Round Table on Information Access for People with Print Disabilities

Dinesh Burah using an iPad
Dinesh is Conference Coordinator of one of the biggest print disability events in the Southern Hemisphere

The Round Table on Information Access for People with Print Disabilities facilitates and influences the production and use of quality alternative formats for individuals with print disabilities.

There are one million people living in Australia who have a print disability. Print disability is the term that describes people who have difficulty reading or navigating material because of a vision impairment or physical disability.

The Round Table Conference take place every year and 93% of those attending are repeat conference goers. It demonstrates the importance of the valuable insights this annual event offers.

VisAbility’s Executive Manager of IT Specialist Services Dinesh Burah is the Conference Coordinator at this year’s event taking place from Monday, 16 May – Tuesday, 17 May 2022.

Dinesh is also the Vice-President of the Round Table on Information Access for People with Print Disabilities. We’ve been asking him more about this year’s event.

What’s your role in this year’s Round Table event?

As the Conference Coordinator, I oversee all aspects of the conference – its planning, programme and guest speakers. The Annual Round Table Conference is regarded as the flagship conference across Australia and New Zealand in the Print Disability Calendar of events.

Participants can meet and listen to experts such as technology developers, accessible format producers, libraries, publishers, education institutions. It’s also a great opportunity to make valuable connections within this field. 

Explain this year’s theme: Inclusion and Access to Information in Our Changing World.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for more inclusive online services to people living with a print disability. The bush fires in New South Wales and the floods in the East are both examples where people needed to have accessible content easily available. The conference will explore the challenges and opportunities we currently face, so we can move forward to provide access to all information.

I’m intrigued by the presentation called: Born accessible books – are we there yet? What does this mean?

Many editors and writers are keen to develop material that is accessible to and inclusive of readers with print disability. However, they need practical guidance. Accessibility best practice currently focuses on the technical aspects of digital publishing. It needs to also centre on language, style, and the diverse needs of readers at different ages.

The presentation will shine a spotlight on what we need to achieve at grass root levels. It’s imperative accessibility is at the forefront rather than an afterthought in any process.

There is still more we need to do, but we are working towards greater inclusivity. We are establishing the formation of a new Round Table initiative, collaborating with the Australian Publishers Association (APA).

What sets this event apart from other accessible events?

There’s a vast amount of inaccessible print formats and websites on a worldwide scale. The Round Table on Information Access for People with Print Disabilities (link opens in new window) offers knowledge and resources all in one place. It’s an event where people can establish connections and share resources that may kickstart or accelerate new initiatives – and that can only be a good thing.

Did you know VisAbility offers accessibility training courses and transcription services to ensure material can be read by everyone?