Speech from AFB Awards

Last month, Web Axe announced that Accessible Twitter was presented with the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) 2011 Access Award. I attended the AFB Awards Ceremony last Friday at the JLTLI conference in downtown Seattle, Washington (Web Axe is sister site of Accessible Twitter). Afterwards, I had the honor of dining with the President and CEO of the AFB, Carl R. Augusto. I met several other AFB folks who were all wonderful people.

Here is the acceptance speech I prepared (and closely presented) at the award ceremony.

Thank you so much. I’m deeply honored and very thankful to be here.

A little over 2 years ago, which is like 20 years in web technology time, Gez Lemon, on his blog Juicy Studio, wrote about a clever script he developed to correct Twitter.com’s lack of keyboard focus.

I wrote a tweet about it and about another accessibility issue on the Twitter website, and a friend and former co-worker Doug Diego suggested I use the Twitter API and create an accessible version. My wife and kids were away visiting family at the time, so it was a great opportunity. And that’s what I did. Just a few weeks later, “Accessible Twitter” was born.

I emailed a few peers about the site, and before I even officially announced it, people were offering suggestions, blogging about it, and even better, offering to test it for me.

This anecdote illustrates the power and the cohesiveness of Twitter, and even more so, the accessibility community. And it’s a worldwide community. It’s the people themselves who make it work, and strive to make it work better. Some of those people are:

  • Matthew Smith (a.k.a. Smiffy) from Australia, who had suggestions for the user interface and helped with coding issues.
  • Steve Faulkner, outside of London, for special code called ARIA which help screen readers interpret certain kinds of content.
  • Kerstin Probiesch and Per Busch, both of Germany, who helped with early testing.
  • Jennison Asuncion, of Toronto, Canada, who continues to be one of the most active users of Accessible Twitter; he provides feedback and helps promote the application.
  • Everett Zufelt, who’s also from Canada, with recently suggesting a new method for hiding special content for screen reader users.

So the takeaway here is that the Accessible Twitter project, like many others on the web and elsewhere, is a collaborative effort. My name and my company’s name, Web Overhauls, are listed as the authors of the application, but in reality, it’s the community that makes it all happen. Thank you.

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