By María Fernanda Aguilera Villegas

Nowadays we cannot deny that technology is an essential part of our lives. Sometimes we may take for granted our ability to make a quick Google search and get the information we want. But what happens when that information is there, but something is keeping us from efficiently getting it?

More than 1 billion people worldwide have a disability, or an impairment and they are the ones who struggle the most with today’s digital products. But that shouldn’t be that way. Someone with a disability must be able to experience the same first-rate digital experiences, services, and content as any other user without disabilities. This is the key theme of the Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD), a global event that puts the focus on digital access and inclusion for people with disabilities.

The #GlobalAccessibilityAwarenessDay takes place every year on the third Thursday of May, and, according to the official website, the purpose “is to get everyone talking, thinking and learning about digital access and inclusion”. On this day, accessibility professionals, advocates, and people with disabilities encourage everyone to think about the impact of digital accessibility (or lack thereof).

From Ottawa to Bangalore, local events are hosted, and professionals share their knowledge about digital accessibility. Sometimes, people with disabilities showcase how they use the web and digital products using assistive technologies. In other events, designers, developers, and usability professionals assist people in creating technology products, such as websites, software, or mobile apps, taking into consideration the needs of certain disabilities.

The Global Accessibility Awareness Day came to be thanks to a blog post written by Los Angeles-based web developer Joe Devon on his WordPress blog MySQLTalk. Titled “CHALLENGE: Accessibility know-how needs to go mainstream with developers. NOW.”, the blog post talked about how accessibility is low on the priority list when creating a website and how there needed to be a shift on how it was being addressed.

After seeing the post, Jennison Asuncion, an accessibility professional from Toronto, commented on Twitter that he was “all over [his] idea of a Global Accessibility Day” and contacted Joe. Together, they joined forces, and their extensive networks, to launch the event in May 2012. Since then, they have become big names in making the internet more accessible for everyone.


How to participate in GAAD 

Want to participate and raise awareness? Here are some ideas on how to do it!

  • Join a virtual event. There are plenty of events that are organized by the people behind Global Accessibility Awareness Day or other interested institutions. Check out GAAD’s Events & Activities page to search for one.
  • Look for information online regarding how to make your website or product more accessible.
  • If you are a developer or designer, take the time to use a screen-reader on a site you are working on and make sure you’re creating something which can still be used by users with a disability.
  • Get the conversation going at work, especially if you work with anything related to the digital world.
  • Follow the Minnesota IT Services example and encourage employees to perform their jobs for 15 minutes without using a mouse.
  • If your company has videos on YouTube, caption one or at least prepare a transcript. Adding captions to YouTube is easier than you think!
  • Write a blog post on digital accessibility, accessibility awareness, or inclusion.
  • Create a video demonstrating how to use some type of assistive technology.
  • Run WAVE, a web accessibility evaluation tool developed by WebAIM, on a page you have developed and see how accessible it is. Take the results and implement the suggested changes.
  • Talk about the subject on social media and amongst friends! Do not forget to add the hashtag #GlobalAccessibilityAwarenessDay to your posts.

Whichever way you decide to participate, remember that the ultimate goal is to make all websites around the worldwide net easy to access and simple to use for everyone, regardless of conditions. By joining forces, sharing, and caring, we will surely be able to achieve this goal!



Day of the Year – Global Accessibility Awareness Day

Global Accessibility Awareness Day official website

Global Accessibility Awareness Day’s Wikipedia article