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General Motors, iCan Develop Web Channel Addressing Transportation Needs of People with Disabilities

Submitted by: General Motors

Categories: Human Resources & Diversity

Posted: Jul 12, 2000 – 12:00 AM EST

 

Jul. 12 /CSRwire/ - General Motors and iCan, a leading Internet-based community for people with disabilities, announced plans to develop a Web-based automotive channel specifically geared to people with disabilities.

The online channel, to be part of the iCan Web site (www.ican.com), will provide information on vehicles with an emphasis on evaluating how they fit the need, or can be adapted to meet the needs, of consumers with disabilities. The site also will provide forums for people with disabilities to share automotive-related information and opinions, and will serve as a focal point for GM to gather feedback from customers with special needs. The channel will be available in August.

"This strategic relationship advances GM's commitment to meet the transportation needs of all our customers," said John Gaydash, director of the GM Mobility Center. "It's particularly appropriate that we take this step as we celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act on July 26."

More than 54 million Americans have physical or mental impairments that substantially limit daily activities. "We want GM to be the first choice of customers who need vehicles that are adapted or engineered to fit special needs," Gaydash said.

Gaydash said the initiative also illustrates how GM is using the expertise of e-GM - the company's e-business unit focused on business-to-consumer initiatives - to leverage online resources in order to reach out to targeted groups of consumers in new ways. "Tapping into the 'virtual community' of people with disabilities provides us better, more interactive ways to communicate with customers on automotive-related issues and fits in with e-GM's strategy to reach more diverse target markets," Gaydash said.

"This collaboration between GM and iCan will help change the way corporations communicate to customers with disabilities," said Heidi Van Arnem, founder and chief executive officer of Birmingham, Mich.-based iCan. "By addressing transportation issues, this new automotive channel will give people with disabilities opportunities to live an even more independent lifestyle." Under the agreement between GM and iCan, the channel will provide information on all vehicles, but will focus primarily on guiding people with disabilities through the evaluation of vehicles and the various modifications that can be made to adapt vehicles to specific needs. The channel will provide information on companies that make the necessary modifications, as well as on special programs and rebates that manufacturers, other companies and government agencies offer for adapting a vehicle.

Through chat sessions and a bulletin board for automotive-related topics, visitors to the iCan site can share information about products and services. In addition, iCan will help GM identify and organize customer clinics to get feedback from people with a particular type of disability. The relationship also will encompass iCan providing assistance to help make GM Web sites accessible to people with disabilities including those with sight or hearing impairments. This agreement is part of GM's overall commitment to people with disabilities. Since 1990, General Motors has been actively involved in the mobility transportation market. GM formed the Mobility Center last year to focus the company's resources and business practices on identifying and implementing solutions that increase mobility for people with disabilities as well as the growing population of mature drivers.

At its Web site, iCan provides information, resources, services, features and commentary serving the needs and interests of people with disabilities, health care professionals, educators, employees, caregivers, friends and families. A dedicated staff and daily updates provide coverage of special events and significant news, such as coverage of the 10th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act.

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