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Govt gives voice to Net for the blind

...and ups apparatchik head count with New Media Team

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The British Government has introduced a reel of red tape to improve the effectiveness of its Web sites. Although the new guidelines will be welcomed by some, others will scoff at that the new media measures, saying that the Government is simply playing catch-up. The new Web site policy will also open up the Internet to the visually impaired thanks to the adoption of voice technology, Cabinet Office Minister, Ian McCartney, said today. McCartney also announced that a "New Media Team" would be set up at the heart of Tony Blair's pro-digital government headed by the new e-envoy Alex Allan. This team will act as agents for change -- driving up standards of Government Web sites and paving the way for a revolution in the way many public services are delivered. "We are working to harness the potential IT has to transform Britain," said McCartney. "These new initiatives will transform public services to make them more accessible and responsive to the needs of citizens. "Measures to boost services for visually impaired people, will also help stamp out inequality of opportunity and help tackle the culture of diminished expectations and inadequate services," he said. The guidelines will be published on at iagchampions.gov.uk, which has been created by web design company cScape. The site is the Government's first to be entirely developed in XML, allowing a series of style-sheets to deliver the same content in a variety of ways, depending on which browser is used. The initiative is backed by Cisco and the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB). ®

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