G is for Global: Tribute to Global Accessibility Awareness Day 2013


On May 9, 2013 people around the world will be gathering for workshops, seminars and other events to celebrate and recognize the second annual Global Accessibility Awareness Day, or GAAD. As explained on the GAAD Facebook page, the day is a community-driven effort whose goal is to focus one day to raise the profile of digital (web, software, mobile app/device, touch screen kiosk, etc.) accessibility and people with different disabilities. The Law Office of Lainey Feingold’s legal practice is entirely focused on digital accessibility, and this post is my tribute to the wonderful idea that is Global Accessibility Awareness Day.

Congratulations to the grassroots community that is growing GAAD and especially to accessibility activist extraordinaire Jennison Asuncion whose enthusiasm and commitment is significantly responsible for the tremendous growth of this day of awareness.

Global Accessibility Awareness Day Resources

G is for Global: Thank you Twitter for Connecting the Global Accessibility Community

I’m glad that “Global” is the first word in the May 9th awareness day. Today, when enterprises are global and technology developed in one country is available internationally, accessibility has no choice but to be global. Examples are endless: The Talking ATMs manufactured for the U.S. market as a result of blind community advocacy are finding homes around the world. (Visit the international category on this website to learn more.) Websites designed in one country and coded in the next are visited by people around the globe. Outsourcing of digital tasks is common. The “Global” part of Global Accessibility Awareness Day is key to ensuring full inclusion of people with disabilities to all aspects of technology everywhere that technology is found (and needed).

The accessibility community *is* global, and one reason we know that is Twitter. While working on digital accessibility legal issues from my home base in Berkeley, California USA, Twitter makes it possible for me to feel connected to people and organizations around the globe working to make the digital world inclusive for everyone. For example, the #a11y (accessibility) and #ux (usability) hashtags are handy short-cuts for Twitter users around the world to advance and discuss digital accessibility. And the international effort to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with disabilities, which includes digital accessibility provisions, benefits from the Twitter hashtag #CRPD (Read the earlier posts on this website about the CRPD)

Although I have not met most of LFLegal’s Twitter followers, I feel internationally connected as I review the list. Individuals from outside the United States who work on digital accessibility and follow LFLegal on Twitter include people from Belgium, the Netherlands, India, Ireland, the United Kingdom, France, Denmark, Japan, Australia, Norway, Hong Kong, Spain, Sweden, Viet Nam, New Zealand, Iceland, and of course Canada.

There are organizations on Twitter dedicated expressly to global digital accessibility, including Global Alliance on Accessible Technologies and Environments, Raising the Floor and the Web Accessibility Initiative of the W3C. And the international effort to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with disabilities benefits from the Twitter hashtag #CRPD (Read the earlier posts on this website about the CRPD)

The digital world won’t truly be inclusive and accessible around the globe until those who need technology wherever they live can both afford it and access it. Yet the international community on Twitter demonstrates the growing global reach of accessibility advocates. The GAAD organizers did well in beginning their name with “Global” to remind us of those advocates, and the global community that needs digital accessibility.

Double A for Accessibility Awareness: Digital Accessibility Category Added to LFLegal

May 9th is a day to take time out for awareness of the need for digital accessibility. Imagine every computer science student (and their teachers) spending 20 minutes on May 9th learning about how people with disabilities use computers. Picture every kiosk manufacturer spending half an hour talking to a a blind customer about how s/he would use their product if only accessibility were built in. The generated awareness would be phenomenal.

And even those of use steeped in issues of accessibility can benefit from pausing for a moment of awareness. When I did, I realized that this website needed an update in a an important respect. Therefore, in honor of Global Accessibility Awareness Day, the Law Office of Lainey Feingold has added a “Digital Accessibility” category to LFLegal.com. The term “digital accessibility,” used by the GAAD organizers, is more accurate than the narrower term “web accessibility” in reflecting the goal of legal advocacy that is designed to protect the civil rights of people with disabilities to a host of information and services in the modern world. The term Digital Accessibility is broader than web accessibility, embracing not only on-line content, but mobile applications, other software, digital books, electronic kiosks, and more. And, the term is hopefully flexible enough to embrace new technologies not yet conceived of.

I should have realized the need for a new category when posting the the Major League Baseball accessible mobile application press release and the Bank of America mobile app press release. I filed those under “Web Accessibility” only, despite the broader scope of the press releases and their underlying Structured Negotiations settlement agreements. Thank you GAAD for helping me to become “aware” yet again that words matter. LFLegal will continue of course to champion web accessibility, but will consider it but one aspect of the digital accessibility that is the civil right of people with disabilities.

Visit the Digital Accessibility Category now. All relevant content since 2010 has been updated to reflect the Digital Accessibility category, and it will be used on all new content going forward.

Enjoy, celebrate and recognize Global Accessibility Awareness Day on May 9, 2013. May our awareness result in increased digital accessibility for people with disabilities the world over.