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Prince Plugs Net Access for All
July 23, 1998, 7:00 a.m. PT

BOSTON — Britain's Prince Andrew, on a four-day trip to Boston, said yesterday the Internet can open doors for people with disabilities, but too often remains inaccessible to the deaf and blind. The Duke of York, in Boston to salute the 200th anniversary of the first voyage of the USS Constitution, said the World Wide Web breaks down traditional barriers confronting people with disabilities while raising new obstacles.

"It could be construed as a double-edged sword. The Web has the potential to unlock resources and access to equal opportunities for the disabled, and yet there is a danger of their being excluded from that because of the World Wide Web's success," he told about 200 luncheon guests in Boston.

Brian Charlson, the first vice president of the American Council of the Blind, demonstrated the difficulties blind people face when they try to surf the Internet.

When he dialed an Internet site to obtain information on bus and subway times, he heard only gibberish. Due to poor Web design, software which reads aloud writing on his computer screen rattled off a confusing jumble of times and towns as it scanned a table of information.

"I hear a rather disjointed series of pieces of data, that I have to put together in my mind to understand," he said.

Eighteen tall ships, modern naval vessels, and the prince are scheduled today to pay tribute to the USS Constitution, the world's oldest commissioned warship still afloat.

Council for Disability Rights

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