I used to whine about wifi. Now I'm making the Web a better place.

I used to whine about wifi. Now I'm making the Web a better place.

During the summer of 2011, I spent a three-week exchange trip living with a host family in Sweden. Aside from my experiences with Swedish culture, I encountered first-hand the challenges of living with a disability, as my host mother was blind. I learned very quickly how independent and strong people can be despite physical limitations. I have been continually reminded of this lesson in my work with fellow evoHaX organizer and computer science student, Ather Sharif. However, through these experiences I have also become aware of the challenges that remain despite the incredible will of the human spirit.

A large number of my Tweets are complaints about how the university's wireless network is "taking longer to connect than usual", all sent from my iPhone's 4G. Whether I want to admit it or not, I am constantly "connected". In this regard, I know I am not alone. People today, my generation and those behind me especially, are reliant on the web. We get our information from Google, we keep up with the news via text-alert, and we communicate through comments, favorites, and "re-grams". Due to the ease with which I personally can send a Snapchat, search an essay topic, or make a purchase, I frequently fail to consider the very different experience that many people have in their interactions with the web. I have not often considered that the websites and apps, which provide me so much convenience may be a hassle or source of difficulty for others.

As a future member of the tech community, I believe that we should use progress to make the world a more equitable place. As a woman, I often consider the gender barriers I will face as a member of such a male dominated field. Just looking around my classes is enough to remind me of how far there is to go to balance the numbers, and I hope to become part of this change, advocating for women in technology. Since becoming involved in the organization of evoHaX, I have come to realize that part of making not just the tech community, but the world, a more equitable place is ensuring that technology is accessible to all despite limitations or disabilities beyond gender. Web accessibility is a major component of this. Working on evoHaX has made me exponentially more aware of the challenges faced by people with disabilities in performing the myriad web-based activities that have become mere habit for me. I know that I will carry the lessons I have learned and will learn from this event with me into my future as member of the tech community and an advocate for equality.

Created: 14 April, 2015

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