I am stunned by the passing of John Slatin, beloved colleague and mentor to me and so many others. John died on March 24th, 2008 of leukemia and left family, friends and colleagues devastated by the loss. Despite his long illness, we continued to believe that he would remain among us as a teacher, a pathfinder and a warm and witty friend.
John was an incredibly accomplished accessibility expert and was known to many for those skills. But he was also a poet, a writer, an art and music lover with a deep and abiding appreciation of the humanities. John was a visionary who understood, not only how technology could contribute to the humanities, but especially how the humanities could save technology itself from being a mechanistic vehicle for cataloging “information.” Long before he became blind, John was exploring ways in which narrative experience could and would be transformed by new media. As Peg Syverson said at John’s memorial service on Sunday, John did not just see the future, he brought the future into being. Peg’s remembrance of John’s work with her and others in the English Department at the University of Texas’ Computer Writing and Research Lab was exciting to hear and reminded us that his accessibility work was an organic outgrowth of John’s interest in the expression of human experience – all human experience.