Frequently Asked Questions

The AIR 2019 timeline of events is as follows:

  • June – August – Recruitment
  • September 16 – All registrations close (if you are a nonprofit and have missed the cutoff date, please still register if the registration form is still available and you believe you can have your website content ready by September 23)
  • September 9 to 30 – Designer/Developer Team trainings, NPO asset gathering and training.
  • October 3 – Kick Off Event
  • October 7 – November 15 – Website build time
  • November 15 – Final Countdown Event and site submissions
  • November 18 – December 18 – Judging
  • January 16 – Award Ceremony

I would like to apply to have a web team build a site for me. What do I have to do?

When you are ready to register to participate in AIR, you fill out this online form. Note that payment is NOT due upon registration.

Once you fill out this form, you will be contacted via email by a representative from Knowbility, who will review any questions you have and give you additional information. At the time of registration, you must provide your EIN number if you are a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization in the USA. If you are a non-governmental organization, charity or school in a country other than the USA, you may be asked for additional information to confirm you are registered with your national government. If you are an independent artist – musicians, painter, etc. – please note such when you complete the registration form.

No payment is due upon registration. Instead, you will work with Knowbility representatives in the coming months to prepare for working with your team for AIR. Organizations will be asked to pay the one-time $100 registration fee by the kick-off event; organizations that pay the fee will continue on to the competition. Please note that registration fees cannot be refunded after the kick-off event. There is a $25 surcharge on each refunds made.

Knowbility staff will work with each client organization to help them prepare for being matched with a design team. This will include your completion of an in-depth survey about your current website (if you have such), what you want out of a new website (in addition to better accessibility), and your in-house tech support. We may also host a live web event where you will be able to submit questions and have them answered live, during the event.

If you are able, please follow Knowbility on Twitter, @Knowbility and on Facebook so that you will receive updates about AIR and accessibility issues in general. You can also follow #AIR2019 on Twitter, to receive updates about AIR, not just from Knowbility, but from participating organizations as well.

If you talk about your participation in AIR2019 on any social media platforms, we encourage you to tag your post with #AIR2019.

You can email at any time with your questions.

Who should be my organization’s representative for AIR?

You need to pick one person from your organization to be the primary contact for the AIR event. This person commits to answering all emails and phone calls from Knowbility and the design team promptly, getting all material ready for the design team, attending AIR online meetings and meeting with the design team you are matched with.

This person does not have to have any experience with web design. This person should be the person who makes primary or final decisions regarding your organization’s communications. It should be a person who can quickly gather or write all text for the website you want designed or redesigned, and quickly gather and provide all logos and photos you want to use on the site (or you want the designers to choose from), video files and audio files (multimedia).

How much time will participation take?

The person designated as the primary AIR contact from your organization will be responsible for completing our survey about your current website, if you have such, and your website needs. We estimate that completing this survey will take one-three hours, depending on how many people are involved in your website management.

This person will also participate in a live webinar or view and listen to the archived version online. This webinar will be around one hour.

We estimate it will take a representative from your organization 12-30 hours to prepare for the design period with your team. The earlier you register and begin working with Knowbility the more these hours can be easily distributed over several weeks. This will ensure that you have all materials ready for the teams to get started. It’s vital that your organization has an updated current website or prepared all text for the new website you want, as well as logos, photos you want to use (or you want the designers to choose from), video files and audio files (multimedia). Knowbility staff and your team will help you every step of the way for putting together this material, so that you meet the content delivery schedule.

Your organization’s primary AIR contact must promptly reply to emails and phone calls from both Knowbility and your team. We commit to doing the same for YOU: we will promptly reply to your emails and phone calls.

After kick-off, your design team will take 5 weeks to design your organization’s website. The representative from your organization will need to spend several hours the first and last week, and at least two hours a week in between, working with your team.

How will we work with our design team remotely?

When you are matched with your team, you will decide together how you want to meet and how often. It can be by phone, by email, via an online meeting platform, via Skype, etc. – your team will like to hear from you about what you prefer.

When your organization is matched by Knowbility with its team, the team will receive all of the information we have helped you prepare for your team. Your team will also tell you how they want to access your current web materials and new web materials. Your team is committed to making it as simple for you as possible for creating a way for them to access your current website and/or new website materials – a way that is not time-intensive for you.

In addition, a representative from Knowbility will be in contact with your organization’s representative regularly to support you in the process.

The more time your organization’s primary AIR contact spends with your design team, the better your website will be, and the more closely it will match your expectations.

What criteria do the judges use to evaluate the sites that are submitted for the AIR Competition?

We use a specific set of criteria to evaluate all of the sites submitted during an AIR competition. We have also included details that help a judge or a competitor determine how to measure each item. Current judging forms will be made available during registration.

How are the judging criteria developed?

The original Judging Criteria were developed in 1998 and were based upon the WCAG accessibility guidelines and Section 508 Guidelines for Web Accessibility. During the periods between rallies, the judges frequently discuss and often approve improvements to the judging criteria based upon changes in technologies, our own experiences evaluating websites, and input from competitors, their clients, and the accessibility community.

How do we choose AIR Judges?

All of our judges volunteers and experts in the area of accessibility. Our core panel of experts are internationally recognized experts, and published authors in the field of accessibility. This core group developed the judging criteria and the judges training manual which has been used to train new judges for AIR programs throughout the United States. Most of our remaining judges started as competitors, developed their expertise and went on to become mentors before completing judge training and judging AIR competitions. During their first competition as a judge a new member of the judging team is mentored by an experienced judge to ensure fairness in the judging process.

Couldn’t a judge’s involvement with team members, their employer or an NPO be a conflict of interest?

Our judges recuse themselves from judging any site produced by a team to which they have a personal affiliation or produced for any organization with whom they have a personal affiliation. Thus a judge who works for the same company as a team that is competing will not judge the site that they create and a judge who works closely with non-profit will not judge a site that is created for them.

How do we control the quality of the judging process?

During each competition we designate one judge as a quality control judge. This person reviews the judging forms submitted by the judges for completeness. As the judging progresses through several rounds, if the point totals vary by more than 15 points between judges the Head Judge will review the judging forms. If errors of fact are found (one judge finds that alt text is missing and another does not) these issues are corrected. If differences of objective opinion are found such as aesthetics or appropriateness points then the head judge will mediate the differences among the judges who have reviewed the site.

How many judges review a site?

Each site is reviewed by two judges. The completed judging forms are then reviewed by the quality control judge. If during the judging process a judge has a question about a particular item, he or she will send that question and the appropriate URL on to the other judges for comment.

Can mentors compete as team members?

Many of our mentors compete as team members. We feel that this is a very good thing for everyone who participates. The competitor/mentors have a good understanding of what works and what does not during the rally and bring that knowledge to all of the competitors during the training classes. They also frequently mentor team members who are new to accessible web development and may not have the confidence to compete without more experienced members on their teams.

Can judges compete as team members?

Active judges are not allowed to be the member of any competing development team. If a judge wishes to join a team and compete as developer he or she must wait six months after the last competition that they have judged prior to joining a team. The former judge does not participate in discussions regarding judging for the competition and is removed from the judges’ mailing list.