10 Ways to Participate in Global Accessibility Awareness Day

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Technology and the internet have become an essential part of daily life. We use it for just about everything – from sending emails, to finding recipes, online shopping, and all things in between. It’s become so ubiquitous, most of us take for granted – but not everyone has that luxury. Websites and apps are still largely inaccessible to people living with vision, hearing, cognitive or mobility disabilities, and that’s not OK – especially when it becomes a barrier to accessing basic services.

Illustration of people with disabilities

At eSSENTIAL Accessibility, we’re fighting to change that, and we invite you to join us. In honor of Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD), we’ll look at the state of digital accessibility and highlight 10 ways you can help make the online world a better place for people of all abilities.

What is Global Accessibility Awareness Day?

Global Accessibility Awareness Day is an awareness day focusing on digital access and inclusion for the more than one billion people with disabilities and impairments. It is marked annually on the third Thursday of May. The purpose of GAAD is to get everyone talking, thinking and learning about digital access/inclusion and people with different disabilities.

The State of Digital Accessibility

When it comes to digital accessibility, we have a lot of work to do. WebAim recently completed a study where they analyzed one million homepages for accessibility issues and found that:

98.1% of homepages had at least one WCAG 2.0 failure. Additionally, homepages had an average of 60.9 errors. The most common errors included low contrast text and missing alt text on images. A similar study completed by AbilityNet in 2018 found that 70% of UK websites were not compliant with accessibility standards.

This means the internet is still an unwelcoming place to 15% of the world’s population.

How is the Internet Inaccessible?

Imagine shopping online and being unable to find relevant product information or the ‘Add to Cart’ button because the color contrast on the website was poor, or alt text wasn’t added to describe images or products…or watching a TED Talks video and not knowing what presenters are saying because closed-captioned isn’t enabled…or attempting to use keyboard commands to navigate the web and finding site after site doesn’t allow for keyboard accessible navigation. This is just a taste of what the internet experience is like for people living with disabilities.

What Can You Do?

Awareness and education are the first steps to driving change! We’ve highlighted 10 ways you can learn more about digital accessibility, compliance, and how to make the world a more inclusive place.

1. Learn why we’re all the same

Watch our mini-documentary to hear first-hand why accessible experiences are better experiences for everyone.

2. Fix your website!

Ensure your website is fully accessible to everyone. Our Must-Have WCAG 2.1 Checklist provides guidance and testing techniques you can use to improve the accessibility of web content, websites, and web applications on desktop computers, laptops, tablets and mobile devices. Download the checklist and get started!

3. Discover more about our mission!

This 4-minute video touches on the damage caused by accessibility barriers and shows you how simple it can be to put accessibility first.

4. Take these automated testing tools for a spin

Web evaluation tools are a great way to get a basic idea of your accessibility status. From contrast checks to 508 compatibility, find a helpful list of accessibility assessment tools here.

5. Learn sign language

If the Covid-19 shelter in place mandates have given you some free time, why not use it to learn a new language?! Both Gallaudet University and Sign Language 101 offer free courses to get you started.

6. Make virtual meetings accessible

Virtual meetings have become a much more frequent part of life, for both work and socializing. Ensure everyone is able to participate equally – get tips and tricks for making virtual meetings accessible to all in this blog.

7. See how accessibility impacts and improves overall customer experience

Hear a first-hand account from a travel exec who shares how she helped create a culture of customer experience excellence by instilling accessibility best practices every step of the way. Click here to watch the webinar.

8. Attend an accessibility awareness event…(virtually of course)

Social distancing can’t stop the fun – check out this list of virtual events that help promote accessibility awareness.

9. Read the blog post that started it all!

Global Accessibility Awareness Day was inspired by this blog post, written by web developer Joe Devon in 2011. Devon went on to become a founding partner of GAAD.

10. Spread the word!

Use the powers of social media to increase awareness! On Global Accessibility Awareness Day, be sure to share how you’re working to make the world a more accessible place for everyone. Follow @eSSENTIa11y and @gbla11yday for great content! #GAAD #a11y

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