Are your digital deliverables inclusive? As we approach the 12th annual celebration of Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) on May 18, it’s crucial that we prioritize accessibility in all its aspects. As technology advances, so must our understanding and implementation of inclusive design. Let’s strive to create a digital landscape that is accessible to and beneficial for all individuals, regardless of their abilities. John Foliot emphasizes the dynamic nature of digital accessibility in his article “The Evolution of WCAG: A Roadmap to Achieving Digital Accessibility”.
It’s fairly obvious to anyone who works in the technology sector that the only thing constant is change, and when it comes to the world of digital accessibility, change is as constant there as anywhere else. Whether it’s advances in software or hardware tools or new developments in the code used for developing web content, digital accessibility is evolving like all other aspects of the web.
Let’s dive in!
Understanding GAAD and Its Significance
Accessibility is not just a checkbox that you can tick off once and forget forever. It’s an ongoing effort that requires continuous attention and dedication. Therefore, GAAD is an important reminder for us to take action and increase our understanding of accessibility. The theme for this year, “Keeping Technology Accessible for Everyone,” highlights the ongoing need to prioritize accessibility in all our digital products. Whether it’s a website, an app, or any other technology, we must strive to ensure that everyone can use it with ease. With over a billion individuals with disabilities globally, it’s imperative that we create a digital world that’s inclusive of everyone.
To overcome this challenge, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) offer recommendations for creating accessible web content. These guidelines are based on the POUR principles: perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust. WCAG has three levels of conformance—A, AA, and AAA—for assessing a website’s compliance. Let’s utilize GAAD as a platform to participate in discussions, learn more about accessibility, and create more inclusive deliverables.
The Current State of Digital Accessibility
While digital accessibility has come a long way, there is still much work to be done. The World Health Organization reports that an estimated 1.3 billion people experience significant disability. This represents 16 percent of the world’s population. This means that one in six people may face challenges in accessing digital content. With the rise of digital technology, the internet has become a vital aspect of everyday life—from education to health care, entertainment, and communication. Therefore, it’s crucial to ensure that everyone can access and use digital content, regardless of their abilities.
The Importance of Accessibility
Unlock the power of accessibility for your digital assets, and watch your business thrive! Not only is it the ethical thing to do but it can also drive your success by making your digital content more user friendly, expanding your potential audience, and enhancing user satisfaction. However, despite the availability of technological solutions, the 2023 WebAIM report reveals that almost all websites have some accessibility issues. WCAG 2 failures had been detected on 96.3 percent of home pages! Users with disabilities would expect to encounter errors in 1 of every 21 home page elements they interact with—from low-contrast text to missing alternative text for images, empty links, a lack of form input labels, and more. This gap between website owners and developers’ knowledge of accessibility and the necessity for accessibility in today’s digital world is alarming. By designing for accessibility, companies can tap into the $490 billion global market for people with disabilities and reach a wider audience.
Don’t let noncompliance with accessibility guidelines result in lawsuits and penalties that damage your business’s reputation. It’s crucial to prioritize accessibility from the start rather than treat it as an afterthought. From June 28, 2025, businesses, including manufacturers and publishers, will only be able to supply the European market with products and services that comply with the the European Accessibility Act requirements. This is about serving the market and meeting the customers’ needs, making better publications, and getting content out there. So if you want to supply products and services to the EU, don’t wait; start your accessibility journey today!
Tips for Supporting GAAD Every Day
“It Takes a Village to Get Accessibility Right”
The publishing ecosystem is making progress. It’s a group effort. Everybody involved has a role to play:
- your staff
- your authors
- your service providers
- your system providers
- your dissemination partners
will help you get there.
— Bill Kasdorf
Here are a few tips to support GAAD every day:
- Learn about accessibility: Take the time to learn about accessibility, and familiarize yourself with WCAG guidelines.
- Born accessibility: Accessibility should be a priority from the start of a project. Consider accessibility at every stage of development—from design to implementation and testing.
- Test for accessibility: Use accessibility testing tools to evaluate your website’s accessibility. These tools can identify common issues and help you address them.
- Use accessible design practices: Incorporate accessible design practices, such as providing descriptive alternative text for images, creating meaningful headings, and ensuring proper color contrast.
- Involve people with disabilities in the development process: Including people with disabilities in the design and development process can provide valuable insights and feedback and help ensure that the final product is accessible to all users.
- Integrate alt-text with your site: Alt-text enables screen readers to describe images aloud to site visitors with visual disabilities; it also enhances SEO website traffic.
- Provide accessible documents: It is essential to render documents identically across all web channels and digital tools to ensure digital accessibility. Guidelines can be addressed manually or using automated remediation tools.
- Make text readable: Using large, readable fonts and sans serif fonts like Roboto, Open Sans, and Montserrat makes content easily accessible for people with disabilities, including those with dyslexia.
Why Accessibility Widgets Aren’t Enough
Is your website truly accessible or just ticking boxes with accessibility widgets? While accessibility widgets can offer some benefits, they are not a comprehensive solution to accessibility. In fact, relying solely on widgets can have serious consequences, as evidenced by the increasing number of lawsuits against companies with widgets on their websites. In 2022, almost 600 companies received a lawsuit, which is a 36 percent increase from 2021, with accessibility widgets being listed as a barrier to equal access in addition to other web barriers and WCAG violations.
Website owners must prioritize creating accessible designs and content from the start rather than use widgets as a Band-Aid solution. Compliance with accessibility standards is crucial, not only to avoid lawsuits but also to ensure that every user can access the website’s content, regardless of their abilities. As the demand for accessible websites grows, it’s increasingly prudent for website owners to take accessibility seriously and ensure that their websites are accessible for everyone. Let’s work toward a more inclusive web experience and make accessibility a top priority.
