Today, May 9th, is Global Accessibility Awareness Day #GAAD a whole day devoted to learning about web and mobile accessibility. I encourage you to take some of your time today to learn a bit more about this important topic.

Accessibility is a subset of UX that aims to makes websites usable by the most people possible, including those with disabilities. For lots of us who work on the web, accessibility is generalized as “blind people”, but it’s more than just screen readers and covers a wide range of users with visual, auditory, motor, and cognitive disabilities. Today is about learning how to craft better, more usable websites for people with various circumstances and situations in life.

Ways you can celebrate #GAAD

Here’s a few challenges that you and your coworkers can try today:

  • Unplug your mouse for hour
  • Use the accessibility features on your smartphone
  • Turn off your screen and use a screen reader for an hour

Check your own site, visit some of your favorite sites, try to use your favorite social network. You may find that it’s not that easy and you feel restricted. Creating accessible websites can provide people with digital independence.

Learning Accessibility

I’ve been making websites for over a decade but am often confused by web accessibility. Sometimes, despite my best efforts, a tiny error or omission (usually with JavaScript) leaves a site completely inaccessible. Despite this, I firmly believe that knowing the basics about accessibility is part of the job description for every front-end web developer.

There are lots of great resources for learning accessibility, but finding the latest, up-to-date information is a bit difficult. Often times good information is buried in long academic posts or comment threads scattered across hundreds of websites. In an effort to make learning accessibility digestible and up-to-date, myself and a growing group of contributors have created The Accessibility Project.

The A11YProject is a community driven open source project that seeks to make learning web accessibility easier. Because it’s open source, anyone can contribute, update articles, and fix errors. It’s an open source knowledge base dedicated to improving how we build websites. I encourage you to take some time today to browse the site and pick up a few new tricks. The “Quick Tips” and “Quick Tests” are some of my favorites. Each article is under 2 minutes in length.

If we were all to learn some of the basics of building accessible websites and we built empathy into our processes, we could impact great change. If each of us did our part, rather than ignoring it, we could incrementally help make the world a better place for millions of individuals.

For more information on #GAAD:

Again, I encourage you to take today to learn more about accessibility. Tweet about #GAAD and share this article with to your friends and coworkers.

For more information about Global Accessibility Awareness Day:

If you’re still interested:
– Join the #a11y conversation on Twitter
– Have questions? Ask @a11yproject on Twitter and we’ll try to get you answers.