Category: Uncategorized

My Choice My Future

One of my favourite child-hood memories is the family visit to the Royal Easter Show. It was proceeded by weeks of anticipation, the animals, the exhibition halls, the rides and the fireworks. And we were all allowed to choose our three favourite show-bags.

Whether you grew up in Melbourne and it was the show in September, or if your child-hood was in Brisbane and it was the Ekka in August, it was always a time of excitement.

The world has moved on from such events. This change was occurring before Covid, but the virus has just accelerated that change. We now go to virtual events, where the uncomfortable wooden seat in the arena is replaced by our favourite armchair, the long wait in the ticket queue is replaced by a simple clickthrough, and that wonderful smell of hot chips and fresh popcorn is replaced by the pandemic baking smells coming from our own kitchens. It’s a different world.

But we still see possibilities which may shape our future, and we still make our choices – not showbags now but products and services.

I’m going to one of these expo’s this weekend, and I thought you might join me. It’s the Virtual Disability Expo, which used to take place in Melbourne, Geelong, Sydney, Nepean, Brisbane and the Gold Coast. But now it’s coming to a screen near you.

Do you want to know about the four key foods which can give you more energy? Learn more about your disability service provider and possible alternatives. Here from some great speakers and view some excellent about ways in which you could use your NDIS plan. These are just some of the things you can do if you register at www.virtualdisabilityexpo.com.au It’s happening this Friday and Saturday.

As an added bonus, I am interviewed on the virtual stage on Friday at 1 PM and you can ask me anything in the virtual chat.

There’s no traffic jam in the parking lot or ticket queues. There’s no tired crying children on the way home. Just sit in your favourite armchair and click the link.

Seeya there 😀

10 reasons to make your website more accessible

10 reasons to make your website more accessible

I’m old enough to remember when a “click through” was what you did at the turnstile to get into the Royal Easter Show or cricket at the SCG. Yes, I grew up in Sydney. But now it has an entirely different meaning.

One of your main aims as a marketer for your website is “click through”. I see a weblink on social media such as Twitter or Facebook, think that is interesting, and click the link.

But then I encounter the things that make me leave your website as fast as I arrived.

Here’s my top 10

  1. Having my screen reader say “Image” to me at least 10 times before I hear anything else. The Sydney Morning Herald website is a classic example.
  2. Having the “Skip to main content” weblink take you to exactly where you were when you clicked it. It’s like the train that never left the station or, worse, one that leaves the station but travels in a loop bringing you back to where you started. A complete waste of my time.
  3. Asking me if I will accept cookies. I’d prefer biscuits, but the crumbs just clog up my Braille display. I understand why you use cookies but set the default at essential, so that you don’t spam me, and I don’t have to go and turn off 15 different options I’m not interested in.
  4. Making me sign in before I get any real content. If I can’t walk into your shop and browse, I don’t want to buy there.
  5. Spamming me with emails when I have given you my email address as part of the purchase. You could ask me if I want to go on your mailing list. I just report the spam and do not go back to your website.
  6. Making me watch adverts or have to flick away other pop ups before I get to where I want to be. I’m gone before they finish.
  7. Only allowing edit boxes to be opened by a mouse click, when I want to use a keyboard command. This is basic user experience and if your website developer doesn’t know UX and accessible design, then I’d be worried.
  8. And Captcha’s! Don’t start me on Captcha’s! Keep out the bots, but don’t exclude screen reader users at the same time. My money is helping you pay that website designer of yours who perhaps needs to do a course on accessible design.
  9. Not using correct formatting to create paragraphs. Most people hit the “Enter” key in Word to get a space between paragraphs. That can lead to screen readers announcing “blank line, blank line, blank line” – for as many paragraph marks that are on the page. For my sake, please learn how to space your paragraphs using correct formatting (add a space before or after a paragraph, is a good place to start).
  10. And before you reach for your keyboard to type “OK Boomer”, remember, I’m one of the people you’re trying to sell to. And I didn’t even walk in not wearing a mask and demanding my human rights. Sausage Sizzle anyone?

