accessibility-mediaOn January 26, The Broadcasting Accessibility Fund announced that it will award $723,500 in grants to seven innovative projects designed to advance accessibility to broadcasting content for Canadians with disabilities. The projects represent the first ever selected by the Board of Directors for grant awards. These seven outstanding initiatives are intended to address significant gaps in broadcasting accessibility.

Today marks an important milestone in the Fund’s work,” said Board of Directors Chair Allister Byrne. “They further represent the types of projects we’ll be looking for in subsequent rounds of funding, as they are characterized by partnerships, transparency and a broad sharing of results.

We received a number of exceptionally strong applications,” said the Fund’s CEO/Funding Officer Richard Cavanagh. “Since the inception of the Fund, there has been a strong belief that we would tap into some of the best talent, skills and experience in the field of broadcasting accessibility. The projects approved by our Board clearly demonstrate that this is the case. In addition,” said, Mr. Byrne, “these projects provide stepping stones for further work in key areas of broadcasting accessibility. Future projects will be able to build on the first seven we are helping to fund. This is just the beginning.

The projects approved by the Board of Directors are:

  • Accessible Media Production Course, Mohawk College – $80,000. Student journalists will receive mandatory, intensive training in producing content that is accessible across all media platforms.
  • Making CBC Radio Accessible, CBC – $62,000. New speech-to-text conversion technology will be used to post daily transcripts of CBC’s award-winning radio program, The Current to CBC.ca. The Current reaches some 2.3 million Canadians each week. In addition, one American Sign Language (ASL) interpreted radio documentary will be filmed and posted to CBC.ca each month.
  • Tecla Remote, Komodo Open Lab – $77,500. A Tecla switch device will enable users with limited mobility to control a range of media devices using the same controls used to operate wheelchairs.
  • Designing Screen Reading Capabilities for the 10-foot User Interface, Rogers Communications – $140,000. Extensive research on the development of simplified and inclusive mechanisms to assist blind and low vision users to discover and consume video content.
  • Radio with a Voice, Vues et Voix – $116,000. Development of a fully accessible web platform for Vues et Voix radio content focusing on disability- and accessibility- related stories and issues in the French language.
  • Broadcasting Accessibility Education for Hard of Hearing Canadians, Canadian Hard of Hearing Association – $125,000. An extensive project to assist hard of hearing Canadians with the accessible features of media devices, designed to build a base of knowledge including the producing of a web-based guide to device accessibility.
  • Enhanced real-time and post-production captioning for VoiceWriter captioning software, Mediac Systems LLC – $123,000. Focused on updating existing software and developing new in-roads to voice recognition technologies, to improve both real time (live) and post production captioning processes.

The Fund congratulates the first of its grant recipients and is anxious to work with these visionary leaders in broadcasting accessibility,” said Mr. Cavanagh. “We look forward to announcing our next Call for Letters of Intent, the first step in our application process, early in 2016.

About the Broadcasting Accessibility Fund

The Broadcasting Accessibility Fund Inc. (the Fund) is an independent and impartial funding body supporting innovative projects that provide solutions to promote the accessibility of all broadcasting content in Canada. The Fund will support projects that provide practical solutions to increase accessibility to broadcasting content and that, whenever possible, make use of inclusive design principles to promote accessibility at the earliest stages and in the most cost-effective manner for new technologies and applications in Canada.

The Fund was established as an independent and impartial funding body supporting innovative projects to increase the accessibility of broadcasting content in Canada. The creation of the fund was made possible in part from the tangible benefits package associated with Bell Canada’s acquisition of CTV. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) approved its creation together with initial funding of $5.7M.

For more information contact: Richard Cavanagh, CEO/Funding Officer, Broadcasting Accessibility Fund, (613) 729-1891, richard@baf-far.ca and see: http://baf-far.ca.