Anne Forrest’s story with Knowbility

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I first heard about the great work that Knowbility does through John Slatin, PhD, Sharron’s former co-author on cognitive disability, who was working at the University of Texas Institute of Technology of Learning.

I am a PhD economist and was working for a think tank in DC on economy/ environment issues. In June 1997, I had a concussion/traumatic brain injury in a car accident. I sought medical care and as I tried to return to work, I wasn’t successful because I couldn’t read, the computer affected my sleep/wake issues, and I couldn’t manage my daily life. I was treated for headaches (but no cognitive therapy) and was told I had a limited window of recovery.

On the advice of a doctor, I turned off electronics and did my best to find my way to rehabilitation which was a slow process.  Most of my doctors were telling me I would have limited time for my brain to get better. Continue reading “Anne Forrest’s story with Knowbility”

19th Annual OpenAIR winners announced

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Knowbility concluded its 19th Annual OpenAIR Competition last Thursday with an awards ceremony and celebration at the Sterling Events Center in Austin. This year the competition added a higher education competition in addition to the industry professional track. Teams were provided accessibility training, access to some of the best accessibility mentors in the world and were given access to IBM’s leading edge accessibility testing tool, the Dynamic Assessment Plugin (DAP).

The newly formed higher education track included teams from Huston-Tillotson, the University of Texas at Austin, Cal State University Long Beach, University of Central Florida, University of Michigan, and Manchester Metropolitan University. The goal of the initiative was to provide students of web design with principles for accessible design from experts in the field, as well as the real-world experience that comes with working with a professional client. Continue reading “19th Annual OpenAIR winners announced”

2016 Knowbility Year End Donation Drive

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This season we hope you will consider supporting Knowbility with a year-end gift to support accessible technology that gives millions of people with disabilities improved access to economic, educational and social opportunities.

Ensuring that everyone can learn, secure a job, and be independent despite an impairment or disability is not only our mission, but our passion. Life is busy. We’re all busier as we’re all more connected than ever. Schools are increasingly moving away from traditional schoolbooks, most businesses are now computerized and government agencies are conducting day-to-day business online. The digital world is a requirement to function in daily life.

Your tax deductible gift is meaningful to you will help continue to bring accessibility to the forefront. We know that together we can create universal access and independence.
For any gift over $500 you will receive an accessible rubik’s cube!

Knowbility Donation

2016 Year End Drive – Knowbility Donations


The Future of Digital Accessibility

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Hard work and persistent advocacy have built significant momentum in achieving equal access for people with disabilities to digital opportunities in employment, education, and social interactions. While there is much still to be done, accessibility-focused legislation has spurred progress  in industries such as healthcare, travel, and education. The result is increased awareness and implementation of digital accessibility on a much larger scale. Even if the Department of Justice ceases to enforce the mandates that encouraged these industries to pay attention to digital accessibility, the need for inclusion will not go away, nor will those people who fought for the protections in the first place.

Legislation isn’t the only area digital accessibility has gained a significant foothold. You would be hard-pressed to find a web design and development conference that didn’t include topics of accessibility, if not place it front and center. Usability professionals and the digital design community
Continue reading “The Future of Digital Accessibility”

Empathetic Leadership Opens Doors

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Board Chairman Rich Schwerdtfeger will lead Knowbility’s first Accessibility Leadership Symposium in May of 2017. The Symposium aims to address the rapidly changing landscape of digital communications by providing global leaders and executives in accessibility with an opportunity to exchange tactics, discuss challenges, and work on solutions in a collaborative setting.

On that note, creating an interactive, discussion-based environment is a top priority for Rich and the organizers of the Symposium.

“We’re not necessarily going to have a few experts dictate to people on how you should do things,” Rich said. “Instead, one of the things the conference is going to do is bring accessibility leaders from all over the world to share their experiences and input on how they address some of the key issues in accessibility. We want to learn from each other and build an expanded network of executives that work together to solve problems, hopefully making the whole accessibility process a lot easier.”
Continue reading “Empathetic Leadership Opens Doors”

Inclusion and accessibility at the Code for America Summit

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Last week I was fortunate to attend the Code for America Summit in Oakland where civic-minded technologists, government innovators, and entrepreneurs in the civic space gathered. Representing Knowbility, my aim was to connect with others to learn and share ideas around accessibility and inclusion for delivering government content and services to the widest audience possible. What I experienced was that and so much more.

On the first day of the two-day conference, Jenny Lay-Flurrie, Microsoft’s Chief Accessibility Officer, gave a thoughtful and passionate main stage talk titled: Accessibility in the modern world. In the digital accessibility community, we’re all aware of Microsoft’s work on inclusive, accessible experiences. But, it was truly enlightening to hear how she framed their company’s approach and the benefits they realized by doing so. She said: “We found a new way of working by hiring people with disabilities and building inclusive environments for all.” Their workforce diversity allows them to think of everyone as they design and develop, making products that are accessible and leaving no one behind.
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Accessibility Club #4 and BeyondTellerrand in Berlin

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I had the pleasure of traveling to Berlin recently for two events:  The one-day Accessibility Club on November 7 and and one of the two days of the BeyondTellerrand conference on November 8.

