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Welcome to the latest current affairs that impact communications consumers. 

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Man watches TV wearing headphonesLast week Vision Australia and a number of people who are blind or have low vision met with MPs at an event in Canberra to demonstrate audio description and lobby for its inclusion on TV. The event was organised in partnership with Greens Senator, Rachel Siewert, and was co-sponsored by Minister for Communications, Malcolm Turnbull MP, and Shadow Minister for Communications, Jason Clare MP.

Audio description on television is a verbal description - provided during gaps in dialogue - of visual elements such as scenes, settings, actions and costumes. You can get a sense of how it works from Vision Australia's YouTube video.

Vision Australia's Tell the whole story campaign encourages the Federal Government to implement audio description on Australian television so it can be enjoyed by the 350,000 people who are blind or have low vision.

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The ACCAN Annual General Meeting was held in Sydney on Wednesday, 2 September, 2015. At the meeting the following three candidates were elected to the Board:

  • Sandra Milligan
  • Ryan Sengara
  • Chris Dodds

Congratulations to returning directors Sandra and Ryan and a warm welcome to Chris who is joining the ACCAN Board for the first time.

These three new Board members join the six continuing Directors below whose terms conclude at the 2015 and 2016 ACCAN AGM.

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Website splash 12May15Our 2015 Conference, Dollars and Bytes – Communications affordability now and tomorrow, is fast approaching! Only one week to go, so now is the time to register before registration closes at midnight on Friday, 28 August. (Due to browser settings some people may have trouble connecting to the registration site using Firefox. If this is the case, please use another browser such as Google chrome).

It's going to be a great two days. We've got over 40 speakers and panellists from a range of organisations across industry, community groups and government.

Access the full Conference Program online. Some of the presentations and sessions to look forward to are:

  • The keynote by Claire Milne, Visiting Senior Fellow, Department of Media and Communications, London School of Economics
  • The opening address by the Hon. Malcolm Turnbull MP, Minister for Communications
  • Presentation by ACCC Chairman, Rod Sims
  • Presentation by Digital Transformation Office CEO, Paul Shetler

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Apps for all logo - horizontal pink

With the 2015 ACCAN Conference fast approaching, we can now reveal the shortlist for the second Apps For All Challenge!

The Challenge acknowledges those Australian developed apps which are most accessible for all consumers, including consumers living with a disability or older Australians. An accessible app is designed with the largest number of people in mind. Accessibility is not only crucial for the almost 1 in 5 Australians living with some form of disability, but it also means developers can target millions more customers who were previously locked out of the app market. Man holding a tablet with App icons floating out.

This year’s Challenge is sponsored by Telstra. The lucky winners will receive a cash prize from Telstra as well as promotion through Telstra’s social media channels.

We’ll be announcing the winners at a ceremony on 1 September at our National Conference, Dollars and Bytes – Communications affordability now and tomorrow. You can register here to attend.

Good luck to all of the shortlisted apps and developers!

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Image: Raindrops on Windows 10 logo After a lot of hype, Microsoft has finally delivered Windows 10.

With a bunch of new features and improvements, such as a good firewall and rapid start-up of your favourite programs, it is a very attractive computer interface, but there is a real sting in the tail if you are someone on a restricted internet plan!

First of all to upgrade to Windows 10 you have to download the whole thing from Microsoft.

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Claire Milne headshotThis year our keynote speaker for the ACCAN National Conference is Claire Milne, MBE, Visiting Senior Fellow, Department of Media and Communications, London School of Economics.

Claire will bring a wealth of knowledge to the ACCAN Conference. She has worked in the telecoms sector since 1975 and held a series of management jobs within BT, including teletraffic theory, exchange and network design and regulation. Since 1989, she has been a consultant, first with Ovum and then in her own company Antelope Consulting. She has been a Visiting Senior Fellow at LSE since 2003. From 2008 - 2014 she chaired the Consumer Forum for Communications at Ofcom.

We interviewed Claire to get insights into her views on communications affordability in the lead up to the ACCAN Conference.

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Family with laptop, tablet and smartphoneAccess to affordable telecommunications for all consumers is one of ACCAN's three key objectives. Affordability is becoming increasingly important as access to telecommunications services is essential for full economic, social and cultural participation.

For example, the main method of communicating with many government agencies is increasingly through online channels and, with the Coalition Government's Digital First Strategy, this will only become more widespread. This Strategy will require all government services and public interactions to be available online by 2017.

In order for the Digital First Strategy to be a success, all Australians need to have access to the internet. There are a number of factors that contribute to a lack of internet uptake, and affordability is often found to be a factor.

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Image of sign postLast week ACCAN's CEO, Teresa Corbin, and Director of Policy, Una Lawrence, travelled to the Electorate of Indi (northeast Victoria) to meet with residents and discuss issues around telecommunications services.

ACCAN was invited to attend community meetings and a meeting with local government representatives and businesses by Indi's Federal Member of Parliament, Cathy McGowan. Meetings were held in Beechworth, Wangaratta, Benalla and Oxley.

The issues experienced by residents are not unique to Indi and are experienced by many living in rural and remote areas. Availability and accessibility of quality communications services are key focus areas of ACCAN's work.

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If you haven't already registered for the ACCAN Conference you can still take advantage of early bird pricing until Friday, 31 July! Head to the Conference website to register now.

As you may already know, this year's Conference, Dollars and Bytes – Communications affordability now and tomorrow, focuses on the key issue of affordability. This is an issue that affects all consumers.

The program for the two days (1-2 September) is shaping up to be one of our best yet. Some highlights will include:

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Picture showing map of Australia and voting box exclaiming 'What communications consumers need to know for the Federal Election 2016'

Find resouces on political party policies, election issues and more.