First published on TCC International, this blog is republished with permission https://tcc.international

Deep Dive

Have you heard my radio show Deep Dive on Mushroom FM? I’m on every tuesday at 6am AEST and if you’re not an early bird it’s replayed 8pm wednesdays.

Deep Dive features the artists we remember and how they played a part in our lives. The approach is one artist, one focus for one hour. We go to air on Mondays at 4pm Eastern, and replay on Wednesdays at 6am Eastern. In Australia that is 6am Tuesdays replaying at 8pm Wednesdays.

Your favourite artists and memories can feature in the show. Just email graeme@mushroomfm.com and share your favourite artists and why you remember them, and name your favourite songs. Or you could attach a sound recording and feature in the show. I love to have friends along!

I’ve also got a regular blog alongside the show, you can check out my previous Deep Dive posts here or take look through the feed below.

ABA appoints Graeme Innes to review banking standards

Former Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Mr Graeme Innes AM, has been appointed by the Australian Bankers’ Association to head up a review of existing electronic accessibility standards.

The review is vital in ensuring that all Australians are able to access banking including ATMs, Eftpos, online banking and banking apps, and that bank staff receive appropriate training.

The ABA’s Deputy CEO, Diane Tate, said the future of banking is rapidly changing.

“Technology is a huge enabler for many people but not everybody. We need to make sure that banking is as accessible and easy as possible.

“We need to ensure that standards today enable all Australians to enjoy equal access to banking, which is a vital part of modern life. We look forward to Graeme’s insights into what the industry can do to achieve this,” Ms Tate said.

Dr Innes said he is very pleased to be involved in the review.

“Banks led the way on voluntary industry standards in the ‘90s. I’m happy to be involved to be working with them again to make those standards relevant for today,” Dr Innes said.

“Dr Innes and TCC Strategic Consulting will engage with a wide range of stakeholders including, the disability sector, banks, government agencies and the technology sector as part of the overarching review.

“As a former Disability Discrimination Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission I am passionate about equality and access to services. Technology has moved so quickly that we need to ensure that products are not just fit for today, but also for the future.

“I applaud the ABA for seeking to consult broadly with a range of organisations in the banking and disability sectors and myself and TCC strategic are looking forward to being involved in this review,” Dr Innes said.

The review will look at existing standards, accessible authentication principles, existing bank accessibility plans, and domestic and international best practices.

Contacts:

Graeme Innes 0412 369 963; TCC Strategic Consulting: Dominique Antarakis 0409 911 891 ABA: Kelly Stevens 0497 577 133 Nathalie Samia 0410 348 531

New dog tests Graeme with old tricks

IMG_0376So, hi peeps. I’m the new dog in town, and I thought it was time I dragged myself off the dog bed and got to the old dude’s keyboard. Especially after I trended in Australia on twitter last week. That’s way cool on my first attempt. But more of that later.

Let me tell you about myself for those who have not met me. I’ve been around with the old dude for about a year so many of you may have.

I’m a golden lab — almost white really — and I’m super cute. Out of harness I’m pretty upbeat, but when the old dude picks up the harness and lead I’m pretty chilled. Not that I don’t want to work as a guide dog. I just don’t want him to think he’s totally in control. He’s a control freak you know.

I grew up with this great family of puppy-raisers — three boys and a girl who love me to bits. I’m a bit of a chewer, but quite selective as I only go for left shoes. I over indulged on one and had to have my stomach pumped. I chew much less now, just gnawing through the occasional leather lead when the Old Dude is giving a particularly boring speech. He does go on!

I go back to visit my puppy-raising family occasionally and have so much fun. They are awesome.

I started work with the Old Dude in January last year. It was hard at first and I got stressed as. But I’m finding it easier now that I’m a little more experienced. If I have had a tough day I still make the occasional raid on a rubbish bin at home. Whatevs!

Last week the Old Dude and Mrs Old Dude were moving stuff between our current house and the new house in Sydney. They are quite close, and the stuff was wheeled on trolleys. I just cruised along off-lead, you know, hanging out.

It struck me that they weren’t paying me nearly enough attention, so I thought, let’s give them a wakeup call. I just wondered off for a bit of a cruise on my own.

