Friday 12 September 2008

Accessibility Storm Hits Texas: Millions Jeopardized

While Hurricane Ike’s eye hovers over Galveston, and the country has basically come to a standstill as planes are grounded and people (myself included) can’t get home to loved ones until the storms pass, there is an equally disturbing issue that’s surfaced in recent weeks regarding the acclaimed University of Texas.

This year, the world lost a great leader in John Slatin, who along with colleagues was able to create the Accessibility Institute at the University of Texas and make real inroads in training people about accessibility and universal design.

It appears that the University of Texas would like to honor his memory by dismantling one of the highlights of John’s life works. To lose such an institute at this time demeans whatever progress has been made in the light of accessibility.

Universal access is something we cannot afford to stop worrying about. Our communications systems rely on our ability, no matter our ability, to communicate need.

During a time so frightening and confusing as a massive hurricane like Ike, nothing seems to shine a brighter light on this important facet of our daily lives. With universal access, many people will be empowered to get help more efficiently. Without it, certain individuals will be locked out of some of those resources.

That the University of Texas could even consider dropping such a core and critical program is tragic. The act removes educational resources that in turn create the resources that can help us all during difficult times as well as those more pleasant.

Please raise your voice and request that the Accessibility Institute be reopened! Sign the petition at Save The Institute.

Stay safe, Texas. And do the right thing.

Filed under:   general
Posted by:   Molly | 23:21 | Comments (16)

Comments (16)

  1. Quote: “there is an equally disturbing issue”

    Are you kidding? To compare a potential killer storm that threatens ‘certain death’ to thousands of people to this issue?

    This is certainly a very important issue, but the headline and opening paragraph are just inappropriate.

    Just my opinion.

    Anyway, stay safe.


  2. Billy Bob Thorton stated once, maybe twice, “You all can go to hell. I am going to Texas.”

    It was pointed out to Thorton that both may be one in the same.


    I haven’t found any direct information as to why UT is closing the Institute other than for lack of funding and staff.

    The best solution to this problem is through UT’s alumni and finding a financial source through and via them to fund continuing operations of the Institute.

  3. @Mike: Have you considered that not having access to communications technology during such an event increases the number of “certain” deaths?

    I’m sure I’ve made a very bold comment here, and I can understand why some people find that uncomfortable.

    Situations like Ike only HIGHLIGHT the concern. Hence the harshness of my metaphor.

  4. However, the byline aside, we all agree that closing the Accessibility Institute at the University of Texas is a bad thing. I’d hate to see this post sidetracked into a natural disaster versus “one of the driving goals of this site” conversation. Probably put down to a Molly faux pas – ha ha.

    OK so everyone sign that petition. I’ve already done it, but we need some attention in that direction or the resource will be lost to us. Regardless of John’s life work, it is a strong resource in it’s own right and we should be supporting it.

    All that being said, yup it’s Texas. 🙂

  5. Molly, thank you so much for bringing this tragic situation to the attention of your readers. As an accessibility advocate at UT, I was stunned by this decision. I truly feel that the administration says they support accessibility, while in reality they have specifically reduced funding/resources in this area.

    I still have some hope that the Accessibility Institute could be reestablished in our School of Information. When more than 975 people around the world join together and say “Save the Accessibility Institute”, it does make a difference. Will it be enough? Stay tuned. I promise to keep you posted.

  6. Pingback: » Blog Archive » Accessibility Storm Hits Texas: Millions Jeopardized

  7. Situations like Ike only HIGHLIGHT the concern. Hence the harshness of my metaphor. This is certainly a very important issue, but the headline and opening paragraph are just inappropriate.

  8. I for one support this photo becoming a web designer cult classic. Thanks for sharing!

  9. There are a few people whom I have run across whose minds I wish I could tap. Yours is one of them.

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