Friday, 19 September 2014 05:45

Telstra launches accessibility initiatives


Telstra has announced a new portal to help the disabled choose equipment, has stopped using CAPTCHA, and is captioning some BigPond content.

Telstra has used the annual Australian Communications Consumers Action Network (ACCAN) forum to announce three initiatives to improve for access to communication services by people with disabilities.

They include a new portal on that allows customers to identify which mobile device in the Telstra range will best suit their needs. Speaking at ACCAN’s ‘Connecting Today’s Consumer’ conference in Sydney, Telstra’s Karsten Wildberger said the new portal was designed to help older Australians and people with disabilities to easily find the features that may make it easier for them to connect.

Based on the Mobile Manufactures Forum (MMF) Global Accessibility Reporting Initiative, the portal lets users search for features that may assist specific disabilities such as speech, vision, cognitive and dexterity impairment. Examples include:

  • Adjustable vibrating alerts that can help deaf people
  • Gesture navigation that can help people with dexterity impairments navigate around their phone
  • Voice output of caller ID for vision impaired and blind.

Telstra says it is the first carrier globally to provide customers with direct access to this information.

“It will make the purchase decision and access to mobile phones easier for our customers, especially for seniors and the more than four million Australians who have disabilities. It is exciting to announce this new initiative at the annual ACCAN conference, as the idea to develop this site was born at the ACCAN-Telstra conference held in August 2013,” Wildberger said.

“In addition to announcing the new portal, we can also confirm we have removed the use of CAPTCHAs [those annoying funny shaped letters you have to navigate to enter some sites] from our website and added open captions to 14 popular BigPond movie titles. We plan to increase the number of titles with open captions over time, until the technical capacity that will enable closed captions to be offered across all platforms is completed.”

Wildeberger said Telstra has a strong commitment to improving access to communications for customers with disability. “We have a three-year Disability Action Plan to continue to improve our activities and drive new initiatives in this space. This is our sixth such plan.”


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Graeme Philipson

Graeme Philipson is senior associate editor at iTWire. He is one of Australia’s longest serving and most experienced IT journalists. He is author of the only definitive history of the Australian IT industry, ‘A Vision Splendid: The History of Australian Computing.’

He has been in the high tech industry for more than 30 years, most of that time as a market researcher, analyst and journalist. He was founding editor of MIS magazine, and is a former editor of Computerworld Australia. He was a research director for Gartner Asia Pacific and research manager for the Yankee Group Australia. He was a long time weekly IT columnist in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, and is a recipient of the Kester Award for lifetime achievement in IT journalism.



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