A shout-out to the unsung heroes of accessibility

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GAAD logo on colored backgroundThe mission of Global Accessibility Awareness Day or GAAD (which started a whopping seven years ago, feels like another lifetime) is “to get everyone talking, thinking and learning about digital (web, software, mobile, etc.) access/inclusion and people with different disabilities.” From sponsoring Diversity Days to hosting free training workshops, many of us in the accessibility industry have worked each year to create opportunities for learning and sharing about inclusion. And, we’ve definitely come a long way since 2011.

Many of our clients are doing some amazing things to celebrate GAAD today, and Level Access as an organization is doing some pretty cool things with our own team. We’re excited about that, and we’re incredibly fortunate to have the kind of platform where we can share updates and news with the world on a regular basis. But, today, we wanted to do something a little different.

To celebrate GAAD 2018, Level Access would like to take a moment and express our heartfelt appreciation for all the hours that so many individuals put in of their own time to promote accessibility. Sometimes, the ones who are working the hardest don’t get much of a spotlight.

We feel that this day represents a wonderful opportunity to turn the camera lens outward and say thank you for all of the work that grassroots non-profit and volunteer groups do every day to promote and educate others about accessibility, often with little to no budget and often on a volunteer basis. These individuals and groups have an absolutely essential role in creating awareness of the need for digital inclusion. And, they really make all of our jobs so much easier every day. When our team started collecting names of those who we wanted to say thank you to for all their work, the list became pretty extensive.

Here are just a few highlights:

Deborah Edwards-Onoro

for her support of Accessibility & Inclusive Design meetup groups

For years, Deborah Edwards-Onoro has supported accessibility education and awareness, both in the WordPress community and within the Accessibility Meetup space. Although she lives in Michigan, Deborah’s presence is often felt across the world. She regularly tweets and advocates for all the work that others do within accessibility. Thanks, @redcrew!

https://www.lireo.com/accessibility-inclusive-design-in-person-groups/

Ablegamers

for their player panel for gamers with disabilities

Nothing probably comes closer to addressing the need to understand people with disabilities as people quite like Ablegamers. Instead of campaigning for the removal of (still too prevalent) barriers that people may encounter with banking, travel, and shopping websites, Ablegamers showcases the delight and soul-satisfying experience that a person with disabilities can experience when playing an accessible video game. There’s a lot of research on the benefits of gaming, but sometimes it’s important to remember to have fun. Inclusive fun.

Video Transcript: “So Global Accessibility Awareness Day is important because there are so many people with disabilities who are missing out on these opportunities to sort of be thought about and interact with so many different types of people. AbleGamers specifically, we’re about gaming and enabling play through that experience and I feel like a global accessibility awareness day, we need to keep in mind that there are so many people who are missing out on these awesome experiences, social experiences that they could be having with people around the world and in an ideal world, it wouldn’t just be an awareness day, this would just be the status quo. We’re always thinking about them and we’re always keeping them in mind and it’s not even just about people with disabilities, per se, it’s about how we all access the world around us, so I think it’s a huge, important day for everybody and hopefully we can all take that in stride and go towards the same goals.”

http://www.ablegamers.org/

Knowbility

and their AccessU conference and OpenAIR competition

Truly, Knowbility as an organization represents one of the most influential forces for good in accessibility, and many of us in this industry owe a debt of gratitude to Sharron Rush, Knowbility’s Executive Director, for her mentorship and guidance. Two examples of Knowbility’s best contributions to building accessibility awareness and education: the annual teaching conference held every May in sunny Austin and the OpenAIR international accessibility competition, where teams compete to build accessible websites for non-profit groups.

https://knowbility.org/

So many more people to thank…

We’ve included a fuller list below, and we’d love for you to contribute by adding your suggestions as well. In keeping with the spirit of gratitude, we made a point not to directly promote the work of Level Access or our clients. If you know of any non-profit accessibility organization or volunteer group that could use a little recognition for all that they do, please add their names. Better yet, add their names and then tell us and everyone else who’s reading this how to get more involved and support their work.

And, hey, thank you!

The list so far…