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At Accessibility Internet Rally, Bay Area Web Developers Go Neck-and-Neck to Give Nonprofits Free Internet Presence; Volunteer Event to Benefit People with Disabilities and Local Nonprofits.

Business Editors & High-Tech Writers

SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Sept. 16, 2002

At the upcoming Accessibility Internet Rally (AIR) California on September 21, 2002, Bay Area Web developers will team up with local nonprofits and create Web sites for these grassroots organizations. These new sites will be fully accessible for people with disabilities. The AIR program provides much needed Internet presence for local nonprofit organizations and strives to make the public aware of the crucial issue of Web accessibility for people with disabilities. The day-long volunteer event will be held from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Mission High School in San Francisco.

People with disabilities represent the largest minority in the U.S., with more than 54.7 million Americans affected. Many cannot use the Internet's vast resources and information because most Web sites do not comply with accessibility guidelines put forth by the World Wide Web Consortium (http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG10/).

"AIR benefits our entire community. We help small Bay Area nonprofits gain the Internet presence they need to best serve their communities in this day and age. Additionally, we provide our volunteer Web Developers with sought-after skills to comply with the W3C's accessibility guidelines," said Karen Thomas, program manager at CompuMentor. "AIR is a fun way to make people aware that the Internet, which many of us take for granted, is out of reach for one in five Americans."

AIR California is a series of training and networking activities that culminate in a day-long high-energy Web-building competition. Fourteen teams of four to five development professionals construct fully functional and highly accessible Web sites for a diverse group of local nonprofit agencies, including Community Association for Rehabilitation, the Riley Center and RelyAble Choices Staffing. AIR also provides one year of free Web hosting for participating nonprofits.

CompuMentor, the San Francisco-based nonprofit technology assistance provider and Knowbility, a nonprofit group that has been nationally recognized for excellence and innovation, co-produce AIR California with support from the community and corporate sponsors such as the Mayor's Office for Disabilities, Mitsubishi and Macromedia.

"Technology provides an unprecedented opportunity to include people with disabilities as producers and consumers in the information marketplace," said Sharron Rush, executive director of Knowbility and recipient of the 2002 Dewey Winburne Community Service Award. "The goal of AIR is to make that opportunity a reality."

AIR California is one of a series of AIR programs that have been held in Austin, Dallas and Denver over the past four years. The program is soon to be expanded to High Schools in Georgia. Past AIR-Austin efforts have built free Web sites for the Austin IDEA Network, the Boys and Girls Club, El Buen Samaritano and, Family Elder Care, among dozens of others.

About CompuMentor

Based in San Francisco, CA, CompuMentor (www.compumentor.org), is one of the oldest and most comprehensive nonprofit technology assistance providers in the U.S. Since 1987, CompuMentor has served over 23,000 nonprofits and schools nationwide with a range of affordable, sustainability-focused services, through both hands-on and Internet-based programs. Hands-on services include matching technical volunteers with schools and nonprofits, and providing technology consulting for nonprofits of diverse sizes and goals. In addition, CompuMentor is home of the nationally renowned technology portal TechSoup, which aggregates technology resources and information for the national nonprofit community. TechSoup also distributes deeply discounted technology products and publishes the nonprofit technology e-newsletter TechSoup By The Cup, which reaches more than 18,000 nonprofits nationwide. CompuMentor has 65 staff members and an annual budget of $6 million. CompuMentor is the San Francisco Bay Area affiliate of the NPower Network.

About Knowbility

Knowbility is a national nonprofit organization whose mission is to foster barrier-free information technology, improving access to technology opportunities for children, youth and adults with disabilities. Their programs include AIR, collaboration with community technology centers to help them accommodate the technology needs of people with disabilities, and training and consulting services for accessible technology. Knowbility's national sponsors include the Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation and Dell Computer Corporation. For more information, visit www.knowbility.org.
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Publication:Business Wire
Geographic Code:1U9CA
Date:Sep 16, 2002
Words:676
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