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Qualitative Data Collected by Variable for Australia

Country Laws and Regulations

General Law protecting the Rights of Persons with Disabilities:

Definition of ICT accessibility:

While the following do not include specific definitions of accessibility, they nonetheless outline criteria relating to the accessibility of ICT:

Definition of Reasonable Accommodation:

‘Reasonable adjustment’ is defined in the abovementioned Disability Discrimination Act 1992. As follows:

Universal Service Obligation includes Persons with Disabilities:

  • Telecommunications (Consumer Protection and Service Standards) Act 1999: Telecommunications Act 1999
  • The definition of Universal Service Obligation is limited to standard telephone service, which is interpreted as a fixed line phone, so does not include mobile telephony or broadband.
  • The Australian Communication Act 1997 has many references regarding access for people with disabilities and its compliance with the Disability Discrimination Act 1992.

Country Capacity to Implement

Government agency for Persons with Disabilities: The Australian Department of Social Services (DSS) also was involved in the implementation of the:

National Disability Insurance Scheme supports Australians’ mental health. Further supports are provided through a range of programs and services, and grants and funding for organizations.

A major gap however still exists for people over age sixty-five, who do not have access to the National Disability Insurance Scheme. They can access services through the My Aged Care Scheme, but this has a focus on health rather than disability. Hence, assistive technology is not easily available for people accessing my Aged Care. In particular, those who are in receipt of lower level support packages have little or no access to funding for assistive technology which would allow them to be more independent and continue to contribute to their communities. Disability and Carers

Another point of contention which disadvantages some National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) participants is the lack of agreement between NDIA and state-based education departments regarding who should provide assistive technology to students. Education departments typically provide assistive technology to be used in the school environment, but not at home. Hence, students do not have the ability to reinforce their learning on these pieces of technology at home as other students can use conventional technology. While there have been instances where the NDIA have provided technology to students for home use, these cases have been the result of appeals of original decisions to decline requests for this technology.

Government agency for accessible ICTs:

As previously reported, accessible ICT is covered by the Australian Human Rights Commission through the Disability Discrimination Act and the guidelines covering access to the World Wide Web and computer technology.

The Australian government’s National Disability Strategy includes the following policy directive to governments:

“Communication and information systems to be accessible, reliable and responsive to the needs of people with disability, their families and care givers.”

The Australian Government National Disability Strategy

Despite the accessibility of information and communications systems being a core focus of the National Disability Strategy, inaccessible technology and media continues to cause people who are blind or vision impaired to fall behind their sighted peers when it comes to accessing and being included in many areas of public life (Blind Citizen Australia).

Process to involve DPOs in ICT accessibility policy making:

The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) is the Australia’s communications consumer organization representing individuals, small businesses and not-for-profit groups as consumers of communications products and services. ACCAN focuses on goods and services encompassed by the converged areas of telecommunications, broadcasting, the internet and online services, including both current and emerging technologies: Disability Advisory Forum

Country refers to international ICT accessibility standards:

The non-government organization ‘Standards Australia’ develops and maintains standards for Australian businesses, organizations and industry in compliance with international standards: Standards Australia

Australia’s digital economy is estimated at more than $79 billion, with the ICT sector a key driver of this innovation and economic growth. In Australia, ICT currently accounts for around 5% of the country’s GDP. And with the market predicted to grow, the sector is one of the most robust in Australia: Standards Australia

However, while accessibility standards exist across a number of areas, there are few if any consequences for noncompliance by companies or government departments. Hence, the standards have limited impact and there is still a high level of noncompliance in areas such as transport, education, public procurement and web access.

As a member of ISO/IEC JTC 1, Information technology, Standards Australia ensures the country’s stakeholders’ views are heard and that Australia remains at the forefront of innovation.

Key current activities:

ICT accessibility courses available at universities or professional education services: Professional Certificate in Web Accessibility – information available: Center for Inclusive Design

University of South Australia hosts one of the world’s only University-accredited professional certificate in web accessibility.

Media Access Australia in conjunction with the University of South Australia, provides a course on web accessibility.

Vision Australia also provide courses on web accessibility: Vision Australia

The Australian government must direct the APSC (Australian Public Service Commission) Department for Leadership and Learning to Develop and roll out an e-learning module relating to accessible ICT procurement. This module must be completed by public servants who are directly involved in the procurement process across all levels of government. This e-learning module, once refined, could also be extended to the private sector to encourage greater uptake of universal design in procurement. (Blind Citizens Australia)

Country Policy and Programs Outcomes

  • Web:

-Country Policy: As reported above the National Disability Strategy, Disability Discrimination Act, Federal procurement regulations, National standards and telecommunications act all promote the need for accessible websites but there is no push to enforce these requirements except for people with disabilities taking out individual discrimination complaints under the Disability Discrimination Act. With the implementation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), assistance to access the internet for people with a disability is funded by the Federal Government. Anyone in Australia with a disability can access the web anywhere and at any time.

  • TV and multimedia:

-Country Policy: The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is responsible for regulating online content, including TV, internet and mobile phone content, and enforcing Australia's anti-spam law. The ACMA's responsibilities include:

  • Promoting self-regulation and competition in the communications industry, while protecting consumers and other users
  • Fostering an environment in which electronic media respect community standards and respond to audience and user needs
  • Managing access to the radio-frequency spectrum
  • Representing Australia 's communications interests internationally
  • Accepting complaints against services

The ACMA’s regulatory functions are set out in Part 2, Division 2 of the Australian Communications and Media Authority Act 2005.

On 20 March 2015, the Broadcasting and Other Legislation Amendment (Deregulation) Bill 2015 was enacted. This means that amendments to captioning provisions in the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (the BSA) became effective from 20 March 2015.

As reported above the National Disability Strategy and Disability Discrimination Act both promote the need for accessible TV and video programs but there is no push to enforce these requirements except for people with disabilities taking out individual discrimination complaints.

In 2008 the Australian Human Rights Commission granted free to air television stations an exemption from complaint from the Disability Discrimination Act to implement captioning on all their TV shows until 30 November 2008:Exemption for Free Air Television

While these TV channels continue to caption their live programs, there are still many movies broadcast by these TV stations that are not captioned. Further, the majority of TV commercials are not captioned. The only enforcement of this is through individual complaints made under the DDA or state/provincial government antidiscrimination legislation.

‘The Broadcasting Services Act 1992 has included mandatory requirements for captioning for many years. The Australian Government has also taken steps to incrementally increase the amount of captioning that is available on free view television over a period of time; showing a strong commitment to the access needs of people who are deaf or hard of hearing. While the vast majority of content available on free view television now includes captioning, however, people who are blind or vision impaired continue to be denied access to television altogether. This is despite the fact that people who are blind or vision impaired and organizations such as Blind Citizens Australia have now been lobbying for the introduction of a permanent audio description service on Australian television for decades.

Audio Description (AD) is a service that involves the verbal narration of visual elements such as facial expressions, scenes, actions, settings and on-screen text. While this vital service has been available on television in most other English-speaking countries for many years, Australia continues to lag behind.

Stakeholders have been advocating for a permanent audio description service on Australian television. In addition, it is understood the notion of progressive realization as laid out under Article 4 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. To this end, the efforts in this area have been focused on seeking a commitment from government to establish a time-sensitive pathway for the introduction of a permanent audio description service on Australian television; with an understanding that once introduced, minimum targets for audio description will need to be incrementally expanded over a number of years.

The Australian Government formed an Audio Description Working Group to examine options for increasing the availability of audio description services in Australia. The Working Group comprised representatives from the broadcasting and streaming industries, audio description service providers and consumer representatives.

The Working Group provided a report to the Australian Government on its findings in December 2017. The Terms of Reference are available at: Accessible Television


  • Mobile telephony:

-Country Policy: There are both public and private sector promoting coverage of accessible mobile telephony covered through the Telecommunications Act and its compliance with the Disability Discrimination Act. However, these are not compulsory and people with disabilities must adjust to what is commercially available for the general public or take out individual complaints under the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) or State antidiscrimination legislation on a case-by-case basis to achieve access for themselves. For 30 years TTY/TTD had been available for deaf persons to communicate via the telephone landline network. Further, the National relay service enables hearing persons to speak with deaf persons via TTY/TTD in real time. Nowadays, there are many commercial telephones available for hard of hearing people and partially blind people in the form of larger telephones, larger buttons and letters and hearing aid connections to phones: Phone Services for Persons with Disabilities

  • E-books and digital contents:

-Country Program: The Australian Library and Information Association have developed an e-books and e-lending Position statement: e-Books and e-Leaning

ALIA’s (Australian Library and Information Association) Australian Public Library Alliance (APLA) has released the report A comparison of e-books and e-lending in Australian Public Libraries 2013 v 2014. The report compares an e-Books and e-Lending survey completed in January 2013 to the same survey completed in May 2014 and will be produced annually to show e-book and e-lending trends over time: e-Books and e-Learning Australian Public Libraries

The ALIA is working towards a target of 50:50 stocking and use of e-books and the lending by 2020: e-Books and e-Learning Campaign

E-books are also covered under the goods and services provisions of the disability discrimination act and state government antidiscrimination acts, but again only on an individual case-by-case complaint process. Digital documents are covered under government Internet compliance and procurement policies.

  • Promoting the Internet Availability and Usage among Persons with Disabilities:

-Country Policy: Since the Australian government first implemented the Disability Discrimination Act in 1992, it has long accepted that internet services for persons with disabilities are an important service for the independence. Access to information is a key foundation for all democratic societies. With the implementation of the National Disability Strategy and Australia's signing of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Australian government had developed guidelines and policies for digital technology and the internet. Community organizations have set up to provide inexpensive computer hardware and software to low income users.

-Country Program: ‘InfoXchange is a community organization that ensures technology is used and available for social change. Australia’s most vulnerable communities are missing out on critical social and economic opportunities because they do not have affordable access to the internet. The research done so far, and community programs aim to change this. In order to have the greatest impact, ACCAN has partnered with internet service providers, social enterprise and advocacy organizations to deliver key projects that improve affordable access to the internet. The research into broadband connection, affordability and digital skills helps define the ways that persons in social housing value and use the internet. Published in June 2016 and funded by the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network, it recommends measures for policy makers, internet providers, and housing authorities to increase online participation. Two thousand (2000) dwellings have been connected in social housing around Melbourne to reliable and affordable broadband plans through ACCAN Wired projects. Wired has generated $5.9 million in benefits for residents and will continue to do so with our new partner Urban Internet. Through the iPads in Aged Care program funded by Gandel Philanthropy, residents have been empowered by providing them with tablet computers, so they can connect with the outside world.’

  • Inclusive ICTs for all in education:

-Country Program: All Australian governments are committed to ensuring ICT is made available for students in education and schools. However, lack of resources often means that disadvantage students whether indigenous, low income, non-English-speaking background or students with disabilities often miss out on equal access to ICT at school. Schools generally rely on mass purchase of ICT off-the-shelf products which, unless it has accessibility already built-in to their programming excludes many students with disabilities from being able to use these products efficiently if at all. Extra funding to adapt both software and hardware to the needs of students with disabilities is rarely available. These students often need to source funding options outside their school either from their families or other sources. The Australian Disability and Indigenous Peoples Education Fund reports that every year they receive over 100 requests from students with disabilities to assist with accessible ICT products.

  • Enabling ICTs for all in employment:

-Country Policy: The Australian Government has a strong commitment to a national approach to supporting people with disabilities to maximize their potential and participate as equal citizens in Australian society. This commitment is reflected by Australia becoming a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (The Convention). Introducing accessibility guidelines into Australian government procurement procedures of both domestic and international goods and services would contribute to Australia’s compliance with Article 4 (General Obligations) and Article 9 (Accessibility) of The Convention.

The National Disability Strategy also represents a commitment by Australian, State and Territory governments (under the auspices of the Council of Australian Government) and industry and the community to a ‘unified approach to policy and program development’. Part one of the Strategy focuses on inclusive and accessible communities, which makes specific reference to the physical environment, digital information and communications technologies, and civic life. Australian procurement would fall squarely within the gamut of the National Disability Strategy and underpins most if not all of the initiatives outlined in the Strategy.

Further, Australian Government procurement procedures can assist in facilitating cultural change in a large number of organisations in Australia by introducing specific requirements in procurement procedures. The inclusion of mandatory accessibility criteria in tendering arrangements also signals to the general public the Government’s commitment to the true inclusion of people with disabilities.

Private and non-government employers are covered by the non-discrimination provisions of the disability discrimination act in ensuring their employment policies and practices include provisions for people with disabilities to have the resources and ICT to work equally with other employees.

-Country Program: Many ICT commercial products already include accessibility functions within their software. However, many products do not enable specific software for accessibility to work in harmony with their commercial product. Jaws and others screen readers along with Dragon Dictate and other dictation software often need to be changed to access many commercial products are available in the workplace. Where a company uses less popular software, these are more likely to clash with accessibility software. Employers are often reluctant to provide funding to adapt their software for the use of people with disabilities needing accessible ICT.

  • E-government and Smart Cities for all:

-Country Program: In March 2017, the Australian Government launched the $50 million Smart Cities and Suburbs Program for urban projects that apply smart technology, data-driven decision-making and people-focused design. The program encourages eligible organizations from local governments, private companies, research organizations and not-for-profit organizations to deliver projects that specifically improve the livability, productivity and sustainability of cities, suburbs and towns: Smart Cities and Suburbs Program

  • Enabling Assistive Technologies and ICTs for independent living:

-Country Program: The National Disability Strategy and the Disability Discrimination Act and State Antidiscrimination Acts promote accessible and assistive technology and ICT. The National Network of Independent Living Centers, which includes equipment and product displays and online library contains many examples of accessible assistive technology and ICT options: The National Network of Independent Living Centers

  • Procurement of accessible public goods and services for all citizens:

-Country Policy: 22 August 2016 – Standards Australia in conjunction with the Department of Finance, Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) and other stakeholders, were pleased to announce that Australia will be adopting an internationally aligned standard for ICT accessibility in procurement: Standards Australia_Press Release

Accessibility guidelines in Australian procurement procedures would also be consistent with the Australian Government’s obligations under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth), as it is unlawful to discriminate against people with disabilities in the provision of goods and services.

The Australian Government must establish a central consultative body that can provide technical advice that includes accessibility as a core requirement for the tender or development of ICT-based services and systems. (Blind Citizens Australia)

Australia’s digital economy is estimated at more than $79 billion, with the ICT sector a key driver of this innovation and economic growth. In Australia, ICT currently accounts for around 5% of the country’s GDP. And with the market predicted to grow, the sector is one of the most robust in Australia. New technologies constantly challenge how businesses and consumers operate, and how new products and services are delivered. Standardization establishes a common market, encouraging interoperability and reducing barriers-to-trade. Standards Australia recognizes the opportunity the ICT sector has in promoting trade and growth. It acts as a bridge between new and existing products, services and processes in terms of business interaction, compliance and interoperability.