The players are put through their paces – Blind Football in Australia

Last weekend’s (7 August 2016) blind football workshop in Melbourne, Australia, was a resounding success by all accounts.

David Connolly from Social Goal reports on the event…

The Future is Bright for the Beautiful Game With the Paralympics almost upon us, an exciting event was held at the Knox Regional Football Centre in Melbourne on Sunday 7 August – the Melbourne B1 blind football workshop.

This workshop is the biggest step forward for B1 blind football in Australia so far. The workshop was facilitated by IBSA Football Chairman Ulrich Pfisterer and provided an interactive workshop for potential players, coaches and volunteers to learn more about the game.

David Connolly, Co-founder of Social Goal, described the day, “It was great to welcome Uli back to Melbourne to run this session and fantastic to see so much enthusiasm from the players and coaches involved. Uli really put everyone through their paces, and everyone really grabbed the opportunity with both hands, soaking up as much information as they could.”

Those interested in being part of the first ever Melbourne B1 blind football development squad were invited to attend the workshop and were presented with Melbourne City Football Club playing uniforms before taking part in the session. “The Melbourne City Football Club uniforms really set the scene for a professional football session. City in the Community, Melbourne City Football Club’s community arm, is a key partner in the development of blind football opportunities here in Melbourne and we really appreciate their continued support,” said David.

The players and coaches were impressed by Ulrich’s professional approach. Player Prasantha Wijeyasiri said, “learning the correct technique and gaining a better understanding of the game today has inspired me to go away and do some work on my own so that I can improve my skills and confidence in blind football. I can’t wait to play an official game.”

The future looks bright for this truly beautiful format of the world game, with Blind Sports NSW attending the workshop and an upcoming launch of blind football in New Zealand, partnerships and connections in the region are growing.

David explained, “This was an exciting chapter in our blind football journey. We have a better understanding of B1 blind football and we now put the call out to players, coaches, and potential sponsors and partners, to get on board as we look to grow the game here in Melbourne and Victoria. We hope this workshop can be the catalyst for other States to get involved, create a team, and all work together so that competitive games can be played here in Australia and the region, kicking goals to make football accessible for all.”

The workshop was coordinated by Social Goal, with the support of local partners Blind Sports & Recreation Victoria, Football Federation Victoria, Melbourne City Football Club and Blind Sports Australia.

Pfisterer now heads to New Zealand for the official launch of blind football in the country in partnership with Blind Sport New Zealand.

For more information go to:


Source: Australian Blindness Forum

On 30 June 2016, the World Blind Union announced that Canada became the 20th country to ratify the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for People who are Blind, Visually Impaired or otherwise Print Disabled. This is an historic achievement after many years of campaigning in the blindness sector worldwide to put an end to the global ‘book famine’.

The global book famine refers to the less than ten percent of published materials being available in accessible formats and often less than one percent in developing countries.

The Marrakesh Treaty will come into force on 30 September 2016 and means the twenty ratifying countries will be able to enjoy the benefits enshrined in the treaty that are meant to extend the same access to literature and information for print disabled persons that non-print disabled persons already enjoy.

Millions of blind and partially sighted people will be able to access literature and educational materials, enabling them to better participate in their society.

ABF, Australia’s representative to the World Blind Union, congratulates the Australian Government on being one of the 20 countries to ratify the Marrakesh Treaty. ABF is now urging the Australian Government to pass the current amendments to the Copyright Act 1968 that are ready and waiting to be introduced into Parliament.

These proposed amendments were intended to underpin the Marrakesh Treaty in Australia ensuring the provisions for the production and cross-border sharing of accessible works would be easily accessible to all Australians. It is crucial that these amendments are passed in order to achieve the treaty’s overarching goal of furthering the human rights of persons with print disabilities by promoting their access to literature and information.

