William Loughborough: Web Geezer Extraordinaire

William Loughborough

Accessibility advocate, gadfly and big thinker Bill Loughborough died on April 7. The news, with abbreviated tributes, was all over Twitter, as it should have been. They say Twitter is for the young, and you’re a Tweezer over age 40. Or is it 30? But the first line on Bill Loughborough’s “WebGeezer page says: “Those of us past 80 years old find it amusing that old folks are still thought of as Resistant to learning new things.” [2020 note: That page is gone but you can find Bill’s “Geezer Sermons” here.]

I met Bill at the CSUN Disability Technology Conference many years ago, and over the years he would talk to me about various ideas he thought I should be working on. Talking Signs of course was often top on his list, but he would talk about far more than that. Bill was a creative and out-of-the-box thinker. I’m sad to say now that we never had a project together, but I’m happy to feel like we might have.

Bill was always supportive of Structured Negotiations as a way of advancing the accessibility of information and technology. In an email I received from him last in August, Bill asked me whether I had been thinking about Talking Signs and access to public transportation. One thing I liked about him was his email address. Before gmail the first half of his was love26 (I think because 1926 was the year of his birth!) The last email I got from him was signed simply with the name he often used– “Love.”

One thing I’d like to thank Bill for is encouraging me to get to know Harriet Johnson. Harriet was a wonderful big hearted person and a brilliant, thoughtful and hardworking advocate. Now they are both gone, and the world is a poorer place for because of it.

Bill Loughborough was a man of diverse interests, a true believer in the deepest kind of accessibility, who was not afraid to speak his mind. He will be missed. Read more about the many facets of William Loughborough. Read the Web Accessibility Initiative tribute.