Global Accessibility Awareness Day 2024  - Exploring Accessibility 2024

May 16th 2024

Category(s):

  • Accessibility

The Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) is a significant event celebrated globally on the third Thursday of May, which falls on the 16th this year. This day is crucial in drawing the attention of people toward accessibility and the requirements of people with disabilities (PwD). It also focuses on the latest trends, standards, and advances in technology that help us create a landscape that is accessible to all. The theme for 2024 is “Built without barriers.”

Let’s dive in!

The Purpose of GAAD and Why It Is Important

The Significance of GAAD

John Devon, a web developer, first proposed GAAD to reiterate the significance of accessibility. His efforts, combined with that of Jennison Asuncion, an accessibility advocate, led to the first-ever celebration of GAAD in 2012. The creation of a day just for raising awareness about digital accessibility helps people and organizations engage in conversations about the accessibility of their products and services and the difficulties that PwD face. It encourages learning about accessibility and inspires action to inclusivity.

Why GAAD Matters the Most

Many organizations across the world conduct events, talks, and workshops to demonstrate the latest accessibility best practices, trends, and technologies. This provides a platform for designers, developers, and stakeholders to discuss and acquire a deeper understanding of accessibility. It encourages individuals, organizations, and communities to prioritize inclusivity in their processes and build a digitally accessible world. It serves as an annual reminder to improve accessibility standards and ensure compliance. PwD can voice their concerns and the issues they face in the digital realm. Accessibility is a basic human right that is often neglected. With GAAD, digital accessibility takes center stage and receives all the attention it deserves.

Understanding Digital Accessibility

Websites, applications, tools, and technologies are considered digitally accessible if PwD are able to use them with ease and access the information they desire. Digital accessibility is possible only if these products and services are designed and developed with accessibility in mind. A 2023 study by the World Health Organization (WHO) reports that 16 percent of the world’s population – an estimated 1.3 billion people – experience significant disability. While a significant portion of these people lack internet access, those who have access are barricaded by a lack of digital accessibility. Simple features like color contrast, adjustable font, alternate text, closed captions, easy navigation, and permissions for assistive technologies can make a huge difference.

The internet has become an integral part of our lives. We access the internet to perform basic tasks like ordering groceries, booking tickets, banking, and accessing social media and for education and work. Social participation is mainly through devices and digital interfaces. If some people are not able to experience a particular website, app, or kiosk; access its information; and perform tasks independently on it, it is considered discrimination. It affects day-to-day life more than we can imagine. Countries like the UK, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Spain, India, and Japan have recognized WCAG 2.0 as their national web standard. Laws and mandates urge global organizations to become more digitally inclusive.

Update on Accessibility Regulations and Standards

European Accessibility Act to Be Effective from June 2025

The European Accessibility Act (EAA) is a directive that mandates all businesses that operate or have a majority of consumers in the European Union to be digitally accessible by June 2025. The member states will oversee the implementation of this act through audits and also decide the penalties for noncompliance through national laws.

The EAA ensures that products and services are accessible by design. It can create better opportunities for PwD in education and work. Since the act standardizes accessibility across the EU states, trade is expected to become seamless. Companies are to submit regular reports and reviews, and no excuse will be acceptable for noncompliance. It is a win-win for both businesses and consumers in the EU.

What Does the Latest Update on the ADA Include?

The attorney general of the United States signed a final rule under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) on April 8, 2024, advancing the act’s promise of equal participation in society for PwD. This rule will provide standards for state and local governments to ensure the digital accessibility of their programs and services on websites and mobile applications. The final rule is yet to be made available for review. As a result of this act, PwD will be able to access public services, programs, and activities easily.

Understanding the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.2

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) publishes specifications under recommendations and standards that are reviewed and endorsed by W3C members, developers, and others. They recommend these for web accessibility and also update them in versions.

The web content accessibility guidelines (WCAG) 2.2 lists recommendations that make content accessible to a wide range of people. WCAG 2.2 is the latest version of these guidelines with three levels of conformance: A, AA, and AAA. It includes principles, guidelines, and success criteria with resources and examples.

GAAD encourages the implementation of WCAG standards in the digital landscape by highlighting real-life scenarios, applications, and techniques in implementation. This eases people into understanding the guidelines instead of looking at them as a set of rules.

Significance of Digital Accessibility Testing

What Is Digital Accessibility Testing?

Digital accessibility is a feature that every user can perceive differently. Digital accessibility testing allows companies to evaluate and assess the functionality and usability of their products concerning accessibility. It aids in the early detection of issues, error correction, and improvement.

