This month’s #mozlove post is for April Morone.
I wrote this post with inspiration from the first version of ‘Participation Personas . Personas (V1) is a list of contributor profiles I use to design participation opportunities. For each persona I also suggest a series of ‘lenses’ which, I believe can help us design with, and for greater diversity and dimension.
A lens can be anything from gender identity and age, to what I called a ‘toxic rating’, which changes the flexibility and value of collaborating with someone. Another lens is what I have (so far) called ‘accessibility’, which encourages thinking about physical challenges of contribution. This could be anything from asking ourselves if resources are ‘screen reader friendly’, to building in a respect for periods of time people may ‘disappear’ to take care of their wellness.
In that light I would like to highlight the contributions, enthusiasm and dedication of April Morone. April describes herself as a ‘disabled contributor’ living with partial blindness, hearing loss and neuro-muscular problems . April is also advocate for helping other people living with disabilities contribute to the Mozilla project. April was kind enough to take time to answer my questions, the first of which was “What got you started contributing?”
“What got me contributing was this insatiable need to help and insatiable need to learn more in the IT field, as well as to DO more in the IT field. I’ve always been helping others, from my cousins, helping teach them at the age of twelve on up, to teaching and helping others.”
You will find April embedded in the project helping others, especially focused on new contributors people setting up local environments for bug-fixes. When I asked her what sustains her participation, she felt equally as motivated by people who ‘want to learn’, as her own interest in teaching and helping.
When listing the challenges to contribution, April identified the continual challenges posed by health issues which include the emotional effects of surviving domestic abuse. On the more predicable scale, April also listed issues with technology fails and limited time as worthy opponants. What’s I think is very inspiring about both April and the community around her is how she describes her continued involvement and the people making a difference for her:
Abishek Gupta, Gautam Sharma, David Walsh, Luke Crouch, Janet Swisher, Hagen Halbach, and Daniel Desira have kept me going. They have been contributors and now also friends who have supported me through difficult times when I might have otherwise have given up contributing. I had thought of dropping out of contributing and even just giving up. But they stood by me, listened, and gave support, which help. What also kept me going is my love of helping others, my love of Mozilla, and my love of IT and web development.
I think this is really, really special in that the community is as much a place to find ‘your people’, as it is a cause to contribute to. I know April is among a small group of volunteers at Mozilla with ambitions of creating a more supportive network for contributors living with disability through directed documentation and on-boarding – which I think is just amazing. I am grateful to be a part of a community that includes April and many of the people she listed who help her be successful.
Next month I hope to write a couple of these posts – we’ll see.
“Felt Heart” Image credit: Lauren Jong