Pair Offers Disabled Greater Access to Library, Internet

Article excerpt

Byline: David Sharos Daily Herald Correspondent

An occasional series spotlighting Naperville and Lisle businesses

Naperville business owners Don Dalton and Audrey Gorman understand the benefits of working as partners and because of their efforts, many people may one day reap the benefits.

Dalton heads up Assistive Technologies Inc., while Gorman runs Access for All. Together, their companies have produced the AccessInfo System, a cutting-edge computer workstation that allows those with handicaps to access library and Internet materials. The system is being piloted at Naperville's Nichols Library.

Dalton's 15-year-old company has specialized in assisting the disabled with technology and has worked with a variety of clients, including the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, U.S. Robotics and McDonald's as well as universities and hospitals.

A 59-year-old quadriplegic, Dalton has been fiercely independent since a diving accident in the Illinois River changed his life at 26.

"I see this technology as something that levels the playing field among those with handicaps and those without," he said. "This system treats people as individuals and can help a significant portion of the population. Most people don't realize that 20 percent of the people in our country are handicapped in some way."

Dalton and Gorman's partnership began a little more than a year ago. Gorman needed to have a computer repaired, and the two company presidents began to talk about library systems.

Dalton had sold hardware and software to libraries but never had developed an integrated system. Gorman was the missing piece of the puzzle.

"I have a master's degree in library science, but my bachelor's degree was in English and education," Gorman said. "My major teaching emphasis was with special education students.

"I've also worked with the American Library Association on a nationally funded grant program to gather information about learning disabilities. …