The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) and the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) are launching a new app challenge, Apps For All.
AHRC commissioner, Graeme Innes, said the Apps For All award recognises while many Australians with disabilities are harnessing gadgets, apps and websites to improve their lives, they are potentially missing out on the digital revolution because app developers and manufacturers are failing to accommodate the needs of these people.
An accessible app can range from properly labelling buttons so they can be read by screen reading software used by people who are blind or vision impaired, to apps specifically designed to improve the lives of people with disability or the elderly.
The AHRC/ACCAN Apps For All challenge comes on the back of similar international competitions, such as the US FCC’s Chairman’s Awards for Advancement in Accessibility and Vodafone Foundation’s Mobile for Good Europe Awards 2013.
The annual competition, announced at the M-Enabling Australasia 2013 conference, will award the best mobile and tablet apps submitted in the following categories:
- 1. Most accessible mainstream app
- 2. Most innovative app designed for people with disability
- 3. Most accessible children’s app
- 4. Most accessible game app
Innes highlighted recent statistics from the International Telecommunication Union, which claimed that 15 per cent of the world’s population, or over one billion people, have a disability that affects their access to modern communications.
“As the disability discrimination commissioner, and as an avid user of smartphones, I’m always looking out for accessible app. The AHRC is pleased to be involved in this competition in a bid to increase equal accessibility for all smartphone users,” Innes said.
ACCAN CEO, Teresa Corbin, mentioned that accessibility issues are affecting an increasing number of people due to the ageing of the baby boomer generation and the fact that more people are living long enough to experience age-related disability such as loss of sight or hearing.
“About one in five Australians have some form of permanent disability and locking this demographic out is both bad ethics and bad business.”
She added that the issue of accessibility is firmly on the national agenda following the success of a recent campaign by ACCAN and several disability advocacy organisations to “kill CAPTCHA” – the annoying and often illegible string of letters and numbers that websites use to prove users are human.
Prizes and entry deadlines will be announced at a later date with the winners to be revealed at ACCAN’s annual conference next year.
“We hope these awards will inspire new and innovative apps that harness the enabling benefits of mobile technology to improve the lives of Australians with disability,” Corbin said.