Pangea focuses on assistive technologies
- By Brian Robinson
- Dec 09, 2001
For people with disabilities, surfing the Web is never simple. Assistive technology add-ons have made it somewhat easier, but the Web often is still a hostile place for those with difficulty moving or seeing.
If San Diego's Pangea Foundation has its way, that won't be true of the NGI. The foundation is developing a suite of middleware technologies that use the expanded resources of the NGI itself to help application developers construct "universally designed Web pages" with assistive capabilities embedded in them.
Pangea's Abilities Network (www.abilitiesnetwork.org) will help organizations — at first, primarily government agencies and nonprofits — make sure all of the pages on a Web site can use assistive technologies, and then it will add the appropriate technologies — such as captioning for video, or audio and graphics — to the site.
"In effect, we will act as an application service provider for those organizations," said Kristin Berry, executive director and founder of Pangea. "We give organizations the tools to develop accessible Web sites and online applications, and then we take everything that exists on those sites and provide the ideal interface to make it accessible to people with disabilities."
The Abilities Network will also be an extranet, Berry said, which can link any Web site to any other site and instantly provide assistive technology capabilities to both. None of this would be possible without the kind of performance and bandwidth that the NGI itself will provide, Berry said.
She hopes to have pilot projects running at CommerceNet's two California university centers by the end of 2001 and to have the first version of the Abilities Network available to the public in the next 12 months.
Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.