NETg Sets the Industry Standard for Improving Accessibility to Learning Technologies

May 2, 2002

NETg, Inc. a Thomson Learning company (TSE: TOC) and worldwide leader in corporate blended learning solutions, today announced the industry’s first integration of assistive technology directly within e-Learning courseware enabling learners with mobility, hearing or visual impairments to access remote learning, or e-Learning, more easily. NETg’s award-winning e-Learning courseware will meet technical requirements for Section 508 of the 1998 US Rehabilitation Act, by September 2002, supporting the numerous Federal agencies that have selected NETg courses for their learning programs.

“NETg’s learning products and services generate significant improvement in employee productivity, supporting rapid achievement of organizational goals,” said Joe Dougherty, president of NETg. “Our latest innovations in learner accessibility expand the impact of our award-winning courses by ensuring that all employees, both in government and in private businesses, can enjoy the full benefit of skill and knowledge acquisition wherever they are located.”

Integrating assistive technologies — technology used to provide access to learners with disabilities — directly into the courseware distinguishes NETg from other e-Learning providers. “To use courses that do not integrate assistive technologies, learners with disabilities must deploy specialized third-party devices or technologies in addition to the courseware,” said Steve Timmer, President and CIO of TecAccess, a software development and consultancy company specializing in EIT (electronic information technology) accessibility and Section 508 compliance. “Not only is this inconvenient, but learners also frequently encounter compatibility problems with courses and assistive devices that render their learning inaccessible. The NETg solution will remove this burden from the learner and assure reliable access to learning.”

Adam Newman, Director, Research Group with Eduventures, noted that Section 508, the federal government’s required standard for e-Learning accessibility, will undoubtedly spur similar changes in e-Learning product requirements for non-government organizations as well. “The innovations being introduced by NETg, integrating accessibility features at the course level, are among the first to address this issue with a long-term solution. In addition to potentially reducing the cost of providing remote learning access to employees with disabilities, this heightened accessibility to learning will support all employees’ usage, a critical issue in many training programs today.”

To ensure that NETg courseware development plans assure full accessibility, NETg selected the services of TecAccess to monitor and advise on accessibility designs and to test innovations throughout the development process. Because over 75 percent of TecAccess staff members are persons with disabilities, the company is able to realistically evaluate NETg’s compliance technology. In addition, TecAccess uses a proprietary testing process, in which each component is rated, scored and then combined with other functions to generate an overall accessibility rating. This stringent assessment and monitoring of NETg’s accessibility innovations ensures high quality development and effective achievement of broad learner accessibility.

NETg’s award-winning library of over 2000 IT, desktop and business and professional development e-Learning courses are a core component of its proven blended learning solution, which also includes books, e-books, instructor-led materials, Boot Camp programs for IT certification, instructor-led training and online executive education.