78: "In accessibility there is usability": meet Vincenzo Rubano

If you can, I would like you to make a donation to this IndieGoGo campaign to help Vincenzo Rubano DrupalCon Portland. What's this all about? Read on.

FOSS is your license to make a difference

Lately, some people on the web have been making arguments like "It doesn't matter if a CMS is open source or proprietary. It's about features and service. I promise my (proprietary, license-fee charging) CMS will do what you need. Nobody cares about the rest." I call BS.

I say being free and open source is important. I say it matters that we are an open source project. I talk to a lot of people around the world explaining business reasons for using Drupal and Free and Open Source Software, but there are other reasons that are just as important.

Vincenzo is making a difference

This reminded me why: Vincenzo Rubano is an Italian high school student who has been blind since birth. He uses Drupal to run his own website, titengodocchio.it (translated, "Ti tengo d'occhio" means "I've got my eye on you."), a website to promote accessibility on the web and in software. On that website, he keeps a blacklist of other websites and software applications that are not accessible.

He doesn't leave it at just pointing fingers. He also writes reports on those sites and apps to help those developers who are willing to improve their software. How's that for motivation? How's that for making a positive difference in the world?

There's more: The welcome and support he received from the Drupal community quickly turned him into a contributor, too. He works with accessibility maintainer Mike Gifford testing patches and submitting bug reports. "I started looking at the issue queue for open accessibility issues and I decided to see if I could give a hand to the community, to contribute back for giving me this great product."

Could he do that with a proprietary CMS? I don't think so. The GPL is our license to make a difference. Every improvement to Drupal benefits everyone using Drupal for whatever reason to whatever end.

Why accessibility matters

Many of us in the Drupal community support accessibility for pragmatic and idealistic reasons. Accessibility helps win us government and other contracts. It underscores our commitment to inclusiveness, transparency, and information freedom. Vincenzo has a more compelling argument:

I think that every website, every program, or any content that is not accessible to blind users is just a discrimination. This is the reason why I started my website; to help to fix this problem and stop this discrimination.

Decide for yourself – Help if you can

Listen to this young man yourself in this podcast. If the 19-year-old high-school senior and accessibility activist can be with us in Portland, I believe not only that he will benefit greatly from the experience, but also that Drupal and the web will, too. His fundraising project is off to a good start, but let's get him over the finish line.

Make a donation at IndieGoGo. I already have.

Thank you.