Manitoba reaches Internet access milestone

Manitoba celebrated an Internet and computer access milestone recently with the opening of the province’s 600 th Community Connections site.

“Community Connections is an excellent example of the province working in partnership with communities, the federal and municipal governments, the not-for-profit and private sectors to help Manitobans, wherever they live, take advantage of emerging opportunities in the global economy,” said Tim Sale, the province’s minister of energy, science and technology.

The 600 Community Connections access sites are located at public locations including schools, libraries and community centres. Funding for the sites is shared equally between the province and the federal government. There are 61 sites in northern Manitoba, 338 in rural areas and 201 in Winnipeg.

In order to ensure that every citizen in the province has access to the Internet, Community Connections has 18 sites featuring WEB-4 All technology to meet the needs of the disabled. WEB-4 All sites have software technology that helps users set up public Internet computers to meet their individual needs, such as having screens enlarged or text read aloud.

These specialized sites help accommodate the disabled by including at least one computer which is set up with a height adjustable desk, with a large screen (19-inch) and a Braille printer. Manitoba has undertaken the largest pilot of WEB-4 All technology in the country.

Assistive technology grants are available to rural access sites to purchase technology to assist persons with disabilities in accessing the Internet. Some examples of assistive technology are expanded keyboards, trackball mice, screen reading and screen magnification software.

“This program has a unique focus on a variety of assistive technologies that ensures the needs of the disabled are accommodated,” said MaryAnn Mihychuk, the minister of industry, trade and mines. “Our goal is to offer as many Manitobans as possible access to computers and the Internet.”