Category Archives: Knowbility

Shout Out To All OpenAIR Mentors!

The first Accessible Internet Rally in 1998 was a simple competition; volunteers came together and created accessible websites for non-profits, in a single day.

Today, OpenAIR is not just about creating accessible websites. It is about imparting advanced accessibility skills and knowledge to web designers. It is about propagating Knowbility’s mission to organizations that are making a difference in the world. It is about finding the right people, creating a challenging atmosphere for them to learn and enhance their abilities and ultimately, making the web an accessible place. And in taking OpenAIR from being a one-day competition to a year round learning experience, many people have worked tirelessly behind the scenes over the years.

This year, OpenAIR had some of the best minds in accessibility mentor the teams – giving them guidance and training in web accessibility. Everyone at Knowbility is grateful to all mentors, who worked in the shadows during the whole competition and for the encouragement that they gave to their teams during the competition which motivated them to incorporate design and testing techniques that might have seemed unfamiliar. Some of those activities directly contributed to team awareness on the vast spectrum of user needs, and revealed to them how much of a difference their efforts made in creating more accessible digital content.

The mentors for this year were:

Jared W. Smith (@jared_w_smith) for Web-Able
Leonie Watson (@leoniewatson) for AcsaGen
Henny Swan (@iheni) for Wild West
Joseph Karr O’Connor (@accessiblejoe) for AxIs
Dale Cruse (@dalecruse) for WFM Team One
Lisa Herrod (@lisaherrod) for Down Under
Shawn Lauriat (@slauriat) for We Are 99%
Wendy Chisholm (@wendyabc) for WFM Airlines
George Luc (@georgeluc) for Accessibility Warriors
Rob Carr (@rgcarrjr) for The Beginners
Dylan Barrell (@dylanbarrell) for Barrier Breakers
Paul J. Adam (@pauljadam) for Sahyog
George Luc (@georgeluc) for First Timers

Thank you mentors, for taking out the time to help us help improve web accessibility! OpenAIR wouldn’t be what it is today without your efforts!

Thank you, OpenAIR Judges!

In its 17th year now, Open Accessibility Internet Rally (OpenAIR) has seen tremendous participation from teams all over the world. Every year, the teams are better and the competition, tougher. The teams are also mentored by the best in the field of accessibility, making it even more difficult to pick the best.

OpenAIR is recognized as a great channel to impart accessibility skills to talented web-designers. It is also a wonderful medium for non-profits to connect with developers who can create beautiful websites for them. But what makes OpenAIR unique is the competitive spirit that pushes each team to put in their best effort to deliver the most accessible websites. And in keeping that competition alive, we are extremely grateful to our panel of judges who invested so much of their time for OpenAIR.

It is inspiring to have close to 20 judges come together and collaborate the way they did. Without them, we couldn’t have done any of this. The panel of judges for this year’s OpenAIR included:

• Mike Moore
• Brenda Adrian
• Jennison Mark Asunción
• Aaron Bangor
• Annette Berksan
• Cornelius Chopin
• Luis Garcia
• Michael Gower
• Susan Hewitt
• Matt King
• Dan Kinnunen
• William Lawrence
• Lewis Phillips
• Aimee Roundtree
• Glenda Sims
• Richard Steinberg
• Cliff Tyllick
• Pooja Nahata
• Susann Keohane

Thank you so much for taking out the time to help us help improve web accessibility!

Free webinar: How does an NPO prepare for OpenAIR?

Event:  Nonprofit (NPO) Kickoff – Join the webinar as a Guest

Date / Time: Wednesday, 9/18/2013, 6:00 PM – 7:30 PM (CST)

Training Type:  Webinar

Audio:  Voice Over IP – You will need headphones with a microphone to talk.

Questions:  Email openair2014 at yahoo dot com

Knowbility’s Accessibility Internet Rally (AIR) program evolved last year. What started in 1998 as a local or regional one day hackathon is now a several week volunteer program through which teams of web developers create fully functional sites for nonprofit organizations. Renamed OpenAIR since the competition is now open to NPOs, NGOs and arts and performance organizations from all over the world, it is an amazing opportunity for charitable and public service projects to get the professional support that they may not otherwise be able to afford.

I always hesitate to use the word “free” when urging NPOs to sign up for the program, however.  There is a minimal cost (a $100 registration fee so we know you mean it)  and more importantly, there is a commitment of time and attention.  Developer teams are willing to commit their time and talent to your project and your nonprofit will need to make a similar time commitment.  So if you are not sure about making the commitment, this webinar is 100% free and will help you decide of OpenAIR is right for your dot org.

Join us online to learn more about what the commitment will be and how to help your team win the OpenAIR competition and make web sites that are beautiful, that serve a nonprofit mission and that are fully accessible to everyone, including people with disabilities.

Here’s the detail. Join us to get the full scoop.

Event:  Nonprofit (NPO) Kickoff – Join the webinar as a Guest

Date / Time: Wednesday, 9/18/2013, 6:00 PM – 7:30 PM (CST)

Training Type:  Webinar

Audio:  Voice Over IP – You will need headphones with a microphone to talk.

Questions:  Email openair2014 at yahoo dot com

 

Accessibility in the National Day of Civic Hacking

Participating in the National Day of Civic Hacking

The first national Hackathon for Change was held on June 1st and 2nd and was every bit as exciting as I anticipated.  The event had much of the same energy, idealism, and enthusiasm that we see each year in our annual Accessibility Internet Rally (AIR) competitions. If you’re familiar with AIR, you know that since 1998 Knowbility has fostered teams of tech volunteers to donate time and talent by building accessible web sites for nonprofit groups.

