I am not a member of OTW (tl;dr), but I support some of its goals and I have done some work for it. I made the logo, as it goes. Don’t hate!
Lots of the work I’ve done for OTW has been, as well as it being absorbing, because I can work for OTW. I’ve spent untold hours hammering away at design problems (the memorable 26 day code freeze I spent recoding by hand the entire /view), and then long months doing nothing at all, and my contributions have been valued in a way that I have never experienced elsewhere.
I can’t work a job, but OTW, while in some ways professionalised, makes it possible for me to contribute in my own way. I appreciate its commitment to diversity in these practical ways: I don’t have to subscribe to every goal of OTW to participate in and benefit from some of its goals; I don’t have to be on a committee and go to meetings to do valuable, interesting work that moves us forward. It’s an organisation that can feel frustrating and bureaucratic, but that ultimately has welcomed me, in
all my erratic weirdnesses.
Arguing, learning, teaching, and sometimes filibustering (htmlibustering?) on accessibility at AO3 has given me, through finding ways through procedural barriers, a theory of accessibility that I apply in all my design work. Sometimes it has made me crazy. Actually often it has made me crazy. I can’t negotiate with people or navigate complex group dynamics, so committee-based decision making is not a process I can engage with successfully. But because of the active efforts of people like Zooey Glass (my chair), Francesca Coppa and Astolat, who set up quiet and single-focus areas for me to work in, set aside time to develop and code one-to-one, and continually, forcefully valued my ideas, I have made things! I have built things! Some of them are quite good! This is the complete opposite of every interaction I have had with any other organisation or institution, so I know how extraordinary it is. It is walking the walk of accessibility. It is the quotidian work of inclusion.
By no means do I get my own way all the time (or even most of the time) and I still find a lot of working with OTW unbearable, maddening, and impossible, but that’s life! The important thing is that with OTW I do believe, on a general level, that the water will somehow trickle down the mountain. There is a way through. Someone is listening. It’s worth joining in.