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AN OPEN LETTER ON ACCESSIBILITY FROM TECHNOLOGY EXECUTIVES

 

The Honorable William Jefferson Clinton
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20500

September 21, 2000

Dear Mr. President:

As the CEOs of a number of America's leading high-tech companies, we strongly support your efforts to promote the accessibility of information and communications products and services for people with disabilities.

We believe that there are two compelling reasons to do so. First, accessible information technology can be a powerful tool for expanding opportunity in the emerging information society. If our products and services are designed to be accessible, people with disabilities will find it easier to work, access a growing universe of electronic information and services, and lead more independent lives. If we fail to do this, people with disabilities could be further isolated from the mainstream of our economy and our society. Second, there are sound economic and commercial incentives to make our products more accessible. Globally, there are over 750 million people with disabilities, and there are 54 million in the United States alone. Making our products accessible will also make it easier for us to serve the rapidly growing population of seniors. Moreover, increasing the accessibility of our products can often improve their functionality for everyone, not just for people with disabilities. Designing products and services that can give customers a choice of input and output mechanisms will help people with disabilities, but it will also help the mobile professional trying to access the Web on a handheld wireless device.

This issue requires private sector leadership. The federal government can help create the right policy environment, but it is ultimately companies that must design, develop and market accessible products and services. To make concrete progress on this issue, and to elevate its importance within our companies, all of us are committed to developing a corporate-wide policy on accessibility within the next six months. The specifics of our policies will vary because of the different markets that we serve, but all of us will seek to include the following private sector "best practices" as appropriate:

  • Raise the level of awareness of accessibility issues within our company, and provide our employees with the training they need to design accessible products and services;
  • Develop accessibility guidelines for products and services, and hold product development groups accountable for implementing these guidelines where technically and economically feasible;
  • Involve people with disabilities in the development of our accessibility guidelines, or in the design and testing of our products and services;
  • Devote sufficient product development and engineering resources to identify and rapidly address known accessibility problems, in future products and upgrades;
  • Make it easier for our developer community to create accessible products and services by making available training, guidelines, and technology solutions;
  • Document the accessibility features of our products and publicly-available services;
  • Support internal and external (e.g. university-based) research and development that will improve the state-of-the-art of accessible technology that is relevant to our products and services; and
  • Support implementation of standards that advance accessibility, such as the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) guidelines on accessible browsers, Web content and authoring tools.

As an industry, we will also commit to establishing a Web site that will collect private sector policies on accessibility as a way of encouraging the rapid dissemination and adoption of best practices. Thank you for your leadership on this important issue.

Sincerely,

 

John Warnock
CEO
Adobe Systems, Inc.

Stephen M. Case
Chairman & CEO
America Online, Inc.

C. Michael Armstrong
Chairman & CEO
AT&T

Duane Ackerman
Chairman & CEO
BellSouth

Michael D. Capellas
President & CEO
Compaq Computer Corp.

Meg Whitman
President & CEO
eBay, Inc.

Leo J. Hindery, Jr.
CEO
Global Crossing

Carly S. Fiorina
President & CEO
Hewlett-Packard Company

Rob Burgess
Chairman & CEO
Macromedia, Inc.

Steve Ballmer
CEO
Microsoft Corporation

Dr. Irwin M. Jacobs
Chairman of the Board
Qualcomm

Scott A. McNealy
Chairman & CEO
Sun Microsystems, Inc.

Eric A. Benhamou
Chairman & CEO
3Com Corporation

A James C. Morgan
Chairman & CEO
Applied Materials, Inc.

Donna Dubinsky
CEO
Handspring

John Keane
Chairman & CEO
Keane, Inc.

Peter Hering
President
PST, Inc.

Amardeep Lamba
President
Absolute Solutions, Inc.

Larry L. Petersen
President
Advanced Network Technologies, Inc.

David Lane
General Partner
Alpine Technology Ventures

Mark Hill
President
Baker Hill Corp.

David Westin
President & CEO
Channel Automation, Inc.

Hani MN Alaouie
President
Dearborn Technical Institute

Scott A. Martin
President
diCarta, Corp.

Paul Lippe
CEO
e-SKOLAR

Nick Grouf
CEO & Founder
PeoplePC, Inc.

Brad Beckman
CEO
JTBS, Inc.

Curt M. Vinson
President
Lyme Computer Systems

Lalit J. Chabria
President
Micropower Business Solutions

Marc Ostrofsky
President
Multimedia Venture Partners

Lars Nyberg
Chairman & CEO
NCR Corporation

George F. Adam, Jr.
Chairman & CEO
NEON New Era Networks

Rick Dutta
CEO
Nexgenix

Tim O’Reilley
Founder
O’Reilley & Associates

Jimmy Edwards
President & CEO
Premier Computing Training

Bob Young
Chairman
Red Hat, Inc.

Lucia Klebar
President
ProMentor

LaWanda Armstrong
President & CEO
QuesTech Communications

Ariel Kleckner
President & Founder
Red Gorilla

Sterling Ledet
President
Sterling Ledet & Associates, Inc.

Gregory M. Avis
Managing Partner
Summit Partners

Frank J. Ponzio, Jr.
President & Founder
Symbolic Systems, Inc.

Paul Okoye Chukwudi
President & CEO
Synergistic Software Solutions

William M. Nelson
CEO
Will Nelson Computer Services, Inc.

Arthur R. Rippey
President
World Technology Computer Learning Center, Inc.


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