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State Officials Want People With Disabilities To Have Internet Access

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RALEIGH — When it comes to the Internet, Kathy Brack of the N.C. Client Assistance Program cannot go far with Binky, her seeing-eye dog. The blind woman from Raleigh has an assistive program called a screen reader to "listen" to the state's new Web page,N.C. @ Your Service.

"I will hit the enter key, where as most of you use a mouse key, and it will read the links and then it will read interesting facts," Brack says.

Brack represents the 20 percent of North Carolinians who are disabled in some way. State leaders say government has a moral and legal obligation to make technology available to everyone.

Adaptive technology can put the disabled in the information mainstream.

"They have devices they can use either in their mouth, through a neck-motion detector or through speech recognition," says Mark Urban, PSINet consultant. "People who are deaf and blind often need to use a special thing called a braille keyboard or braille display."

Guidelines will now be recommended to theInformation Resource Management Commission, which will try to ensure access to state Web sites for people with disabilities. Financial aid and training for assistive technology is available through state agencies.

The commission will hear the recommendations at its next meeting.

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Tom Lawrence, Reporter
John Cox, Photographer
Kamal Wallace, Web Editor

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