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Did You Know that It’s Global Accessibility Awareness Day Tomorrow?

Thursday, May 17 2018 will mark the seventh annual Global Accessibility Awareness Day – an idea that all began with a single blog post written by Los Angeles-based web developer Joe Devon. When accessibility professional Jennison Asuncion from Toronto discovered Joe’s blog post randomly via twitter, he immediately contacted Joe, and together they used their extensive and respective networks to create an event, that will this year span seventeen different countries.

The purpose of Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD)?

To get people talking.

More specifically, design, development, and usability communities who shape and influence technology and its use. Thinking and learning about digital access/inclusion and people with different disabilities, breeds better awareness. Wether it is mobile, web-based, or software, even people interested in making technology accessible and usable by persons with disabilities, may not know how or where to start.

There are many events, both physical and virtual, organized by the people behind GAAD, and by others trying to shine a light on accessibility. Locally, technology company HRDownloads will be hosting Ladies That UX and London Front-End Development Meetup, for Hands-On Web Accessibility at their beautiful new office space on Dufferin Avenue, in exactly that vein.

“As a London-based organization, we strongly believe in community involvement and sharing knowledge that can help drive the London tech community forward,” said Anthony Boyle, President and CEO of HRDownloads. “We embrace the growth of our city as it becomes a vibrant tech hub, and are thrilled to host the event. It is an excellent opportunity to participate in an interactive discussion about accessibility and Web design.”

Thursday’s event will feature a keynote talk by Scott Blinch, a front-end web developer at Race Roster, followed by an interactive workshop where the group will go through the process of analyzing some websites, and addressing some things that might improve those sites’ accessibility. The whole exercise is intended to demonstrate that while accessibility can seem like an ever-replenishing checklist, it’s still productive, and worth taking time to address issues. Frequently or otherwise.

Ladies that UX, London chapter Organizer, and event co-organizer Donna Todd said that she was thrilled to be partnering with London Front-end Development Meetup, to observe GAAD. Both groups are great technology network solutions for London designers and developers. If you’re not in the meetup scene, consider joining. It can be an invaluable tool in your business self-promotion or marketing, as well as a great source of knowledge. They can also help provide a window to initiatives like GAAD.

“Accessibility is a hot topic right now. We’re hoping this event will not only encourage awareness but also create new discussions on best practices and spark ideas of how to tackle an ongoing problem,” Todd said.

In Devon’s original blog post back in 2011, he urged, “every web developer to test at least one page on their site in an accessibility tool.” Developers were then urged to make the accessibility changes necessary, and blog about their results.

The Hands-On Web Accessibility event will do just that – not only address some websites’ accessibility issues – but go through the process of making the changes as well. It’s very much the “hackathon” that Devon described in his initial plea to the public.

The event also gets designers and developers talking about accessibility on social networks and at work; and that was one of the main goals of GAAD from it’s inception.

Another one of the original goals of GAAD was to make all big websites on the net, easy to access, and simple to use. With industry corporate giants like Apple and Microsoft procuring Accessibility specific content and initiatives this year, Global Accessibility Awareness Day is clearly already achieving what it set out to do.

So if you make your living in the digital realm, do your part tomorrow. If you can’t attend Hands-On Web Accessibility, just take a few minutes to navigate to a site – wether you built it, own it, or just use it – and test it’s accessibility functionality. Turn off your keyboard and mouse and see what happens. Better yet, take the time to use a screen reader and see if it’s something that can still be used by disabled users.

Don’t be afraid or overwhelmed by the results. Just by virtue of taking the time to complete the exercise, you are helping to make the world a more Accessible place. Awareness is the first step in a solution. If you do decide to make a site you’re part of more usable, there is plenty of information, up-to-and-including free webinars available online to help you do so.

Be pro-active. Take a step. Help make the ever-increasing world of technology, accessible to everybody.

More Information:

Global Accessibility Awareness Day website

Hands-On Web Accessibility
Thursday, May 17, 2018
6:30 PM to 8:30 PM
Venue: HR Downloads – 195 Dufferin Ave #800

Ladies That UX
How might we bridge the gap and see more women leading and influencing the user experience, tech and design fields… right here in London, Ontario? That’s the question we’re on a mission to answer.

London Front-end Development Meetup
Hang out and discuss JavaScript, CSS and other front-end related tips, tricks, hacks, and frameworks with some of the other local developers. Show off cool stuff you’ve done and learn about what else is going on in the community. No pressure, no mandatory presentations.

Joe Devon’s original blog post

About Mark Solway

Storyteller. Community builder, content creator, sports journalist, and a proud Londoner for 40 years.

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