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[Fwd: WEB: accessible www.electrichoice.com]

From: David Poehlman <poehlman@clark.net>
Date: Mon, 30 Aug 1999 08:07:45 -0400
Message-ID: <37CA7411.7B3AC59D@clark.net>
To: WAI Interest Group <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
and what about the rest of us?

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: WEB: accessible www.electrichoice.com
Date: Sun, 29 Aug 1999 23:52:06 -0400
From: Visually Impaired Pittsburgh Area Computer
Enthusiasts!<vipace@VIPACE.ORG>
Reply-To: Visually Impaired Pittsburgh Area Computer
Enthusiasts!<vipace@VIPACE.ORG>
Organization: VIPACE!
To: VICUG-L@MAELSTROM.STJOHNS.EDU

VIPACE co-ordinator Vicky Vaughan was present at last week's press
conference announcing this site.

Subject: Associated Press Article

Article:
"Group hopes Web site spurs better Internet access for blind"
by TIM MOLLOY
Associated Press Writer
- an AP Photo is shown.


BRIDGEVILLE, Pa. (AP) _ Typical errands can be hard for the blind. A
trip
to the store often means finding transportation, walking through
unfamiliar surroundings and then relying on clerks for help. But
advocates for the blind are trying to make sure the Internet isn't so
tough to navigate. One of the latest ways, they say, is the
Pennsylvania
ElectriChoice Program's Web site, which allows Pennsylvania customers
to
choose their power company. The program's Web site, introduced at a
news
conference Tuesday, (August 24, 1999) allows people to see images
enlarged, hear text read aloud or read it themselves in Braille. The
ElectriChoice site, located at www.electrichoice.com, is designed to
be
used with magnification software, Braille displays, and screen
"readers"
that allow text to be read with speech synthesizers. Pittsburgh Vision
Services and other groups dedicated to helping the blind and those who
have poor eyesight are hoping others will use the technology that went
into creating the ElectriChoice Web site to make their own sites more
accessible.

"If I find a Web site that's accessible, I'm going to buy from them as
opposed to a Web site that isn't," said Spero Pipakis, who is blind
and
used the ElectriChoice Web site to change the company providing energy
to his home.

Pennsylvania is one of the few states where customers can do so, and
roughly 450,000 have used the program to change companies so far, said
PUC spokeswoman Maureen Mulligan. The state runs the program with
power
companies eager to benefit from customers scouring the Internet for
cheaper rates.

Crista Earl, a resource specialist for the New York-based American
Foundation for the Blind, said blind people can have most of the text
on
the Internet converted to sound or Braille with technology like that
used on the ElectriChoice Web site. In the cases of Web sites that are
not
accessible, blind consumers often stage e-mail or letter writing
campaigns
to complain, and most companies quickly upgrade their sites, Ms. Earl
said.

Vicki Vaughan, a member of a group called Visually Impaired Pittsburgh
Area Computer Enthusiasts, said at least 40 percent of the Web sites
she
uses are inaccessible to the blind. That's especially bad because
cruising
the Internet would be an ideal way to avoid the inconveniences of
shopping, she said.


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Received on Monday, 30 August 1999 08:09:04 UTC

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