Microsoft, Highway 1 and Accessible Systems Inc. Announce Collaboration To Bring Accessibility Training to Government Agencies

WASHINGTON, April 18, 2000 — Today during his keynote address at FOSE 2000, Microsoft Corp. President and CEO Steve Ballmer announced a new alliance among Microsoft, Highway 1 and Accessible Systems Inc. to bring accessibility courses and training to government agencies beginning this spring. As government agencies prepare to implement Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, this new alliance will allow federal agencies, their contractors and solution providers an opportunity to study and test accessible software to help ease the transition toward Section 508 compliance.

“Accessibility is one of the most challenging issues in the federal government as we enter the millennium,”
Ballmer said.
“Microsoft applauds the government’s efforts to bring accessible technology to all employees because it raises public awareness and fosters marketplace competition needed to ensure accessibility into the mainstream.”

Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act states that all federal agencies are required to ensure that all electronic and information technology purchased, maintained or developed meets accessibility standards established by the U.S. Access Board. In addition to the more than 200,000 federal employees with disabilities, there are tens of millions of people with disabilities who do not work for the federal government who will also benefit from this law (e.g., from accessible agency Web sites or kiosks).

This alliance allows the three entities to come together to create a breakthrough educational opportunity for federal agencies and their contractors and solution providers. Highway 1, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization created to educate the government about technology, will provide the location of the labs and workshops; Accessible Systems, an information technology accessibility consulting firm, has developed and will manage the curriculum; and Microsoft will sponsor the first year of the program and a state-of-the-art lab for courses and to allow federal agencies to test any and all software for accessibility.

“Unlocking the Possibilities: Accessibility in the Government”
is a three-course program:

  • Survey Course (four hours). Designed to give procurement officers and division managers an understanding of Section 508 as it applies to software and related assistive technologies.

  • Technical Course (16 hours). Designed to give information technology (IT) staff and management, as well as product developers and engineers, insights into accessible software testing techniques and related assistive technologies.

  • Lab Course (eight hours). Designed for graduates of the Technical Course for hands-on experience.

“The reauthorization of Section 508 demonstrates that the government is serious about equal employment and education for all people,”
said Terri Youngblood, president of Accessible Systems.
“Its final adoption is going to positively affect vendors who will need to make information technology universally accessible.”

“With a little help and education, the transition into Section 508 compliance can be a smooth one for federal agencies,”
said Christine Hughes, chairman of Highway 1.
“This venture between Highway 1, Accessible Systems and Microsoft ensures that these breakthrough educational opportunities for government agencies will continue well into the 21st century.”

About Highway 1

Highway 1 aims to educate the public sector on the potential of information

technology by being the unique source for information and demonstration on technologies that are shaping our society, our economy and our public policy. Highway 1 is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that neither sells nor lobbies. Highway 1 partners consist of leading information technology companies enabling them to serve CIOs and other IT decision-makers throughout all government sectors with unparalleled expertise.

About Accessible Systems

Accessible Systems has been a key driving force in the adoption of accessibility standards in the federal government for many years. Accessible Sytems’ president, Terri Youngblood, provided expert consultation in the development of the Assistive Technology Program at the U.S. Department of Education and is the lead author of the Requirements for Accessible Software Design that were used to develop the software section of 508.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq
) is the worldwide leader in software, services and Internet technologies for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software – any time, any place and on any device.

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