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Press Release on IPO

From: Judy Brewer <JBrewer@w3.org>
Date: Wed, 29 Oct 1997 15:27:38 -0500
Message-Id: <3.0.32.19691231190000.00959e50@pop.w3.org>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
The recent World Wide Web Consortium's announcement of the International
Program Office for the Web Accessibility Initiative follows. 

Regards,

Judy

---------------


World Wide Web Consortium
Launches International
Program Office for Web
Accessibility Initiative 

Government, Industry, Research and
Disability Organizations Join Forces to
Promote Accessibility of the Web 

For immediate release

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WASHINGTON, DC, USA -- October 22, 1997 -- The World Wide
Web Consortium (W3C) today announced the launch of the
International Program Office (IPO) for the Web Accessibility
Initiative (WAI) to promote and achieve Web functionality for
people with disabilities. "The power of the Web is in its universality.
Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect,"
said Tim Berners-Lee, W3C Director and inventor of the World
Wide Web. "The IPO will ensure the Web can be accessed through
different combinations of senses and physical capabilities just as
other W3C activities ensure its operation across different hardware
and software platforms, media, cultures and countries." 

Judy Brewer, recently appointed Director of the IPO, affirmed that
"the W3C realizes the critical importance of the Web for people
with disabilities, and is committed to making the Web Accessibility
Initiative a success. We are proud to host this unique partnership.
Through the IPO, we will be coordinating with industry,
government, research, and disability organizations to ensure that
needs related to accessibility are addressed throughout the
Consortium's work, and that the message of an accessible Web is
carried as broadly as possible." 

World Wide Support 

The International Program Office is sponsored by a partnership of
government, industry, research, and disability organizations.
Endorsed by the White House, the IPO is funded by the National
Science Foundation, the Department of Education's National
Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, the European
Commission's TIDE Programme, and W3C industry members.
Industry sponsors include IBM/Lotus Development Corporation,
Microsoft Corporation, NCR, and Riverland Holding. In addition,
research and disability organizations on several continents
participate in the IPO. 

"The National Science Foundation recognizes the importance
computers can play in removing barriers," said Gary Strong,
Program Director for Interactive Systems at the National Science
Foundation. "Systems developed to aid people with disabilities may
help able-bodied people too. Research into speech recognition and
synthesis, automatic translation software, alternative interfaces
with computers, and new approaches to representing, transmitting
and storing information can have countless applications. Such
information technology can help move the 'information age' beyond
the 'information overload age' to a future where useful information
is accessible to all." 

"Access to information through technologies such as the web is
convenient for some, but for people with disabilities it is
increasingly what makes educational and employment opportunity
possible," said Kate Seelman, Director of the US Department of
Education's National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation
Research. 

Dr. Ing. Egidio Ballabio, Head of Division for Telematics
Applications : Directorate Generale 13, added "the Disabled and
Elderly Sector of the Telematics Applications Programme, formerly
TIDE (Technology Initiative for Disabled and Elderly People), will
provide financial and administrative support to the Web
Accessibility Initiative project (WAI). Telematics is part of the IV
Framework Programme of the European Community for Research,
Technological Development and Demonstration activities." 

"Having played an instrumental role in the creation and launch of
the Web Accessibility Initiative," said Mike Paciello, Executive
Director of the Yuri Rubinsky Insight Foundation, "the YRIF is
pleased to share in the announcement of the WAI IPO. We will
continue to push the envelope that leads to technology
advancements on behalf of people with disabilities and commend
the W3C for its continued leadership role." 

Renowned Leadership 

"The appointment of Judy Brewer as Director of the IPO/WAI is an
important step in advancing this critical initiative. With her proven
leadership, the efforts of the IPO/WAI will benefit not only the
special needs community, but all users of Web technology," said
John Patrick, Vice President, Internet Technology, IBM. 

"Judy's past experience as Project Director of MATP
[Massachusetts Assistive Technology Partnership], her
tremendous contribution to our TAAC [Telecommunications Access
Advisory Committee] development of Telecom96
[Telecommunications Act of 1996] accessibility guidelines and her
broad-based understanding of the E-Com [Electronic Commerce]
business benefits accessible web page design brings to the table
for big business qualifies Judy, more than anyone else, to lead the
WAI [Web Accessibility Initiative] into the new Millennium," said
Steve Jacobs, Senior Technology Consultant, NCR Corporation. 

Empowering Global Access 

"Software designed for accessibility makes good business sense.",
said Jonathan Roberts, Director of Windows Marketing for
Microsoft. "Access to the Internet has provided enormous benefits
to individuals with disabilities, and I expect that the IPO/WAI will
become a voice for setting standards and promoting the continued
accessibility of the Web." 

