HP works on disability initiative

HP accessibility page

Hewlett-Packard Co. is leading an initiative to design "template" solutions that libraries can use to configure computers and workspaces for people with disabilities.

The Library Technology Access (LTA) initiative kicked off recently with the Cleveland, Milwaukee, Johnson County (Kansas) and San Diego public libraries plus the University of South Dakota and the Arizona State University libraries as locations for first-phase pilot demonstrations of these solutions.

Each of the workstations include a Compaq Computer Corp. Evo PC, and an HP ScanJet scanner and HP LaserJet printer, Microsoft Corp. Office software, ergonomic furniture and a variety of assistive technology products for helping users who have visual, hearing, mobility or learning disabilities.

The initiative will run through 2003, according to Michael Takemura, head of HP's Accessibility Program Office. When and how people use the workstations will be documented so that HP and the Association of Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies (ASCLA), a division of the American Library Association, can build a model of the best ways to configure equipment.

"The intention is to develop a reference platform that all libraries across the U.S. can use to design their own workstations," Takemura said. "We'll also be helping to design Web-based tools that libraries will be able to use with the workstations."

People with disabilities have one of the highest unemployment rates of any population in the United States, he said, so another goal of the initiative is to help educate them about the use of modern high-tech equipment and software.

There are no firm plans to take the initiative beyond 2003, Takemura said, but the program will be re-assessed at the end of next year to see what further steps could be taken.

Robinson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Ore. He can be reached at hullite@mindspring.com.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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