About Us

Our Story

Knowbility, Inc. is a nonprofit organization based in Austin, Texas and an award-winning leader in accessible information technology.

Each year we directly serve more than 1,000 people through our OpenAIR program and our training and consulting services.

Since 1999, Knowbility has been working with hundreds of business, educational entities, government and nonprofit organizations to train staff, implement effective accessibility strategies, and monitor long term goals to reach millions of new users.

Knowbility, Inc. was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) in March, 1999 shortly after conducting its first community-building event called the Accessibility Internet Rally (AIR Austin) now called OpenAIR. AIR Austin proved to be an effective model for engaging the information technology sector and the social services community in disability issues. It has since become an annual event and been replicated in several U.S. cities. Knowbility’s team of experts is internationally recognized for its role in creating the worldwide standard for web accessibility implementation and training.

Our Mission

Our mission is to support the independence of children and adults with disabilities by promoting the use and improving the availability of accessible information technology.

We help make the internet and other technologies accessible to people who are blind, visually impaired, deaf or hearing impaired, who have mobility impairments and cognitive or learning disabilities. Our goal is to create a barrier-free world of information technology so that people with disabilities can fully participate in the business, educational and cultural marketplace.

Programs and Services

Depending on what you are looking for, we propose different types of services and programs:

OpenAIR

OpenAIR, an international competition based in Austin, Texas that pairs teams of top web developers with nonprofits to create or improve their websites.

ACCESS U

Access U is an annual 3-day training conference, which brings accessibility experts from all over the globe to Austin Texas to give top-level workshops and talks on accessible design.

Consulting and Testing

Knowbility’s accessibility testing and consulting team has guided and the creation of more than 1,000 accessible web sites making information accessible to the 55 million Americans with disabilities.

ATSTAR

ATSTAR, online professional development courses in assistive technology to help teachers to learn how to implement assistive technology in classroom and help their students with disabilities succeed.

Access Works

AccessWorks, is a programs that employs people with disabilities as document accessibility remediators and user experience testers. We also created an AccessWorks Testing Portal that allows marketing and usability professional to do remote usability testing with first-hand input users with all different types of disabilities.

KALS

Knowbility Accessibility Leadership Symposium

Service Philosophy

As a mission-driven company, our service delivery model emphasizes collaboration, clarity of communications and a thorough understanding of the end-users’ needs. We understand that achieving accessibility is not simply a matter of correct coding in order to comply with Section 508 and WCAG 2.0 standards, but involves an institutional learning curve as well. For this reason, we engage our customers as partners; at each stage of a project we explain “why” and “how” our technical recommendations provide the appropriate solutions for achieving accessibility and meeting established standards. All our efforts are geared toward making sure our customers have the knowledge and tools they need to implement Best Practices in accessibility and usability for their constituents with disabilities.

Our Team

Knowbility’s team of experts is internationally recognized for its role in creating the worldwide standard for web accessibility.

  • Sharron Rush
  • Jessica Looney
  • Thomas Jewett
  • Eric Eggert
  • Akash Singh
  • Richard Schwerdtfeger
  • Jayne Schurick
  • Marine Menier
  • Kim Leno
  • Ron Hicks
  • Buddy Branan
  • Anthony Vasquez
  • Robert Jolly
  • Molly More
  • Bobby Brooks

Awards and Recognition

Knowbility has received numerous awards and national recognition for excellence in service to people with disabilities, including special recognition by the Clinton White House, the US Congressional Black Caucus and the US Department of Labor as a leader in best practices in the employment of people with disabilities. In 2009 and 2010 Executive Director, Sharron Rush, was invited to the West Wing to consult about disability and employment issues with Kareem Dale, the Obama White House Special Advisor on Disability Issues.

