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University of Connecticut Assistive Technology Oral History Project

Jim Allan

Co-Chair - User Agent Accessibility Guidelines Working Group

Date: March 17-21 2009

Jim Allan started out to be a nuclear engineer on submarines, but he became interested in volunteering at the School for the Blind across the street from where he lived. Discovering "This is fun," led to enrolling in the University of Texas vision program. After graduating in 1979, he became an itinerant teacher at Round Rock School District, near Austin, Texas.

Thinking that exempting 8th grade special education students from computer courses didn't make a lot of sense, Jim offered to teach the students Logo, instead of Basic, and voila—they were successful!

After 10 years of driving 1,000 to 1,500 miles each month to work with youngsters throughout the district, he decided to return to the School for the Blind.

His first Closing the Gap Conference was so stimulating and exciting that he slept very little, but gained long-lasting connections with professionals like Jay Stitley, with whom he did CTG pre-sessions for many years, "packing them in."

Being invited to the Worldwide Web 6 Conference in 1997 led to involvement in several committees, and he is now chairman of the User Agent Accessibility Guidelines Working Group developing version 2 of the guidelines to make web browsers more accessible.

Snippet 1: "How did you happen to get into assistive technology?"

Snippet 2: "Tell us about your first Closing the Gap Conference"

Download: Full Transcript