An awesome group of technology professionals gathered today at the Texas School for the Blind to kick off the 10th year of the Accessibility Internet Rally in Austin… people like Sharron Rush (executive director of Knowbility), Hugh Forrest (SXSW-interactive event directory and 2006 AIR Austin Chair) , Teenya Franklin (AIR program manager) Jim Thatcher and Jim Allen (judge brothers). The room was pulsating with a passion for making the web available to everyone. And surprises awaited discovery. You’d think after 10 years that it would just be “the same ole thing”, but let me assure you, it was anything but that. Here are just three things that everyone was buzzing about:

  • Tri-city Texas Shoot Out – Accessiblity Internet Rally with a new Twist:
    For the first time not only will teams be competing to build accessible, standards compliant web sites for local non-profits, but the web sites developed by local winners will also go on to compete in a statewide “shootout” to see who has built the most accessible web sites in Texas! Teams from Austin, Houston and San Antonio will vie for the Champions of Accessibility crown. Bring it on!
  • Amazing Assistive Technology:
    Imagine a camera (Zoom-Ex) that can instantly take the pages of a book and convert it to speech. The OCR on this device is so fast that every time I turned the page of the physical book, the device would begin reading the top of the new page to me, immediately! And I thought I had seen it all. Thanks to my friends, Marci Tamez and Jack Hickman from Crystal Vision, who help open my eyes to the latest and greatest in assistive technology. Now I need to get one of these babies on campus for our community to use!
  • Accessible Art Performance:
    I can’t wait for the upcoming event, “Arts: No Boundaries – Sight. Sound. Soul.” On Wednesday, September 12, 2007 at La Zona Rosa. The evening promises to be a multimedia and sensory experience with live music, visual artist capturing the sense of the music in real time on canvas, audio descriptions, open captioning and sign interpretations. This event will benefit VSA Arts of Texas and Knowbility.
  • I wish you could have been there to explore and discover all this with me. In fact, what are you waiting for? Head to Knowbility-AIR Austin and get involved. Remember

    “For most people, technology makes things easier. For people with disabilities, technology makes things possible.”
    —President’s Council on Disability