Global Accessibility Awareness Day

Maureen Holland

Last Thursday, we celebrated Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD)!

The purpose of GAAD is to get everyone talking, thinking and learning about digital access and inclusion, and the more than One Billion people with disabilities/impairments.

Practically speaking, this means taking an hour out of your usual schedule to dedicate to accessibility in some way: adding captions to video content, fixing inaccessible names in code, learning about the assistive technology browsing experience, reading about touch targets… The list goes on and on. It’s a bit overwhelming. Where do you start?

Start anywhere

At a company meeting, raise the topic of marking Global Accessibility Awareness Day in some way. People will start having ideas about what you can do. Write them down. You will have too many ideas. This is a good problem. Look at those ideas later and decide what makes the most sense for your situation.

This year, we decided to focus on education. To avoid placing too much pressure on volunteer speakers and to cover a wide range of subjects in an hour, we chose a “lightning talk” format. 5 minutes. No waiting.

Nine screenshots of slideshows on accessibility topics including WCAG, Links and Buttons, Accessibility in our hiring process, and other accessibility tools
An overview of our lightning talk slides

Our line-up for 2024:

  • Accessibility in our hiring process
  • Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)
  • Design Accessibility Tools
  • Android Accessibility Tools
  • Web Accessibility Tools
  • Readability
  • Alt text best practices
  • HyperText Markup Language (HTML)
  • Accessible Rich Internet Applications (ARIA)

On the day, with introduction and questions and wrap-up included, we had to cut the last three talks for time. They were recorded later and shared in Slack.

The entire line-up of talks was saved in a Notion Meeting page for the day.

Share what you did

You know, write a blog post or something. Seriously, there are two major benefits to this step:

  1. Accountability: Trying to explain a topic to others often helps clarify your own thinking. What did we want to get out of this hour? How did we prepare? These are questions we had to answer for ourselves before we could write this post. Also, it’s a public commitment: if we’re going to talk about accessibility, we have to build accessible products and maintain an accessible work environment.

  2. Amplification: We all heard about Global Accessibility Awareness Day from someone. This is our chance to be that someone! We hope purposefully marking this day inspires more questions about what it means to make an accessible digital product, both internally and externally.

Start again

Accessibility is never “done”. We can check off all the automated and manual tests as successes, but the real tests are with our actual users. We need to be open to feedback. We need to have processes in place to ensure that feedback results in action.

Global Accessibility Awareness Day is every year on the 3rd Thursday in May. We’ll be celebrating it again in 2025.

Any ideas on what we should do?