Fact Sheet: Public and Private Initiatives to Create Digital Opportunity for People with Disabilities (9/21/00)
                            September 21, 2000

?  Leading high-tech CEOs pledge to develop a corporate-wide policy on
accessibility: In a letter to President Clinton, the CEOs of leading
high-tech companies, including 3Com, Adobe, AOL, AT&T, Bell South, Compaq,
eBay, Global Crossing, Handspring, Hewlett-Packard, Macromedia, Microsoft,
NCR, PeoplePC, Qualcomm, Red Hat, and Sun Microsystems, have committed to
develop a corporate-wide policy on accessibility within six months.
Currently, very few high-tech companies have such a policy.  These policies
will include "best practices" such as:
?  Training their workers to develop accessible products and services;
?  Giving their developers adequate resources to design accessible products
and services;
?  Identifying and fixing accessibility problems in new versions of their
hardware and software; and
?  Supporting research and development to improve the state-of-the-art of
assistive technology.

?  Presidents of  25 of the nation's top research universities agree to
expand research and education on accessibility: In a letter to President
Clinton, the presidents of 25 of the nation's top research universities
including University of California, University of Michigan, and MIT, have
agreed to take a number of important steps to expand research and education
on accessibility, including: ensuring that computer scientists and
engineers receive training on accessibility; expanding the number of
faculty who conduct research on accessibility; and ensuring that university
online resources are accessible to people with disabilities.  For example,
the College of Engineering of the University of Wisconsin will create a new
educational program on design and human disability that will involve the
creation of additional tenure track faculty positions.

?  SmartForce, an e-learning company, will provide $20 million worth of
free access to its online training material to at least 5,000 people with
disabilities: SmartForce will donate $20 million worth of "e-scholarships"
to people with disabilities, working in partnership with the Association of
Rehabilitation Programs in Computer Technology at Western Michigan
University.  At least 5,000 people per year for the next three years will
be able to get free access to on-line training in areas such as information
technology and financial management.  An online support center will provide
e-testing and mentoring during the learning process.

?  President Clinton will direct his Cabinet to create a task force on
Medicare/Medicaid coverage of assistive technology: President Clinton will
direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services and other members of his
Cabinet to form an interagency Task Force on Health Care Coverage of
Assistive Technologies.  Currently, the Medicare and Medicaid programs
provide essential health coverage to nearly 12 million people with
disabilities.  The task force will be charged with examining existing
Medicare and Medicaid coverage of assistive technologies, and making
recommendations on how to best enhance such coverage in order to support
independent living and employment for people with disabilities.  This
review is particularly important and timely because the historic Ticket to
Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act signed by President Clinton allows
people with disabilities to maintain their Medicare and Medicaid coverage
even after they return to work.

?  President Clinton will call on Congress to reauthorize AmeriCorps and
will announce that AmeriCorps will today award $9 million in grants to
support 1,200 AmeriCorps volunteers to help close the digital divide,
including people with disabilities: AmeriCorps grants will  support efforts
by 1,200 AmeriCorps volunteers to help close the digital divide.
AmeriCorps volunteers will be helping teachers learn how to use technology,
staffing Community Technology Centers, and giving at-risk youth the skills
they need to become technologically literate.  Several of the projects
focus on the needs of people with disabilities, such as a project in North
Carolina that will give 300 blind and visually impaired students of all
ages computer and Internet skills.  This example of the work that
AmeriCorps can do to close the digital divide will be cited by the
President as a reason to reauthorize AmeriCorps and include an "E-Corps"
component in the reauthorization.  E-Corps will encourage the training of
AmeriCorps volunteers in computers and technology in communities to help
bridge the digital divide.

?  National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research will
invest $2.5 million to expand partnership with industry to make World Wide
Web accessible for people with disabilities: The Department of Education's
National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) will
provide $2.5 million in funding over the next 5 years to the World Wide Web
Consortium's Web Accessibility Initiative at MIT. This initiative will
develop guidelines to ensure that Web content and Web software is
accessible for people with disabilities, and will educate developers about
the importance of implementing these guidelines.  This work is critical
because the Web now provides access to over 2 billion pages of information,
and is becoming increasingly important in the workplace, for electronic
commerce, and for government services.

?  Department of Education will fund new partnership to make online
learning accessible to people with disabilities: The Department of
Education will provide a $1.8 million grant under the Administration's
Learning Anytime Anywhere Partnership to a new initiative that will help
make online learning accessible for people with disabilities.  The project
will be led by the WGBH National Center for Accessible Media and the IMS
Global Learning Consortium.  Industry partners include Blackboard, Inc.,
Educational Testing Service, Pearson Education, Sun Microsystems,
PeopleSoft, and Saba Software.  The project will impact the accessibility
of online resources in all learning environments, including K-12 education,
post-secondary education, and workplace training.

?  Department of Education will provide a $7.5 million grant to the Georgia
Institute of Technology to increase the accessibility of electronic and
information technology: The Department of Education will provide a 5-year,
$7.5 million grant to the Georgia Institute of Technology's Center for
Rehabilitation Technology.  This grant will provide training and technical
assistance on universal design to technology manufacturers, product
designers, and purchasers of information technology.  It will also help
improve the implementation of federal laws such as Section 255 of the
Telecommunications Act and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.

