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Enhanced Accessibility

Web offers an online community for those with challenges.

March 08, 2001|MICHELLE MALTAIS | michelle.maltais@latimes.com

The Web connects people not only of all cultures but also of all capabilities. According to a Harris poll last year, 48% of people with disabilities who used the Internet said it has significantly improved their lives, compared with 27% for people without disabilities.

There are many sites focusing on people with challenges. One place to start is http://www.wemedia.com. You can tap online resources on advocacy, employment and real estate, among others. WeMedia also offers a free download of a talking browser to help people with low vision and some learning disabilities use the Internet.

EnableLink (http://www.enablelink.com) is an online community just for visually impaired adults and their families. It includes breaking news, music reviews and lifestyle articles. In time, the site plans to review popular Web sites featuring quick navigation guides that enhance accessibility.

The Feds also are in on the action. At http://www.disability.gov, you can find a message from President Bush, pledging support. Although the site isn't all that visually appealing, it offers some decent resources and information on services available throughout the federal government.

At http://amputee-online.com/amputee/amputee.html, you can find details about and support for amputees or anyone who wants to know more about amputation.

FamilyVillage (http://www.familyvillage.wisc.edu) caters primarily to families and caregivers of people with cognitive and other disabilities. It features resources on specific diagnoses, adaptive products and recreational activities, education and health issues.

To get connected with the appropriate resources, check out a portal at http://www.disabilityonline.com. It covers everything from accessible homes to employment to travel.

Just because a person's in a wheelchair or unable to see doesn't mean he or she can't be a jock. And SportQuest (http://www.sportquest.com/resources/disabled.cfm)recognizes that on its Web page catering to differently abled athletes, with a directory of sports and fitness-related sites and articles.

For those folks who don't usually converse in sign language, no, it doesn't only consist of a single finger. Check out http://www.handspeak.com for a sign language dictionary, which also includes a timeline of milestones in the deaf community.

Two pervasive computing platforms have accessibility features. To learn what they are and how to use them, check out http://www.apple.com/education/k12/disability and http://www.microsoft.com/enable/default.htm. The sites also link to Web pages with related resources.

Along those lines, AbilityHub.com (http://www.abilityhub.com) can help you find information on adaptive equipment and alternative methods for accessing computers.

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Michelle Maltais is a broadcast producer and copy editor at The Times.

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