Dear WinAccess family,
As I pass on the leadership baton to Nimer Jaber and move onto the advisor position (effective midnight Pacific time), I reflect on the accomplishments of this forum for the last six years or so. Back when the forum launched, Windows 10 was in its infancy and we didn’t know how the operating system would turn out. As we celebrate the sixth birthday of Windows 10, we are about to enter another unknown, a different Windows version in its infancy.
In 2015, I set out three pillars for this forum cluster: unity, expertise, service. These pillars are more important now that we are about to enter Windows 11 era, or for that matter, post-Windows 10 world. Windows accessibility and usability with screen readers unites us. We are gathered in this forum to share our expertise. And as folks move onto Windows 11, it is more important that we show willingness to serve the wider community of screen reader users, vendors, third-party app developers, and many others. There has been variations of these three themes, but the pillars outlined have stayed constant throughout the life of this forum cluster, even as we continue to keep an eye on the ongoing pandemic.
If I’m asked about one personal accomplishment as your outgoing head list representative and retiring forum owner, it is the fact that people using different screen readers have come together to share Windows accessibility and usability knowledge and recommendations. This work isn’t new – back when Windows Vista made its debut in 2007, several screen reader users formed “Blind Vista” forum to discuss Windows Vista changes. There were others as well such as Blind Windows (if I remember the forum name correctly) among others, but I think WinAccess forum is so far the closest to the vision of having a discussion forum for Windows accessibility experts and interested parties, a forum designed to showcase Windows accessibility information across screen readers. Although I launched this forum in 2014 (and re-launched in 2015), the vast majority of contributions were made by other people. This has become crucial in recent weeks as we are seeing increased discussion of Windows 11. These contributions are giving me confidence that this forum cluster will be a valuable resource on Windows access with screen readers for years to come.
WinAccess family, as I hinted earlier, we are about to enter the unknown once again. And as I also implied above, we are better prepared this time. The only advice I have as we continue to prepare for Windows 11 is to keep the momentum going. Please continue to translate needed information on Windows 11 to various screen reader worlds, along with bringing info and concerns from screen reader communities so we can offer a united message of support. I understand that current hardware requirements mean not many of you will get to use Windows 11 right away; but not all is lost – Windows 10 will be supported for a few more years, so you can decide to move onto Windows 11 when you are ready. But what’s more important for screen reader community is accessibility and usability of Windows 11 features such as Windows Subsystem for Android, widgets, Microsoft Teams integration and so much more, and I hope this forum can continue to serve as a helpful go-to place for using these features with various screen readers. Just as we did throughout Windows 10 era, please show unity, share expertise, and do serve the community in Windows 11 era and beyond.
Dear family members, my time as your head list representative and forum owner has come to a close. As Nimer Jaber takes the leadership baton, please show him support and respect. Send him encouragements, feedback, love letters (if you feel like sending one), and work with him to make WinAccess forum a welcoming and fun place for discussing Windows ecosystem and accessibility with screen readers. As for me, I will stay on as an advisor until Windows 11 is released, at which point I will officially resign from leadership team and move onto Windows lifecycle and updates advisor, advising the forum on new builds and cumulative updates.
I would like to take this time to thank everyone (both here and outside of this forum) who had an impact throughout my tenure. A special thanks to Microsoft staff (both resident members and outside), screen reader developers, Windows Insiders, and others with whom I have worked with to advocate for improved Windows accessibility. Of course, I cannot forget 600 plus human beings who chose to be part of the WinAccess family and gave me many encouragements, feedback, words of wisdom, criticisms, and many other comments for the last six years or so – it is you who made this forum possible, and it is you and your contributions that keeps the forum going. Last but not least, a special toast to our new WinAccess forum owner and head list representative, Nimer Jaber – good luck, sir.
Joseph (signing out)
Joseph S. Lee
Student (communication studies), California State University, Los Angeles (August 2017 to December 2020 as undergraduate, currently pursuing a master’s degree)
Volunteer contributor and add-on developer, NonVisual Desktop Access (NVDA) screen reader project (June 2012 to July 2021)
NVDA Certified Expert, 2019
Windows Insider (October 2014 to present)
Owner and head list representative, Windows Access with Screen Readers (formerly Win10 Forum for Screen Reader Users and Windows 10 and NVDA list; October 2014 to July 2021)
Windows lifecycle and updates advisor, Windows Access with Screen Readers (August 2021 to present)