Knowbility has always placed a priority on involving community member in its programs – and we have always had a broad definition of “community.” Involving volunteers helps Knowbility to invite community investment in our organization and benefit from a variety of voices and talents. In the 1990s, most of our volunteer involvement was onsite, via our Accessibility Internet Rally (AIR). Now, our volunteer engagement is a mix of in-person and online, in support of our variety of programs.
Justin Binder lives in the Washington, DC metro area and signed up to volunteer with Knowbility in February 2018 via VolunteerMatch. Since then, he has spent many, many hours helping Knowbility to:
- build an archive of nonprofits that have participated in Knowbility’s Accessibility Internet Rallies and the sponsors of those AIR events,
- curate resources from other organizations Knowbility will feature on its own version of Fix the Web, which we will launch by summer.
Justin’s contributions for Fix the Web have been particularly critical to Knowbility, and is part of our commitment to continuing the central importance of volunteer involvement in the Fix the Web initiative, originally launched by Citizens Online in the UK.
Justin signed up for a few assignments on VolunteerMatch with various organizations, but said Knowbility was the only organization that kept him engaged consistently after he signed up. “I had signed up for a few different assignments, but it didn’t amount to much of anything. I did edit a couple blog posts for an individual, but they pretty much dropped off the grid.”
Justin says it didn’t take long to find Knowbility on VolunteerMatch and that he found the work of Knowbility to be “a noble cause.” Justin was looking for a volunteering activity that would utilize his research and technology skills, and found Knowbility’s assignments to be a perfect match. “I knew the experience would give me insight and greater understanding of the different accessibility topics…. The best thing about volunteering with Knowbility was that I knew that my work was contributing to projects that could potentially help millions of people.”
In addition to helping Knowbility, Justin also felt the volunteering assignments helped him. “I knew about the existence of screen readers and modified mouse/keyboards, but I wasn’t familiar with specifics. Also, my understanding of how captchas have been one of the hardest features to make completely accessible without compromising the purpose of them was intriguing… Any novice or intermediate designer/developer interested in UI/UX should take time to learn more about web accessibility since it will open their eyes to the daily challenges for people with disabilities in this highly technology-based world. It has helped improve my design process to be more accessibility-focused to think about people with all types of disabilities.”
Justin believes the work of Knowbility will continue to grow in importance “as technology continues to be deeper ingrained in everyday life. Web and mobile technology is taking over and even replacing certain activities done through human interaction. For example, there are select banks that have almost all their services exclusively online and not available at branch locations which means that we need accessible design more than ever.”
Justin added, “This has been a very awarding experience. I have found Knowbility to be an excellent organization dedicated to the mission of accessibility in technology and encourage anyone thinking about volunteering to sign up.”
Online volunteering isn’t for everyone. When looking for assignments, Justin has this advice for volunteers:
I would advise anyone to choose the non-profit carefully based on two questions. First, do you truly care about the mission of the non-profit? Second, are you willing to make a consistent weekly commitment? If you can say, ‘yes’ to both questions, then you will feel fulfilled and be an asset to any organization that needs someone with your skills.
When I started, I carved out dedicated blocks of time into my weekly schedule that I would regularly work to fulfill the weekly time commitment and consistently stay on schedule with each assignment. The last piece of advice is the importance of prompt communication through email since this is going to be your main line to the liaison with the organization.
For high school or college students, volunteering remotely for a nonprofit is an excellence path for developing valuable work experience and even add to your list of references that will help give you an edge when attempting to launch your career.
We agree, Justin! Many people who have volunteered with Knowbility have used the experience as a part of their career pursuits!
You can see Knowbility’s current openings for both onsite and online volunteers at our profile on VolunteerMatch. You can also express interest for volunteering with Knowbility anytime via our online form on our website.