Two pre-conference tours, of Auckland Central City Library and the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind’s library and accessible information services, were included as part of the program. The conference also includes exhibition space for organisations to share products and developments related to information access for people with print disabilities.

Delegates at the pōwhiri

Photo: Room of conference delegates singing to conclude the conference pōwhiri, or traditional welcome. Photo taken by Grant Hutchings.

3 – DAISY Special Interest Group

An email communiqué has been sent to those who expressed an interest in the DAISY Special Interest Group at the 2010 conference, this communiqué asked about ongoing interest in the group and ideas on the best method of communication.  A blog has now been created for the DAISY Special Interest Group.

It was suggested that a DAISY discussion group be held at the 2011 Round Table Conference and that the blog be promoted as a method of communication for those interested in DAISY issues. It may turn out that the key driver of the DAISY Special Interest Group is the Conference and the blog is used for following up on ideas and discussion held at the conference.

There has also been discussion about the creation of a DAISY Facebook page as a resource for the DAISY Special Interest group.

The DAISY Special Interest Group has the potential to become an important resource for producers of DAISY and will continue to be fostered by Round Table.

4 – Guidelines and Standards Working Group

Following the last AGM, the Executive formed a permanent Guidelines and Standards Working Group to support this vital area of Round Table’s work.

The purpose of the Working Group is to oversee Round Table guidelines and standards development and promotion of them on behalf of the Round Table Executive Committee.

The working group will:

  • track current development of Round Table guidelines and standards by Guidelines Working Parties.
  • oversee the guidelines review schedule, initiating reviews of existing guidelines as required.
  • suggest new guidelines for development and review externally-produced guidelines as relevant.
  • sign off guidelines once completed by Working Parties and prepare them for publication.
  • manage the program of workshops related to the guidelines.
  • identify ways of promoting and disseminating the guidelines, and ensure a profile for Round Table guidelines in the annual conference program.

4.1 Improving access to guidelines

Just prior to the 2010 conference, it was decided that all new guidelines would be published under a Creative Commons license. In the last year, the newly published UEB Rulebook, the DBT Producer’s Manual and the Assessment and Clear Print Guidelines have been made available on the Round Table website under the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-No Derivatives license. This means that anyone is free to download and use the guidelines and make copies, as long as they correctly attribute the guidelines to the Round Table, do not alter the guidelines and do not profit from them.

4.2 New guidelines and standards projects

New projects that have started in the last year include:

  1. preliminary reviews of Sound Advice and the Guidelines for Conveying Visual Information to assess the amount of work needed to update these resources.
  2. review of externally produced guidelines and standards to assess whether Round Table should endorse these.
  3. development of a Clear Print Training Package.
  4. production of a style and language guide for Round Table to ensure consistency in communications and guidelines documents.

4.3 Sound Advice Guidelines

Work is underway to review the 1994 Sound Advice Guidelines. Sheena Daniel is heading this review. It is envisioned that those interested will work on certain sections of Sound Advice and then the whole corrected version be put together.  The current version is only available in hardcopy this will be digitised and updated and made available online.

4.4 UEB Rulebook launched

The Rules of Unified English Braille (commonly known as The UEB Rulebook) was launched in Sydney Australia last June, following the annual meeting of the Australian Braille Authority. Edited by Christine Simpson and published in Australia by Round Table and the International Council on English Braille, the UEB Rulebook represents almost 20 years of international collaboration. Print and braille versions of the UEB Rulebook are available online.

5 – Australian Braille Authority

It has been a most productive year for the Australian Braille Authority (ABA). This report covers:

  • the 2010 ABA Annual Meeting and Workshop;
  • the launch of The Rules of Unified English Braille;
  • the Executive Committee—membership and meetings;
  • development of the Executive Workplan, ABA Terms of Reference and the Bylaws for Regional Braille Forums;
  • testing for the TransTasman Braille Proficiency Certificate;
  • communication with ABA Members and other interested persons; and
  • the development, or updating, of ABA publications.

I also note some of the areas in which ABA at the national level has been represented.

Attached to this report are the reports received from our two active state sub-committees—New South Wales and Queensland. I acknowledge the importance of their work in information dissemination and braille promotion and commend their reports to you. Also attached is a report from Josie Howse reporting on behalf of the TransTasman Braille Proficiency Certificate organising Committee.  This too is important reading.

