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media: Cyber Senator Unveils Senate's First Web Site for DisabledInternet Users

From: David Poehlman <poehlman@clark.net>
Date: Sat, 02 Sep 2000 18:29:19 -0400
Message-ID: <39B17F3F.C312A9FF@clark.net>
To: wai-ig list <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Cyber Senator Unveils Senate's First Web Site for Disabled Internet
Users

Contact: David Carle of the Office of Senator Patrick Leahy,
202-224-3693

WASHINGTON, Aug. 28 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Sen. Patrick Leahy
(D-Vt.) has produced the first home page in the U.S. Senate
that fully complies with new federal accessibility standards.

Government Web sites are expected to comply with the federal
standards by next spring. Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act
prohibits government agencies from using inaccessible technology,
which means Web sites must be modified to meet the needs of users
with disabilities.

As Web designers include more graphic elements and Web pages
become increasingly complex, it has become a challenge for those
with disabilities -- particularly those with vision and hearing
impairments -- to use the Web. The Leahy site,
http://leahy.senate.gov, includes a special link to the new
companion site that features a simpler design and text-only
pages. Doug Wakefield of the U.S. Access Board, an independent
federal agency that develops guidelines and provides technical
assistance on accessibility, confirmed that the site meets Section
508 requirements.

Leahy, whose Web site has consistently been named among the
best on Capitol Hill, has made these improvements to his site
a priority since he first became aware of the difficulties that
persons with disabilities were having using the Internet. Sometimes
called "the Cyber Senator" for his enthusiasm for and leadership
on Internet issues, Leahy in 1995 became only the second senator
to post a home page. The Vermont senator also has long been
concerned with closing the so-called "digital divide."

"The Internet is a marvelous tool that can make government more
accountable and more useful to citizens," said Leahy. "We need to
continually minimize the gap between the digital 'haves' and
'have-nots' as some citizens get left behind at the same lightning
pace at which the Internet advances. As we mark the tenth
anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, it is important
that we remain true to the goal of equal access where the Web is
concerned.

No one should be left behind in the Internet Revolution."

Designed by Leahy staffer Alesia Stein from Fairlee, Vt.,
the Leahy site has not only been made more user-friendly for
those with special needs, but this month also has gotten an
overall facelift. The Web-based tool "Bobby" was used by Leahy's
staff to evaluate the site's accessibility. Bobby,
www.cast.org/bobby , is a free service provided by Center for
Applied Special Technology.


-0-
/U.S. Newswire 202-347-2770/
08/28 10:48
Received on Saturday, 2 September 2000 18:27:24 GMT

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