Web-4-All implemented in Winnipeg

Winnipeg residents with disabilities or low literacy levels now have increased access to the Internet thanks to a pilot project at 13 local community access program sites.

The increased Internet access is made possible through a technology called Web-4-All, which allows users to automatically configure computers to meet their individual needs. Developed by the University of Toronto’s Assistive Technology Resource Centre, Web-4-All utilizes smart card technology that enables computers to adjust to individual user needs. The smart card contains a user’s individual preference such as having typefaces enlarged or text read aloud. Whenever the user inserts their card into a reader at a public computer, it adjusts to their preferences.

Industry Canada and the Independent Living Resource Centre of Winnipeg are working collaboratively on this pilot project. John Young, the director of the resource centre, said he is pleased to be able to deliver the assistive technology to area residents.

“By partnering with Industry Canada on this project, the Independent Living Resource Centre is continuing to provide the necessary tools to ensure the equal and full participation of all people with disabilities in the community,” he said.

Industry minister Allan Rock said the demand for assistive technologies like Web-4-All is continually growing and for some Canadians, public Internet access is the only way they can get online.

“Industry Canada’s Web-4-All pilot program is another important step in helping people and communities use information technology to improve quality of life,” Rock said.

As part of the pilot project, Industry Canada has contributed more than $47,000 to the Living Resource Centre of Winnipeg in order to hire seven young people with disabilities or low literacy rates to install systems and train users.

Industry Canada plans to distribute a total of 1,000 Web-4-All systems to public Internet access sites in selected communities across the country. Bell Canada and the Royal Bank together donated 26,000 smart cards, and Hitachi Canada has contributed 1,000 card readers for the pilot projects.