Country : Hong Kong, China
Organization : Hong Kong Blind Union & Hong Kong Society for the Blind
- Key Development in Government Policies and Initiatives
1.1 The Hong Kong Government has undertaken to carry out a major retrofitting
programme to upgrade the barrier-free facilities in existing government premises and facilities which have frequent public interface with the latest design standards as set out in the “Design Manual: Barrier-Free Access 2008”. The retrofitting programme covered about 3 700 government premises and facilities, amongst which 3 306 premises/facilities was retrofitted by 30 June 2012 and the remaining 386 premises/ facilities by 30 June 2014.
1.2 The Social Welfare Department launched the Support Programme for Employees with Disabilities in June 2013. Employers of persons with disabilities can apply for a one-off subsidy of up to HK$20,000 (around US$2500) for each disabled employee, including those with visual impairment. The subsidy can be used for the procurement of assistive devices and/or workplace modifications to facilitate employees with disabilities to discharge their duties at the workplace and enhance their work efficiency.
1.3 Since 2013, the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer and the Equal Opportunities Commission have joined hands to organise an annual Web Accessibility Recognition Scheme to show appreciation to enterprises and organisations for making their websites accessible. In 2014, more than 160 websites and mobile apps were recognised, nearly doubling the number of websites awarded in 2013.
1.4 Hong Kong Blind Union wrote to the Immigration Department in 2012 to request for enhancing the accessibility of their facilities for visually impaired citizens. After more than one year’s discussion and trial, the first e-Channel equipped with voice navigation function was launched at the Departure Hall of the Lok Ma Chau Spur Line Control Point in September 2013. This e-Channel enables visually impaired users to perform self-service departure clearance when travelling to Mainland China. In addition to having the voice navigation function, the e-Channel is also equipped with Braille tags next to the activation button, the identity card insertion slot and the fingerprint scanner for use by visually impaired persons.
- Recent Development of Hong Kong Blind Union
2.1 The Blind Union launched the “Accessible E-Learning Support Project” in mid 2011 for primary and secondary students with print disability. Services provided include conversation of textbooks and learning materials into electronic format; training for students, parents and teachers on e-learning; research and development of assistive aids. The Project won the Hong Kong ICT Awards 2012 : Best Digital Inclusion (Service Categories) Silver Award. The services were extended to serve tertiary students with visual impaired in August 2014.
2.2 The Accessible Digital Technology Centre was set up in 2010 to promote the adoption of accessible digital technology design and application. Efforts have been paid to develop and upgrade software and applications for use by our members including NVDA (Hong Kong version), Easy Dots (for input Chinese characters by Cantonese Braille system), BRITE (for translating and editing Cantonese and English Braille), MathCast (an equation editor) and SESAMI (an iOS mobile app providing outdoor and indoor geographical information, winner of Bronze Award in the product/application category of the Best Digital Inclusion Award 2014 HKICT Awards)
2.3 To promote web accessibility, the Blind Union conducted 3 researches and announced the results on accessibility of local websites in 2011, 2012 and 2014 respectively. A social enterprise was also set up in 2013 to provide testing and consultancy services on web accessibility for the public and private sectors as well as to create job opportunities for visually impaired persons.
2.4 2014 is the 50th anniversary of Hong Kong Blind Union. Being the 1st self help organization formed and run by people with visual impairment in Hong Kong, we have been striving to promote equality, opportunities and independence for visually impaired persons. A serious of commemorative activities have been planned and implemented to celebrate our Golden Jubilee, including a 50-kilometre charity run by 25 pairs of visually impaired and sighted runners in April, a pop concert with over an audience of over 2000 participants in September, White Cane Day walkathon in October and hosting of WBUAP Mid-Term General Assembly in November.
- Recent Development of The Hong Kong Society for the Blind
3.1 The Hong Kong Society for the Blind had taken the initiative to introduce Audio Description into film screenings in Hong Kong since March 2009. From March 2009 to August 2014, we have done a) 161 film screenings with 6,799 participants; b) 16 dramas and other performing art programmes with 965 participants; and c) 16 outdoor programmes including visits to the Wetland Park, the Chi Lin Nunnery, and City tours on trams with 494 participants.
The first professional Audio Description training for movies was held during 2011-2012 under the one-year sponsorship from the Create Hong Kong of the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau of the Hong Kong SAR Government. Two overseas AD specialists were invited to give training to the first pool of talents for providing audio description for films in Hong Kong.
We also obtained the support from a few major film distribution companies to add AD sound tracks to nine film DVDs that are available on market over the years. Besides, through persistent requests, the Equal Opportunity Commission (EOC) agreed to add AD sound tracks to five short films in 2013, and the Labour and Welfare Bureau agreed to add AD sound tracks to the “A Wall-less World IV” DVD set in 2014.
The project won the Social Responsiveness Award in the Best Practice Award in Social Welfare 2013 organized by the Hong Kong Council of Social Service in November 2013.