Get A Good Byte At An Internet Cafe

    December 18, 2006

Goodwill Industries cut the ribbon at the grand opening of a new Internet cafe that is disabled user-friendly last week.

With it’s coffee house atmosphere and computer stations strewn throughout the room, Good Bytes looks just like any other Internet cafe. However, this Goodwill venture is no ordinary java hub; it is another philanthropic offering from the charitable organization.

In San Antonio, Texas, Goodwill Industries opened the doors to the Downtown Technology Campus of the Good Bytes Internet cafe last week.

You might be asking what the correlation between the non-profit organization Goodwill, which is known for their clothing and furniture collection and distribution, and an Internet cafe is.

The correlation between the two is that the Good Bytes cafe is accessible for disabled users, making it an entirely new venue for Goodwill to distribute it’s charitable contributions.

Since Goodwill is a non-profit organization, the cafe, which is one of the first of its kind, was funded by a $125, 000 grant from AT&T Inc., of San Antonio.

With the grant, Goodwill purchased computers and equipment that is accessible for disabled users including a joystick mouse, magnifying software and equipment that allows users to point and click by using their eye movement.

Typically computer and Internet equipment that is specially designed for the disabled comes at a great cost to the user. Good Bytes allows disabled patrons of the cafe to use their equipment and Internet access free of charge.

One of the main reasons behind the foundation of the cafe is the correlation between unemployment and computer skills. Computer knowledge is a must in almost any field of employment today, and with a lack of accessibility to assistive technology, some disabled users do not have the computer skills required.

Two of the computers in the cafe are outfitted with magnifying and reading software, while another allows users with limited mobility to use a silver dot placed on their nose to type and navigate the web.

For users who have no mobility whatsoever, there is a computer that follows the movement of the user’s eyes to control the mouse and clicks when they blink.

To keep the cafe running, Goodwill will use profits from food sales in the cafe that will serve breakfast and lunch items. Goodwill also offers a program called “Learn While You Earn”, which will provide disabled food service workers with the skills to run the cafe.

In addition to providing disabled users with assistive technology and Internet access the cafe will feature works from local artists, a job help center, and a technology-training center.

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Autmn Davis is a staff writer for WebProNews covering ebusiness and technology.