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Two hands reading a refreshable Braille device, next to a black computer keyboard.
A refreshable Braille device is an example of Assistive Technology.

Global Accessibility Awareness Day 2021

Author: Information Technology Staff
Date: 5/20/2021 8:00:00 AM

The third Thursday in May celebrates Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD), which “shines a light on digital access and inclusion for people with disabilities.” Digital/web accessibility centers around the idea that online resources should be universally usable across a variety of sensory, physical, and cognitive abilities.

Accessible websites are designed to be easy to perceive and operate, which benefits all kinds of people. People with disabilities make up 20-25% of the population, totaling around 72,500 in San Luis Obispo County, over 50 million in the US, and over 1 billion people worldwide. 

Accessible web content aims to be understandable and compatible with Assistive Technology (AT) such as screen readers and Braille displays. In addition to assisting people with disabilities, web accessibility helps many others as well, including people with mild or temporary impairments, people whose native language is not English, people on mobile devices, and the older population. For example, having sufficient color contrast is helpful for people on mobile devices in bright sunlight, and videos with captions are great for anyone in noisy or quiet environments. We each use the web in different ways, but we all deserve access. Thankfully, many web accessibility practices improve usability for everyone. 

Here are some ideas for how you can participate in Global Accessibility Awareness Day

  • Navigate a website using only a keyboard. Move between interactive components (such as links and buttons) by using the Tab key (move to next item) and Shift+Tab keys (move to previous item). Press Enter to trigger links.  

  • Navigate a website using a screen reader. A free one available to download is Non-Visual Desktop Access (NVDA). 

  • Improve accessibility on your social media posts in 3 ways: Include “alt text” (accessible image descriptions) on images. Explore apps that add captions to your videos. Finally, capitalize the first letter of each word in a hashtag so they’re easier to read. For example, use #GlobalAccessibilityAwarenessDay instead of #globalaccessibilityawarenessday.  

  • Explore text colors with sufficient color contrast. This tool generates compatible text colors for a given hex value background color and font size. 

  • Discuss accessibility at your workplace.