Happy Global Accessibility Awareness Day
Global Accessibility Awareness Day
Thursday, May 19, 2022, the 11th Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD)!
Global Accessibility Awareness Day takes place every year on the third Thursday of May, and is all about getting people thinking and talking about making the web accessible for those with different disabilities.
Technology is a wondrous thing. With a quick search, we can find all the information we need on anything we want. We can order dinner, research a paper, listen to a podcast. But if you happen to be blind, deaf, or impaired in some way then it’s not uncommon to find technology can be more of a burden than a boon.
Keeping technology accessible for everyone is the key theme of this day, and in an era when technology just keeps getting more and more a part of our lives, it’s never been more important.
The purpose of GAAD is to get everyone talking, thinking and learning about digital access and inclusion, and the more than One Billion people with disabilities/impairments.
The GAAD Foundation
The GAAD Foundation(external link) was launched in 2021 to mark GAAD’s 10th anniversary. Its mission is to disrupt the culture of technology and digital product development to include accessibility as a core requirement.
What is Digital Accessibility?
Every user deserves a first-rate digital experience on the web. Someone with a disability must be able to experience web-based services, content and other digital products with the same successful outcome as those without disabilities. This awareness and commitment to inclusion is the goal of Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD), a global event that shines a light on digital access and inclusion for people with disabilities.
State of Accessibility
In 2020, WebAIM(external link) analyzed one million home pages for accessibility issues and found the following:
According to WebAIM Million Report
Home Pages With At Least One WCAG 2.0 Failure
Average Number of Errors Per Home Page
Causes of Most Common Accessibility Failures (% of Home Pages)
A bar chart showing information: Low Contrast Text 86.3%; Missing Image Alt Text 66%; Empty Links 59.9%; Missing Form Input Labels 53.8%; Empty Buttons 28.7%; Missing Document Language 28%;
Population Affected By Inaccessibility
From both a civil rights and a business perspective, people with disabilities are underserved by today’s digital products.
People Worldwide Have Disabilities
People who are blind need alternative text descriptions for meaningful images and use the keyboard and not a mouse to interact with interactive elements.
People who are deaf or hard of hearing will need captioning for video presentations and visual indicators in place of audio cues.
People with motor impairments may need alternative keyboards, eye control or some other adaptive hardware to help them type and navigate on their devices.
An uncluttered screen, consistent navigation and the use of plain language would be useful for people with different learning disabilities/impairments.
Accessibility Removes Barriers and Unlocks the Possible
Here are some examples of how inclusive design and development can impact lives.
Jamie standing on stage raising right arm and holding stuffed lion with left arm
Cognitive Accessibility- Jamie Knight & Lion
two men talking while sitting at square table in large outdoor patio
James Learns About Apple’s Take on Accessibility
boy in wheelchair with laptop attached; he’s smiling and there’s a large fireplace in the background
Justin Finds a Voice Through Inclusive Technology
Rikki with pensive look and gesturing slightly with hands
Rikki Explains How Apple Accessibility Helps Her
Ways You Can Help
Attend in-person, virtual, or private events.
Attend an Event
Host your own events.
Participate in activities, initiatives, or projects.
Global Accessibility Awareness Day
History of Global Accessibility Awareness Day
This day was first observed in 2015, and interesting came about due to the publication of a blog post written by a web developer by the name of Joe Devon. The blog post, featured on mysqltalk.wordpress.com, talked about how accessibility was low on the list of important things when creating a website – and how this needed to change.
After seeing the post, Jennison Asuncion contacted Joe to talk about web accessibility. Together, they joined forces to create this day and have since become big names in making the internet more accessible for everyone.
How to Observe Global Accessibility Awareness Day
There are plenty of events, both physical and virtual, which are organized by the people behind Global Accessibility Awareness Day.
There is also plenty of information available online regarding how to make your website more accessible, and webinars to watch regarding the challenges and solutions of making your site accessible to all.
Another great way to observe it, if you are a developer or designer, is to try to navigate a site you are working on without using a mouse or trackpad. Or take the time to use a screen-reader and make sure you’re creating something which can still be used by disabled users.
Make sure to talk about the subject on social media and amongst friends, or get the conversation going at work – especially if you work in the digital sphere.
Ultimately, the goal is to make all big websites on the net easy to access and simple to use. And with days like this in your calendar, that goal could be achieved sooner than we think!