Saturday, October 27, 2007

Web access for the visually impaired

The AT&T Foundation, the corporate philanthropy organization of AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T), announced today a $25,000 grant to the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) to expand access to affordable speech and screen-magnification products for adults with vision loss or low vision. “In an era in which we rely on the Internet for almost everything — from finding doctors to paying bills to filling prescriptions — it is critical that we provide affordable, user-friendly ways for people who are visually impaired to surf the Web,” said Judy Scott, director, AFB Center on Vision Loss.

“We are thrilled that AT&T is helping make that a reality.”Traditional screen-access technologies for reading computer output aloud and/or magnifying the text on the screen have revolutionized the way that blind and visually impaired individuals are able to use the Internet. However, the technology is often priced beyond people’s means and requires specialized instruction that is expensive and difficult to obtain.

The AT&T grant will allow AFB to evaluate and identify low-cost, easy-to-use technology that helps visually impaired people and people with eye diseases, such as macular degeneration and glaucoma, access the Internet.“AT&T believes that all people should have access to technology, no matter their physical situation,” said Holly Reed, senior vice president of External Affairs, AT&T. “We are excited to aid the American Foundation for the Blind’s effort to help visually impaired adults access the Internet with ease.”

AFB TECH experts will evaluate 10 of the newest, most affordable screen-reading technology programs. The two or three highest-rated programs will be sent to the AFB Center on Vision Loss in Dallas, where they will remain available for visitors to test and explore what works best for them. “Technology is an important part of our daily lives, and, unfortunately, many go without access to valuable tools because of physical restrictions,” said state Rep. Rafael Anchía.

“Thanks to programs implemented by the American Foundation for the Blind, those obstacles can be removed to allow individuals the benefit without affecting their pocketbooks.”By finding affordable, user-friendly technology, AT&T and AFB are committed to improving the Internet experience for visually impaired adults and enable them to use the Web to expand their possibilities in their everyday lives.


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