News

TEDxSydney: Emeritus Prof. Ron McCallum


13 May 2013

In 1987 Professor Ron McCallum, the first blind person appointed to a full professorship in Australia and former Dean of Sydney Law School, where he is now an Emeritus Professor, bought a Keynote computer especially made for blind people.

"It cost $4000, only had 84 kilobytes of memory ... but had a speech synthesiser … For the very first time, I could have read back to me what I had typed."

In his talk at TEDxSydney 2013, Professor McCallum paid tribute to the countless people whose efforts enabled his education, from the volunteers who punched the braille dots of his earliest reading to the Canadian prisoners who made recordings of legal texts. But crucially, technology allows independent access to learning. Professor McCallum, who currently sits on the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, called for accessibility standards, which require pictures and graphics on the internet to be explained in text, to be enforced worldwide.