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The personal site of Jamie Knight, an autistic web developer, speaker and mountain biker who is never seen far from his plush sidekick Lion. View the Archive

Topics: Autism Development

"How to contribute to Open Source" sessions. An idea.

One problem with breaking into the web development industry, is that, you hit a chicken and egg situation when it comes to Experience. You need experience to land a role, but you cannot get much experience without a role. This situation is magnified if you happen to have a disability. If that disability effects social or communication skills, then frankly, its pretty much a brick wall.

Here, is my modest proposal to try and break down the barrier.

I’m thinking of running some events, a bunch of people, in a room with computers. At the start of the event I will show everyone how to do branching and Pull Requests in Github and then help people to make their first contribution to open source.

My idea is that open source is a skeleton key to experience. Do some good work, and it leads to stuff. Do something not so great and generally the feedback with be swift. Ultimately, it is fertile ground but that first step, the first inch, the first pull request. Well. That. Is. Killer.

For the first event, I would like to focus one specific group, people on the autism spectrum. This is because thats the group I know and the group I can empathise with best. But if it works, then I would like to open the doors wide. If you want to run it for a different group, then please copy the idea.

If you like this idea or if you’re an open source project and you want to take part, please email me or tweet at me. I will see what response this gets and from there; figure out what sort of space I need in order to make it happen.

Published: 19 September 2014 | Categories: , Permalink


  1. Bill · Sep 20, 03:15 pm ·

    I think it sounds like a good idea, and if you are moved to do it, you should.

    I would think finding candidates for the program would be the toughest part, unless you have those in mind.

  2. Matthew · Sep 28, 03:02 pm ·

    What a great, insightful idea! It is very focused, quite feasible to achieve in a day, but also I agree would open the door to so much more for people. I have not contributed to too many other projects yet, but I do think it’s important to contribute and keep a public collection of work and GitHub et al are a great fit for doing so. The potential for this to get people hooked and continue learning is huge.

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