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Giving the deafblind a voice

Telstra Foundation

Posted on January 8, 2013

2 min read

On 3 December, International Day of People with Disability, Telstra and Able Australia launched a partnership to help connect the deafblind community to smart phones and tablets using braille devices and a range of solutions for low vision.

Able Australia will work closely with people who are deafblind, like Heather and Allan (seen in the video below) , teaching them to use the technology that will best meet their needs.  Currently, iPhones and iPads can be accessed with magnification or braille, to facilitate communication using email, SMS, Facebook, Twitter, text and video messaging.  The partnership will provide an opportunity to investigate accessibility solutions and training options for a range of tablets and smart phones.

Participation in Telstra’s Everyone Connected programs through this partnership will ensure more people in the community with low vision or deafness can learn about accessibility via training workshops and training resources aimed at addressing accessibility issues.  Many individuals in Telstra’s Connected Seniors programs in particular may have low vision or be hard of hearing and would benefit from improved accessibility.

The training resources include a focus on ensuring cyber safety when accessing a range of online services like shopping, banking and bill-payment sites.  Improving digital literacy for people with deafblindness will result in greater confidence in using the web and facilitate greater participation in the community.

Currently there are many people who are profoundly isolated in their communities due to issues like those tackled by this partnership, which aims to build case studies so there is a greater understanding and awareness of the importance of technology in facilitating communication by vision and hearing impaired persons.

The case studies will focus on enhancing digital literacy and communication options for people with multiple disabilities living independently, in aged care, in supported accommodation, or in rural areas.  It is hoped that by educating the community about disabilities and their impact on communications, and by providing related communications solutions, a greater number of people will be empowered to break free from a life of profound isolation.