Clinton - Gore Administration Accomplishments in Creating
Digital Opportunity for People with Disabilities
September 21, 2000|
President Clinton and Vice President Gore have worked to ensure that
people with disabilities will be full participants in the Information
Age. Creating digital opportunity for people with disabilities is
particularly important, since it increases their ability to work, gain
new skills using online learning, tap in to the rapidly growing universe
of electronic information, and improve their quality of life by
exchanging e-mail with people with shared interests. Below are just
some of the steps that President Clinton and Vice President Gore have
taken to help create digital opportunity for Americans with
-- Ensuring that the Telecommunications Revolution Benefits All.
President Clinton and Vice President Gore fought for the
Telecommunications Act of 1996, which requires that telecommunications
equipment and services be accessible to individuals with disabilities.
In 1999, the Federal Communications Commission adopted rules
implementing Section 255 of the Telecom Act, which will ensure that
people with disabilities have access to telephones, cell phones, pagers,
call waiting, and operator services.
-- Ensuring the Federal Government Provides Accessible Technology and
In August 1998, the President signed into law the Workforce Investment
Act of 1998, which included in the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of
1998. The revised "Section 508" requires that when Federal agencies
develop, procure, maintain, or use electronic and information
technology, they must ensure that it is accessible to people with
disabilities. Because the federal government is a large purchaser of
information technology, this law will accelerate the development of
-- Signing the Assistive Technology Act. With the support of the
Clinton-Gore Administration, Congress passed the Assistive Technology
Act of 1998 (ATA). The ATA supports state efforts such as training,
technical assistance, alternative loan programs, demonstration centers,
information and referral hotlines, web sites, technology expos, and the
development of informational materials.
-- Proposing a More Than Seventeen-Percent Increase in Assistive
Technology Initiatives for FY 2001. The Administration's FY 2001 budget
includes $100 million (a $13.5 million increase) for disability and
technology research at the National Institute on Disability and
Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) and $41 million (a $7 million increase)
for Assistive Technology Act funds to States:
- NIDRR would launch a comprehensive technology initiative that
includes technical assistance and training to elementary and secondary
schools adopt accessible technology for students with disabilities.
- The Administration's request also includes $15 million to support
grants that establish or maintain alternative loan financing programs.
Many people with disabilities do not have the private financial
resources to purchase the assistive technologies they need. If approved,
this increase would significantly enhance opportunities for individuals
with disabilities to take advantage of assistive technology.
-- Developing a Strategy for the Development and Transfer of Assistive
Technology and Universal Design. In July 2000, President Clinton
directed the Interagency Committee on Disability Research (ICDR) to work
with the disability and research communities to identify priority areas
for the advancement of assistive technologies and universal design
capabilities, and to publish this information within 120 days. Following
issuance of the report, each major research agency must develop a
strategy for enhancing the transfer of technology that can contribute to
the needs and requirements identified by the ICDR.
-- Creating the Access America for People with Disabilities Website. On
the 10th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the
President announced a new website, Access America for People with
Disabilities -- www.disAbility.gov -- which will serve as a "one-stop"
electronic link to an enormous range of useful information available
throughout the Federal government for people with disabilities and their
-- Advancing the state-of-the-art of assistive technology: As part of
the Administration's proposed increase for the National Science
Foundation, the Administration has proposed increases in R&D that will
benefit people with disabilities, such as a "seeing eye" computer that
could help people who are blind, or technologies that could
automatically turn speech into text for people who are deaf.