Tag Archives: air-austin

Knowbility Takes SXSW by Storm & Announces Winners of AIR!

It’s a Friday in Austin. By any regards, it’s just another day in just another city. In fact, if you walked through downtown today, you would have no idea that little more than a week ago, one of the world’s largest trio of festivals flooded the streets with geeks, movie buffs, and music lovers alike. Knowbility was right in the midst of the chaos – taking the South by Southwest (SXSW) world by storm with our message of accessibility and having a blast doing it!

The 2012 Dewey Ceremony & AIR-Interactive Awards

To start with, we hosted an official SXSW party on March 11th. If you know anything about SXSW, you know why that word “official” is emphasized. It’s a BIG DEAL. But let’s be real – the bigger deal is the reason we hosted the party in the first place: announcing the winners of the 2012 AIR-Interactive/AIR-Austin Competition and introducing the Dewey Winburne honorees for contributions to society through interactive media.

The AIR-Interactive/AIR-Austin Winners

Seven teams competed earlier this spring in an intense race to accessibility. You might have read about the program, and the incredible teams that participated in our post-rally blog post. So who won? Everybody did – you just can’t beat participating in AIR! But since we had official judges, we probably should have official winners, and they are:

Team Unchain My Art
Formula One winners Unchain My Art from MicroAssist

Formula One Division (Accessibility+Advanced Features)

1st Place: Unchain My Art, designing for The Austin Jazz Alliance
2nd Place: The Headspring Hurwitzes, designing for Texas TERA

 Stock Car Division (Basic Accessibility)

1st Place: Team TradeMark, designing for All Blind Children of Texas
2nd Place: Team Fahrenheit, designing for Phronesis Media

Team TradeMark
Team TradeMark takes First Place in Stock Car

Honorable Mentions

The Drupalistas, designing for Austin Speech Labs
The Access Austin Crew, designing for ADAPT of Texas
Team Enchantment, designing for The Independent Living Resource Center of New Mexico

Congratulations to everyone who competed – you are all champions, and your work for accessibility goes far beyond the Rally!

Accessible Internet Rally Will be Held in October

If you didn’t participate in this spring’s program, you’ll have another opportunity in October, when we bring the AIR-Austin rally back to its traditional timing – during Disability Awareness Month. As we announced following the awards, Rich Schwerdtfeger, Chief Technology Officer for Accessibility at IBM Software Group  will chair the fall program!

2012 Dewey Winburne Awards

Judy Brewer
Judy Brewer leads the Web Accessibility Initiative at the W3C and was awarded Dewey Winburne recognition

Local musicians Mother Falcon (silently accompanied by the ASL stylings of LotuSign) provided the background for a brief intermission at the party, and then the rest of the evening was dedicated to honoring the winners of the 2012 Dewey Winburne Awards. Dewey was a co-founder of SXSW Interactive, and a man dedicated to changing the digital landscape in Austin through his work with technology and youth.

Those awards,presented by SXSW itself, honor the work of 10 individuals from around Austin, the US, and even the world. The award recognizes contributions made by social activists using technology to change their communities. More about the honorees  can be seen in a great post about the Dewey Awards on the SXSW website.

 

Teresa Ferguson
Teresa Ferguson, former Dewey winner herself, emceed the awards party

Many thanks go out to Theresa Ferguson, who emceed the program, and did a fantastic job of introducing the awardees and moving the ceremony along. Theresa is not only a former participant in AIR, she helped to inspire the AIR-Interactive Awards, and she’s even a past Dewey Nominee!

Thank you also to everyone who came out to support the work of our fantastic Accessibility Internet Rally teams and the Dewey Award winners! Your enthusiasm and energy overflowed the room!

The SXSW Trade Show (aka, SWAG-a-palooza 2012)

sleep masks printed with "Wake Up to Accessibility" You’d think that after the party was over, we’d all get to relax and enjoy the festival, but there’s just no slowing down at Knowbility – instead, we were back downtown the next morning to welcome the first attendees at the annual SXSW Trade Show. We had a huge booth, like we always do, and had the opportunity to tell people from all around the world about accessibility.

Our “Wake Up to Accessibility” sleep masks were a huge hit – and were featured in a “best of SXSW SWAG” twitter post!