“The 20th ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty is a great achievement but we still have work to do”, said Tony Starkey, ABF Chair. “In Australia, it is vital that the proposed amendments to the Copyright Act are passed by Parliament as soon as possible. This will ensure all Australians who are blind or vision impaired can maximise the benefits of the treaty, ending the book famine in this country.”

ABF is also calling on all countries to ratify the treaty, particularly the United States of America and the United Kingdom, who hold the majority of English language content across the world.

ABF is seeking any support from the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade to encourage the USA and UK ratify the treaty.

For further information about the Marrakesh Treaty please visit the World Blind Union website:

Tony Starkey
Australian Blindness Forum
0408 666 170
ABN 47 125 036 857
PO Box 1188
Canberra ACT 2601

Next Generation of Banknotes: $5 Banknote Design Reveal

Media Release
Next Generation of Banknotes: $5 Banknote Design Reveal Number 2016-09 Date 12 April 2016

The Bank has today released images of the new $5 banknote that will be issued into circulation from 1 September 2016.

The images show the basic design artwork of each side of the banknote. As previously announced, key aspects of the existing design – colour, size and people portrayed – are retained for ease of recognition and to minimise the disruption to businesses.

There is a new ‘tactile’ feature to help the vision-impaired community distinguish between different denominations of banknotes.

The Governor, Glenn Stevens, said: “Innovative new security features have been incorporated to help keep Australia’s banknotes secure from counterfeiting into the future. As can be seen in the images, these include a distinctive top-to-bottom window. Each banknote in the new series will depict a different species of Australian wattle and a native bird within a number of the elements. On the $5 banknote, these are the Prickly Moses wattle and the Eastern Spinebill.”

The designs are the culmination of a process of extensive consultation with subject-matter experts and the cash-handling industry, as well as qualitative research involving focus groups. Images of the design artwork for the new $5 banknote have been revealed today to facilitate preparations for the smooth introduction of the new banknotes.

Information on the new design and security features (which will be common to all banknotes in the new series) and how they work will be part of a public awareness campaign over coming months. The objective of this campaign will be to ensure that members of the public are able to identify and use the range of new security features on the new $5 banknotes when they start to receive them.

Issuance of the new $5 banknote will commence on 1 September, although it will take some time for the new banknotes to be widely circulated. The current series of banknotes can continue to be used even after the new banknotes are issued.

Media and Communications
Information Department
Reserve Bank of Australia
Phone: +61 2 9551 9720
Fax: +61 2 9551 8033

Marrakesh Treaty ratification

11 December 2015

Australians with vision impairment will have greater access to books and other published materials in accessible formats such as large print, braille or audio following Australia’s ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty The Treaty is a significant international agreement that will help 285 million people with vision impairment worldwide to access these materials.

Ratifying this treaty is an important part of the Government’s commitment to supporting Australians with disability. Accessible format materials are essential to ensuring all Australians can engage fully in school, work and our communities.

By improving access to large print, braille and audio materials in the Indo-Pacific, the Marrakesh treaty will also support economic and social development in our region.

The treaty recognises the commercial interests of copyright holders by encouraging the use of accessible material already available, before relying on the treaty.

Australia joins eleven other countries in ratifying the treaty, which will come into effect three months after 20 countries have ratified or acceded to it. We strongly encourage other countries to take this step.

The Australian Government is also working with the World Intellectual Property Organization to fund practical initiatives to help increase the global availability of books in accessible formats.

Media enquiries
Minister’s office: (02) 6277 7500

A new pilot program sets people with sight loss free to experience cities like never before

Independence Day

A new pilot program sets people with sight loss free to experience cities like never before.

By Jennifer Warnick

“Journey” may seem a strong word for walking a few blocks and getting on a bus. At my normal pace, it should only be 444 steps from the Tudor-and-brick-walled quietude of Tamerisk Avenue to the bus stop around the corner. But considering the deeply meaningful work happening in this small corridor of England, and the way I’ll feel after my trip (as topsy-turvy as if I’d spent the day at Six Flags), there’s nothing else to call it but a journey.

