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San José Wins Helen Putnam Award

San José Public Library Shares Honors with the City of San José- Award Recognizes Development and Implementation of Web Disability Access Design Standards

The City of San José was named Sunday, October 12, 1997 as a winner of the prestigious Helen Putnam Award for Excellence during the opening session of the League of California Cities' annual conference in San Francisco's Moscone Center.

San José was named Grand Prize winner in the Community and Internet Networks Category, both for creating a Disability Access Design Standard for the City's web site and for San José Public Library's implementation of the standard on its home page.

"This is a prestigious award," said Assistant City Manager Debra Figone upon learning of the award. "It's a great honor for the City, our Library, and the Office of Equality Assurance which first recognized the need for a standard to ensure that people with disabilities could visit the City's web site."

The Disability Access Design Standard, which was developed by Cynthia D. Waddell, the City's Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Coordinator, is designed to make the City web site as accessible as possible to all people, regardless of their disability or the limitations of their equipment or software. "Just as curb cuts enable people who use wheelchairs to navigate the City, electronic curb cuts enable those with hearing, visual and learning disabilities to navigate the Web," Waddell said. Innovations designed to fulfill a specific need often turn out to have unexpected side benefits for the public at large. For example, voice technology designed for users with visual disabilities may also benefit a learner enrolled in a literacy program by providing simultaneous feedback on reading comprehension.

The Standard was incorporated into the city library's recently opened web site, a friendly and attractive place that provides a wealth of information including Business and Job/Career resources, a "Just for Kids" section, Internet training pages, and Multicultural and Disability Access pages.

The City's Disability Access Design Standard, which is available on the City's home page, has brought national attention to the City web site. The U.S. Center on Information Technology Accommodation has created a link to the City's home page as an example of a "best practices" model for the nation. Waddell regularly uses the library's web site to demonstrate implementation of disability access design standards at various forums. Since the web site debuted in April of this year, it has been featured at the 6th Annual World Wide Web Conference (Stanford, CA), Partnerships '97 Conference (Washington, DC), and the International Leadership Forum for Women with Disabilities (Bethesda, MD), among others

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