5.1 2010 Annual Meeting

The 2010 annual meeting of the ABA was held at the Harbourview Hotel in North Sydney. My thanks go to those involved in organising such a successful weekend of events. Saturday saw the annual meeting and later the launch of The Rules of Unified English Braille (“the Rulebook”), and on Sunday a workshop introducing participants to the Rulebook content.  It was the first time that the meeting and workshop had not been held as part of the Round Table’s annual conference—which last year was held in Auckland, New Zealand.

5.2 Executive Committee

The Executive has met monthly by phone, and held a most productive two-day face-to-face meeting in Melbourne over the weekend of 5 and 6 March. I thank all Executive members for their support and hard work throughout the year. In particular, I acknowledge with sincere appreciation the secretarial support given to the Executive and ABA by Linda Triasmono.

The ABA Executive with me (Christine Simpson) as Chair, Linda Triasmono as Secretary, Bruce Maguire, Bill Jolley, Josie Howse and Jordie Howell was elected at the ABA annual meeting last year. However, by November, Bruce Maguire found it necessary to resign due to increasing family and study commitments. Bruce’s resignation was accepted with much regret, as his contribution to the work of the ABA over many years has been truly enormous. Bruce has a wonderful analytical mind, an excellent knowledge of the structure and use of various braille codes, and a deep commitment to the supremacy of braille. He played a vital role in designing the UEB Code, and he has worked tirelessly to raise the profile of braille both nationally and internationally.

The Executive invited Kathy Riessen to fill the casual vacancy on the Executive created by Bruce’s resignation. Kathy is a braille transcriber with the South Australian School for Vision Impaired (SASVI). She too has a thorough knowledge of several braille codes, and a practical understanding of the functioning of the Duxbury Braille Translator. Fortunately for us, Kathy accepted our invitation.

At many Executive meetings we have been joined by Annette Sutherland—Convener of the ABA NSW subcommittee, and Nicole Donaldson—Convener of the ABA Queensland sub-committee. Having both Annette and Nicole in attendance has greatly aided the two-way flow of information between the Executive and these state sub-committees. Leona Holloway has also attended Executive meetings by invitation. Leona’s work over the year in editing and updating some of our ABA publications has been of tremendous importance in helping us move forward.

5.3 The Rules of Unified English Braille

Often referred to as the UEB Rulebook, The Rules of Unified English Braille is no longer just a dream, but rather, “a dream come true”. On the evening of 5 June, at a special function at the Harbourview Hotel in Sydney, we launched The Rules of Unified English Braille—the code book which articulates the rules of Australia’s recently adopted braille code. It had been a long time coming—just like the Code itself. After all, research on a new code was commenced by the Braille Authority of North America back in 1991 and it became an international project when in 1993, at its first Executive meeting in Sydney Australia, the International Council on English Braille (ICEB) accepted the project proposal and began work to update and modernise the braille code.

Over almost 20 years, many people have made major carefully considered contributions to ensure that the braille code with its revisions will now serve us well for many decades to come. As Rulebook Editor I thank many people: those who initially drafted the rules, those who gave me feedback re wording, those who suggested examples, and those who gave me guidance on clarity and text layout.

On the following day, we held a workshop titled “A Guided Tour of the UEB Rulebook”. This proved a valuable opportunity to “walk” participants through the Rulebook, taking the time to explain in detail some of the more complex rules and practices and the thinking behind particular decisions. With almost 60 participants, enthusiasm for the Rulebook was high and the excitement of actually having all the rules in one book (even if it was a large one) in one’s own hand was most satisfying.

5.4 Trans-Tasman Braille Proficiency Certificates

These Braille Proficiency Certificate Examinations are jointly conducted by the Australian Braille Authority (ABA) and the Braille Authority of New Zealand Aotearoa Trust BANZAT

There are now 21 holders of the TransTasman Braille Proficiency Certificate in Australia. The most recent of whom are Emilie Butcher, Jordie Howell, Sally Zoszak, Janet Turner and Sue Gretch. They were the five candidates from Australia who, together with 13 candidates from New Zealand, successfully gained their Certificates in October 2010. On behalf of the ABA, I congratulate you all. The Braille Proficiency examination tests a candidate’s ability to transcribe into braille various types of printed material—usually some prose, a recipe and a short poem. This is followed by a passage of braille for transcription into print, and finally a passage of braille to be proofread.

My thanks to Frances Gentle, Josie Howse and Bruce Maguire, who once again took responsibility for choosing, preparing, posting, receiving and marking all examination materials for our Australian candidates. It is a task which needs care and attention to detail to meet the needs of each candidate.