I was always going to come back — in my own sweet time — but you know what humans are like. They panicked. They rang up Guide Dogs NSW, who sent out an instructor to help look for me. And then the Old Dude had one of his brighter ideas, and told Twitter I was missing.

Well, that viralled of course. Trended in Sydney and Australia. Got mentioned by the ABC and a shed load of other tweeps. It was being re-tweeted for a week afterwards. Not bad for my first social media appearance — I could have told him tweets about me would have far more reach than tweets about him.

I rocked up outside the front door about two hours later, after a sniff-a-thon and a bit of a mooch around. I was always coming back — free board and food, a bath once a fortnight, and regular visits from Rachel. Sweet deal for a millennial dog like me. They were so excited when I returned — I just said: “Yeah right”, and went to my bed for a sleep.

Then Mrs Old Dude had one of her bright ideas. They have attached a Tile to my collar, and use @TheTileApp to keep track of me on the internet. They can locate me with their smartphones. They think I won’t like it, but I think “Way cool dudes, I have a permanent online presence”. What more could a 21st century dog ask for? Fully sick. And Arrow, thought she was so switched on blogging.

Arrow says I should blog like this regularly but hey, commitment is so last century. So, I think this will be an occasional series — you know, when I can drag myself off the dog bed.

See ya peeps.

DOG BLOG … or FINDING A WAY: Hey! That’s My job

DOG BLOG … or FINDING A WAY: Hey! That’s My job

I love travelling with the boss. I get to go for a walk with him each morning – he usually goes with Maureen. So many good smells here in Adelaide, but quite dry and hot.

He spoke to the Disability Justice Plan Symposium this morning. They are doing some great work here. And I got to sniff the leg of the Deputy Premier – I suppose that is an honour.

Then off to the airport again. People keep wanting to grab the boss’s arm and push him around. Makes it really hard for me when he can’t give me harness directions. I really don’t get why people do that – they wouldn’t like it if someone pushed them around like a piece of furniture.

Wow, we’re flying to Brisbane and then to Cairns today. That’s another 2150 km, making a total of 3520 km for the week.

At Brisbane airport they have a dog toileting room. Great idea, but they’ve put fake grass in here. Don’t they know my nose works 500 times better than theirs. I’m not toileting on that. What’s wrong with a big tray of sand or dirt. Some humans just don’t get it.

Cairns, warm. Great. Much better for the old arthritic hips. Hope we stay a while.

Friday 20 November

Nice walk again early this morning, except that I kept getting swooped by a noisy minor – well the boss thought he was being swooped, but it’s not all about him. I don’t get birds – can’t they work out that I do not have the capacity to fly, even if I wanted to. So there is no way I am touching their nests. Oh well…

Life Without Barriers board meeting today. They’re a nice bunch, and it’s a long meeting, so I get to catch some more Z’s. I think they laugh at me a bit when I snore – they should hear the boss.

They’re handing out Christmas presents now. The boss gets a nice tie and a stubby holder – well done, he needs some new ties, I’m getting a bit bored with the old ones. And look, they’ve given me a bone – how good is that. What a thoughtful mob – recognising how much work I do getting the boss from place to place. You should stay on this board boss.

Oh, this is different. We’re catching a shuttle bus now. A bit tight between the seats when I’ve still got my harness on Boss. And these metal floors – what’s wrong with a bit of carpet.

We’ve arrived at . Nice! And the apartment here is lovely – ground floor so the boss can just let me outside when – you know…. Don’t worry boss, there’s no side fences to this yard, but I’m not going anywhere. As long as you keep feeding me I’m staying around.

Saturday 21 November

We must be staying here for a while. He installed the Apple TV this morning. Maureen probably told him to.

Oh well, the music he plays certainly beats his own tuneless rendition of Summertime, and the livin’ is easy

Or “cricket on the radio.” If I here that one just once more I’m into some serious shoe chewing. That would get him worked up.

Now I shouldn’t be nasty to him – he’s just let me out the back and given me my bone to chew. Back in a while folks – got to get your priorities right.

