The Accessibility Internet Rally (AIR) is a global web accessibility awareness program. Started by Knowbility in 1998 as a local hackathon in Austin, Texas, the program has evolved into a pioneering teaching and learning competition that puts accessibility and digital inclusion front and center – where it belongs.
During an AIR event, teams of web developers sign up as volunteers, learn the latest techniques regarding accessibility through AIR’s customized, intensive trainings, are matched to an expert accessibility mentor, 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.) and other mission-based initiatives. The competition is entirely online, involving more than 150 volunteers - making it a unique, highly-impactful and pioneering virtual volunteering event.
In addition to raising awareness among web designers and developers regarding accessibility, AIR also works to turn the AIR clients - nonprofits, NGOs, charities, community groups, schools and artists – into supporters of accessibility and digital inclusion, reaching audiences far beyond IT professionals. AIR participants play an essential, unique role in evangelizing about digital inclusion, long after the rally ends.
To learn more about how you can participate, visit AIR-Rallies.org.
Professional Web Developers and Designers
In a 2018 survey of 60 tech leaders from a broad range of companies and public sector organizations, more than half of respondents confirmed that their current staff members do not have the skills needed in order to meet their organizations’ goals. It was “difficult or very difficult” for their organization to find job candidates with accessibility skills– and 0% felt it was easy (PEAT.org).
Benefits for designers and developers that participate in AIR include:
- Receive accessibility and inclusive design training valued at more than $1500
- Participate in a fun, friendly, high-profile global competition
- Receive coaching from world-class accessibility experts during the AIR build
- Apply accessible web design to nonprofits, community groups, artists and others who might not be able to have an accessible website otherwise
- Chance to win an award that includes free registration for SXSW Interactive
Where else can you learn advanced skills, participate in creative challenges, and make the world a better place all at the same time? Visit AIR-rallies.org to register for the next AIR and learn more about how the program not only improves your life, but the lives of everyone who uses the internet.
Who can participate in AIR?
EVERYONE! We all have a role to play in making the web a more inclusive place for people with disabilities. Only 20 to 30 spots are available for teams and clients for each AIR event, so check the AIR website and start planning now to participate! We also have opportunities for accessibility experts as volunteer mentors.
What Richard Schwerdtfeger, previous Knowbility Board Chair calls “the first international, hands-on accessibility technology training program” has become a formative experience in producing the next generation of accessibility leaders.
The goal of this competition is to give students a firm footing in accessibility training to expand their portfolios. As Kisha Cormier from the Visual Communication department at Lonestar College says, “the AIR event provides students a real world experience and allows them to exercise their knowledge in web creation, work with a real world client, and learn more about building accessible websites.”
Nonprofits, Community Groups & Artists
Benefits for nonprofits, NGOs, charities, community groups, schools and artists that participate in AIR as web design clients:
- Opportunity to learn about accessibility and digital inclusion
- A new website for your program that demonstrates a powerful commitment to inclusion, something that is attractive to donors and other supporters
- Opportunity to reach new audiences - including potential new donors, volunteers and clients - with your new, accessible website
- Opportunity to learn about how to work successfully with virtual teams and engage online volunteers (virtual volunteering)
- Participation in an international, high-profile, world-class event
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I keep in touch with a couple of team members weekly via phone meetings, and we have an email chain going. We’ve had zero communication issues to say the least. They are working very hard on the website and I’m impressed so far. I’ve gotten a design proposal, wire frame, and most recently a loose mock up with multiple logo choices. My team is awesome!
Our mentor has been a great mentor from Day 1 and has always made time for us and taught us a lot on accessibility. Our NPO was able to make time for us and was helpful at the right time. It was a great learning experience for us and we are looking forward to make more sites accessible in the future (be it NPO/ our clients).