Page 776 - Week 03 - Tuesday, 5 April 2022

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Another group that I have concerns about are people with disability who have some more special requirements in accessing the internet. Some of you may know that I used to work in the deaf community with people experiencing deafness. When the internet came about, deaf people were really excited because this was a text-based model that they could access really easily. Then, of course, we moved, over time, towards video and sound, which once again started to exclude people with deafness.

I would encourage all of you, if you do not already, to include captions on any of the videos that you produce so that people who are deaf can access them. In fact, I think research shows that the vast majority of people use YouTube and social media channels with the sound off, so captions have a benefit for just about everyone, even if you are not deaf. Certainly, I am interested in improving accessibility for people.

People with blindness or vision impairment are another group where there are ways that you can improve their access. For example, if you put up a photo you could put a description of the photo as alternative text so that the person with vision impairment knows what the photo is showing or describing.

It is great to talk about improving libraries and coming up with innovation to ensure that they remain vibrant, viable and exciting places. Some of us—maybe not so many in this room—may remember taking our children to libraries when they were little, to story time. I think they have Giggle and Wiggle these days. These have innovated over time as well to different models of delivery for children.

We all need to keep moving with the times, taking the technology that is available and running with it. And when we run with it, we cannot leave people behind. We cannot just take it and presume that everyone is the same as us—that everyone has an iPad and a phone and a desktop computer and a computer at home, because we are elected not just to talk about our own views and our own experiences but to represent everyone in our community. That is why it is important that we are talking here today about social inclusion and digital inclusion and using libraries to do that. So thanks again to Ms Orr for bringing this motion to the Assembly. We are happy to support it.

MR STEEL (Murrumbidgee—Minister for Skills, Minister for Transport and City Services and Special Minister of State) (4.33): I thank Ms Orr for bringing forward this motion today. I thank her for her engagement on libraries in the ACT and the need for greater digital access and inclusion. Libraries ACT provides an important service to our community across nine public libraries and the ACT Heritage Library by engaging with the public to promote literacy and interconnectivity and supporting access to a range of digital services.

The Imagine 2030 libraries project will help develop a plan for our libraries over the years between now and the end of the decade. Using a co-design approach is much more than consultation. It means that the library is working with the community to listen to what they say they need and what they want from a public library. Community workshops, deep-dive interviews, and peak body and stakeholder organisation workshops are all part of the process that Libraries ACT is engaging with as part of this co-design.

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