The Accessibility Internet Rally (AIR) is a unique, hands-on, intense web accessibility awareness program. Started by Knowbility in 1998 as a local one-ish-day event in Austin, Texas, the program has evolved into an international program over several weeks that brings web accessibility to nonprofits and artists, groups who want to be welcoming for all people but don’t usually have the resources for accessible web design.
During an AIR build, teams of web developers sign up as volunteers, learn the latest techniques regarding accessibility through Knowbility’s customized, intensive live trainings, and then those volunteers put their skills to work online building accessible web sites for nonprofits, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), charities, community groups, schools, artists (musicians, dance groups, painters, photographers, sculptors, poets, etc. who have public presentations of their art) and other mission-based initiatives. The main, annual rally is entirely online, involving more than 150 volunteers – making it a unique, highly-impactful and pioneering virtual volunteering event. There is also AIR-U, a version of this event for university students.
Comments from web designers and developers that participated in 2019:
This is important. While large companies may have an accessibility department, small companies / sole proprietorships / most nonprofits do not. Developers of all types need to be able to do this, and websites of all types need this.
Really great experience to learn about accessibility, collaboration with team members, and meeting organizations doing great things.
Getting to know a non-profit, how they contribute to the community, and their need for a new and accessible site was by far the best part. Some of them do so much… it’s great to give back to them in return.
The tools used and changes made to participant’s sites benefit EVERYONE, not just those with accessibility needs.
That AIR is for a good cause and there’s a lot of learning involved for everyone — everyone wins in the end!
Accessibility is necessary. Teaching web developers how to create accessible experiences online for everyone is a necessity. What could be more important than that really?
Comments from participating nonprofits and artists in 2019:
“I have never seen such enthusiastic volunteers at such a high level pushing themselves through all the new things they had to learn in accessibility and coding, helping out besides their own regular life and busy work/school schedules… They understand all aspects of accessibility, what we wanted and needed and went above and beyond building an accessible website… We were overwhelmed by there enormous enthusiasm, effort, and dedication each team member brought anytime we met and worked together.” statement from ArtFrog Art Academy
“… the whole team went above and beyond with the content that we provided! We’re so excited to have a video on our page, as well as online registration forms. Since our organization serves children with disabilities, it was long overdue for our website to be fully accessible! Thank you all so much!” statement from Emerson Academy
“The members of the team I interacted with were thoughtful and good at explaining their intent and actions. I also appreciated the interest they took in our mission and the content we provided. I also appreciated being able to see the feedback from the mentor describing how design decisions impact the accessibility of features.” statement from ARC of DFW Texas
“Thanks to our AIR team, I gained a better understanding of website accessibility… We worked to hard together despite language barriers. Huge thanks.” Statement from Grenier pour le Development Intégré, GDIBU ASbL (Congo)
“A HUGE thank you for all of your work on the website, your expertise and knowledge in the area of digital accessibility. You all are amazing and so insightful, it is hard to quantify the benefit we’ve received just from interfacing with you. We have met with other accessibility professionals on our website and learned SO MUCH more and different practical info from all of you, it is amazing. We can’t thank you enough… We want to give a shout out to our entire team. It was exciting to work with such a knowledgeable and talented group.” statement from ServiceSource
AIR, the first hands-on accessibility technology training program of its kind has become a formative experience in producing the next generation of accessibility leaders.”Richard Schwerdtfeger
Former CTO of Accessibility, IBM
Who can participate on an AIR team?
EVERYONE who wants to learn or expand their knowledge about accessible website design. That is why Knowbility offers three distinct competition tracks:
For professional designers and developers, working at any company, large or small, or who freelance, as well as hobbyist website designers and developers.
For college and university student developers and designers, including those participating in bootcamp or accelerated programs.
For city, state, and government employees looking to learn more about meeting the accessibility requirements in their roles maintaining websites for government agencies (city, county, state or federal).
Are you a nonprofit, non-governmental organization (NGO), charity, community group, school or artist (musician, dance group, painter, photographer, sculptor, poet, etc. that publicly-presents their art) looking for a website redesign – or your first ever website – that makes a commitment to digital inclusion? Apply to be an AIR client!