Once again a successful Trans-Tasman Braille Proficiency Certificate Examination was held concurrently in Australia and New Zealand in 2010. The examination committees in both countries would like to commend all the successful candidates on their achievement.

Australia had 8 candidates sit the examination with 7 requiring print format and 1 requiring Braille format. The following results were achieved from the Australian cohort:

  • High Distinction: 1
  • Distinction: 2
  • Credit: 1
  • Pass: 1
  • Fail: 3

New Zealand had 16 candidates sit the examination with 15 requiring print format and 1 requiring large print format. The following results were achieved from the New Zealand cohort:

  • High Distinction: 2
  • Credit: 6
  • Pass: 5
  • Fail: 3

We plan to conduct the 2011 Trans-Tasman Braille Proficiency Certificate in 2011 during the period 3 October to16 October with candidates electing either week 1 (3 – 9 October) or week 2 (10 to 16 October).

5.5 Document Creation

As of January 2011, the ABA Executive now has a Workplan to which we are currently working. This Workplan has helped us to get our thinking in order and to better articulate the many things we are trying to achieve. As Chair of the ABA I am a voting member of the Executive of the Round Table. I report against the items of the WorkPlan at each Executive meeting.

At our Annual meeting last year as an outcome of our Strategic Review, we flagged the need for changes to our Terms of Reference which had not been revised since 1992. Following feedback from the draft presented to members at our 2010 Annual Meeting the document was revised and feedback has been incorporated. The new Terms of Reference have now been finalised.

We are now drafting Bylaws for Regional Braille Forums, they are almost ready for distribution to ABA members, and we are seeking your feedback. Regional Braille Forums will provide better channels for information sharing and greater opportunity for braille promotion at a local level.

5.6 ABA Publications

DBT Manual has been a “work in progress” for the past few years. but alas, it is, no longer! With a first draft being done by a small group of transcribers from across the country, Leona Holloway (in her role with Vision Australia as Formats Development Officer) was encouraged by management to complete this work. Leona’s understanding of the Duxbury Braille Translator (DBT) and her wide experience in using it to produce a vast range of braille materials will now be shared with us all. The manual will shortly be available for download from our ABA Webpage as print, large print and braille files.

DBT Manual is easy to follow as it makes its way through the various DBT menus. It includes lots of “how to…” examples and many screen shots. It should prove most helpful to both inexperienced and experienced transcribers alike.

We thank both Joe Sullivan of Duxbury Systems (USA) and George Bell of Technovision (UK) for their support of this manual and their willingness to share their materials with us.

Never let it be said that Leona is a “time-waster”. With DBT manual now complete, she has begun work on updating Guidelines for Formatting of Braille Materials which has remained unchanged since first released by the ABA in July 1995. Again, with a small group of transcribers she has begun working her way through the various topics relating to formatting and the new manual is taking shape. Thank you Leona for your initiatives and for your willingness to tackle the large and difficult topics. Thank you also to Vision Australia, without whose support the ABA would surely be the poorer.

Josie Howse has also continued to document and share her knowledge by updating Unified English Braille Primer Australian Edition, first released in March 2008. Since then, many small but important changes to UEB have been made; and now, with the Rulebook having been released, it is important that The Primer is brought into line with the Rulebook’s use of language and expression of rules. Josie plans to have the revised document ready for release very shortly. Again, it will be found on our ABA Webpage alongside other manuals. Thanks Josie for undertaking this tedious task. Your attention to detail and ability to trawl through the document of old, making subtle but important changes will be of benefit to learners in the years to come.

5.7 ABA NSW Subcommittee

The NSW Subcommittee holds four meetings each year, with the fourth meeting the annual Award night for the Braille competition.

Marie Shang, who is one of our members and a representative for the Association of Blind Citizens, addressed our June meeting. She was able to share the background and history of the Association of Blind Citizens. Marie also relayed the background to the acquisition of Shirley House, where the Association is based, and efforts to keep and maintain this beautiful old building in Burwood, NSW.

Marie’s talk was very moving. She has such wonderful memories of the struggles to access and produce Braille and the formation of interest groups to lobby for equal opportunities. We would love to record this history as it is very much a part of who we are and what we still endeavour to achieve.

The Strategic Review was discussed at length in our September meeting, however with only a few people attending we were unable to address any changes that we may need to consider.

