Volunteer Spotlight: AIR Interactive Challenge

Posted on February 16, 2012

Caroline Blaker

Volunteer Spotlight: AIR Interactive Challenge Image

I was proud to participate in the SXSW AIR Interactive Challenge this year as a part of Team Enchantment, a five-person development squad, making a website for the Independent Living Resource Center of New Mexico. This is the first website the ILRC has ever had, so immediately we knew that this effort was going to pay off for the good of the community, bigtime. In any volunteer effort, the name of the game is "Impact" (not the font) and providing an accessible website for the ILRC would be crucial in maintaining their mission of:

ILRC provides services designed to empower people with disabilities to foster independence in their lives.

The purpose of the AIR Interactive Challenge is to assist a local not-for-profit, artist, or musician with accessible web development, and to compete in the categories of accessibility, useability, and design against teams from around the world. Regardless of winning, each developer participant can claim Knowbility training, knowbility being THE organization that accessibility experts the web over.

My role in building this site was a surprising one - I was not the designer or developer (as can be said about other projects that I do.) Instead, I was the project manager. I fielded the better part of the client's questions, assigned tasks, and followed up on work to be done. It was my first experience being a sort of "boss" but as my teammates were my friends, my approach was mostly hands-off and alerting team members of what needed to be done, no matter who did it. The site, in addition, was built in Drupal 7, which was a new platform for me, the ExpressionEngine Developer. After the site was up and running, I had the pleasure of learning how to update and create content in this system and had relatively few "I can't do this" moments. Thanks to Mark Casias, Drupal Dev Extraordinare for developing on a platform that was so quick to learn.

As with many projects and clients who are new to the web process, we had a ton of changes right up to the very end. Even though her part was mostly over, our web designer, Lori Patton, was still involved to help with last minute changes and to bug-fix visually and produce an entirely new header for the site. It really does look terrific. See for yourself! ILRCNM.com

Thanks also to Helen O'Meara for jumping in to load content when the rest of us did not want to, and to Eric Renz-Whitmore for organizing the team, knowing the rules (so we didn't have to,) and getting our team funded through the NM Tech Council. It's truly appreciated.

Hats off to our team. We have a month until we learn whether we won or not, so lets just go ahead and say we're all winners, here. Yup, that. Thanks everyone!

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