Archive for May, 2013

Today, May 9th, is Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD). The point of this day is to increase awareness of the importance of digital accessibility for all people. This outreach is for both geeks and non-geeks. It is for accessibility in learning, playing, working and enjoying life on the web. Because when it comes right down to it the web really is for everyone. So what are you going to do today to celebrate GAAD? Here are a few ideas:

Ideas for Celebrating Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD)

  • Real People, Real Lives, Real Accessibility – Watch the accessibility story of Aleeha and see how technology is allowing her to overcome her disability and study to become the first blind veterinarian.
  • Experience Loss of Dexterity – Trying switching your mouse to your non-dominent hand for an hour. See what it would be like to use the web without your current level of dexterity.
  • Experience Keyboard Only – Try using your favorite web page without a mouse. If you hit a road block realize that people who use screen readers or have dexterity issues and can’t use a mouse would not have equal access to this site. Consider sending a message via the “contact us” form for that site asking them to make their site more accessible.
  • Experience Reduced Vision – Dim the screen on your mobile phone and try to use it in bright sunlight. See what it would be like to have reduced vision and a lack of clear color perception.
  • Sign up for the online version of AccessUAccessU at Your Desk – Learn more about accessibility from the comfort of your own desk. What a great line-up of speakers and topics.
  • Apply for a $10,000 Accessibility Grant – Apply for the Amaze Digital Accessibility Grant. Deque has extended the deadline for submission through today. What would you do with $10,000 to make the web more accessible through innovative technology or an amazing new project?
  • Try using a screen reader.
    • ChromeVox – Try ChromeVox, a free screen reader for the Chrome Browser. I’ll tell you, the interactive ChomeVox Tutorial is really awesome.
    • VoiceOver – If you have a mac, try VoiceOver (it is already on on your computer).
    • NVDA – Try using the open source screen reader NVDA for PCs. Great instructions on getting started can be found at

Additional News and Resources of Global Accessibility Awareness Day

What did I do last year? I spent one hour using the web without my mouse. I reported my findings last year at “Accessibility Awareness: My 1 Mouseless Hour on the Web” .

What am I going to do this year? I’m going to use ChromeVox (a free and powerful screen reader) to explore Google Docs. I’ll share my findings in an upcoming Tweetchat as well as a post to my blog.

I’ve been living in the world of digital accessibility for over a decade now. I know so much about helping people who are blind, deaf and/or mobility impaired. But the area I’m weakest in, is cognitive disabilities. And, let’s be honest, that topic can feel overwhelming. Where are the lines about what is possible and reasonable to do for cognitive disabilities? Who can I turn to when I have questions on this topic?

One of the visionaries in the field of digital accessibility and cognitive disabilities is Lisa Seeman. She is really helping me understand that the time has come to further our research in this area. Why now? Because cognitive disabilities are more prevalent than all the other disabilities put together. We’ve spent over ten years focusing on blind, deaf and mobility/dexterity. Yes, at first the concept of cognitive disabilities may feel intimidating, but stop and remember when someone first told you that a blind person could use a computer and we needed to make our sites accessible to screen readers. That was pretty mind-boggling too. We didn’t let that challenge stop us, now did we?

Let’s stop being blind and deaf to the opportunities that await us in the realm of digital accessibility for people with cognitive disabilities.

In April, I had the opportunity to talk about accessibility on the Non-Breaking Space Show. Emily Lewis, Dave McFarland and Chris Enns hosted this episode with a focused set of questions. Our discussion points include:

  • How did the goodwitch decide to specialize in accessibility?
  • What is universal design and how does it relate to accessibility?
  • Do you recommend using an accessibility checklist or a user interactive evaluation process?
  • How do people with disabilities use the web? What types of technologies and techniques do they use?
  • Is the average web developer/designer aware of accessibility?
  • How do you handle it when a client says “accessibility is too expensive for us to do?”
  • If you want to make your site accessible, what are a few first steps you can take?
  • What resources do you recommend for making the business case for accessibility?
  • What is driving the trend towards a more accessible web? Market factors? Legal Factors?
  • How are accessibility and mobile design related?

The podcast is posted over at the Non-Breaking Space Show at Interview with Glenda Sims on Accessibility. I encourage you to explore the treasure trove of interviews at Non-breaking Space TV and consider subscribing to the show on iTunes. Your brain and the web will appreciate it!