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Webby Awards Honor VOA Special English Website

The Web site is a tool for non-native speakers to practice and improve their American English

Washington, D.C., June 15, 2006 - The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences has named the Voice of America (VOA) Special English service's Web site an "Official Honoree" in its 10th annual Webby Awards.

"Our Web site is extremely popular with people around the world," said Rochelle Gollust, chief of Special English. "We're very proud that it's been recognized."

The Web site,, is a tool for non-native speakers to practice and improve their American English. It acts in concert with VOA's Special English radio and television programs. The Web site provides both transcripts and audio of radio programs, downloads of television programs, English language learning links, word games, and a dictionary of the words used in programming. It is one of the most popular destinations within, receiving an average of 500,000 visits per month.

The Special English service helps VOA listeners and viewers around the world learn American English through coverage of world news, science, and American life and history. It uses a 1,500-word vocabulary, simple sentence structure, and a slower pace when read on air. Television programs also feature slow scrolling captions.

The Webby Awards, hailed by Time magazine as the "online Oscars," were created by the Academy in 1996 to honor "excellence in Web design, creativity, usability and functionality." The Academy consists of 500 leading Web experts, business figures and others. In the past, the Academy has recognized, eBay, Google, BBC News, PBS and CNN.

This year, the Academy received a record number of entries from all 50 American states and over 40 other countries. Of the more than 5,500 entries, fewer than 20 percent were named Official Honorees. The judging criteria included "content, structure and navigation, visual design, functionality, interactivity and overall experience."

The Voice of America, which first went on the air in 1942, is a multimedia international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. government through the Broadcasting Board of Governors. VOA broadcasts more than 1,000 hours of news, information, educational, and cultural programming every week to an estimated worldwide audience of more than 100 million people. Programs are produced in 44 languages.

For more information, call the Office of Public Affairs at (202) 203-4959, or E-Mail