AccessU 2008 first timer

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Knowbility held a conference last week called AccessU, and I was privileged to attend for the first time, as well as assist in one of the classes!    It was an excellent time for networking, a great chance to get to know some marvelous people in various capacities, and just overall fun.    There were several classes to choose from, all instructing in accessibility in one form or another, and taught by very experienced and knowledgeable professionals in the field.    I personally realized that I have a lot to learn, but also came from the conference with   a lot of ideas and knowledge.    If you were there, I hope you felt as I did about the whole experience.    If you couldn’t make it this year, I would highly recommend it to increase your knowledge in accessibility!  I just wanted to touch on some things I learned from and enjoyed at the conference.    Please, if you’d like to add anything or comment, feel free! First and foremost, we cannot talk about AccessU without at the very least mentioning John Slatin, to whom this conference was dedicated.  I personally did not have the honor of knowing him, but am sure he would be proud that so many people came to learn about something he put so much of his life into. Speaking of extra-ordinary people, we got to see Jim Thatcher receive SIGCAS 2008 “Making A Difference” award at the conference.  I have had the pleasure of working with him a little and benefitting from his vast knowledge of accessibility.  You can find more about him at his web sitewww.jimthatcher.com.  Another highlight of the conference for me was getting to meet Beth Finke and hear her story.  I was touched, inspired and laughed a lot too as she shared with us her journey through some difficult challenges to become a successful writer and mentor.  It was great to meet and talk to her.  Her children’s book `Safe and Sound` is fantastic!  You can find out more about her at her web site

www.bethfinke.com

I had a great time as an assistant instructor to Randy Horwitz in the “basic web accessibility testing with jaws” course.  I hope our class members had fun and learned about a program that I feel is my life-line to the www.  I myself learned a lot from Randy and really enjoyed getting to know him too. I also got my first experience with live audio description of a film at the Alamo draft house.  VSA arts of Texas can be hired to audio describe films, or even operas and other live performances.  Talk about accessibility!  I can’t tell you how many times I have gone to performances that I pay good money to attend, and have no clue what is happening on stage.  What a fantastic service!  You can find out more about them at

www.vsatx.org

 These are just a few of the wonderful experiences I had at this year’s AccessU.  If anyone would like to share their experiences, I would love to hear from you!  Just being there really was motivational for me.  Of course I am somewhat motivated out of necessity, I know why accessibility is so important, but I have a new desire to learn about what needs to be done.  I not only want to enjoy the benefits of accessibility, I want to be part of the whole process!

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