What is Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD)?
Global Accessibility Awareness Day, taking place on 20th May, is an international event encouraging all people to think, talk, and learn about digital accessibility and inclusion. Last year staff in Information Services celebrated this event by providing online tips and workshops. This year we want to go bigger by providing tips and resources for staff and students during the four weeks leading up to 20th May. We invite staff and students to get involved through small, yet meaningful actions in support of accessibility.
Save the dates
The following accessibility focused events will be taking place – details to follow in future blog posts and communications.
- Tuesday 11th May 12pm-1pm
[Online event] Fireside chat between University of Brighton’s Digital Learning Team and University of Sussex TEL Team. To learn more and to sign-up to attend please visit the eventbrite page (event for Brighton and Sussex staff).
- Watch our online workshop page for updates we already have some accessibility-focused workshops, including Blackboard Ally, but more are on their way.
- On Global Accessibility Awareness Day (20th May) we have a keynote speaker who will present online at 3pm. This event will be open to staff at University of Brighton and University of Sussex.
Why is accessibility important?
Accessible ~ something that is easy to use, see, understand, with minimisation of any barriers.
Inclusive ~ considering the needs and perspectives of others by intentionally avoiding approaches which may exclude people 1.
Accessibility touches each and every person at some point in their lives, this is particularly true of digital accessibility. Digital accessibility is that font that you make a little bit bigger for ease of reading; that long text with highlights to find the important bits; those voice memos you create to make sense of something complex which are quicker for you than writing. A new adjustable and personalised future is coming into view, but this cannot be achieved through technology alone. The raw materials, as in documents and media, also need to be created accessibly from the outset. The content itself also needs to be written inclusively, which is something that technology cannot do for us. The good news is once you adopt an accessible and inclusive mindset, it becomes part of your daily practice and over time it will come naturally. The other benefit is that accessible documents and resources are easier for everyone to use.
Don’t just take our word for it…
Each week we will include an article, personal account, or video which helps to explain the lived experience of having a disability. This week we share an article Young and Dyslexic? You’ve got it going on from The Guardian by the poet, Benjamin Zephaniah (2015). The article is as an open letter to young dyslexic people (adapted from Rooke, 2015). Zephaniah talks about growing up dyslexic and his intersectional experience of education as a black and dyslexic young person.
“If you’re dyslexic and you feel there’s something holding you back, just remember: it’s not you. In many ways being dyslexic is a natural way to be.
What’s unnatural is the way we read and write.”
– Benjamin Zephaniah (2015)
There are lots of ways to take part in our celebration of GAAD. Even if you can only dedicate a little bit of time, every action helps, even small ones.
Even small actions are meaningful
Over the weeks leading up to GAAD we will provide weekly tips to help improve the accessibility of your documents and resources. Tell us about the changes that you have made, no matter how small, via Twitter or via the Remote Teaching Team (on Microsoft Teams – internal to Univeristy of Brighton). On Twitter use the following hashtags: #GAADDeeds #GAAD #AltTextApril
Did you know the technical term from writing TextLikeThis where multiple words are joined with a capital letter is camel case. Hashtags used on Social Media platforms are made more accessible to screen reader software when they are in camel case format, e.g., #GoodHashtag
Pledge to make changes over the next month
If you plan to make more than one change/update this month why not pledge it? You can sign up to the pledge on this page and/or post it via Twitter. Essentially you are pledging to complete some good deeds, or rather #GAADDeeds this month!
I, Fiona MacNeill pledge to support Global Accessibility Awareness Day 2021 by making improvements to my videos. This month, I will build a habit of double-checking the subtitles/closed captions and making corrections where needed #GAADDeeds #GAAD pic.twitter.com/uBsLjViEG0
— Fiona MacNeill 💙 (@fmacneill) April 20, 2021
Attend the workshops and online events
As outlined in our save the dates section at the top of this post. More details for the online events are to follow.
Join the Fix Your Content Day Challenge on 20th May
If you are an academic staff person or a professional staff person who creates resources for My Studies you can take part in our entry to this challenge on 20th May. The challenge is to improve as many documents as you/we can in My Studies on the 20th May. Thankfully, Blackboard Ally is here to help and provides guidance on exactly how to improve materials. Sign-up as an individual or as a team using this form.
Fix Your Content Day Challenge is a global competition with other universities using Blackboard Ally and you can see the leaderboard from last year here.
Quick changes to improve the accessibility of your materials:
How much time do you have?
- I have 5 minutes: Add alt text to images in a Microsoft Word document
- I have 10 minutes: Use the accessibility checker in Microsoft PowerPoint to improve the accessibility of your slides.
- I have 15 minutes: Improve the accessibility of content folders in My Studies (brand new – how-to video below).
For more tips, visit our S.C.U.L.P.T. Accessibility Guidance page.
Quick changes for your own accessibility needs (staff and students):
- Windows: Apply colour filters on Windows 10
- Mac: Make it easier to see things on your Mac
- Apple iOS (iPad, iPhone): Use colour filters to change the background colour for reading or change the display of colours.
- TechAbility I want to see my screen more clearly: this guide includes helpful keyboard shortcuts for zooming as well as more in-depth information on options available for zooming.
Rooke, M. (2015) Creative: 23 high achievers share their stories. ZULU: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
Zephaniah, B. (2015) ‘Young and dyslexic? You’ve got it going on’, the Guardian, 2 October. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/oct/02/young-dyslexic-children-creative (Accessed: 19 April 2021).
With thanks to Vedrana Velickovic who suggested content for this post.