Global Accessibility Awareness Day
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Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) exists to bring awareness to digital access and inclusion. It specifically refers to accessibility for people with disability or impairments and is marked annually on the third Thursday of May.
A topic that is often left out of the accessibility and inclusion discussion is equity. The reason we have Global Accessibility Awareness Day is because currently, equity is not widely considered in traditional design processes and environments and products both physical and online continue to be developed without a diversity of citizens in mind. Equity is about acknowledging difference in all human beings and accepting it as part of the human experience. In an ideal world, equity would be the fundamental basis of all design.
Previously, a common saying in tech spheres was, “accessibility is the death of good design” but the truth is that accessibility means good design. An inaccessible online store for example, is the equivalent to a physical store front having a one-step entry for a wheelchair user.
If an online store doesn’t meet accessibility standards or is not accessible to people that use assistive technologies, that business is missing out on a significant portion of income from those people and those people aren’t able to enjoy the products or experience of shopping in the same way as other customers.
When accessibility is built into design and considers the greatest diversity of us, accessibility literally opens the door to inclusion. Inclusion is not about bringing people into something that already exists, it’s about creating something new with everyone in mind.
Global Accessibility Awareness Day is a day to spread the word about the social and economic benefits of accessibility. A great way to learn more about accessibility standards and best practice is by checking out the Web Content and Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) or taking a free online course like this one: https://www.w3.org/blog/2019/12/free-online-course-introduction-to-web-accessibility/