The International Program Office will coordinate the following five
activities with regard to Web accessibility: 

    data formats and protocols; 
    guidelines for browsers, authoring tools, and content creation;
    rating and certification; 
    education and outreach; and 
    research and advanced development 

The WAI has already has several active working groups and
expects to announce progress on the technical side before the end
of the year. According to Daniel Dardailler, W3C Web Accessibility
Initiative Project Manager, the WAI technical working group has
reviewed the format and protocol elements within the HTML 4.0
specification, and will be delivering their feedback to the W3C
HTML Working Group in the very near future. 

Larry Goldberg, Director of Media Access at the WGBH
Educational Foundation said, "WGBH congratulates the W3C on
the establishment of the International Programming Office on Web
Accessibility and its choice of Judy Brewer to be its head. The new
IPO will be an excellent source for raising of awareness and for
educating all web companies and supporters as to the need for
greater access for all people. WGBH and its National Center for
Accessible Media (NCAM) has been working closely with the W3C
to help address key issues for people with disabilities, especially
people who are blind or visually impaired or deaf or
hard-of-hearing. For this last group, the time is right now to deal
with issues of audio on the web since we are still early in that
development. NCAM looks forward to working with the IPO,
especially on the issues of making multimedia on the Web
accessible to people through closed captions and audio
descriptions." 

"The W3C's Web Accessibility Initiative presents an unprecedented
opportunity to bring together web authors, browser developers and
internet infrastructure architects to address the issue of access to
the next generation web in a way that would not otherwise be
possible," said Dr. Gregg Vanderheiden, Director of TRACE
Research and Development Center. "The result is that for the first
time we have an opportunity to address access for people with
disabilities (and those who are older or have low bandwidth
systems or are using smaller devices) in a systematic and effective
manner. This is important because the band aid approach that has
been used in the past has resulted in unnecessary work for web
designers and inadequate access by many web users. Given the
rate at which the web is being integrated into education and
employment settings, this development is essential for real access
to next generation education and employment environments for
people with disabilities and those who will be older." 

For more information on the International Program Office and the
Web Accessibility Initiative, please see http://www.w3.org/WAI/ 



About the World Wide Web Consortium [W3C] 

The W3C was created to develop common protocols that enhance
the interoperability and promote the evolution of the World Wide
Web. It is an industry consortium jointly run by the MIT Laboratory
for Computer Science (LCS) in the USA, the National Institute for
Research in Computer Science and Control (INRIA) in France and
Keio University in Japan. Services provided by the Consortium
include: a repository of information about the World Wide Web for
developers and users; reference code implementations to embody
and promote standards; and various prototype and sample
applications to demonstrate use of new technology. To date, over
215 organizations are Members of the Consortium. 

For more information about the World Wide Web Consortium, see
http://www.w3.org/ 

About the MIT Laboratory for Computer Science 

Now in its third decade, MIT LCS is dedicated to the invention,
development and understanding of information technologies
expected to drive substantial technical and socio-economic
change. The LCS has helped information technology grow from a
mere curiosity to 10 percent of the industrial world's economies by
its pioneering efforts in interactive computing, computer
networking, distributed systems and public key cryptography. LCS
members and alumni have started some thirty companies and have
pioneered the Nubus, the X-Window System, the RSA algorithm,
the Ethernet and spreadsheets. 

For more information about the MIT Laboratory for Computer
Science, see http://www.lcs.mit.edu/ 

About INRIA 

INRIA, the French National Institute for Research in Computer
Science and Control, is a public-sector scientific institute charged
with conducting both fundamental and applied research, and with
transferring research results to industry. INRIA is made up of five
Research Units located at Rocquencourt (near Paris), Rennes,
Sophia Antipolis, Nancy and Grenoble. Areas of current research
include information processing, advanced high speed networking,
structured documents, and scientific computation. 

For more information about INRIA, see http://www.inria.fr/ 

About Keio University 

Keio University is one of Japan's foremost computer science
research centers and universities. It is one of the oldest private
universities in Japan, and has five major campuses around Tokyo.
Keio University has been promoting joint research projects in
cooperation with industry, government and international
organizations, and is now becoming one of the research leaders for
the network and digital media technology. 

For more information on Keio University, see http://www.keio.ac.jp/ 

$Date: 1997/10/22 00:30:53 $
-------------------------------------------------------
Judy Brewer   jbrewer@w3.org     617-258-9741
Director, International Program Office
Web Accessibility Initiative, World Wide Web Consortium
MIT/LCS Room NE43-355
545 Technology Square, Cambridge MA 02138 USA
Received on Wednesday, 29 October 1997 15:27:12 GMT

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