Mmmm that bone really hit the spot – thanks LWB. He only gives me dry food so it’s nice to break out occasionally. And because of my wheat allergy I have to watch what I eat or my ears get really sore. Still, if he takes me to the beach I might get some salt water in them – that seems to help. I wish Rachel were here – she takes me to the beach and the park much more than the boss does.

Anyway, full tummy, time for a sleep while he writes. Always writing – I never get a chance to use the computer and keep my blog up to date.

Woops, I’ve been caught. He’s discovered my blog on his blog site. He doesn’t seem too concerned though. He won’t like it if my blog gets more comments than his – ummmm, I’ll have to watch that.

Sunday 22 November

Yep we’re definitely staying. He’s got the boardies on this morning. Wonder what we’ll do up here.

Looks like another quiet day for me. He’s writing again. I’m getting the feeling that there are a lot of speeches coming up for the international day. Should be good – people always drop nice crumbs at those type of events.

YIPPEEEE Maureen and Rachel arrived this afternoon, and Rachel has a friend with her. Two teenagers – I feel runs on the beach coming up. Only problem is they went off to the restaurant for dinner and didn’t take me – that happens a bit when the boss is with the family.

Monday 23 November

We went out today. Caught the shuttle into Port Douglas and did more shopping. Maureen and Rachel are much better shoppers than the boss. Although when he’s in the super-market by himself I can get away with more sniffs at the meat fridges if they’re down at my level. Oh well.

It’s pretty hot up here for a dog with as much hair as mine. Being black doesn’t help. And I can’t stand still on the hot bitumen – it burns my feet. OUCH.

Back to the apartment and air-con. Thank goodness. The air-con in Maureen and Graeme’s bedroom is activated by a movement sensor. They haven’t caught me yet, but if I run in there quickly while they’re not in the apartment I can turn it on. Then I lie just outside the door on the cool tiles and I’m pretty chilled. I could get to like this lifestyle.

They went for a swim in the pool after lunch but didn’t take me. I’m sure the boss could argue he needs his guide dog to show him the way in that pool. Sometimes he just doesn’t try hard enough on my behalf.

And then, when it cooled down later in the afternoon, that beach walk I’ve been waiting for. And off the harness. EXCELLENT.

Rachel and her friend kept chasing me out of the water. They keep mentioning something about stingers, but I reckon with all my hair I’d be ok. Any how, they’re not having it. A couple of rolls in the sand were nice though. There are some great new scents down here which I checked out, and I managed to eat something on the beach before they could stop me. Pretty good all round.

Tuesday 24 November

Rained last night. They have serious rain up here. No sprinkles or light showers. It just drops in buckets. Noise woke me up in the night, and it takes a lot to do that.

Another quiet day. I’m enjoying it.

They went to the Wildlife sanctuary today and had Lunch with the Lorrikeets. The boss said I couldn’t go. The two places I am not allowed are zoos and the surgical wards of hospitals. It’s something to do with cross-infection, and possibly upsetting the other animals. I’m getting a bit bored with being left in this apartment by myself. And then they went in the pool again without me.

Still, Maureen and the boss took me for a walk on the beach at night. That was fun. And on the way to the beach, because the path is quite dark, I got to show both of them the way. Pretty awesome.

The moonlight on the beach tonight was beautiful. I kept out of the water – may be there is something in this stingers story. But just running along was fun. And in the dark I can run just far enough away so that Maureen can’t see me – like to test the boundaries a bit sometimes.

Wednesday 25 November

They went out without me again this morning. I know, it was only to pick up a rental car. But they could have taken me. Anyway, I’ve given them a little reminder that the “home alone” scenario does not always play out well – I tipped over the garbage bin and went through the contents. Some quite tasty things to lick in there.

The boss and Maureen were appalled when they got back. But I had a nice time, and chewed most of the packets to get what was left inside. Rachel came in and pretended to be angry as well, but I know that really she thought it was quite funny. Oh well, they’ll think twice about leaving me alone again.

We drove to Mossman Gorge today. Not far from where we are staying, and once you get up into the gorge it is beautifully cool. It’s a national park, so I have to stay in harness. But Rachel persuaded the boss that it would be ok to take me down to the water and let me have a walk in it and a long drink. That has got to be some of the freshes water I have ever enjoyed.

