Education's early groundwork

Three years before the Access Board drew up its accessibility standards,

the Education Department had created similar ones through the Assistive

Technology Program, which provides services and technology to the department's

disabled employees.

With no prior model, the program turned to the University of Wisconsin-Madison's

Trace Research and Development Center, IBM Corp.'s Special Needs Center

and Microsoft Corp.'s accessibility program for guidance.

Joe Tozzi, director of the Education program, said the team used the

following steps to increase accessibility and to identify useful products:

* Conducted an internal needs assessment to determine what equipment

and services required changes.

* Identified what technology met the needs best and provided employee

training.

* Had test groups conduct software accessibility reviews using assistive

devices; vendors whose products were deemed deficient were notified with

recommendations on improvements.

* Worked with software engineers and Web designers to test products

during development to ensure accessibility.

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