?  The C.S. Mott Foundation will fund a ?Task Force on Equal Access to
Technology and Opportunity.  With funding from the Mott Foundation, the
Disability Network of Flint, Michigan, will create a one-year blue-ribbon
commission that will bring together diverse sectors of society to address
long-term challenges in the accessibility of information technologies.
First, the Task Force will address the problem of affordability.  Many
people with disabilities are unable to afford basic computer technology and
Internet access, let alone high-end and costly specialized assistive
devices.  The Task Force will explore financing mechanisms and strategies
for building on the foundation of the Tech Act Projects.  Second, the Task
Force will focus on education and outreach to colleges and universities to
help with improve the integration of accessibility and usability into
academic curricula and university services.  The Task Force will consist of
15-20 members representing industry, colleges and universities, technology
experts, disability advocates, and government.  It will meet four times
over the coming year, issue a report, and develop model action plans for
dissemination to different sectors of society.

?  Microsoft, Community Options, and other public and private partners will
create a business incubator - with special emphasis on entrepreneurs with
disabilities: Microsoft, Community Options, the New Jersey Community Loan
Fund, the New Jersey Technology Council, the New Jersey Association of
Women Business Owners and other partners will create a business incubator
targeted to low-income individuals, with priority given to people with
disabilities.  The New Jersey-based incubator will provide low-cost office
space, customized technology support, and business planning expertise.

?  Sun Microsystems will partner with GNOME Foundation to make open source
desktop software accessible for people with disabilities: Sun Microsystems
will create a new accessibility lab that will make GNOME software
accessible for people with disabilities.    Sun is also committed to
establishing a fund that will be able to accept contributions from
companies and individuals to make open source software accessible for
people with disabilities.  GNOME is a free, open-source desktop environment
that makes it easier for people to use Linux and other similar operating
systems.  Open source software may be freely distributed and modified by

?  President's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities will
announce expansion of High School/High Tech program to 4 new cities and 3
new states: The High School/High Tech provides opportunity for students
with disabilities to explore exciting careers in science and technology.
The program uses site visits, mentoring, shadowing, and paid summer
internships to allow students to prepare for careers in scientific,
engineering and technology-related fields.  The President's Committee on
Employment of People with Disabilities has identified local partners that
will expand High School/High Tech in 4 urban areas (Atlanta, Los Angeles,
Orlando, Chicago) and 3 states (Col., Wisc., and Michigan).

?  CompTIA will partner with Compaq and National Cristina Foundation to
provide scholarships and training for certification in IT jobs, with some
resources targeted to people with disabilities: CompTIA, the Computing
Technology Industry Association, will dedicate $1 million to create
scholarships for the general population, including people with
disabilities, to provide training for IT service and support positions.
Compaq will match this commitment with $100,000 for scholarships targeted
specifically to people with disabilities.  In conjunction with these
commitments, CompTIA is partnering with the National Cristina Foundation to
develop a National Computer Re-Utilization Network to provide training
organizations that serve teens, veterans, people with disabilities, and
other under-served communities with re-furbished technology.

?  Department of Education will award a $2 million grant to strengthen
Community Technology Centers, make them more accessible for people with
disabilities: The Department of Education will award a $2 million grant to
the "America Connects Consortium" to help create, improve and sustain
Community Technology Centers through technical assistance.  These centers
provide access to technology and the skills needed to use it, typically to
low-income families that do not have computers and Internet access.  One of
the consortium partners, the Alliance for Technology Access, will help the
centers ensure that they are accessible to people with disabilities and are
meeting their needs.  The Department of Education is already supporting or
expanding 595 CTCs; President Clinton has proposed a $100 million budget
initiative in FY2001 to create an additional 1,000 centers.

?  National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research will award
$6.6 million in grants to create or expand state loan programs for
assistive technology, bridge the digital divide for children: The
Department of Education's NIDRR will award $3.8 million to six states to
expand loan programs in 6 states: Virginia, Kansas, Missouri, Maryland,
Pennsylvania and Utah.  This program will increase the ability of people
with disabilities to purchase assistive technology devices and services.
NIDRR will also award a 4-year, $2.8 million grant to create the University
of Kentucky Assistive Technology Research Institute to conduct research on
assistive technology that has potential to help bridge the digital divide
for children with disabilities.

?  NCR will provide free training on benefits of accessibility from a
business perspective:
NCR is partnering with IDEAL at NCR and EASI (Equal Access to Software and
Information) to create a workshop, ?The Global Business Benefits of
Designing Accessible and Usable Electronic and Information Technology.?
This workshop will be offered on-line to 400 participants free of charge.

?  Department of Commerce will help small community-based organizations
provide Web-based services to people with disabilities: The National
Telecommunications and Information Administration?s Technology
Opportunities Program will provide a grant to the Pangea Foundation, based
in San Diego, California.  The foundation will create Web-based templates
that will make it easy for organizations to enter information in a format
that is accessible to people with disabilities.  People with disabilities
will be able to find information on local services through a central
clearinghouse on the Web in a format that they can use.  The Administration
has proposed tripling the budget for the Technology Opportunities Program
from $15 million to $45 million so that the government can support creative
uses of information technology for underserved communities.

?  Center for Applied Special Technology will develop improved version of
Web accessibility tool with private sector support: CAST will upgrade its
freely available tool for improving the accessibility of Web sites.  The
new version will have an improved ability to analyze the accessibility of
web sites, and the ability to interactively repair problems that are found.
Current sponsors include IBM, Microsoft, Mitsubishi Electric Foundation,
Sun Microsystems, and HalfthePlanet.com.

?  The Colorado Computer Training Institute will sponsor the first annual
Rocky Mountain Accessibility Internet Rally: CCTI will provide training to
Web site developers to make them accessible to individuals with hearing,
visual, learning or physical impairments.  On December 2, web developers
from participating companies will unveil those parts of their web sites
that have been redesigned.  On the same day, web designers will compete to
develop accessible web sites for local non-profit groups.  This replicated
a successful Accessible Internet Rally organized by the Austin-based
nonprofit, Knowbility.


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