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Designer Lauded For Guidance in 'accessible' Web Sites

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Medical communications expert Alicia Lane-Outlaw has been recognized in part for her expertise in making Web sites accessible to people with disabilities as well as mobile phone users.

Lane-Outlaw, 34, deaf since the age of 18 months and president of the Minnesota Association of Deaf Citizens, has been honored with a 2010 "40 Under Forty" award from the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal. The award reception on March 25 recognizes her community impact as well as her achievements as creative director of Minneapolis medical marketing firm AllOut Marketing Inc., where she has helped launch more than 250 medical products. Her dual roles have developed Lane-Outlaw into a leading authority in the emerging field of "accessible" technology, and she frequently consults and presents on the topic.

With a degree in biology and a minor in visual art from Lenoir-Rhyne University in North Carolina, Lane-Outlaw designed interactive medical teaching tools for the University of Minnesota's Biomedical Graphic Communications Department before joining AllOut Marketing in 1997.

"The fact that Alicia has the scientific knowledge, the design perspective, and technology know-how in one brain is very unusual," says Ruth Lane, president and CEO of AllOut Marketing. "She is an exceptional professional, an active community leader and mentor."

Lane-Outlaw's testimony before the 2009 Minnesota legislature was instrumental in passing a law that requires state agency Web sites to meet "accessibility" standards for people with vision, hearing, or other disabilities—an impetus that could drive business practice as a growing number of states adopt similar laws.

"These laws are like physical 'curb cuts' originally created for people in wheel chairs, but helpful to bike riders and parents with baby strollers," says Lane-Outlaw. "New standards for the Web help smartphone users, too. Thanks to new technologies and resources, an accessible site doesn't have to be difficult or costly, and can improve an organization's reach."

As president of the Minnesota Association of Deaf Citizens, Lane-Outlaw invests up to 40 hours a month in communication and advocacy work. She has improved collaboration among the 10 percent of Minnesotans who are deaf through online/social media and through leadership of the longest-running deaf community news and events Web site. She helped launch a new deaf charter school in St. Paul by spearheading its marketing, and has advocated for deaf citizens in healthcare and legal situations to have sign interpreters when needed.

"As a result of Alicia's work, the Twin Cities [deaf community] has one of the best-organized networks for communication," says Mary Hartnett, executive director of the Commission of Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard of Hearing Minnesotans. "She works tirelessly to improve the lives of people who are deaf and hard-of-hearing."

"My goal is to galvanize Minnesota's deaf community, to forge a stronger voice on issues important to us," says Lane-Outlaw, who communicates with AllOut Marketing colleagues and clients using written English and American Sign Language interpreters. "Those like me—who see ourselves as a linguistic minority and embrace the rich culture within the deaf community—view the word 'deaf' as a positive label. We see our language and culture as equally valid."


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