Today I want to write about the community that brought us all together. The community that got this very website on your radar. The community that got many of us spending lunch breaks, evenings and weekends learning about the Microsoft Data Platform at free local events.
This community has had various organizations steering its direction through the years, including SQLSaturday, PASS, and more recently the Azure Data Community. These organizations may operate within this community and have a large overlap of membership, but they do not represent the community. The community is you who are reading this.
On Twitter, we call ourselves #SQLFamily. Families love each other, they disagree, they work together, they argue, they spend a lot of time together and sometimes get tired of each other, but we still consider ourselves a family. The best possible measure of this data platform community is how we go out of our way to help others, personally and professionally. That’s what it means to be a family.
As some of you may know, I am a founding member of the Azure Data Community advisory board. The advisory board belongs to you, the community. Our job is to advise Microsoft. We do not work for Microsoft. We work for #SQLFamily. We work for you.
Being founding members is a lot of work because we have to decide the rules, write the policies, and figure out how best to do the thing we’re tasked to do. Our job is to advise Microsoft on how best to serve the data platform community.
We take care of all members of our family. We make sure they have what they need, and don’t just assume they’ll “figure it out.” It’s our responsibility to make sure that everyone gets the most out of learning about all things data.
With that in mind, I’m working with various people like Meagan Longoria (blog | Twitter) and Tracy Boggiano (blog | Twitter) on ways to make our community content more accessible. While the focus will be on presentations, we’ll give broader context so that it can be applied generally. The goal here is to provide the knowledge and tools to our community so that accessibility is built into our presentations from the start. This is something we should all be doing, all the time.
It is our responsibility as community leaders to be as inclusive as we can. Screen readers should be able to read our slides. Our videos should have human-reviewed captions. In-person events should have ramps for wheelchair accessibility, including the stage. Neurodiversity is another factor we have to consider, as is colour-blindness. This is over and above the gender and racial bias in our industry. This family is made up of many different types of people, and we have to make the effort to include them as much as we can.
Keep an eye out for this information as it becomes available. You’ll find some of it here on this blog, but it will lean heavily on the work Meagan, Tracy, and others have already put in. Microsoft will be linking to it, bringing it to the attention of you, the community.
And please feel free to contribute. Help me raise the voices of people who have already done this work — as we ourselves improve — and give them the credit they deserve. We need to lead by example. This is about making our community better, empowered by Microsoft.