Once again we held the Annual Braille Writing Competition for all school age children who use Braille as their literacy medium.

The four main aims of the annual competition are as follows:

  • to promote Braille as an important literacy tool;
  • to encourage students to improve their Braille knowledge and skills;
  • to provide vision support teachers with feedback on the Braille knowledge of  their students; and,
  • to bring together students, families, and educators to celebrate the achievements of Competition entrants at a Braille Competition Award night.

This year we had another wonderful response with 42 participants. The students were given the first two lines of a story and were asked to complete the story in no more than 500 words. We were entertained by the imaginative responses of the students and it made marking night most enjoyable.

All the participants, their families, school staff and Vision Support teachers were invited to attend the Award Night in November. Our special guest for the evening was Jeni Mawter, an Award winning Australian author. The function was attended by 110 guests and was a great success.

Our meetings for 2010 were not well attended and as a result we have decided for 2011 to return to a former venue at Ryde/Eastwood Leagues Club. It was felt that this venue would be more accessible and would provide a better facility for members to stay after the meetings to share a meal together.

It is with great pleasure that I can advise that the first meeting for 2011 was a huge success and the positive feedback was encouraging. Our guest presenter was Deborah Mould, Manager of Collection Services, Vision Australia. Her presentation focussed on Electronic Braille in the Library collection with the emphasis on I-Access. Her presentation was engaging, generating much discussion.

We are confident that 2011 will see our membership grow and the formation of Regional Braille Forums may increase our network across NSW.

Annette Sutherland

5.8 ABA Queensland Subcommittee

The annual report of the ABA Queensland Subcommittee covers the period from June 2010 until the present. During this time the Group has met at least four times, with the first meeting being the Annual General Meeting. At this, Linda Triasmono stepped down from the role of convenor after a wonderful period of service. Nicole Donaldson was elected convenor, Wendy Sara was returned to the role of Treasurer and Wayne Weismann was elected Secretary.

This year the QBWA Braille Reading and Writing Competition changed slightly and is now known as the Braille Literacy Challenge. ABA Queensland had a reduced involvement in the event this year as Education Queensland ran the event in conjunction with QBWA. ABA members still attended the day and participated in judging roles as well as interacting with many of the students, encouraging some of the older students to subscribe to the Braille mail.

One of the highlights of the year was a Braille workshop organised and facilitated by ABA Qld for transcribers, teachers and teacher aides. The day was held on 18th October 2010, and focussed on the principles of the UEB as well as providing tips and hints on formatting and production. It was facilitated by Linda Triasmono. Approximately 17 people attended the one day workshop.

Another two days of professional development for transcribers and teachers was initiated by ABA Qld, and organised by Education Queensland in March 2011. The workshop was facilitated by Josie Howes and was attended by nearly fifty teachers and teacher aides. The two day workshop covered the UEB code and formatting issues. ABA Qld sponsored four participants from QBWA to attend the day.

Plans have begun this year to establish a Braille Club for students. It is anticipated that the Braille Club will initially meet once a term to encourage the use and joy of Braille in a social environment. The first event will hopefully be held during term two.

Plans are also underway for a fundraising event in the later part of 2011. A trivia night is planned and this is hoped to raise funds to expand the activities of the ABA Queensland.

We are pleased that ABA Qld meetings continue to be well attended in person and via teleconference, and are encouraged that Braille is able to be promoted through the efforts of ABA Qld’s energetic and passionate members. We thank the ABA Executive for its guidance throughout the year.

