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My name is Ty Littlefield. I am a totally blind software developer, aspiring musician, audio engineer and accessibility advocate.
I was born blind and have always had a love for learning and understanding how things work. For a long time, my tinkering was limited to taking everything apart I could find and attempting to put it all back together again. Because my family didn’t have much money, and my grandparents had an entire zoo worth of grandchildren, one of my first projects and hobbies was to help build bikes for everyone. I would use parts that had been broken or found at yard sales or junk yards and build fully working bikes for all of us to ride around and play on.
Because I eventually moved to a city (where tools and storage were limited for such work), I began learning programming. I started writing my first programs when I was about 12. I learned a flavor of BASIC on an old note-taker device made for the blind. Within about 36 hours of no sleep, I had a fully functioning two-player game, and have loved programming since that point.
I graduated from Wentworth Institute of Technology located in Boston, Massachusetts with a B.S in computer science and started my first job working at Vispero, where I was able to work on the screen-reader that I have used since my very first computer.
I have advocated for accessibility and helped develop solutions since then. I’ve worked closely with companies like Lyft, Instacart and various others to report and diagnose accessibility issues, as well as various developers wishing to make their websites and applications more accessible. I have contributed in the open source world to projects like Toaststunt, which is a server for MOO and widely used to build online multi-player text games, Speakup, which is a screen-reader for the Linux terminal and many others.
One of my most notable projects was also in the accessibility realm; I built CVStats, which is an accessible way for blind and visually impaired people to track and understand COVID-19 statistics. At the beginning of the pandemic, many resources existed, but they were mostly in graphic form, or hard to navigate for an assistive technology user. CVStats was (and still is) aimed at helping make this data easier to find, read and understand by presenting it in a tabular format. It received quite a lot of news coverage and still runs and is heavily used today.
Music has always been an amazing journey for me. It is one of the best remedies to my struggles with mental health. Here too, unfortunately there are accessibility barriers depending on what you wish to do. It is my hope to work with companies to help educate and move accessibility forward for products where possible and make music creation more accessible and enjoyable for all.