I participated in the Open Accessibility Internet Rally (Open-AIR) as a nonprofit beneficiary last year. I was assigned a team of web developers and designers who built us a web site that was perfect for our needs and was accessible to people with disabilities. Knowbility organized the event and matched everybody up - it was a great experience! We are now connected to the tech sector in ways that we never would have been without this event - thank you!
Knowbility is the primary non-profit organization for promoting equal access to information for people with disabilities in the U.S. Over the past decade their Access-U conference has even extended its reach to an international audience. I'm grateful for their leadership in accessibility and for the outstanding training they provide to IT professionals, web developers and accessibility experts.
For over seven years I have had the pleasure of working with Knowbility as a volunteer in the OpenAIR program. Most recently I have volunteered to serve on the Knowbility board. I can honestly say I have never work with a more altruistic organization whose belief that accessible technology is one of the primary keys to providing equal access to employment, education and life in general. Their leader, Sharron Rush, is a dynamic, knowledgeable, person who has earned great respect worldwide and continues to freely give of her time.
Knowbility is among the best accessibility non-profits on the planet. They successfully use technology and education to remove barriers to people with disabilities through their international Open AIR competition designed to train new accessibility professionals; AccessU to educate new and existing accessibility professionals; AccessWorks that provides jobs for people with disabilities such as disabled veterans; ATSTAR to educate teachers to be able to help disabled students by educating them about assistive technology; and through their commercial accessibility services designed to support their Community Activity and help businesses in need.
Knowbility is one of the most respected Accessibility Non-profit organizations in the world today. They have been providing stellar programs improving the lives of persons with disabilities for almost 20 years. They provide leadership in education, training, tools, and accessibility/accommodations services. I am proud to have been asked by them to serve.
I'm embarrassed to admit that I never considered technological accessibility previous to spending time at Knowbility. In the same way that a public building should have a wheelchair ramp, the internet and applications should be accessible to all people, including people with disabilities. There are over 1 BILLION people all over the world with disabilities. When businesses are not compliant with 508 and ADA standards, they significantly narrow their potential target audience. Led by accessibility expert Sharron Rush, Knowbility kicked off in the 90s and is here to stay.
I started working with Knowbility as a volunteer in 2008. Over that time I have had the opportunity to volunteer with Knowbility on many accessibility projects that are changing the face of accessibility for people with disabilities. Knowbility is one of the most committed, dedicated, and knowledgable organizations in regards to accessible content on the web that I have worked with.
One of my first volunteer projects with Knowbility was to assist them with changing legislation to make the Public Utility Commission website accessible, so people with disabilities in Texas could search for utility companies. Then I volunteered with them over the next several years at the AIR Rallies competition, the AccessU Conference, SXSW Interactive. Rarely, have I come across a more dedicated group of folks to making sure that all people have access to the world around us. My hats off to Knowbility!
The folks at Knowbility help me volunteer with them. They are incredibly kind and helpful. When I volunteer with them, I am able to get things done. I feel like I've got friends.
I served on a disability committee of the state bar association in Austin and participated in the 2001 AIR-Austin rally, working with web developers to create a website for the committee. The resulting product was outstanding, and it was an incredible experience.
I help run the ATSTAR Program - an online assistive technology program for school districts, teachers and parents. This program helps users understand how to help kids in K-12 grades use assistive technology to improve in the classroom. Its been rewarding to work with so many great educators, and learn how ATSTAR has positively impacted students by increasing thier use of Assistive Technology in the classroom, improving their education!
I've been following Knowbility for years - it has made a huge difference in breaking down the barriers to technology for people with disabilities. Knowbility's goal is to make technology accessible to all people. Their program to employ disabled veterans to help remediate inaccessible documents was a stroke of genius and is providing jobs and opportunities to our precious veterans. I believe that with the appropriate support and recognition from Guidestar, they can begin to scale their operation to people around the world!
Knowbility has altered the thinking of thousands of people regarding access to technology for people with disabilities. Spend a few minutes at a Knowbility-related event and you will start seeing access for people with disabilities to the Internet, and to technology-related education and jobs, as a civil rights issue. Knowbility staff and volunteers do this through all sorts of workshops, classes and events - my favorite is the Accessibility Internet Rally (AIR) events, which start off as a fun contest where all sorts of volunteers from the corporate world compete against each other to create web sites for nonprofits. But something much deeper happens by the end of the event -- and as a result, the volunteers go back to their corporations and businesses as accessibility advocates. The AIR event is, IMO, the best corporate volunteering event EVER, because it creates *real* impact.