Nicole Donaldson

5.9 Representation

  • Bill Jolley has continued to represent Australia on the Executive Committee of the International Council on English Braille (ICEB). In his role as Treasurer, he regularly participates in early-morning Executive meetings by telephone. In July last year he attended the Mid-term meeting—a three-day face-to-face meeting in Birmingham England. Bill’s report will be attached to the minutes of the ABA annual meeting. We thank the Round Table for the financial support to enabled Bill’s attendance.
  • Jordie Howell has recently been appointed Chair of the ICEB Music Committee. She has a major challenge ahead of her as she works to learn what is happening with transcription of braille music around the world and to guide deliberations on what practices should be in use.
  • Leona Holloway is Australia’s country representative on ICEB’s UEB Code Maintenance Committee. As Rulebook Editor, I also serve on that committee. Other ICEB member countries are also represented. There is still considerable work to do with the new UEB Code. It is important that the Code be monitored as it is implemented, and that any problems which arise with its implementation are dealt with in a way that adds to its usability and clarity –  and which do not clash with other code decisions and practices. The Code Maintenance Committee is most ably chaired by Phyllis Landon of Canada, with most work being done via email.
  • In July of last year Christine Simpson represented the Australian Braille Authority at a Vision Australia function. It was an evening to acknowledge and thank major donors who had contributed to the i-Access® fundraising campaign. Vision Australia’s i-Access® project has seen the digitalisation of its library from analog cassette to DAISY, including the greater availability of Braille in electronic form. In a creative, but accurate way, it focused on braille in the 1950s, its importance and its bulk, as against the portability of braille today, which through i-Access® is portable, flexible and convenient. It demonstrated in a meaningful way what access we as blind people had to current information fifty years ago and just how much that access has changed today.
  •  On 11 November Christine Simpson again represented ABA, this time at a function held at the State Library of Victoria for Vision Australia’s presentation of its Braille Book of the Year award. The evening was hosted by Simon Westaway of Underbelly fame and the award was presented to Alexis Wright, author of Carpentaria.

Christine Simpson
ABA Chair

6 – Financial

Treasurers Report

For the 12 Months ending 31 December 2010

It is with pleasure that I present to you a report on the Round Table finances for the year ending 31 December 2010.

As many member representatives will be aware Round Table’s Treasurer of many years, John Gard, retired from the Round Table Executive Committee in 2010 as he was no longer employed in the sector. John’s loss would have been even greater had he not volunteered his services to Round Table on an honorary basis to assist Round Table to reorganise its financial management structure and procedures. To this end the Administration Officer has embraced a greater responsibility for the day-to-day operation of financial matters whilst working closely with the Treasurer, the President and the Executive Committee in the areas of reporting and financial management. John Gard has significantly supported both the new Treasurer and the Administration Officer in order to assist the transition to a new system of financial administration which will enable Round Table to function and progress without the exemplary skills of John. I would like to pay tribute to the work of John Gard not only for his assistance in the past year on an honorary basis but also for the many years of service and professional skills that John brought to the Round Table Executive Committee in many areas but, in particular, to its financial and corporate responsibilities.

The annual conference is normally expected to return a surplus. This surplus contributes to the year round funding of Round Table’s core activities and helps to fund key elements such as Australian Braille Authority (ABA), Guidelines and other working groups. The conference plays a vital role in showcasing the organisation around Australia and New Zealand and also in drawing together individuals from member organisations and consumers who can benefit from the shared knowledge. The 2010 conference was held for the first time in the 29 year history of Round Table in New Zealand. The event was a wonderful success, however, it incurred a small deficit overall. Additionally, costs were increased by the necessary separate hosting of the ABA meeting in Australia which also incurred a small deficit. Some other organisational expenses also increased with only a small increase in income from subscriptions so a full year deficit of $18,795.84 was recorded in 2010. I wish to stress that, substantiated by the Auditor, there are no deficiencies in the procedures or problems with the day-to-day operations of the organisation so the new procedures are building on a solid foundation. A budget for 2011 was developed at the end of 2010 and it is anticipated that the deficit will be substantially reduced in 2011 with the added objective of continuing this improvement in subsequent years.

In 2010 we again received support for the Round Table conference from the Commonwealth Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA). The Commonwealth provides a subsidy that is paid directly to consumers with print disability who attend our conference in Australia. The subsidy has very specific funding rules and is managed in accordance with those rules by the Executive Committee. I would like to thank FaHCSIA for this on-going support of our conference and specifically for the support of individuals who might otherwise be unable to attend this very important gathering of those who comprise a crucial body of knowledge.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank my fellow Executive Committee members for their support and guidance and to also thank our long standing Honorary Auditor Mr Paul Duncombe, CPA.

Additionally, I would like to give a special mention and express my thanks to Tammy Axelsen, our Administration Officer, for the extra work and responsibility that she has taken on in this past year. She has embraced it with occasional trepidation but also with determination to learn new skills. With the wonderful support of John Gard, Tammy has grown very successfully into the role that will serve Round Table very well into the future.

Finally I wish to thank the membership. It is your organisations that fund this wonderful and productive body called Round Table on Information Access for People with Print Disabilities. The contents of both the Round Table website and the newly developed blog are testament to the work and contributions to the field of information access made by this organisation through you, its members. Thank you for your support.

