OpenAIR Media Kit 2013

September 20, 2013 in Accessibility

Sept 20, 2013 – Knowbility, a nonprofit organization based in Austin Texas, announced today that their award winning Accessibility Internet Rally (AIR) Program has expanded beyond Austin and is now open to web teams and nonprofit groups from all over the world. Sponsored by Deque and Adobe and led by IBM’s CTO of Accessibility Richard Schwerdtfeger, the OpenAIR program raises awareness of the need for technology access for people with disabilities and provides developers with the skills they need to meet those diverse needs. The awareness and skills training occurs as part of a fun, friendly web design competition benefiting nonprofit organizations that serve communities all over the world. After two rounds of judging, winners will be announced at 2014 SXSW Interactive.

Full Media Kit is provided here for download


ATIA Slides & AT Toolkit Available

February 8, 2011 in Accessibility

We had a great session at the ATIA conference in Orlando!

Attendees have asked us for the slides from the session and the AT toolkit referenced in our session. Please send us a note and we’ll get them sent to you! thanks,

Beth Watson, ATSTAR Program Manager,

35+ Usability Resources for Web Designers

April 8, 2010 in Accessibility

What a great find by one of our awesome board members, Kelsey Ruger. We agree with DESIGNM.AG when they say:

“Usability should be a priority for every website.
Without usability, even the most beautiful design will be ineffective.”

Make sure to read the full article and, if you’d like to learn more about usability, consider joining us for AccessU 2010 during which we will be hosting a two-day usability track on this important topic alone.

The Dewey/AIR Interactive Awards

March 20, 2010 in Accessibility, Accessibility Programs, Accessibility Standards, Guidelines, Inclusion, Information Technology, Universal Design

An important part of the SXSW event for Knowbility is awarding our AIR Interactive teams and non-profits, as well as recognizing this year’s Dewey honorees.  I learned a lot about Dewey Winburn, founder of the SXSW Interactive Media Conference.  In his memory, awards are given to those who spend their lives making a difference in the digital industry.

We offer big congratulations to our  AIR Interactive 2010 winners:  For people’s choice, which was voted on by our visitors at the booth as well as on-line: Team Unchain My Art for Diverse Arts Culture Works – End Cultural Heritage District Third place: Team Insane in the Membrane for Lisa Laratta  Second place: Team Unchain My Art for Diverse Arts Culture Works – End Cultural Heritage District And this year’s first place winner for the most accessible website for AIR Interactive: Team Water Gang for Outreach Productions  We offer a hearty congratulations to all who participated this year!  Awesome job!!

From the Knowbility Booth at SXSW 2010

March 20, 2010 in Accessibility, Accessibility Evaluations, Accessibility in Education, Accessibility Programs, Information Technology, Universal Design

We at Knowbility had another fabulous year at Austin’s annual South by Southwest Interactive Media Conference.  There were so many awesome people to talk to from all over the country and even internationally.  We made several new friends who share our interest in accessibility, some of whom had never thought about it before in terms of websites and web content.  Our booth was a great success, offering information about Knowbility and our mission, as well as demos of ATSTAR, accessibility testing tools, and screen readers.  I visited so many websites using JAWS and Window-eyes, while my victims wore sleep masks/blind folds and listened along with me.  Some of the sites worked well, while others needed accessibility attention.  To give you an idea of what the experience was like, here are some of the sites I looked at and a little about my interaction with those who represented them.

I talked to Julia Hix, who does PR and marketing for the Zimmerman Agency.  We discussed social media and its accessibility issues.  Are there any guide-lines in place for social media accessibility?  Are there tips out there on how to build Facebook aps with accessibility in mind?  She was very interested in what we do at Knowbility.  One of her clients is VPG, who design vehicles for people with disabilities.

Hemen Patel with Crmmetrix stopped by and was interested in creating accessible content on his site, particularly surveys.  I looked at one of his surveys and he is off to a great start!

I got to talk to Photographer Riva Lehrer and visit her site.  She takes the photos for Access Living out of Chicago, but also has a lot of other art work and photography.  She gave me some fantastic resources for blindness blogs and podcasts to follow.

Dewey Winburn’s son Isac came by and we looked at the site for his band Mother Falcon.  We would love to see them in our next AIR Interactive!

I went to and spoke with its programmer.  Some of their flash content was not accessible, but what a great place to go to raise funds for your favorite cause, like accessibility for example.

I found a great possible resource at and talked with Bobby Saini who represented that site.  It looks like a good way to coordinate social media, volunteers and fundraising all in one place.

Speaking of social media and marketing, I visited Social Toaster.  This automated software puts all of your social networking tools in one place for tracking and easy access.

Brian Razzaque took me to Vision Multimedia Technologies, where people can get help in creating websites.

I talked about user experience testing with Felix Desroches from EchoUser-Experience Innovation.  Perhaps we can exchange ideas with them as we conduct our own user experience testing with people with varying disabilities.

