How did you mark the first Global Accessibility Awareness Day?

Logo for Global Accessibility Awareness Day

First, thanks for getting involved in the first Global Accessibility Awareness Day.
We’ve created this blog space to let you share with the world how you took part in
GAAD. Perhaps you went mouseless for an hour. Maybe you tried NVDA or another
adaptation. Some of you may have used the WAVE toolbar on a page or set of pages that
you developed and learned just how accessible (or not) these are to users with different disabilities. And if you attended an event, let us know what you thought.

Get talking and sharing!

Open letter to the people of Brevard County who were laid off from the Shuttle Program

I am posting this as a result of a private Facebook exchange kicked off by Heather Meeker. She was saddened by this 60 Minutes report about all the people of Brevard County who are being devastated by the Shuttle cancellation. A fellow named Ben, whose post got dropped somehow by Facebook, wrote something that inspired me to eventually write this. My thanks go out to them.

I want this post to inspire all the great people of Brevard County, who should be proud of everything they achieved with the Shuttle Program.

Do not despair. Do not give up. Take control of your lives for your sake. For the country’s sake. For the pride of the people of The United States of America.

I know it sucks. Who cares?

It’s depressing. Who cares?

“The Man” let us down. Again….. Who cares?

Someone. Anyone of you, put a stake in the ground. Start a company. You don’t even need to spend a penny upfront. Form it in your head. And invite every other employee that was laid off to join you. In their heads.

Just write a blog post. Get everyone to add their names in a moderated comment section. That is your employee list. Then start the second SpaceX-style company. Watch some Elon Musk interviews to inspire you.

He did it. So can you. NO. So WILL you.

Get that started and you will have Venture Capital behind you. You will get press. You will get the people. Their hearts. Their minds. Their wallets. In fact. Put it on Kickstarter. You will have the LARGEST project in the history of Kickstarter.

Still reading? Well what are you waiting for? Just DO IT!

Make your site more accessible (which will improve your SEO) on May 9th

OK, so you aren’t doing any meetups for Global Accessibility Awareness Day. That’s OK. There’s something you can still do very easily. It will make your site more accessible to those who need screen readers, and in a karmic twist, will also allow Google and other search engines to understand your site better. Anything that helps a screen reader, will help Google’s bots understand your content.

Open up your website. Unplug your mouse. Now surf your website with a keyboard alone. This will give you an idea of what it’s like to surf your website with an assistive device.

Meetup Organizers call to action: Please help spread the word about Global Accessibility Awareness Day

Global Accessibility Awareness Day is coming upon us, and I wanted to reach out to the community and ask that you help spread the word. We currently have a talk scheduled in the following places: Los Angeles, Geneva, New York, Toronto, Montreal, San Diego and more TBA soon.

In addition to those places, it looks like we will have major support in Mumbai! It will be a semi-government event over there! Not bad for our first year!

If there is no talk going on in your city, would you consider setting one up? If you can’t find a speaker in the Accessibility community, gmail me @ joedevon and I’ll try to help you find one. But even without one, just start your next meetup by asking the audience to volunteer a URL to try out…and surf that site without a mouse. This will partly simulate what’s it’s like to surf a site with an assistive device.

Besides helping make your site more accessible to those with accessibility needs, you will simultaneously be making it more friendly to Search Engines. Thank you.

I was on a plane, sitting next to the girlfriend of a Nightline producer

TV Guide #1464

TV Guide #1464 (Photo credit: trainman74)

This intrigued me as I grew up listening to Ted Koppel on Nightline. He grilled people high and low. Politicians are expert at handling tough questions. But I’m sure they did not relish dealing with Ted. Which is how a real journalist should be.

I still remember when Nightline began, as a response to the hostage crisis in Iran. This was a serious show.

Now this lady was clearly smart. And the way she described her boyfriend, he was no fool either. I heard a few stories. Nothing mind-blowing. And I’m not the kind of person who would take something off-the-record and blab about it on a blog. To be clear, she said nothing negative or disparaging about the show.

But it got me to DVR Nightline again, as I had stopped watching the very night Ted Koppel said goodbye. As you’ll soon see, it was partially Ted’s parting words and partially the positive experience of the plane ride that made me give them a chance. Hoping there would be some quality reporting. Read the final words Koppel said on his final broadcast (c/o Wikipedia):

Legendary CBS newsman Walter Cronkite speaks a...

Walter Cronkite speaks at National Air & Space Museum in Washington in 2004. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There’s this quiz I give to some of our young interns when they first arrive at Nightline. I didn’t do it with the last batch; it’s a little too close to home. “How many of you”, I’ll ask, “can tell me anything about Eric Sevareid?” Blank stares. “How about Howard K. Smith or Frank Reynolds?” Not a twitch of recognition. “Chet Huntley? John Chancellor?” Still nothing. “David Brinkley” sometimes causes a hand or two to be raised, and Walter Cronkite may be glad to learn that a lot of young people still have a vague recollection that he once worked in television news.

