Global Accessibility Awareness Day (also known as GAAD) is an annual celebration of digital inclusion. It is a day upon which we acknowledge the importance of digital accessibility and consider how we, as individuals, can make the digital world a more accessible place.
Conceived by Joe Devon in a 2011 blog post, the idea of a global day to celebrate digital accessibility intrigued Toronto-based accessibility professional Jennison Asuncion. After spotting Joe’s tweet promoting the post, Jennison reached out to Joe, and they joined forces to create an annual event. The first GAAD was held on the third Thursday of May in 2012. Nine years later, TPGi celebrated with a live panel of accessibility experts who discussed the current and future state of digital accessibility. See below for a short snippet from our recording, but you can also view the entire video at your leisure.
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GAAD is just one of hundreds of awareness days for a variety of illnesses and conditions. Whole months are devoted to awareness about diseases like Alzheimer’s, heart disease, diabetes, and depression; there are also many weeks and specific days upon which we raise awareness of other physical and mental disabilities.
Converting awareness to action
While these awareness days are helpful to educate people about numerous illnesses and conditions, if you take such days at face value, they remain underutilized. Many are most beneficial when used as a reminder for individuals to take action. Whether that action is to get a mammogram, colon cancer screening, a dermatology skin cancer check, or any number of preventive measures, the value is in the act it (hopefully) provokes.
TPGi celebrates Global Accessibility Awareness Day because we believe awareness and education foment action for greater accessibility. For individuals without disabilities, navigating the digital world is generally pretty easy. Users with no vision, mobility, cognitive, hearing, or other issues will not usually run into barriers that prevent them from completing a task online — unless the site has a particularly poor design.
For people with disabilities, however, the digital world is fraught with endless frustrations. As more people learn about these challenges and empathize with the individuals who encounter them, the more the voices of the disability community are amplified. Greater awareness leads to an increased possibility for positive change. GAAD is a day to call out and recognize the barriers that prevent an inclusive digital experience and stand united against their continued pervasiveness. It’s a day to appreciate how far we as a society have become in terms of accommodating PWD and acknowledge how far we have to go.
Celebrate GAAD the other 364 days a year
While it’s nice to have a day focused on digital accessibility awareness, we urge you to support – in any small way that you can – a more inclusive world every chance you get. Whether that’s by something as small as adding alternative text to your images on your website or a more significant act, like lobbying your organization for more diverse hiring, every little action helps.
If your organization is looking to make a difference in the world of digital accessibility, contact TPGi today. We’ll partner with you to help you achieve your accessibility goals.