Need Help to Progress with Accessibility?
Ensure Inclusivity with Amnet
Addressing access for people with disabilities—ranging from visual, auditory, physical, speech, cognitive, language, learning, and neurological—presents unique and complex design and content problems for your development team.
To address these challenges, Amnet provides a comprehensive suite of digital accessibility services that not only remediates and transforms existing content but also creates born-accessible content. From expert consultation, accessibility audit, implementation, and scalability to compliance with federal and international accessibility regulations, Amnet offers support at every step of the way.
Why Partner with Amnet?
Backed by our diverse, trained, and skilled team of experts; advanced tools; and usable and extensive resources, we offer top-of-the-line digital accessibility services in conformance with ADA, WCAG 2.1, and Section 508. By partnering with us you can ensure digital equality and compliance with regulatory requirements and maximize user engagement quickly and cost-effectively.
A page displays an article titled, “Are your digital deliverables inclusive?” at the top-left. An infographic beside depicts a physically challenged person seated in a wheelchair and a visually impaired man, holding the handle tied to the harness of a guide dog, at the center. A man and two women stand behind them. The man standing on the left shows a hand gesture with his right hand and rests his left hand on the wheelchair. A woman stands beside him touching the arm of the visually impaired man. Another woman standing to the right of the visually impaired man shows a hand gesture with her right hand and raises her left hand.
Text under the title reads, 1 in 6 of us live with disabilities. An accompanying icon displays a physically challenged person seated in a wheelchair. This is followed by an icon showing the world map focusing on Africa and its neighboring countries in the foreground. The accompanying text reads, “In 2022, an estimated 1.3 billion people experienced significant disability."
The article has three sections. The first section is titled, “Accessibility in Content Creation.” An infographic under the title displays a person sitting at a table before a desktop showing a hand gesture. Books are placed on the left side of the table and above the small chest of drawers placed under the table. The section lists the following four bullet points.
1. Accessibility makes our products and processes better.
2. Accessible content is easier to use for everyone, regardless of ability.
3. For example, good reading order and structure can make content more understandable for people with cognitive disabilities.
4. It makes our systems and applications easier to use: Like keyboard equivalents for everything, labels on buttons and forms, good color contrast, and readable font sizes.
This is followed by two infographics, one showing a price tag and the other showing a keyboard and a mouse. The accompanying text reads, “Keyboard equivalents for everything.”
Text further below reads, “labels on buttons” and “forms” accompanied by respective icons labeled good color contrast and readable font sizes, respectively.
The subsequent content of the section elaborates on the following four benefits of accessible content.
a. Good, logical structure and reading order.
b. Ability to access on various devices, and reflow!
c. Read aloud when we need hands-free, captions when we need to suppress video sound.
d. Guidance on interpreting complex images.
This is followed by the following two bullet points.
Globally, at least 2.2 billion people have a near or distance vision impairment.
Providing alt text for images allows people with visual disabilities to understand the content of the image, and it can also improve search engine optimization, S E O. The accompanying icons beside the points display a small boy guiding a physically challenged man and an Alt key.
The second section is titled, “Accessibility in Web Design.” The section begins with the catchline, "Good web design is accessible web design.” An infographic below displays the sail of a sailing boat moving in a calm sea surrounded by mountains. The accompanying text reads, “For example, providing clear navigation and headings can help people with cognitive disabilities understand the content and structure of a website.”
The paragraph below reads, “In the U S, approximately 37.5 million adults are with hearing difficulties. Providing captions and transcripts for video content can make it accessible to people with hearing difficulties, as well as people who are in noisy environments or who prefer to read rather than listen.”
The third section is titled, “The Continuous Effort of Accessibility.” The catchline following the title reads, “Accessibility is not a one-time task; it requires continuous effort and improvement.”
The text below reads, “New technologies and design trends require ongoing evaluation and adaptation.” This is followed by seven blank bullet points. An accompanying infographic displays a physically challenged woman moving on a wheelchair. The woman holds a tablet in her hands and looks at it.
The text further below reads as follows. “Prioritizing accessibility in design and development can save time and money in the long run, by avoiding costly legal fees and remediation efforts.”
This is followed by an infographic on the left. The infographic displays a man standing in the witness box of the court and a lawyer standing next to him interrogating the witness. The accompanying text reads, “In 2022, there were over 4,061 lawsuits filed in the U S related to web accessibility.”
The subsequent line reads, “Accessible publications should be like that: something we take for granted.”
This is followed by an icon of the digital marketing megaphone. The accompanying text reads, “Publications should be "born accessible."
The points listing the Digita11y accessible content read as follows.
1. No need for special workflows or post-publication enhancement or remediation.
2. The standard publications we make should be accessible from the start.
3. People needing accessible publications should get the same thing everybody else gets.
The call for action reads, “Join the effort for accessibility and help make the world a more inclusive place.”
The line at the bottom reads, “Digitally is a powerful digital accessibility checker tool developed by Amnet.”
The source line at the bottom of the page reads, “Usable Net, World Health Organization, National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.”
GAAD 2023 is focused on “keeping technology accessible for everyone.” Digital accessibility is critical for providing equal access to technology for everyone, including people with disabilities. While accessibility widgets can be helpful, they are not enough to ensure full accessibility. By following the best practices for digital accessibility, we can make digital technology more inclusive and accessible for everyone. As the world becomes more dependent on technology, it is essential to ensure that everyone has equal access to digital tools and products. So let’s use GAAD as an opportunity to spark change, to raise awareness, and to work together toward a more accessible future.