Accessibility Club

Karl Groves started his European Tour by kicking off Accessibility Club, organized by Joschi Kuphal of Tollwerk and Stefan Judis of Contentful. In his talk, Karl outlined the history of (semi-)automated accessibility testing: From Bobby to his own project

His main point was that accessibility tools are often not compatible to modern web development workflows, like using project boilerplates, templating, frameworks, versioning, unit testing, and deployment.

Accessibility testing needs to be integrated into the workflow and not be separated – else, it always lags behind. Karl then showed how testing can be integrated in common tools, like Grunt and git, in his examples using
Continue reading “Accessibility Club #4 and BeyondTellerrand in Berlin”

Your favorite device feature probably started as an accommodation for disability

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October – the National Disability Employment Awareness month in the US – in now in the rear view mirror.  We meant to take at least a minute before we get immersed in year end holidays to salute the work of scientists, inventors, and entrepreneurs who have applied technology to the needs of people with disabilities and in the process transformed the workplace.

From the eyeglass to the iPhone, features developed for people with disabilities become standardized, fashionable, and eventually indispensable. I look forward to the day when “accommodation” and “innovation” are seen to be closely related because, as a matter of fact, historically they are.  Here are some examples:
Continue reading “Your favorite device feature probably started as an accommodation for disability”

Knowbility at the Accessing Higher Ground Conference

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Knowbility is looking forward to participating in Accessing Higher Ground, the “Accessible Media, Web and Technology Conference” in Westminster, Colorado, November 14th–18th.  Web Accessibility Specialist Eric Eggert will conduct two pre-conference workshops as well as regular conference sessions to help developers hone their accessibility skills.  Additionally,  our CEO Sharron Rush, in her role as W3C WAI Education and Outreach Working Group Chair, will join EOWG colleagues to present an overview of new resources from WAI.  Details follow:


Items with the 📺 symbol are also available in the Virtual Conference.

  • Eric Eggert — Workshop – Advanced Accessibility: A Deep Dive for Developers
    Tuesday, Nov. 15th, 9am

    Focused on UI widgets, WAI-ARIA techniques and semantics, with some JavaScript in the mix, this workshop will teach how to implement complex widgets in an accessible way that is true to the nature of the web.
  • Eric Eggert — Workshop – Simplify your development life with tools, tests and procedures
    Tuesday, Nov. 15th, 1:30pm 📺

    Developers are lazy. Eric knows this because he is one. So having tools, tests and procedures in place that help developers to produce accessible templates and widgets is helping everyone. This workshop will give a broad overview about the possibilities and will also show how to implement some of the provisions in day-to-day work.
  • Sharron Rush — Talk – The WAI to Web Accessibility
    Wednesday, Nov. 18th, 2:15pm

    The Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) of the W3C produces a wealth of resources that many have never heard of. This session provides hands-on access to newly developed tools and guides to support your web accessibility practice.
  • Eric Eggert — Talk – Semantic Subtleties
    Thursday, Nov. 17th, 8am 📺

    This talk takes some of the semantic particularities from Eric’s two workshops and will put them under the microscope to examine their meaning.
  • Eric Eggert — Talk – ARIA Serious?
    Thursday, Nov. 17th, 4pm

    ARIA implementations – the good, the bad, and the ugly are shared in all their glory. Eric will details how to make good ARIA choices and what pitfalls to watch out for.


There is a fantastic lineup of speakers, too. Register now at for the physical conference. For the virtual conference, there is a reduced fee until October 26th 2016.

Integrating Accessibility at the Big Design Conference

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September 10th found a few members of the Knowbility team — Community Programs Director, Jessica Looney and CTO, Bobby Brooks — just north of Dallas for the annual Big Design Conference. Their mission? To educate a room full of 80+ of Texas’s leading user experience, marketers, and web design experts on the importance of considering accessibility from the get-go.

“Our overall message in the presentation was that designers need to be integrating accessibility into their process when they’re making websites because part of the problem is that it’s often treated as an afterthought,” Jessica said. “Don’t let it be an afterthought. Let it be something that is done in the initial planning process.”

Their presentation included several videos from the W3C’s perspectives series, which you can check out on the W3C site if you haven’t yet (and you really should!). The series breaks down common accessibility issues such as contrast, image and video captioning, and keyboard controls in 1 – 2 minute, easy-to-understand segments. Bobby also introduced the crowd to tota11y, a user-friendly, highly informative bookmarklet from Khan Academy that enables users to visualize how their sites perform with assistive technologies.
Continue reading “Integrating Accessibility at the Big Design Conference”