While navigating through social media or any regular webpage comfortably may seem like a given to some, for 15% of the global population living with a disability, most websites and social media channels are either difficult or downright impossible to use. Global Accessibility Awareness Day aims at changing that reality and creating a digital space that is inclusive to all.
Celebrated on the third Thursday of May, its ninth edition falls on May 21st, a day to be marked in our calendars as an opportunity to get everyone talking, thinking and learning about digital inclusion and people with different disabilities.
This year, all events go virtual as a way to leave no one behind, meaning we’ll have the chance to participate in a variety of activities coming from all corners of the world- from live webinars and forums regarding topics such as inclusive design and gaming, to fundraising and virtual meetups.
Digital Accessibility Matters
The digital space is supposed to be available to all, however, for people living with disabilities experiencing web-based services, content and other digital products is not nearly as easy as it is for those without them. Global Accessibility Day is meant to increase awareness surrounding these issues, highlighting the initiatives taken to improve accessibility and promoting greater inclusion in the future.
According to a WebAIM report on digital accessibility published in 2020, out of one million homepages around the web, 98.1% of them had at least one accessibility failure, while the average number of errors per homepage averaged to 60.9%.
For example, a common issue such as low contrast text or a missing image alt text can ruin the experience of users with low vision. Also, people with cognitive impairments would highly benefit from an uncluttered screen and access to plain text.
Not taking these issues into consideration when designing a webpage means leaving out a significant number of users, who have every right to enjoy navigating the web as easily as a person without disabilities.
On The Way To A More Inclusive Web Experience
Back in 2011, it was a single blog post written by web-developer Joe Devon which got the ball rolling. Global Accessibility Awareness Day was preceded by a clear and bold call to action, bringing attention to the lack of readily available information about online accessibility.
“Let’s work together and fix this oversight in our knowledge. As a community, we can work together to change the world”, Devon wrote, hoping web developers would set aside this one particular day to work towards solutions capable of diminishing the gaps around accessible technology and digital design.
One digital accessibility professional and GAAD co-founder Jennison Asuncion came across the blog post. The two decided to join forces and officially launch GAAD as a day to think about, learn about, and experience digital accessibility.
Since its launch nine years ago, we’ve seen some great improvements such as Facebook’s face recognition and automatic alt text tools, IOS’ built-in home automation, and the creation of virtual marches, providing those with physical disabilities a place to protest online.
However, there’s still plenty of changes that need to be made, and a lot more awareness to be spread. That’s why we want to invite you to join the list of online global events and activities available on the 21st. You can view the full list here and make some changes to your website to be more inclusive or simply dedicate some time to spreading awareness.
The more people that get on board, the more accessible the web can be in the future.