Fact Sheet: Clinton - Gore Administration Accomplishments in Creating Digital Opportunity for People with Disabilities (9/21/00)
         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 operator services.

?  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
informational materials.

?  Proposing a More Than Seventeen-Percent Increase in Assistive Technology
Initiatives for FY 2001. The Administration?s 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 Administration?s 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 the ICDR.

?  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 families.

?  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.


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