Tag Archives: Phronesis Media

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!

The Amazing Accessible Internet Rally

In eight hours, you could drive from Austin to New Orleans for soul food and zydeco, or you could head west to Roswell to find out if aliens really exist. You could take a trip to the Gulf, wriggle your toes in the sand, and come back home. You could get on a plane and fly to Alaska or Hawaii or Panama. You could even run a marathon – or two or three, if you’re strong enough.

You can do amazing things in eight hours.

You can even build a website!

Knowbility’s 14th AIR-Austin Rally

Participants of Air Austin applauding.

Trust me, spending eight hours in front of a computer coding a Web site can be just as exciting as hopping a flight to the great white north (and much warmer, this time of year). Just ask the developers who came out on Saturday for the 14th annual Accessibility Internet Rally for Austin.

Imagine it: 21 web developers, five non-profit organizations, and dozens of volunteers, supporters, and judges, fed, caffeinated, and locked up for the equivalent of one workday, fighting to design, build, and test the best accessible website possible.

Coding Under Pressure (and Having Fun Doing It!)

Teams arrived early, fueling up on coffee and breakfast tacos graciously donated by Starbucks Coffee, Texas Coffee Traders, and Amaya’s Taco Village.

Then, at 8:00am, everyone gathered in the lobby to fire the metaphorical starting gun. Volunteers cheered on the developers as they dashed to their seats to start their work. After that, little was heard throughout the halls and rooms of New Horizons Computer Learning Center other than the clacking of keys.

That is unless, of course, you were waiting in the Judging Pit. The AIR judges had their own space where they hung out 3 people talking during the AIR Austin rallyand were available to answer questions from participating developers. They filled the rest of their time by singing 60s war protest songs, looking at pictures of Ann Abbot’s trip to Amsterdam, and spying through the windows to admire Jim Thatcher’s shiny new BMW.

Meanwhile, the five development teams worked side-by-side with their assigned non-profit organizations to make their accessible website vision become a reality. Representative Elliott Naishtat, the 2012 Honorary Chairman for AIR-Austin, dropped by after lunch to thank the teams for their hard work to eliminate the digital divide present in our community. The teams looked up long enough to say “hello” and nod in appreciation. And the judges gathered together for a picture.

Programmers working during AIR AustinAs the day sped by, the intensity grew. With the 5:00 deadline looming. Spurred on by the clock and tweets of encouragement, each team found ways to maximize the time for ultimate coding potential. From eating lunch at their stations to skipping team photos (“Our fourth team member will be back for the picture at 5:00. We promise.” Uh, huh, sure…). One group even locked me out of the room as I came to sound the warning bell that time was up. Little did they know that I had a key handy for just such an emergency.

Sharron stepped in to sing a “good-bye” song as the minutes ticked past 5:00 with developers still glued to their keyboards, and teams ended the day in the same way that they’d started – amidst cheers and applause of gratitude from Knowbility staff and volunteers.

What’s Next?

Over the next few weeks, our judges will evaluate the sites these teams built. They’ll go over them with a fine-toothed comb to identify accessibility errors and point out successes. The winners will be announced at the 2012 Dewey Ceremony & AIR-Interactive Awards at South by Southwest Interactive Media Festival.

If you’re going to be in Austin on March 11, we want you to join us! Be sure to RSVP for the party.

In the meantime, take a look at what these development teams accomplished in eight hours!Knowbility swag buttons

Want to see more? Check out the sites built for AIR-Interactive, the all-virtual competition held concurrently with AIR-Austin:

Thank you to all participants and volunteers! We appreciate your contributions, look forward to assessing your efforts, and can’t wait to announce the winner on March 11.