Sus Salthouse joined Adam Shirley on ABC Radio Canberra Mornings on Friday May 17th for Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD). Listen to the interview or read the transcript below.



Adam Shirley 0:00
Now but put yourself in the shoes of someone who lives with a disability do so by answering this question. How many times? Have you done something quickly online over the last 24 hours? Maybe you fill in forms sorted out your tax, bought tickets for Eurovision or voted in it, ordered a coffee, looked up the new bus timetable. Our ability to get online access is taken for granted in many ways. But how do you go if you will live with a disability? And does it catch you out in many facets of life? Sue Salthouse is chair of Women with Disabilities ACT a long standing advocate acclaimed for her work, and she’s with us to talk further about this on a significant day to highlight these issues, Sue Salthouse, always a pleasure to talk with you. I mean, how much can we take this sort of thing for granted? If, for instance, we thinking about looking up election information or anything else online?

Sue Salthouse 0:51
Oh, good morning, Adam. Yes, well, if it is really important these days for us to have seamless access to the internet. And there are quite a few things that stand in the way as you’ve outlined already.

Adam Shirley 1:06
And what I mean, what sort of support are already there for those who might not have that experience of trying to negotiate something online when they live with a disability.

Sue Salthouse 1:15
But I think it’s really important that everything when it’s developed, is developed. So it maximizes accessibility. And that mean, and and there are ways of doing that. And there are organizations that can check your website to make sure it’s accessible. And AccessibilityOz is one that we get to uses all the time. We use that because it was started by a woman with disabilities, and they check that you’ve got the right color contrast, so that someone with vision impairment can read it, they check that it’s got the right, the right setup so that someone who’s using who’s blind who’s using a screen reader program can use it. And what we should also check is that things are written in Simple English, it’s no good filling up a website with long words that we can’t understand let alone, anybody who’s got cognitive impairment,

Adam Shirley 2:14
Those measures, obviously, are important and to be welcomed, but how much do they permeate a lot of the way we live day to day to a level that helps people,

Sue Salthouse 2:24
I think I’m not the best person to ask, because I don’t need those accessibility features. Okay. And it’s the it’s people who are blind to who you will hear rampaging on the sidelines, because yet another website has been launched, that isn’t accessible. So I think, like with all things if you put the accessibility features in at the very beginning, that that’s when you get maximum accessibility in the end product. And what we need to bear in mind is that our mobile thought, in fact, digital accessibility is a utility nowadays, isn’t it? It’s like we everybody should have access to the digital world. And and we find that that’s not the case.

Adam Shirley 3:16
Well, it makes it harder and quite difficult actually, to live in lots of ways if you don’t have that right to accessibility. Sue Salthouse, do we not keep that front of mind enough to realize people are cut off when we don’t provide those services?

Sue Salthouse 3:29
I think one is one of the things is that cost is a big factor. And people with disability tend and if we haven’t got employment tend to be clustered at the at the lower socio economic group. And the the high accessibility features in phones, for instance, means you meet you need a top of the range phone. And so that’s really hard. So we need to make sure that that accessibility is front of mind when we’re looking at welfare policies

Adam Shirley 4:00
You’re hearing from Sue Salthouse, she’s Chair of Women with Disabilities ACT, a long term disability advocate in this region and across Australia. She’s been recognized throughout her career for her hard work, we are talking on Global Accessibility Awareness Day about getting all of us thinking about universal support, so that everyone has the right to getting online, for instance, to getting other services, regardless of whatever their living circumstance is. How important I mean to your earlier comments. Sue Salthouse, is it that people who live with the digital disability are part of the design phase of anything, let alone be a Lyft, an online portal or a public network?

Sue Salthouse 4:38
Well, I just think that that’s a given, that you you design accessibility is at the very first stages. And that goes for making a building, building a house. And we’re looking for changes that will make all houses have basic accessibility, but certainly in the digital world. And I think that there are various their various policies in the major parties and the Australian Greens, I think the Australian Greens have, have put the biggest focus on on digital accessibility. But we really need to remember the the element of cost in this. And the other thing that we need to remember is that when people get a piece, a piece of accessible equipment or it accessible equipment, there also needs to be some facility for them having the support to be able to use it to the maximum.

Adam Shirley 5:37
Yeah, and that being an ongoing viability rather than something that costs too much week in, week out month in month out. Is that something that’s missed sometimes?

Sue Salthouse 5:46
I think sometimes it’s missed. But look, there are organizations like the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN), places a large degree of emphasis on accessibility, and there’s a website for Accessible Telecoms, and people can go and that that can be accessed just by googling accessible telecommunications. And that gives you a breakdown of what the good features of mobile phones when you’re buying a new mobile phone, what’s the good features of the internet? So there’s information around and I think we certainly need the major parties and whoever’s in government to really look at the digital divide and how we can close that gap between who’s got access and who hasn’t,

Adam Shirley 6:39
Depending on which way the result goes on Saturday, we’ll see what the federal government does do to put some of that into action on those key issues. You mentioned Sue, so Hello, thank you for raising it this morning. We do appreciate it.

Sue Salthouse 6:51
No, it is very important. So thanks for asking.

Adam Shirley 6:53
Sue Salthouse Chair of Women with Disabilities in the ACT, Long Term Disability advocate.

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