Conversations Leading Up to Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD)
Initiating a conversation about accessibility and inclusion sparks positive change by bringing awareness. Each year Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) gets people thinking and discussing usability, design, influence, and technology for people with disabilities or impairments. May 17, 2018 marks the seventh annual celebration where light is again shined on this topic.
As a proponent of digital accessibility, Siteimprove encourages education, inclusive design, and continuous development of solutions that make the web a better place for everyone.
So, I sat down with our Lead Accessibility Strategist, Stein Erik Skotkjerra, to talk about GAAD and find out why it’s so important:
Emil: Hi Stein Erik! Can you tell us what Global Accessibility Awareness Day is?
Stein Erik: Global Accessibility Awareness Day is a day to celebrate the importance and usefulness of accessibility all around the world. It started back in 2012 when two accessibility activists got the idea to set up an international day to celebrate accessibility.
Every year there are a number of events and activities all around the world done by different companies, individuals, and organizations to underline the importance of accessibility and to spread the word and knowledge about this topic.
Emil: Why is GAAD important?
Stein Erik: Ideally, we shouldn’t need a Global Accessibility Awareness Day. But we do.
We know that a lot of people face accessibility barriers online every year or every day. And this is not going to change shortly, so unfortunately we really need this day to focus and ensure that people keep working to reduce the digital accessibility barriers.
This day is also a day to celebrate accessibility, not only as something we need to do, but also as a great opportunity and something that will be useful for all and increase any product’s user experience (UX) for every user.
Emil: What’s the future of accessibility?
Stein Erik: Ideally, the future of accessibility is that we don’t need to talk about accessibility anymore because it will be mainstreamed and included in the general thinking about user experience. But for now, I don’t think we will reach that goal just yet.
Emil: Do you see any trends evolving in accessibility technology that you can share?
Stein Erik: One important thing is the update of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). This summer, version 2.1 will be released and includes a number of new success criteria and requirements, especially to mobile and low vision.
There are also some new requirements concerning cognitive disabilities, which is a new topic that’s very important. I expect this will be one of the focus areas in the coming years as well. In parallel to the work with WCAG 2.1, there’s also development going on developing the so-called WCAG Silver, which is a new generation of accessibility guidelines that will probably change the way we think about accessibility—a bit more than the smaller update in 2.1.
Emil: Thanks, Stein Erik, for the great insight you’ve provided.
GAAD takes place May 17, 2018. There will be global events taking place across the world. Learn more about accessibility by visiting GAAD’s website at http://globalaccessibilityawarenessday.org/, where you'll also find a list of upcoming events on their page.