Global Accessibility Awareness Day Date in the current year: May 16, 2024

Global Accessibility Awareness Day Global Accessibility Awareness Day(GAAD) is observed annually on the third Thursday of May. It was launched to raise awareness of digital accessibility and inclusion for people with impairments and disabilities worldwide.

The term “accessibility” means the design of products, services, vehicles, devices, or environments that enables access for people with disabilities. In the context of digital experience on the web, it means that users with disabilities and users without disabilities must be able to experience digital products with the same successful outcome.

According to statistics, 1 billion people worldwide have some kind of disability. Common disabilities and impairments that affect digital experience are visual, hearing, motor, and cognitive. Blind and visually impaired users need alternative text descriptions (alt text) for images and to be able to interact with interactive elements using the keyboard instead of a mouse.

Deaf or HOH (hard of hearing) people need visual indicators in place of audio cues and closed captions for videos. People with motor impairments may need assistive technologies to navigate and type on their devices, such as alternative keyboards, eye control, etc. Finally, people with dyslexia and learning disabilities will benefit from the use of plain language, consistent navigation, and an uncluttered screen.

Assistive technologies used for web accessibility include, but are not limited to, screen reader software, braille terminals, speech recognition software, screen magnification software, and keyboard overlays. However, in order for these technologies to work, websites need to be correctly designed and developed.

According to a report published by WeAIM in 2020, over 98% of home pages have at least one Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 failure. Top causes of the most common accessibility failures include low contrast text, missing alt text, empty links, missing form input labels, empty buttons, and missing document language.

Global Accessibility Awareness Day was inspired by a blog post written by Joe Devon, a web developer from Los Angeles, on November 27, 2011. The post entitled CHALLENGE: Accessibility know-how needs to go mainstream with developers. NOW mentioned the need to create a Global Accessibility Awareness Day for web developers to raise awareness of the importance of making websites accessible to everyone.

The post was accidentally discovered by Jennison Asuncion, a Toronto-based accessibility professional. He reached out to Devon via Twitter, and they joined forces to organize the first ever Global Accessibility Awareness Day event. The awareness campaign has been growing ever since.

Global Accessibility Awareness Day events include conferences, workshops, fundraisers, lectures, and other events that focus on raising awareness of digital accessibility and demonstrating how people with different disabilities surf the web and use digital products. The ultimate goal of the awareness campaign is to make sure that every developer and tester takes into consideration the needs of people with disabilities.

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