The Second Edition of Our “Learn User Support” Workshop Is Open for Signups

Posted by download in Software on 10-08-2019

Back in January, we partnered with Support Driven and launched the first version of the Learn User Support Workshop, which helps women in the Asia-Pacific region develop the skills they need to succeed in a technical support role. We had 24 students enrolled in our first cohort.

Today, we’re happy to share that the next edition of the Learn User Support Workshop will launch on August 19, 2019. The course is entirely web-based — there’s no need to travel anywhere to attend — and completely free. So if you identify as a woman, are based in the Asia-Pacific region, and are serious about a career in user support, this might be a perfect match for you.

Building a better, bigger workshop

The strong positive feedback we received from our students earlier this year, as well as the increasingly long waitlist, inspired us to improve the course content and to design it to accommodate more learners. 

What topics will we cover? As a participant, expect to learn how to…

  • Develop your own support philosophy.
  • Build successful troubleshooting strategies.
  • Manage challenging interactions.
  • Implement productivity tools.
  • Optimize your approach to applying and interviewing for jobs in support.

This six-module course will start on August 19 and will run through September 29. We will publish a new module every Monday, and each learner will have one week to complete it. We’ll include lots of hands-on work, and by the end of the course, each participant will also develop a résumé and portfolio site on WordPress that they can then share with potential employers.

Meet your friendly organizers

As for your teachers, the people who lead this workshop are Automattic Happiness Engineers — master communicators with deep, wide-ranging experience in distributed technical support. 

Automattic, which offers the workshop, is a fully-distributed company — there are more than 930 full-time Automatticians spread across 70 countries and speaking 88 languages. We serve users from every corner of the world via products like WordPress.com, Jetpack, and WooCommerce, among others

As people who believe in the benefits of distributed work, we love helping remote professionals level up their skills. Our commitment to Diversity & Inclusion leads us to look for ways to make the tech sector more representative of the wide and varied world it serves. As a result, this virtual workshop will equip Asia-Pacific-based women who are — or want to become — support professionals with skills that are specifically tailored to the demands of remote work.  

Are you ready to sign up? Just click below:

SIGN UP NOW!

We have 20 slots for this cohort on a first come, first serve basis.

We will get in touch with you via email if you are selected for the course. If you know anyone who might be a good fit, feel free to share this post with them!

People of WordPress: Amanda Rush

Posted by download in Software on 09-08-2019

You’ve probably heard that WordPress is open source software, and may know that it’s created and run by volunteers. WordPress enthusiasts share many examples of how WordPress changed people’s lives for the better. This monthly series shares some of those lesser-known, amazing stories.

Meet Amanda Rush from Augusta, Georgia, USA.

Amanda Rush is a WordPress advocate with a visual disability. She first started using computers in 1985, which enabled her to turn in homework to her sighted teachers. Screen reader technology for Windows was in its infancy then, so she worked in DOS almost exclusively.

After graduating high school, Amanda went to college to study computer science, programming with DOS-based tools since compilers for Windows were still inaccessible. As part of her computer science course of study, she learned HTML which began her career in web development.

How Amanda got started with WordPress

Amanda began maintaining a personal website, and eventually began publishing her own content using LiveJournal. However, controlling the way the page around her content looked was hard, and she soon outgrew the hosted solution.

So in 2005, Amanda bought customerservant.com, set up a very simple CMS for blogging, and started publishing there. She accepted the lack of design and content, and lack of easy customization because she wasn’t willing to code her own solution. Nor did she want to move to another hosted solution, as she liked being able to customize her own site, as well as publish content.

Hebrew dates led her to WordPress

At some point, Amanda was looking for an easy way to display the Hebrew dates alongside the Gregorian dates on her blog entries. Unfortunately, the blogging software she was using at the time, did not offer customization options at that level. She decided to research alternative solutions and came across a WordPress plugin that did just that. 

The fact that WordPress would not keep her locked into a visual editor, used themes to customize styling, and offered ways to mark up content, immediately appealed to Amanda. She decided to give it a go.

Accessibility caused her to dive deeper

When the software Amanda used at work became completely inaccessible, she started learning about WordPress. While she was learning about this new software, Web 2.0 was introduced. The lack of support for it in the screen reader she used meant that WordPress administration was completely inaccessible. To get anything done, Amanda needed to learn to find her way in WordPress’ file structure.

