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AN OPEN LETTER ON ACCESSIBILITY FROM RESEARCH UNIVERSITY PRESIDENTS

 

September 20, 2000

The Honorable William J. Clinton
President of the United States
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

As the Presidents of a number of America's leading research universities, we are writing to express our support for your efforts to make information and communications technologies more accessible for people with disabilities, and to describe what our universities are prepared to do to support this objective.

This is an important goal. If we design information and communications technologies so that they are accessible, people with disabilities will find it much easier to live, learn and work as we enter the Information Age. If we fail to do this, people with disabilities could become increasingly isolated from the economic and social mainstream. 

As universities with strong programs in engineering and computer science, we believe that we can make a significant contribution to this national goal. We educate the next generation of IT professionals and entrepreneurs, and provide continuing education for IT experts that are already in the workforce. Our faculty conducts the long-term research that often shapes and influences future developments in the information and communications industry, and which could lead to breakthroughs in accessibility. Each of our universities has unique assets that we can bring to bear on this problem, but we are all committed to taking concrete steps in this area. We will work to:

  •  Make "universal design" and accessibility part of the education that we provide to computer scientists and engineers at all levels -- undergraduate, graduate and continuing education;
  •  Ensure that our Web sites and on-line resources are accessible to people with disabilities;
  •  Look for ways to increase support for research to improve the state-of-the-art in this area by seeking federal, state, private sector and foundation funding -- and providing internal "seed funding" to new or existing faculty that wish to pursue this as a research topic;
  •  Contribute to efforts by the federal government to develop a comprehensive research agenda in this area;
  •  Help train experts who can serve as a national resource on this issue by participating in standards-setting efforts that incorporate accessibility, evaluating the accessibility of IT products and services, and providing technical assistance to companies seeking to enhance the accessibility of their products and services;
  •  Develop a strategy for increasing participation of people with disabilities in our computer science and engineering programs; and 
  •  Encourage our faculty who are developing cutting-edge applications of  IT to consider accessibility concerns.

Thank you for your leadership in this important area.

Sincerely,

President Richard Atkinson 
University of California System

President David Baltimore
California Institute of Technology

President Henry S. Bienen
Northwestern University

President Sheila E. Blumstein
Brown University

President Lee C. Bollinger
University of Michigan

President William R. Brody
The Johns Hopkins University

President Carol A. Cartwright
Kent State University

President G. Wayne Clough
Georgia Institute of Technology

President Jared L. Cohon
Carnegie Mellon University

President Scott S. Cowen
Tulane University

President Larry R. Faulkner
The University of Texas at Austin

Chancellor Robert Hemenway
The University of Kansas

President Martin C. Jischke
Purdue University

President William E. Kirwan
The Ohio State University

President Donald N. LangenbergR
University of Maryland System

President Francis L. Lawrence
Rutgers, The State of University of New Jersey

President Katharine C. Lyall
University of Wisconsin System

President Peter McPherson
Michigan State University

Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg
University of Pittsburgh

President Charles W. Steger
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

President James J. Stukel
University of Illinois

President Charles M. Vest
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Chancellor David Ward
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Chancellor James H. Woodward
University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton
Washington University in St. Louis

 

 

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