With the growing prevalence of digital technology in daily life, the need for accessible hardware and software has never been greater. Awareness of the need for accessibility is on the rise, too. There’s even a day dedicated to the subject. The sixth annual Global Accessibility Awareness Day is May 18, 2017. On this day, designers, developers, usability experts, and others in the tech community will join meetups around the world to learn about the importance of creating technology that is accessible to all.
The idea of having a day dedicated to promoting accessibility around the world came from Joe Devon, a Los Angeles-based tech entrepreneur. In November 2011, he wrote a blog post on his website in which he expressed his frustration with the lack of attention given to digital accessibility. He suggested the creation of a day in which developers would test webpages for accessibility problems with an accessibility tool. They would then blog about their experience improving the accessibility of their work.
Reflecting in 2014 on that original post, Devon noted that witnessing his father encounter problems with an inaccessible bank website motivated him to generate more awareness about web accessibility. His father couldn’t see or hear well, and adjusting the color scheme on his browser was no longer helping. Motivated by his desire to improve his father’s experience with the web, Devon wrote his initial post hoping that others in tech would empathize with him.
"So many of us in this profession work so hard to get things right, yet we are failing people who need us the most. People we might love. So I issued a call to action. At first to web developers, to learn about accessibility and make it part of our workflow. All I expected was to be ignored, like most of my posts." Accessibility Camp Los Angeles: Towards an Accessible Web
— Joe Devon, Diamond website, November 19, 2014
But Devon’s idea wasn’t ignored. That same day, Jennison Asuncion, an accessibility consultant then living in Toronto, responded with a message of support. Together they co-founded GAAD and the first annual Global Accessibility Awareness Day took place on May 9, 2012.
Starting in 2015, Global Accessibility Awareness Day is celebrated on the third Thursday of May. This year, events are scheduled across the United States and around the world. In Austin, Texas, Knowbility partnered with Environments for Humans to host the AccessU Summit, a virtual accessibility conference and a Happy Hour pub-crawl to finish off the day. Click here to learn more about the AccessU Summit.