It was midday on a Tuesday. The weather was capricious, scattering raindrops across our jackets one minute and warming our faces with sunshine the next. “OK, I think we’re ready,” said Mike Parker, a kind, bearded Microsoft user experience designer. He handed me a shiny, black smart phone. “Your phone is all ready to go, so you can just put it in your pocket. Chris, do you have her cane?” Chris Yates, an amiable mobility instructor for the charity Guide Dogs, handed me a long, white folding cane with a rubber stopper at the bottom and quickly showed me how to sweep it from side to side, tapping the pavement in front of me as if dipping a toe into bathwater of unknown temperature. As I tried the cane, Parker placed a pair of bone-conducting headphones around the back of my skull and handed me a heavy-duty black blindfold.

I was about to try a prototype of Microsoft’s 3D soundscape technology — an audio-rich experience in which the headset, smartphone and indoor and outdoor beacons all work together to enhance the mobility, confidence and independence of people with vision loss.

This project is the result of a unique partnership between Microsoft, the charity Guide Dogs, and a number of other partners including Network Rail, Reading Buses, the urban planning agency Future Cities Catapult, the Reading Borough Council and the grocer Tesco (not to mention the understanding neighbors on Tamarisk Avenue).

Once the heavy blindfold blocked all the light, my other senses clumsily shifted and my hearing went into overdrive as the headset started sending 3D audio cues directly into my inner ear.

“Uh, I hear something like that galloping coconut noise from Monty Python,” I said. The guys chuckled.

The team placed Bluetooth beacons on fixed neighborhood objects to help create an information-boosted route through a London suburb.

The galloping coconuts sound seemed to be coming from a meter or two in front of me, and would become a comforting indicator of my forward progress on the correct (beacon-embedded) path through the neighborhood. (Later, lost and hungry in London, I found myself wishing the galloping coconuts could lead me to the nearest well-reviewed pub for a pie and a pint.)

As I took my first tentative steps, I noticed a second sound — a sort of sonar ping. Within a few strides the ping seemed to move to my left side (which it turns out was to let me know I was veering left toward the curb). As I corrected, the pinging sound moved back to center as the clip-clops continued to nudge me forward. Periodically, a voice offered turn-by-turn directions, nearby points of interest (“Chiropractor, about 10 meters”), transportation updates (“No. 9 bus is approaching”) and even polite warnings (“Be aware: This is a main road”). Because the headphones didn’t cover my actual ears, I could also listen for environmental noises. I’d never before had an audio experience like this — its richness helped me visualize the neighborhood around me while its immersiveness gave me more confidence with every step.

Eventually, about halfway through the walk, I relaxed enough to carry on a conversation. By the time I reached the bus stop, I was chatting away with the team from Microsoft and Guide Dogs, even as the headset beamed route updates and points of interest to my inner ear.

I was so excited to get the hang of it that I was reluctant to remove the blindfold and headset once we reached Reading Station. Parker and Yates said this is a common reaction from people who have made the journey, visually impaired and sighted alike.

I’m not sure if I could make my way across my own living room blindfolded, at least not without some bruising, and yet I’d just traveled across an unfamiliar city relying primarily on a cane and a few well-placed, 3D sounds. Where I anticipated feeling vulnerable and anxious in the blindfold, I ended up feeling strangely super-powered wearing the headset, like some sort of dry-land dolphin.

“Man,” I thought to myself as the train to London pulled away from Reading Station, “there hasn’t been this much magic in the British suburbs since Harry Potter was dropped at 4 Privet Drive.”

The prototype headset is, rather charmingly, held together by red electrical tape. The Windows Phone is off-the-shelf. The Bluetooth beacons sending information to the headset and phone look like plastic, Smurf-colored Oreo cookies, and they are zip-tied to poles and lamp posts. Yet somehow, the delightfully DIY experience is vastly more than the sum of its parts. It may not look particularly magical, but we all know how deceiving looks can be.