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ABC agrees to make app accessible to all.


The ABC has agreed to upgrade its main app after it emerged that some disabled people can't use it.

The national broadcaster's flagship app is among the most widely-used in Australia, but visually impaired people can't use it, according to Disability Discrimination Commissioner Graeme Innes.

After complaints by Innes, who is blind, the ABC confirmed plans to upgrade the app, making it more accessible for those with disabilities.

"A new version is scheduled for release in early July," an ABC spokesperson told AAP.

The broadcaster has already upgraded its radio app, which was the subject of other accessibility gripes.

Qantas has also agreed to investigate ways to improve accessibility for its in-flight entertainment after it emerged that voice assist technology does not work on its onboard iPads.

"The voice assist feature on iPads is not currently compatible with the technology used to stream movies and TV shows to each passenger," a Qantas spokesman told AAP.

"We are continuing to explore ways to evolve the technology to offer improved in-flight entertainment for all of our customers."

It comes after the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) claimed that "potentially millions" of disabled Australians can't use some apps because developers refuse to stick to accessibility rules.

Apple and Google both publish guidelines requiring software developers to make apps fully accessible -- though the guidelines are not legally binding.

About four million Australians have some sort of disability, according to 2009 Bureau of Statistics data.

ACCAN and Telstra are hosting the M-Enabling Australasia 2013 conference in Sydney on August 14-15, which will explore ways to make technology more accessible for disabled people and older consumers.

Innes said some apps he uses are brilliant, with full voice assistance technology and other helpful features.

But others are partially or completely inaccessible. He'd like to see the Apple and Google guidelines enforced more rigorously.


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