About Jim Byrne Accessible Website Design Specialist
Founder of The Making Connections Unit in 1996: one of the UK’s first web accessibility consultancies.
An award winning web designer. Winner of ‘Best Charitable Website Design Specialist 2019’. Winner of the Global Bangemann Award in 1999 and the Breakthrough Award for The Lothian Centre For Independent Living online help service.
An experienced web designer and web applications developer. In addition to many website designs, development projects completed have included a virtual learning environments (VLE’s) for Scottish Accessible Information Forum and an online Portfolio system for The Get Connected Project. Jim has developed online searchable directories for Evenbreak and The British Disabled Angling Association, online membership services and e-commerce systems for numerous organisations.
Author of 6 website development books and numerous online and offline training courses.
A member of the International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP).
A founding member of the Guild of Accessible Web Designers (GAWDS): a world-wide association of organisations and accessible web designers and developers set up in 2003.
Founder of ‘Accessible Website Design’ in 2005 to exclusively provide accessible website design and development to the not-for-profit sector.
Twitter for charities, non profits and the voluntary sector.
Making Website Accessible published by SAIF
60 Accessible Web Design tips
Developing a passion for accessible website design
Jim started his working life as a computer programmer in 1979 using ‘miniframe’ computers that had LP (long player record) sized ‘not very floppy disks’. The disks needed to be screwed into a large cabinet that looks like a top-loading washing machine.
He is one of the few people who has been around long enough to have done every task related to web design: installed, configured and managed operating systems (Linux, Apple and Windows), installed a web server and all the required software, (e.g. Apache, Perl, PHP), wrote the required ‘cgi’ scripts, designed the web pages, hand coded the HTML and designed and coded one of the world’s first content management systems.
In 1990 as a ‘mature’ student at Glasgow Caledonian University he was shown Tim Berners Lee’s first website by lecturers David Donald and John Culbert; it didn’t look like much (just text with links) but it did look like the future. He also embarrassed himself by being tongue tied when he met Tim Berners Lee at a conference in London after shouting him over with the words, ‘Hey Tim!’.
Jim is also an experienced trainer and a former Lecturer at Glasgow Caledonian University. In the mid 90’s he worked as a Trainer with The Wellbeing Initiative; an organisation set up to help disabled people get back into work. While working with The Wellbeing Initiative Jim became acutely aware of the extent to which disabled people were being discriminated against. This had an impact on the work he has done since. It directly lead to the setting up one of the UK’s first website accessibility consultants and the setting up of The Guild of Accessible Website Designers.
A Web Developer With an Artistic Sensibility
Apart from technical skills he has an artistic sensibility. In his spare time he is a musician, songwriter and performer. He attended Glasgow School of Art as a teenager so he brings creativity and sense of aesthetics to every project.
Author of 60 Accessible Web Design tips and two other e-books related to accessible web design.
Author of the Guild of Accessible Web Designers accessible web design training course which covers every Priority 1 and 2 Web Content Accessibility Guidelines checkpoints.
Identified as one of Scotland’s ‘movers and shakers in e-commerce in Scotland’ for work in the area of Web accessibility (NB Magazine, 2001).
Developer of the award winning not-for-profit project, The Making Connections Unit (MCU). The MCU won an award in the equal access category of the Global Bangemann Award; a challenge by the City of Stockholm for cities of the world to show their finest information technology projects.The award was presented by the King of Sweden.
Music and song
In his ‘spare time’ he is a songwriter and musician playing folk, country and blues influenced acoustic music. He has co-written songs with Marti Pellow (he co-wrote ‘Lay With Me’ on the Boulevard of Life album) and Jazz singer Carol Kidd and has released three solo albums. A song from his second album was number 1 on the UK Reverbnation Americana Chart. His songs are played regularly on radio and one was added by Mark Lamarr to ‘God’s Jukebox’ on Radio 2.