Saturday, May 17, 2008

In Memory of Cynthia Ice

Mary Beth reported on the passing of Cynthia Ice. Like MB, I want to take a moment to remember and honor our friend and colleague.

Cynthia Ice

Cynthia was one of a small handful of things that made working at the IBM/Lotus facility in Westford, MA something special. Cynthia was an accessibility expert and tester, but not just any accessibility expert. You realized this the moment you saw her walking down the hall with Cashmere, her seeing eye guide dog.

Having Cynthia on its staff said a lot about IBM/Lotus and its committment to accessibility. I can remember feeling fortunate on many occassions to be able to call or email Cynthia to get her input on design decisions.

I'm afraid that accessibility is a theoretical exercise in too many software development organizations. Those who manage, design, code, test, and write about software all too often have little, if any, interaction with users who need accessible accommodations. Seeing first-hand a user with a motor skill impairment, or a user who needs a screen reader to read her mail, brings the imperative to design and build accessible software home in a very real way. It's a moral imperative.

Cynthia was kind, and insightful, and yes humorous. In the comments on MB's blog post Brandon wrote this:

She never lost her sense of humor, even (especially?) when it came to disability. My favorite line of hers was while we were discussing how much people of various disabilities wanted a particular feature. At one point she said, "Quadriplegics would go to the mat for this issue...y'know, if they could."


Cynthia will be missed by many. Today I pause in her honor.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Elise Amendola, found here


Anonymous said...

gpfijthank you cynthia for your hope and time.

Anonymous said...

thank you for all your time and hope that you gave me.

Michinstant said...

Thanks for your willingness to answer any questions on blindness that helped to educate the seeing.