  • FCC Chairman’s Award for Innovation in Accessibility, 2015
  • Media Award for Outstanding Leadership, March 2012, National Assoc. of Social Workers, Texas
  • Texas Governor’s Award for Volunteerism, July 2010
  • City of Austin Mayor’s Committee For People with Disabilities, 2010 Partnership Award
  • Employer of the Year, the Texas Rehabilitation Association, June 2010
  • Executive Director named a Community Tech Champion by the U.S. Congressional Black Caucus.
  • Featured in articles in Equity online newsletter, May 2004 and in Sophist online newsletter
  • TEC Champion Award for Outstanding Technology Leadership from the Washington DC based
  • Education Technology Think Tank and CTCNet, September 2003
  • Dewey Winburne Community Service Award to Executive Director, Sharron Rush, SXSW Interactive Media Conference, 2002.
  • Outstanding Community Collaboration, Texas State Legislature, for ATSTAR project, 2002.
  • Community Technology Partnership Award from Capitol Area Training Foundation, Feb. 2001
  • Executive Director, Sharron Rush, named to Top 25 Women of the Web by San Francisco Women of the Web for raising awareness of the need for Internet accessibility, April 2001.
  • Peter F. Drucker Foundation for Nonprofit Innovation.  Knowbility’s Accessibility Internet Rally (AIR) recognized as innovative program, October 2000.
  • White House recognition – Rocky Mountain AIR program was cited by President Clinton as a new and noteworthy initiative bridging the digital divide, September 21, 2000.
  • Texas Interactive Media Award (TIM) for public service for AIR-Austin project.
  • National Labor Summit highlights Knowbility’s AIR program as a “best practice” in the employment of people with disabilities, April 2000.
  • Community Collaboration Award; Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce, United Way/Capital Area and citysearch.com.
  • Achievement in Media Award, Austin Mayor¹s Committee on People with Disabilities, October 1998

Strategic Partners

Knowbility is a highly collaborative organization. Our Strategic Partners include business collaborations, grant funders, program sponsors and more. In 2014 we have active ongoing partnerships with these great organizations.

Deque Systems

Deque Systems offers end-to-end web compliance products that are Web 2.0 ready.  Knowbility incorporates the Worldspace tool in the testing  of many sites and has teamed up with Deque to offer the tool to its clients. For more information, visit  Deque Systems.

MicroAssist

MicroAssist is an experienced software education center who partners with countless organizations in need of custom E-Learning, classroom training, and technology services.  Knowbility began to working MicroAssist in 2009 as part of the OpenAIR program. Knowbility and MicroAssist collaborate to build interactive online accessibility courses that are fully SCORM complaint to corporate and government clients. Contact us for more information on how to make this training part of your own accessibility program support. For more information, visit MicroAssist.

St. Edwards University

St. Edwards University is a private college located in Austin Texas. Since 2004, Knowbility has partnered with St. Ed’s Office of Information Technology to host John Slain AccessU – a curated digital accessibility conference. Every spring hundreds of accessibility experts-in-training invade the lovely South Austin campus for two days of accessibility training by leaders of the usability and accessibility fields. For more information, visit St. Edwards” Website.

Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired

The Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI) serves as a special public school in the continuum of statewide placements for students who have a visual impairment. It is also a statewide resource to parents of these children and to professionals who serve them. Students, ages 6 through 21, who are blind, deafblind, or visually impaired, including those with additional disabilities, are eligible for consideration for services at TSBVI. For more information, visit theTexas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired” Website.

VSA Texas

Knowbility partners with VSA Texas in the provision of audio described and captioned video content for corporate business, academia, and government agencies. Contact us for accessible media support. For more information, visit VSA Texas.

Within the past five years, Knowbility has appreciated the donated services, sponsorships, or collaborative efforts of the following sponsoring partners:

  • Adobe Systems
  • California State University
  • City of Austin Cultural Arts Division
  • City of Austin’s Grant for Technology Opportunities
  • Dell Foundation
  • Fahrenheit Marketing
  • Meadows Foundation
  • Texas Center for Disability Studies (TCDS)