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From: <IIDisab@aol.com>
Date: Sat, 10 Jul 1999 15:42:02 EDT
Message-ID: <cfe636bc.24b8fc0a@aol.com>
To: IIDisab@aol.com
Inter-American Institute on Disability

By Francisco Godinho, Portugal
W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) the agency responsible for the world 
standards related to the Web, published on May 5th its first document that 
will serve as a reference for the Accessibility on the Internet. (Ref 1)

The document's title is "Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0" (Ref 2) 
and it is designed to be a tool for website creators/designers so they know 
how to make or turn web pages fully accessible, as well as for people with 
disabilities who have difficulties in getting access to the information 
available on the Internet.

This means that cyberspace (in which the Web makes up part of the structure) 
has the potential to become a privileged place to access knowledge, 
employment, interaction and leisure for those who, because of their 
disabilities, normally have to face innumerous architectural, information and 
communication barriers, which make it impossible for them to experience life 
as others do.  

However, the creation of physical or electronic barrier-free environments 
depends very much on the economic and social development of each country.  In 
this context, the USA, Canada and Australia emerge as the main countries that 
promote accessibility on the Internet. (Ref 3)

However, several initiatives are emerging worldwide that aim to facilitate 
Internet access for people with disabilities.  One example is Bradesco, one 
of the largest Banks of Brazil that has developed Bradesco Net-Internet 
Banking for their visually impaired customers (Ref 4), with the goal of 
simplifying every day life for their customers.

Also, in February of 1999, the PASIG (Portuguese Accessibility Special 
Interest Group) submitted to the Portuguese Parliament, a petition for 
Internet accessibility. (Ref 5)  This petition, organized through Internet 
and signed by 9000 people, intends to impose accessibility rules to the 
information made available on the Internet by government and public services, 
with the purpose of facilitating its access to people with special needs, 
specially people with disabilities and the elderly.

Their application should allow:

1-	Interaction with computer systems without requiring vision, pointing 
devices, precise movements or simultaneous actions;
2-	The ability to understand information and navigate the web through 
auditory or visual means.

On last June 30, the Portuguese Parliament, through its Commission for 
Constitutional Affairs, Rights, Freedoms and Guarantees, fully supported the 
petition approving by unanimity a recommendation to the Government to 
consider the suggestions included in the petition, and also to adopts, in the 
shortest period of time, the necessary and adequate measures to ensure full 
accessibility to information for all citizens.

In the report (Ref. 6), the Commission considered that "In a way, the 
formulated in the petition are tributaries of the same principles of the  
existing legislation regarding the elimination of physical barriers to people 
with disabilities, specifically the Law 123/97, recently approved by the 
Government, which endorses the adoption of a set of technical rules to 
eliminate the architectonic barriers in public buildings, equipment and ways, 
in order to provide better accessibility for people conditioned mobility. In 
fact, the digital barriers which we are discussing are only  another 
dimension of the same accessibility problem faced by people with special need 
to access public services and so, it deserves consideration."

The Petition was the first official initiative of the PASIG - Portuguese 
Accessibility Special Interest Group which also joins other efforts that have 
been conducted in order to face the accessibility issue, as the "Web  
Accessibility Initiative" promoted by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) at  
the international level, or even the "National Initiative for the Citizens 
with Special Needs in the Information Society" (Ref. 7) promoted by the 
Portuguese Government through the Mission for the Information Society.

Now is time for the Government to take the proposed measures, so that 
Portugal becomes the fourth country in the world officially declaring the 
elimination of digital barriers on the Internet, after the United States,  
Australia and Canada.

These initiatives are a response to the needs of a great number of citizens 
that are still marginalized socially, culturally and professionally, and will 
represent a model to be followed by other countries.


Ref. 1
Ref. 2 
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 
Ref. 3
WAI Resource: Policy Related to Web Accessibility 
Ref. 4
Bradesco Net - Internet Banking for Visually Impaired 
Ref. 5
Petition for the Portuguese Internet Accessibility
Ref. 6
Parliament Report
Ref. 7
National Initiative for the Citizens  with Special Needs in the Information 

The author of the above article, Franciso Godinho, is a Rehabilitation 
Engineer and the promotor of PASIG (Portuguese Accessibility Special Interest 
Group) and of PASIG's mailing list (in Portuguese) on the same subject:
Email: guia.pasig@bigfoot.com
If you are interested in knowing sites of disability related organization in 
Portugal, visit the compiled site constructed by Francisco Godinho at "Farol 
da deficiencia, do Handicap e da Igauldade de Oportunidades" (Lighthouse of 
Disability, Handicap & Equal Opportunities) at 
http://www.acessibilidade.net/farol.html.  This is the most comprehensive 
compilation of sites related to the field in Portugal.  To find out more 
about the PASIG (GUIA), visit its home page at http://www.acessibilidade.net, 
Section "Para acompanhar de perto o trabalho do GUIA". (To follow closely 
GUIA's work).  Presently there are approximately 200 subscribers and it 
promises to become the biggest support network to people with disabilities in 
Portugal.  Most of the available information is in Portuguese, but they also 
use English as a second language.
Virtual Vision makes accessible Internet Banking for Visually Impaired
By Francisco Antonio Soeltl
President, MicroPower, Brazil
The Brazilian company MicroPower has developed the software Virtual Vision 
(VV) is a screen-reader that is inside of Bradesco Net - Internet Banking for 
the Visually Impaired. Bradesco is one of the largest banks of Brazil. The 
product, that currently works for Windows 98 and Office 97, offers good 
access through internet with IE 3.02.  Tests of IE5 are being finalized and 
soon, it will be launched the version 2.0.  
This product was indicated by Microsoft for the Smithsonian Award, and it was 
mentioned by Bill Gates in his last book. The MicroPower team was recently in 
Seattle, presenting Virtual Vision for Steve Ballmer, current president of 
Microsoft. Also recent it was the visit of the Managers of Bradesco Bank to 
Washington DC, to present the details of the product for the Smithsonian 
The development team of Virtual Vision is working directly with the Director 
of Accessibility of Microsoft to solve the problems that eventually appear 
and to implement the solutions.  
Virtual Vision uses the first synthesizer of high quality in Portuguese 
language, called DeltaTalk, also developed by MicroPower. It is adapted for 
the Brazilian and Portuguese keyboards. The product can be acquired in 
Portugal through its representative in Lisbon, Mr. Rui Fontes, Email: 
fontes@ip.pt .
For more information in Brazil, send your email for 
micropower@micropower.com.br , C/O- Mr. Mauricio. Communications available 
also in Spanish and English.

First course in Spanish of web accessible design
You can find the report of the first course in Spanish of web accessible 
design in: 

Contact person:

Emmanuelle Gutiérrez y Restrepo
Coordinator of SID@R (Seminario de Iniciativas sobre Discapacidad y 
Accesibilidad en la Red) of the Real Patronato de Prevención y de Atención a 
Personas con Minusvalía from Spain.
Tel.: +34 - 917 257 147
Fax: +34 - 913 614 493
E-mail: sinarmaya@mx3.redestb.es
URL: http://www.rppapm.es/sidar/

- Instituto Interamericano sobre Discapacidad 
    - Instituto Interamericano sobre Deficiência
 	  - Inter-American Institute on Disability 

Rosangela Berman Bieler
IID Headquarters, Washington, DC
711 Brent Road
Rockville, MD 20850 EUA
Tel.: 	1(301) 838-3031
Fax: 	1(301) 838-3029
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Received on Saturday, 10 July 1999 16:24:04 UTC

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