Ada Lovelace Day Profile: Julie Howell

Julie Howell When I signed up to write a blog post about a woman in technology whom I admire,
I knew straight away it would be Julie Howell. Born in Hampshire, UK
in 1971, Julie was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) at the age of
19. Her first impact on the internet was described in Louise Proddow’s
book ‘Heroes.com: the names and faces behind the dot com era’, (2000)
lauding Julie for creating and developing an award-winning online social
network of people with multiple sclerosis – Jooly’s Joint. Founded in 1995, membership of Jooly’s Joint now exceeds 20,000 world wide, and was named ‘Best Online Community’ at the New Statesman New Media Awards (2000) and ‘The Mirror Readers’ Choice’ at the Yell UK Web Awards (2000).
Julie Howell is currently Director of Accessibility at digital design agency Fortune Cookie. Before this she was Digital Policy Manager at RNIB.
Julie has spent much of the last decade working with businesses and
government agencies to ensure the usability by disabled people of
digital information services – probably the most vocal and effective
champion of Web Accessibility in the UK. She is Technical Author of
BSi’s specification for accessible web design, ‘PAS 78
and Chair of BSi’s Web Accessibility Technical Committee, that will
hopefully soon produce a British Standard for Web Accessibility. I am
not, of course, the first to applaud her work. Julie held the New Media Age
Effectiveness Award for ‘The Greatest Individual Contribution to New
Media 2005/6’ and in 2007, Julie received ‘The Special Lifetime
Achievement Award’ at the Imperatives Digital Awards. Deservedly so!
I first met Julie in Preston in 2002 at one of her many seminars on Web
Accessibility, and, inspired and enthused by her to the cause,
immediately made it my own cause, too, and by April 2006 I was pleased
to meet her again, as co-chair of a meeting of the Manchester Digital Accessibility Working Group
to which we had invited her as part of her tour promoting PAS78. She
has since become one of my Facebook friends where we talk about the much
more important issue of cats : ) Not only is Julie a woman who has
contributed a great deal to the world of information technology, she is
also a very friendly and fun-loving person.