Online Disability Community, iCan, Seeks To Narrow Digital Divide in South Carolina

| Velocity Holdings News
Online Disability Community, iCan, Seeks To Narrow Digital Divide in South
Carolina
COLUMBIA, S.C., July 20 /PRNewswire/ -- The Internet is the most
significant equalizer ever, and iCan, the leading disability community, this
week launches a major effort to raise awareness, narrow the digital divide and
create opportunity for people of all abilities.
With the support of General Motors Corporation, Kmart and Microsoft
Diversity Recruiting, iCan and its Founder and CEO Heidi Van Arnem kicked off
a summer long effort to bring awareness to the 10th anniversary of the
Americans with Disabilities Act.
"These giant corporations represent a growing awareness that there is
great opportunity to reach the 85 percent of people with disabilities who are
not online yet -- and whose lives stand to be enhanced by connecting to the
Internet," Van Arnem said.
Van Arnem, recently named one of the Top 25 Women on the Web, is uniquely
qualified to speak for and about the disability community. Van Arnem, a
quadriplegic since being shot at age 16, knows well what people with
disabilities need and want.
"Disabilities disappear with advancements in technology," Van Arnem said.
Opportunities such as home-based employment, shopping and educational
instruction offer independence, opportunity and relief from isolation. iCan
seeks to bring the information, products, services and resources to the
disability community.
The ADA represents 10 years of progress, but there is much more to be
done. Seventy percent of people with disabilities remain unemployed, yet the
majority wants to work. "The 'Digital Divide' -- the divide between those
with access to new technologies and those without -- is a leading issue for
people with disabilities," Van Arnem says. Van Arnem cites these statistics
from recent studies:

* 85 percent of people with disabilities are not online.
* Of those people with disabilities who are online, 48 percent say the
Internet has significantly improved their quality of life, compared with 27
percent of those people without disabilities.
* Computer users with disabilities reported spending twice the hours
online and e-mailing as others did.

Van Arnem and iCan intend to highlight the need for continued awareness,
in the effort to improve accessibility standards and to connect more people to
the technology that will enhance their lives. iCan is poised to be the news
and information leader of the Spirit of ADA Torch Relay from June 11 through
Aug. 7, 2000. iCan News Service will distribute coverage -- free of charge --
to non-profits, influential media outlets and, of course, "On the Road with
iCan" partners.
"This is not a story about iCan," Van Arnem says. "It is about the
millions of people with disabilities, their accomplishments and their
aspirations."
Here's a schedule of events for Saturday, July 22:

9:30 a.m.: The South Carolina Independent Living Council (ILC) is host to
the Columbia leg of the Torch Relay. The torch will start in West Columbia
with a kick-off ceremony at the SC Vocational Rehabilitation Department (SCVR)
Barrier Free Home.
11 a.m. - 4 p.m.: The relay concludes with a celebration and closing
ceremony at Finlay Park.

The celebration will include food, vendors, entertainment, a wheelchair
obstacle course, disability sensitivity games, trivia for prizes, voter
registration, and information about the ADA. The entire event is open to the
public.
iCan, based in Birmingham, Mich., and located online at
http://www.ican.com /, is the vision of Heidi Van Arnem, a nationally
recognized entrepreneur and leader in the disability community. Her vision
for iCan is to employ, enable and enhance the lives of others with
disabilities.

SOURCE iCan
| Velocity Holdings News

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