In a remarkable sign of the times, a small but impressive number of CEOs have committed their companies to a series of actions aimed at improving access to information technology for people with disabilities. We commend these companies and President Clinton, who announced the effort as part of his continuing focus on the "digital divide" during a speech in Flint, Michigan on September 21.
Over 40 CEOs signed a pledge to: "develop accessibility guidelines and hold product groups accountable for implementing these guidelines where technically and economically feasible; involve people with disabilities in the design and testing of products and services; devote resources to address accessibility problems; provide employees with training to design accessible products and services; and support implementation of standards that advance accessibility, such as the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web accessibility guidelines."
Although not all participating companies on the list are household names, Microsoft, America Online, Hewlett-Packard, Compaq, AT and T, BellSouth, Sun Microsystems, and Adobe are among the technology leaders making the public commitment. This public pledge, though far from everything we might want, marks a significant step forward.
This issue examines access for people with low vision to the increasingly important mainstream world of handheld computers. The results are not impressive, but we note that Hewlett-Packard, Compaq, and Handspring are all leaders in this area and their CEOs have signed the open letter on accessibility.
Mark Uslan and his colleagues look at four video magnification products to see how well these manufacturers are meeting expectations. And, finally, Jay Leventhal and Deborah Kendrick got their hands on Pulse Data's BrailleNote. I think you'll be intrigued with the improving state of CCTV and notetaker technology.
This will be my last issue as Editor in Chief of AccessWorld. I have accepted a position as Vice President of Governmental Affairs at the American Foundation for the Blind, and I will change my role in AccessWorld to Senior Contributing Editor. I am grateful for the opportunity to have led the launch of this publication, and I am thrilled that Jay Leventhal will be taking over the lead editorial responsibilities. Along with the inevitable changes that come with new leadership, we will also be working to shape AccessWorld to respond to the feedback we received from focus groups and a reader survey.
Editor in Chief
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