Similarly, this last weekend of civic hacking brought more than 10,000 volunteers out within their own communities to participate in more than 95 separate hackathon events.  Data sets from dozens of government entities were made available to the hackers with the challenge to use  publicly-released data, code and technology to solve problems relevant to our neighborhoods, our cities, our states, and our country. If the energy at Austin’s ATX Hackathon for Change was any indication, people of all ages and skills actively and joyfully embraced the opportunity to use technology to make a difference in the lives of citizens – truly awesome!

St Edward’s University hosted the local event and Open Austin was the primary organizer.  What distinguished the Austin Hackathon from the others is this:  alone of all the programs I surveyed, Austin had web accessibility prompts in the orientation materials for all volunteers and included on their Expert Panel an accessibility advocate – me! It is always exciting to watch coders, designers, and planners respond to the accessibility challenge.  The experience led me to examine once again the nature of the field of digital accessibility and what is currently needed to truly advance and bring into the mainstream the practice of accessible design.

Mainstreaming digital accessibility

Some have been calling for the creation of an International Society of Accessibility Professionals.  But here is what I wonder:  What exactly will the establishment of a separate organization for these professionals do to integrate accessibility into the practice of smart, eager, engaged developers and designers such as those who participated in the National Day of Civic Hacking?  Does a professional organization really capture the imagination and fire of those for whom development is a calling and who respond to challenges like gaming and mash-ups?  I truly do not know the answer.

But I do know from participation in AIR and again this weekend that when accessibility is integrated as part of a broader community engagement, it is easy to “get” it.   I see lights go on and accessibility embraced on a community level by bright entrepreneurs, designers, gamers, and developers. I know that when accessibility is integrated into a lively practice, it is more likely to be accepted and improved upon than when it is siloed off into a separate category.

Accessibility practitioners are no different than any other specialized discipline.  If kept in isolation, the echo chamber effect creeps in, bad practices can be institutionalized, and adaptive change becomes more difficult.  Including accessibility along with other design considerations, integrating accessibility into iterative processes, ensuring that accessibility is part of the tumble of the development process – I believe THAT  is the way to keep accessibility ideas and practice fresh, innovative, and truly relevant.

What would John Slatin do?

Participating in the National Day of Civic Hacking was big, fat, super happy fun.  Let’s find more ways to integrate accessibility.  I challenge advocates out there. Instead of (or in addition to) submitting your papers to disability conferences and speaking to the singing choir, why not submit to wild and wooly design and tech conferences – like Big(D)esign and SXSW Interactive – that have nothing in particular to do with accessibility?

Dr. John Slatin was an English professor, a poet, and a lover of technology who happened to be blind.  He inspired students and colleagues as he fostered art, language, and technology-related research projects that were not easily described or pigeon-holed. John was an effective accessibility advocate precisely because his imagination was fired by the potential of technology to bridge gaps of language, culture, geography, and yes – disability.  Let’s get out there and truly demonstrate the truth of John Slatin’s words…Good design IS accessible design.  Onward!

 

 

 

Remote training for those who can’t make it to Austin for AccessU

Good news / bad news about AccessU

Good news first – people are loving this year’s AccessU lineup of accessibility topics and instructors. Classes are beginning to fill  up, and the excitement is building about our upcoming gathering in Austin in May. The teaching schedule is just great this year and we are looking forward to a vibrant three days of teaching and learning from one another.

But there is a downside. Not everyone can get to Austin in May and we will miss some of you!  Looking for a way to include everyone – we are all about inclusion after all – we have an idea, but we need your help.

Below you will find class descriptions of some of the most popular classes. Some have filled up for the in-person training and some are only available in post-conference sessions.  You can help! Please read the following descriptions and then take the on-line survey to tell us which classes you would like to see in a one-day, online version of AccessU.

We have included twelve courses in our short list, but we can only broadcast six. And we may have left out one or two that you are especially interested in. So feel free to checkout the full list of AccessU classes and request that we include any of those in our broadcast webinar day of AccessU at Your Desk.

The survey will also ask which day you prefer.  If we have sufficient interest, we will produce one day of remote training. AccessU at Your Desk would present six courses in an elearning format and make the archives available to all. Thanks for your input!

What to do next

You have a few choices, you can choose form the list below, look at all of the AccessU course offered and finally, vote for the classes you would like to see included in AccessU at Your Desk.

  1. See Knowbility’s Short List of suggested classes for AccessU (just below)
  2. and/Or see all of the AccessU classes and choose your own
  3. Vote for your Top Six!

Knowbility’s Short List

Basic HTML Accessibility Techniques

Basic HTML Forms & Tables

Captioning and Audio Description Strategies

Cultural Shifts and Enterprise Accessibility

E-Learning for All

Google: Taking on Accessibility Challenges in Complex Web Applications

Mobile Accessibility Clinic

Open Source Tools for Building Accessible Websites

Principles of Accessible Documents

Strategic Accessibility

The 508 Refresh is Coming – How Will Federal Compliance Testing Change?

Walk through WAI Resources

and, a reminder that you are also free to choose other classes from the full list of courses offered at the in-person AccessU.

Vote now and win a free seat at the virtual conference

Your vote puts your name into a drawing for a free seat at AccessU At Your Desk. Even if you are attending, your free ticket is fully transferable.  So  vote today and thanks again!