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Berners-Lee to speak on IT to free up the disabled

John Riley

World wide web inventor Tim Berners-Lee takes part in a high-profile conference this week to help raise awareness of the role of technology in helping disabled people to take an active part in business and social life.

He speaks tomorrow (Wednesday) at IT: the Universal Enabler, hosted by the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists and the Lord Mayor of London.

Berners-Lee has consistently pushed for a social dimension to the development of the web. He is likely to draw attention to the role of W3C's Web Accessibility Initiative.

The conference, part of the European Year of People with Disabilities, aims to influence an invited group of corporate delegates to ensure that their organisations develop inclusive policies and practices which recognise the potential contribution of people with disabilities as both employees and consumers.

The core message is that technology has the power to transform the lives of disabled people and that this enablement means employers will retain precious skills and experience if staff become disabled.

"The potential for using technology to support people with even severe disabilities is well proven," said the organisers. "The issue is to focus attention on what is already possible for disabled people and to replicate success."

Other speakers include IT minister Stephen Timms, Roger Davis, chief executive officer of Barclay's Business Banking, James Strachan, Audit Commission chairman, and directors from IBM and Microsoft.

www.wcit.org.uk/news/subindex.htm

Web Accessibility Initiative

This World Wide Web Consortium initiative takes technical account of the design needs for people with visual, auditory, physical, speech, cognitive and neurological disabilities, which can affect access to the web.

www.w3.org/wai

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