New technology is becoming part of almost every aspect of life. It is central to our experience of daily activities including shopping, transport and accessing government services. The Commission seeks stakeholder views on how best to protect and promote the human rights of people with disability by promoting the accessibility and usability of new technology.

It is important that the whole community can access and use technology. This principle is referred to as ‘accessibility’. Just as everyone should be able to access our education system, public transport and buildings, technology also should be accessible to all.

Accessibility focuses on the experience of the person using the technology and minimising barriers to using that piece of technology. For example, a person with a vision impairment might use voice recognition, a mouse, touch screen or keyboard to input information into a device. To receive information from the device, they may use text-to-speech (TTS), magnification or Braille.

Using technology is an important way that people can participate in the community, education and employment, and political life. Technology must be accessible to everyone, regardless of their disability, race, religion, gender or other characteristics. Universal design allows technology to be used by all people in the community, as much as possible, without the need for other special features or assistive technology.

Accessible and assistive technologies for people with disability

Developers are creating technologies that improve participation and independence of people with disability. These developments can help people with disability enjoy their human rights protected by the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. There are principles in the Convention that depend on technology being accessible for people with disability.

These principles include:

  • respect for inherent dignity, individual autonomy including the freedom to make one’s own choices, and independence of persons
  • non-discrimination
  • full and effective participation and inclusion in society
  • accessibility
  • equality of opportunity.

Examples of innovations that protect and promote the human rights of people with disability include:

  • An intelligent home assistant can assist people by carrying out household and daily tasks by recognising the voice speaking to it and completing a task.   
  • An application that allows a person who is blind or who has low vision to hold their smartphone camera to an everyday object. The application then describes the object or the person. It can help with, for example, identifying a product in a supermarket.

More details on accessible technology can be found in Chapter 7 of the Issues Paper which includes a number of questions about accessible technology.

Accessible technology consultation questions

What opportunities and challenges currently exist for people with disability accessing technology?

What should be the Australian Government’s strategy in promoting accessible and innovative technology for people with disability? In particular:

  1. What, if any, changes to Australian law are needed to ensure new technology is accessible?
  2. What, if any, policy and other changes are needed in Australia to promote accessibility for new technology?

How can the private sector be encouraged or incentivised to develop and use accessible and inclusive technology, for example, through the use of universal design?

You can make a submission here