Disability sites put one face forward

A single online query can mine for answers from five federally funded groups that provide information about disability topics.

The IT Technical Assistance and Training Center, funded by the Education Department's National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, has reorganized its Web site and added a search function that automatically returns links from its site and four others.

Besides searching the center's site, at www.ittatc.org, the tool taps:

  • The National Center on Accessible IT in Education at the University of Washington: www.washington.edu/accessit

  • The Center for Assistive Technology and Environmental Access at the Georgia Institute of Technology: www.assistivetech.net

  • The White House's interagency portal: www.disabilityinfo.gov

  • The federal Section 508 site: www.section508.gov

  • 'Site visitors have a much more complete answer' than if they had to forage through the five sites on their own, said Mimi Kessler, project director for the IT Technical Assistance and Training Center, which is based at Georgia Tech in Atlanta.

    The effort will also save time for the managers of the five sites because they won't have to provide duplicative information on their sites. 'We're not all individually reinventing the wheel,' she said.

    The search technology, which is still being fine-tuned for the center's site, is from iPhrase Technologies Inc. of Cambridge, Mass.

    The iPhrase One Step tool answers each query by matching relevant keywords to a database that automatically copies and consolidates the content from the five sites. It then displays the links using an accessible format created by Agassa Net Technologies Inc., an accessibility services company in Lowell, Mass.

    'We didn't have to explain Section 508 to them,' Kessler said of bringing on Agassa to implement the iPhrase technology.

    To save on the $450,000 project, the center got Ideal Group Inc. of Hilliard, Ohio, to donate hosting services, said Kessler. She added that the center wants to add more sites, 'but we have to see whether that will fit into our budget.'


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