Coming Right Up: Global Accessibility Awareness Day

Thursday, May 18, is Global Accessibility Awareness Day 2023. Observed on the third Thursday in May since 2012, GAAD is a favorite with Digital Navigators, disability-savvy web developers, and everyone else who believes the digital world should be as universally accessible as the “in real life” world.

The Challenges of Digital Accessibility

As with the physical world, most of the digital world was designed by “able-bodied” people who gave little thought to whether it fit those different from themselves. Around the time the first major COVID outbreak was making front-page news of the need for digital access, a 2020 WebAIM study found that fewer than 2 percent of websites were fully accessible.

The ideally accessible digital platform should include:

  • For people with limited hand/arm mobility: options for easy keyboard-free operation of all functions.
  • For people with low or no vision: high-contrast visuals; large text characters in plain fonts; screen-reader capacity; detailed alt-text descriptions (including all captions from cartoon-style images); verbal descriptions of video action; and navigation options that don’t rely on hard-to-pinpoint buttons and links.
  • For people with hearing disabilities: easily readable, accurately translated captions, designed not to interfere with other visual elements.
  • For people with autism, sensory disorders, or intellectual disabilities: detailed and easy-to-understand instructions (“go to menu y” leaves many people lost if menu y is hidden under parent menu x); no glaring colors or constantly moving background images; and options to watch video without the captions or visual descriptions.
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The Goals for Digital Accessibility

The benefits of digital accessibility go beyond mere ease of use. Wherever disability is a factor, accessibility means gains in:

  • Control over one’s immediate environment
  • Ability to function independently
  • Access to healthcare, education, employment, and social/recreational opportunities
  • Overall self-confidence and courage to explore

Global Accessibility Awareness Day is for all who support and encourage these goals.  

How to Celebrate Global Accessibility Awareness Day

The GAAD website has a list of virtual and in-person programs on accessibility awareness. You can also:

  • Join a social media group for disabled digital users or accessibility advocates
  • Write to a news-media or government representative about your personal experiences
  • Create a collage, story, poem, or game about digital accessibility

Or if you just want to have inclusive fun, with or without direct focus on the accessibility element, see just below for one option.

Special Event Announcement

Easterseals is celebrating Global Accessibility Awareness Day with a gaming Streamathon! Drop by the ES Gaming channel anytime from 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. (Central Time) to chat and play with others from the disabled-gaming community.  


Watch for our upcoming post, “Super-Accessible Video Games,” which will present an inside look at disability-savvy game development and gaming communities.

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