Did you know there is a special day each year designated to recognize the importance of digital accessibility for people of ALL abilities? Each year since 2011, the third Thursday in May is spotlighted as Global Accessibility Awareness Day. Its co-founders wanted to carve out a day on the calendar every year to “get everyone talking, thinking, and learning about digital access and inclusion”.
Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) came about in a truly organic way, spurred by two professionals in the technology industry who dedicate their professional lives to digital accessibility. Joe Devon is a founding partner at Diamond, an inclusive digital agency specializing in scalable, accessible, and high-performance web and mobile applications. In November 2011, Joe posted a piece to his former blog in which he encouraged fellow developers to focus more deeply on the importance of website accessibility and the mechanics of making it a reality.
Most remarkably, he made a call in that post for others in the developer community to join him in starting a Global Accessibility Awareness Day. A flashback in time, you can read Joe’s original post here. Joe later tweeted a link to his blog post, which captured the attention of Jennison Asuncion, an accessibility advocate and professional. Asuncion currently is Head of Accessibility (A11y) Engineering Evangelism at LinkedIn.
When Jennison came across this blog post and Joe’s inspiring message, he knew he wanted to join forces with him in spearheading the first GAAD. It was time to draw more attention to the digital accessibility needs of the more than one billion people worldwide living with disabilities and impairments. Thus, he became a co-founder of Global Accessibility Awareness Day along with Joe.
People with common disabilities and impairments including visual, hearing, motor, and cognitive differences may not be able to fully utilize websites that aren’t designed for optimal accessibility. The founders and organizers of GAAD say it best, “Accessibility Removes Barriers and Unlocks the Possible”. Web developers and programmers focused on digital accessibility ensure a range of concerns are addressed on behalf of those with various disabilities. These may include:
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 are useful for people with different learning disabilities/impairments.
How Can I Get Involved in Global Accessibility Awareness Day?
Take a look at the GAAD website where you’ll find suggestions for how you can participate and recognize the importance of digital accessibility. There also are links to event information, accessibility resources, and ways to support GAAD on your social networks. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there likely are less in-person events this year. Deque Systems, Inc., a company dedicated to digital equality, also offers a great range of information regarding ways to get involved and inspired by GAAD’s mission.
Time Timer proudly provides Intuitive Assistive Technology Tools
Time Timer believes in creating products that truly help people of all ages and abilities to conquer time – in the classroom, home, and workplace. While managing and conquering time can be a challenge for people of all abilities, Time Timer is dedicated to providing intuitive and innovative solutions that make a real difference for those who need it.
We encourage you to check out Time Timer’s recent blog post dedicated to National Assistive Technology Awareness Day (March 27). According to a declaration established by the United States Congress in March 2019, assistive technology (AT) is “any item, piece of equipment, or product system that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of people with disabilities and older adults.”
It is important for all of us to foster a sense of inclusion throughout our communities, which ultimately enriches life for everyone. We all need each other, and we all need a little help with something in our lives. So, it’s up to each of us to ensure everyone has what they need to live their life to the fullest, no matter their perceived limitation or ability. Time Timer loves being a part of that philosophy!