2010 Conference: Presentations on Day 1: Sunday 23 May

Session 1

Keynote Address: Accessible Information and Human Rights: From Principle to Practice

Robyn Hunt

New Zealand and Australia have both ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, (CRPD). It is now international law, and part of the international human rights framework. Countries that have ratified the CRPD are subject to national and international reporting and monitoring processes, which include regular reporting to a United Nations monitoring committee on progress. Non-governmental organisations may also submit a shadow report. How do we move from the principled nature of the CRPD to the practical day to day implementation of its provisions? What are the implications, obligations and opportunities for the various parties involved and what changes might the human rights approach bring to current practice. What impact might this have on the daily lives of print disabled people.

Session 2A

Copyright, WIPO, Trusted Intermediaries panel discussion

Zoë Rodriguez, Government and Stakeholders Coordinator, Cultural Fund Manager, Copyright Agency Limited, Australia

Neil Jarvis, Executive Director Access, Innovation & Enterprise, Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind

Julie Rae, General Manager Community Information Access, Vision Australia

A panel discussion about copyright law, and recent developments in international copyright which aim to enable print disability libraries to share materials internationally.

Session 2B

i-access®-How Vision Australia is improving access to information

Tony Plumb, i-access® Program Manager, and Andrew Furlong, Technical & Production Development Manager, Vision Australia

Vision Australia has embarked on an ambitious program of work to transition the Library’s Information services from analogue to digital technologies. Termed “i-access®”, some outcomes of the program include:

  • A fully automated process to receive and convert text-based files from publishers into DAISY, and then make these available on demand to clients via the internet, CD and other mediums.
  • Provide blind, vision impaired, and print disabled people with access to a broader range of content currently not available in alternative format
  • Utilising customised solutions and in-house developments, synthetic voice, and a range of versatile reading devices, clients can choose what, how and when content is provided to them
  • Open up new channels of information and increase the amount of published material to be made available via an online service that can deliver books, newspapers, magazines and other content

This workshop will discuss the practical implications of introducing a service like i-access®. It will provide an insight into the application architecture that makes the service possible, the lessons learned along the way and how Vision Australia intends to improve access to information for its clients in the future.

Session 3A

Say goodbye to Hollywood-separating local from global issues in cinema access

Alex Varley, CEO of Media Access Australia

Australia has just had a boost to cinema access with the announcement of a 30-month program to provide audio description (AD) access to 35 cinemas nationally. This will supplement the existing 12 AD cinemas. However, access is more than just having equipment installed; it also involves sourcing AD films, promotion and customer service. Technology and delivery systems are changing too. This presentation identifies which elements of cinema access are global in nature or influenced by global forces and which are determined locally or need to be at least adapted locally.

The presentation will show that whilst Australia has a small, but significant, influence on global issues, the major challenge is taking global solutions and approaches and adapting them to local needs. Local culture, geography and resource availability are key influences on this process.

There is much hope for an accessible future. Australia is now part of a global cinema access system, with growing amounts of AD content and strong community and government support. New Zealand could also readily adapt the lessons learned “across the ditch” to kick-start its journey into cinema AD inclusion.

Audio Description Services; Collaboration across the Tasman

John Simpson, National Manager Audio Description Services, Vision Australia

Audio Description (AD) can be described as “Putting into words the picture that a sighted person can see”. It has application across the Arts, Culture, Entertainment and Education.

Internationally, particularly in the USA, UK and Canada, the provision of AD is now considered a fundamental Access Right, alongside the provision of Captioning and Sign Language Interpreting for people with a hearing impairment. AD enhancement is provided in association with: live theatre, the visual arts, cinema, DVDs; broadcast Television, Educational and information video presentations (including those delivered on-line).

In the context of Vision Australia’s Mission Statement, the organisation has addressed the question “how to best apply Vision Australia’s resources and influence to ensure that people who are blind or have low vision can access Audio Description to assist them to participate in the Arts, Cultural, Entertainment and Educational activities that they choose”.