We also invited visitors to get off their feet, relax, and peruse the work of our teams, helping to select the People’s Choice Award Winner for AIR. We are pleased to announce that Team TradeMark has taken home the prize, a gift card for Parkside Restaurant in Downtown Austin, graciously donated by the restaurant itself!

Even more, the Knowbility booth featured demonstrations in using the JAWS screen reading software by Jeanine Lineback. Talks by Knowbility supporters and sponsors from Deque Systems, Adobe, Paciello Group, and the W3C highlighted issues and new developments in accessibility.

Speaking of sponsors, we want to thank them! Without their support, none of this would be possible!

Deque Systems LogoCity of Austin LogoAdobe LogoThe Paciello Group LogoAustin Mayor's Committee for People with Disabilities LogoNew Horizons LogoMicroAssist LogoSt. Edwards University Logo

 

And a special thanks goes out to The Chronicle of Philanthropy, who not only sponsored the 2012 Dewey Ceremony & AIR-Interactive Awards, but published a great article to highlight the Dewey Awardees.

Phew! It was a great week and now we are taking all the cool stuff we learned and will hope to share it with you at AccessU in May – see you then!

Knowbility, AIR and September 11, 2001

AIR-Austin Participation BadgeOur local NPR station, the daily paper and countless other media spigots are asking for remembrances of 9/11.   As my mind goes back to that day and I allow the political to fall away, what I remember is the Accessibility Internet Rally for Austin (AIR-Austin). At that time AIR was kicking off its fourth year of bringing the community together around the powerful idea of access to technology for all.

If you have never competed or volunteered in a web Accessibility Internet Rally (AIR) program – here’s how it works:  Knowbility recruits nonprofit groups who need web help – and in 2001 many were getting their very first web site.  The program also recruits teams of web developers – that year we had teams from IBM, from Dell, from St Edward’s University, Frog Design and many others.  Our chair was a VP from St. Ed’s, John Houghton.  With the help of the Judge Brothers – Jim Thatcher, John Slatin, Jim Allan and other advisors – we had recruited and trained nearly 20 teams and nonprofits.  On the evening of September 11, we were scheduled to meet at our historic local beer hall, Scholz Garden and announce which team was matched to what nonprofit organization and allow them to begin to plan their accessible web site. Rules were originally drawn up by Jayne Cravens who used to say that AIR was party that began at the oldest beer garden in Texas and ended up on the world wide web!

When the horrific events of the day unfolded, we eventually remembered our kick-off party, scheduled for 6pm that evening.  Our mighty staff of three made calls to each other and to the advisors.  We knew no one would come, and that we would have to postpone the kick-off and probably the Rally.  We might cancel the entire event for 2001, who could tell with the whole world upside down?

We decided that we would make our way to Scholz to provide some re-orientation information to anyone who might wander in.  We expected that a few people might come by.  Well, at about 5:30 a few did wander in.  They hugged each other gently and held on for longer than usual. They looked stunned and smiled gently, almost reluctantly at one another.  Soon there were more.  By 6:15 every single team and every nonprofit was represented.  The advisors were there, the judges were all there, the advisors and teams were there for the kick-off – it was clear they wanted the events to proceed!

John Houghton got on the little riser stage and prepared to go on with the match-up announcement.  We were clearly, each one of us in the crowd of people, surprised that we WERE a crowd.  John spoke for all of us, it seems, when he said,

“On this day when we have seen the worst that humans are capable of doing to one another, I wanted to be here.  I want to participate in the best that we are capable of.  I want to build a community that shares skills and knowledge and works to improve our capacity to help one another. That is what the AIR program means to me and it must mean that much to you too, because you are here.  Let’s get to work!”

We cried, we held each other, and we got to work.  In 2001, AIR-Austin volunteers built web sites for more than two dozen NPOs, including Austin IDEA Network (now the Entrepreneurs Foundation of Central Texas), Lone Star Girl Scout Council, GENAustin, SafePlace, Family Elder Care, Keep Austin Beautiful, Blackshear Elementary School, Girlstart and others.  Of course, the sites have changed with the times and for many of these groups, the momentum of that first AIR site carried them along.  Sponsors included IBM, Austin Usability, Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation, the University of Texas and Dell.

Since 1998, we have produced AIR programs all over the US, including Houston, Dallas, San Francisco, Denver and Atlanta raising awareness of why and how technology access must be made available to all.   In all that time, we have not missed a year in Austin – not even when the planes took the buildings down in New York City.