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[press release] On-Line Tax Filing Services Agree To Make Sites Blind-Accessible For 2000 Tax Season

From: Kathleen Anderson <kathleen.anderson@po.state.ct.us>
Date: Mon, 17 Apr 2000 17:51:45 -0400
Message-ID: <38FB8771.626E399D@po.state.ct.us>
To: wai-ig list <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
http://www.cslnet.ctstateu.edu/attygenl/press/2000/health/blind.htm

text version follows

Connecticut Attorney General's Office Press Release

Attorney General, National Federation Of Blind Applaud On-Line Tax
Filing Services For Agreeing To Make Sites BLIND-ACCESSIBLE For 2000 Tax
Season

Date: April 17, 2000

                                   Attorney General Richard Blumenthal
today
                               was joined by Dr. Marc Maurer, President
of the
                               National Federation of the Blind (NFB),
in
                               announcing agreements with four companies
--
                               HDVest, Intuit, H & R Block, and Gilman &
Ciocia -
                               - that provide on-line federal income tax
filing
                               services to make their Internet sites
accessible to
                               the blind. 

                                   The four companies have agreed to
work
                               with the Attorney General and the NFB to
                               change the coding for each of the five
websites
                               in question -- hdvest.com, turbotax.com,
                               e1040.com, hrblock.com, and taxcut.com --
to
                               enable blind individuals to access the
sites.
                               According to the Attorney General, the
changes
                               will greatly improve the ability of blind
individuals
                               to access the sites through the use of
standard
                               screen reader programs, which can
translate
                               screen information to Braille or
computerized
                               speech formats. 

                                   These code changes will include
                               implementation of recommendations by the
                               World Wide Web Consortium, an
international
                               organization that works to develop
universal
                               standards for HTML coding. HTML is the
computer
                               language used to create and design
websites. It
                               allows users to move from page to page
within
                               and between websites. 

                                   "The blind should have equal rights
and
                               effective access in traveling the
Internet's
                               information highway. Disabled Americans
should
                               not have to reinvent or reassert such
basic rights
                               in the new Information Age, just because
the
                               means of access now is a computer rather
than
                               stairs or sidewalks," said Blumenthal.
"Filing tax
                               returns electronically is one example --
but only
                               one -- of essential access that should be
                               guaranteed. Rights must be protected --
kept
                               real, not virtual -- even in this age of
new
                               technology." 

                                   "Blind people can and do make
extensive
                               use of computer programs and the
Internet, so
                               naturally we are thrilled these companies
have
                               decided to work with us to ensure that
their sites
                               are accessible to the blind," said
National
                               Federation of the Blind President Marc
Maurer.
                               "The world of technology is constantly
growing
                               and changing, however, so this is a first
step in a
                               longer journey." 

                                   Each company's web site was recently
listed
                               on the Internal Revenue Service's
official web site
                               as an on-line partner for the purpose of
                               electronically filing federal income tax
returns.
                               Each site, however, proved inaccessible
to the
                               blind upon testing by the Attorney
General and
                               the National Federation of the Blind. The
Attorney
                               General and the NFB alerted the four
companies
                               that their web sites were in violation of
Title III of
                               the Americans with Disabilities Act,
which requires
                               public accommodations to take reasonable
steps
                               to ensure accessibility to individuals
with
                               disabilities. The four companies have
issued written
                               assurances that they will work with the
Attorney
                               General and the NFB to make their web
sites
                               accessible to the blind in time for the
2000 tax
                               season. 



-- 
Kathleen Anderson
State Comptroller's Office
Hartford, Connecticut 06106
voice: (860) 702-3355   fax: (860) 702-3634
e-mail: kathleen.anderson@po.state.ct.us
URL OSC: http://www.osc.state.ct.us/
URL ACCESS: http://www.cmac.state.ct.us/access/
AWARE: http://aware.hwg.org/
Received on Monday, 17 April 2000 17:53:11 GMT

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