As an Accessibility Consultant in the IBM Human Ability and Accessibility Center (HA&AC), Marc Johlic provides guidance to internal IBM teams and external vendors on how to make their products accessible. With a focus on web accessibility, WAI-ARIA, and Dojo, he works primarily with IBM Learning, Research and ibm.com teams. Marc also collaborates with most other IBM organizations as a member of the Accessibility Architecture Review Board (AARB), its subcommittees and other bodies such as the IBM Video Standards workgroup.
The former water ski instructor began his IBM career thirteen years ago in Global Services in a support and code development role for e-business Hosting Services. He also spent several years as a project manager , but always preferred to be more hands-on and work directly with code and technology, so when the opening in the IBM HA&AC came along, he jumped at it, even though he wasn't entirely sure of what he was getting into when he accepted the position.
"Sure, I understood the very basic concepts of accessibility through my previous development work, but I had no idea of the sheer depth and breadth of accessible technology, disability types, and the challenges faced by our colleagues with disabilities. Not to mention the sobering realization of how we all are likely to be affected to some degree as we age. I am still surprised by how many new concepts I come across each week."
Now with a few years in the HA&AC under his belt, Marc can easily say that, "joining the HA&AC has been the most challenging and rewarding experience I've had in IBM. Often it can be easy to lose sight of the 'big picture' when you get bogged down with the day-to-day tasks of a project - especially when you are working in a large corporate environment. But in this organization, I am rewarded weekly (if not daily) knowing that the guidance I provide to one developer or one team will most likely spread exponentially to help a much broader, global community. One that can even expand far beyond our own corporate walls. Pretty cool!"
Putting that global reach philosophy into practice, Marc represents IBM in standards efforts such as:
When asked about his thoughts on the current state of accessibility and where he'd like to see it move in the future, Marc answered, "I think it's time for the concept of "usable access" to come to the forefront. I believe there is some real progress being made in accessibility. Technologies such as WAI-ARIA and IAccessible2 are making it easier for developers to create usable, accessible content. The mobile space is also getting more interesting by the day. The fact that we all carry around little mini-computers (our phones) everywhere we go is amazing. And, now with tablets finally making a breakthrough, I think all of these have great potential to be helpful, assistive devices in so many different ways."