In this presentation, we discuss the challenges facing neurodivergent individuals when contributing to open source, brainstorm solutions to these challenges, and hope to come together as a community to create an open source guide as a reference for other OSS communities to use to be more inclusive of those that are neurodiverse and wanting to contribute to an OSS project.
As a group, we will discuss and deepen our conversation on these points, and after the session, I [Kiran] will create a GitHub repository in which interested participants can contribute their insights and continue this discussion so that Kiran can bring these learnings back to foundations such as The Linux Foundation, the Kubernetes community, and the CNCF with the hopes that these communities will use the information gleaned from the presentation and our learning activities to better improve their own community’s OSS contribution pathways for neurodiverse individuals.
Challenges Neurodiverse People Face in OSS
Participants will brainstorm potential solutions to the challenges presented. Are they for improving OSS contribution pathways as a whole, or are they perhaps focused towards improving OSS hiring pathways at smaller tech startups?
I got started contributing to tech originally as a journalist, and I did PR for a queer/trans centric tech startup. I wrote for Model View Media, and then started ghostwriting. I eventually got a job, where I was for four years. I’m currently job seeking, which is a challenge as an ND person. I am an active member of the Kubernetes community, and do a lot of work there in the contributor experience SIG and with diversity & inclusivity at KCCNC events/content creation for K8s contributor SIG/community.
Note: Notes compiled from notetaker during presentation will also be a part of the guide Guide will be shared with leaders in the Kubernetes CNCF, and Cloud Foundry communities as a starting point for continued discussion and improvement of OSS contribution in these particular OSS communities, and can be shared with participant’s organizations also as a resource!
Smashing the Barriers to OSS Contribution
Smashing the Barriers to OSS
Facilitator: Kiran “Rin” Oliver [@kiran_oliver, GitHub @celanthe, Pronouns:
Currently job seeking!
About This Session
● The goal of this session is to identify challenges and pain points that neurodiverse people experience
when contributing to OSS, and to brainstorm solutions to these challenges, which will then be compiled
into a guide/ learning resource for the OSS community as a whole.
● We will be participating in a group activity to help facilitate conversation
● No question or contribution to the discussion is too small! If you do not feel comfortable sharing, that’s
● Make space for people of all experiences. Be kind.
[Image description: Baby wolf howling in field of green grass and purple flowers. Text reads: “Please feel free to introduce
yourself. (Smiley face) ]
What is neurodiversity?
● Neurodiversity is an umbrella term for the following: Autism, ADD/ADHD,
Tourette’s, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, specific speech conditions, and sensory
Now, on to the fun!
● Break out into pairs or groups of three
● Discuss the challenges you have faced when contributing to OSS as a neurodiverse individual, if you identify as such, or
the challenges you have faced contributing to OSS even as someone who is neurotypical. Participants will put each item
on a separate sticky note.
● I ask that neurotypical participants also add on their sticky notes how their challenge[s] would have been made more
difficult if they were neurodiverse. *You do not have to disclose your neurodiversity status if you don’t feel comfortable
● Participants will then put the sticky notes on a wall, and I will then organise the questions on the sticky notes into related clusters
and ask participants to identify any themes that are present. These themes will then be grouped.
● Let’s work together to further identify the themes, if there are any, that are present from our sticky
● What insights do you have after looking at the grouped notes?
[image description: Man in sunglasses and a white t-shirt sprinkling seasoning on food] Twitter: @kiran_oliver
Digging Deeper: Finding Solutions
● Brainstorm: What are some potential solutions to the challenges presented on our sticky notes? How
do these solutions differ based on scope?
Twitter: @kiran_oliverImage description: Emma Watson as Hermione Granger in Harry Potter saying, “I checked this out weeks ago for a
bit of light reading.”
What We’ve Learned
● Now that we’ve identified these issues, let’s gather all of the information.
● Explore how themes on the chart intersect with one another, and what we’ve learned from these
Image description -- A red oval in the center of a whiteboard, with 8 various rectangles
surrounding it. Each rectangle has an arrow pointingback towards the red oval. A hand
holding a marker is in the right hand corner.
My Experience in OSS as a Neurodiverse Person
[Image description: L: Baby with brown hair and a green and white shirt clenching fist triumphantly. Text reads: “YESSS! I love
story time!” R: MozFest Neurodiversity Space Logo]
Wrap Up & Next Steps
● Are you interested in participating in the creation of an open source GitHub Repository to create a
guide detailing what we have learned in this session? Please contact me on Twitter @kiran_oliver or on
Thank you so much for coming to my presentation! I truly appreciate it!
Twitter: @kiran_oliverImage description: Rainbow text on tan background saying ‘Thank
you!” with Pusheenthe cat (a large, cutely stylised gray cat)