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ESDlife announces the formation of "Virtual Vision"
Special taskforce to promote the rights of information for
the blind and the visually impaired

(HONG KONG JUNE 30, 2000) ESDlife, the only electronic public and commercial super web site in Hong Kong, announces the formation of a special working group "Virtual Vision". Mr. Sin Chung Kai is the Honorary Advisor of "Virtual Vision" with The Hong Kong Blind Union, The Hong Kong Society for the Blind, Hong Kong Retinitis Pigmentosa Society, Hong Kong Council of Social Services and Rehabilitation Alliance of Hong Kong as founding members. The mission of this working group is to give considerations to the blind and the visually impaired, helping them to use public on-line services in October, at the same time promoting the rights of information for them.

Internet develops at a drastic pace and becomes indispensable in today's world. But most of the Internet services providers neglect the different problems the blind and the visually impaired are facing when using the Internet. ESDlife therefore initiates the setting up of a working group "Virtual Vision" to promote equal rights of information for them and to arouse awareness among the general public for the issue. Through all these initiatives, "Virtual Vision" aims to help the blind and the visually impaired to live an informative and technological life.

In a press conference for "Virtual Vision", Mr. Sin Chung Kai pointed out, "The public and the information technology industry often neglect the problems the blind are facing when using the Internet. When designing a web site, most of the Internet services providers only concern about the variety and diversity of the content and visuals. They seldom care about the special needs of the blind, hindering them to enjoy the convenience brought by the Internet. I hope that practitioners of the Internet services could consider the needs of the blind, so as to let every stratum in society enjoy equal rights of information through the Internet."

Mr. Tony Ma, General Manager of ESD Services Limited said, "As an executor of HKSAR Electronic Service Delivery Scheme, we aim at concerning different stratums in society when designing the web site of ESDlife. We also refer to the guidelines issued by the Information Technology Services Department and other international organisations. The Chinese version of ESDlife web site has incorporated the opinions of the blind and the visually impaired. Our goal is to enable minorities such as the blind and the visually impaired to use ESDlife services independently and to enjoy more privacy in their every day lives."

With the aid of sleek braille monitor, the blind and the visually impaired could surf on the Internet. In contrary to most of the web sites which might not be blind-friendly, ESDlife is designed with needs of the blind in mind. It uses visuals, colours, icons and text in a way that is accessible by the blind and the visually impaired. For instance, ESDlife web site is translatable by braille devices, text description is provided for visual or graphic elements, its text and graphics are understandable when viewed without colour.

"Other than designing the web site that caters for the needs of the blind and the visually impaired, ESDlife would also provide training courses for social workers and relevant practitioners, ensuring they are well equipped to later offer assistance to the blind and the visually impaired. Latest information about ESDlife would be accessible through braille leaflets and audio tapes informing the blind and the visually impaired about the services of ESDlife. In course of the regular review of the ESDlife portal, we would gather the opinions of the blind and the visually impaired through "Virtual Vision" ensuring the benefits and convenience brought by ESDlife will match their needs," Mr. Ma added.

ESDlife is run by ESD Services Limited, a joint venture of Hutchison Global Crossing Limited and Compaq Computer Limited. It is a core component of HKSAR 'Digital 21' Strategy, and would be a milestone which marks Hong Kong and shapes itself into a high-tech city. From October 2000, citizens could use SSL and SET payment methods and e-cert of Hong Kong Post, through a secured on-line platform of ESDlife, to enjoy electronic public and commercial services. It would not only offer convenience to the citizens, meanwhile it also enhances the development of e-commerce in Hong Kong.

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Notes to Editors

  • Hutchison Global Crossing is now operating a wide range of telecom services including local phone, international calling, Internet access, broadband services and the Electronic Service Delivery Scheme.

  • Hutchison Global Crossing is a 50/50 joint venture between Hutchison Telecommunications (Hong Kong) Limited and Global Crossing Limited, which was established in January 2000. It combines Hutchison Telecommunications (Hong Kong) Limited's fixed line and Internet networks in Hong Kong with Global Crossing's international fiber optic broadband cable and its expanding portal facilities, Internet applications and data services, which help to explore strategic development opportunities in Hong Kong.

For media enquiry:

ESD Services Limited

Sally Tsang
Tel: 2128 6708
Fax: 2187 2055
Email: [email protected]
Ogilvy Public Relations

Anita Ko
Tel: 2884 8529
Fax: 2560 0681
Email: [email protected]