Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) May 15th!

On May 15, we invite you to participate in Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD). The purpose of the day is to get people talking, thinking and learning about digital (web, software, mobile, etc.) accessibility and users with different disabilities.

The target audience of GAAD is the design, development, usability, and related communities who build, shape, fund and influence technology and its use. While people may be interested in the topic of making technology accessible and usable by persons with disabilities, the reality is that they often do not know how or where to start. Awareness comes first. Read the blog post by Joe Devon that inspired GAAD.

About Global Accessibility Awareness Day

The idea of a Global Accessibility Awareness Day started with a single blog post written by a Los Angeles-based web developer, Joe Devon. Jennison Asuncion, an accessibility professional from Toronto discovered Joe’s blog post purely by accident thanks to Twitter. After reading it, he immediately contacted Joe and they joined forces, leveraging their extensive and respective networks to realize the event.

Whether you participate in a public or private event to mark Global Accessibility Awareness Day, on May 15, we encourage designers, developers, usability professionals, and everyone else to take an hour to experience first-hand the impact of digital accessibility (or lack there of).

Go Mouseless For An Hour

Go ahead and unplug your mouse and only use your keyboard alone (tab/shift tab, arrow keys, enter and spacebar) to navigate and interact with your favorite websites and applications. If you use a touchpad, trackpad or similar input method, disable it, and use the keyboard instead. Developers and designers, we encourage you to visit a site you were involved in creating and take it for a test-drive.

Surf The Web With A Screen Reader For An Hour

There are a number of free/open source screen readers available for Windows users. One of the more popular ones is NonVisual Desktop Access (NVDA). Take a bit of time beforehand to download the software and learn some of NVDA’s documented basic keystrokes. Mac users, you have a built-in screen reader called VoiceOver on your systems. Take some time to visit the site referenced to familiarize yourself with how to turn on VoiceOver and some of the basic keystrokes.

On May 15, unplug your mouse (blind users do not use the mouse), launch your screen reader, and spend an hour using some of your favorite sites strictly using the keyboard alone (tab/shift tab, arrow keys, enter and spacebar) and not the mouse/trackpad. Why not turn off your screen and depend strictly on the information conveyed by the screen reader. Developers and designers, we encourage you to visit a site you were involved in creating and take it for a test-drive.

Learn About And Use Other OS/Mobile Accessibility Features

The Windows 7 Operating System has a number of built-in accessibility features, as does the Mac Operating System. iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry devices also have accessibility features. Take an hour to explore what these are and try them out on the Web. In the case of the mobile devices, why not try using some of your favorite apps with different accessibility features enabled.

Try Other Adaptive Software Tools

The Adaptech Research Network has a library of free or inexpensive software that is useful to people with disabilities. Why not try one or more of these software.

Contribute Directly To The Digital Accessibility Effort

Karen Mardahl in Denmark has suggested the following additional ideas for designers, developers, and others to take on as part of the day. These will help directly to improving the accessibility of the web and to spreading awareness.
•    Caption a video - at least prepare a transcript. If it is not your video, send the transcript to the owner and suggest that they follow the information provided by Google for YouTube or 3Play Media for Vimeo to add captions.
•    Write a blog post on what digital accessibility awareness is and what your (the writer's) ideas are for raising that awareness.
•    Create a video demonstrating how you use some type of assistive technology and upload it to YouTube.
•    there are a number of free toolbars that can help designers and developers to test the accessibility of their pages. One of these is WAVE - Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool from the folks at WebAIM.
•    Why not run this toolbar on a page or pages you have developed and see how accessible these are to your visitors, including those with different disabilities. Take the results and implement the suggested changes.
More Ideas
•    Publish a blog post on or before May 15, including background on GAAD and your organization/company’s commitment to digital accessibility.
•    If you are a web design, usability, web development, digital agency, digital accessibility or related firm, send an e-mail to your clients on or before May 15 to let them know that May 15 is Global Accessibility Awareness Day, with a link to, drawing attention to how your firm supports accessibility through services or education.
•    Announce a digital accessibility-related initiative on May 15, using the occasion of Global Accessibility Awareness Day to do this.
•    Identify and contact local media or other associations/organizations of developers/designers (web, mobile, other tech), usability and other associated IT professionals and let them know May 15 is Global Accessibility Awareness Day and ask them to inform their memberships.
•    Let your favorite tech publication or better yet, reporter or columnist know that May 15 is Global Accessibility Awareness Day and encourage them to cover the event.
•    Send an internal e-mail (e.g., to your IT staff, web development team, anyone involved in technology decision-making) informing them that May 15 is Global Accessibility Awareness Day, discuss any accessibility initiatives that may be under way/remind staff of any technology accessibility policy that may exist and the role everyone plays in its success.

Tell Us How You Are Marking GAAD

Tell the world what you are doing to mark GAAD. Post to our Facebook page. If you are tweeting, use the #gaad hashtag.
E-mail us a link to your own blog globala11yawarnessday at or other page (e.g., a YouTube video)so we can include it on our site.
•     E-mail us at
•     Show support for this effort by Liking our Facebook page:
•     Follow gbla11yday on Twitter and tweet using the #gaad hashtag.