Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Global Accessiblity Awareness Day May 15, 2014 (aka Let's talk about A11y...!)

Thursday May 15th 2014 will be Global Accessibility Awareness Day!

Global Accessibility Awareness Day Logo

So what is GAAD? From GAAD website:

Global Accessibility Awareness Day is a community-driven effort whose goal is to dedicate one day to raising the profile of and introducing the topic of digital (web, software, mobile app/device etc.) accessibility and people with different disabilities to the broadest audience possible.

*IF* you're doing #A11y or your site/app/store/business is already Accessible, great; give yourself a pat on the back because you're already aware. If you're not, maybe spend some time thinking about #A11y? (If you already are aware, consider the next step trying to make others aware too!)

To be honest, I ultimately think that Accessible Apps and Sites are just *better* designed and more usable in general. 

I believe that the heart of inaccessibility is ignorance and how we start to fix that is through Awareness. The following infographic does a succinct job expressing the issue of Equality vs. Equity:

Equality vs. Equity: See descriptive text below...

(For those using Screen Readers, the left picture has 3 boys of varying heights trying to watch a baseball game, but the shortest boy is too short to see over the wall. On the right is a picture of 3 same boys, but they have various number of boxes to stand on to make them effectively the same height. The shortest boy has 2 boxes to stand on and can now see over the wall and enjoy the game. All the boys can now watch the game.)

The text below the image is:

Equality = SAMENESS
Equality is about SAMENESS, it promotes fairness and justice by giving everyone the same thing. 
BUT it can only work IF everyone starts from the SAME place, in this example equality only works if everyone is the same height.

Equity is about FAIRNESS, it's about making sure people get access to the same opportunities.
Sometimes our differences and/or history, can create barriers to participation, so we must FIRST ensure EQUITY before we can enjoy equality.

(I have seen the infographic many times, but I got my copy from

The other day I was at a site with "wheelchair" accessible washrooms. Or at least they were supposed to be Accessible. However the button to the open the door was on the inside of the bathroom only. When I observed a wheelchair user open the door, stick their arm inside and hit the button and then back-off and wait for door open I was a little shocked. Ingenious work-around solution, but hopefully unnecessary in the near future.

I realized Accessibility should not be viewed as a checkbox. 

I'm hoping that GAAD and other events help promote the Awareness of Accessibility, so that we can then leverage Empathy to adequately execute Accessibility. (Maybe a bit of user-testing might be useful as well, but I digress...)

In this way I hope that we can fulfill all 4x of the principles below:
  1. Dignity
  2. Independence
  3. Integration
  4. Equal Opportunity
Awareness, then Empathy == Greater Accessibility.

Hope that helps...
Wayne Pau

p.s. If you are interested, below is a presentation I did at Conestoga College at their #A11y/AODA event back on March 27, 2014:

Designing With Empath Presentation