Along with the accessibility and user experience communities, I’m mourning the loss of one of our own, Joe O’Connor, who died January 3, 2020 after a chronic illness.
He was my friend, accessibility colleague, and someone I loved chatting with about books, classic films, web design, music, classic cars, food, and puns.
Our last conversation was two days before Christmas 2019, when Joe shared his YouTube Christmas playlist with me.
My Memories of Joe
I met Joe online in 2009, via Twitter, after I wrote about creating accessible and usable PDFs.
We chatted about accessibility and user experience, at the time I was an officer with Michigan Usability Professionals Association (now the Michigan User Experience Professionals Association). We had a lot to talk about!
As I became more involved with WordPress, I learned about Joe’s work with WordPress accessibility, the Accessibility Cities initiative, and leading the initial WordPress accessibility team.
He was a kind, wonderful person. A champion of accessibility.
Joe was always willing to lend a helping hand.
I’ll never forget when Molly Holzschlag was ill in 2013, desperately needed help, and Joe took her to the hospital and stayed with her while she was being treated.
How People are Remembering Joe
People on Twitter shared their thoughts and memories of Joe:
I'm so sad to hear of @AccessibleJoe's passing. He was a giant in LA UX circles for his commitment to #a11y. I met him when coming up in UX and he was always so generous with his time and expertise. I hope I'm a good torchbearer for what he fought for. 💔https://t.co/JCfIMWI06Z
— Anita Y Cheng (@anitaycheng) January 8, 2020
Saddest news: Joseph O'Connor @accessibleJoe has passed away. A wise, joyful, abiding spirit of intelligence, compassion, and dedication, Joe helped make the disability advocacy community a profound presence in the world. He will be sorely missed. https://t.co/mWB6NwwUEf
— Knowbility (@knowbility) January 8, 2020
So sad to read that @AccessibleJoe died.
He was an inspiration and thriving force in the startup of the WordPress Accessibility team. A kind and gentle man with a great sense of humor.
Thinking of Linda, Siobhan and everyone that loved him. https://t.co/QZiBdWHOLM
— Rian Rietveld (@RianRietveld) January 8, 2020
— The Paciello Group (@paciellogroup) January 8, 2020
Rest in peace, @AccessibleJoe ! I will always remember you as the gentleman who one could turn to for help when lost or needing *anything* at CSUN, and as a trusted voice in the #a11y community. https://t.co/yaqWiPt2Bf
— Marco Zehe (@MarcoInEnglish) January 8, 2020
It is hard to find words when you lose someone who has impacted your professional life in a profound way. I'm forever grateful to have had @AccessibleJoe as a boss, a mentor and a friend. He will be missed. #RIP pic.twitter.com/Fyth56e965
— David Mascarina (@dgmascarina) January 7, 2020
Linda O’Connor, Joe’ wife, has written a lovely tribute about Joe.
I will miss you, Joe. I’m grateful for our friendship. You leave the world a better place for everyone.