Also regarding user interface and experience testing, I talked to Aaron Swan with Infragistics.

Alexa Wheeler from the University of New Mexico came by.  She teaches web design and would like to incorporate more accessibility into her courses.  I think listening to a Screen Reader in action was very helpful to her.

I looked at Visual Hero Design with Andy Vansolkema.  As they help people create visual design for their websites, they may think a bit about accessibility now.

I looked at several other sites and engaged in great conversation with so many!  Accessibility is an exciting topic, there is so much to talk about.  Every time a new technology is developed, there are challenges and opportunities just waiting to be explored.  I really enjoyed giving people a perspective some of them may have never before considered, so thanks to everyone who came by our booth and listened.

Accessibility Day – March 14th – at SXSWi

March 12, 2010 in Accessibility, Accessibility in Education, Accessibility Standards, Guidelines, Inclusion, Information Technology, Universal Design

Let’s get rid of “accessibility”

SXSW organizers gave me a wonderful opportunity this year – the chance to put together an entire day workshop of advanced accessibility techniques for SXSWi.  Sessions to teach attendees specific skills that they could leave with and improve their practice.   It was a daunting challenge to look through the many excellent accessibility panel submissions and choose among them for sessions that could share this common theme and yet stand alone for attendees who may not stay all day. I am a realist about the attention span of typical SXSWi attendees and anyway there is a HUGE amount of great stuff going on all the time! As I thought about it all in the months leading up to SXSWi, I realized an odd thing.  If I could design the field of accessibility from scratch I would make a fundamental change to our vocabulary.  I would get rid of the word “accessibility.”   So I decided that this day would look to a future in which we don’t even talk about accessibility, but instead realize that as John Slatin always said, good design IS accessible design.”  Here is what I mean.

No matter how much and how often people with disabilities advocate and model exemplary skills and intelligence, too often accessibility is associated with a need to “dumb down” content or function.  You find this to be true in schools as they try to integrate technology in learning – just give “those kids a laptop and let me get on with my flashy, poppy curriculum products.  It’s way easier than thinking about how various kids actually learn.”   You find it the new dot gov sites where the alternative for a highly interactive citizen input application is a text only explanation that provides none of the function.  And of course, you find it in the authoring tools and CMSs that provide “accessibility features” that must be discovered first of all, then turned on and understood in order to create anything close to “accessible” content.  Yikes! No wonder there are so many barriers of use.

Well, I have a dream…and it is that as we get past these baby steps of learning to use new instruments of mass communication, we understand the importance and the value of inclusion.  And the fact is that really talented and skilled designers already do.  To get beyond “accessibility” as “accommodation” for a “disadvantaged” group of users to an understanding that great design like great literature, meets people where they are.  And that would mean all people, wherever they are in the technology/ability spectrum.

Liam Magee is a colleague of mine serving on the Education and Outreach Working Group of the Web Accessibility Initiative at W3C.  We meet weekly for a two hour phone call and though I have never met him, I am always grateful for Liam’s contributions.  He is a great designer with an organic understanding of the importance of what used to be called “accessibility” (before the current paradigm shift).   Liam says that when he sees some of these barrier filled, specific browser or device dependent designs, he wonders, “Is that person evil or just really stupid?”

We can’t all be a brilliant as Liam and so we try to explain that there is also ignorance at work.  People don’t know, don’t understand.  Many still really believe that advanced communication technologies are only for the elite few and that it is OK to leave out entire segments of the population. Well, that attitude is changing as rapidly as the technology.

Come spend the day with us .  Learn, contribute and be part of the vanguard practicing inclusive, universal design.

What you need to know to advocate for students with disabilities

March 2, 2010 in Accessibility, Accessibility in Education, Accessibility Standards

What you need to know to advocate for students with disabilities and get them access to Accessible Instructional Materials. Read the rest of this entry →

The Chafee Amendment

March 2, 2010 in Accessibility in Education, Accessibility Standards, Policies

The following is a copy of the 1996 Chafee Amendment to the Copyright Law. Read the rest of this entry →

Alphabet Firehose

March 2, 2010 in Guidelines, Policies

Acronyms dealing with accessibility that you need to know. Read the rest of this entry →

Timeline of Disability Laws/ Services & Key Terminology

March 2, 2010 in Accessibility in Education, Policies

1817 – American School for the Deaf
First school for disabled children in the Western Hemisphere
1857 – Act of Congress
Incorporated the Columbia Institution for the Instruction of the Deaf, Dumb and Blind along with granting a $150 a year maintenance and tuition fee for each child received into the institution.
1864 – Act signed by Abraham Lincoln. Columbia Institute for Deaf, Dumb and Blind is able to confer college degrees – signed by Abraham Lincoln
“Determine the thing that can and shall be done, and then we shall find the way.” – Abraham Lincoln