I’m so glad we’re in 2021, and I hope it gets to be better than 2020. For me personally, 2020 was a successful year, especially considering the circumstances we all had to work with.
The year took off quite ordinary. My workshop at a11y.club in Berlin the previous November went well, and I looked into how to do more of these seminars with people. Suffice to say that planning for in-person events was not the most useful thing at the time. Oh, how little did we anticipate.
In February, the signs of a worldwide crisis deepened, and while it was clear that these would be extraordinary times it felt save enough to do the yearly trip to CSUN in California in early March. By then many companies had withdrawn their travel but apart from the Conference itself, which was happening on a much smaller scale, the risk seemed low as long as we washed our hands and kept our distance.1
That’s exactly what we did. And as the pre-conference meetings fell flat, I took a day off, and we took the opportunity to visit Disneyland. The park was relatively empty (during a weekday) and we had a good time stying in our bubble as much as possible and hand-sanitizing a lot.
Once CSUN was over, we traveled to the Anza Borrego Desert where we had rented a house for the week and wanted to continue to San Diego afterwards. During our hiking trip, California mostly locked down. As getting outdoor and away from people are one of the main reasons doing these trips to a mostly remote place, it did not impact us too much.
As it became clear that walking leisurely along the Beach in San Diego would not happen, we extended our stay in the desert. Ultimately, our flight back was cancelled, and we got rerouted through Boston and to Amsterdam, taking the train for the last leg of the Journey. I have never seen airports so empty. In Boston, our flight was the only non-cancelled flight on the schedule boards.
It was super lucky that we could have a trip like that. The timing worked out and we stayed healthy. That said, since arriving at home and with the growing consensus about masks and how the virus spreads, we isolated completely for the rest of the year, only leaving the house for groceries every 10 days or so.
March was also the last time I worked with W3C. Together with Knowbility I decided that it would be good to focus on Knowbility projects.
The next couple of months were a real rollercoaster, especially losing Christopher was a kick in the gut I have not really recovered from. I miss him dearly.
In May, Knowbility shifted their AccessU conference online, and it was a resounding success. At the same time, I was asked to lead the small-but-mighty tech team.
Saying that I was unsure if I could do it would be an understatement. But I was more than happy to try it and the response from the team and the work we did since then has assured me that I can guide them even as I am figuring all of it out myself.
After May, I did not do a lot of public speaking. With the nonexistent travel cost, I hope that people, that don’t have the resources, get more opportunities. I did a half-day online workshop for Knowbility about Inclusive Design in September.
In the fall, I started a — in my opinion — successful venture into YouTube video production. I’m delighted with the six videos I have created, with a combined 3.800 or so views, and with the response that I got so far from the community. The videos are embedded on this website (in a privacy-respecting way). They have all closed captions and transcripts. It’s nice to have a project that is creative and helps me to reach a wider audience than through conference talks. I hope to further improve the videos and publish more of them.
I have collected my TV/streaming and podcast highlights in a separate post. Those were wonderful distractions.
For 2021, I hope that everyone stays virus-free and that the vaccinations are successful and quick. I’ll hunker down as long as it takes — and you should do the same.
- I very much understand now that the risk level was probably higher than we could assess at the time. It is easy to second guess the decision in hindsight. ↩