Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Apps for all Challenge - Vision wins over Gaming

A cash prize of $1500 awaited the winner of the Apps for All Challenge, organised by the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) together with the Australian Human Rights Commission. 

The winners, announced at ACCAN’s 2014 conference, were rewarded in the categories of 

  • Most accessible mainstream app - ACCC Shopper

The ACCC Shopper app provides useful consumer information to users and includes tools to keep copies of receipts. It can be used to set reminders for lay-bys, warranties and gift vouchers, write complaint letters to businesses or ask common shopping questions such as “when can I get a refund?”

  • Most innovative app designed for people with disability or older Australians - OpenMi Tours

OpenMi Tours provides information to users at museums, art galleries and cultural venues in a variety of inclusive formats. These include audio only, audio with captions, Auslan with captions, audio description as well as foreign languages.

  • Most accessible children’s app - Row Row Your Boat & Positive Penguins 

The Row Row Your Boat app provides an interactive learning experience with educational ideas, games and sounds to encourage the development of listening and language skills in young children. The app is particularly useful to families of children who have reduced hearing or language problems.

Positive Penguins was created as a tool to help children understand their emotions come from their thinking and teach them to challenge (or problem solve) the negative stories they tell themselves. The app was created by a Melbourne student with the idea initially being created in a PowerPoint presentation on healthy mind, healthy body.

Interestingly, no nominations were entered for the fourth category of most accessible gaming app. 

In total, almost 30 apps were submitted, including a number of government services apps. The majority of nominated apps targeted persons who are blind or vision impaired. 

The objective of the challenge was to raise awareness about the need to ensure accessibility in designing smartphone applications, as to making them usable for everyone, including persons with disabilities and older citizens that start being confronted with hearing or vision loss, reduced mobility and cognitive impairments. 

The Apps for All Challenge was sponsored by Australian operator Telstra, who just recently launched an accessibility initiative, including the full integration of GARI’s search function for accessible mobile phones in a dedicated web portal

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Major Australian telecom operator using GARI to offer accessibility information to customers

Australian telecom operator Telstra has launched a new integrated web portal fully integrating the GARI database to allow their customers to search for devices with specific accessibility features related to speech, hearing, vision, cognitive impairment and reduced mobility.

“Telstra is the first carrier in the world to fully integrate data from the mobile industry’s Global Accessibility Reporting Initiative (GARI) - As a result, access to mobile communications has just become a lot easier for Telstra’s customers who live with a disability,” said Michael Milligan, Secretary General of the Mobile Manufacturers Forum (MMF), in a press release issued today.

The new Telstra web portal - - is a wonderful example of how GARI can be used by operators to help older people and those with a disability search for mobile devices that best suit their specific accessibility requirements. For example, a customer with vision impairment can now use the Telstra web portal to search for a new smartphone that has a built-in screen reader that will read out screen content. Likewise a hearing impaired person might want to see which devices are hearing-aid compatible or that support closed captioning. 

GARI around the world

Just recently, GARI has also expanded to Rumania and South Africa. The Rumanian telecommunications regulator ANCOM has integrated a rumanian language version of GARI into their website, allowing the website visitors to directly access the GARI search interface, and the South African Electronic Communications Association SAECA has created in their website a section dedicated to GARI to offer the same service to their members. 

Telstra, ANCOM and SAECA join a number of governments, regulators and associations around the world that use GARI in different forms but all with the common objective of giving people access to information on available mobile accessibility solutions. 

Have a look at who else is using GARI: 

Learn how to use GARI on your own website: