Victorian innovations at Vision Australia Texpo (6.09.2013)

Written on the 6 September 2013

Victorian innovations at Vision Australia Texpo (6.09.2013)

I would like to acknowledge and commend the great work being done by our leading national provider of blindness and low vision services, Vision Australia at its recent 2013 Texpo. I had the pleasure of representing Minister Davis at the opening of this important annual event.

Texpo is organised by Vision Australia in Melbourne and it showcases the latest in products and services available to assist people who are blind or have low vision. Presentations on emerging trends in technology and demonstrations from Vision Australia’s key technology suppliers provided support for at least 1000 people who came through the doors during the two day event.
I joined them to touch and look at, experiment and play with state of the art technology. This is particularly important for people who might be new to disability and who might not be sure what technology is available to support them. We looked at magnifiers, electronic readers and braillers, mobile phones and computer access tools, high definition magnification, tablet computers, apps and accessibility equipment and ebooks.

I particularly admired a small interactive media product exhibited by Melbourne business, Real Thing in Carlton and I congratulate CEO, Nick Howden and his team on its development.Real Thing has been working with RMIT University on this collaborative research and development technology project. The team realised there was potential for speech interactive technology and approached Vision Australia. What they have developed is world leading.
It enables you to search, navigate and interact with media content using spoken dialogue. You simply push the talk button and ask what you want using natural, intuitive language. For example, you might say, ‘Read me The Australian,’ or find me stories on . . . Monash Hospital . . . and using this quick and simple speech interaction, you gain access to a wide range of media content, on demand. It doesn’t need computer support and content is downloaded using the 3G mobile network. It’s designed for people who are blind, have low vision or a print disability.

I congratulate all the exhibitors on their innovative use and adaption of technology to better support the blind and vision impaired. The range and scope in this area is expanding each year and the potential for innovation is unlimited.
The Coalition Government is committed to ensuring every Victorian enjoys the best possible health. The 2013-14 Victorian Budget provided a boost of $224 million to disability funding and approximately $4 million was for aids and equipment programs for people with disability.

With our growing and ageing population, the Coalition Government is working to keep Victorians as well as possible for as long as possible. Technology is allowing us to be more involved in our daily lives - despite disability - and Texpo 2013 is working with us to inspire the blind and the vision impaired to grow their health literacy, and to access information about lifestyle choices.

I would like to thank Vision Australia’s Independent Living Services General Manager, Glenda Alexander and Public Affairs Manager, Brandon Ah Tong-Pereira (pictured) and acknowledge the members and executive members of Vision Australia, volunteers and suppliers.

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