The Theme is Accessibility...
Most of us take for granted our ability to communicate with
other people. While face-to-face communication is most
natural, there is often some intervening technology which
enables us to cut across time or distance. This technology
ranges from simple pencil and paper to complex
telecommunications systems involving computers, modems,
telephone systems, the Internet, the World Wide Web, and
satellites. Increasingly, businesses and government
departments are turning to machine-based communication
systems for handling interactions within and beyond the
workplace. If you want to make a reservation on an airline,
look up a book in a library, or balance your checkbook, you
may be obliged to use one of these systems. This may work
well for people who already own computers and are able to
use them. But what about the other segments of the
As we move towards a highly connected world, we must ensure
that the tools for working in that world are usable by
anyone, regardless of individual resources, capabilities and
The disadvantaged come in many forms. Let us not forget the needs of
the community just around the corner. While we worry about global scale
networks and global economies, we shouldn't neglect the inner city
youth yearning for access to the delights of the world of information
available on the web.
While browsers continue to develop capabilities for the sighted, we
should not forget the visually impaired are using the web, too. Other
disabilities are affected by what content providers present and what
browser developers develop. Audio tracks are great, but the text
equivalent is useful to the hearing impaired.
Imagine a world where the remotest hospital in Liberia can track the
latest developments in Cholera treatment via the World Wide Web. The
tools are there, the information is available, but what does it take to
provide Web access to remote sites such as this?
What does it mean to have everything connected? Why can't my mechanic
query my car as to the last time the oil was changed? Wouldn't it be great
to turn the oven on from your desktop? How about the lights in your house
from a remote location?
When we say "It's a small world" we mean that we are all connected in
some way. What we do here affects people around the globe. This was
never more true than with the World Wide Web and the capabilities it
promises. Let's explore the ways in which connectedness can bring us
together to a common place of knowledge and understanding.
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