[CEUD-ICT] Cynthia Waddell

Donal J. Rice DJRice at nda.ie
Thu Apr 4 09:22:09 IST 2013

Dear Gerry and all,

I would like to express my own sadness on hearing the news of Cynthia's 

Cynthia was an instrumental figure in the development of  ICT 
accessibility as a field in its own right, and an ardent and professional 
advocate for the rights of persons with disabilities.  Personally I view 
her as the matriarch of the the field of ICT accessibility. On her last 
visit to Ireland I spent a couple of long drives and evenings trying to 
"download" as much information as I could on a whole range of topics, but 
there was simply no end to her knowledge.   Her involvement in disability 
rights stretched back to her own childhood.  Though she did not speak of 
it publicly very often, Cynthia overcame significant hearing difficulties 
as a child to become, among other things, a violinist in an orchestra as 
well as an eminent lawyer in the field of ICT accessibility.  It is 
difficult here to try and quantify her contribution to the field of ICT 
accessibility simply because she worked, as Gerry says, in every part of 
the globe.  Whether advising in the White House, developing the first set 
of web accessibility guidelines to be implemented into law,  or presenting 
at the NDA, she was always an inspiring figure who made a significant 

Cynthia was a friend to, and a regular guest at the NDA, speaking on 
topics such as public procurement [1] and American legislation on 
accessible TV. 

I have very many fond memories of Cynthia which I will cherish. She will 
continue to inspire me personally and professionally forever.

"Ar dheis Dé go raibh a hanam", 



From:   "Gerry Ellis" <gerry.ellis at feelthebenefit.com>
To:     "Centre for Excellence in Universal Design ICT mailing list" 
<ceud-ict at list.universaldesign.ie>
Date:   03/04/2013 18:37
Subject:        [CEUD-ICT] Cynthia Waddell
Sent by:        ceud-ict-bounces at list.universaldesign.ie

Dear all,

It is with great sadness that I must let you know that Cynthia Wadddell
passed away this morning in California.

Anyone who knew Cynthia knew what a trojan fighter she was in every corner
of the world for the rights of people with disabilities. She was not very
tall; a David facing down nay-sayers and cynics. And yet she was a Goliath
in the field of accessibility. She was both, really.

I met Cynthia on several occasions at meetings and conferences in various
parts of the world. Her knowledge and enthusiasm never failed to bowl me
over. Everywhere she went she was known and everyone wanted to spend time
with her.

Cynthia did an interview with the BBC Ouch team in 2009. It is found at:

When she was asked how she would like to be remembered, Cynthia said:
"Someone who is passionate about systemic change and improving the quality
of life of people with disabilities"

Wow, she did that in spades.

May Cynthia Rest in Peace. She will certainly be remembered.

Take care,

Gerry Ellis

If you don't know where you're going,
How will you know when you get there?

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