An Inspiring Accessibility Conversation, in the Malaysian Skies

On a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Kuching, at an altitude of around 28,000 feet – that was where I heard about one of the most impressive efforts done for accessibility.

This information was shared to me by Mr. Moses Choo, Assistant Executive Director of the National Council for the Blind, Malaysia (NCBM), as we were headed to Kuching to conduct another web accessibility workshop.

What Exactly Happened?

Moses told me that the Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) in Penang has made a number of unique efforts to advocate and promote the importance of accessible information. First, USM’s professors have started to urge their students to learn about accessibility and implement it in their web sites and software. A certain amount of points is given to students who include a significant level of accessibility in their web site and software projects.

Another notable activity carried out by USM is the inclusion of accessibility as one of the categories in its web and software development competitions. During these contests, students can choose to join the accessibility category and compete with fellow USM students in making the most accessible web site or application. Judges in these competitions include persons with disabilities and accessibility advocates.

As a supporter of accessibility, I believe that these activities can greatly increase the interest in accessibility among future web and software development experts. More importantly, it will instill in them the value of accessibility so that they would implement it in their work once they have entered the corporate world.

Where it All Started

Last October 2009, Moses and NCBM organized a web accessibility workshop in USM. This workshop was attended by USM’s students, professors, and administrators. At the conclusion of the event, USM’s administrators announced that they would start including accessibility in their web development subjects. And ever since that day, USM’s professors have done so, through the information provided in the workshop.

I had the privilege of being one of the speakers in that workshop, and I am honored to have witnessed the beginning of the aforesaid noble activities for accessibility.

I strongly believe that we can all learn from the example set by Universiti Sains Malaysia. We can all support web accessibility by educating and inspiring the ones who would be directly responsible for creating and developing information on the World Wide Web.

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