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There are a lot of ants and insects up there which bothered me a bit, but apart from that I really liked it. A few tourists had dropped some crumbs amongst the rocks, so I helped by cleaning them up. Don’t want the wild life up here getting used to the wrong types of food do we.

They left me in the apartment again this afternoon, but after being out in the heat of the day I didn’t mind too much. Just popped into the bedroom and turned on the air con and it was beautiful. Anyway, the boss is talking about going sailing, and I’m not keen on boats. Then something about watching cane toads race – I think I can skip that.

Thursday 26 November

Quiet day inside today. The boss is writing again. I feel a lot of moving around coming up next week, so I’d better get my strength up. I might have a look at his calendar when I go on the website to post this blog to see what we will be doing.

A tale of two Attorneys

I was buying the family fish and chips when attorney general Philip Ruddock called to appoint me as human rights commissioner and disability discrimination commissioner in December 2005. One of the things he said to me, after informing me and congratulating me, was that I must do the job “without fear or favour”.

As human rights commissioner I reported on three inspections of immigration detention centres, two under the Howard government. I conducted the Same Sex: Same Entitlements inquiry, and the Howard government did not implement my recommendations. I supported Australia’s participation in the drafting of a Disability Convention, which was initially opposed by the Howard government.

I disagreed many times on policy issues with Howard ministers and staffers. Our discussions were sometimes “free and frank”, usually civil and never personal. My views were regularly questioned, my integrity was not.

When the Rudd government was elected and Robert McClelland became attorney general he said to commissioners: Sometimes you’ll give us a kicking. Sometimes you’ll support us. That’s your job. He took the Ruddock approach, sometimes questioning our recommendations, but never our integrity, as did attorneys-general Nicola Roxon and Mark Dreyfus.

Things changed in September 2013. My first sign was when a George Brandis staffer berated me for my criticism of Myer. I had called out Myer CEO Bernie Brookes for his assessment of the National Disability Insurance Scheme levy as being “money that could have gone through our cash registers”. The disability sector and others vehemently criticised his remark. When he made what I regarded as a “Clayton’s apology” the next day I joined the criticism, and recommended that he rectify his error by committing Myer to hire more employees with disabilities and commit to a 10 % target – a call to employers I made numerous times. The Brandis staffer questioned my judgement rather than my policy approach.

The trend continued with Tim Wilson’s appointment as human rights commissioner without a selection process, and fresh from the Institute of Public Affairs, whose policy was to abolish the Commission. Until that point, both sides of politics, as well as the Commission, understood that the position of human rights commissioner was redundant. From the time I moved from that role in 2009, the president, Catherine Branson, and then Gillian Triggs, carried the role.

The ill-fated Labor bill proposed in 2013 to consolidate Australia’s human rights legislation abolished the position altogether. This part of the bill was not opposed by Brandis in opposition. However it never came to the parliament.

Wilson’s appointment meant that the resources of the Commission were so stretched that when my term as disability discrimination commissioner ended last July the position was not filled. Susan Ryan got the job, as well as her full-time job as age discrimination commissioner. She had no lived experience of disability, although she is doing the best job she can.

The decision to conduct the children in detention inquiry was made when I was still at the Commission in 2013. All commissioners made it. Commissioners before me had inquired into the issue, I reported on three inspections of the centres, Catherine Branson inquired as well. The Commission has been concerned since the late 1990s that Australia has not been complying with its commitments under the Refugee Convention.

While the number of children in detention is less now than under Labor, those there have been there for much longer. Also, information about people in detention was significantly harder to obtain from the immigration department after the Coalition took power. In conducting the inquiry, the Commission was just doing its job “without fear or favour”.

The Forgotten Children report was received by the attorney general last October. The message to undermine Triggs clearly went out this January. It has happened ever since, climaxing when the government initiated discussions about her resignation, and talked of other employment.

Triggs was hammered in The Australian, although supported in most other media outlets. It isn’t the first time The Australian has attacked the Human Rights Commission – let’s not forget the time they put Tom Calma’s Canberra house on their front page, questioning what he as an Aboriginal man (who happened to be an outstanding bureaucrat) would know about Aboriginal welfare in the Northern Territory. They ignored the fact that this was where he came from. There are other examples too.

