Maximum Accessibility: Making Your Web Site More Usable for Everyone By John M. Slatin,, Sharron Rush
Table of Contents
Chapter 4. Grassroots Efforts Support Maximum Accessibility
Roots Rock! The Power of Grassroots Efforts
In July 1995, the U.S. Department of Commerce published a study it had conducted to examine personal computer and Internet use. Called Falling through the Net, the report was the first formal recognition by the federal government of the disparities in access to technology that existed for entire groups of people. This is the report that coined the phrase "digital divide." Although many people have found reason to object to that term since then, due in part to a basic misunderstanding of what it meant, there can be no doubt that the phrase served as an early "heads up" to those who care about democracy and equity as they are affected by technology.
Falling through the Net raised public awareness of access issues that educators and community leaders had long been struggling with. The report, for the first time, called attention to a serious societal challenge: If our society has in fact chosen to become an information marketplace, do we not have the responsibility to ensure that everyone has equal opportunity to participate as producers and consumers?
Communities throughout the country have been seeking ways to include the greatest numbers of citizens in the benefits of technology, including access to the Internet. As city services go online and public technology access programs are organized, people with disabilities remain the most consistently underserved. In this chapter, we will look at various communities and examine some successful ways in which they have increased awareness of the need for maximum accessibility and strengthened their communities at the same time.