We caught up with Ryan Praeuner, one of our accessibility test engineers. He’s a top-notch disability advocate and also very passionate about the environment. We wanted to link accessibility and sustainability this Earth Day, so we sought out our resident expert.
Accessibility Partners: How would you describe your role at Accessibility Partners?
Ryan Praeuner: I’m very technical. I love that I get to do a lot of cool stuff every day. I test websites, software, hardware, and even mobile applications to help promote access by people with disabilities, starting with our own staff.
AP: Can you tell me a bit about your background with computers? How’d you go into this field?
RP: I always loved messing around with the computer as a kid and had to show my parents how to use it (still have to do that!). As I got older, I decided that I wanted to build my own computer, and it was successful. I had numerous friends that also wanted me to build computers, so I got them to pay me for something I loved doing. University of Nebraska-Lincoln offered Computer Engineering, and it all went into motion.
After I graduated, I saw that Accessibility Partners was hiring, so I did some reading up on accessibility. I was hooked. This is a super important topic. I applied for the job and the rest is history.
AP: Let’s move out of the office. Tell me about some of the trips you’ve taken outdoors and other adventures.
RP: Last summer, I hiked the Grand Canyon rim to rim in four days. That was a tremendous experience. I visited Estes Park, Colorado in 2015. A few years back, I hiked Lake Superior, and checked out Yosemite. This summer is really exciting: my siblings and I are going on a weeklong trip to Washington’s Mt. Baker-Snoqualmine National Forest. I’m eagerly planning to do a big loop hike and see as much of the scenery as we can.
AP: Sounds like you have plenty of local adventures, as a seasoned runner.
RP: Running outside is just awesome! The more nature the better. If I could be running on a trail out in the middle of nowhere, I would be there in a heartbeat.
AP: Would you label yourself an environmental advocate?
RP: Sure! Everyone should want to help the environment in some way.
AP: What does Earth Day mean to you?
RP: On Earth Day, I believe we should take some time out to think about what you have been doing to affect the environment, whether positively or negatively. We should appreciate we have, and simultaneously think about what needs to be done to protect it.
AP: If you had one wish to change the planet, what would you pick?
RP: The fossil fuels is an immediate and huge issue. I would wish for full renewable energy use. Can we holler at Elon Musk for some free Teslas?
AP: How do you practice environmentalism in your everyday life?
RP: My car gets good gas mileage, and I’ve switched to light bulbs that are energy efficient. I have also gone paperless with bills and other documents when possible, and of course never littering. If everyone tried a few of these, it’d make a huge impact.
AP: What are you most passionate about now with respect to conservation?
RP: I’m avid about marine wildlife and their environments. I’m a big advocate for ending the seal hunt. I’m also super interested in the efforts to stop poaching and advanced efforts to save rhinos and elephants from the ivory trade.
AP: Do you see a bridge between environmentalism and accessibility?
RP: I think accessibility and environmentalism have a lot in common. Most people, myself included, have a personal connection to someone with a disability. We like to look out for our loved ones, and make sure they have a positive future that promotes their health and inclusion.
Accessibility and environmentalism are bonded because the help us all. You don’t need a disability to benefit from accessibility, nor do you have to live in a forest to be a tree hugger.