The Hon. J.S. LEE (15:13): My question is for the Minister for Human Services and is about the use of future technology in a disability sector. Can the minister please provide an update to the council about an important project being undertaken by the Royal Society for the Blind and Adelaide-based SAGE Group?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (Minister for Human Services) (15:13):
I thank the honourable member for her question. It was my great privilege to attend the Royal Society for the Blind corporate International TechFest breakfast last week, which they informed me is the largest assistive technology type of event of its kind in Australia. We heard from the Royal Society for the Blind's global ambassador Derek Rabelo, who some members may be familiar with. He is a very famous individual from South America who is blind. He first learnt to surf at 17 and became a professional surfer, and he outlined his story of how he has tackled some of the most challenging waves in the world, which, when we saw videos of them, I have to say gave me the complete heebie-jeebies. As someone who has their sight, I have the greatest admiration for his bravery. We also were privileged to hear from Rachael Leahcar, who performed 'This Is Me' from The Greatest Showman soundtrack.
At the conclusion of the breakfast, SAGE signed a memorandum of understanding with the Royal Society for the Blind. With SAGE being an Adelaide-based technology and engineering company, the purpose of the memorandum of understanding is to give RSB a greater voice in the development of transport technologies of the future while assisting SAGE engineers to further understand the needs of the vision-impaired community. It is a very exciting partnership that has been developed, which can potentially lead to some very helpful technology for people with vision impairment.
The International Techfest had a range of events, with break-out sessions and presentations connecting people who are vision impaired with a range of providers and therefore enabling them to avail themselves of potential technology. This included one entitled 'Braille on display: making sense of today's braille solutions', where people can utilise iPhones and iPads and use built-in, off-the-shelf technology accessible, such as VoiceOver and Zoom. The session was to explain and demonstrate the various braille devices, including notetakers and braille displays.
There was a session on print for impaired persons using IrisVision, OrCam, NuEyes and Aira, another technology called Reveal 16i from Humanware, which is an intuitive, easy-to-use and foldable digital magnifier that offers crystal clear images to assist people to be able to read books, and a range of other exciting technology. I commend the Royal Society for the Blind, their ambassadors and Rachael Leahcar for their involvement with this important organisation and for advancing technology for people with disabilities.