The official Internet standards body, The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), last week introduced a technology plan that ensures the elderly and disabled can use the Internet.
The W3C teamed up with several industry players, including Microsoft, IBM, Lotus and Softquad International, to launch the Web Accessibility Initiative which is designed to ensure software and hardware companies are aware of the needs of disabled people using the Web.
The principal concern of the organisation is to ensure disabled people who need to use the Internet at work can do so properly.
At the opening ceremony of the W3C's sixth conference in California, the slogan "Everyone, everything, connected" was used to assure observers no one would be left out. James Miller, technology leader at the W3C, said: "We have to remember that the Internet is a tool for everyone. There are many disabled people who are at work using this technology, but not to its full potential. This, in effect, puts them at risk. We have to try and work this problem out and we've got the right guys working with us."
As well as looking at the development of technology and tools to improve accessibility, the W3C is also calling for guidelines to be set up for content developers so their information is available to all. It is also pressing software companies to be more aware of the needs of disabled people, particularly in the workplace.
Miller commented: "We cannot allow these people to become disenfranchised from the Internet as we approach the next millennium."
Further information is available at: www6conf.slac.stanford.edu/
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