Global Accessibility Awareness Day 2020

Thursday, May 21 is the ninth Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD)! GAAD’s purpose is “to get everyone talking, thinking and learning about digital (web, software, mobile, etc.) access/inclusion and people with different disabilities.” A number of organizations are offering free, online events to celebrate GAAD. We’re particularly looking forward to these; others can be found on the GAAD website: GAAD Events & Activities

In addition to these events, we encourage you to participate by experiencing first-hand the impact of digital accessibility (or lack thereof). Suggested activities:

Gain Perspective

Digital accessibility is essential for people with disabilities and useful for all. Learn about the impact of accessibility and the benefits for everyone in a variety of situations by watching this series of short videos: Web Accessibility Perspectives: Explore the Impact and Benefits for Everyone

Go Mouseless For An Hour

Many people use only the keyboard to navigate websites — either through preference or circumstance. 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.

  • Is there a visible focus indicator (i.e., do you know where you are) at all times as you navigate each screen using the tab and shift tab keys?
  • Are you able to interact with every element that receives focus using the keyboard alone?
  • If there is any element that provides functionality if you hover over it with your mouse, such as revealing a tooltip or a set of actions, can you display this strictly using the keyboard alone?

Surf The Web With A Screen Reader

Screen reader software processes content on the desktop and in web browsers and converts it to others forms such as text-to-speech and Braille.  Screen readers typically provide other functions such as shortcut keys, different modes for processing content and interacting with it, and the ability to highlight the text that is being read aloud. Unplug your mouse, launch a screen reader, and spend an hour using some of your favorite sites using the keyboard alone.

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). Mac users, you have a built-in screen reader called VoiceOver on your systems.

Learn About And Use Other OS/Mobile Accessibility Features

The Windows 10 Operating System has a number of built-in accessibility features, as do the Apple operating systemsAndroid, and BlackBerry devices. Take an hour to explore them.

Try Other Adaptive Software Tools

The Adaptech Research Network has a library of free or inexpensive software that is useful to people with disabilities. We’re partial to ZoomText and the Texthelp tools, both accessible via the OIT Software catalog.

As always, thanks for your efforts in making UA a more inclusive and accessible campus. Please contact us if we can help with your technology accessibility needs.