After almost, but not quite, six years, I had my final day with Knowbility last week. The time working with them was great. I’m going to miss working with the many great minds over there.
Knowbility picked up and supported my W3C/WAI work when EU funding dried up in 2016 with 50% of my time. With the rest, I supported the Knowbility team, worked with Knowbility’s clients and did trainings and audits. I also supported the “Community Programs”, the common good part of the Knowbility nonprofit with tech support, especially around the AccessU conference.
Oh, the conferences. Knowbility made it possible for me to visit and speak at several CSUNs and AccessUs. The amount of experience that I have been able to collect is invaluable.
That also continued when I took over the mantle as “Tech Team Lead” and later “Director of Accessibility Services” in 2020 after leaving my W3C/WAI duties. I was asked to lead the team and happily agreed. While leading a US-based team from Germany wasn't easy, my colleagues seemed to appreciated my leadership style. (At least that’s what they have told me. 😉)
Working with a nonprofit like Knowbility means that you often work with clients that are in there for the “right” reasons. Not because they are sued or want to have the shine of being accessible, but because they believe in accessibility. We worked hard with some clients to guide them from their initial audit to a more in-depth working relationship with Knowbility where they were able to build up more and more competencies in-house.
Another tent pole of the work with Knowbility is the notion that Knowbility is two things: community & education.
This is the approach we tried to get to with every audit: Make sure that the audit report could be used as a learning and educational tool, and treat the clients, which have all different business pressure around making their product accessible, as part of the community.
In contrast to other accessibility services companies, our reports tried their best to give actionable advice and hands-on guidance with enough context for readers to learn, but sufficient clarity to not have too much nuance overwhelm them. It’s always a balancing act, and we did work hard to meet those goals.
I want to thank everyone there. First, and foremost, Sharron Rush, Knowbility’s founder. Thanks for believing in me and hiring me. And a special thanks to the Team I had the pleasure to serve as a lead. Thanks to Becky, Emily, Alicia, and Francesca for working with me the longest. Your support and how you worked as a team made it effortless for me.
Thanks to Ron, Toma, Kyo, and Iain who are continuing the good work in services at Knowbility. Thank you, everyone in community programs and other functions who keep the heart of Knowbility beating. You know who you are.
I am incredibly proud of the work we did over the years: Improving flight booking to make it more accessible, fix accessibility problems in online learning tools, advise fashion and media companies on how to implement accessible and inclusive practices. We helped cities to serve their inhabitants better, made dashboards accessible, and convinced clients to do the correct thing instead of using overlay products.
Despite being such a small place, I am convinced that we have moved the needle in accessibility for millions of people, and probably many billions of interactions. And we trained – directly or indirectly through reports and meetings – hundreds of web developers, designers, and project managers.
I wish Knowbility all the best for the future.
For me, I’m excited to get my evenings back and hopefully a better “work-life balance”. Working and being responsible for a team in a different time zone is hard, as there is so little overlap for proper coordination and guidance.
I’m looking forward to new challenges with Axess Lab, who I decided to contract with from March 1st.