A(nother) Year in Review

Amazingly, I’ve reached the milestone of two years of blogging.

It doesn’t seem long ago when accessibility first piqued my interest, and when I dove headlong into both learning as much as I could about it and blogging happily along the way.

Though I haven’t always posted as much as I’d have liked, it’s been a rewarding year here at theaccessibility.com. I’m definitely going with a mantra that it’s better to post when you have something interesting to say, than to just post for the sake of posting. Quality over quantity — which is also a mantra that I’ve ruthlessly adopted for following people on Twitter (again, a post for another day).

I’ve gotten to interview amazing people like Jennison Asuncion, Carol Voss of IndependenceFirst, and Steve Spohn of AbleGamers. I’ve continued to meet a lot of great people in the industry, particular through social media outlets like Twitter. I’ve provided accessibility consultation on a number of web site designs.

Far and away, the 2010 highlight is when I took the User Experience Lead position at Johnson Controls.

I could go on and on about all the things that I love about Johnson Controls — the culture, the people, the green initiatives, the location — but I’m going to sum it all up by saying taking the job is easily one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life.

Though there are many things I learned in my last job, the truth is that I was mostly just stuck at a dead-end. I was in middle management, toiling over other’s issues and concerns and filling out paperwork. I did the occasional web design, but as I’ve posted before, my heart just hasn’t been in strict web design for a long time now…and certainly not in coding. My calling has been user experience, and of course that spoke in its wheel called accessibility.

When your reasons for staying somewhere mostly revolve around comfort and security (which can be important, especially when economies stumble and fall), you run the risk of not giving it your best anymore. Though I didn’t see it for the longest time, I needed to expand my professional world. I needed a change.

Enter Johnson Controls.

It continues to amaze me how much trust the place has in those of us on the User Experience team. While the company doesn’t have this grand vision of the exact details of user experience, they genuinely see its importance. They know that to be world leaders in anything, you have to truly understand the wants and needs of the people using your products. It can’t be “designed by developers for developers” or “designed by engineers for engineers”.

Here’s the icing on the cake — just last week, we had a great meeting with developers who are looking to the UX team to help clearly define the proper markup (HTML, CSS, etc) we ought to adhere to on the massive project we’re all undertaking. As part of that, I’m supplying accessibility guidelines.

Yup, we’re building a huge application from the ground up, and there’s an actual opportunity to make sure accessibility is factored from the onset.

I had just about resigned myself to accessibility being a side project, a labor of love that wouldn’t make any meaningful headway into my fulltime job…but now I’m very optimistic that that’s no longer the case.

Yeah, this turned more into gushing over my career change than this blog, but oh well.

Here’s to Year Three of theaccessibility.com!

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