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New Archdiocesan website will find your information


Fr Paul Pitzen from the Emmanuel Centre, tests the new website with Marie, who has been legally blind since birth. The new Archdiocesan site, which was launched this week, has been developed to encourage those who are blind, deaf and/or hard of hearing to engage with the Archdiocese at a whole new level. PHOTO: Mat De Sousa

By Jamie O’Brien

Archbishop Timothy Costelloe has this week welcomed the launch of the new Archdiocesan website.

The Archdiocese activated the new website on Tuesday this week, which features a new major search engine facility that allows users to find exactly the information they are looking for, such as mass times, parish information, as well as current news and events.

In a video to launch the site, the Archbishop said that over time, he hopes to share on a regular basis, videos, podcasts, views and comments which will afford him the opportunity of communications more directly with the audience.

“So please, take a moment and explore our new site, and do re-visit us again in the near future,” the Archbishop said.

The new website, which has been created by Perth-based web-developers OneIT, was borne following a strategic review of the Archdiocesan communications in 2009, and has been a work-in-progress for a couple of years.

Archdiocesan Chief Operations Officer Terry Wilson said the Strategic Plan’s major goal was “To facilitate the spreading of the Gospel” with a sub-strategy that an effective communication program be implemented so that the Good News and works of the Church are conveyed to our society through all available mediums and technologies.

“After broad consultation on the strengths and weaknesses of the current communications systems in the Archdiocese, it was identified that electronic communication through a new website and portal were needed,” Mr Wilson said.

“It was clear that the website required a better search engine to facilitate navigation of the site (particularly Parish and Religious Order information and Mass times), while also incorporating social networking applications,” he said.

The new site will also be regularly updated with news and information from the Archdiocesan weekly e-newsletter, the eRecord, with selected articles from each edition uploaded on a regular basis.

Media outlets have also been catered for in the development, and will be able to access the latest news and information via a Media Access portal that includes numerous photos from recent events across the Archdiocese.

Emmanuel Centre Co-ordinator Barbara Harris said the new site will allow greater interaction with the Archdiocese for those who are blind, deaf and/or hard of hearing.

Ms Harris, who has assisted with ensuring the website is disability viewer friendly, said the beaming smiles on a small group of people who recently gathered to preview the accessibility options of the new site, demonstrated the feelings of the test users – who were blind or deaf and/or hard of hearing - at now being able to engage with the Archdiocese at a whole new level.

Test-user Geoffrey Scott, who has been deaf from birth and largely uses AUSLAN to communicate, said he was excited to see the captions and AUSLAN on videos.

"I felt really included because so many times I have felt not welcomed in the Church because there is no AUSLAN and I do not understand all the captions,” Mr Scott said.

"I am very happy that in the future all videos on the Archdiocesan web will have captions and AUSLAN.”

Mr Scott went on to say that he is also very happy to hear that further work will be done to increase accessibility options for the site and hopes that more information about the Catholic faith that has been translated into AUSLAN, will become available soon.

“This is the best way for people who use AUSLAN to learn,” Mr Scott said.

Fellow test user Marie, who has been legally blind since birth, was able to test the new website using her screen reading software, which reads the text and graphics information to her.

Marie went on to say that she is also happy to know that more text for the new site, such as homilies and articles, will become available in the coming weeks via podcast – which means she will be able to hear the information in a human voice.

“Computer speak is just not the same as the human voice,” Marie said. “I want to thank whoever it is who will be speaking to me,” she said.

Mrs Harris went on to say that the web design also addresses the needs of those who are colour-blind.

“High contrast helps to take the strain from reading and understanding the information,” she said.

“Others were very appreciative that the new website allows them to change the size of the text to make it easier to read,” she said.