Global Accessibility Awareness Day

May 17, 2016 · Robert DeLuca

Thursday May 19th marks the fifth Global Accessibility Awareness Day. The goal for Global Accessibility Awareness Day (or GAAD for short) is to get people who work in technology to start talking, thinking, or learning about accessibility.

If you’re not familiar, accessibility is about building solutions for those who have disabilities. For the web, it means considering those who are deaf, blind, colorblind, or have motor skill disabilities in your design and development.

A group of people that deeply care about accessibility and Ember.js have banded together. That group is called ember-a11y. Our goal is to make ember accessible by default as much as we can, and the first step in that direction is our ember-a11y addon that fills the gaps of the Ember router. Before this addon, those who rely on screen readers would never know the page updated when switching routes. Here is a quick video demonstrating this.

That’s only the start of what we want to accomplish as a team. We’re putting together a website that isolates and compiles some of the top ember addons on Ember Observer so you or assistive technology providers can test them. You can find the website here.

For GAAD 2016 we would love your help adding as many of the top component addons from ember observer as possible. To stop work duplication, add an issue BEFORE you start implementing the addon. That way, if someone else has already started work on the addon you wanted to implement, you would know.

If that doesn’t strike your fancy and would like to contribute to addons, check out this spreadsheet. Here we’ve started a list of addons that need accessiblity work. The list can range anything from adding a role attribute to a div acting as a button, to pushing accessibility through for the wildly popular date picker component, Pikaday. To start working on something from the spreadsheet, place your name in the “assignee” column and highlight the row according to the legend at the bottom of the document. You can also add things to the spreadsheet you find from testing other addons!

You could also catch this Google IO event about Accessibility titled “Accessibility is My Favorite Part of the Platform”. It is a great talk that we can learn a lot from.

If none of that looks interesting to you, at the very least spend 10-15 mins with a screen reader on any of your favorite sites. Try closing your eyes or dimming the screen and navigating only using the screen reader. This will help you understand how anyone who relies on a screen reader uses a website. This might be one of the most valuable things you do on GAAD.

If you’re an OS X user, WebAIM has a excellent tutorial on how to use VoiceOver. Use CMD + F5 to toggle VoiceOver on or off. You can also toggle VoiceOver on your iPhone if ask Siri to turn it on or off.

If you’re on Windows, you can use JAWS on a free trial or NVDA which is free. JAWS is the most popular screen reader currently. WebAIM also has a great JAWS tutorial and NVDA tutorial.

For me, this Global Accessibility Awareness Day will be sponsored by The Frontside. I’m going to try to give back to the community as much as possible. My day is going to be split into 3 parts:

I would like to pair with as many people as possible in 3 hours. Each pairing session will be 25 minutes long and we can work on anything accessibility-related you would like. This could be dropping the ember-a11y addon into one of your apps, solving an issue from the spreadsheet, or using a screen reader on websites. Sound interesting? Sign up here! We’re going to be using Screenhero or Skype for screen sharing.

I’ll be around all day to help. Feel free to reach out on twitter (@robdel12) or on Slack (robdel12)! For Slack you can snag me in the web-a11y Slack or the Ember community slack. What are you waiting for? Let’s get out there and make the web a little more accessible! :)