FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AUSTIN, TEXAS (May 16) — Last night, leaders and influencers in both the technology and accessibility communities from all over the world came together to join the locally-headquartered nonprofit organization, Knowbility, Inc., in celebrating the winners and participants of the 20th annual OpenAIR (Accessibility Internet Rally) competition.
The OpenAIR Awards Ceremony took place on Tuesday, May 15th at the Omni Austin Southpark and was emceed by Ron Lucey, Executive Director of the Texas Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities. The following winners were recognized and announced by OpenAIR lead judge Glenda Sims, joined by representatives from supporting organizations such as IBM, Deque Systems, and Barrier Break:
Developer Category Winners
First Place – American Council of the Blind – Nebraska (created by Team “The Inclusion Lab”) Natalie Chin, Richard Lock, Michael Fairchild
Second Place – EdenAcres Environmental Education (created by Team “Hoosiers”) Sheetal Kondhare, Kalaivani Vijayakumar, Rachana Kulkarni, Sulekha Dumbre
Third Place – CapMac (created by Accessibility Drummers) Jeremiah Megel, Robena Weiss, Shivaji Kumar, Paul Grenier
University Category Winners
First Place – Space Coast Center for Independent Living (created by Team “RILN Info” from University of Michigan) Ilma Bilic, Luke Cheng, Nisa Khan, Rhea Cheeti
Second Place – Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies (created by Team “Pineapple Pizza” from California State University, Long Beach) Daniel Marquez, Yohann Celerien, Jessica Quenda, Julian Vives, Jamie Wang
Third Place – Fashionable Adoptions (created by team Wonder Squad from University of Michigan) Bonnie Lee, William Kim, Anndo Ko, Denise Baran
State Agency Category
First Place – Texas Commission on Environmental Quality: Jeff Spencer, Jon Smith, Ken Sherry, Mandolin Shannon, Juan Ramirez, Cush Chatham
About OpenAIR 2018
Judges reviewed each website based on its core accessibility, including criterion such as alt text for images, using semantic markup (blockquotes, headings, lists, etc.) to properly represent the structure of the document, using ARIA landmark roles to identify regions, and color contrast (to name a few). Unlike other website competitions and hackathons, visual and graphical aesthetics count for only a small portion of the OpenAIR judging criteria.
The international competition now known as OpenAIR kicked off this February at the Microsoft offices in Austin. The competition featured three distinct tracks: developer teams (made up of professionals in the field), university teams, and for the first time this year, state agency teams. The developer and university tracks matched teams with nonprofits organizations that needed new or updated websites, which were submitted for judging in April. The state agency track, sponsored by the Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities, allowed state agencies to work on their own internal websites.
Teams participated from all over the world and were given access to expert training and tools. Knowbility’s online training modules were opened prior to the start of the competition, and once OpenAIR commenced, they were introduced to an accessibility mentor- subject matter experts in the field of accessibility and usability- that worked with them weekly throughout the duration of OpenAIR. In addition, all participants were trained on and given exclusive access to IBM’s suite of accessibility testing tools for website developers, which included IBM AbilityLab™ Dynamic Assessment Plugin (DAP), Digital Content Checker and Automated Accessibility Tester.
Accessible websites allow for everyone, including people with disabilities, to access online content and become more socially and economically integrated into our digital world. OpenAIR, now in its 20th year, is made possible with the support of organizations including the City of Austin Cultural Arts Division, Mumbai, India-based Barrier Break, the South by Southwest Conference and Festivals, Deque Systems, and the Texas Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities. Community partners include the Texas Department of Information Resources and the TechMap.