Category Archives: Knowbility

AccessU 2015: Put People First

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Registration is open for this year’s AccessU themed, ‘Accessibility: Put People First’ at http://www.knowbility.org/v/accessu-registration/.

The conference will provide practical resources, encouraging participants to explore various aspects of digital inclusion and master the role-based skills involved in launching successful accessibility initiatives.

AccessU is a conference that brings leading experts from around the globe to Austin, Texas to teach t accessible design skills.  AccessU promotes universal access to the web, including for people who are blind, have low vision, are deaf or hearing impaired, have mobility impairments or have other kinds of disabilities. The conference was first launched in 2004, and has since then been an annual event conducted by Knowbility with sponsorship and support from St. Edwards University and Deque Systems, and other leading tech companies.

The conference will feature internationally known leaders in accessible design and development, including:

  • Accessibility pioneer and superstar Henny Swan (lead editor of BBC Mobile Accessibility  Standards and Guidelines and a regular speaker at conferences like SXSW, the World Wide Web Conference, Tec share, Accessibility 2.0, access, Mobile Monday and CSUN),
  • The development team from the Web Accessibility Initiative and Education and Outreach working group of the W3C – Shadi Abou-Zahra, Shawn Henry, Kevin White and Eric Eggert.
  • User Experience guru, Whitney Quesenbery (author of Storytelling for User Experience and Global UX: Design and research in a connected world)
  • Sarah Horton (User Experience Strategy Lead with The Paciello Group and award winning author of the book Web Teaching Guide) among others.

For the full list of speakers and instructors, visit http://www.knowbility.org/v/accessu-course-list/John-Slatin-AccessU/3k/.

Join us May 11th – 12th at St. Edward’s University, Austin, Texas and for a post conference workshop May 13th for three days of learning, sharing, exploring, and fun!

Tommy Edison at AccessU 2015

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Knowbility is excited to welcome Tommy Edison as keynote speaker at AccessU 2015 this May.

“Being blind since birth, one of the greatest challenges I faced was accepting that I’m visually impaired.” Tommy told us.  “As I became an adult, I was forced to face my own reality and needed to make a choice – either embrace my blindness and live a happier life or do something I might regret. Eventually I chose the former which led me to a long career in radio, living my dream of reviewing movies, and sharing my experiences as a blind person to a worldwide audience. In my talk, I explain how I faced my greatest obstacle – myself.”

Popularly known as The Blind Film Critic, Tommy’s YouTube channel, TommyEdisonXP (https://www.youtube.com/user/TommyEdisonXP) has 195,000 subscribers and garners a million views per video. By addressing the barriers he faced, Tommy will illuminate the AccessU theme of “Put People First.”

In my talk, I explain how I faced my greatest obstacle – myself.

“I watch movies and pay attention to them in a different way than sighted people do”, says Tommy, who offers a unique take on movies, audio and daily life through his signature sense of humor.

In addition to being the Blind Film Critic and a YouTube celebrity, Tommy has been a radio professional for nearly 25 years, having spent the last 19 at STAR 99.9 FM in Connecticut as a traffic reporter.

Tommy Edison was endorsed by film critic and journalist Roger Ebert and his reviews were posted on the Chicago Sun-Times blog and on Tosh.0, Comedy Central’s blog. Tommy has also been featured on various TV and news channels including CNN and Headline News. Visit his website http://blindfilmcritic.com/ for more information.

“I’m not distracted by all the beautiful shots and attractive people. I watch a movie for the writing and acting.”

Tommy will also host a special event “Film & Audio Description with the Blind Film Critic” at Alamo Draft house as part of the conference.

AccessU participants are invited to events organized as part of the conference including a Film & Audio Description with Tommy Edison at Alamo Draft house, a bicycle pub crawl in Austin and networking luncheons.

Knowbility at SXSW and CSUN 2015

SXSW is the largest tech conference in North America; what an outstanding venue to showcase accessibility for all! Knowbility served on the advisory board reviewing panel proposals and on the Dewey Awards nominating committee; Knowbility also had a strong presence at the world’s largest Accessibility meet-up.  What an exciting way to integrate the concerns of users with disabilities in the mainstream of tech buzz!!

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SXSW introduced the Social Good Hub – the official platform meant to be the way finder for attendees interested in social innovation, impact design, and cause issues related to technology. The United Nations Foundation sponsored a two day destination for attendees interested in collaborating, networking and entertainment relating to social good.  Knowbility recognizes that the inception of the social good hub can have boundless potential to lift the experience of individuals with disabilities by bringing the spirit of collaboration of the brightest tech minds to solving problems of inclusion.

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SXSW also featured notable innovations from IBM. IBM continues to innovate tech solutions for people with disabilities and many of them were showcased at the Startup Village at the Hilton.  Way finding applications, as well as internal IBM tools for measuring and demonstrating accessibility….Exciting innovations from a tech giant!!

 CSUN 2015 featured Knowbility Executive director, Sharron Rush, as a key contributor to the “Making WCAG 2 Support resources More Usable for You.” discussion.  This was a highly interactive panel to showcase work being done by the Education and Outreach Working Group, Sharron serves as co-chair of the working group.   This discussion was to showcase work that is being done to make Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) resources more discoverable, digestible, and useful.  The discussion gathered feedback to be incorporated in later iterations of WAI resources.   This highly interactive session was hugely successful.

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For more information you can check out the following tools….

CSUN featured an increasing number of web accessibility sessions than in years past.  This is a reflection of the increasing interested in responsive design and accessibility for all.  If you missed CSUN 2015 many of the same topics will be covered at AccessU this May in Austin, TX.  It’s not too late to register.

Knowbility hosted a small happy hour ceremony to hand out Community Heroes of Accessibility Awards. Board member Rich Schwerdtfeger gave awards to Steve Faulkner, the BBC Accessibility team, Julie Romanoski of State Farm and many more. Full list of honorees.

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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!