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American Foundation for the Blind and Interliant Mark Web Accessibility Breakthrough

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DATELINE: Jan. 17, 2001

Vice President Gore Applauds Creation of Site Featuring Enhanced Navigability for People with Disabilities; Site to Serve as Role Model for Businesses, Web Developers

The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB), the national advocacy organization whose mission is to eliminate the barriers faced by the 10 million Americans who are blind or visually impaired, and Interliant, Inc. (NASDAQ: INIT), a leading global application service provider, today announced the launch of AFB's completely redesigned Web site at www.afb.org . AFB re-architected the site using the design services of Interliant, which will host the new site from its Vienna, Virginia, data center. Vice President Al Gore praised the effort.

While people who are blind or visually impaired currently use assistive technologies such as screen readers and screen magnification devices to access the Web, most sites are not designed in such a way that these devices can properly read site content. The site that Interliant designed with AFB contains a range of features that make it compatible with the use of assistive devices and therefore accessible to people with disabilities. For example, graphics are labeled with text that can be read
aloud by screen readers, and the site offers low vision users a "change colors" feature that enables them to choose the color combination that is easiest to read. In addition, all audio on the site is also available in text in order to be accessible to those who are deaf or hearing impaired. 

"I applaud the American Foundation for the Blind for helping to make the Internet more accessible to those who are blind or visually impaired as well as all people with disabilities," said Vice President Al Gore. "We must eliminate the 'digital divide' for everyone in our society so that all can benefit from the fruits of our technological advances." 

The AFB site is unusual in that it combines complex functionality with an attractive visual environment and is designed to be accessible to people with all types of disabilities. It meets the stringent AAA guidelines of the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) established to help organizations build Internet sites that are accessible to people with disabilities. The AFB site could
also serve as a model for compliance with the newly published accessibility standards for Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1998, which require that all federal government sites providing information to the public be accessible to people with disabilities, since these standards are based on the WAI guidelines.

"Through her work with AFB, Helen Keller dedicated her life to full participation in society by people who are blind or visually impaired, and she understood early on the role technology would play in reaching that goal," said Carl R. Augusto, president and CEO of AFB. "We decided to create an American Foundation for the Blind Web site in her honor that meets WAI's AAA guidelines and is as exciting and interesting as any other site on the Internet. We hope that this site will serve as an entryway for many Americans who, like me, want to explore the Web, but find inaccessible designs a barrier to participation in the online community. 

"Since the 1930s when we invented Talking Books, AFB has been at the forefront of setting new standards of access to information for blind and visually impaired people," Augusto continued. "Given how critical the Internet has become for accessing information and for communicating with others, I'm thrilled to have created a site that accommodates people with all types of disabilities, meets AAA compliance and is visually appealing for sighted users." 



"We're proud to be part of providing such a significant technology advancement," said Leonard Fassler, Interliant co-chairman. "Our work with AFB represents a step forward in bridging the 'digital divide' for Americans with disabilities. And the technology used to redesign the AFB site can be used as a roadmap for other businesses and organizations that want to make their sites accessible to all." Fassler's personal interest in the project stems from his own experience in having a stepdaughter who is blind. 

"As a leading global application service provider, Interliant is committed to providing Internet innovation for all of our clients and all end users," Fassler continued. "We continually seek out new ways to bring valuable information and solutions to as many people as possible."

The technology used to redesign the AFB site has notable implications for e-commerce as well as for those selling products and services via Web-enabled devices such as next generation cell phones and personal digital assistants (PDAs). The 10 million Americans who are blind or visually impaired represent an underserved market for e-commerce transactions, since currently most e-commerce sites are difficult or impossible for blind or visually impaired people to access. Meanwhile, the same coding structure that is used to make Web sites accessible for
visually impaired people helps make sites accessible to those using Web-enabled devices.

Through the newly designed site, AFB provides its unparalleled wealth of resources and information directly not only to people who are blind or visually impaired, but also to the professionals who serve them, their friends and families and the general public. Through elements such as a searchable database of vision services nationwide, community message boards, job postings and the largest collection of Helen Keller memorabilia on the Web, AFB helps people find the information and services they need for enhanced quality of life.

Working with Interliant, Inc. (NASDAQ: INIT), AFB advanced its Web accessibility using XML programming and database-driven content management tools that are state-of-the-art. Through the work of AFB and Interliant, AFB now has a graphically rich site that is highly compatible with screen readers and magnification devices, which are crucial to the blind and visually impaired community.

About Interliant

Interliant, Inc. (Nasdaq:INIT) is a leading global application service provider (ASP) and pioneer in the ASP market. Interliant's INIT Solutions Suite includes messaging and knowledge management, security, e-commerce, customer relationship management, enterprise resource planning, distributed learning, Web-site hosting and Web-based rental applications. Interliant, headquartered in Purchase, NY, has forged strategic alliances with the world's leading software, networking and hardware manufacturers including Microsoft (Nasdaq:MSFT), Dell Computer Corporation (Nasdaq:DELL), Oracle Corporation (Nasdaq:ORCL), BMC Software (Nasdaq:BMCS), Network Solutions (Nasdaq:NSOL), IBM (NYSE:IBM), Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq:SUNW), and Lotus Development Corp. For more information about Interliant, visit www.interliant.com 

.About AFB

The American Foundation for the Blind-the organization to which Helen Keller devoted over 40 years of her life-is a national nonprofit whose mission is to eliminate the inequities faced by the ten million Americans who are blind or visually impaired.

Headquartered in New York City, AFB maintains offices in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, and San Francisco, and a governmental relations office in Washington, DC. For more information, visit www.afb.org

Interliant is a registered trademark and INIT Solutions Suite is a trademark of Interliant, Inc., in the US, other countries, or both. Other company, product, and service names may be trademarks or service marks of others.

This press release contains forward-looking statements that can be identified by the use of words such as "anticipate," "believe," "estimate," "expect," "intend," "may," "will," "plan," "forecast" and similar words and expressions. Such forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results, performance, achievements and the timing of certain events to differ significantly from the results discussed or implied in the forward-looking statements. Therefore, no forward-looking statement can be guaranteed. Important factors to consider in evaluating such forward-looking statements include changes in external competitive market factors, changes in Interliant's business strategy or an inability to execute Interliant's strategy due to unanticipated changes in its business, its industry or the economy in general, unforeseen difficulties in integrating acquisitions and other factors set forth more fully in Interliant's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 1999 and other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. It is not possible to foresee or identify all factors affecting Interliant's forward-looking statements and investors therefore should not consider any list of factors affecting Interliant's forward-looking statements to be an exhaustive statement of risks, uncertainties or potentially inaccurate assumptions. Interliant does not have a policy of updating or revising forward-looking statements, and thus it should not be assumed that Interliant's silence over time means that actual events are bearing out as expressed or implied in such forward-looking statements.

CONTACT: Interliant, Inc.
Rosanne Desmone, 703/762-1759
rdesmone@interliant.com

or

American Foundation for the Blind
Liz Greco-Rocks, 212/502-7614
lgreco@afb.net

 

 

 

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