By Ray Campbell, Second Vice President, ACB
Thursday, May 20 marks the 10th annual Global Accessibility Awareness Day. So what exactly is so significant about Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD)?
As a Certified professional working to make technology more accessible, GAAD gives me an opportunity to reiterate that accessibility doesn’t mean dull. Such companies as Uber, Instacart and others have designed apps which look nice and are quite functional for individuals without disabilities, while being accessible to people with disabilities. Other content and app developers need to take note of this and strive to make their apps and content more accessible.
GAAD reminds us that we need to continue to educate app and content developers on the relatively simple things they can easily do to make their content or apps more accessible. I’m of the belief most people who develop websites and apps want to do the right thing. After all, who doesn’t want to do all they can to make sure anyone who needs to can access what they’ve developed. However, things like the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) aren’t taught as much as they should be. They can’t code to what they don’t know, although there is lots of information about WCAG out on the internet. GAAD gives us the chance to let Government officials, who work for us, know they need to do more on the regulatory front to promote accessibility.
When the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law on July 26, 1990, the internet was something large companies, the military and a few others had. Now, especially during this past Pandemic year, we’ve found that the internet is as important to many of us as are reliable electricity and running water. Government needs to use its regulatory muscle to make sure that as the internet evolves, people with disabilities aren’t inadvertently left behind. No one would tolerate people with disabilities not being able to have clean, running water? The internet is the same for many!
GAAD is an opportunity to remind all of us we need to advocate with websites and app developers to improve accessibility. After all, we are like any other customers, spending money online to access products and services we want and need. Keep it simple. Talk to companies you’re doing business with, let them know you really enjoy their products and/or services, but not if you cannot access them. Make it personal; let them know how lack of access impacts you.
Finally, GAAD is an opportunity for organizations like ACB to assess where we are, and what still needs to be done. It’s a chance to remind companies providing products and services that there are millions of people who have disabilities, including many who are blind or visually impaired. We have spending power, and if a company isn’t going to provide us the accessibility we need, we’ll vote with our feet and wallets and find companies and organizations who will provide what we need accessibly.
Let’s take a bit of time on this 10th anniversary of global accessibility awareness day, and celebrate the gains we’ve made. After all, companies such as Microsoft, Google, Amazon and others are making strong commitments to accessibility. We need to relish those victories, but re-double our efforts to get more companies and organizations to follow suit and make what they’re offering available and accessible to all of us!
To view ACB Executive Director Eric Bridges’ GAAD conversation with digital accessibility leaders Jennison Asuncion from LinkedIn, and Mike Shebanek from Facebook please visit: https://youtu.be/EcUy3HT6bRY.