The accessibility of online forums for public meetings

People often raise concerns about accessibility when the idea is raised to use internet technology for public meetings.
In my opinion, perceptions are lagging reality. In the latest 2006 large-scale internet study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, 73% of US adults had internet access. The percent in the San Francisco Bay area was 83% back in 2003.
A decade ago, there were serious accessibility concerns. Today, internet access is mainstream. Physical attendance to a meeting poses greater accessibility barriers than online participation. Meetings in a building pose problems with people who have mobility impairments and sensory impairments, as well as people who have needs for child care or elder care.
Internet meetings surely need to be as broadly noticed as meetings in a physical building, and it would be important to accommodate people who have shared internet access for example at the library. Taking those considerations into account, I see internet forums as a way of broadening access, not limiting access.
I see local governments in this area doing a lot to try and stimulate civic participation. Local governments are also open to innovation in other areas such as green policy. So I would hope that some local governments would want to take the lead.

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