Wednesday, 22 April 2009 05:24

Vision Australia receives $6 million Microsoft grant

Microsoft Australia has made a $A6.6 million software grant to Vision Australia.

Melbourne-based Vision Australia is the nation's leading provider of services for the 300,000 Australians with blindness and low vision.

A software grant of over $6.6 million from Microsoft - the largest the company has so far made to an Australian organisation - will be used to enhance Vision Australia's services and to upgrade its IT systems.

Vision Australia is an active member of the DAISY Consortium, an international group that develops and promotes the DAISY (Digital Accessible Information SYstem) standard for digital talking books.

The Consortium's output includes a 'Save as DAISY' add-in for Microsoft Word. There is also an equivalent for Open Office, but its development lags that of the Word version.

Vision Australia is also heavily involved in the DAISY Online Delivery Project, which aims to harmonise DAISY content delivery for maximum interoperability and reduced costs.

The project has adopted a variety of existing standards including HTTP, HTTPS, SOAP, WSDL, WS-Security, WS-Addressing, WS-SecureConversation and MTOM.

The Microsoft grant will help Vision Australia develop its online library of newspapers and magazines in a format suitable for use with assistive technology.

"Less than 5 percent of published information is available in formats that can be read by people who are blind or have low vision," said Vision Australia CEO Gerard Menses.

"By harnessing digital technology, Vision Australia and Microsoft are working in partnership to revolutionise the way our clients access the written word."

In return, Vision Australia will provide Microsoft with R&D advice in the area of accessibility for people who are blind or have low vision.


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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.



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