What none of these young men and women in their late teens and early twenties appreciates, until I point it out to them, is that they have just heard the names of seven anchormen or commentators who were once so famous that everyone in the country knew their names. Everybody. Trust me, the transition from one anchor to another is not that big a deal. Cronkite begat Rather, Chancellor begat Brokaw, Reynolds begat Jennings. And each of them did a pretty fair job in his own right. You’ve always been very nice to me, so give this new anchor team for Nightline a fair break. If you don’t, I promise you the network will just put another comedy show in this time slot. Then you’ll be sorry. And that’s our report for tonight, I’m Ted Koppel in Washington and from all of us here at ABC News, good night.

Classy. And too gracious to his successors. “YouTube” some Nightline classics, and compare to any night of the current show.

Image representing GasBuddy as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

Boy do I feel sad thinking that youngsters don’t know what Nightline used to be. Tonight was a “good” show. First story was about GasBuddy. In Koppel’s day, that would be a second rate story. But for the new Nightline, this is as good as it gets.

The second story was about the new movie “Hunger Games”. The last story was about a reality TV show called “Duck Dynasty”. I skipped the second story and skimmed the third. But what I saw was a long commercial for the show.

LAS VEGAS - NOVEMBER 24:  Television personali...

This picture is largely irrelevant to the story but it was taken in Vegas so just pretend it's a pic of that gun business Nightline covered. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)

The previous night had a “hard-news” story about female orgasm. Puff piece on some shtick in Vegas using pretty female vets to get tourists to shoot guns. The 3rd was a puff piece on Ashley Judd, again, pitching a show.

To the so-called Journalists on the show, can’t you try to do one quality piece of work once in a while? I’m sure 60 minutes has the same pressures you do. And lord knows, in the old days of 60 minutes, most of the sponsors would be the subject of a sting rather than appearing on paid commercials. But at least they do some quality stories on a regular basis. Lesley Stahl can be seen kicking ass.

Nightline, on the other hand, has become nothing more than a vapid entertainment show. At least TMZ does some hardcore “investigating” of the gossip they cover.

Unfortunately, we need journalism now more than we did when TK was still on ABC.

Well, Ted Koppel was wrong. It is a big deal that he’s gone. I miss him. And I miss journalism.

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Kill Science

Image representing Hacker News as depicted in ...

Image via CrunchBase

Saw something really fascinating on Hacker News.

KILL MATH

I only skimmed the article and bookmarked it, but just love the approach.

Too bad most people don’t rethink the fundamental basis of sciences once they become dogma.

There should be a field of science that does nothing but read original sources and scour them for corrections we’d make given current knowledge.I’ll give you an example in Dentistry.

An image from 1300s (A.D.) England depicting a...

Image via Wikipedia

There is a debate about mercury fillings. Since so many people have mercury in their teeth, the ADA obviously would look bad if they would suggest anything other than it being harmless.

But can you imagine if the “science” of filling teeth began in today’s world? Picture a researcher suggesting the following substances:

* Arsenic
* Mercury
or
* A non-toxic substance

to fill teeth. It’s pretty obvious that Mercury would be almost as much of a non-starter as arsenic. But because it’s already an established process, it is still being done by some dentists and the practice is defended by the industry.

The modern Dvorak Simplified Keyboard (US layout)

Dvorak Keyboard Image via Wikipedia

There are countless qwerty-keyboards in the sciences and we should begin to systematically find them and refactor.

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How to hire a programmer in this market

Illustrates the intersection of supply and dem...

Image via Wikipedia

I get at least 2 people a day who email me something similar to this. I’ve combined a couple of emails from today to give you the flavor and anonymized it.

Hi Joe,

My name is redacted, and I attended the meet up at redacted.

I’m trying to hire a programmer and thus far found it challenging.

Are you interested in or do you happen to know any reputable developers looking for work right now?

Thanks so much for your help.

redacted

I’m writing this post so I can refer to it and save myself from rewriting the same reply every day.

Security guard hitting on promo girl

Security guard hitting on promo girl (Photo credit: San Diego Shooter)

First of all, there is something to be said about the laws of supply and demand. However, I believe as a result of VCs being very sharp, they have created an environment where programmers are expected to work at a certain rate for their field. When no one is available at that rate, instead of increasing the rate, companies are not finding employees.

That said, if you understand the market, you can pretty easily find someone. Here’s how:

* Understand that no one decent is “available”. It’s like trying to date a pretty girl. Based on the experiences a friend regaled our dinner table with, they can get hit on multiple times a day at least. Whether they have a boyfriend or not. So the chances that you hit on a model/developer the moment they left their partner/job, are low. Therefore:

* To hire someone, you need to “steal” them from where they are. Identify someone you know. And offer them above market rates. You’ll probably need to go about 20% above what they make to entice them.  If enough people do, then the artificial imbalance will go away and the laws of supply and demand will function as they’re supposed to.

That’s really all there is to it.

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