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Web-4-All Technology Helps Winnipeg Area Residents with Special Needs Get On-line

WINNIPEG, Manitoba, July 11, 2003 — Anita Neville, Member of Parliament for Winnipeg South Centre, on behalf of Allan Rock, Minister of Industry, today announced the launch of a pilot project that provides better public computer access for persons with disabilities or low literacy levels at 13 local Community Access Program sites. The technology, called Web-4-All, allows users to automatically configure computers to meet their individual needs.

“Making Web-4-All technology available at local public Internet access sites helps residents of the Winnipeg area,” said Ms. Neville. “In particular, people who might otherwise not have access to computer technology can now benefit from opportunities for innovative learning, skills development, access to government services and business creation.”

“The demand for assistive technologies such as Web-4-All is continually growing,” said Minister Rock. “For some Canadians, public Internet access is the only way they have of getting on-line. Industry Canada's Web-4-All pilot program is another important step in helping people and communities use information technology to improve quality of life.”

Developed by the University of Toronto's Assistive Technology Resource Centre, Web-4-All's “smart card” technology enables computers to adjust to individual user needs, such as having typefaces enlarged or text read aloud. This technology makes Community Access Program sites more accessible to those requiring non-standard computer technology.

John Young, Managing Director of the Independent Living Resource Centre of Winnipeg, welcomed this new service. “The Web-4-All pilot program helps people access the information highway with the swipe of a card. Individual abilities can be maximized and different needs can be accommodated easily and quickly. By partnering with Industry Canada on this project, the Independent Living Resource Centre is continuing to provide the necessary tools to ensure the equal and full participation of all people with disabilities in the community.”

Industry Canada's Web-4-All pilot program is being funded through the Government On-Line initiative. In addition to providing the Web-4-All technology, Industry Canada contributed more than $47 000 to the Independent Living Resource Centre of Winnipeg in order to hire seven young persons with disabilities or low literacy levels to install the systems and train users.

Industry Canada plans to distribute a total of 1000 Web-4-All systems to public Internet access sites in selected communities across Canada. Bell Canada and the Royal Bank together donated 26 000 smart cards for use in storing user preferences, and Hitachi Canada contributed 1000 card readers for the pilot projects. An evaluation of all components of the pilot program is due by March 2004.

Leading-edge assistive technologies such as Web-4-All contribute to Canada's social, economic and cultural well-being by helping more Canadians to develop skills and be more innovative. They also support the Government On-Line Initiative, aimed at making government services easily accessible to all.

For more information, please contact:

Selena Beattie
Office of Allan Rock
Minister of Industry
(613) 995-9001

Media Relations
Industry Canada
(613) 943-2502

Lori Ross
Independent Living Resource Centre
(204) 947-0194

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