Eventually Amanda started working as an independent contractor for the largest screen reader developer in the market, Freedom Scientific. She worked from home every day and hacked on WordPress after hours.

Unfortunately Amanda hit a rough patch when her job at Freedom Scientific ended. Using her savings she undertook further studies for various Cisco and Red Hat certifications, only to discover that the required testing for these certifications were completely inaccessible. She could study all she wanted, but wasn’t able to receive grades to pass the courses.

She lost her financial aid, her health took a turn for the worse, she was diagnosed with Lupus, and lost her apartment. Amanda relocated to Augusta where she had supportive friends who offered her a couch and a roof over her head.

But Amanda refused to give up

Amanda continued to hack WordPress through all of this. It was the only stable part of her life. She wanted to help make WordPress accessible for people with disabilities, and in 2012 joined the  WordPress Accessibility Team. Shortly after that, she finally got her own place to live, and started thinking about what she was going to do with the rest of her working life.

Listening to podcasts led her to take part in WordSesh, which was delivered completely online and enabled Amanda to participate without needing to travel. She began to interact with WordPress people on Twitter, and continued to contribute to the community as part of the WordPress Accessibility Team. Things had finally started to pick up.

Starting her own business

In 2014, Amanda officially launched her own business, Customer Servant Consultancy. Since WordPress is open source, and becoming increasingly accessible, Amanda could modify WordPress to build whatever she wanted and not be at the mercy of web and application developers who know nothing about accessibility. And if she got stuck, she could tap into the community and its resources.

Improving her circumstances and becoming more self-sufficient means Amanda was able to take back some control over her life in general. She was able to gain independence and create her own business despite being part of the blind community, which has an 80% unemployment rate. 

In her own words:

We’re still fighting discrimination in the workplace, and we’re still fighting for equal access when it comes to the technology we use to do our jobs. But the beauty of WordPress and its community is that we can create opportunities for ourselves.

I urge my fellow blind community members to join me inside this wonderful thing called WordPress. Because it will change your lives if you let it.

Amanda Rush, entrepreneur

This post is based on an article originally published on HeroPress.com, a community initiative created by Topher DeRosia. HeroPress highlights people in the WordPress community who have overcome barriers and whose stories would otherwise go unheard.

Meet more WordPress community members over at HeroPress.com!

The Month in WordPress: July 2019

Posted by download in Software on 01-08-2019

This month has been characterized by exciting plans and big announcements – read on to find out what they are and what it all means for the future of the WordPress project.


WordCamp Asia Announced

The inaugural WordCamp Asia will be in Bangkok, Thailand, on February 21-23, 2020. This will be the first regional WordCamp in Asia and it comes after many years of discussions and planning. You can find more information about the event on their website and subscribe to stay up to date with the latest information.

This is the latest flagship event in the WordCamp program, following WordCamps Europe and US. Tickets are now on sale and the call for speakers is open. Want to get involved in WordCamp Asia? Keep an eye out for volunteer applications, or buy a micro sponsor ticket. You can also join the #wcasia channel in the Making WordPress Slack group for updates.

WordCamp US Planning Continues

The WordCamp US organizing team is excited to announce some new additions to this year’s WCUS in St. Louis, Missouri, on November 1-3, 2019. The first is that there will be an onsite KidsCamp: child-friendly lessons that introduce your young one(s) to the wonderful world of WordPress.  You can register your child for KidsCamp here. In addition, free, onsite childcare will be provided at this year’s event – you can sign up here.

Looking for further ways to get involved? The call for volunteers is now open. For more information on WordCamp US, please visit the event website.

Exploring Updates to the WordPress User & Developer Survey

To improve the annual WordPress User & Developer Survey, a call has been made for updates and additional questions that can help us all better understand how people use WordPress.

To improve the survey, contributor teams are suggesting topics and information that should be gathered to inform contributor work in 2020. Please add your feedback to the post.

Gutenberg Usability Testing Continues

Usability tests for Gutenberg continued through June 2019, and insights from three recent videos were published last month. This month’s test was similar to WordCamp Europe’s usability tests, and you can read more about those in the part one and part two posts. Please help by watching these videos and sharing your observations as comments on the relevant post.

If you want to help with usability testing, you can also join the #research channel in the Making WordPress Slack group, or you can write a test script that can be usability tested for Gutenberg.


Further Reading:

Have a story that we should include in the next “Month in WordPress” post? Please submit it here.