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Clinton Gore Administration Accomplishments in Closing the
Digital Divide for those With Disabilities
Clinton Gore Administration
Accomplishments in Creating
Digital Opportunity for People with Disabilities
September 21, 2000
President Clinton and Vice President Gore have worked to
ensure that people with disabilities will be full participants in the
Information Age. Creating digital opportunity for people with disabilities is
particularly important, since it increases their ability to work, gain new
skills using online learning, tap in to the rapidly growing universe of
electronic information, and improve their quality of life by exchanging e-mail
with people with shared interests. Below are just some of the steps that
President Clinton and Vice President Gore have taken to help create digital
opportunity for Americans with disabilities.
Ensuring that the Telecommunications Revolution
Benefits All. President Clinton and Vice President
Gore fought for the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which requires that
telecommunications equipment and services be accessible to individuals with
disabilities. In 1999, the Federal Communications Commission adopted rules
implementing Section 255 of the Telecom Act, which will ensure that people with
disabilities have access to telephones, cell phones, pagers, call waiting, and
Ensuring the Federal Government Provides Accessible Technology and
In August 1998, the President signed into law the Workforce Investment
Act of 1998, which included in the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998. The
revised "Section 508" requires that when Federal agencies develop, procure,
maintain, or use electronic and information technology, they must ensure that
it is accessible to people with disabilities. Because the federal government is
a large purchaser of information technology, this law will accelerate the
development of accessible technologies.
Signing the Assistive Technology Act. With the support of the
Clinton-Gore Administration, Congress passed the Assistive Technology Act of
1998 (ATA). The ATA supports state efforts such as training, technical
assistance, alternative loan programs, demonstration centers, information and
referral hotlines, web sites, technology expos, and the development of
Proposing a More Than Seventeen-Percent Increase in Assistive
Technology Initiatives for FY 2001. The Administrations FY 2001
budget includes $100 million (a $13.5 million increase) for disability and
technology research at the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation
Research (NIDRR) and $41 million (a $7 million increase) for Assistive
Technology Act funds to States:
NIDRR would launch a comprehensive technology initiative that
includes technical assistance and training to elementary and secondary schools
adopt accessible technology for students with disabilities.
The Administrations request also includes $15 million to
support grants that establish or maintain alternative loan financing programs.
Many people with disabilities do not have the private financial resources to
purchase the assistive technologies they need. If approved, this increase would
significantly enhance opportunities for individuals with disabilities to take
advantage of assistive technology.
Developing a Strategy for the Development and Transfer of
Assistive Technology and Universal Design. In July 2000, President Clinton
directed the Interagency Committee on Disability Research (ICDR) to work with
the disability and research communities to identify priority areas for the
advancement of assistive technologies and universal design capabilities, and to
publish this information within 120 days. Following issuance of the report,
each major research agency must develop a strategy for enhancing the transfer
of technology that can contribute to the needs and requirements identified by
Creating the Access America for People with Disabilities Website.
On the 10th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act,
the President announced a new website, Access America for People with
Disabilities -- www.disAbility.gov -- which will serve as a
"one-stop" electronic link to an enormous range of useful information available
throughout the Federal government for people with disabilities and their
Advancing the state-of-the-art of assistive technology: As
part of the Administration's proposed increase for the National Science
Foundation, the Administration has proposed increases in R&D that will
benefit people with disabilities, such as a "seeing eye" computer that could
help people who are blind, or technologies that could automatically turn speech
into text for people who are deaf.