DiVine - A website for and by people with a disability
Roving reporter Eliza went along to the launch of the new DiVine website for people with a disability.
On 3 December 2009 it was once again time to celebrate the International Day for People with Disability (new window), an annual worldwide event to recognise the achievements and contributions made by those with disabilities.
In a funky venue in the CBD, a select group of people met with an additional reason to celebrate.
A diverse range of individuals gathered in the Word Lounge, all filled with anticipation. It would soon be time for the launch of a new website made with people with disability in mind AND at the steering wheel: DiVine (new window). As well as being an all-round great idea, the website was to be an Australian first, as no other Australian website has ever been both for and by people with disability!
So why exactly was everyone so excited about DiVine?
For almost two years a team formed of both technical experts and people with a disability has worked to create a site that is accessible to all surfers of the net, no matter what their unique needs may be. In fact the site has a triple A rating for accessibility and is suitable to be used with communication aids like Text to Speech.
As well as being very accessible, the site caters to a wide range of interests. There are seven major sections of the site. These sections found on the site include:
- Out and About - info about eating out, bars and nightlife, entertainment and public transport
- Tech Talk - facts and reviews about everything from assistive technologies to the latest mobile phones
- Rights and Policy - a practical section about what people with a disability need to know about their rights and Government policies
Anthony Bartl, a young writer for DiVine (and a former youthcentral Roving Reporter!), stated that the new site was a "really great initiative" and that there is "no other service like it". Indeed, DiVine is unique in allowing those with a disability to access info about what is out there for them.
The inspirational, moving, witty and entertaining stories on the site cover everything from overcoming disability in order to snorkel the Great Barrier Reef to online dating and healthy eating.
Becoming part of the DiVine community
Another question on the lips of all the new-comers to DiVine present on the day was "how did the DiVine team come to be?"
Chris Morris, a writer for the new site, explained that 13 writers from all around Victoria had been contracted. The youngest writer of the team at 19 years of age, Tom Banks (another former youthcentral roving reporter!) said he became a writer for DiVine after first being on the editorial advisory board for the site.
The writers have a great deal of freedom to discuss that which is close to their heart. Tom says he has already written articles that will be published on DiVine about topics as diverse as personal video recorders and growing up gay in a rural area.
Luckily for everyone who missed the initial news about DiVine, there are still plenty of opportunities to become involved in the DiVine community (new window). If you feel you have something to say, you can submit an article to the site or even apply to become a paid regular contributor.
Alternatively, you can alert DiVine to something exciting that's up in your local area so that one of the team can write an article about it. What is more, the highly interactive nature of the site means all readers have the opportunity to write comments about articles and send feedback to the site.
How the actual launch went
After chatting and making friends, we all filed into an adjacent room for the launch itself. We were greeted by the Acting Manager for the Office for Disability, Lyndall Grimshaw, who welcomed us to this "day of celebration".
We were then introduced to Parliamentary Secretary for Human Services Telmo Languiller who gave a short speech, summing up DiVine as a "great opportunity" for writers with a disability. He said he had already had a sneak preview of the site and that it was indeed very easy to use.
Then Joanne Richie, a writer for the site, magically breathed life into DiVine and we all witnessed a bright green and white website appear on the screens at the front of the room. Joanne demonstrated the exciting new sections of the site and showed some examples of articles.
A mark of progress
At the end of the DiVine launch, we were treated to a surprise performance from Rory, Marcus and Rohan of the famous Indie rock band Rudely Interrupted (new window), 5 out of 6 members of which have a disability.
As Rory sang the words of a poignant song entitled "Close My Eyes" ("I can't believe how far we've come, I just can't believe what we've done") it no doubt struck many members of the audience that these lyrics were incredibly appropriate to the day.
After all, the launch of DiVine meant not only that we can all take advantage of an awesome new website, but that we are one step closer to creating a society which people with a disability can fully participate, deleted putting a sad past of exclusion and isolation far behind us!
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