The Importance of Digital Accessibility Testing

Accessibility testing can be manual or automated. It ensures a seamless user experience by detecting bugs that arise in actual usage, ensuring compliance with accessibility standards or mandates, and identifying areas for improvement. A 2023 WebAIM report analyzed one million home pages and detected 49 million distinct accessibility errors, averaging a whopping 50 errors per page.

Need for Digital Accessibility Testing

Accessibility testing is a continuous, ongoing process to build and maintain fully accessible products. It helps in refining the product’s digital accessibility aspects, remediating its issues based on feedback and recommendations, and ensuring updated compliance. Straits Research estimates the global accessibility testing market to reach $606 million by 2027. An accessible user experience opens up new opportunities for companies by including PwD, building a positive brand reputation, better SEO ranking, and mitigating legal risks.

  • Insights to Boost the User Experience in Digital Accessibility

    Strategy to Focus on Digital Accessibility

    • A digital accessibility strategy helps you successfully plan, design, implement, and improve accessibility.
    • Educate the teams involved about the importance of accessibility. Invest in relevant tools and resources.
    • Understand the requirements of the users, especially PwD, and how it affects their web experience and usage.
    • Focus on accessibility when you design, and include accessibility features.
    • Implement accessibility features that enhance digital accessibility functions.
    • Continually assess accessibility using testing and tools to identify and fix issues. Regular audits help you update and improve.

    Tools for Improving Digital Accessibility

    There are many tools you can use to achieve your digital accessibility goals. They make your job easier, more efficient, and manageable. Screen reader simulation tools read out information and help you identify any challenges in understanding the content on a screen reader. Color-contrast checkers can alert you to insufficient contrast ratios that affect the readability for visually impaired users. Accessibility checkers can perform automated audits, pinpoint errors, and suggest remediation. According to Business Research Insights, the global market for these tools is set to reach $993.62 million by 2031. Besides these, there are several platforms, forums, and resources available for digital accessibility implementation.

    Best Practices of User Testing

    Digital accessibility testing can start when the project begins, so it is easier to fix issues as they arise. Using multiple tools for testing, combining both manual and automated, helps you cover more aspects of digital accessibility. Keep referring to the accessibility standards and guidelines to ensure compliance. Gartner’s 2023 market guide suggests that we can expect artificial intelligence to increase the efficacy of these tools in the future.

Tips for Observing GAAD

Know more about POUR. POUR is an acronym for the four accessibility principles identified by WCAG. Spreading awareness and learning about these principles are ideal for digital accessibility.

Perceivable: Users can perceive the information through one or more of their senses.

Operable: People can use the interactive elements with ease.

Understandable: Users can interpret and understand the information given.

Robust: People can use the website or application on any device with assistive technologies.

Try new tools and software that help in implementing and testing digital accessibility. It will help you upgrade the user experience and also advance your accessibility journey.

Become familiar with digital accessibility settings in operating systems like Apple, Android, Windows, and so on that many devices already have. Different settings interact differently with each product, and it is always better to be knowledgeable about them.

Learn about assistive technologies and the permissions required. Once you understand their usage and requirements, you will have an idea of how such technologies will work with your website and applications. You can provide a holistic experience for your users in this way.

Implement digital accessibility if you have not already done so. Besides becoming digitally inclusive, you will also gain more users, a good brand image, and a better ranking in search engine results. Digital accessibility is an investment that will prove to be cost effective in the long run.

How Amnet Can Help You Ensure Inclusivity

At Amnet’s Digita11y, we believe accessibility is a basic human right and that everyone should have equal access to digital content. We offer free scanners and solutions that help you run quick accessibility tests. Our experts have years of experience and the best tools to provide customized solutions to your accessibility requirements. We not only remediate existing content but also create born-accessible content. Choose Digita11y as your partner in creating a barrier-free digital experience for your users.

We must invest in accessibility now to have a competitive edge in digital inclusivity. As more and more companies begin to prioritize digital accessibility, the world will become a better place for PwD. This GAAD, let us learn about, participate in, and implement accessibility in all the ways we can so we have a future built without barriers.


An infographic illustrating various accessibility considerations. A detailed description is provided below the image.

A page displays an infographic image titled ‘Why Digital Accessibility Is Important in 2024?’ at the top left. A woman at the back of the wheelchair holding the handles. There is a visually impaired woman on the left side of the wheelchair and a man is holding her for support. There is another visually impaired woman on the right side of the wheelchair and a man standing beside her shows a hand gesture of support to the visually impaired woman.

 Text under the title reads in 2023, an estimated 1.3 billion people – 16 percent of the world’s population – experienced disabilities. Also, there is an image on the left with a visually impaired person on the wheelchair and a man standing next to the wheelchair. There is a world map in the background.  

