Last week the annual Round Table conference came to Perth, and was hosted by none other than VisAbility! The 2017 Round Table Conference focused on information access, and the new modes, technologies and opportunities available for people with print disabilities. Held from Saturday 6 May to Tuesday 9 May at the Mecure Hotel, national delegates flew in from all over Australia to attend and soak up the Perth sunshine. Over the four days, delegates were provided with technical, research and panel sessions, presentations and practical workshops on issues related to accessibility. VisAbility was proud to see a number of our team members delivering in-depth presentations and sessions on a range of innovative fields. It was also fantastic to see the roll out of the new marketing and promotional material, at VisAbility’s exhibitors stall. Being one of five stalls, it was great to stand out with our vision for independence.
On Saturday 6 May, the conference began with the Australian Braille Authority (ABA) Annual Meeting, which was followed that evening by the Opening address. The official conference was kicked off on Sunday 7 May with the presentations themed around Copyright, Publishing and Libraries. VisAbility’s Chief Operations Officer Debra Barnes presented the Keynote Address titled “Planning a Better Future: A consumer-driven approach”. After lunch and following a fascinating series of presenters, VisAbility’s Digital Production Coordinator Vithya Vijayakumare presented on ePub3. Her presentation was titled “Accessible ePub3, the future of Digital Inclusive Design”.
On Monday 8 May, the day’s theme was Education and a range of speakers addressed the current needs of students and showcased accessible tools for educational purposes. VisAbility’s Manager of Therapy and Support, Seb Della Maddalena presented a research paper on handwriting, titled “Did you just say that you struggle to read your own handwriting? Handwriting for High School Students with Vision Impairment in the Year 2017 – A research Informed Perspective”. After a delicious lunch, two of VisAbility’s team members spoke about smart phone accessibility. Jacqui Lund, Assistive Technology Consultant and Acquired Brain Injury Occupational Therapist and Sinead Quinn, Assistive Technology Consultant and Occupational Therapist gave a presentation titled “It’s all in your pocket; how smart phone access and applications can open up a world of opportunity.” Later that night a Conference Dinner was held, giving the delegates a great opportunity to network and socialise with key speakers, panel members and other attendees.
The final day of the conference, Tuesday 9 May saw speakers present to the theme of Technology, Telecommunications and Innovation. Interesting presentations were aplenty, and the morning saw two of VisAbility’s team members take the stage to share their own personal experiences. Emmanuel Lee, Blindness Product Specialist and Sinead Quinn, delivered a presentation titled “An opportunity to Access our lives, hear how technology has made all the difference.” After lunch, the last VisAbility speaker David Vosnacos Access and Data Services Analyst, delivered a presentation titled “Augmentative Reality/Virtual Reality/Mixed Reality: How will it change our method of accessing information?” The presentations were concluded that afternoon by a particularly fascinating and inspiring presentation by Katrina Porter OAM, a Paralympian Gold Medallist in Swimming.
While this year’s Round Table has drawn to a close, many friendships and partnerships have just begun. A fantastic opportunity for like-minded, passionate people to discuss and engage in innovative conversations. VisAbility was well represented and staff played a major role at the conference which has been heralded as one the best Round Table conferences, with registrations exceeding expectations and over taking the previous year’s Melbourne 2016 Round Table. For a majority of delegates, it meant travelling that little bit further, was well worth it.
Well done to all our VisAbility team members who presented, we are very proud of the expertise and passionate each of you possess. Thank you to all of the VisAbility staff for their enormous efforts. In particular thanks to Dinesh Burah, who is an Executive member of Round Table and the Conference Coordinator, David Vosnacos who was MC over the four days, Caris Parry, Vithya Vijayakumare, Leone Carroll, and Clare Goodridge for providing VisAbility with very effective and highly sought after marketing merchandise.