Commemorating Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD), May 19, 2022

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The world will celebrate Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) on May 19, 2022. It will be the 11th year since its inception.

What is GAAD and its purpose?

In November 2011, Joe Devon, a web developer, wrote a blog titled “CHALLENGE: Accessibility know-how needs to go mainstream with developers. NOW.” In it he expressed regret about the lack of accessibility awareness and urged web developers across the world to work together on technology that would make sites accessible. Devon championed the cause by calling for a Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) in May when every developer would test one web page on their website in an accessibility tool and blog about it. He also asked for talks on accessibility to be organized.

Devon went on to collaborate with Jennison Asuncion (who had chanced upon the blog post)—an accessibility evangelist—and they founded GAAD in 2012. Celebrated annually on the third Thursday of May, GAAD is a daylong event on digital inclusion, dedicated to promoting digital access for the one billion plus people around the world who are affected with disabilities and impairments.

Why is awareness about digital accessibility important?

The answer is strikingly obvious. Everyone must be able to engage with the digital world, whether for communication or for learning. Disability or impairment should not be an impediment for accessing the ubiquitous digital universe. It is a moral imperative that every sentient being is included in what is so universal a mode of communication and learning.

Apart from the obvious ethical factor, the business angle is equally significant. Inclusive, accessible websites, apps, and educational and training resources garner the loyalty and engagement of a holistic audience—vis-à-vis those built for only the abled—which in turn generates higher revenue and, naturally, better profits.

Digital accessibility came to life with the first version of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 1.0), in May 1999, that explained how to make web content accessible to people with disabilities (PwD) and was targeted at web developers and developers of authoring tools.

WCAG 2.0

WCAG 2.0 overhauled the existing success factors and introduced the concepts of POUR—Perceivable, Operable, Understandable, Robust—and three levels of severity (A, AA, AAA), with AAA being the highest level. WCAG 2.0 focused on different types of disabilities, emphasizing outcomes over specific techniques. This approach attracted creative solutions and was very popular.

WCAG 2.1

This version focused on visual impairements, cognitive disabilities, and mobility issues specifically encountered with touch interfaces, resulting in a new collection of 17 success criteria. The critical aspect was that of backward compatibility. WCAG 2.1 was compatible with WCAG 2.0, which meant that web pages conforming to WCAG 2.1 were also compatible with WCAG 2.0. The dot-extension model allowed research and opportunity for future additions of criteria.

WCAG 2.2

This version includes nine additional success criteria and updates existing success criteria. The guidelines support low vision users, with extended requirements for graphics and new guidelines to support visual perception and keyboard operability. It also supports users with cognitive, language, or learning disabilities by including requirements to provide additional information about the specific purpose of input controls and additional requirements to support stronger navigation of a website, including the ability to reuse information and simplify logging into websites. Finally, all guidelines are enablers to support usability and accessibility for all users.

How can one support GAAD?

  • Attend GAAD-inspired events in person or virtually
  • Host/participate in seminars and webinars
  • Participate in accessibility-focused activities, initiatives, projects
  • Just spread awareness

How can Amnet help you in your accessibility advantage?

With 20 years of publishing experience, Amnet’s comprehensive digital inclusion offerings meet ADA, WCAG, and Section 508 guidelines and requirements. Do check out our thought leadership articles here—https://accessibility.amnet.com/thought-leadership/the-future-of-publishing-articles/. Connect with us for robust web accessibility solutions.

References

  1. https://mysqltalk.wordpress.com/2011/11/27/challenge-accessibility-know-how-needs-to-go-mainstream-with-developers-now/
  2. https://www.inclusionhub.com/articles/jennison-asuncion
  3. https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/article/what-is-global-accessibility-awareness-day-gaad-and-why-is-it-so-important
  4. https://www.letsenvision.com/blog/what-is-global-accessibility-awareness-day-gaad-and-why-is-it-so-important
  5. https://accessibility.day/
  6. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesbusinesscouncil/2022/03/11/the-future-of-web-accessibility-wcag-30/?sh=45371a6d7b99l
  7. https://www.w3.org/TR/wcag-3.0/
  8. https://www.c2experience.com/blog/wcag-2-2-guidelines-explained-with-examples
  9. https://accessibility.amnet.com/the-evolution-of-wcag-2
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