My professional goals are as follows:
Increase access to computing technologies for all people regardless of ability.
I discovered the potential of programming in my sophomore year in high school by discovering that I could view the source code of my schools webpage and then learned about html, and how the technologies that the web relies on to present information work. I became interested in how I could use these technologies to make computers more accessible to people with disabilities. As a goal oriented person with an entrepreneur mindset, I started a company in high school to make it easier for local small businesses to create braille, digital, and large print menus. As a small family business being run from my house and my aunts house, I learned many lessons about business management, leadership, and promoting a product through this effort. While my idea never took off and I ultimately closed the business to focus on college, this experience kickstarted my career into accessibility. Also, the business became less necessary with more digital menus and resources becoming born accessible by default, and I decided that focusing efforts elsewhere was better. As my knowledge of computers increased, I became interested in figuring out a way to make access to a computer more equitable for blind people. As a blind person, I understood that computers had the potential to help bring numerous job opportunities to many people currently without jobs. It was shameful to me that in order to use a computer with the same level of access as a sighted friend, a job applicant might required purchasing expensive screen reading software. (Costs at the time were sometimes over $1000 in us. Dollars). This is one reason I became interested in the potential of open sourced development where a few full time members supported by charitable work could potentially have a huge impact, with community members doing things to help the cause. As I became interested in open source development, I joined the NVDA Project and started spending time helping users figure out their technology needs, and writing addons for the screen reader. I realized the international impact of the NVDA project, when I randomly got an email from a blind Turkish student interested in translating one of my addons for the screen reader. Realizing the huge international impact of my technology work got me more involved in the project. At this time, I was very fortunate that the Kane Family Foundation and See the Future Fund. At the university, I worked with professors Clayton Lewis and Tom Yeh on various projects. Those projects can be seen in detail on my research page. Working on various research projects has given me first hand experience with academia and the process of investigating possible solutions to complicated problems. I have also learned a great deal about accessible design, universal design, and usability best practices. It is my passion to become more understanding of the issues people face using computers, and investigating solutions to those problems. As a student who is blind, I have seen how simple misunderstanding of how a group of people use technology can negatively effect success because of design flaws. Thus it is important that training occurs to help content authors and software developers design computing solutions for wide audiences, and that software systems are created with design intent that minimizes the toil needed to make accessible content. With these investigative goals in mind, I designed a weather app to investigate how to design web sites that are simple for all audiences to use. I also have become interested in the accessibility and usability of mathematical content, and diagrams/simulations. After spending time observing and participating in research, carefully observing how blind software engineers went about their job, and building the foundations for my career through college and personal projects, I was looking for my next big volunteer opportunity. That came when I decided to solve an issue I noticed with blind software developers, namely they were getting confused with indentation in code.
Having a computer take a long time to do something simple is very annoying. As I started my career, I was noticing how certain pieces of technology simply worked better because the people working on them spent time ensuring the experience was snappy and fast. Also, as I started becoming more aware of web development best practices, I realized that many web developers and software engineers used tools without considering common engineering constraints, and as a result the website took ages to load, was slow to react, and overall was over engineered. The experience left me with lots to desire. Fortunately, I was able to work on performance professionally for 2 years, and got to learn how to improve the speed of web applications, while also gaining a whole new respect for simple HTML. About this time, I decided I was tired of maintaining a PHP installation and MySQL database on my server and didn't want to have to secure these resources in my limited free time. Realizing how fast raw HTML was, I overhalled my site to make it static, and it now is far snappier than it ever was before with a far smaller security risk profile, and requires practically no server resources to serve. Realizing how important performance is has continued to leave me interested in optomizing the performance of software solutions.
Help people understand and effectively use IT Security and protect privacy.
In high school I also became interested in IT security. This happened by reading an account of a journalist who had their apple computers wiped, and several other accounts destroyed by a group of teanagers who simply wanted to control the guys twitter account. I realized that if a group of bored teanagers could do this much damage to someone, a focused attack by someone could be even more devastating, and I became interested in hardening my online presence. I had several friends who were interested in IT security who discussed IT security at lunch. They always referenced a podcast called security now which discussed the weeks IT security news. I started to watch Security Now, and started spending time learningn about how I could harden my computer security, and personal security best practicces against ciber crime. I learned valuable lessons that I try and share with others about keeping passwords safe, using encryption, and in general staying more secure. It is a passion of mine to ensure that my friends, family members, and other people I influence do what they can to harden their computer security. I don't try to be perinoyed about IT security, but since technology rapidly changes, ensuring people are doing what they can to ensure they keep important information safe is as valuable as protecting private property. I also am interested in helping people understand the powr of in information they are constantly releasing onto the web, because modern social media has created an adiction machine that causes people to consolidate their information in ways they would never do in public. For example, nobody would go outside and scream on the street about they lost 30 lbs, but they'll happily place this information online, where it effectively remains in the public square forever. I believe people should take responsibility for the things they do and say online, and think before posting.
My professional goals are always changing, but like my tagline says, my work is lazer focused on Improving the world, one byte at a time.