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Global Accessibility Awareness Day 2019

Thursday, May 16, 2019

 

This Thursday, May 16, we’re recognizing Global Accessibility Awareness Day, or GAAD for short.


According to the GAAD website, “The purpose of Global Accessibility Awareness Day is to get everyone talking, thinking and learning about digital (web, software, mobile, etc.) access/inclusion and people with different disabilities.”


Global Accessibility Awareness Day was actually started just four years ago in 2015 when Los Angeles-based web developer, Joe Devon wrote a blog post pitching his idea for the holiday. When Jennison Asuncion, an accessibility professional from Toronto, discovered his blog, the two “joined forces, leveraging their extensive and respective networks to realize the event.” Ever since then, digital professionals across the nation use the third Thursday of May to generate buzz around accessibility.
 

A bit of history…

When most people hear the word “accessibility” they think of wheelchair ramps and braille. Even within this decade, the majority of those working in technology didn't connect accessibility to digital platforms. We all knew the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) existed, but understanding how that applied to online content wasn’t a priority yet.


Today, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone responsible for school and district websites who doesn’t know how ADA applies to websites. While most of this attention is likely due to increasing fear of receiving an official review from the Office of Civil Rights (OCR), addressing accessibility issues has become a standard that educators and technology firms alike are willingly adapting to.

And many of us do it for another reason: it’s just the right thing to do!


Thankfully, the standards for how to accomplish website accessibility have been given some much overdue attention. WCAG 2.1 has been the accepted guide for ensuring availability to your website content, no matter how you access it.

 

Making your website accessible

There are dozens of different steps you can take to remove access barriers from your website. Here’s where we recommend you start:
 
Color

Approximately 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women in the world experience some form of color blindness (Colour Blind Awareness). Think about what your website would look like if you took a black and white photo of it. The best way to convey information clearly in this situation is to make sure the information stands out against the background.

 

color contrast checker You can use a contrast color checker to make sure the foreground and background colors contrast enough. For your convenience, we provide you with a color palette that meets WCAG AA guidelines for color contrast on a white background.

 

Images
8.1 million people in America have a vision impairment (Interactive Accessibility) and may rely on a screen magnifier or a screen reader to navigate a website for them. Screen readers convert web sites into audio so people can listen to the information on the pages and navigate through the website; however, screen readers cannot read PDF files or images.
 
That’s where alternative text, or alt text comes into play. Since screen readers cannot read images, they instead read a description of the image out loud to the listener. That description is the alt text and should be typed in when you’re first uploading the image. add alt text
 
Although alt text is important, it’s a commonly forgotten step when adding media to the website. Some providers like Edlio now offer an “alt text requirement” tool that won’t let users publish a page with media unless alt text has been entered in for each of the images. That way, all website visitors can get an idea of the content that’s been posted.
 
Videos

Adding videos to your website is an easy way to get visitors engaged. However, imagine trying to understand the Principal’s Welcome Video when you have a hearing disability.


Luckily, many website and CMS providers offer three main methods that help make videos and audio accessible to everyone: captions, transcripts and audio descriptions.


Captions visually display the spoken words in a video at the same time they are said and are a key component of accessible videos. When comparing website providers, look for one that has a tool that uses AI to provide automatic closed caption generation for every video uploaded.


Generating transcripts is another task that can be automated with the right tools. Transcripts allow people to read a text version of the content without playing the audio or video. Refreshable braille devices use transcripts to deliver video content. Edlio's captioning service automatically populates the transcripts that users can edit after generation completes.


Lastly, in the same way that you can add alt text to images, you can add audio descriptions to videos. Audio descriptions provide additional information about what is visible on screen, outside of spoken word. They’re basically a one-sentence description of the video: they’re alt text, but for videos.
 
Navigation

Navigating through a website can be tricky enough right from your laptop. Using an alternative device like a screen reader can make this even harder.


That’s why we believe it’s important to have a tool that adds a “skip to main content” link at the top of the page to help alternative devices get to the heart of your content faster. A "skip to main content" link that's coded correctly is able to be read by alternative devices.

 

More advanced solutions

Want to really become an accessibility expert by taking a proactive approach to removing all barriers from your site? Accessibility solutions like AudioEye take an expert dive into your accessibility concerns.


A tool like AudioEye’s Ally Toolbar is the “icing on the cake”. The Toolbar lets the user control how they access the page, change the text to a more dislexic-friendly font, adjust the color contrast, organize the layout, and so much more. Plus, the Toolbar comes with a Help Desk feature in case you have any urgent needs or questions.

 

Marking the day at Edlio

The Edlio team has done a lot over the years to mark this important day. In 2017, we challenged the whole Edlio team to work for an hour without a mouse or only using a screen reader. Think you could get your work done without your normal tools? See what our team thought of the challenge here!


This year, while our product and development teams are busy tackling accessibility challenges head-on with new features, some Edlio members will attend some local events happening around GAAD:


  • In Chicago, team members will be attending a GAAD Meetup where they can meet and learn from people who have an impairment.
  • In LA, Edlio team members will be attending a GAAD Event that focuses on how a variety of companies in the area are addressing accessibility challenges.
  • And in Austin, team members will be attending a GAAD Celebration where they can meet the co-founder of GAAD, Joe Devon, and participate in ASL interpreted Accessible Karaoke!

We are so proud of all the initiatives our entire team here at Edlio has taken to address accessibility concerns over the past few years.


This Global Accessibility Awareness Day, we challenge you to learn more about what it means to be digitally inclusive to all!