Take Time This Week to Increase Your Accessibility Awareness

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Interested in helping further the accessibility cause? Thanks to the Global Accessibility Awareness Day festivities, you can start taking your first steps later this week!

This week is an exciting one in the world of digital accessibility. Thurs., May 21st marks the fourth annual Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD). It is a full 24 hours dedicated to the sharing of accessibility information, best practices, and ideas -- and it's targeted at the web design and web development communities.

What began as a collaboration between back-end developer Joe Devon and accessibility professional Jennison Asuncion has since spread beyond its North American roots, and is now recognized in India, the United Kingdom, Korea, Japan, and several European nations. It is now celebrated on the third Thursday of May each year.

GAAD has 44 in-person events worldwide this year, which range from Ottawa's instructing guests to test a webpage with a screen reader to Wellington, New Zealand's presentation on the topic of "Accessibility and Me." There are also digital events, such as a webinar for providing better access to online education and a global conversation on accessibility awareness.

Adobe and The Paciello Group have also jointly sponsored 24 one-hour online webinars starting at midnight GMT on May 21st. Topics include: making sites with responsive design accessible and providing better access to e-health for persons with disabilities. The complete schedule of events is available online.

Even if you're not able to physically attend any of the official GAAD events, there are many things you can do to educate yourself about digital accessibility. For example, try unplugging your mouse for an hour and use only your keyboard to navigate the Internet or browse through your desktop environment. You can caption any videos you may have posted on YouTube -- or at least read up on how it might be done. Explore the built-in accessibility features of your work station.

But most importantly, take the time to listen to users with disabilities. The Internet is full of commentary on website and application accessibility. Listen to what we have to say and work with us to improve things.

After all, awareness is just the first step down the path to global accessibility. The next steps require everyone working together to make accessibility a reality.

To follow GAAD events and discussions as they happen, use the #GAAD hashtag on your social medium of choice. You can also follow Global Accessibility Awareness Day on Twitter and Facebook.

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