Jim announced that he was retiring his website in 2016. The Digital Gap Initiative hosted the site from December 2016 to November 2018. Since November 2018, the 501(c)(3) nonprofit Knowbility has hosted Jim’s website. Jim’s archives are maintained as a community service to preserve his content for everyone’s access.

What is JimThatcher.com?

I formed JimThatcher.com as a consulting company in March 2000 when I retired from IBM after working there for 37 years. I team with experts from around the country to provide clients with the best service in the industry.

Jim Thatcher - Brief Biography

Dr. Jim Thatcher received his PhD from the University of Michigan in 1963, one of the first PhD's in Computer Science. Together with his thesis advisor, Dr. Jesse Wright, Jim then joined the Mathematical Sciences Department of IBM Research, where he stayed until 1996.

His research area was mathematical computer science, including automata theory, semantics, and data abstraction. Jim began moving away from the abstract and toward the practical when he and Dr. Wright, who is blind, started working on an "audio access system" for the IBM Personal Computer, a system for providing on-screen information to a blind user through synthesized voice.

This work culminated in the development of one of the first screen readers for DOS in 1984-85, called IBM Screen Reader. (Such access systems are now known as "screen readers"!) He later led the development of IBM Screen Reader/2, the first screen reader for a graphical user interface on the PC. Jim was intimately involved in the development of IBM Home Page Reader, a talking web browser for the blind and visually impaired.

In 1996 Dr. Thatcher joined the IBM Accessibility Center in Austin, TX, where he led the effort to include accessibility in the IBM development process. A key part of that effort was the establishment of the IBM Accessibility Guidelines specifically for use within IBM's development community.

Jim served as Vice-Chair of the Electronic and Information Technology Access Advisory Committee (EITAAC) which was empanelled by the Access Board to propose standards for Section 508; he chaired the subcommittee on software standards. Later he wrote the course on Web Accessibility for Section 508 for ITTATC, the Information Technology Technical Assistance and Training Center, which was funded in support of Section 508. The course is available here, https://jimthatcher.com/webcourse1.htm.

Dr. Thatcher 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 for his work on the screen reader for the Graphical USer Interface, 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 retired from IBM in March of 2000, becoming an independent consultant in the area of accessibility.

In 2007 Jim received the Martha Arbuckel Award for lifetime achievement from the City of Austin, Mayor’s Committee for People With Disabilities. In 2008 he received two awards from the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) – the Making a Difference Award from the Special Interest Group on Computers and Society and a lifetime achievment award from the Special Interest Group on Accessible Computing.

Jim is co-author of Web Accessibility: Web Standards and Regulatory Compliance with Michael Burkes, Christian Heilmann, Shawn Lawton Henry, Andrew Kirkpatrick, Patrick Lauke, Bruce Lawson, Bob Regan, Richard Rutter, Mark D, Urban and Cynthia Waddell, published by FriendsOfEd, San Francisco, CA, April 2006.

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