Brian Conway
May 2011

Round Table Balance Sheet Statement – December 2010





Current Assets
Cash On Hand
Cheque Account



Total Cash On Hand






Total Current Assets



ABA Funding Loan



Other Assets



Total Other Assets



Total Assets



Current Liabilities



GST Liabilities
GST Collected



GST Paid



Revenue in Advance



Total Current Liabilities



Total Liabilities



Net Assets



Retained Earnings



Current Year Surplus/Deficit



Historical Balancing



Total Equity



Round Table Profit & Loss Statement January 2010 through December 2010


This Year 2010

Last Year 2009

ABA Conference






Membership – base



Membership -Levy



Total Subs



Interest Received






Braille Prof. Tests



Special Projects



Total Income






ABA Conference



Bank Fees



Executive expenses



C’ttee & Working Party Expense



Admin support









Internet, Website & List serve



Sundry Expense



Printing, Copying & Braille



Post – Phone – Fax






Stationery & Office Supplies






Special Projects



Total Expenses



Net Surplus / (Deficit)



Independent Audit Report to Members of The Round Table on Information Access for People with Disabilities

I have audited the financial report, being a special purpose financial report comprising a statement of income and expenditure, for the financial year ended 31 December 2010, and a Balance Sheet as at that date.  I have conducted an independent audit of this financial report in order to express an opinion on it to the members of the organisation.

My audit consisted of a test check on vouchers, receipts, cash book and bank statements, and in relation to the income, has been limited to the verification that funds receipted have been banked.

Audit opinion

In my opinion, the statement reflects the financial position of the Association as at 31 December 2010, and the operations for the year.

Paul Duncombe CPA
23 March 2011

7 – List of members


Accessible Information and Communications Limited

ACT Department of Education & Community Services

Association for the Blind of WA

Association of Blind Citizens of NSW

Australian Catholic University

Australian Tertiary Education Network on Disability (ATEND)

Blind Citizens Australia

Braille Authority of New Zealand Aotearoa Trust


Canberra Blind Society Inc

Christian Blind Mission

Department of Education, Tasmania, Vision Impairment Services

Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, Statewide Vision Resource Centre

Department of Education and Training WA: Vision Impairment

Department of Education, Training and the Arts QLD, Disability Services Support Unit

Disability Education Association NSW/ACT

Griffith University

Information Alternatives

Macquarie University, Student Support Services

Media Access Australia

NSW Department of Education & Training, Student Services & Equity Programs

NT Department of Education, Educational Resource Centre for Vision Impaired

Parramatta Catholic Education

People with Disability Australia

Public Library Services

Queensland Braille Writing Assocation

Queensland Narrating Service

ReadHowYouWant Pty Ltd

Royal Institute for Deaf & Blind Children

Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind

Royal Society for the Blind of SA Inc

Sensory Impairment Program: Catholic Education Office

South Pacific Educators of the Vision Impaired

St Edmunds School for Students with Vision Impairment and Other Special Needs

South Australian School for Vision Impaired

TAFE NSW Illawarra Institute, Equity Services

University of Southern Queensland

Vision Australia

Wollongong Catholic Education Office

8 – Letter of thanks

I would like to take this opportunity to thank so many wonderful people that I have come to know over the last seven or so years. The Round Table Executive has been a dynamic and exciting organization to be a part of. I will miss many people I have become friends with. I feel richer for the experience.

The information access industry is full of people who donate their time and energy. Access to information is such a basic right but one still denied to so many people. Over the last seven years the Round Table Executive has spent many hours developing strategies and policies to remain up-to-date. As you are all aware, technological change has had and continues to have a defining influence on the information access industry. I think Round Table’s production of guidelines has been a real achievement over the last couple of years and probably the most exciting outcome of hard work I saw while being a part of the Round Table is the work of the ABA to promote UEB. The increased use of DAISY players has been an exciting revolution to watch. Round Table must continue to support and encourage the use of DAISY.

Having worked for a small organisation that has a lot of community support for many years, I would continue to champion the existence of small organisations the personal and affordable service should never become an anachronism. I applaud the Queensland Government for continuing to support the production of accessible information by more than one source.

It has been a privilege to work with such dedicated people as the ones involved in this industry, it has a capacity that far outweighs the monetary input, and of course should be far better funded.  I believe Round Table should be Government funded to oversee standards and guidelines and to ensure that knowledge is not lost but is passed on through teaching opportunities and suitable acknowledgement of expertise.

Best of luck to the Round Table!

Alison Banks
April 2011


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s