President George W. Bush highlighted his New Freedom Initiative during a visit today to the Department of Defense Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program Technology Evaluation Center (CAPTEC) in the Pentagon. The initiative will help Americans with disabilities participate more fully in society through access to innovative new technologies.
The Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program (CAP) provides assistive technology and other types of accommodations to enable employees to maximize their abilities in the workplace. These include technology, devices and software that allows hearing-impaired people to communicate with co-workers by computer, screen reading technology for the visually impaired, and voice recognition software for people with impaired dexterity.
"The Internet brings a world of information into a computer screen, which has enriched the lives of many with disabilities. Yet, technology creates challenges of its own," Bush said. "Researchers here at the Department of Defense and at other agencies throughout the federal government and in the private sector are developing solutions to these problems."
The CAP, established in 1990 to improve accessibility in the federal workplace, ensures people with disabilities have equal access to information and opportunities in the federal government. In addition to the DoD civilian workforce, CAP serves 38 other government agencies and an estimated 20,000 disabled persons at no costs to CAP users.
The President received a demonstration in the CAPTEC from users of technology specially designed to meet their needs. Following the tour, he addressed DoD personnel in the Pentagon auditorium.
Noting that Internet access for Americans with disabilities is half that of people without disabilities, Bush said these technologies will "help countless individuals in the public and private sectors become fully integrated into the workplace.
"I am committed to bringing that technology to users as quickly as possible, and to ensuring that government websites become compatible with this evolving technology," he added.
Bush also used the visit as an opportunity to announce that Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act will become effective June 25, 2001. The act requires all federal agencies to ensure their electronic and information technology is accessible for people with disabilities.
More information on CAPTEC is on the Web at http://www.tricare.osd.mil/cap/.
The President's remarks are on the Web at http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2001/06/20010619-1.html