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This year's Census is easier for deaf and blind Australians

Source: SBS

This year's National Census has been described as "world-class" in terms of addressing issues of accessibility among deaf and blind Australians. In the past, they've found it harder to participate in the national survey, compared to other Australians, particularly when it comes to lodging forms online.

Melbourne man Chris Edwards is an advocate for the blind and low vision community.

Being blind himself, he says there simply aren't enough print and online forms catering to their needs, leaving many feeling isolated and left out.

"When it doesn't happen It's so frustrating and tiring because it feels like you don't have a voice and people, aren't listening."

The Australian Bureau of statistics has acted on those experiences and implemented technological upgrades to the website to ensure blind or deaf Australians from this year had a better experience.

Mr Edwards - who was also involved in the roll-out of the upgrade - says the ABS has set a high standard in Australia in terms of catering for a broader cross-section of needs.

"The key challenge that people who are blind have is that we have to rely on other people to do it. With the changes that the Census has made in that ensuring that all their formats are accessible means that me and other people who are blind or with low vision can participate just like everybody else in the community."

Under the upgrades, users can now listen to Census questions on the website and access audio links that provide further explanations.

Those wanting a hard copy of the document in either Braille or larger print can also order online or via an automated telephone service.

Australian Bureau of Statistics Census Operation Manager David Keys says the system is helping people be more self-sufficient.

"Look the reason why it's more accessible is that we wanted to make sure everybody in the community had the options most accessible to them, that are easy to them and just to complete the census the best they can use the features we have for them."

The deaf and hard of hearing community is also benefiting with more than 60 Online videos featuring instructions in Australian Sign Language taking users through the process.

Gavin Balharrie who is President of the service provider for the deaf Expression Australia described the system as “world-class”.

Mr Balharrie - who is himself deaf - used Australian Sign Language and an interpreter to explain.

"Some of the members in our community don't understand English at all and English is their primary language. So it is really important to focus more widely on providing that access so that our community have access to resources and to AUSLAN content to they can better gain an understanding so they can answer accurately."

Click on the player at the top of the page to listen to the podcast in Punjabi.

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