Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) is every third Thursday in May – this year it is May 19, 2022
On November 27, 2011 a blog made its way onto the digital world stage. It discussed changing the mindset of the world wide web and the perception of inclusivity and digital accessibility. GAAD Global Accessibility Awareness Day was conceived. That writer was Joe Devon. An American web developer who proposed that an annual GAAD would enlighten the world and champion for digital accessibility. For people to understand the real needs of a digitally accessibility. This has blossomed over the years for people with disabilities and tech giants. Microsoft, Apple, and retailers like Procter & Gamble created safe, inclusive designs and workspaces. They developed more Inclusivity and digital accessibility for employees and consumers alike. The world stage has been set, and that day is celebrated around the world every third Thursday in May. This year, it is May 19, 2022. Let us talk about inclusivity and digital accessibility.
Ask ourselves, are we on a daily basis representing our business authentically to the world? Moreover, looking around the office, store, or boardroom, ask yourself, WHO is missing? Do you see a lot of diversity? How about inclusion? Is that authentic?
Quick disability basic stats:
- 1.3 billion people globally live with some sort of disability, roughly 15% of the world’s population.
- A 2022 accessibility report, approximately 98% of the top 1 million websites evaluated have accessibility issues
- $13 trillion in annual disposable income is the spending power people of disability have in discretionary income.
Disability has so many dimensions. We are embracing culture shifts. We need to dig deeper into the world of why only 98% of the internet digitally accessible. Our world had changed since the pandemic and so have the consumer habits. As an example, a potential customer, using assistive technology, is searching online, trying to purchase something off a retailer’s page. Due to web design issues, they might miss the product because a screen reader may not recognize the description. Or that screen reader skipped the product entirely. Web flaws like an empty ARIA, empty link, or not labeled with alt+text, and the sales is lost. That customer had discretionary income, yet the business lost the sale. In the office world too, there are limited positions available for people with disabilities. This affects the economy as a whole and businesses who are not inclusive.
GAAD what a number of talented people!
So, why is GAAD important? If the pandemic taught us anything it is that good help is hard to find and keep. Good web design is hard to access and keep repeat customers happy in the diverse ability communities. The ADA American Disabilities Act was established to help guide us to do the right thing. People with diverse abilities have overcome obstacles and hurdles we take for granted on a daily basis. Consequently, the workforce is no different, and the talent pool is bigger than businesses think. These talented people also know how to work in inclusive digital design, they live it daily. No one really did think Stephen Hawking was anything but brilliant, right? That is saying a lot about perception and the scope of disabilities (abilities) is what makes people, human. GAAD to know you’re following along.
Technologically the internet has been slow to catch up with accessibility advances too. A 2022 accessibility report found thats 98% of top 1 million websites evaluated have accessibility issues! This means people working, shopping, or just surfing is having a hard time accessing websites.
What is the world doing about inclusion, equity, and diversity?
How to mainstream accessibility as a universal design
Businesses, especially big businesses have been working on making inclusion and accessibility their goals. Given the huge pipeline of talent and the insights of people with disabilities. From their products and services, design and development, to launch. Pushing for more inclusive and universal design that ultimately benefits everyone. Several companies are now championing new accessibility features:
- Microsoft “Teams” makes lip-reading easier by blurring backgrounds to remove distractions on video calls.
- Apple launched new Apple accessibility features called “Sound Control” by letting sounds be used as voice commands. These new background sounds function to reduce external noise distractions in support of neurodiversity.
- Apple launched in 2021, a new “SignTime”service that offering on-demand sign language interpreters for Apple Store and Apple Support customers.
- CES 2022 (Consumer Electronic Show) in Las Vegas had CES – Accessibility.
- Spotify changed the color, text formatting and size of its famous green buttons to make the user-interface more accessible.
- TikTok introduced automated audio-captions, a feature that adds subtitles without requiring users to enter the text themselves.
- Procter & Gamble created audio-described advertisement spots.
- Netflix media has Audio Description narration.
Inclusivity and Digital Accessibility
Economically, the active working-age adults with a disability is just 19.1%, less than one-third of people without disabilities. Companies need to remove all barriers, not just physical but digital too. The economic endeavors alone will come full circle. This will open more doors for inclusion and diversity. It’s simple, ensuring that accessibility and the language of digital accessibility is cohesive across all platforms. Embedded into best businesses practices. From small mom and pop, medium, large, enterprise, or corporate learning to provide alternatives to common assessment practices. The disabled community needs to be a part of the conversation to evoke change.