This presentation will focus on the value of Audio Description as an Information Access service and detail the various initiatives that Vision Australia has implemented to secure the wide availability of AD services.

As Australia and New Zealand share many cultural and entertainment products and events collaboration to promote the need for and value of Audio Description is in the best interests of people who are blind or have low vision in both countries.

Session 3B

Alternative Format Production at a New Zealand University

John Lambert, Adaptive Technology Co-ordinator, Disability Resource Service, Auckland University of Technology

The Disability Resource Service of AUT University creates and/or sources alternative formats. It has incrementally expanded from primarily ‘outsourcing’ alternative formats from the RNZFB to mainly producing ‘in-house’. The drivers for change have been technology and cost. Students who may once have listened to narrated audio or viewed large print, are willing and able to use listen and view digital files. Sourcing and creating digital files is far less time-consuming and achievable in a relatively short time-frame, a critical concern for students. This presentation reflects on the process of setting-up and operating an Alternative Format service in an environment of peaks-and-troughs of work; and restricted funding. Current and future issues are highlighted. The presenter has drawn upon global practice and trends, knowledge of assistive technology, and 20 years experience supporting disabled students in New Zealand universities.

Beginning is easy, continuing is hard: Establishing an alternative format service in a multi-campus, nationally dispersed university.

Elizabeth Hayward, Senior Librarian, Australian Catholic University

As with all universities Australian Catholic University (ACU) operates within a legal framework that seeks to provide equitable access to tertiary education, our Mission Statement and published Graduate Attributes reinforce a commitment to ensuring we meet or even exceed our obligations. Reliable provision of text books and reading materials in accessible formats to students with print disabilities was haphazard and identified as a barrier to achieving these aims.

At the start of the 2008 academic year I was given the brief to investigate establishing a method of delivering required texts books and reading materials in accessible formats to students identified as having a print disability. To this end I attended the Alternative Format conference at Latrobe University early in the same year and was inspired. (Yes! This was possible and I could do it!)

The Director of Library Services at ACU responded positively to my enthusiasm and gave me the go ahead and allocated a generous budget. This encompasses the easy beginning in a nutshell; the continuing has indeed been hard but not impossible nor lacking in launching me on to a steep learning trajectory.

The Australian Catholic University Library Disability Service unit has now established a service in cooperation with the Equity and Disability Unit and has 2 fulltime staff, plus contract hours during our busy period. During semester 2 2009 we have assisted 39 students nationally (we are a 6 campus university), delivering 84 text books and over 200 articles or individual chapters via personal web pages.

Feedback from students and disability advisers has been positive, our service is consolidating and now that it is established we are looking at ways to ensure continuous service improvement.

Session 4

Promoting document accessibility for the Virtual Learning Environment

Kevin Murrow, Alternative Format Coordinator & Accessibility Development Coordinator, Disability Services, Massey University

Universities and other educational institutes are increasingly making use of Virtual Learning Environments, also known as a Course Management Systems. These systems are usually “blended” with traditional teaching practices such as lectures and hard copy study material to create a hybrid learning environment. These Virtual Learning Environments provide an opportunity to improve the learning experience of the students by adding extra content to their courses and more importantly creating an environment where shared learning is used to construct knowledge. Such a system creates both challenges and opportunities for print disabled students.

Massey University of New Zealand has adopted an open source Course Management System known as Moodle to deliver a blended learning experience to its internal and distance students.

This presentation will examine the issues, opportunities and challenges that arise from Virtual Learning Environments such as Moodle in relation to the print disabled.  It will outline an initiative by Massey University which aims to improve the accessibility of the material delivered by course controllers in its Moodle environment. This presentation will also detail and review a project that is being undertaken to train course controllers on how to produce accessible documents for the Moodle environment.

Session 5

Trade Exhibitors’ Presentations

Highlights of the latest products and developments. Exhibitors presenting:


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