Part of our democratic system, and the rule of law, provides that a key duty of any attorney general is to defend judges and statutory officers doing their jobs, because they are not in a position to easily defend themselves. Far from defending, Brandis has attacked. It is he who has made the serious error of judgement. He has “shot the messenger”.. Triggs has advocated human rights compliance by Australia – she has done her job.

The “play the person, not the ball” approach was followed when Senator Ian Macdonald, chairing the Senate committee considering the report, admitted on Tuesday that he hadn’t read it because –
he said – it was partisan. How “chicken and egg” is this – if he hasn’t read it, how does he know it is partisan?

But you know, I agree with Malcolm Turnbull. This is not the main debate. We should be debating why children are still in detention, as Gillian Triggs has sought to do.

(This article was originally published in The Guardian.)

“(tags graeme innes, ruddock, phillip ruddock, McCleland, robert mccleland, roxon, nicola roxon, brandis, george brandis, brookes, bernie brookes, myer, attorney, attorney-general, triggs, gillian, gillian triggs, tom calma, ian macdonald, senator, without fear or favour, fish and chips, the guardian),

What’s in the name?

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” said the bard in Romeo and Juliet So what’s in a name?

Some dogs are famous individuals – Lassie, Rin Tin Tin, Inspector Rex, and Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s dairy. Their names are famous because of their pursuits, or what they achieve.

But some dogs are famous as groups. The St. Bernards with the keg of brandy around their necks, St_Bernard_with_barrel_alt

the explosives detection dogs which support our diggers,201492-sapper-darren-smith

the sniffer dogs looking for drugs or illegal imports. Quarantine detector dog

And of course, guide dogsSoutheastern+Guide+Dogs+Puppy

I love my guide dog. She is great at her job. I love walking, and she provides me with a far more relaxed and faster means of travel. On familiar routes she is almost perfect.

arrow is the cutest

She’s also a great addition to the family. She provides support and safety to my teenage daughter. She is an excellent foot-warmer for my wife. Her friendly lick on my leg in the morning is a great start to my day. And her leaps of excitement when I get out her harness so she can work just give me a warm inner glow.

But why is her name so important? “What’s your dog’s name?” is the most common question I am ever asked.

My standard answer is – “I don’t use her name unless I’m giving her a command”. I answer this way both because it is true (she responds very well to her name and I don’t want to lose that), and because if I tell people her name it will encourage them to pat her, or interact with her when she is working. These things make it harder for her to work, and puts my safety at risk.

During the time we have worked together (about eight years) I have been asked this question about six thousand one hundred and forty five times. That’s more times than most test cricketers score runs in their careers.  It’s not quite as many times as my dog and I have had hot dinners,dutch-hotmeals-mainbanner but its close to podium. Aus PC X Bradbury

I understand that people are evincing a genuine interest, and I get why they want to know. But I am well and truly over answering this question. I find it a little unnecessary and intrusive, but much less so than a lot of other questions people with disabilities are asked. But you can only repeat the same answer so many times before you start seriously contemplating the more extreme alternatives – which could involve physical harm to the questioner or the answerer.

I don’t want to be rude when I answer, saying things like “mind your own business” or “I’m not telling you.” That’s not the best way to oil the wheels of human interaction.

284578-grumpy-cat.gif

I don’t want to keep saying what I have said for years – not because its not true, but because I’m downright bored with saying it.

bored_lion

Perhaps I should try flippancy – “I can’t tell you, she’s working under cover” Screen Shot 2015-01-25 at 9.40.34 am or “I’ve forgotten”.

Perhaps I should attach a small speaker to her harness, so that I can play a message saying “I’m sorry Dave, I can’t tell you that.”

chess_2001_space_odyssey

What do you think? Please give me some ideas? I’m getting desperate! All suggestions will be seriously considered, and I will tweet the ones I choose.

(Graeme Innes has come to the end of his repetitive tether, and is desperate not to be dogged by the same request).