A Promising Practice: A Pilot Program of the Federal Election Commission
Currently, the Federal Election Commission is participating in an experimental program employing emerging technology to provide alternate Web Access for those with disabilities. The FEC is working with The Organization for Alternate Access (http://www.altaccess.net) in a pilot program offering Web access for those with disabilities. A simplified version of the FEC's Web Page is provided through phone or TTY/TDD. The access numbers for this service are as follows:
Pre-Recorded Voice, Touch-Tone Input, (818) 995-2463
TTY/TDD (for the deaf), (818) 995-2464
Speech Synthesis, Touch-Tone Input, (818) 995-2462
The FEC plans to expand on its pilot program to provide alternative access to the Web by utilizing emerging technologies. As described above, the FEC is working with The Organization for Alternative Access to provide Internet content to those individuals without a computer. As described above a simplified version of the FEC's Web Page is provided through phone or TTY/TDD. The implementation utilizes a new technology called Media Independent Presentation Language (MIPL).
There are presently three active MIPL-enabled browsers which may be used by the public to obtain a sampling of MIPL technology. The browsers, provided in connection with the Federal Election Commission's pilot program are described as follows:
Pre-Recorded Voice, Touch-Tone Input, (818) 995-2463:
This browser, is based upon a Dialogic D41/X PC telephony interface card (circa 1990), and running on ISC (Interactive Systems Corp/Now Sunsoft) (SysVR3.2) UNIX.
TTY/TDD (for the deaf), (818) 995-2464:
This browser, is based upon a TTY/TDD compatible modem (45.5 baud Baudot, 110 and 300 baud ASCII), and running (on a serial port) on a FreeBSD UNIX system.
Speech Synthesis, Touch-Tone Input, (818) 995-2462:
This browser, is based upon a Digital Equipment Corp./Compaq DecTalk DTC-01 Speech Synthesizer (circa 1984), and running (on a serial port) on a Solaris X86 UNIX system. This version of the browser is still in development, and is by no means without deficiencies (such as buffer control issues). It does, however demonstrate the concept effectively.
Although this should not be considered an alternative to making agency Web pages accessible, it is a powerful reminder of how the Internet may affect our lives in the future. It also is a means of providing Internet content to all users, including those without access to computers.