Knowbility, an Austin-based nonprofit organization that advocates for equal access to communications technology for people with disabilities, announced today that their award-winning, 15th annual Accessibility Internet Rally (AIR) Program, now called OpenAIR, has become a global competition and is open to web teams and nonprofit groups from all over the world.
Sponsored by Deque and Adobe and led by IBM's CTO of Accessibility Richard Schwerdtfeger, the OpenAIR competition invites web professionals to receive disability awareness and accessible design skills training. In exchange, web pros agree to volunteer to create accessible web sites for participating nonprofit organizations.
Sites will be entered into the competition and judged by a panel of accessibility experts. After two rounds of judging, winners will be announced at the 2014 SXSW Interactive's Dewey Winburne awards party. OpenAIR has been recognized for excellence and effectiveness by the Peter Drucker Foundation, the Congressional Black Caucus, the White House and others.
"People with disabilities need equal access to information technology and web developers need the skills to meet those diverse needs," said Knowbility Executive Director and co-founder Sharron Rush. "The OpenAIR program addresses the needs of both communities."
Accessibility is a global issue
Sometimes called the "digital divide," addressing unequal access to technology is increasingly important as more educational, employment, and social opportunities move online.
"There are 70 million people in the world who have disabilities that may impact their access to the Web, and it is a critical issue in their ability to fully participate in modern society," said Richard Schwerdtfeger of IBM. "We cannot afford to leave those people out and must find ways to integrate accessible design into best practice for development of all web technologies. By recruiting teams and nonprofits from across the globe, we begin to give the issue the attention it deserves."
Call for participation
Registration is currently open for teams of web developers, for individual developers who would like to be part of a freelance team, and for nonprofit organizations that need a new website or a website redesigned for accessibility.
More information and registration forms are online on the OpenAIR pages of the Knowbility website www.knowbility.org/v/open-air/
Founded in 1999, Knowbility's mission is to support the independence of children and adults with disabilities by promoting and improving accessible information technology.
We envision a world in which children, youth, and adults with disabilities have greater options to learn, work, and fully participate as producers and consumers in the information marketplace. Currently, many are excluded from basic activities because readily-available assistive technologies and accessible design techniques are not utilized effectively. in the U.S. alone, this group represents over $1 trillion in aggregate income, and as our population ages, these numbers will increase to include tens of millions more people than today.