At the age of 38, while supporting two young kids, his world went dark - he lost all his vision, leaving him legally blind. From picking out what clothes to wear in the morning to pouring a hot cup of tea, everyday life would never be the same. Nevertheless, through the wonders of technology and the extraordinary help of his loving family, Rocco persevered and adapted to his new reality.
We first met Rocco at the Microsoft Disability Hackathon (Hack4Good) in 2018. He is one of the key influences for why Humanitix went down the path of improving accessibility.
For those unfamiliar, a hackathon is an event held over several days where teams build a product/feature at an exhilarating speed. At the end of the sprint, teams are then judged on the result of their snappy work. Humanitix went into Hack4Good with little direction. As a young tech charity run by a handful of volunteers at the time, the world was our oyster, and Humanitix could be anything.
By chance, we met Rocco, who was born with perfect vision but had become blind by the time we had crossed paths. He spoke to us about the frustration of attending events as a person with visual impairment. From purchasing tickets, checking in at the gate to not knowing whether a venue would support his needs, the whole process was a shambles. Rocco, like many other patrons with accessibility requirements, had just about given up attending live events, due to the overwhelming uncertainty and stresses involved. Through listening to Rocco's insights, we built an accessibility tool into the Humanitix platform to encourage event hosts to add essential information that would make the event enjoyable and inclusive for everyone. This accessibility feature won Humanitix the Hackathon.
We were delighted to learn that Rocco recently started social media pages to demonstrate to the world how he adapts to everyday situations with no eyesight, and show how he lives an active and fulfilling life. Check out his Facebook page and Instagram account for some amazing insight and wholesome content!
Thanks to inspiring advocates like ‘Blind Guy’ Rocco, Humanitix was able to create the world's most accessible event ticketing platform. We worked with partner organisations like Vision Australia, the Disability Advocacy Resource Unit, the Australian Network on Disability and Guide Dogs NSW/ACT, to ensure that accessibility requirements have been catered for throughout all touchpoints of event hosts’ and attendees’ journeys with Humanitix. All elements and pages across the front and back ends of the Humanitix platform can be read easily by screenreaders. Moreover, our mobile check-in app is fully compatible with mobile screen readers. This is why leading accessibility organisations like Knowbility has endorsed us and even moved over all their events to our platform!
However, accessibility is a journey and we’re far from perfect - we will continue to show up for both attendees and event hosts, so that we can make the world a more inviting and inclusive world for all. Thank you Rocco, for starting our journey towards creating the most accessible ticketing platform. Your story continuously drives us to do better and ensure everyone can book and set up events on Humanitix, regardless of their different abilities.
Rafe Skidmore is a designer and writer from Sydney, Australia. He also works at Humanitix as a Gnocchi-Making Extraordinaire in Residence.