August 12, 2003 --
Commerce Dept. Undersecretary for Technology Phil Bond a few weeks ago announced eight steps the Dept. is planning in order to implement the Bush Administration's New Freedom Initiative. U.S. assistive technology manufacturers "stand to benefit greatly from the demographic shifts that are occurring in the United States, Europe, Asia, and elsewhere," said Bond in a prepared statement released July 26, " but only if they can operate efficiently, field superior products ahead of competitors, and overcome corporate, institutional, and market barriers." The steps announced by the Dept. were an effort, he said, "to maintain AT market share domestically, to expand sales of American-made assistive technology products in markets overseas, to incorporate cutting-edge technologies into AT products, and to penetrate the underserved and sometimes unserved market base of Americans with disabilities."
A Dept. of Commerce report dealing with these steps, "Technology Assessment of the U.S. Assistive Technology Industry" can be found online.
A free online service that connects people with disabilities to assistive technology vendors is already drawing 5,000 visitors a week. The Alliance for Technology Access's website "The Hub" -- at http://www.ATAccess.org/hub -- bills itself as "a central exchange for people, both sellers and users of technology tools, to interact and exchange information." Vendors include Microsoft, Apple Computer and Sun Microsystems.
According to Gary Moulton, Product Manager in Microsoft's Accessibility Technology Group Product Manager Gary Moulton, The Hub allows potential customers to "get the information they need on hundreds of assistive technologies that they can use to be more independent at home, at work, at school and at play." More about the New Freedom Initiative