Below that the title states, Exploring 2024 Web Accessibility Insights. The text on the left corner reads Around 95.9 percent of home pages were detected with WCAG 2 failures accompanied by an image on the right with a woman in a wheelchair looking at a digital screen of the website.

Followed by this the left corner has a text,’ Software Accessibility’. Below the text is an infographic image with a computer screen and rocket displayed, things such as books, coins and a plant are placed in front of the screen. There is a text beside the image stating’ The global web accessibility software market size is expected to reach $893.7 million by 2031’.

This is followed by three icons with images of Good Color Contrast, Screen Readers and Readable Font Sizes.

The subsequent content of the section elaborates on the following four benefits of accessible content.

Creating a user interface with clear design, layout, and color contrast.                                           

Assistive technology integrating voice recognition and screen readers.

Content accessibility, with structured web content and transcripts for multimedia content.

Offering resizable text and adjustable contrast.

Below that the title states,’Web/Mobile Accessibility’ there are four icons with a numeric mentioned in percentage 96.3,72,86, 58 respectively. 

The text below the icon 95.9% states, ninety percent of websites fail to meet accessibility needs, with 95.9 percent of home pages detected with WCAG 2 failures. The text below the icon 72% states seventy-two percent of adults with disabilities own a smartphone. The text below the icon 86% states eighty-six percent of screen reader users use a screen reader on a mobile device. The text below the icon 58% states in 2023, it is estimated that more than 58 percent of web pages have inappropriate or missing alt-text.

The paragraph below reads

Digital accessibility law mandates that websites and apps must be accessible to everyone, including those with disabilities, below line reads few key regulations include

Followed by an infographic image of an accessibility icon in the center directing to four laws on each corner of the image. The top-left corner directing from number 1 states, ‘The European Accessibility Act (EAA), the EU’s landmark law, aims to remove accessibility barriers in goods and services across public and private sectors, and is set for implementation in 2025, with an accessibility icon at the end., Below that number 4 indicates an accessibility icon with a text EN 301 549: European standard ensuring digital accessibility across the continent.

On the top-right corner of the infographic image the number 2 directs to an accessibility icon with a text above, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): Requires businesses and public entities in the United States to ensure digital accessibility. Below that number 3 directs to an accessibility icon with a text,’Section 508: Mandates accessibility for technology used by United States federal agencies’

The subsequent line titles ’Accessibility Lawsuits’, with the text below in 2023, there were 4,605 lawsuits filed in the United States related to web accessibility. This is a 5.44 percent jump in overall cases from 2022 to 2023.

This is followed by an infographic image on the left side of the text displays a man standing in the witness box of the court and a lawyer standing next to him and a balance scale and law book is given at their background.

The text further reads a catch line, Accessible Publication should be the Norm, Publication should be “born accessible”

The points listed in the below content reads

No need for special workflows or post-publications enhancement or remediation  

The standard publication we make should be accessible from the start

All publications should be equally accessible for one and all.

The bold text below that reads Accessibility compliance is not a one-time task; it requires a continuous effort with an accessibility icon on the right.

Below that reads the title know more on our accessibility tools with three infographic pictures with a web screen image inside. Below the first image reads the text free web check ,complimentary website accessibility assessment with an arrow directing towards right. The text under the second image states, free EPUB check, Ensure your EPUB files are accessible to all readers with an arrow mark directing towards right. The text under the last image states, file accessibility check, check your document for accessibility issues, with an arrow mark directing towards right.

The source line at the bottom of the page reads, Digita11y,Bureau of internet accessibility, World Health Organization, WebAIM

FAQs

The Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) is celebrated to draw the attention of people toward accessibility and the requirements of people with disabilities. It focuses on the latest trends, standards, and advances in technology and encourages everyone to prioritize inclusivity in their processes to build a digitally accessible world.

The Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) is a significant event celebrated globally on the third Thursday of May, which falls on the 16th this year. The theme for GAAD 2024 is “Built without barriers,” which highlights the significance of creating content that is accessible to all.

Complying with regulatory standards such as the EAA, ADA, WCAG, Section 508, and EN 301 549 is beneficial but also necessary when it is mandated by law. WCAG 2.1 compliance is ideal to make your website or application digitally accessible to all.

Digital accessibility benefits all. It makes content accessible to everyone and promotes digital inclusivity. People with disabilities can avail of your services with ease, which also increases the reach and reputation of your brand. Besides this, when the law mandates digital accessibility, it becomes a legal requisite for your company.

Yes. Digital accessibility principles apply to all digital spaces, including websites, to provide a seamless user experience. They make your website perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust.

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