Goodbye, Joseph Karr O’Connor

Joseph Karr O’Connor, also known to the WordPress community as @AccessibleJoe, passed away peacefully on Friday, January 3rd, 2020.

Joe made his first post here on September 5th, 2013, when he became the AccessibilityAccessibility Accessibility (commonly shortened to a11y) refers to the design of products, devices, services, or environments for people with disabilities. The concept of accessible design ensures both “direct access” (i.e. unassisted) and “indirect access” meaning compatibility with a person’s assistive technology (for example, computer screen readers). ( Team representative, taking over from Mel Pedley, who stepped away from WordPress at that time.

I was first introduced to Joe in late 2012. We were working on parallel but separate projects – he was promoting the plan to develop a collection of accessible WordPress themes, called the Cities project, while I was working with Mel Pedley and the Theme Review team to define the collection of guidelines that formed the seed of today’s accessibility-ready program for WordPress themes.

Joe was an amazing people person – gentle and kind, and always able to be calm in the face of difficult conversations.

The WordPress Accessibility Team would not be what it is today without Joe’s leadership and patience, although his health forced him to step down from his leadership role in late 2015, and reduce his role further after continuing health issues in 2016.

Thank you to Joe, and all our best wishes to his wife Linda and his daughter Siobhan. We hope that they know that Joe will always hold a place in our hearts and in the history of WordPress.

Joe has requested that gifts in his honor be made to The Aurelia Foundation, which provides community-based day programs to people with developmental disabilities, including his beloved daughter.