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Competition Provides Nonprofits with Disability Friendly Websites

Outline: 2016 OpenAIR event harnesses high-tech training and friendly competition to address accessible website design challenges.

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One in five adults in the United States has a disability. For many, accessing online information is a daily challenge due to images that can't be seen, audio that can't be heard, non-intuitive navigation, and other factors. This fall, the 2016 OpenAIR event harnesses high-tech training and friendly competition to address those challenges.

Hosted by Austin nonprofit Knowbility, OpenAIR brings together web developers, designers, project managers and others in an interactive, weeks-long training event to develop accessible websites for nonprofits. With access to specialists from around the world, teams compete to create sites that work for everyone, including those with vision, hearing, mobility or cognitive impairments.

"In the mid-90s, we noticed that as Austin was transforming into a tech city, we were leaving people with disabilities behind," said Knowbility Executive Director Sharron Rush. "To get the attention of the technology community, we went out and collaborated with many different groups and created this contest."

Knowbility board member and event training chair Hiram Kuykendall is spearheading development of the event's online accessibility training game. Kuykendall is chief technology officer for Microassist, a custom training company that develops accessible digital products.

"Our goal is to provide teams with a fun learning experience, coupled with knowledgeable mentors, that will result in the nonprofit acquiring a greatly needed accessible website," said Kuykendall. "The big twist this year is short, ten-minute exercises that make the learning process more interactive."

Before Knowbility board service, Kuykendall led two award-winning Microassist teams in related competitions.

OpenAIR had over 200 participants last year. Teams have hailed from across the U.S. and around the globe. Originally the Accessibility Internet Rally (AIR), OpenAIR received the 2015 Federal Communications Commission Chairman's award for Innovation in Accessibility.

Team and nonprofit registration ends September 1.

Visit air-rallies.org for details.

For more on the competition's training game, email accessibility@microassist.com.

About Microassist:

An Austin, Texas-based learning and development firm, Microassist creates, delivers, and hosts custom training, emphasizing online usability, accessibility, and digital remediation for websites, mobile apps, software platforms, electronic documents, and elearning platforms: www.microassist.com

About Knowbility:

Knowbility, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that supports the independence of children and adults with disabilities by promoting the use and improving the availability of accessible information technology: www.knowbility.org

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