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THE ACCESSIBLE FUTURE

June 21, 2001

National Council on Disability
1331 F Street, NW, Suite 1050
Washington, DC 20004-1107

202-272-2004 Voice
202-272-2074 Text Telephone
202-272-2022 Fax

 

 

 

On June 21, 2001, the date of the Section 508 implementation, a report entitled "The Accessible Future" was released by the National Council on Disability (NCD).

We are  pleased to inform you that the "The Accessible Future" cites to the work of Cynthia Waddell, who is on the Advisory Board of the Center.   The work citied is: "Applying the ADA to the Internet." This is especially interesting in that the majority of cites are to statutes and case law, not to papers written by individuals.

The NCD is an independent federal agency designated by the US Department of State to be the US government's official contact for disability issues. NCD plays a major role in developing disability policy in the US and originally proposed what eventually became the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Their website is http://www.ncd.gov  and the paper is located at

http://www.ncd.gov/newsroom/publications/accessiblefuture.html  or

http://www.ncd.gov/newsroom/publications/pdf/accessiblefuture.pdf 

Executive Summary

In the currency of daily life, what is more important yet more taken for granted than access to information? But for many people with disabilities, the information access and exchange that most of us take for granted is difficult or impossible, or can be achieved only with the intervention of third parties or through the use of Electronic and Information Technology (E&IT).* The reasons people with disabilities lack access to information in our society are perhaps more significant and certainly more within our control than the lack itself. The explanation increasingly lies not in disability, but in the design of the technology that mediates our access to and use of all types of information.

For Americans generally, the expectation of access to information is taken for granted, almost to the point of being considered a right. Who would question that in America we advertise job openings so the broadest range of qualified people may have the opportunity to compete for them? We attach such importance to timely notice from government regarding its decisions about our lives--denial of a disability claim, demand for additional taxes, granting of a driver's license--that our rights to such information are enshrined in law, even reaching the status of constitutional due process. And we recognize that information from and about government is essential to the functioning of our democracy and to the individual's exercise of the responsibilities of citizenship. How outraged would we be if the opportunity to compete for the promotion were not posted, if the grant or denial of our driver's license were never made known, or if the text of official pronouncements were not published?

No one would dispute that people with disabilities have the same right and need for information everyone else has. Paradoxically, at the very time when many people comfortably assume that technology is steadily bringing people with disabilities more opportunities for access than they have ever known before, this same technology (coupled with the attitudes and expectations of those who use it) may in many cases be reinforcing patterns of exclusion and isolation.

This report looks at federal enforcement of key laws (i.e., the Americans with Disabilities Act [ADA], Section 255 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, as amended) and how such enforcement relates to electronic and information technology. As used in this report, E&IT particularly involves the Internet, the World Wide Web, and select information/transaction machines.

The remainder of the paper is located at: 

http://www.ncd.gov/newsroom/publications/accessiblefuture.html  or

http://www.ncd.gov/newsroom/publications/pdf/accessiblefuture.pdf 

 

 

 

 

 

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