The Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) is a day dedicated to celebrating existing digital accessibility efforts, and also fostering conversations on the importance of inclusion to inspire further action amongst designers, developers, and tech leaders.
GAAD, celebrated globally on May 16 this year. It is held annually on the third Thursday of May. 2019 will mark the eighth year of its kind.
This may come as a surprise, but Global Accessibility Awareness Day was inspired by a single blog post written by Los Angeles-based web developer, Joe Devon, back in 2011.
The post, titled "CHALLENGE: Accessibility know-how needs to go mainstream with developers. NOW," was a bold call to action in which Devon brought attention to the lack of readily available information about online accessibility.
"Let's work together and fix this oversight in our knowledge. As a community, we can work together to change the world," Devon wrote before suggesting a yearly Global Accessibility Awareness Day. He hoped web developers could set aside this one day to work towards bridging the existing gaps in accessible technology and digital design.
After digital accessibility professional and GAAD co-founder Jennison Asuncion stumbled upon the blog post on Twitter, he reportedly reached out to Devon and the two worked together to bring the day to life. In a 2014 video, Asuncion described the GAAD as "that single day to think about, to learn about, and to experience digital accessibility."
Accessibility refers to the ability of people with disabilities to have access to and benefit from an entity or system. Digital Accessibility refers to the ability of users with disabilities to effectively utilize information technology (IT) systems including web sites, mobile or web based applications, software and hardware. Digital Accessibility is generally concerned with ensuring that IT systems are designed in such a way that they interact appropriately with assistive technologies. Extensive accessibility legislation is present in most of the major domestic markets including the United States, Canada, the European Union, Australia and Japan. Generally, the relevant portions of accessibility legislation require that organizations make best efforts in order to ensure that physical and electronic business areas can be used by individuals with disabilities.
Individuals with disabilities are people who have sensory, physical, or cognitive impairments that substantially limit their ability to perform one or more major life activities. The degree of disability may range from mild to moderate to severe or profound. A person may also have multiple disabilities, or they may have "hidden" disabilities and show no outward sign that a disabling condition exists.
In some cases, a person's disability can affect his or her use of ICT. Below are a few examples of barriers for persons with disabilities:
Visit I-MACX Accessibility Lab website for more information on disability demographics, assistive technology, guidelines & laws pertaining to digital accessibility.
To commemorate 8th GAAD, interested people can take this fun filled activity to have a first hand experience of digital accessibility. Overall activity can take about 1 hour.
Read Simple checks to identify accessibility issues on your website for a comprehensive checklist of basic components to make sure your website is usable by people with disabilities.
Perform above checks on https://www.washington.edu/accesscomputing/AU/before.html
Verify your findings with https://www.washington.edu/accesscomputing/AU/issues.html
Finally check out https://www.washington.edu/accesscomputing/AU/after.html for accessibility fixes.