Global Accessibility Awareness Day

Raising awareness of digital accessibility and inclusion on Global Accessibility Awareness Day

Today – 19th May is Global Accessibility Awareness Day. This post is to raise the profile of this awareness day, while also raising awareness of the need for accessibility and allowing others to share their experiences of accessibility. 

What is Global Accessibility Awareness Day?

Global Accessibility Awareness Day is also known as GAAD happens every year on the third Thursday of May. GAAD aims to get everyone talking, thinking and learning about digital access/inclusion and the people with different disabilities. The idea of GAAD started with a single blog post written by a Los Angeles based web developer Joe Devon, this blog post then was accidentally discovered by an accessibility professional, they joined forces and Global Accessibility Awareness Day was born and is now on its 11th Year.

Why Accessibility is important 

Global Accessibility Awareness Day works to promote digital accessibility, access and inclusion worldwide. They define digital accessibility as the need for top quality digital experiences for all internet users as 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.

There are 1 billion disabled people worldwide with the most common disabilities being Blind/Visually impaired, people who are deaf or hard of hearing, motor impairment, and cognitive impairment or learning disability. 

The digital access needs of someone with a disability can vary such as having websites that are compatible with screen readers, eye control and other adaptive hardware. While there also is the need for captions, alternative text descriptions for images, visual indicators to replace audio, the use of low contrast text and even the use of uncluttered screens, plain language and consistent navigation. 

While digital accessibility and inclusion are improving, and organisations are starting to take notice there is still a way to go. Even though there are 1 billion disabled people worldwide, still almost 100 percent of the 1 million home pages tested under the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) had at least one failure. 

A breakdown of the most common accessibility failures on home pages are:

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%

While my accessibility needs are mainly psychical and the barriers I have faced out in society. There are still many disabled people that have digital access needs and experience inaccessible websites, this is therefore not promoting inclusion and preventing disabled people from being able to shop online or carry out tasks such as online/mobile banking.

I have personally experienced inaccessible websites and digital products such as not being able to reach the screen in a wheelchair, also websites that are too cluttered, missing links and websites that cause too much fatigue and difficulty with dexterity due to pop-ups

While digital access and inclusion are vital and the fact that Global Accessibility Awareness Day is focused on it, I think this day should be used to promote and get people to discuss, think and learn about all aspects of accessibility for all disabilities. It should also be talked about every day, not just on specific days a year. Education should also highlight that accessibility is varied; it can be digital access, being able to get into shops and buildings with working lifts and ramps, having transport that is fully accessible, employers and workplaces that are accessible, having enough disabled toilets and changing places. Accessibility can also be having events streamed online that are fully accessible, it also could also be organisations having more accessible and inclusive means of contact.

These are just some examples of how our society can become more accessible for all disabled people, but accessibility is very much individual and can be different for every disabled person. 

It would be great to hear all your experiences of digital accessibility as well as other aspects of accessibility in society, regardless of if this is a good or bad experience. 

What do you think Accessibility and inclusion should look like? 

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Sophia Davis


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