Hello Opera

After six amazing years at RNIB I have decided that it is time to move on and try my hand elsewhere. It’s been both challenging and rewarding working as the Senior Web Accessibility Consultant in such a diverse organisation and I have been fortunate enough to work on some fantastic projects with equally amazing people.

As my career has evolved I have come to see web accessibility as a key piece of a bigger picture leading me to expanded my interests into making websites work for international audiences, mobiles platforms and other browsing technologies. Hence the reason for this blog coming about; I wanted to discuss web accessibility within the bigger picture and not as an add-on or plug-in.

When I started looking elsewhere it was hard to envisage making a move from charity to corporate sector, I wanted somewhere where I felt my beliefs would not be compromised and where I could have an opportunity to be part of something that will contribute to wider change and a better web. All very worthy I know (she says shaking her new shiny Norwegian tambourine) but that’s what is important to me.

Introducing Opera

As of next week I will be joining the team at Opera Software as their new Web Evangelist. As Opera is all about web standards and the open web this move allows me to do all that I have wanted and more. Additionally I will also be joining a crack team that I’m really looking forward to working with including:

  • Chris Mills, Developer Relations Community Manager, keeper of the Web Standards Curriculum (a must read) and incredibly tall person who very sweetly bends his knees when he talks to me
  • Bruce Lawson, Web Evangelist and leading UK accessibility advocate who’s jokes are legendary (and you have to laugh at because he is a purple belt)
  • David Story, Chief Web Opener, and keeper of Dragonfly, Opera’s developer tool
  • Andreas Bovens, Web Evangelist and Japanese copyright expert based in Japan
  • Cheah Zi Bin, Web Evangelist, who I’ll be spending October with on the China leg of the Opera University Tours
  • Lawrence Eng, Product Research Manager, who talks to people and figures out how to make My Opera rock

What we do

The one question that people keep asking me is “What does a Web Evangelist do?”. I’ll be able to tell you more after I’ve started but some of the sorts of things I’ll be looking at doing are:

  • Working with web developers to help promote the adoption of web standards
  • Working with standards bodies such as W3C to input into guidelines and standards such as WAI ARIA, HTML 5, accessibility and cross overs with the mobile web
  • Blogging on the Opera Developer Network blog and writing articles for Dev Opera and other websites and publications
  • Talking about the world’s most popular mobile platforms Opera Mobile and Opera Mini
  • Conference speaking around the world

What’s really great is that Opera will also support me in my work leading the WaSP International Liaison Group as well as participating in WAI’s Education and Outreach working group. I’ll be based in London but on the road more often than not travelling the world talking to folk about standards in general, accessibility and mobile web best practices.

And finally…

I will miss the Web Access Team terribly. They’re a talented, passionate bunch who for a team of (soon to be) three are doing amazing things. The team is stronger now than it has ever been and I know will go from strength to strength. I’ve learnt a lot from them and other people at RNIB as well as our clients and their teams. Hat tip to all of them but especially Bim Egan who has taught me more than she will ever know.

Hopefully see you all on the road.

24 thoughts on “Hello Opera

  1. I can’t believe this time has come so fast! Looking forward to working with you so much, madame Swan, as you are awesome. And after meeting some of your RNIB colleagues at d.Construct, I can understand why you will miss them.

  2. Henry, congrats on making the move from one great organization to another. Good luck on your quest to make the world a better place. When more and more of us strive, all our works gets that much easier.


  3. Henny, as we have talked about it I agree this is the best decision with the most potential. I’m glad that you found such a nice team, I’m looking forward to you bringing accessibility into HTML5, Canvas, and the 3D web, and I’ve subscribed to the Opera Developer Blog’s RSS feed. Let me know how I can support you, especially with the Opera University Tours coming to Germany. We got some contacts there.

  4. Hen,

    I don’t pretend to know a lot about what you do, it all sounds very interesting, but congratulations and the best of luck with your new mission! (Your blog makes good reading btw)


  5. Congratulations Hen,
    Like Sarah, I don’t really understand what it is that you do but this sounds like a great move and one that you’ve given a lot of thought to. All the very best and look forward to reading more!


  6. Congratulations Henny, Opera is shaping up to be this year’s Yahoo! – snapping up some great UK talent to push standards up and along.

    Good luck!

  7. Great move Henny – enjoy the challenges, I’m sure you’ll have lots of successes. Glad you’ll be able to keep up your W3C involvement.

  8. Thanks everyone for your kind words. Needless to say I can’t wait to get stuck in. Really looking forward to putting more time into this blog as well. See you all soon no doubt, Henny

  9. Thanks for your kind words Henny, I think and hope you know how very much we will all miss you at RNIB. You’re the most inspirational, supportive and talented person to work with, as well as being a solid, loyal and tireless friend. Wishing you all the very best for the success you so richly deserve at Opera. I could go on for pages about the joy it’s been to work with you, (you know I could), but to save some blushes, I’ll just say thank you for all that you’ve done and been, and yes, we will stay in touch. Sending love, Bim

  10. Opera? It’s like the new Yahoo, isn’t it? What with all the cool kids going there and that 😉

    You are going to be working with a great bunch, but watch out for that Brucey and his corrupting ways!

    Congratulations, Henny

  11. This is a fantastic and perfect role for you, congratulations!

    I *really hope* this means you’ll make it all the way over to Australia sooner rather than later 😉

    I’m looking forward to a new generation of blog posts from you 🙂


  12. Big Ben, Being the total technophobe that I am, I never understand a word a word of your blog, but I get that this is big and exciting. Lots of luck in your new adventure. Little T

  13. Hi Henny.
    Thanks for the hat tips! 🙂 Right back at you! It was great working with you for the last 8 months or so – I certainly learnt a lot from your experience. Thanks as well for the opportunities to get involved in everything I did while you were there at the RNIB.
    All the best for the new job at Opera! I’m sure you’ll do great. You’ll learn a lot working with Bruce, Chris and the rest of the team. Bruce and Chris should keep it “interesting” as well to say the least! 🙂
    Hopefully we’ll still see you around at conferences and Meeting Room D every now and again! 🙂 I just registered the domain for my blog as well – http://www.alteredangle.co.uk/ – nothing there yet but keep an eye on it!
    S’laters (I picked that one up from you!),

  14. Thanks people
    @andy ronksley really great to know you’ve got the site up, I’ll look forward to following that!
    @Ian lloyd any tips you have on keeping Bruce and his corrupting ways in check gratefully received…he’s already warned me that we’ll have a round of kick boxing as part of my induction! I may have to go on an intensive training course when I get to China…

    Thanks all!

  15. Watch out if you ever get interviewed by codepo8 with Bruce around…. you don’t want Bruce to do what he did to Chris a while ago. I was traumatised learning about that… It involved someone l*ck*ng someone’s n*pple.

    (no this is not a spam).

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