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Global Accessibility Awareness Day

May 20th, 2021  | Advocacy  |  By Simran Bansal

 

Today is Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD), a day marked by spreading awareness and promoting digital access and inclusion for the over 1 billion people worldwide with impairments or disabilities. Now more than ever, when there is such an increased reliance on technology for daily living, it is essential that we think about ways to make digital resources accessible to all, regardless of ability. In our community, we know that many children with HIE will go on to develop a host of disabilities and impairments ranging from visual impairment to hearing loss to motor impairment to learning disabilities. We can support those with disabilities and encourage anti-ableism by shifting the focus on “overcoming” disability to overcoming inaccessibility and exclusionary practices that are prevalent in society. It is not an individual with a disability that needs fixing, but a world that actively excludes those with disabilities through barriers to accessibility. In today’s day in age, the world we must focus on progressing includes not only physical space, but digital space. In prioritizing digital accessibility, we can improve usability for all, even those who do not have disabilities. 

So, what is digital accessibility?

Digital accessibility is the ability of a website, mobile application or any electronic document to be easily perceived, understood, navigated by a wide range of users, including users with disabilities. In an effort to promote digital accessibility, there is a worldwide standard set of recommendations for making Web content more accessible called the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). Some common modifications to increase web accessibility include:

  • Using headers to organize content
  • Assigning “alt text” for images for people with impaired vision who use screen readers
  • Using high contrast text and colors for people with visual impairments
  • Creating captions and transcripts for video and audio files so people with auditory impairments can understand what is happening
  • Using simple and basic fonts
  • Ensuring site navigation via keyboard for people who cannot use a mouse due to impairments with fine motor skills

And yet, in spite of the WCAG, according to the 2020 Web Accessibility Annual Report, 98% of websites fail to comply with accessibility requirements for people with disabilities. In addition, this same study found that of the one million website home pages analyzed, the average number of failures to comply with WCAG was a whopping 60.9 per home page.

 

Assistive Technology Resources

Luckily, however, there are also many resources and assistive technology tools to help those with disabilities navigate the web, including:

  • Various screen reader tools such as Nonvisual Desktop Access (NVDA) for Microsoft users and the built in voice-over software for apple users
  • Dictation tools like Siri help you complete tasks and search information without having to type
  • The Apple Accessibility site that outlines various helpful features, such as sensory alerts (vibrating or flashlight alerts) for incoming notifications if you have hearing loss
  • Google Accessibility, where you can explore Google’s accessibility features and products
  • Microsoft Accessibility, where you can explore Microsoft’s accessibility features and products
  • Auto-generated caption features on platforms such as YouTube, TikTok, Netflix, & more

 

Video Resources

To learn more about how inclusive design and digital accessibility can impact lives, here are some helpful videos:

Cognitive Accessibility
How Apple Products Are Deaf-Friendly

 

Graphics About Digital Accessibility

 

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