Jim Thatcher received his PhD from the University of Michigan in 1963, one of the first PhDs in Computer Science. Together with his thesis advisor, Dr. Jesse Wright, Jim then joined the Mathematical Sciences Department, IBM Research, in Yorktown Heights, New York. His research was in the area of mathematical computer science, automata theory, and data abstraction. Jim began moving away from the abstract and toward the practical when he and Dr. Wright, who is blind, began working on access to the PC for people who are blind. That project led to one of the first screen readers for DOS which, in 1986, became IBM Screen Reader (and the term later became generic). After that, Jim led the development of IBM Screen Reader/2 for OS/2, which was the first screen reader for the graphical user interface on the PC (1991).
In 1996, Jim left his research post to join the IBM Accessibility Center in Austin, Texas. There, he led the effort to establish the IBM accessibility guidelines specifically for use by IBM's development community.
Jim served as Vice-Chair of the Electronic and Information Technology Access Advisory Committee (EITAAC), which was impaneled by the Access Board to propose standards for Section 508. He chaired the subcommittee on Software Standards. He wrote the course on Web Accessibility for Section 508 for the Information Technology Technical Assistance and Training Center (ITTATC), which was funded by the General Services Administration and the Department of Education to support Section 508.
Jim has received numerous awards for technical work over his 37-year career with IBM. He received a Distinguished Service award from The National Federation of the Blind in 1994 and the Vice President's Hammer Award for his work with the Department of Education on the development of Software Accessibility Standards in 1999.
Jim is coauthor of Constructing Accessible Web Sites (along with Paul Bohman, Michael Burks, Shawn Lawton Henry, Bob Regan, Sara Swierenga, Mark D. Urban, and Cynthia Waddell), published by glasshaus in 2002, and published again by Apress in 2003.
Books from Jim
- Web Accessibility: Web Standards and Regulatory Compliance (Author)
- From Friends of Ed, released July 24th, 2006
- The power of the Web lies in the fact that anyone and everyone can access it, and this should also extend to users with disabilities. Accessibility is about making websites accessible to those with aural, visual, or physical disabilities, or rather, constructing...