FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release Date: 
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Category: 
Chris Danielsen
Public Relations Specialist
National Federation of the Blind
(410) 659-9314, extension 2330
(410) 262-1281 (Cell)

National Federation of the Blind and Deque Systems, Inc. Launch Nonvisual Access Certification Program

NFB-NVA Seal of Approval Provides Assurance to Web Developers and Makes Web Sites More Friendly to Blind Users

Los Angeles, California (March 12, 2008): The National Federation of the Blind, the nation’s leading advocate for Internet access by blind Americans, and its Web accessibility consulting partner Deque Systems, Inc., based in Reston, VA, today announced the launch of an innovative program to provide a Nonvisual Access (NVA) Seal of Approval to recognize Web site and application developers who make special efforts to ensure that their sites or applications are fully accessible to the blind.  The certification program, which will be launched officially tomorrow afternoon in a presentation at the Technology and People with Disabilities Conference at the Los Angeles Airport Marriott, will help companies to identify and remedy problems with their Web sites that may present barriers to blind people using assistive technology to access the Internet.  The NFB-NVA Certification Program is the first accessibility certification procedure designed to address access issues specific to blind computer users.

Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: “The Internet has become integrated into every aspect of daily living, from working to shopping to entertainment.  The blind population, which stands at 1.3 million and is growing as Americans age, must have access to Web sites and new Web applications if we are to participate fully in modern society and the information economy.  The blind access the Internet using special software that translates what is on the screen into speech or Braille, but designers of Web sites sometimes unintentionally create content that cannot be interpreted by this technology.  Yet when Web sites are accessible, the Internet is a powerful tool for independent access to information and services, giving the blind maximum flexibility and freedom.  The National Federation of the Blind seeks to help organizations that place content on the Internet to make sure that their sites are fully accessible to the blind, thereby benefiting blind Americans and giving companies access to a new pool of customers and clients.  As the nation’s leading organization of the blind, the National Federation of the Blind is uniquely qualified to provide specific guidance on the steps a company needs to take in order for its Web site to provide full access to blind people.” 

Preety Kumar, founder and chief executive officer of Deque Systems, Inc., said: “By partnering with the National Federation of the Blind and using the innovative tools we have developed, Deque Systems is in a superior position to help companies to remove access barriers that unnecessarily block blind users from taking full advantage of their Web sites.”

The Nonvisual Access Certification Program connects Web site and application developers with leading experts on blindness and accessibility to ensure that their Internet sites or applications are fully accessible to and usable by blind people employing screen access software.  Applicants go through a rigorous evaluation and testing procedure and work with a web accessibility consultant (WAC) to address any accessibility issues discovered during the evaluation.  Once the site or application has addressed all accessibility issues, it is granted the right to display an NFB-NVA seal of approval on its site.  Sites are continuously monitored to ensure that they remain compliant with certification criteria.  If a site remains accessible, its certification is renewed on an annual basis.  If accessibility issues arise, the National Federation of the Blind and the WAC will work with the site developers to remedy them.

"It's an honor to be granted the NFB-NVA Certification once more this year for our leadership in making information on our Web site accessible to people with disabilities, " said Larry Tattoli, associate director of Merck.com for pharmaceutical manufacturer Merck & Co., Inc., one of the first recipients of an NFB-NVA Seal of Approval.  "We realized early on that this had to be a sustainable effort.  Deque Systems, Inc. has made this possible with their continuous monitoring service.”  

For more information about the NFB-NVA Seal of Approval, interested persons can attend the launch event tomorrow afternoon.  The event will take place at 3:10 p.m. in the Dallas Ballroom of the Los Angeles Airport Marriott, 5855 West Century Boulevard, Los Angeles, California 90045.  Interested persons or companies can also visit http://www.nfb.org/certification-intro.