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Make A Difference On Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD)

By: Aylin Dunham
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What is Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD)?

This month, AST is celebrating Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD). In what started out as a simple blog post nine years ago, GAAD has now blossomed into a global initiative that brings attention to the importance of digital accessibility and inclusion for all, and we’re so grateful to see how far accessibility has come all this time.

We’ve talked a lot about digital accessibility in the past, particularly in relation to making video truly accessible, but we haven’t stopped there. For over 16 years, AST has been working with education, government, and other types of organizations to help get us closer to the ultimate goal of digital accessibility—to ensure that content is easily available and accessible to all people, including people with disabilities (PwD). For these reasons, we’re happy to have this opportunity to spread the message of Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) to you.

How Can I Make A Difference?

Making a difference and raising awareness about accessibility may seem like a daunting task, but spreading the message isn’t as hard as it seems. Since AST’s inception, we’ve noticed a number of ways that our customers have made changes in their organizations, and we want to share with you some of the successful strategies that they have used over the years. Here are a few ways that you can spread the message of GAAD in your community today:

  • The simplest way to make a difference on Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) is to talk to someone about its importance. You might consider bringing up a conversation about GAAD with an accessibility stakeholder at your organization, or even think about bringing it up with a co-worker, and pointing them to the GAAD website for more information. I would argue that talking about accessibility is a very powerful act in and of itself, as it brings awareness about accessibility into our everyday conversations. Furthermore, providing gentle “nudges” like initiating a conversation about accessibility can help your department start to think about the importance of digital accessibility. To learn more about how to “nudge” your colleagues in the right direction in terms of accessibility, read our Accessibility Nudge Units blog.
  • In light of the recent transition to remote work and online learning, another innovative way to make a difference in your community is to help set up an ongoing accessibility plan for your organization. The key word here is “ongoing” in that accessibility is a standard that is constantly changing and evolving. As technology and needs have evolved over the years, institutions have made adjustments to their plans periodically. GAAD is about getting others to think and learn about accessibility, so if your institution already has a plan, consider sharing it with others to help others reach their accessibility goals. And if you don’t have a plan yet, try looking for what others have been doing to help you get started. Over the past few years, we’ve noticed a couple of different ways that institutions have come up with accessibility plans, and not all are the same. Some of that plans that we’ve seen include Continuity Plans and Equally Effective Alternative Access Plans (EEAAP), both of which have been used to address evolving accessibility concerns.
  • Another important way to help spread the message of accessibility in your community is to evaluate your own accessibility status and share it with others. It may be scary to think about the ways that your current website is lacking in terms of accessibility, but the bright side of getting started on this now is that it gives you a chance to make a list of everything that needs to be addressed. Digital accessibility may be a new concept for you, so we suggest making a list of webpages and digital content with an overview of what needs to be updated on each page. Your next step is to talk about it with an accessibility stakeholder at your organization, as they may have the resources and budget you need to get started.

Why It’s Important

Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) isn’t just about letting others know it exists—it’s also about spreading the message of digital accessibility and inclusion. At AST, we make it our mission to serve the needs of others and help them learn about evolving accessibility challenges, and we work to provide accessible captioning, live captioning, and audio description services for all people. It’s our pleasure to help others learn more about GAAD, and if you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us for more information.